UBC Theses and Dissertations
Local governance : an assessment of the planning and development of Tumbler Ridge McGrath, Susan
Tumbler Ridge, a resource town situated in northeastern British Columbia, is the first new community developed using the "local government" model. The context for the case study is provided by an examination of resource community development in British Columbia and Western Australia during the post-war period. In both jurisdictions a transition in resource community development methods is evident. The main stimulus for these changes has been the recognition of a variety of endogenous and exogenous problems associated with earlier methods of development. There has been a change away from the paternalistic company town with its outdated mode of private governance to more "open" methods of development which enable a greater degree of self-governance. The Tumbler Ridge project is assessed in some detail in order to Identify its main attributes and drawbacks. Where circumstances such as workforce size, location and anticipated longevity of mining activity favour the establishment of a new town, the Tumbler Ridge case study shows that the "local government" method of development should be preferred over alternative methods of developing new resource communities. The "local government" model has a number of distinct benefits including: financial mechanisms that enable early provision of a high standard of facilities and services, commercial sector brokerage, proactive community development, participatory local government and a reduction in corporate influence. These have resulted in the diminution of social ailments and more rapid progress towards stability and maturity than in resource towns established by alternative methods. The most significant remaining problem is the provision of service sector housing and the attainment of a sufficiently integrated housing market. Changes in the approach to resource community development are primarily the outcome of changes in provincial policy. Whereas in the pre-war and early post-war period, economic development was the overriding factor, in recent decades, settlement policy, which is essentially concerned with social and livability aspects of development, and environmental policy, have introduced a range of other considerations and contributed to present trends in resource community development. The form that future resource community development takes will depend primarily on the disposition of the prevailing political party. To the extent that provincial settlement policy is influenced by the outcome of previous initiatives, Tumbler Ridge is likely to reinforce existing tendencies towards municipally-lead development. One of the most important contributions of the Tumbler Ridge project is that it has enabled the articulation of a set of theoretical relationships that exists between governance institutions, the tools and skills required to operationalize these.
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