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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Institutional arrangements for improved governance of community watersheds on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. Shay, Heather Marie

Abstract

There is a growing recognition that watersheds are important physical units for implementing sustainability. Many communities and policy makers are recognizing the benefits to adopting a watershed-based approach for problem solving and resource management. What many researchers ignore, however, are the institutional arrangements and governance structures needed to implement a new, participatory, community based process. This research analyzes the institutional arrangements involved in the historical management and planning of the Chapman and Gray Creek watersheds, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Drawing from principles of institutional analysis, multistakeholder decision making, community based watershed management and public participation, the thesis concludes that an institutional analysis and development framework is a useful tool for ecosystem-based practitioners, and provides useful techniques for determining gaps and strengths in watershed governance efforts. The emphasis on community attributes is a strength of the framework; one which is readily apparent in analyzing the nature and history of watershed management on the Sunshine Coast. Additionally, the consideration of transaction costs, including those related to information access and sharing, coordination and collaboration; and strategic costs such as rent seeking and turf protecting, was essential to understanding the nature of interorganizational dynamics, rule systems, and decision making patterns over the history of the management of the Chapman and Grey Creek watersheds. Understanding these dynamics is crucial in identifying areas that show potential for future conflict, as well as areas that should be strengthened and built upon. This case study also demonstrates that governments must move away from stakeholder involvement that seeks to primarily legitimize government decisions or the interests of a selected group, to processes that involve the stakeholders in identifying the issues and proposing possible answers. Additionally, there needs to be a movement away from "closed door" decision making to a more participatory, democratic approach, where the public and affected stakeholders have an opportunity to truly participate and influence government decision making.

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