Presentations

The presentations below provide researchers, students, community, industry, and government stakeholders with quick snap shots of key issues emerging from in-depth research across a range of topic areas.  

Aging
Community Development
Culture and Immigration
Demographic Changes
Economic Development
Governance
Health
Housing
Labour
Poverty
Recreation and Tourism
Regional Development
Resource Royalties
Services
Voluntary Sector
Youth

Aging

Role and Participation of Voluntary Organizations in Handling Severe Crisis in Gamvik, Norway

Tor Gjertsen, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

This presentation looks at the role and participation of voluntary organizations in responding to economic crisis in a resource dependent municipality in northern Norway. In particular, the role of voluntary organizations in supporting the needs of the local population, especially an ageing local population, is explored as one response by resource communities to the challenges of globalization. The long-term community development goal is to become more resilient, more sustainable, and more diverse. Managing for a wider diversity of age groups is part of that undertaking. The Norwegian approach is to situate population ageing within a more holistic understanding of demographic transition. Therefore, attention to youth is also incorporated into any approach to population ageing and community and economic renewal.


Planning for All Ages and Stages of Life in Resource Hinterlands: Lessons from Northern BC

Sean Markey, Greg Halseth, Laura Ryser, and Don Manson

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

Community leaders and stakeholders are struggling to (re)build and update infrastructure and services to accommodate ageing populations and construct more complete communities within a development environment of considerable variability and uncertainty. This presentation argues that a central component of addressing planning uncertainty is to adopt a place-based approach to development. In the absence of broader community and regional economic stability, and coordinated senior government and industry investment, communities may pursue place-based development as a way to ground local planning decisions and interact with government and industry from a position of organized strength. Ultimately, place-based development may enable communities to construct a foundation of community development that will support a diversity of economic opportunities and settlement, service supports for all ages and stages of community life.


New Frontiers of Rural Aging: Resource Hinterland

Neil Hanlon, Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

Resource hinterland settings present a unique context in which to observe and make sense of collective efforts to transform the physical infrastructure and social systems of resource-dependent places in order to accommodate a growing population of older residents. This presentation explores the role of the locally embedded voluntary sector in reconfiguring resource hinterland places to be more age friendly.


Older People, Voluntarism and Aging Places: Pathways of Integration and Marginalization

Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Neil Hanlon, Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

This presentation explores the linkages among population ageing, community development and voluntarism for the purpose of establishing a comprehensive understanding of the various ways in which voluntary organizations and volunteers create supportive environments for ageing in place and positive community development. It highlights the importance of place‐based approaches for understanding rural ageing, particularly the emergent view of voluntarism as a multifaceted and transformative process that shapes and is shaped by the interactions between (older) people and their changing (ageing) communities. The aim is to provide a foundation for debunking prevailing research and policy discourses on ageing that call for greater involvement of voluntary sector organisations and their volunteers in support of older people, but do not take into account the crucial difference ‘place’ makes to understanding voluntary sector activities and volunteering.


Communication Mechanisms for Delivering Information to Seniors in a Changing Small Town Context

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Edmonton, AB, March 2010.

The retirement experiences of older residents in resource towns have been challenged by neoliberal policy decisions driving service restructuring.  The constant change in services, and limited flow of information about such changes, can result in frustration amongst older residents attempting to access services and supports.  Drawing upon 74 key informant interviews with seniors and service providers in Terrace, BC, we explore problems associated with communication strategies that limit seniors’ access to needed supports.  


Lost in Translation: Policy, Research, and Practice Issues around ‘Aging Well’ in Rural and Remote Places

Greg Halseth, Neil Hanlon, and Laura Ryser

Aging Well in Northern, Rural and Remote Communities, BC Network on Aging Research, Prince George, March 26-27, 2008.

The challenges associated with ‘aging well’ in northern, rural, and remote places are becoming increasingly acute. A range of changes, including demographic transition and service restructuring, have brought the need to consider seriously the universe of issues associated with aging well to the forefront of policy, research, and practice communities. While a tremendous amount of work needs yet to be done, there already exists a solid body of practical findings upon which we can start to ground changes necessary to support ‘aging well’. This presentation will review some of these practical findings under five topics: keeping people healthy and happy at home, providing reasonable access to needed services, providing care for the caregivers, providing training for care professionals, and supporting age friendly houses and towns. Action is possible now to improve the health and well-being of all participants supporting population aging in northern, rural, and remote places.


Resource Frontier Aging: Trends and questions from a mature industrial town in northern BC

Greg Halseth, Neil Hanlon, Rachel Clasby, and Virginia Pow

WCAG Conference, Lethbridge, AB, March 11-13, 2005.

