UBC Theses and Dissertations
Manitoba's regional development corporations : lessons for locally-based rural development Becker, David A.
Over the last century the Prairie region has undergone a transition from predominantly rural to predominantly urban settlement. By the early 1900s emphasis began to shift from rural-based primary activities to urban-based industrial activity. One product of this transition was the marginalization of rural communities. An examination of literature pertinent to Canadian development policy reveals no single solution to rural decline. Instead there are numerous theories and recommendations which communities can adopt. One such strategy has been locally-based development. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to knowledge concerning what locally-based organizations can do to mitigate the impact of decline in rural communities. As a case study, Manitoba's Regional Development Corporations (RDCs) are analyzed within the context of the provincial government's overall approach for rural development in order to investigate their effectiveness in contributing to locally-based rural development. This effectiveness is measured in goals, strategies and processes of an RDC as they changed over three periods: (1) 1963/73, (2)1973/83, (3) 1983/90. In each period the following questions were asked: 1. What priorities or objectives were emphasized in provincial development policy? 2. What strategies were used by the province and RDCs to achieve rural development? 3. What role was established for locally-based participation? Throughout the three study periods the province's regional policies remained based on laissez-faire economic principles, while the RDC approach was oriented to regional-national integration (i.e., merging of regional economic activity with national and international markets). The conclusion is that RDCs affected rural development by enhancing the abilities of local businesses participating in the provincial marketplace. RDCs have concentrated on supporting a process for adapting to rural transition, rather than reversing forces impinging on rural communities. Lessons extended from the RDC study suggest that if efforts to enhance a rural area's competitive position in national or international markets become the principal objective for local development, the unique qualities associated with rural life may be difficult to maintain.