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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Programs of socio-economic impact management : the Norman Wells project Kerr, Muriel Ann


Social and economic impacts are often by-products of large scale resource development projects. These socio-economic impacts have become an important component of assessment and review processes during the 1970's and are beginning to attract attention as an issue within impact management. Effective measures of socio-economic impact management are being sought by industry, government and communities who wish to mitigate or avoid negative impacts and/or to enhance potential positive impacts of development. The Norman Wells Oilfield Expansion and Pipeline Project, approved by the Federal Cabinet on July 30, 1981 was formally assessed as having potentially significant socio-economic impacts. The Federal Government therefore created a number of measures that constituted a socio-economic impact management plan. One of these measures was a benefits package of $21.4 million "to ensure that the training objectives, jobs and business opportunities which we have insisted be part of this project are real and meaningful." The federal government's "coordination approach" to management associated with the Norman Wells Project has been vetted as a model for the management of future development projects. The subject of this thesis is the implementation of two of the impact funding programs within this benefits package. The thesis purpose is to assess the effectiveness of these impact funding initiatives as programs of socio-economic impact management. The descriptions of the two initiatives chosen for this analysis indicate that their general purpose was to involve the Dene Nation and the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories in the initiation of programs of community and social development and of planning support and monitoring for the communities of the Mackenzie Valley. These two programs are the subject of some debate between federal government representatives and representatives of the two native organizations involved in the Norman Wells Project. The key parties-at-interest disagree over the effectiveness of the two initiatives as instruments of socio-economic impact management for the Norman Wells Project. In preparation for the actual analysis of these programs, I first developed a process model for socio-economic impact management. This process model provides the framework within which programs of socio-economic impact management are located. Next, I examined the relationship between the socio-economic issues and anticipated problems identified during the Norman Well's Project review processes and the impact fund initiatives under study. This was achieved through a content analysis of documents produced by the Norman Wells Environmental Assessment and Review Panel (E.A.R.P.) and the National Energy Board. I then examined in full the implementation of the initiatives. This was accomplished through a review of documentation and interviews with the relevant actors associated with the two study impact funding programs. My assessment of the effectiveness of the two study initiatives as programs of socio-economic management is based on a comparison of the implementation of these programs to a set of criteria that reflect the basic requirements of programs of impact management. The two study initiatives failed to satisfy all but the program effectiveness criteria that required a relationship with the public review process concerns. The thesis conclusion, therefore, is that as programs of socio-economic impact management for the Norman Wells Project, the two study initiatives have not been effective. I discuss the basis of this conclusion and propose three recommendations toward the planning for future programs of socio-economic impact management. This thesis contributes to the assessment of the impact management efforts associated with the overall approach to management of the Norman Wells Project. It should be useful for parties involved in the determination of impact management programs in future development projects. This analysis will aid in the planning of effective procedures to reduce negative impacts, thus serving the interests of both those affected directly, and the nation at large.

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