New towns along the Canadian resource frontier were built to attract and retain a viable workforce for industry. The target workforce focussed primarily on young married couples. As these towns developed a mature industrial base, limited new entry opportunities were created such that youth out-migration and limited in-migration occurred. The result was a process of workforce aging. More recently, social, political, and economic restructuring has also been changing the landscapes of work and service provision in these resource frontier towns. The combined result is a process of accelerated “resource frontier aging” in a community and service setting not designed for older residents. Our paper examines this process of “resource frontier aging” in Mackenzie, BC by tracking population change and by posing policy questions about how to cope with these changes.


Community Development


Cooperative Arrangements between Mining Companies and Local Communities in Finnish Lapland and Northern British Columbia, Canada

Seija Tuulentie, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences ICASS IX, Umeå University in Sweden, 2017.

In relation to the increase of public participation in all fields of governance, the mining industry is nowadays forced to take care of community relations under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social sustainability. The transition from government to governance has meant that the boundaries between public, private and voluntary sectors have changed and distinctions between civil society and the state have become blurred. This is especially relevant to the emergence of debates regarding the need for industry to obtain a ‘social license’ to operate. This also enables the voices of mining-affected communities to become more influential in mineral development decision making and political processes.But what are the concrete arrangements of putting CSR into practice? Two examples from northern British Columbia and two from Finnish Lapland show how the local contents and institutional arrangements vary. The analysis is based on interviews with local actors in four communities. The arrangements vary from an established community liaison committee to a situation where there is only very little communication and cooperation between the mining company and local community.In such cases where environmental problems emerge, or where the closure of the mine takes place, good communications and established co-operation modes prove their importance, and, vice versa, the lack of communication increases the problems.


Understanding Industry Impacts

Greg Halseth, Laura Ryser, Sean Markey, and Marleen Morris

Presentation for the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club, Kitimat / Terrace, BC, 2017.

This event was designed to provide a primer on the types of issues that can emerge during the development of large-scale industrial projects, with a particular focus on the socio-economic impacts and opportunities associated with such developments. Topics included understanding northern BC, re-orienting to readiness, cumulative effects and impacts, stages of major industrial projects, and recreation issues related to large industry projects.


It’s Community that Matters: Tracking Social and Economic Transformation in Kitimat, 2011-2016

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Presentation for the District of Kitimat, Kitimat, BC, 2017.

Kitimat is a community with a long history of industrial investment. The period of rapid growth from 2011 to 2016, however, prompted a complex set of pressures for community stakeholders. With several large-scale industrial projects being constructed or proposed in Kitimat, there have been several longstanding concerns, including how to maximize the benefits and long-term legacies from large-scale industrial investments in order to better position the community moving forward. This presentation provides a summary about the key actions and issues identified for different stakeholders throughout the tracking study.


Employment Roundtable

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, and Marleen Morris

Small Towns Big Business Initiative, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2016.

This presentation explores the complexities of responding to both local and mobile labour issues in communities and rural regions that have large-scale resource development projects.  To set the foundation, we introduce a continuum to establish the range of employment issues that need to be considered during exploration, construction, operations, and closure.  Four topic areas are covered including education and training, recruitment and retention strategies, workplace and work camp policies, and infrastructure and services that need to be in place to support that workforce.  


The Search for New Practices Guiding Industry-Community Relationships: A Critical Examination of the Structural Underpinnings of Rapid Growth in Resource Regions

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, and Marleen Morris

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Vancouver, BC. June 1-5, 2015.

More than three decades of restructuring has transformed the nature of work and community relationships in resource hinterlands. Towns once built to accommodate large local workforces are now immersed in much more fluid flows of labour and capital. In British Columbia, proposed mining, oil and gas, LNG, and hydro projects may provide potential opportunities to diversify and strengthen communities.  However, many community, industry, and senior government stakeholders have concerns about their capacity to be ready for the anticipated “boomtown” circumstance of rapid growth and development.  Drawing upon experiences from Canada, the US, Australia, and Scotland, this presentation examines structural impediments undermining the capacity of stakeholders to respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with rapid growth and mobile workforces.  Our findings suggest that policies and information structures have not been retooled and redesigned to support mobile workforces.  Key structural concerns include obsolete policies and regulations to guide the development, tracking, and decommissioning of work camps; limited information and Census data about mobile workforces; the use of different methodologies to forecast growth and impacts; underdeveloped information management systems to track the cumulative impacts of single and multiple resource projects; and an absence of orientation packages and information portals for industry and mobile workers. 


Economies, Environments, and Communities: Transitioning to Place-Based Rural Development

Greg Halseth, Laura Ryser, Marleen Morris, and Sean Markey

University of the Arctic’s Thematic Network on Northern Regional Development, Tana, Norway, October 23-26, 2013.

