What do we mean by livability?

Livability is another word for quality of life. In Sparwood, our quality of life results from a lot of factors. One of the biggest factors is mining; it is the biggest part of our economy, and is directly or indirectly the reason why most people choose to live in Sparwood. Mining also brings noise, dust, visual impacts, and other effects which need to be monitored and managed to ensure that our quality of life stays high.

A mine expansion on our doorstep has prompted us to look at livability more closely.

The District of Sparwood (the "District") is undertaking a livability study for the community. Over the next six months (January to June, 2019), community members will have a chance to share insights on what they value most about Sparwood, how best to measure our quality of life, and ways the community can ensure residents have an outstanding quality of life well into the future. A comprehensive engagement process is a key component of the livability study. Our goal is to ensure that all area residents have a chance to participate, sharing their perspectives and priorities.

The livability study is a permit condition for Teck's Baldy Ridge Extension project ("BRE"), and will serve as part of Teck’s Socio-Community and Economic Effects Management Plan (SCEEMP). It will also be used by the District to inform community planning and development activities in coming years. The study gives us an excellent opportunity to take the pulse of the community, learn what area residents value most and plan for a safe, sustainable and positive future.

From January 21 - February 28, 2019 the District will be seeking resident and visitor participation in engagement activities related to the livability study. Community participation is vital to the success of this process, as it is the area residents, businesses and community groups who live and work in this community that make Sparwood what it is today and therefore need to inform our livability concerns, opportunities and priority setting.

Responding to the key questions will help us understand how Sparwood residents, businesses, work force and visitors feel when it comes to their quality of life, and will also help to guide future policies, services and programs related to making Sparwood an even better place to live and work.

Upcoming Engagement Opportunities

Project Team (Pop-up) Office:

  • Recreation & Leisure Centre: January 23 & 24, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
  • Greenwood Mall: January 29 & 30, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm 

Our target group size for each workshop is 45 participants, and registration is first come first serve. Drop-ins will be welcome, up to the capacity for the workshop but priority will be given to those who register in advance. If you can't attend, please engage with us in one of the other ways listed here!

Online Questionnaire: http://sgiz.mobi/s3/Sparwood-Livability-Study

The online questionnaire will be open until February 28.

Sounding Board:

  • Recreation & Leisure Centre: January 17 – 30
  • Central Park (by notice board): January 31 – Feb 11
  • Centennial Square: February 12 – 21

The sounding board is a physical installation that lets you leave comments whenever you have time. It will be placed in specific locations during certain days, which will be noted here.

Questions? Comments? Contact:

Let others know by sharing!

  • Teck is currently in the operations/construction stage of the Environmental Assessment process for the Baldy Ridge Extension project to Elkview Operations (“BRE”). BRE will increase the disturbance area of this operation by 862 hectares and bring mining closer to Sparwood than ever before. It will contribute to sustaining mine activities and jobs in this region for an additional 25 years.

    As part of the environmental approval for BRE, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has included a condition related to the social and economic effects that this expansion could have on residents and businesses within the District of Sparwood. This condition, known as Condition 21, will be a big step toward understanding and managing the effects of open pit mining operations on quality of life in communities near these resource extraction activities.

    The following resources are available on our Document Centre:

    For more information on BRE, please visit the EAO's dedicated website.

  • One of the stipulations of Condition 21 is for Teck to prepare a Socio-Community and Economic Effects Management Plan (SCEEMP). This Plan will examine impacts of mine activities on economic effects, land use, visual aesthetics, and socio-community effects. It will also provide an adaptive management process for addressing these potential effects.

    More information and a copy of the SCEEMP will soon be available on this page

  • The Socio-Communtiy and Economic Effects Advisory Committee (the "SCEEAC") is a select committee of Council. Committee agendas can be found in our DocumentCenter.


    The SCEEAC will comply with Condition 21 of the Baldy Ridge Extension permit, and:

    • Perform an advisory role, focused on making recommendations to Council and Teck for consideration with respect to implementing Condition 21;
    • Provide a broad community voice;
    • Act as a conduit for Teck Elkview Operations and DOS to reach citizens and for citizens to reach Teck EVO and District of Sparwood – and to build trust;
    • Advise on engaging the broader community of Sparwood;
    • Review results for other Management Plans required as per BRE EAC #M16-01; and,
    • Assist in identifying on-going socio-community impacts and possible solutions for adaptive management

    The Terms of Reference for the SCEEAC was approved by Council on December 3, 2018.


    District Council appointed seven volunteer community members, as well as representatives of two from Council and three from Teck.

