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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An examination of the role of local government in coastal zone management: the case of Richmond, B.C. Pernu, James Victor


The management of the coastal zone is a complex task facing all three levels of Canadian Government. While academic research and public attention tend to focus on federal and provincial agencies, the role of local government has been left largely unexplored. This thesis examines the role of local government in coastal zone management in British Columbia and evaluates local government’s contribution to the management of the coastal zone based on the performance of local planning policies in the coastal community of Richmond, B.C. Coastal zone management (C.Z.M.) is a specialized subset of contemporary resource management models having three hierarchically integrated components representing biophysical, socio-economic and institutional subsystems. A literature review yielded many management issues of which seven were selected to reflect the local government experience in C.Z.M. The seven issues are: Habitat Conservation, Water Quality, Coastal Hazards, Public Access and Aesthetics, Public Input, Water Dependency and Interjurisdictional Coordination. The evaluation of Richmond’s C.Z.M. policies was undertaken using a methodology similar to those employed by Rosentraub (1975) and Jessen et al. (1983). A retrospective analysis of Development Permit Application files processed between 1988 and 1991 was employed in the evaluation of existing policies contained within Richmond’s Official Community Plan. While the exact extent of local responsibilities remains poorly defined by existing legislation, local regulatory powers in C.Z.M. were determined to be nonetheless significant. The British Columbia Municipal Act provided a considerable amount of regulatory authority for each of the seven coastal zone management issues, namely in the form of Zoning bylaws, Official Community Plan bylaws and Development Permits. The findings indicate that Richmond’s existing policies displayed limited effectiveness concerning the management of C.Z.M. issues such as Habitat Conservation, Water Quality, Coastal Hazards and Interjurisdictional Coordination. However, the results also suggested that local policies addressing coastal zone issues such as public access and aesthetics were effective. Furthermore, explicit policies for Water Dependency and Public Input were non existent. Several recommendations were made in this thesis. The first is an expanded recognition of C.Z.M. as a local government concern and responsibility. Further recommendations include increased interjurisdictional involvement, greater public access to waterfront surrounding industrial sites and discouraging the pressure to develop in the floodplain.

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