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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Decision-making and conflict resolution in co-management: two cases from Temagami, northeastern Ontario Matakala, Patrick W.


Governments across Canada face increasing demands for public involvement in resource management decision-making, particularly at local levels. At the centre of debate are three issues: (a) the distribution of decision-making authority and responsibility; (b) the distributions of costs and benefits; and (c) the question of sustainability (ecological, social, and economic) at local levels. In the face ofthis wide range of often conflicting interests involving many non-aboriginal stakeholders on one hand, and First Nations on the other, governments want less conflict and believe that they can achieve this through more collaboration or co-management agreements. In particular, governments suspect that both groups above can share in the management decisions and responsibilities of the line agencies responsible for land use and resource management. This thesis uses two cases to investigate the effects of co-management on: the delegation of decision-making authority to local levels; the substance of resource management decisions; social relationships among various actors; and conflict resolution. The two cases, which are both located in Temagami, northeastern Ontario, are the Comprehensive Planning Council (CPC) and the Wendaban Stewardship Authority (WSA). The theoretical framework of the study includes co management, democratic theory and its applications in citizen participation, and conflict resolution and its relationship to the theory of communicative action. Data collection methods involved semi structured interviews with members of both agencies, the local public, and key informants. Documentary sources included minutes, administrative documents, letters, memoranda, government reports, news briefs, and newsclippings pertaining to both co-management agencies. Transient observation was also used in data collection. The study employed content analysis and ‘pattern matching’ as the main analytic strategies. The results of this study show that the decentralization models of co-management agreements examined did not delegate decision-making authority to local levels. While one lacked the authority to effectively advise and influence the decisions of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the other lacked the authority to implement its own decisions. Ultimately, the authority to make and implement decisions rested with the MNR. Generally, the substance of resource management decisions under co-management improved over those made in the past by the MNR, However, the sustainability and equitability of those decisions could not be tested because the MNR, rather than the two co-management agencies, retained both the responsibility and authority to implement those decisions. Therefore, in the absence ofdejure authority by the two agencies to advise/make and implement decisions, the quality of the substance of decisions under co-management could not be determined. The levels of public participation in both agencies’ planning and decision-making processes, and the lack of involvement by stakeholder groups in the selection of members to the two co management agencies, influenced social relationships among actors in co-management. This selection was the exclusive domain of the government. Both theoretical propositions of co-management and citizen participation fail to explicitly discuss the quality of information and methods used as important attributes in effective public participation. While consensus decision-making and land-use zoning technique facilitated conflict resolution in the second case, consensus decision-making was lacking in the first case. In addition, the MNR conducted land-use zoning without the involvement of both local publics and the citizens’ group that it was supposed to share decisions with; thus, exacerbating local conflicts among them. Both practical and theoretical implications of this study findings are discussed.

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