Research projects







Canada 150: Innovations in Community Based Research and Management: Best Practices for Sustainable Aboriginal Tourism Development

Principle Investigator: Sonya Graci (Ryerson), Co-applicants: Pat Maher (CBU), Anne Hardy (U Tasmania)

This project aims to bring together academics, aboriginal community leaders and industry to share best practices in research and management to enable sustainable tourism development in indigenous communities. Conference to be held at Vancouver Island University April 11-13, 2017.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Connections Program




Regional Workforce Development in Rural BC

Co applicant:

Principle investigator: Dr. Terri McDonald (Selkirk College)


This project brings together existing and emerging networks with a focus on workforce development through the creation of a regional Learning and Innovation Research Network. Member of advisory committee for tourism labour market research.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Partnership development Grant




Where is here? deep cultural mapping, sustainable futures

Co applicant: Dr. Pam Shaw, Collaborators: Alanna Williams and Sharon Karsten


A cultural mapping project using digital media and citizen participation to plot places of meaning on deep cultural maps. The project also hosts a Symposium in Courtenay July 20-22, 2016.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Connections Program




BC Tourism and Hospitality Management Programs Learning Outcomes Review

Co-applicant with Rob Ferguson

Contracted through BCCAT to undertake a review of the learning outcomes for the provincial diploma programs in tourism and hospitality management including block transfer programs. Entailed workshops with educators and validation by industry.

BC Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT)



Visitor Experience Project

Collaborator: Dr. Pete Parker

A project to mobilize knowledge gained through the Visitor Experience Study project with nine communities on Vancouver Island by developing visitor profiles and doing community events.

Vancouver Island University: SSHRC Community Engagement Accelerator Grant



Hands on: Creating opportunities for learning, employment and entrepreneurship in BC’s Traditional Agri-food Processing Trades


An initiative to do a literature review, propose a definition of the Agri-food processors and determine appropriate statistical indicators for the sector to be able to assess its economic value in British Columbia.


Investment Agriculture Foundation – subcontracted by La Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique. Consulting contract through Kick Start Consulting



Agritourism Manual for BC

Principle Investigator

Collaborators: Shannon Bence and Anna Romanova

The purpose of this contract is to develop a guidebook to aid in the development of agritourism in British Columbia. Written for farmers, the guide will explain what agritourism is, different types of agritourism activities and potential levels of engagement, costs and benefits to the farm operation, case examples and the regulatory framework in BC.

BC Ministry of Agriculture



Traditional Trades as Employers and Training Mechanisms for Canadian Youth

Co-Applicant with Pascale Knoglinger

Collaborators: Monica Shore, Jenny Horn and Nichola Evernden

The purpose of the project is to assess the current state of trades-based labour force in the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) sector across rural regions of Canada with the goal of contributing to rural innovation and sustainable development in BC. Partnership between the World Leisure Center of Excellence and La Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique.

Social Science and Humanities Research Council:

Knowledge Synthesis Project




BC Resort Communities Labour Market Strategic Analysis

Co-Applicant with Dr. Pat Maher (UNBC)

Successful proponent in competitive bid to ascertain the unique labour market situation in BC’s 14 Resort Municipalities, with particular emphasis on the seasonal labour market (Feb 2013- June 2013). Entailed the design and execution of a multiple method approach and the supervision of a 5 person research team to provide the provincial steering committee with the intended deliverables.   Research Assistants: Erin Heeney, Blake Rowsell, Shannon Bence.

Go2 – BC Tourism Human Resource




Protected Areas and Poverty Reduction

Principle investigator: Dr. Grant Murray

Co- applicant with Dr. Rick Rollins, and Dr. Ken Hammer

Part of a research team to explore how parks and protected areas in rural west coast Canada (Pacific Rim), Tanzania and Ghana play a role in sustainable livelihoods of nearby aboriginal and non-aboriginal rural populations. Developed KMB strategies for multi partner collaboration as a legacy of the project.

International Research Development Centre and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

International Community University Research Alliance (ICURA)





Economic Impact of the Introduction of the ÉCONOMUSÉE Model in BC

Principle Investigator

Lead researcher to develop a research methodology to conduct a program evaluation and baseline data on the economic performance of two businesses (Merridale Cidery and Hazelwood Herb Farm) before and after the introduction of the ÉCONOMUSÉE Model.

BC Économusée Network



Amenity Based Rural Development in Canada

Principle investigator

Collaborators: Brad Goodwin, Pascale Knoglinger, Kelly Whitney-Squire and Dan McDonald

Competitive contract to research and report on three rural regions of Canada that have used amenities as a development strategy.  The three case studies were: a) Columbia Valley, BC, b) Kings County, NS, and c) Charlevoix region of QC.

Canadian Rural and Cooperatives Secretariat



Canada’s Typology of Rural Amenities

Principle investigator

Collaborator: Kelly Whitney-Squire

Principle Investigator on a competitive research contract to develop a typology of Canada’s rural amenities and to assess the current policy supports for amenity based rural development at the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels in Canada.

Canadian Rural and Cooperatives Secretariat



Tourism Research Innovation Project

Principle Investigator

Co-applicants Dan Mcdonald and Dr. Rick Rollins

A three year multi partner knowledge mobilization project to engage with BC rural communities sharing research and innovation with those pursuing tourism as a form of economic diversification. Funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council ($300,000) with matching funding from government agencies and community partners (total project $600,000).