The past 30 years have witnessed significant change for rural and small town places in all developed economies. The shift from comparative advantage economies to competitive advantage economies, together with social and political restructuring, have made transition and change the only “constants” for most small communities. This paper draws upon recent research from several OECD countries to explore how rural communities can transition to a more effective place-based approach to development. The paper opens with a background review of issues common to rural and small town places as a result of the circumstances of the new global economy. It then turns attention to a better understanding of the processes of place-based development and community transition. The last two sections of the paper then explore challenges around bottom-up/top-down development supports, as well as the challenges in forging and maintaining the collaborative links so needed to help maintain resilient economies and sustainable communities. The paper ends with a discussion of issues arising from this work.


The Long Road between Small Towns: Barriers to Building Community Development Partnerships in Rural BC  

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Ottawa, ON, June 2009.

Northern BC is a rural landscape whose small town communities are struggling to cope with economic, social, and political change.  The Omineca Beetle Action Coalition was established in 2005 to respond to challenges and opportunities associated with the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) epidemic.  As a part of this response, the Community Development Institute was charged with assessing linkages that exist across the OBAC region. Networks enhance community resiliency; link residents to a wider range of expertise, resources, and supports; and can lead to partnerships, new service or business arrangements, new processes, and other innovations.  Using key informant interviews with economic development officers and chief administrative officers in 11 OBAC communities, this study examined networks between local and other local, regional, provincial, and federal organizations.  This information can be used as a foundation to determine what, if any, potential network contacts a municipality may need for development planning or economic transition. Further efforts are needed to strengthen working relationships with First Nations and regional economic development organizations.  If networks are going to be mobilized to their full potential, problems associated with operations, human capital, access to resources, and ability to follow through must be addressed.  


The Importance of Social and Economic Infrastructure in Northern BC Community Revitalization

Greg Halseth

Winter Cities Conference - Shaping Communities for Winter, Prince George, BC, 2003.

Northern BC is a complex physical and human landscape. Across that landscape, economic, social, and political restructuring are accelerating the pace of change. As northern BC’s communities work to deal with that change, they encounter two challenges. The first is basic access to information that is both timely and relevant to their circumstances. Research at UNBC is working to provide that kind of information. The second is that while public policy increasingly calls for bottom-up community development, it is at the same time removing some of the basic pieces of the social and economic infrastructure needed to support grassroots development activity. This presentation provides some background on the scope and nature of the changes with which northern BC’s communities must work. It also identifies key elements necessary to support local economic development in the north. Finally, it will introduce a project focussed on identifying whether a unique northern BC perspective can be applied to a regional economic development vision and strategy. While northern BC’s communities each have unique assets and aspirations, the region as a whole shares some basic linkages and confronts some general challenges. Past research and current projects hope to add to a foundation for revitalization across northern BC.


Exploring Winter Cities in Northern BC

Laura Ryser and Peter Jackson

Winter Cities Conference - Shaping Communities for Winter, Prince George, BC, 2003.

Climate plays an important role in our communities.  It shapes our recreational and tourism opportunities.  It also affects when and how we move throughout the urban environment.  In fact, some have suggested that climate especially can pose challenges to mobilization and social interaction during winter months.  This presentation will begin by reviewing what defines a winter city, followed by exploring climate characteristics of Northern B.C. towns including Fort St. John, Prince George, and Williams Lake.  This presentation also highlights the implications that climates have for local governments to tourism and recreational opportunities, as well as implications for health and attracting residents to places.


Overcoming Challenges to Winter City Development

Laura Ryser

Winter Cities Conference - Shaping Communities for Winter, Prince George, BC, 2003.

Climate responsive design principles enhance the efficiency of city maintenance, while improving the livability of urban spaces.  These principles have been discussed in academia and in urban development for decades.  Even with a solid foundation of knowledge available on the subject, climate responsive design is not implemented on a consistent basis.  Commercial redevelopment provides an opportunity to examine barriers to climate responsive design as designs are reviewed by a design panel and approved by council as a part of the development permit process.  This presentation will explore institutional barriers to climate responsive design, as well as ways to over come challenges to winter city development.


Culture and Immigration

Hidden Avenue(s) of (Im)migration: Transnational Experiences of Mail-Order Brides in Northern BC

Catherine Nolin, Anisa Zehtab-Martin, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Association of American Geographers, Washington, DC, April 2010.

The global mail-order bride (MOB) industry is a booming legal business based on the spousal sponsorship of women in countries of the Global South by men in countries of the Global North, often facilitated by international introduction agencies. Women from countries such as the Philippines and Russia have traveled to Canada as MOBs since the 1980s. Many of these women settle with their new husbands in rural communities outside of the primary Canadian gateway cities of Vancouver, Montréal, and Toronto. A growing number of women are settling in communities of northern British Columbia (BC) as a result of spousal sponsorship. Their integration challenges are soon apparent once the women meet their new husbands and move to what many believe is a 'land of opportunity.'  This presentation explores the highly gendered hidden avenues of (im)migration and settlement of MOBs in northern BC, with specific focus on the experiences of women living in the 'periphery.'


