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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Factors affecting the size and location of nucleated settlements in an irrigated agricultural area : a case study of the South Saskatchewan River Project area Downing, Jean Crawford


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the factors affecting the size and location of urban and rural nucleations in an irrigated agricultural area. The locale selected for study is an area in Central Saskatchewan which will become Irrigable upon completion of the South Saskatchewan River Project - a multi-purpose project designed to provide irrigation for half a million acres of land, a source of hydro electric power, and a 150-mile long reservoir with an important recreation potential. The approach is based on Christaller's theory of central places. This theoretical model assumes an "ideal" landscape, where the terrain is flat, there are no barriers to movement, land has equal fertility and population is distributed uniformly. The theory explains the settlement pattern as a hierarchy of central places, classified by functions, and arranged spatially in a regular pattern of interlocking hexagons. The applicability of the theory is examined in two agricultural areas -Southwest Wisconsin (based on a study by John E. Brush) and Saskatchewan (based on a study by the Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life). These studies conclude that the central place theory provides a useful framework of analysis against which to measure deviations and to explain the reasons for the differences from the theoretical model. Experience in planning for nucleated settlements in irrigated areas is not extensive. As a means of pointing up some of the problems of Saskatchewan development by comparison and by contrast, consideration is given to selected experience in regional planning In the Netherlands Polders and in Israel. Studies related to development of the Columbia River Basin in the State of Washington are also considered. The experience elsewhere shows, particularly, the essential relationship of settlement planning to a clearly formulated policy of comprehensive development, the necessity for planning location and size of urban and rural nucleations in relation to the employment base for the region, and the importance of development sequence to effective implementation of a plan. With this theoretical and actual experience in planning for nucleated settlements elsewhere as a background, the present settlement pattern in the South Saskatchewan River Project area is then analyzed, using a functional classification of central places as the starting point, considering the size and shape of service areas, and the factors which distort the pattern from the theoretical model of Christaller. The effects of soil condition, hydrographic factors and transportation are discussed and illustrated by maps. Use of the service center analysis for planning purposes is then considered. It is apparent that the theory provides a system of hierarchical classification that is valuable for analytical purposes to provide an understanding of service center relationships, and that the delineation of trading areas is a further useful tool. The changes which may be brought about by the South Saskatchewan River Project can then be projected, not by a forced attempt at formal adherence to a theory, but by reasoned consideration of the impact of a more intensive agricultural use and recreational potential on particular parts of the region. The method is one of expanding and adjusting service center areas, based on such, factors as the population to be served, road distances between service centers, and comparative drawing power of larger centers. This permits proposals to be made for general location of service centers of different levels in the hierarchy, reclassification of some existing centers, and desirable sequence of development. The value of the study lies in the practical application of the theoretical concept - its use in planning the nucleated settlement pattern of the future. Such planning is advantageous to the region, in permitting more efficient development, with a minimum number of central places of appropriate rank to serve the population. It is also advantageous to the central places in clarifying the opportunities and limitations of their respective roles. Each center is then in a position to develop its functions with the conscious goal of full achievement of appropriate service center status.

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