Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Community Economic Development

What is Community Economic Development?

Community economic development (CED) is action by people within a specific geographic community or group of communities to create local economic opportunities and improve quality of life. CED recognizes that local challenges and opportunities are as varied as the individual communities themselves. By using knowledge and resources resident in the community, CED identifies and capitalizes on local opportunities to stimulate economic growth and employment. This can include developing entirely new businesses or industries, adding value to existing sectors, strengthening capacity, and improving local infrastructure to help communities achieve their full economic potential.

What's the WD Connection?

Communities have increased economic opportunities and capacity to respond to challenges, as well as the necessary investments in public infrastructure

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) contributes to community economic development in urban centres and rural areas through initiatives that capitalize on opportunities for growth and development, and enable communities to adjust to challenges that hinder competitiveness and quality of life. A significant proportion of WD's community economic development funding stems from our role as the western delivery agent for national programs offered by the federal government such as infrastructure programs. Our priorities in support of community economic development include:

  • Encouraging regional approaches to economic development through partnerships with communities and non-profit organizations,
  • Helping rural communities identify and capitalize on new sources of economic growth and employment,
  • Increasing the capacity of rural communities to undertake value-added processing and encourage new opportunities for skilled employment,
  • Enhancing Aboriginal participation in the economy,
  • Designing and delivering regional and community development programs to help western Canadian communities make a successful transition into the 21st century economy,
  • Revitalizing urban communities by supporting initiatives that undertake inner city renewal, build community capacity, enhance knowledge and skills, and foster economic development, and 
  • Investing in infrastructure to sustain rural and urban communities.

What funding is available?

WD helps increase the viability and diversification of local economies in Western Canada through a variety of programs and services, tailored to the region's own particular strengths, challenges and opportunities.

  • The Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund is a two-year national program that will invest over $46 million in the West for the rehabilitation and improvement of existing community infrastructure that is non-commercial and accessible to the public.
  • Western Diversification Program is the main program through which WD invests in projects that support our strategic outcomes related to innovation, business development and entrepreneurship, community economic development and policy, advocacy and coordination.
  • Western Canada Business Service Network is a group of several independent organizations that receive funding from WD to provide a range of services to help create and build small businesses across the West. One of the Network partners, Community Futures Development Corporations, also undertakes broad-based community economic development initiatives in rural western communities.
  • The Economic Development Initiative will invest $3.2 million in the West over five years to support business and economic development that encourages sustainable growth in Western Canada’s Francophone communities.

WD delivers the following national infrastructure programs in Western Canada on behalf of Infrastructure Canada.

  • The Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund is investing $276.4 million in the West to improve and increase the stock of core public infrastructure for municipalities with populations of less than 250,000 in areas such as water, wastewater, culture and recreation.
  • The Building Canada Fund through the Communities Component is investing $513.5 million in the West to address the unique needs of communities with populations less than 100,000 in areas such as water, wastewater, culture and recreation.

What's been accomplished?

Learn more about how WD is community economic development by reading Working with the West or our magazine, Access West.

WD helps increase the viability and diversification of local economies in Western Canada through a variety of programs and services, tailored to the region's own particular strengths, challenges and opportunities.

  • WD worked closely with project proponents to ensure the delivery of Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP) in the West. For information about Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) and Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) projects, consult our series of Economic Action Plan updates called Success in the West.

For examples of WD projects and initiatives within this program activity area consult our success stories: Other Community Economic Development-related projects.

What's on the horizon?

Through its own programs and services and the delivery of national programs, WD has invested millions of dollars on behalf of the federal government in support of community economic development in Western Canada. The department will continue to work in partnership with governments, the private sector, local residents and organizations to ensure that programs and services are delivered in an efficient and accountable manner, and investments maximize the economic benefits to individual communities and to Western Canada as a whole.