Think about the approaches that will support robust engagement
across the community and achieve the best results.
Working with community leaders and senior staf as well as
waterpower champions, consider the ingredients of a successful
community engagement strategy that promotes inclusion.
Think about and plan for engagement. Become familiar with the
community, its history and its members. Prepare for a positive
Continuously monitor success. Document what worked well
and what was not efective. Keep detailed notes and share
experiences with others.
Building the Relationship: The Ongoing
Importance of Community Engagement
Efective community engagement is key to the success of a waterpower
project. A Community Engagement Toolkit is available to help project
developers take advantage of best practices and lessons learned.
By Karen Wianecki
Waterpower development factors prominently in the Canadian province of Ontario to expand the
production of renewable energy, meet climate
change targets and move toward a more eco-friendly economy. Waterpower developers
have long recognized the importance of
working closely with community members,
but the inherent value of efective community
engagement is being increasingly realized.
In Ontario, efective community engage-
ment by members of the waterpower industry
has emerged in response to several compel-
A renewed focus on small scale generation
Te early development of large facilities in
Niagara and on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa
rivers, coupled with the construction of
municipal “hydros,” were key to the province’s
electrifcation. Hydro expansion in northern
Ontario followed, to provide reliable, afordable
energy to localized resource industries (such as
pulp and paper and mining) and to serve the
needs of a growing population in the south.
During construction in the 1980s, the province
introduced a small hydro program (capacity
of 10 MW or less) as part of its energy plan,
resulting in the development or redevelopment
of more than 50 facilities. Small hydro systems
can be connected to the grid and provide
power or they can be used for independent
and stand-alone applications. Te Long Term
Energy Plan (launched in 2010 and updated
in 2013) establishes a target of 9,300 MW
of waterpower to be in production by 2025
and places a specifc emphasis on small hydro,
including optimizing existing infrastructure.
An increasingly engaged public
Issues afecting resource management and
use are becoming increasingly complex.
Public interest and engagement on a range
of resource and environmental matters has
heightened. More uses, more users, and more
polarized views all point to the value of having
a suite of tools and resources that can assist in
supporting efective community engagement.
Securing a social license to operate a project
is essential to its long-term success.
Policy emphasis on community participation
Over the past decade, public policy with
respect to renewable energy generally and
waterpower specifcally has evolved to place
an increased emphasis on the participation of
communities at the project level. For example,
initial resource access policy for waterpower
that was passed in 2004 encouraged “business
to business” relationships with Aboriginal
Figure 1 — Community Engagement Process
This four-step approach is designed to help waterpower developers build relationships.