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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The forest industry as a determinant of settlement British Columbia : the case for interegation through regionalal planning. Gilmour, James Frederick

Abstract

The forest industry is the most important economic activity in the Province of British Columbia, with half the families in the province depending directly or indirectly on the industry's $400 million annual payroll. Predictions of $1 billion worth of new capital investment materializing within the next five years provide a firm indication that the industry will retain this position of economic importance throughout the forseeable future. The growth of the forest industry has had a profound effect upon the settlement pattern of British Columbia, characterized principally by an extreme concentration of productive facilities, and hence of population, in the south-west of the province, and a thin diffusion of employment and population throughout the remainder. In this large hinterland the population is scattered throughout a myriad of camps, company towns and isolated settlements which are able to provide for their residents a minimum level of goods and services and a narrow range of opportunities for personal development and self-realization. Thus, for many thousands of workers and their families, employment in the forest industry involves denial of the opportunity to participate fully in the prosperous and variegated way of life which the industry has so materially assisted to create within the province. The Provincial Government has, to some extent, indicated an awareness of this condition, for the two declared objectives of its forest policies are the assurance of a perpetual yield of timber, and the establishment of prosperous permanent communities. Policies to ensure the fulfillment of the first objective have been thoroughly prepared, and conscientiously and competently applied. Policies to ensure the fulfillment of the second objective, on the other hand, are still lacking. The anticipated wave of new investment in the industry will produce significant changes in provincial settlement patterns, in the form of several new towns in hitherto undeveloped areas and of a re-structuring of communities in already established areas. If controlled by firm government policy, these changes could be directed toward the creation of a settlement pattern which would make available to the citizens of the province the highest level of goods, services and urban amenities which the province is capable of providing. In order to achieve this objective the developmental activities of the forest industry would have to be coordinated with those of all other agencies, both public and private, which are engendering urbanization within the province. Such coordination could only be achieved by the creation of a framework for developmental planning which would be province wide in scope, comprehensive enough to embrace all developmental action, and capable of accounting for regional variations. By establishing a Provincial Development Department at Cabinet level, with the portfolio being held by the Provincial Premier, a means would be provided for effectively initiating and controlling development on a comprehensive province wide basis. By establishing regional branch offices of the Provincial Development Department a means would be provided for the achievement of regional accountability. It would, be the responsibility of the Regional Development Offices to prepare regional development plans for the areas under their jurisdiction. Coordination of activity at the regional level would be assured through the establishment of a Regional Inter-departmental Committee consisting of the regional representatives of all government departments functioning within the region. By bringing the regional representative of the British Columbia Forest Service into the Regional Inter-departmental Committee, and by making all forestry development subject to the Regional Development Plans, developments within, the forest industry could be directed and controlled so as to make the maximum possible contribution to the realization of an optimum settlement pattern within each region.

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