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Frequently Asked Questions for Recipients of Creative Sentencing Penalty Funds

Creative sentencing refers to a range of penalty options that have been available to Alberta courts since the mid-‘90s.

Although these sentencing options encompass a wide variety of penalties, among them is the possibility of diverting penalty funds to projects that have a connection with the offence. That connection could be related to the type of offence, the root cause of the offence, the location of the offence, or a combination of these factors. As such, there is no "pool" of funds for recipients to apply for, as each project is tailored to a specific offence.

Here are some common questions that organizations have about the creative sentencing process, as it is used with regard to environment and natural resources cases.

What types of organizations may potentially be chosen to receive penalty diversion funds?

The program prefers to work with non-profit organizations. For-profits are only chosen when they are either the only ones that can perform a particular task or they are the best organization when it comes to that particular skill set needed to complete the project.

How does my organization access the penalty diversion funds?

This is not like a grant program. There is no guaranteed way of accessing these funds, as each creative sentence is tailored to a specific offence. However, it does help to share information about your organization’s current or future project plans and ambitions with the creative sentencing program liaison. The liaison is part of Alberta Environment and Parks, works with Crown prosecutors in Alberta Justice and Solicitor General to come up with appropriate creative sentencing projects, and monitors their implementation.

How do I find out if my organization is chosen to receive penalty diversion funds?

The program liaison will call you to discuss a project. Often, due to the nature of the court process, the program contact will not have a lot of time to pull together the project details for the court order, so there could be pressure on your organization to quickly pull information together. The confidential nature of the court process means the liaison may not be able to share many details with you about the case or the timing of it.

Can a tentative creative sentencing offer be rescinded?

Yes. Creative sentencing projects are almost always presented to the judge as a joint submission from the Crown prosecutor and defence counsel. If, for some reason, one of the parties changes their mind, then the creative sentencing idea can be cancelled. As well, the judge can reject a joint submission. This means that until the judge has approved the project, nothing should be assumed to be in place.

What commitments does a recipient make when penalty diversion funds are received?

The commitments vary according to the project, but there are several responsibilities that apply to nearly every creative sentencing project. Recipient organizations must have someone step forward to set up a trust account for the funds and authorize disbursement of those funds. As well, reports are due when the project is complete.

How transparent is the creative sentencing program?

Currently, the Communications branch of Alberta Environment and Parks posts information bulletins on their external website when sentencing decisions are made by the court.

Creative sentencing orders are posted along with the bulletins.

The final reports required for each order are also available to the public, upon request.

Summaries of progress on creative sentencing projects are noted in an annual report on the program, which is posted at:


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Updated: May 15, 2017