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MapChat - a community mapping tool > Knowledge & Tool Building > Valley Vision

Valley Vision | towards a comprehensive vision for the future of the Bulkley Valley

MapChat - a community mapping tool


The Bulkley Valley has acquired a taste of community mapping from several initiatives that cooperatively established local community mapping:

Inspired by this work and by the potential benefits for the Bulkley Valley, the Bulkley Valley Stewardship Coalition launched their BV Community Asset Mapping initiative.

MapChat, a web-based mapping tool, has been used for much of this pioneering work. By adding a spatial dimension to public discussions, MapChat is viewed locally as being the best way to support community-led mapping and planning.

What’s What and Who’s Who in MapChat

MapChat is an open-source tool that enables multiple users to share a map in a real-time discussion, with the ability to mark-up the map with drawings and link comments to locations, drawings, or features.

Developers of MapChat

MapChat1 was originally developed by Dr. G. Brent Hall and associates and students at the University of Waterloo. MapChat1 served as a proof-of-concept used for the researchers involved in the GEOIDE project: Promoting Sustainable Communities through Participatory Spatial Decision Support.

MapChat2 is being developed by Michael G. Leahy in collaboration with Dr. Hall, currently at the University of Otago, New Zealand. MapChat2 is a significant improvement that has been field tested on New Zealand farmers designing an irrigation system. It has also been recently tested by the BV Stewardship Coalition’s BV Community Asset Mapping.

See About MapChat on the MapChat Project website for full credits and contact information.

Bulkley Valley MapChat

Local use of MapChat has been supported for several years by the MapChat developers. In particular, the BV Stewardship Coalition’s MapChat discussions throughout 2009 have been stored and accessed on the University of Otago’s server using bandwidth supplied by Dr. Hall.

The BV MapChat Technical Support Group was formed to provide local support for the work of the Stewardship Coalition and any local groups interested in developing and using MapChat. That group, led by Morgan Hite, continues to receive expert advice and assistance from the MapChat developers.

With the generous assistance of Michael Leahy, the BV MapChat Technical Support Group recently installed MapChat 2 on the Bulkley Valley Community Server so that any Bulkley Valley organization can access the tool. Go to for more information.

BV Community Server

The Bulkley Valley Community Server is an initiative of the Smithers Public Library and Smithers Community Services Association to host web sites for non-profit groups in the Bulkley Valley at no cost.
The original server computer was contributed by the Library and the Community Services Assoc. houses it and provides its internet connection.

The Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation granted $4000 in 2009 to upgrade the server. In addition to providing better hosting for many community groups, the upgraded server is now able to host MapChat2 services for


  • Preparation, facilitating and production of maps for Bulkley Valley Community Asset Mapping workshops
  • Installed MapChat 2 on the Bulkley Valley Community Server.
  • Documentation of installation procedures, workshop support etc. on Valley Vision’s wiki site. Email bvcommunitymapping(at) to request access to that technical information.

Links & other Resources

  1. Posted by Ray Chipeniuk, 27 July 2011, 10:36

    In view of the fact that I was the one who brought MapChat to the Bulkley Valley via my research projects and it was about $14,000 of my GEOIDE research money which established it here, it seems to me a little odd that my name isn’t even mentioned in the MapChat history presented on Valley Vision. — Dr. Ray Chipeniuk

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