    Councillor Joe Jarina

    See Joe's bio here.

    Jason Christensen

    See Jason's bio here.

    Don Sander

    Don is the currently the General Manager at Teck’s Elkview Operations, a position he’s held since 2014. Previously he was the General Manager at Greenhills and Line Creek Operations, he has worked at all of Teck’s operations in the Elk Valley except for Coal Mountain. He is a long time resident of the Elk Valley, having arrived in Sparwood back in 1993. Don is a professional engineer and possesses an MBA.

    Chris Stroich

    Chris is currently the Environmental Superintendent at Teck’s Elkview Operations. Prior to employment at Teck, Chris spent 9 years with BC’s Ministry of Environment as a Section Head for the Kootenay Boundary Region out of Nelson. Chris moved to the valley in 2015, and has resided in both Sparwood and Fernie. Chris brings a wealth of environmental monitoring, risk assessment, permitting operations and management experience to the Advisory Committee. He sees the SCEEMP as one of many opportunities to further develop Sparwood as a diverse and vibrant community.

    Nic Milligan

    Nic is a long time resident of the Elk Valley, having lived in Fernie on and off for the last 49 years. Nic has been employed at Teck for 23 years and has held numerous roles including his current position as Manager, Social Responsibility for the last 11 years, providing him valuable experience to share with the other members of the Advisory Committee. Nic’s educational background includes FSS School, Lethbridge College Journalism Diploma, UVIC Degree in English & Writing and currently enrolled in Teck Executive MBA. He hopes the Advisory Committee can create a collaborative, participatory process that recognizes and incorporates the self-defined aspirations of the community of Sparwood & its citizens and that supports the continued sustainable operation of Elkview.

    Alison Burton

    Ali is a Plant Scientist and Professional Agrologist. Originally from Vancouver she’s spent the last 8 years or so in Cranbrook, and has recently moved to Sparwood as of Christmas last year. She has worked all over BC doing mine reclamation, and has been working for the Ktunaxa Nation Council for the past 3.5 years. Currently she manages the Nation’s engagement into everything environmentally related with Teck’s 5 operations in the Elk Valley. Ali is keen to contribute to her community, and is excited to dive into opportunities to enhance what Sparwood already has to offer and build new areas as well. She looks forward to exploring shared interests and values with the members of the Committee, and is hopeful that we contribute to positive change in the community.

    Don Crawford

    Don was born in Adelaide, South Australia and started early life on a ranch. Don's career has included operating and maintaining earthmoving machinery, supervising mechanical repairs on infrastructure projects, and even a stint with the Australian Army. He moved to Canada in 1972 where he took a job with a Caterpillar Dealership. Since then he has spent most of his time in Sparwood. Don has been active in the Sparwood community, serving 23 years as a paramedic. Don and his wife have three boys who were raised in Sparwood, and completed their higher education overseas. He is an avid traveler and always looks to bring back new ideas to improve our community. Don is excited to contribute to the important work the District and Teck have begun through his participation on this advisory committee.

    John Ralph

    John has been working at Fording River Operations for the past 6 years, and moved to Sparwood from the Crowsnest Pass in 2017. Growing up in Tumbler Ridge and The Crowsnest Pass, I learned at a young age the importance of balancing the health of local communities with the growth of mining projects. It also does not escape me how privileged I have been growing up in some of the most beautiful communities in this country, and the importance of preserving them.

    It is my hope that with this committee we can help ensure the growth of Sparwood as a community, while helping to create jobs in the local mines for generations to come. With being a miner, I can help bring practical experience to this committee. I am also no stranger to committees and working with Teck on a business front as I currently sit on multiple United Steelworker committee's; including the Project Review Committee for the Humanity Fund where we help many communities both locally and abroad.

    Keenan Adams

    Keenan was born and raised in Prince George BC, graduating from PGSS and continuing studies at the College of New Caledonia for Bookkeeping and in Alberta for Auctioneering. He spent his youth playing All-star Soccer and was part of the BC Speed skating Team Competing in the Nationals and Provincials many times, also Coaching the younger skaters with a Level 1 coaching certification. He has experience in a many fields of work, Manager Budget Car Rental, Kal Tire retread Plant, Auctioneer and Pawnbroker, before moving into his Current field of work at the Railroad. Starting at the Bottom working on the track and in the shops, then Conductor and now Currently a Locomotive Engineer. He has experience running trains all across the country from Churchill Manitoba to Vancouver BC including the Elk Valley (elkview) and the other 4 mines. He is a Trustee for "Teamsters Local" and owns a home in Sparwood.

