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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A territorial regional perspective for resource settlement planning Bell, James William Stanley


This thesis addresses the problem of resource town instability and focuses on resource settlement planning, assuming that a stable resource community is dependent on the settlement planning approach. The problem is addressed through the development of a new theoretical approach. It stems in part from a synthesis of the two dominant perspectives in the literature on resource towns --the "internal" and the "external" perspective. The internal perspective is expressed in the traditional resource settlement literature. Its goal is a stable labour supply to be attained by a focus on the physical and social attributes of the towns. This literature assumes a stable workforce stems from a stable community which can be achieved through physical and social planning applied at the community level. The external perspective is expressed by the critical resource settlement literature. Its goal is stable labour demand to be attained by a radical restructuring of the regional and provincial economy. The critical literature assumes that the long term stability of a resource community's employment base is dependent on fluctuating external markets over which the community has no control. The flaw of the internal perspective is its failure to address the need for long term stable labour demand. The external perspective is flawed by the absence of a policy prescription for settlement planning. The research methods comprise a review of the literature on planning theory, resource settlement planning and regional development. The proposed perspective is elaborated through a comparison of theoretical concepts with current British Columbia provincial policy as manifest in three recent applications; Elkford, Tumbler Ridge and Northwestern British Columbia. The result is a synthesis of the internal and external perspectives providing an alternative resource settlement planning approach which addresses resource community stability in the long as well as the short term. The salient points of the proposed resource settlement planning approach are-. • A territorial rather than a functional interpretation of regional development and settlement planning based on: - an internal regional focus for development which utilizes local social and economic goals; - a composite interpretation of the region, comprised of social, cultural, physical and economic dimensions; - a conservationist approach to resource use; and - a long run perspective in evaluating development. • The replacement of the goal of community stability by the goal of regional resilience. A resilient region is comprised of economically, socially and politically interlinked settlements which jointly serve the region's population; • A strategic planning process which employs bottom up representation involving local institutions and interest groups. The Elkford and Tumbler Ridge case studies indicate that the current provincial policy; 1. Relies on a strategic planning process, 2. attempts to move towards bottom up representation in implementing settlement plans and 3. is effective in creating short term community stability. But the current policy has not addressed long term stability. The territorial regional settlement planning approach developed in this thesis was tested for Northwest British Columbia. Suggested "ideal" planning actions for Northwest British Columbia are: • A shift in focus from examining settlement options which will best serve mining interests to an analysis of how mining can best serve regional development; • A development strategy which looks at alternative forms of development and the relationship between them and the mining proposals; • The use of the mine projects to encourage economic and social diversification in existing settlements in the southern part of the northwest region; • Greater use of local institutions and interest groups in the planning and implementation phase; and • The use of regionally based criteria in examining the settlement options. Given existing provincial resource settlement policies, two steps can be taken to move towards a territorial regional approach to resource settlement planning: 1. use and build upon existing settlement systems, and 2. use resource projects to foster regionally based economic diversification by planning ahead.

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