Demographic Changes

Managing Rural Population Decline in British Columbia: Patterns, Processes, and Prospects

Greg Halseth

UBC Year of Japan Conference, Vancouver, BC, 2002.

The 2001 Canadian Census identified a clear disjuncture in population growth rates across British Columbia. Metropolitan centres continued with a pattern of population growth while nearly all rural and small town places across the province recorded population declines. In some respects, these results are not surprising. This paper reviews recent patterns in population change across British Columbia, highlighting the differences between the metropolitan and non-metropolitan parts of the province. It then identifies long term processes which have been active in driving rural population change. In BC, the period from 1950 to 1980 saw considerable growth in rural and small town places through an expansion of natural resource development. Since that time, however, economic restructuring outcomes, including the consolidation of firms and facilities, the substitution of technology for labour, and the closure of some industries due to resource exhaustion, has reduced rural employment. Economic restructuring, now coupled with accelerating globalization and cutbacks in public sector funding, will continue to place great downward pressures on rural and small town populations, and circumscribe opportunities for economic revitalization. The paper concludes with a review of the public policy disjuncture which at once calls for increased ‘bottom up’ community development while at the same time removing basic public sector supports which provide a foundation for retaining and attracting both people and economic activity.


Economic Development

Knowledge and Action in Support of Small Town Economic Transition

Marc von der Gonna, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

Taking the Next Steps: Sustainability Planning, Policy and Participation for Rural Canadian Communities Conference, Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta, Camrose, Alberta, 2010.

Pressures limiting community development and community economic development in rural and small town places include challenges around human resources, infrastructure, industrial capacity, policy supports, environmental assets, and others. Addressing these pressures and challenges often means accessing information and research capacity. Building community-university partnerships is one way by which small places can access needed information and research.  This presentation draws upon the research and community development relationship between the town of McBride BC and the University of Northern British Columbia – a relationship built upon past projects that fostered a level of understanding and cooperation. Today, the McBride Community Forest (MCF) is a key tool for local community development and economic diversification. Balancing economic, social, community, and environmental concerns, the MCF operates within a competitive business environment. In turn, the Community Development Institute (CDI) at UNBC undertakes research, information sharing, and educational outreach to assist communities interested in making informed decisions about their own futures. The presentation begins with an outline of the McBride – UNBC research relationship and concludes with some fundamentals for developing successful community-university relationships that can meet current needs and endure over the longer term.


Understanding and Transforming a Staples Economy: The Case of Place-Based Development in Northern BC, Canada

Greg Halseth

The Space to Place: The Next Rural Economies Workshop, UNBC, Prince George, BC, 2008.

The territory that is present day British Columbia (BC) has a long history with trade. For millennia, long distance trading relationships sustained First Nations people as they traded for products not available locally. The post-World War II expansion of industrial forestry into the interior and north of the province was similarly based upon long distance trading relationships to build social and economic well being. Success in those trading relationships was founded upon the identification of goods and materials desired by other trade partners. Building upon identified comparative advantages, the task was then to overcome the challenge of distance, or space, in connecting commodity producing regions with markets. At the start of the 21st Century, the commodity-based resource economies of northern BC are being buffeted by changing global trading relations and must find new and creative ways to adapt.

This presentation explores how the foundations of a staples-based resource economy were set in northern BC, and the challenges which post-1980 economic restructuring is posing. Following an outline of these background issues, the chapter outlines some of the current opportunities embedded within a global economic context where the unique attributes of place are becoming more notable both as economic inputs and as commodities themselves. The basic argument is that renewal of northern BC’s economic foundations requires a concerted and coordinated public policy, private investment, and community driven approach. Older foundations built on a space-based economy need to be renovated and new foundations designed to capitalize on place-based competitive advantages need to be built.


Disjuncture in Rural Renewal: Theory and Practice in Northern British Columbia

Sean Markey, Greg Halseth, and Don Manson

Tri-Country Rural Geography Conference, July 15-20, Spokane, WA., USA, 2007.

In recent years, northern British Columbia (BC), Canada, has experienced a period of intense economic transition. Restructuring in the resource sector since the early 1980s has fundamentally altered employment patterns and replaced the post-war experience of resource industry and town growth with intense economic fluctuations. Such economic booms and busts have placed significant pressure on the region’s population base. While change has been a fundamental part of BC’s northern landscape for more than 100 years, there is consensus that recent trends have caused the pace of that change to accelerate. Within this context, the purpose of this presentation is twofold: 1) to introduce the potential relevance of a place-based approach to development in northern BC (and to explain, in brief what this means); and 2) to investigate the ability of local development processes to actively construct place-based development
As the title of the presentation has perhaps already revealed, we have some distance to travel before it could be safely said that place-based development is a viable and significant force in the renewal of rural and hinterland space in British Columbia.


Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A Political Economy Approach to Identifying the Foundations for Rural Revitalization

Greg Halseth

Canadian Association of Geographers, Annual Meetings, London, Ontario, May 31-June 4, 2005.

While the restructuring of rural and small town Canada is not a new phenomenon, the pace of that restructuring is accelerating. Across this physical and research landscape, a host of social, economic, and political changes and challenges are affecting every aspect of rural and small town life. In our individual research careers, many follow the common social science approach of reductionist research whereby we find a topic area and burrow in on increasingly detailed components. We do this in confidence that someone will at some time start to put the various building blocks of information back together again. This paper looks at a host of contributions from Michael Troughton’s writings that explore facets of rural Canada’s social, economic, and political restructuring and at contributions which synthesize such information to help us to situate and understand the future being shaped by this restructuring.


Shopping and Commuting Patterns in the Northwest Region, BC

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Medicine Hat, Alberta, 2004.

Over the past thirty years, transportation infrastructure has been greatly improved in northern B.C.  This provides people with the opportunity to reside in one place and commute to another for employment or shopping.  ‘Extra-community’ commuting for shopping results in economic leakage where wages earned in one town may be spent on goods and services in another town.  Studies have shown that the availability of goods and services, perceptions about local shopping services, and community satisfaction are important in shopping behaviours.  Using a household survey, this presentation explores shopping and commuting patterns in Prince Rupert, Kitimat, and Terrace, B.C.  At present, findings suggest that out-of-town shopping is not a significant factor in economic leakage in the Northwest.  However, clothing, shoes, and vehicles were sources of leakage for all three places.  Selection, price, and quality appear to be key factors determining out-of-town shopping. 


Resource Town Transition: Debates After Closure

Greg Halseth

Contrasting Ruralities Conference, Exeter-Plymouth, UK, 2003.

Contrasting understandings of rural Canada frame the starting points for participants in community development, community economic development, and community revitalization debates. The consequences of recent rounds of social, political, and economic restructuring are bringing the disjunctures between these contrasting understandings to the fore. Using interview, focus group, survey, archival, and newspaper search methods, this paper looks at two resource dependent communities in northern British Columbia which have faced the closure of a major industry. It contrasts the responses of three levels of participants in the revitalization debate: the provincial government, the local government, and local civil society organizations. Among the findings are that, despite clear academic and market signals about the need to change rural and resource policies, the provincial government remains dependent upon traditional resource revenue streams and is reluctant to change. In addition, local governments often remain committed to a natural resource extraction and export vision of rural Canada which has defined its staples dependent past. As such, efforts during and after industrial closures often concentrate upon finding a replacement large resource industry employer. At the community level, restructuring sets a foundation for conflict as resource employees push for further development while advocates for alternate economic development strategies see mill/mine closure as an opportunity for change. As rural British Columbia grapples with the transition to a new economy, these contrasting understandings of rural places constitute a barrier to revitalization debate.

Governance

Restructuring of Rural Governance in a Rapidly Growing Resource Town: The Case of Kitimat, BC, Canada

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

Annual Meetings, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Nelson, BC, September 22, 2017.

A new era of industrial development is unfolding in resource-dependent regions. In Canada, the local government context in these regions, however, is very different now than when industrial resource development expanded in the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing upon our case study in Kitimat, British Columbia, we wish to highlight transformations associated with neoliberal policies that have affected rural governance. Neoliberal public policy shifts include wider changes where the state has become less involved in program and infrastructure investments in resource-dependent communities. Even as this political economy continues to evolve, past neoliberal policy responses continue to restrict local supports, while also failing to provide a comprehensive strategy to guide rapidly changing communities. In Kitimat, this has prompted a variety of responses emblematic of a shift from government to governance. The town has had to become more entrepreneurial and innovative to strengthen and diversify their economy. The abandonment of top-down policy levers has also prompted community and informal groups to pursue a greater voice in decision-making processes by opening up public participation in new planning and development processes. While new rural governance arrangements have provided positive and proactive contributions to emerging pressures, concerns persist about the long-term viability of these structures without a renewed vision, and accompanying policy, from senior governments to support resource-producing communities and regions.

Struggling with Rural Governance: A Review of Obstacles Using Examples from Northern BC, Canada

Greg Halseth, Chelan Zirul, Sean Markey and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings of the Association of American Geographers, New York, New York, 2012.

