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The impact of new industry on municipal services and amenities and on the economic structure of some selected small communities Walton, Dennis Brian

Abstract

For some time now there has been a growing tendency for new industry to locate in or near small communities for reasons varying from deliberate decentralization for defense purposes to the purely economic necessity of locating near the site of required natural resources. This study is concerned with communities in such area where the new industry's activity is large in comparison with the economic activity already in existence and thus the new industry often becomes the dominant or characteristic function of the community. Quite naturally under these conditions new industry has a considerable impact on the social, economic and physical makeup of a community. The effects may be, and often are, so significant that the resources of the community may be stretched to breaking point in its effort to adapt to meet the changes brought about. Far worse is the fact that within the community itself there is often little realization of the far reaching changes which may result from the presence of a new plant and therefore little forethought is given to population changes, in terms of number or characteristics, or the changes in community service and facility needs which will ensue. As a result little if any planning is done to meet and ameliorate these changes. There is much evidence of this sort of thing having taken place in British Columbia and there are indications that large industrial concerns will continue to locate in small communities in that Province. Different methods commonly used for measuring the impact of new industry are discussed and evaluated, and the proposition is advanced that the use of any one method may not have any meaning. The approach adopted is therefore descriptive and qualitative. No quantitative indices are sought and no attempt is made to arrive at a precise quantitative measure of change, rather the area of change is emphasized throughout. The procedure followed consists of an examination of published accounts of experiences in the United States and Canada and a study of some selected communities in the Province of British Columbia. The work is chiefly concerned with community economic structure and services and facilities; the sociological aspects of change are not examined. The analysis of the experience of communities is concerned with isolated significant aspects of change and with the broader effects on the economic structure of the community as a whole. The analysis is further concerned with different types of communities and how the impact of a given new industry may vary with community type. Implications for planning are dealt with and specific planning measures are advanced to ameliorate the impact of new industry. Since the knowledge of this impact is not enough for municipalities in poor financial condition the notion is advanced that financial assistance is necessary from a higher level of government and that there is a definite role for a super municipal government in many communities for this and other reasons.

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