SSHRC: Knowledge in Society (KIS)


Partners included the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, Tourism BC, BC Parks, Ministry of Economic Development, Canadian Rural Partnership, University of Northern BC, Thompson Rivers University, College of the Rockies and College of New Caledonia.



Fostering Innovation in Sustainable Tourism

Principle Investigator

Collaborators: Leah Thuot, Dr. Pat Maher (UNBC), Dr. Rob Hood (TRU)

A multi partner project with the aim to: a) research the adoption of sustainable practices among rural tourism operators in BC, b) interview and profile 20 innovators in a “Made in BC” manual of sustainability, and c) to host two workshops on sustainable tourism for rural operators.

Agriculture and Agri Food Canada


Research Report

Case studies



Participatory Rural Appraisal of the Amenities

Co-applicant: Dan McDonald

A study to identify and assess the amenities with short and long term recommendations for tourism development for this FN community.

Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nations



Evaluating User Centered Design and Experience of the Tourism Research Innovation Project Website

Co-Applicant: Alanna Williams

A study to determine the effectiveness of a user centered design model for the development of a web portal. In field assessment of the use and value of a website was conducted with rural operators in Coastal BC.



Funded by the SSHRC Capacity building Fund through the Malaspina Research Committee



Evaluator for Regional Roundtable in Northeast BC

External evaluator to assess the engagement and value of a regional collaboration model for rural development.

Canadian Rural Partnership (Brandon University RDI project)



Local Government Satisfaction Study for the City of Port Alberni

A study to determine to what extent residents in the regional were satisfied with the quality and quantity of services provided by the local government.

Alberni Valley Regional District




Bowen Island Resident Attitude study

PI in collaboration with Tourism BC

A study, conducted with students at VIU, to assess the attitudes and support among Bowen Island residents for tourism development.

Tourism BC



Participatory Rural Appraisal of Mackenzie tourism

A study, conducted with VIU students, to assess the tourism development opportunities and supports in the District of Mackenzie.

District of Mackenzie



Tourism Strategy development: Likely A study, conducted with VIU students, to develop a tourism strategy for Likely based on stakeholder input.

Village of Likely



Quality of Life assessment – City of Port Alberni 

Principle investigator Collaborator Dr. Ken Hammer

A study to assess the overall quality of life for residents in the Alberni Valley Regional District. Levels of safety were of primary importance to the funders.

Alberni Valley Safety Net



Marine Tourism Study – Ladysmith and Cowichan 

Principle investigator collaborators: Dr. Rick Rollins and Carleigh Randall

A study to determine the level of support and ideas for further development of the Marine Tourism resources in the Vancouver Island corridor.

Ministry of Economic Development BC




National Delphi Study on the impact of leisure on society Principle InvestigatorCo-applicants: Dr. Rick Rollins, Dr. Ken Hammer, Carleigh Randall, Dr. Ken Balmer and Brenda Clarke A study to establish the key research priorities for recreation in Canada and recommendations to establish permanent links between research and practitioner communities. Results were central to the Congress on Canadian Leisure Research held at VIU in 2005 and formed the foundation of the Canadian Recreation and Parks Association Research Agenda (2006).

SSHRC Research Development Initiative



Recreation Labour Market Industry Analysis and Recreation Education and Training Plan

A study to analyze the existing labour market for recreation employees in Alberta and to recommend, to AB Cabinet, proposed strategies to enhance the labour market conditions and opportunities for recreation and parks.

Subcontracted by Manecon Consulting



Supporting Rural Tourism Through Research A study conducted via extension activity with VIU students throughout AB and BC to determine the required supports needed to enhance tourism development in rural communities. PI with Dan McDonald

Malaspina Research Committee



Informed Leisure Practice: Cases as Conduits between Theory and Practice Editor of a volume of case studies where leisure decision making was informed through research. The volume was provided to all delegates at the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research in Nanaimo in 2005.

Malaspina Research Committee



Building Research Capacity in Management 

Co-applicant with Ken Hammer

A project to use literature on effective thesis supervision to mentor MBA students in applied research activity. Students were also mentored in presenting at the Hawaii Business Conference.

Malaspina Research Committee by Social Sciences Research Council of Canada Aid to Small Universities



Tourism Labour Market Study – Vancouver Island 

Research Coordinator

A 1.5 year long project to 1) determine the labour market conditions and needs in the tourism sector in the region, and 2) to understand and profile the current visitors to the region. Partnership with Tourism Vancouver Island

Human Resources Development Canada



Conversion Studies for Tourism VI Studies to determine the extent that marketing initiatives converted inquiries into visitors in the Island region.

Tourism Vancouver Island


Contributions to fundraising initiatives and projects


BC Regional Innovation Chair

Member of proposal development committee

Accepted proposal to the BC Leading Edge Endowment Fund to establish a provincial chair in Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development at VIU. Later proposed as the Nominee (2008)

BC Leading Edge Endowment Fund



Contribution to the BC Regional Innovation Chair Endowment

Proposal to secure a matching contribution to establish the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development at VIU.

BC Real Estate Foundation