From place-based development to new regionalism, a range of theoretical and applied literatures speak to the need for rural and small town places to scale-up by working in partnership and across regions.  This imperative is linked to the reconfiguration of economic competitiveness as local economies search for success, opportunities, and indeed visibility in an accelerating global economy.  Drawing upon examples from northern BC, Canada, this paper reviews the challenges for new forms of rural governance as they encounter obstacles posed by the entrenched institutions and behaviours of established forms of government.  While BC has a local and a regional level of government, the unprecedented impacts of climate change as auctioned through a Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic that destroyed much of the standing pine forests called for an expanded approach to regional governance.  The Omineca Beetle Action Coalition and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition were formed to create community and economic transition strategies to cope with long-term change spurred by the Mountain Pine Beetle crisis.  Over a number of years, these coalitions were successful in forging working relationships and strategic plans.  When it came time for action, however, the traditional mechanisms of rural and small town government splintered this collective action as local mayors vied for funding, prestige, and re-election.  Senior governments tried to enact supportive policy and programming, but the structure of such was so embedded in older notions of ‘government’ that it only exacerbated the collapse of regional governance.  Finally, this paper also highlights the value of “co-constructing” new regional governance through a critique of the BC approach that denies such obvious issues as incorporating meaningful partnerships with, and representation from, Aboriginal communities and rural areas. 


Health

Providing Support for People with Ongoing Health Challenges in Small Towns: What Have We Learned from the NETHRN-BC Initiative?

Neil Hanlon, Greg Halseth, Alec Ostry, and Joe LeBourdais

2nd Annual BC Rural & Remote Health Research Network Conference, Prince George, BC, 2009.

As part of the CIHR-funded New Emerging Team for Health in Rural and Northern BC (NETHRN-BC), a team of social geographers from UNBC undertook a five-year study of the systems of support in place for people facing health challenges in smaller, resource-dependent communities. We chose four study sites throughout northern and central BC: Terrace, Fort St. John, Mackenzie, and Williams Lake. We recruited participants who could speak to issues of ongoing and chronic health concerns more generally, as well as those with experience in the management of Type II diabetes and post-stroke recovery. Our main objectives were: (1) to understand the particular systems of care and support available to people in these places; and (2) to learn from service providers and recipients about the challenges, barriers, opportunities, and strengths of living in relatively small and remote locations. Primary data were collected using focus groups and key informant interviews obtained during site visits in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009. The multi-year time span of the study afforded us the opportunity to follow up with informants and track changes over time. We will present our key findings around issues of access and service coordination, particularly as these concern the interfaces between formal/informal, and health/social care in smaller centres. We conclude with some observations about opportunities for knowledge mobilization arising from our work.   


Recreating a Sense of Community: Establishing a New Medical Campus in an Underserviced Area

Neil Hanlon , Greg Halseth, David Snadden and Laura Ryser

Association of American Medical Colleges – Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, 2009.

In August 2004 the Northern Medical Program (NMP), a distributed campus of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Canada, admitted its first students.  Situated at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, the NMP created new opportunities, challenges, stresses, and changes for the approximately 180 local specialists and family physicians. This study examines the initial impacts the NMP is having on physicians practicing in its host community.


Professional Voluntarism: The Role of Social Capital in Delivering a Distributed Medical Education Program

Neil Hanlon and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Ottawa, ON, June 2009.

Voluntarism can take many forms, and its boundaries are not always straightforward. We explore the case of physicians in Prince George, BC engaged in various aspects of undergraduate medical education as acts of volunteer service to their profession, even as many of these acts receive nominal amounts of remuneration. We draw on primary data from a study of the initial impacts of the Northern Medical Program, which began operations in 2004. The contributions of these physicians to the NMP are explored in the context of social capital production and consumption. We will conclude by considering the wider implications of recognizing professional forms of voluntarism, especially in the context of promoting community resilience and enhancing capacity.  


Evaluating the Impact of Distributed Medical Education on Physicians in an Underserved Region

Neil Hanlon , Greg Halseth, David Snadden, Joanna Bates, and Chris Lovato

Association of American Medical Colleges - Workforce Conference, Washington, DC, 2009.

The northern regions of Canada are historically and chronically underserved, with a lower physician to population ratio, and higher IMG to CMG ratio than other areas of Canada. The BC provincial government has invested public funds into the creation of a northern regional campus, the Northern Medical Program (NMP) to address these shortages in BC. The NMP is expected to have long-term benefits for physician recruitment as medical graduates trained in the north are better equipped and more predisposed to practice in the region. There is also an expectation that the NMP will enhance retention as local physicians have more opportunities and incentives to participate in medical education, and stay connected with recent clinical and professional developments. At the same time, the NMP relies on a great deal of participation from local physicians, and we want to learn more about how participation in the NMP is affects local practice conditions. Our research asks physicians in Prince George about their perceptions of the impacts the NMP has had to date on local physicians’ access to support networks, information, and resources. We also want to learn about how participation in the NMP affects the workload and morale of physicians already practicing in Prince George. The purpose of the study is to describe the early impact on physicians of implementation of a program of distributed medical education intended to address rural and northern workforce shortages.


