Creating Rural Connections

Through Education

Latest ARDN Info

ARDN’s most current information is featured below.

CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Rural Homelessness

A Response to the 2016 Wildfires in Northern Alberta

The spate of unprecedented wildfires in the spring of 2016 led many people to flee to nearby rural communities, which welcomed them with open arms. While most people have since returned home or moved on, many small communities find themselves with new residents who are stranded there, dealing with homelessness and perhaps unemployment, mental health issues and other challenges. Homelessness has many faces and is not just living on the street, but could also be couch surfing, living out of a vehicle, sleeping in a workplace, living in overcrowded or substandard conditions, etc. These people lack the resources necessary to adequately maintain themselves. In rural Alberta communities, often the biggest challenge is accessing needed supports and services.

The Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) recognises the devastating effects these natural disasters are having on rural Albertans, and is therefore currently accepting funding applications from organizations who require financial assistance to help homeless individuals and families and those at risk of becoming homeless, due to the 2016 northern Alberta wildfires.

Ideal projects will:

  • facilitate access to supports and services;
  • increase housing stability, either through access to housing or eviction prevention;
  • increase income or income stability;
  • improve employment stability; and
  • develop collaborations and work with other service providers.

Priority will be given to projects in Alberta communities that:

  • were impacted in 2016 by the Alberta wildfires;
  • identify opportunities for integration of services and supports;
  • address a demonstrated need; and
  • have a service delivery agent with the capacity to deliver the identified program activities.

*** Projects must be completed no later than May 31, 2017 ***

*** The maximum funding available is $70,000 per project ***

*** Project activities must take place in an Alberta community with a population of less than 25,000 ***


Deadline for Applications:

Applications must be received via email to programs@ardn.ca, Attention: Jonn Kmech, Program Manager, no later than 4:30 pm Mountain Daylight Savings Time on August 17, 2016.

Please use a read receipt to verify that your email has been received. A confirmation email will be sent upon receipt of an application.

To discuss your project idea or for more information, please contact Dee Ann Benard at exec.dir@ardn.ca / 780-915-1751 OR Jonn Kmech at programs@ardn.ca / 780-862-8118 no later than August 12, 2016.



Steel modular units make construction “cheaper, quicker, better”

Rural Albertans of limited means may soon benefit from new housing through the Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI). The initiative is a partnership project led by the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) with support from municipalities and in one case, contributions from a local college.

In 2015, around 40 rural communities indicated to ARDN that they needed affordable housing. In partnership with ARDN, several communities have now applied for funding to do a needs assessment or feasibility study. Project specific analysis of need and demand and/or preliminary analysis of financial viability will start in early 2016. The construction of the first of these multi-unit dwellings is expected to start in 2017.

“When we first began looking at the issue of rural homelessness, we were surprised by the immense need for affordable housing in rural Alberta,” said Dee Ann Benard, ARDN executive director. “The biggest challenge for this project is raising enough money to have these units built. Several municipalities have stepped up and we are working to obtain other funding to see it through.”

The project’s commercial partner is Ladacor, a Calgary based manufacturer that constructs multi-story, multi-family modular buildings through the repurposing of steel shipping containers. Modular units are prefabricated at Ladacor’s 28,400 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, enabling them to build affordable housing in 30-50% of the usual time and at a reduced cost.

“These structures are steel based so they are strong and fire-resistant. Our goal is to provide a safer and more durable structure than those made with traditional wood frames,” said Joseph Kiss, Ladacor president. “In short, we believe our modular system approach gives options to build cheaper, quicker and better.”

The biggest demand for these modular buildings comes from rural communities. Ladacor is currently building a new four story hotel in Bruderheim, Alberta and previously completed the largest shipping container based hotel in North America, the Days Inn in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. “So this project is a good fit for us,” said Kiss.

Kiss offered reassurance for rural communities concerned that manufacturing components in Calgary will take away jobs in their community. “We definitely contribute to local employment opportunities. When the modular units come to the building site, they need to be installed, interconnected and exterior finished in addition to the numerous site works required. This work is typically given to local suppliers. In traditional construction, in many cases, the projects can be too big for the local community to handle, so work crews are often brought in from the city, leaving limited work for local residents.”


ARDN is a not-for-profit partnership of Alberta colleges and universities working together to enhance the quality of life in rural Alberta through research and learning. 

Ladacor is a Canadian business that designs, tests and manufactures unique modular units in its 28,400 sq. ft. facility in Calgary. More details at www.ladacor.com.

Media contacts: 

Dee Ann Benard                                                                              Joseph Kiss

ARDN Executive Director                                                                 Ladacor President

(780) 915-1751                                                                                (587) 352-5922

exec.dir@ardn.ca                                                                            jkiss@ladacor.com

Read our Annual Report!

ARDN’s 2014-2015 Annual Report has been published! 

Read the 2014-2015 Annual Report which was presented to ARDN’s Board in October. The report can be found here.


Plain Language Summaries and Presentations from Creating Rural Connections 2015 have been posted! 

All Plain Language Summaries have been posted in our Rural Project Library here.

The ARDN collects reliable research and hosts it in our Rural Project Library and archives the research done. Let us know what you’re working on!

The link to the archived webcasts of the keynote speakers are here.

This link hosts video of all speakers and presenters who held sessions in the Lancaster Room, and includes keynote speeches from Yale Belanger and Doug Griffiths. 

News Release: November 7, 2014

Tackling the Homelessness Issue in Rural & Remote Alberta: Over $2M Awarded to Projects in 11 Communities 

Homelessness, while often hidden, is an indisputable fact in rural Alberta; one that, unfortunately, also appears to be on the rise. Housing and support services are a growing need in rural communities, to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, before their problems get worse. The Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) has awarded $2,022,820 to 11 projects under the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy. This funding will help small, rural and remote communities provide their citizens with increased access to housing and the supports and services they need.



ARDN’s Annual Report is now available online, click on the link to view.



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