    Maeve Scannell

    Maeve was born on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. and spent the majority of her childhood living in Saskatoon, SK. Maeve and her family moved to Sparwood, from Vancouver, August 2017, when her husband accepted a position with Teck. During her first year in Sparwood she has come to love living in this community and being immersed in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Maeve graduated from the University of British Columbia, majoring in human geography. During her studies she took particular interest in resource-based economies, community social dynamics and environmental impact assessments.

    A passion for community building and personal interest in the growth and prosperity of Sparwood drove her to apply for the Socio-Community and Economic Effects Advisory Committee. Maeve sees her family living in Sparwood for many years; and she truly believes, that through this committee, she can help to continue to make Sparwood a place we can all be proud to call our home.

    Tracey Brook-Baker

    Tracey was born and raised in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. She attended Minot State University and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Biology. After University, Tracey moved to Saskatoon and later Regina where she worked primarily as a retail manager. She met and married John Baker in Regina and in 2011, they moved to Sparwood when John was hired at Line Creek Operations and Tracey became Assistant Branch Manager for the new Sparwood branch of East Kootenay Community Credit Union. Tracey is quite active in the Community as a member of the Lions Club, Treasurer for the Sparwood Food Bank, Director of the Coal Miner Days Society, committee member for the Terry Fox run and volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Campaign. She looks forward to joining the Socio-Community and Economic Effects Advisory Committee to further understand how the District and Teck can thrive together while protecting our environment and the abundance we’ve come to appreciate through coal mining.

    Wes Pinsent

    Wes Pinsent has worked in the Natural Resource Industry for close to 40 years. He has worked for Government, Private Industry and as a Consultant in various positions. He is a Registered Forest Technician with a very well rounded experience base. Applying practical solutions to environmental concerns has been a large portion of his work experience. Living in Sparwood since 1995, and previously in the Crowsnest Pass since 1988, he has seen the many changes that have occurred in this area first hand. The mining industry has been a big part of his life in Sparwood. He looks forward to applying his experience to help the Baldy Ridge Committee make meaningful decisions and recommendations.

  • Project History

    The Sparwood Livability Study is being undertaken by District and Teck as per the requirements of Condition 21 of the Environmental Assessment Certificate #M16-01. Teck is currently in the operations/construction stage of the Environmental Assessment process for the project. BRE will bring the operation closer to the community of Sparwood, and will increase the operation’s disturbance area by 862 hectares. The project will see mine activities and job creation within this region for an additional 25 years, producing up to 10 million metric tonnes of clean coal each year.

    Project Scope

    The Sparwood Livability Study will analyze and address quality of life indicators, will facilitate engagement with communities, and will study and define livability. The role of the natural environment in physical/mental health outcomes will also be addressed. Community input will help define livability and identify appropriate quality of life indicators, which must be credible and replicable over time. Once determined, these indicators will be applied and assessed in today's context. The study is also intended to highlight past trends and occurrences that have impacted quality of life across the community. Through best practice research, the analysis of existing livability studies in comparable communities and extensive consultation within the community, the process will result in a customized, innovative and responsive approach that meets the specific needs of the Sparwood community in general and the Baldy Ridge Extension Project in particular.


    • The District is undertaking a livability study with support from a consultant - Intelligent Futures, and Teck.
    • This livability study and community feedback will serve as input for the District and the SCEEAC.
    • A comprehensive engagement process has been developed to ensure everyone has a chance to influence the outcomes of the study.
    • Resident participation is vital to the success of this process, area residents, businesses and community groups can ensure their priorities and concerns are reflected in the study.
    • Participants will be able to share their ideas on what makes Sparwood unique, and ways we can ensure the community is vibrant and welcoming for generations to come.
    • Community feedback will be reflected at all stages of the process through What We Heard Reporting and phased discussions.
    • The permit condition requiring the completion of a livability study, is a first for Teck, and the permit condition is one of only a handful of such conditions across the province of B.C.
    • The study process will include input from the SCEEAC, made up of community volunteers, District Mayor and Councilor and representatives from Teck (Elkview GM, Elkview Superintendent Environment, and Manager, Social Responsibility).
    • This Livability Study is one requirement of Teck's SCEEMP. The SCEEMP outlines specific requirements for Teck pertaining to the Baldy Ridge Extension Project (BRE). The SCEEMP also prescribes an Advisory Committee, known as the SCEEAC, that is a committee of Council which will participate in the Livability Study and make recommendations to Council and Teck about managing impacts from BRE.
  • Help us build this list! Have a question we haven't answered? Send it to livable@sparwood.ca.