Teaching as Outreach: A Case Study of the Northern Medical Program

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Neil Hanlon, Dave Snadden, and Joanna Bates

Knowledge in Motion Conference, Memorial University in Newfoundland, 2008.

Society has become increasingly interested in how knowledge can be mobilized to produce meaningful change.  Teaching provides one venue to create social learning environments that can transfer knowledge and change how we work.  Using the Northern Medical Program in Prince George, BC as a case study, this presentation explores how teaching can be a vehicle for knowledge mobilization and organizational change.  


Restructuring a ‘Sense of Community’: Impacts of the Northern Medical Program on Physicians in Prince George, BC

Neil Hanlon, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

The BC Rural and Remote Health Research Network Annual Meeting, Prince George, BC, 2008.

In August 2004, the Northern Medical Program at UNBC admitted its first medical students. The program was established to respond to physician shortages in communities throughout northern BC. The NMP is a reality in no small measure due to a strong commitment and active participation from the physician community, and promises to confer all sorts of benefits to this professional community, including attracting new members and enhanced opportunities for collegial support and interaction. But what of the program's impacts on physicians already practicing in its host community? Using key informant interviews with physicians in Prince George, BC, this paper explores whether, and in what ways, the NMP has restructured a sense of community amongst physicians. Despite confirming the long-standing and ongoing presence of a strong, collegial medical community in Prince George, our findings also suggest that the NMP has introduced important disruptions to the professional working environment. These disruptions include added roles and responsibilities for already busy practitioners, the integration of new staff and routines, and a perceived loss of informality and familiarity amongst the local physician community. While the NMP is still in its early stages of operation, the findings suggest a need to continue monitoring this facet of the program’s impacts to ensure the continued support of local practitioners, as well as to anticipate impacts in other practice communities throughout the region as the program expands.


Disrupting and Building a ‘Sense of Community’: A Case Study of the Northern Medical Program

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Neil Hanlon

Annual Meetings, Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Bellingham, WA, USA, 2008.

Since the early 1980s, stresses associated with health care restructuring have led to concerns about long-term access to physicians in northern BC communities.  The Northern Medical Program at UNBC was established to enhance the supply of physicians who want to live and work in northern BC.  Previous research suggests that a strong sense of community can improve the efficiency and provision of health care services.  However, it is unclear how changes associated with the implementation of the NMP have impacted the sense of community, through relationships and networks, of those physicians currently practicing in northern BC.  Using key informant interviews with physicians in Prince George, BC, this paper explores how the NMP has impacted the sense of community amongst physicians by building or disrupting relationships and networks.  While results suggest that relationships and networks have been disrupted in the short-term, the NMP has provided another venue for building relationships and networks to support the long-term viability of health care.


Demographic Change and Health Care Delivery in Northern BC: Exacerbating an Already Strained System

Neil Hanlon and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Victoria, British Columbia, 2003.

The delivery of ‘rural’ health care services has long confronted the geographic problems of distance, low user densities, low order facilities, and care giver shortages. As a result, rural and remote communities across Canada have struggled with health care delivery. For rural and remote communities in resource hinterlands, population aging presents a significant departure from past experience. Drawing upon examples from northern BC, this paper examines this context of aging in rural and remote locations with the purpose of highlighting impending challenges for health care service provision. In the first part of the paper we provide a demographic overview of population change and aging in northern BC. In the second part we present data on the availability of health care facilities and health care practitioners in this same northern BC setting. Aging in place, in areas that have never dealt with this issue before, highlights not only important servicing questions but also important policy questions about how to provide for needs which the policy and community context are not equipped to meet.


Housing

Environmental Perceptions of Rural Second Home Tourism in Finland

Mervi Hiltunen, Kati Pitkänen and Greg Halseth

International Geographic Union, New Perspectives on Second Homes Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014.

Experiencing nature and enjoying natural amenities have long been identified as key motives for rural second home tourism. However, the more people spend time in the natural environment the more it is disturbed by their actions and activities.  Second home tourism is currently changing from simple summer cottage life to the year round use of well-equipped second homes. Routine motorised mobility between primary and second homes, new consumption patterns and the modernisation of second homes all induce harmful impacts on nature and the environment. In this paper, we examine how environmentally sound people perceive rural second home tourism and how they justify their views and opinions.

The study focuses on Finland where rural second homes are widespread and an established part of modern life and leisure oriented mobile lifestyles. Responses from different groups of respondents (second homes owners, regular users of second homes, and non-users) are analysed and profiled. Analysis is based on a questionnaire survey conducted among Finns in 2012 (n= 1189). Both structured and open ended survey questions are analysed by using quantitative and qualitative methods. The study is further deepened through analysis of ethnographic in depth interviews made among Finnish second home owners in 2010 (n= 17).

