UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Local control over local resources habitat management in the Fraser Estuary Jamieson, Marion Lea


This thesis approaches the issue of local control over local resources from the perspective of municipal and regional government involvement in habitat conservation. Using the Fraser River estuary as a case study area, the expanding role of local governments is described in order to examine the relationship between local and senior levels of government. The objective is to assess whether redistributing power between these levels of government would improve habitat management in the estuary. Improved habitat management is defined as a more democratic process of allocating costs and benefits associated with habitat conservation. Conventional administrative decision-making tends to exclude perspectives which are in conflict with maintenance of the existing distribution of costs and benefits. Two perspectives which have difficulty having their concerns addressed by administrations are the conservation and community perspectives, even though issues of conservation and community are at centre of public concern. An expanded political framework for examining resource planning and management issues is needed, as the spectrum of political issues that frames policy debates is too limited to encompass the concerns that contemporary policy-makers must address. The most practical mechanisms for encouraging the introduction of new ideas and innovations to the policy-making arena are existing institutional designs for communication among differing perspectives. The Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) is one mechanism with the potential to act as a conduit for new ideas. It is explored from the perspective of local government involvement in its habitat management activities. FREMP is part of the complex web of institutional arrangements for habitat management in the Fraser estuary. These arrangements are described with a focus on the role of local governments. The case study indicates that a process of developing an expanded framework for decision-making appears to be taking place in the estuary, reflecting the growing importance of both local government involvement and habitat conservation. Local councils are demanding more powerful enabling legislation in order to address local environmental concerns, and these demands raise the issue of the optimal balance of power between local and senior levels of government. In light of the pivotal role that both municipal and regional governments can play in conserving and protecting resources through land-use regulation and planning, this thesis concludes that enhanced local government powers would facilitate the protection and enhancement of conservation values in the estuary.

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