New Paper: The local planning-economic development nexus in transitioning resource-industry towns: Reflections (mainly) from BC

April 10, 2018

Congratulations to Roger Hayter on his newest paper "The local planning-economic development nexus in transitioning resource-industry towns: Reflections (mainly) from British Columbia"

"Local economic restructuring in a once dominant economic base, resource remapping imperatives that are privileging long neglected environmental values and aboriginal rights, and local empowerment are three intersecting themes that contextualize the idea of transitioning resource towns. Drawing especially from BC experience, this paper seeks to better understand transitioning resource towns from the perspective of the local planning-economic development nexus. While literature on resource town rejuvenation has emphasized local initiative and empowerment the role of local planning has been largely neglected. Yet local (‘municipal’) planning is a quintessentially local activity that profoundly shapes the routines of daily life through legally mandated ‘official’ plans that are required to draw upon community participation to meet collective community goals. However, the relationships between local planning and local development are problematical as they co-evolve in path dependent ways, sometimes in harmony with each other and sometimes not. Indeed, the onset of transitioning among resource towns implies important changes in the planning-development nexus. Initially, as resource towns boomed local planning played a subservient role in support of ‘given’ export-drive development. With the onset of transitioning, local planning is challenged to become part of more pro-active local efforts to promote development. In practice, transitioning can be a durable status as restructuring and remapping imperatives reframe local governance and impose significant, inter-locking uncertainties on the planning-development planning nexus, often in association with increased regional networking. Even though transitioning suggests a search for new identities, the geographic realities of resource towns often implies mega-project proposals are enticing. Yet, these proposals are speculative, often opposed by remapping agents, and not easy to plan. Thinking about future development is also constrained by the inheritance of past plans that for many transitioning towns feature obsolescing downtown cores that comprise deteriorating commercial activities, housing stocks, infrastructure, and environmental clean-up issues. While these problems are varied, deep-seated and difficult to address, their rejuvenation illustrates the proactivity of local planning in leading development that can potentially benefit communities in relation to job creation, housing needs, commercial vitality, image and identity. Cooperative approaches among regionally connected transitioning towns and adjacent communities is suggested as a possible way of approaching the conundrums posed by obsolescing cores in transitioning towns."

Author Information

Roger Hayter: Retired Faculty member in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University.

Stephen Nieweler:  PhD student (on leave) in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University.