Founded in 2006 and relaunched in 2016, ALUS Canada sustains agriculture, wildlife and natural spaces for all Canadians-one acre at a time. For more than a decade, ALUS has been investing in farmers and ranchers who are producing acres of clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services in their communities.
2002 to 2005
Brainchild of Ian Wishart, then-President of Keystone Agricultural Producers, the ALUS concept arose out of lengthy discussions with the agricultural community to try and address shortcomings in traditional approaches to conservation. The original ALUS concept paper was followed by a 2004 proposal, “ALUS: The Farmer’s Conservation Plan,” co-written by Dr. Robert Bailey of Delta Waterfowl Foundation and Dave Reid of Norfolk Land Stewardship Council, which laid out the original principles of the program and is still fondly referred to as the “ALUS Bible.”
Canada’s first-ever ALUS pilot project took place from 2006 to 2009 in the Rural Municipality of Blanshard, Manitoba, located within the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District. Funded by the Provincial Government and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the pilot was led by Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba’s largest farm organization, and strongly supported the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, an organization that ALUS Canada proudly recognizes as a Foundational Partner.
In September 2007, ALUS launched in Ontario—specifically, in Norfolk County, the heart of tobacco farm country. Today, ALUS Norfolk remains the oldest continuously running ALUS program in Canada.
As word spread about ALUS, provincial officials from Prince Edward Island met with ALUS Norfolk and, in 2008, implemented the program province-wide. Prince Edward Island is the first and only jurisdiction in Canada with a provincially-supported ALUS program, co-managed by the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the P.E.I. Department of Communities, Land and Environment.
The original ALUS pilot project in Manitoba ended, to relaunch in 2014 as ALUS Little Saskatchewan River.
Having developed a tried, tested and true methodology, based on sound scientific principles and strong community involvement through the PAC model refined in ALUS Norfolk, the ALUS program was ready to be exported to new communities across Canada.
Under the auspices of Delta Waterfowl, ALUS launched in Alberta in 2010, when the County of Vermilion River, east of Edmonton, initiated a pilot project that enrolled more than 1,000 acres in its first year. ALUS Vermilion River is still going strong.
ALUS started to expand in Alberta and Ontario: In 2012, Parkland County became the second Albertan community to start an ALUS program. Learn more about ALUS Parkland here.
In Ontario, ALUS planted its roots in Elgin County, beginning with a pilot project in Bayham Township that would later become ALUS Elgin. The ALUS program was also introduced to Grey and Bruce Counties as a pilot project in 2012 (ALUS Grey-Bruce), and launched in the Ottawa region, as Ontario East ALUS Inc. (ALUS Ontario East).
ALUS launched in Red Deer County, Alberta, in 2013. ALUS Red Deer County complements existing programs that the County had been delivering with local producers since 2001—but with ALUS, farmers and ranchers would now get paid to establish and maintain projects that produce ecosystem services on their land.
ALUS relaunched in Manitoba in 2014, as a partnership with the Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District. ALUS Little Saskatchewan River includes the original Blanshard pilot project, plus a much-expanded area around it—the Conservation District covers a territory of about one million acres.
ALUS announced its Saskatchewan launch in 2011, but the project was greatly expanded in 2015, with the formation of the ALUS WUQWATR (Wascana and Upper Qu’Appelle Watershed) program, as well as the ALUS Saskatchewan Assiniboine Project (ASAP), a partnership between ALUS, the Assiniboine River Watershed Association and the Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association (SaskFSA).
In Alberta, Mountain View County became the fourth Albertan community to embrace ALUS (ALUS Mountain View), while the County of Wetaskiwin and Leduc County partnered together to run a joint program (ALUS Wetaskiwin-Leduc). A partnership between ALUS and Lac Ste. Anne County (ALUS Lac Ste. Anne) began in 2015 as a three-year pilot project focused on wetland restoration.
In Ontario, the ALUS Lambton program started up in 2015, in a partnership with Ontario NativeScape, a division of the Rural Lambton Stewardship Network
In 2016, ALUS left the Delta nest, relaunching as ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, a registered charitable organization. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s $5 million donation, which was intended to help support ALUS Canada’s expansion across the country, was announced in November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
And expand it did: ALUS Canada launched three new ALUS programs in Alberta in 2016, partnerships with Flagstaff County (ALUS Flagstaff), Brazeau County (ALUS Brazeau) and the County of Northern Sunrise: (ALUS Northern Sunrise) is Canada’s most northerly ALUS community, situated in the beautiful Peace Region of northwestern Alberta.
In Ontario, the ALUS Bayham program expanded in 2016, becoming ALUS Elgin. And, in partnership with the Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie, ALUS Canada established the first-ever ALUS program in Québec in 2016, ALUS Montérégie.
Expanding in another way, ALUS Canada also launched a new a corporate sponsorship program called the New Acre™ Project, in 2016.
ALUS Canada won two major honours in 2016. The Shared Footprint Award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation, sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, is a testament to the dedication of Alberta’s ALUS communities in establishing ALUS as the preferred mechanism for delivering stewardship on the agricultural landscape. And on a national level, CEO Bryan Gilvesy and three of ALUS’ Directors were named to Canada’s “Clean16” at the Clean50 Awards, in recognition of their innovative approach to creating new markets for grassroots conservation.
In 2017, ALUS announced a $695,900 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), intended to help establish new ALUS communities in Ontario and to help transform three existing pilot communities—ALUS Elgin, Grey Bruce and Ontario East—into permanent ALUS programs.
As a result, the ALUS program came to the Peterborough region in 2017, as a partnership between ALUS Canada and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (ALUS Peterborough), while the ALUS Middlesex and ALUS Chatham-Kent programs were also established in 2017.
In August, ALUS and Alberta philanthropist David Bissett, a long-time ALUS supporter, announced “The Bissett Action Fund,” a new $500,000 gift which will support environmental projects on farms and ranches in southern Alberta, helping 39 farmers and ranchers maintain 186 ALUS projects between the County of Vermilion River to the east and Lac Ste. Anne County and Parkland County to the west.
Also in Alberta, ALUS Canada partnered with Lacombe County to establish the 22nd ALUS community in Canada (ALUS Lacombe).
As ALUS Canada continues to garner new funding, the ALUS program will continue to expand into new communities and new provinces, bringing the ALUS program to more and more Canadians.