ESRC Projects

ESRC projects and activities reflect our approach and orientation. We emphasize connecting research and practice/policy.

Our projects and activities include:

  • Conducting primary, applied and policy relevant research in key thematic areas.
  • Developing vibrant research networks by engaging and connecting individuals, organizations and government agencies.
  • Seeking funding (facilitating and supporting applications) from a variety of sources to undertake research in the key thematic areas.
  • Fostering opportunities for knowledge generation and information sharing.
  • Mobilizing knowledge.
  • Providing educational instruction and outreach.

Our Members have several ongoing and recently completed research projects. Expand the titles below to learn more about some of their projects.

Project Team:

L. Vasseur, R. Kruczynski, W. Kubik, M. Jacklin, J. Upadhyaya, K. Pickering, S. Morris, D. Lindbald, L. Rempel, and more.

Description:

The Woodlands of Sunset Long-term Care Facility (LTC) is located on Pelham St. in Welland, ON and is managed by the Niagara Region. What makes this LTC facility unique is that adjacent to it there are wetlands and forests on property which are also owned by the Region. In the spring of 2015, the then President of the Family Council approached ESRC to explore the possibility of a joint initiative with the university and especially the ESRC. This first meeting in April 2015 has led to what we now call the Wetlands of Sunset initiative. This is a perfect example of the collaborative character of the UNESCO Chair, where members and non-members of the ESRC, as well as community partners such as the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Niagara College have come together to create community sustainability. We look forward to having more partners join this very worth while and comprehensive initiative.

With an aging population in Canada, these facilities are more and more common and the importance of their location can be crucial for the wellbeing of the residents and the surrounding community. The surrounding community comprises of schools, homes, and economic activities, which can be influenced by the environmental sustainability of these wetlands; they contribute to a healthy ecosystem that can have positive impacts on people.

During the first year, a few projects were initiated including a nursing student exploring the issues for residents at the Woodlands regarding access to nature; two classes in earth science and geography studying the hydrology of the wetlands and Draper Creek; a new bird watching activity involving residents and their families; and even a logo contest targeting primary school students of the area. It is expected that this initiative will last for a long time and can help us understand the positive connections between nature and aging.

Project Team:

R. Plummer, D. Armitage, R. de Loë, D. de Grosbois

Funder:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Description:

Access and rights to water are fundamental issues for First Nations peoples of Canada. This research moves away from conventional approaches to water management and aims to enhance source water governance in First Nation communities. Key objectives of this research are to: 1) develop a culturally-sensitive vulnerability assessment tool and appraise the social and ecological dimensions of vulnerability relating to source waters; 2) examine how source water concerns are being addressed; 3) identify key factors to improve source water protection and build capacity for adaptation; and, 4) enhance source water governance though the development and dissemination of culturally appropriate, practice-based materials and the implementation of training opportunities. The research is being undertaken in partnership with Mississaugas of the New Credit, Oneida of the Thames, and Six Nations of the Grand River. The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and the Six Nations Eco-Centre are additional partners assisting with knowledge mobilization.

Project Team:

T. Heinmiller

Funder:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Description:

This project examines irrigation economies in western Canada, southeastern Australia, and the western United States. It documents the transition, over the last few decades, from water policies that were based on a ‘dam and divert’ logic to new water policies based on ‘cap and trade’. It seeks to explain this substantial policy reform through an application of the advocacy coalition framework.

Project Team:

R. de Loë, S. Michaels, R. Plummer, H. Bjornlund, J. Sinclair, K. Bakker, N. Watson, K. Klein, D. Rudolph

Funder:

Canadian Water Network

Description: 

Governance for Source Water Protection in Canada is a collaborative research initiative supported by the Canadian Water Network and led by the Water Policy and Governance Group at the University of Waterloo. Involving numerous researchers, graduate students and partners from academia, government, NGOs, First Nations, watershed groups, and more, this project seeks to improve understanding of key knowledge gaps relating to water governance, and to contribute to advancing source water protection processes and outcomes in Canada.

Project Team:

Brock University Map Library

Description:

Building on Niagara Region’s GIS data of canal paths and points of interest, a visualization tool is being created that merges old documents with new technology. A combination of historic air photos, maps, and photos held in Brock’s collection utilizes Google Earth to provide an interactive tool for exploring the historic canals.

Project Team:

R. Plummer, B. May, K. Pickering, J. Baird, S. Purdy

Funder:

Environment Canada & Brock University

Description: 

Bringing key stakeholders from all sectors in Niagara together to work collaboratively on ways for Niagara to adapt to present and future climate change.

Project Team:

D. Dupont, S. Renzetti, H. Bjornlund and C. Madramootoo

Funder:

Canadian Water Network

Description:

Maximization of value from scarce resources results from allocations through well- functioning markets. Maximization of value from water resources in Canada is hampered by out-dated municipal and provincial regulations governing pricing and allocation of water. Provincial governments issue water use permits with little evidence of the value of proposed use; permit pricing has nothing to do with water’s scarcity value. Municipal water pricing remains divorced from the value of water and the marginal costs of supply. The result is over‐expanded systems, over‐use of water; reliance on ad hoc measures to curb water use in times of shortage and insufficient funds for infrastructure improvements. This is changing slowly. Some provinces have raised water permit fees; some municipalities have adopted increasing block rates. The common theme is recognition of water as an economic resource and the willingness to use economic instruments (prices and tradable permits) to promote efficient use. To date, these initiatives have not been coordinated across levels of government and are constrained by the lack of data, models, trained personnel, and institutional capacity. The problem is compounded by the inability of current regulations to deal with competing water demands and the possibility of climate change-induced reductions in supplies. Misallocation of water ultimately threatens aquatic ecosystems and reduces the well-being of current and future Canadians.