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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Political interpretations of Canada’s national parks policy George, Christopher Brock

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to define a number of scales that relate to the dimensions that a Planner is concerned with in planning National Parks and to see if Canada's Members of Parliament respond to items on these scales in such a way as to define autonomous policy areas. It proposed, also, to examine the results attained to see if the way the politician responds is related to certain socio-economic, political and park characteristics. A review of the historical development of the National Parks Policy was carried out as a means of identifying those particular areas of policy which have been the most critical in defining National Park purpose. The same policy areas remain today as those which provide the foundation for the preparation of viable plans which allocate land-uses in such a way as to achieve harmony between preservation and use. Seven policy areas were identified from the historical review and from the experience of the park planner as critical to planning. These were: park integrity; park zoning; park access; land-based recreation; water-based recreation; urban-style recreation; park townsites. By putting individual policy statements in the form of questions, a scale could be developed, based on a pattern of responses, which related to the policy areas which had been identified. It was recognized also, that certain personal characteristics and other related factors may be important in understanding how a person responds and would be scaled. A questionnaire was prepared based on the various individual policy statements and was sent to the Members of the House of Commons, in order to determine if they did, in fact, define the policy areas in the same way as the Park Planners. A section soliciting socio-economic and related characteristics was included in the questionnaire. Responses to the socio-economic section and the low response rate of thirty-three percent indicated that the sample collected was not representative of the Member of Parliament at large. It was decided, however, to continue to analyze the data, realizing that the results could not be claimed as representative. A factor analysis computer program was used to analyze the data. The derivation of rotated factor matrices indicated that the Members of Parliament did not view the seven policy areas as autonomous, rather a series of twelve policy patterns emerged which the politician indentified as important to his consideration of policy. The twelve were: resource development; inconspicuous development; transportation with minimum impairment; maximum transportation development; no airport development; traditional recreation; all-terrain vehicles; high cost, fast-moving water-based recreation low cost, slow-moving water-based recreation; phasing-out townsites by limiting development; retain townsites and maintain high standards; townslte autonomy. A factor score matrix was produced from the computer package which defined scores (both positive and negative) pertaining to the twelve new policy patterns for each respondent. The differences in scores were then analyzed to determine which characteristics accounted for the differences in scores. The Automatic Interaction Detector (AID) technique was used to identify the independent variables accounting for the differences in scores. The AID technique provides a means of identifying the variables in order of influence for each score. It was not possible, however, to categorize the variables relative to the positive and negative scores. Also the variables could not be categorized between the twelve policy patterns. Of the thirteen respondent characteristics (independent variables) assumed to influence the responses to the questionnaire and the derived scores, ten were found to be influential in various cases. These were: age income; previous occupation; education; place of childhood; number of years as a Member of Parliament political party province; constituency type; time of last visit to a National Park. The remaining three independent variables: distance to the nearest National Park, park age and percentage of constituency having National Park status, were not found to influence the scores of the Members of Parliament who participated in the study. Previous occupation and Province were shown to be influential in a majority of cases. It is concluded that while the professional position of the Park Planner must remain free of political constraints in decision-making, the plans must provide realistic alternatives to counter the concerns expressed by the politician.

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