In the early years of CAPE, its activities were linked with and partially
supported by the Tricouncil EcoResearch Chair in Environmental Risk Management
at the University of Alberta, held by Dr. Steve Hrudey. By tying the development
of the organization to the Chair's activities in risk communication and
professional education, the new organization could benefit from office
support from the University as an academic activity and could also serve
as a proving ground for new ideas and approaches in professional development.
However, the governance and the agenda of the Association has always been
controlled by its officers and members and as the term of the Chair is
ending this academic link is also ending.
Looking back, it is possible to identify three distinct phases of development
in CAPE's early years:
- Start-up, from 1993 to the 1995 AGM. In this phase, the organization
was a wish, not a reality, and consisted of like-minded professionals
who wanted this thing to succeed. Having an official identity and charitable
number did not guarantee success, of course. Involving the tiny membership
in the affairs of the organization and the development of a reasonable
agenda were the paramount concerns. Even so, our efforts won the attention
of ISDE and we soon developed a profile within ISDE far out of proportion
to our small size.
- Consolidation, from the 1995 to the 1997 AGMs. In this phase, we got
our feet on the ground, got organized, put the Newsletter on a more
or less regular quarterly basis, and prepared ourselves to act as spokespersons
on complicated environmental issues. The emphasis was on education,
organizational details, and setting priorities among the many items
that could be on CAPE's agenda of activities. We showed our potential
by presenting our views at important conferences and by submitting important
briefing documents on policy matters (with Dr. Peter Carter, in particular,
taking the lead). The membership grew, but the organization remains
- Expansion, from 1997 through today. In the current phase, we have
our act together, basically, but we know that expanding our membership
and resource base will be critical to the organization's future. If
CAPE is to fulfill its potential as a voice of Canadian medicine on
environmental affairs, it has to grow, establish relationships with
other organizations and develop a funding base.
CAPE is an ambitious organization, full of potential, limited only by
its current size and funding. The imagination, influence and visibility
that this small organization has already shown are impressive. The next
few years will show how well we meet this potential.