Canadian Regional Development a Critical Review of Theory, Practice, and Potentials: A Case Study of the Kittiwake Economic Zone, Newfoundland and Labrador

Daniels, Jennifer and Vodden, Kelly and Minnes, Sarah and Breen, Sarah (2014) Canadian Regional Development a Critical Review of Theory, Practice, and Potentials: A Case Study of the Kittiwake Economic Zone, Newfoundland and Labrador. Project Report. The Harris Centre.

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We outlined preliminary Newfoundland and Labrador findings of a four-year cross Canada research project investigating regional development in theory and practice as well as considerations for future potentials in advancing regional development in the province and across the country. The larger project has compared the policies and practices of four provinces: British Columbia, NL, Ontario and Quebec and in specific regions in each province. Two NL regions were investigated. This allowed for exploration of varying and similar approaches and circumstances within the province, in particular, in the Kittiwake Economic Zone/Gander-New-Wes-Valley Rural Secretariat Region. The report contributes to a greater understanding of the ways “new regionalism” has been and can be applied to the Kittiwake regional context, and how this might facilitate more appropriate regional policies and future practices. We examined five key themes of regional development and new regionalism. We wanted to see if policy makers and practitioners on the front line were re-focusing on place itself as a development starting point. In the Kittiwake region, we found that geographical landscapes, histories and socio-cultural identities have influenced initiatives, plans and programs. This influence exists on a community scale, but there is little evidence of a region-wide identity. The impacts of transient workers on place-based approaches was also raised in the research as a topic for further study, complementary with the new research initiative – On the Move– at Memorial University. There was little evidence of formal place-based sustainability initiatives other than some watershed related initiatives. Second, we investigated the extent to which power and development decision-making is shared among different groups at all levels: a key ingredient of governance. Throughout the region it was clear that there was a lack of consistency in what governance meant to different actors. Many multiple community collaborations were taking place, however there was a lack of a coherent region-wide strategy. Local actors have become aware of the need for governance, though it is evident that when collaborations exist between multi-levels of government (federal, provincial, local) and non-government organizations, senior government still maintain the majority of decision-making power. Third, the role knowledge and innovation play in the development process in the Kittiwake region was explored. Memorial University and the Harris Centre were strong actors for the support of knowledge flows and innovation. Barriers to innovation included: limited access to capital, attraction and retention of human resources, aging rural populations and youth out migration. In monitoring current policies and creating new policies and programs most evaluations remain informal in nature, as are the knowledge claims made by interview respondents. Rural-urban relationship management was another theme of this research. It was found that rural and urban interactions in the region were usually either more informal associative interactions or solely based on market or bureaucratic agendas. The realization of the economic interdependencies within economic networks in the Kittiwake region has recently become more prevalent, as demonstrated by with branding exercises such as ‘Buy Local: Keep it in Kittiwake’. Finally, we wanted to know the extent to which a wide variety of actors, sectors and issues are integrated into regional development practices. Throughout the Kittiwake region there is the acknowledgement of complexities in planning. However, in regards to multi-objective perspectives, planning, regional development and policies are still strongly economic centric, especially at the federal and provincial level. To date, there is no evidence of an all encompassing Kittiwake/Gander-New-Wes-Valley regional plan. The components of regional development according to the framework of new regionalism are present to various extents throughout the region, making it inappropriate to make an overall statement regarding the applicability of new regionalism in Kittiwake regional development practice. The Department of Industry, Business and Rural Development, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation (KEDC) were found to be strong region-wide actors. KEDC was found to be the leading organization pursuing an explicit regional agenda in economic development. The closure of the REDB is likely to threaten progress in regional economic development approaches. We provided several recommendations regarding future regional development policies and practices based on the five themes under investigation in the Kittiwake region. We recognize that further analysis is required and that maintaining continued relationships with our research partners and regional stakeholders is critical in furthering knowledge and community mobilization around a regional development agenda.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Item ID: 8143
Keywords: Knowledge flow and Innovation, Collaborative multi-level governance, Regional Development, Place-based development, Rural-urban interactions, Integrated development
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Divisions > The Harris Centre
Date: 2014
Date Type: Publication
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