    • How do I provide my input to the SCEEAC?

      The public will have an opportunity to speak at any meeting of the SCEEAC. These meetings will be open to the public (unless portions of the meetings are closed for reasons consistent with the Community Charter) and follow the reporting procedures required for Council meetings. Residents can always submit any concerns related to mining operations directly to Teck or to the District. SCEEAC meetings will include time for members to discuss issues that the SCEEAC has brought to them directly (i.e. “grocery store” conversations).

      SCEEAC Members will be provided with the contact details (i.e. “We Want to Hear From You” business cards) for the Teck feedback mechanism.

    • How will the SCEEAC provide advice for management/mitigation?

      The SCEEAC will review and provide recommendations for management and mitigation options for various impacts that BRE may create. Once the SCEEAC understands the issues and options, they will make recommendations on preferred approach to mitigation. Those recommendations will go to District of Sparwood Council and/or Teck, and decision makers in those organizations will make the final decisions on how to proceed.

      It is important to remember that the SCEEAC is meant to be a conduit between the residents of Sparwood and the District and Teck. Therefore, individual opinions of SCEEAC members should be tempered by the information provided and broad public feedback that the SCEEAC receives.

      The hypothetical example below demonstrates how the Committee might make a recommendation related to noise:

      A combination of factors leads to an increase in noise events in Sparwood in one year. The Committee has already been provided an overview of the issue of noise and how it is addressed by Teck. At their November meeting, the Committee gets the following input:

      • A summarized record of public feedback about noise grievances received during that year
      • Presentation by Teck on their noise mitigation measures during that year
      • Data on actual recorded noise levels
      • A list of mitigation alternatives to consider

      The SCEEAC receives all of that information, and then deliberates on the issue at hand. The SCEEAC is aware of existing options for mitigation, but also discusses some new ideas. The SCEEAC determines that their recommended approach is:

      • For Teck to install a temporary wall around the noise source

      The SCEEAC agrees on this recommendation and shares it with Council and Teck. In this case, the recommendation pertains to Teck’s operations, so Teck would ultimately decide on how they will proceed. The recommendations, and subsequent actions of Teck and/or the District, would be tracked, recorded and reported, to understand how, when, and why recommendations of the SCEEAC are, or are not, being followed. This process is part of the adaptive management cycle and would be monitored (i.e. the following year) to ensure progress is made over the long term. New management/mitigation options may be selected in a future adaptive management cycle as needed. The SCEEAC would be involved in each subsequent cycle.

    • Why are we doing this now?

      The SCEEMP, Livability Study and SCEEAC are required as part of the Environmental Certificate issued by the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The Baldy Ridge Extension project is underway and it will increase the size of Elkview Operations and its proximity to the Sparwood community. We want to ensure that any impacts from new mine activity are carefully managed and the community is involved in the process; the SCEEAC is a way to reach the broader community and give this topic the attention it deserves.

    • What is the purpose of the SCEEAC?

      In plain language, the purpose for the SCEEAC is to have an informed group of citizens, Teck, and District appointees, that can consider the impacts of  BRE project on the community of Sparwood and provide recommendations to the District and Teck on how to minimize or mitigate those impacts. From the SCEEMP:

      • Perform an advisory (not decision making) role, focused on making recommendations to Council and Teck for consideration with respect to implementing Condition 21
      • Provide a broad community voice
      • Act as a conduit for Teck’s Elkview Operations (EVO) and District to reach citizens and for citizens to reach Teck EVO and DOS – and to build trust
      • Advise on engaging the broader community of Sparwood,
      • Assist in identifying on-going socio-community impacts and possible solutions for adaptive management.
    • Who is paying for this SCEEAC?

      The SCEEAC is made of up volunteers from the community, and appointees from the District and Teck. Financial support for administrative aspects of the SCEEAC and expert advice, when required, will be provided by Teck. The District will provide in-kind support, such as time required by staff members to prepare for and attend meetings.

    • How can I become a member of the SCEEAC?

      SCEEAC members have been appointed for the first 3-year term by the District of Sparwood Council.

      Calls for new appointments will be advertised widely when necessary. Members of the public are welcome to attend and provide input at all meetings of the SCEEAC. These meetings will be open to the public (unless portions of the meetings are closed for reasons consistent with the Community Charter) and follow the reporting procedures required for Council meetings.

    • How can I stay informed of the operations and recommendations of the SCEEAC?