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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Small town growth management planning for socially sustainable change in Pemberton, British Columbia Wilson, Rima Lee


Using the community of Pemberton, BC, as a case study, this thesis explores the impacts of rapid growth and growth management on social conditions and long-term social well-being in small towns. In recent years, rapid growth in Pemberton has had a significant impact on social and economic conditions in the community. Yet with little attention in the literature to small town growth management, or to the relationship between growth management and social sustainability, the community has little guidance in planning for sustainable change. Employing both primary and secondary research methods (including key informant interviews, a review of the relevant literature, and analyses of related reports, government publications, and survey results), this analysis is intended to contribute to the general body of knowledge about rural growth management planning, and to the community's efforts to sensitively and sustainably manage its growth. In so doing, the study first establishes the theoretical context by considering the history and dimensions of growth management, and by exploring the concept of social sustainability and its relationship to growth management planning. Subsequently, in examining a number of areas of social and economic change in Pemberton (the economic base, the balance of residential and economic growth, housing affordability, town character, and community amenities), this study explores the impacts of growth on equity, social capital, and quality of life in the community, and offers the following lessons for sustainable growth management in other small towns. First, it demonstrates the ways in which growth can impact local social conditions, and the opportunities and constraints it presents for the preservation of social sustainability in the future. Furthermore, it illustrates the importance of considering the regional context in the design of growth management policies and incorporating an informed public into planning processes. Most importantly, this analysis reveals the ways in which a comprehensive and proactive growth management strategy which embodies community values and priorities can improve the likelihood that a community's long-term social well-being is preserved in the face of change.

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