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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Culture and change in the Northwest Territories : implications for community infrastructure planning Cameron, James J.


Water and sanitation services play an important role in protecting public health and facilitating community growth. However, the choice of technology has significant implications for the social, economic and political development and autonomy of the community. The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the objectives, process and content of planning water and sanitation services in communities in the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.). Relationships, issues and the decision making process are examined at the regional, local and infrastructure levels. Objectives for water and sanitation services are investigated to evaluate the link between knowledge and actions. Technical, economic and planning considerations are examined in the evaluation of policies and systems. Examination of objectives reveals that knowledge of relationships is insufficient to objectively establish a level of service policy or to select technology. Examination of water and sanitation planning in Native communities indicates that the N.W.T. Government establishes the objectives and criteria, conducts the planning studies, and is ultimately responsible for selecting, installing and operating the systems. Infrastructure planning is narrowly focused on the technical and economic considerations in the selection of technology. The values and perceptions of the Native people which the systems are meant to serve are neglected or downgraded. Examination of water and sanitation alternatives indicates that major factors in the evaluation of technology are water consumption, housing type, population, local employment opportunities, and self-reliance. Trucked water delivery and sewage pump out systems are an intermediate technology between rudimentary self-haul and sophisticated piped systems. Trucked systems provide high levels of service, flexibility and local employment and they facilitate local administrative, financial, political and physical control over community infrastructure. This thesis recommends that the N.W.T. Government devolve the resources, responsibility and authority for planning and managing water and sanitation services to the community level. The community should be the controller and the client in a planning process which emphasizes social learning and community development. The primary role of the N.W.T. Government should be to assist the people in assessing the conditions of their lives and community so that they can plan and alter these conditions for the better.

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