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Swimming upstream : citizen involvement in the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) McNaney, Kevin Colin

Abstract

From the inception of the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) in 1985, FREMP has continually espoused a shared-decision making approach to managing this fertile and rapidly developing estuary. While FREMP has been arguably quite successful in facilitating collaboration and shared-decision making among the various levels of government in the region, the nongovernmental community (including environmental and community groups, academia, industry and the general public) has only had occasional and unsatisfactory involvement in these decision making processes despite continued promises of greater community involvement (CI). The "product" of this CI effort is marked by conflict with a community that is increasingly critical of the credibility of FREMP, hostile to the decisions made by the program, and questioning of the basic foundations of the estuary management plan (EMP). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the "process" of community involvement in FREMP from 1985 to 1998 (from estuary planning to implementation) through a series of interviews with individuals who actively participated in FREMP, and through a review of the various reports produced throughout the process. This research is approached within a framework developed for an evaluation of citizen involvement in the land and resource management planning (LRMP) process in British Columbia (Duffy et al., 1998). The project concludes by recommending various policy options for FREMP's ongoing CI efforts that accentuate clarity of process, involvement beyond "tokenism", communication and feedback, and the provision of adequate resources. The recommendations include a spectrum of possible future approaches to CI that range from a complete retreat from CI in FREMP's decision making processes, to building on the lessons from the past in an effort to explore new, progressive means of involving citizens in the management of the Fraser River estuary.

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