The results indicate that the Finns generally think that second home tourism poses some degree of harmful environmental impacts. However the majority of second home owners and users tend to consider their own second housing and use patterns environmentally sound and not causing much or any environmental impact. Similar results have been reported from Canada and other countries with rural second home development. The paper then extends our understanding of environmental perceptions around second home tourism by examining the justifications behind people’s views and opinions. Those survey respondents who think second home tourism causes no or minor environmental impacts often take a very self-centric viewpoint, stating that their own way of life at the cottage does not harm the environment. Otherwise, we found that such opinions are justified by comparing, diminishing or sometimes ignoring environmental impacts. Many respondents also trust that the impacts are controlled either by natural environmental processes or are managed by governmental rules and legislation.  Through analysis of the in-depth interviews, the paper further contributes by exploring the reasons why some second home owners consider their own second house, and related mobile lifestyles, to be environmentally sound. Taken together, the results explain the position of these respondents that there is no reason to worry about second home environmental impacts. For those survey respondents who are more critical about the environmental impacts of second home tourism, we found three characteristics to be important in how they form their opinions: they are more self-critical of their own second home activities; they have a broader understanding on the second home tourism phenomenon; and they show a greater and more general level of environmental sensitivity and awareness.


Foundations of Cottage Culture: Reflections on Environmental Impacts by Cottage Owners in Norman Lake, BC, Canada

Greg Halseth and Julia Schwamborn

21st Nordic Symposium for Tourism and Hospitality Research, Umeå, Sweden, 2012.

Recreational cottage properties are a common part of the rural Canadian landscape. This study, undertaken as one part of a joint project with a research team at the University of Eastern Finland, is interested in understanding the changing nature of cottage property development and use. The goal of the study is to better understand the human and natural landscape connections that attract cottagers to their recreational properties, the environmental impacts of cottage life, and also of the changing nature of cottage communities. In this presentation, we use data from a survey conducted at Norman Lake in northern British Columbia to examine the impressions and activities of cottage users around a number of environmental issues. The results suggest that while the natural environment is a critical foundation for cottage uses and lifestyles, awareness of incremental environmental degradation and contributions to that degradation by cottage users is less well developed. The presentation concludes with consideration of whether the high degree of connection that cottage users feel towards the local natural environment has the potential to translate into ‘ownership’ of locally created environmental challenges.


Economic Development Framework for Interpreting Local Housing Markets in Small Town Canada

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and David Bruce

WCAG Conference, Lethbridge, AB, 2005.

Across Canada, there are many different types of rural and small town places, and the ways in which service restructuring and economic development is occurring in individual communities varies considerably.  Despite the diversity, decisions about changes to housing policies and programs for rural and small town places are based upon broad assumptions about the future of such places collectively.  In this presentation, a framework is outlined for describing the stage of economic development of relatively isolated rural and small town places, and for understanding the conditions under which communities move through a period of economic change and into one or more ‘Alternative Futures’.  The framework allows an observer to categorize a community between 50 - 5,000 people with a Weak or No MIZ (zone of metropolitan influence) status into one of eleven different types of economic sectors and creates sets of expectations around the direction of change of key socio-economic characteristics.  Case studies of Port Clements and Gold River, British Columbia will be used to illustrate the framework.


 Tracking House Prices Against Commodity Prices in a Single Industry Instant Town

Greg Halseth and Lana Sullivan

Annual Meetings of the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Prince George, British Columbia, 2003.

Canada’s resource boom towns have historically been rapidly developed and chaotic landscapes. Marked by high rates of population turnover, uncertainty, and town closure, this was an unsustainable style of community development. Since the end of the Second World War, the development of planned “instant towns” sought to introduce certainty and sustainability for both industrial investors and residents. This paper looks at the topic of housing transition in one single industry “instant town” in northern BC. Using the example of Mackenzie BC, the paper uses three types of housing data: building permits for housing construction and renovation, BC assessment property values, and a set of commodity price indexes for BC forest products. The results show that relatively few new houses were built in Mackenzie after the first initial townsite construction. The inability of the local economy to diversify beyond basic forest products, and the impacts of restructuring which have placed downward pressure on local mill employment, each contribute to the lack of additional housing demand. Turning to property assessment data, the results suggest that over the long term housing has been a good investment. Comparing housing assessments in Mackenzie to commodity prices shows that major value fluctuations are linked to commodity price changes, but the link is rather less certain. The coincidence of timber and newsprint prices appear to be the best indicators of local housing assessments in the pre-1980 period, while the coincidence of newsprint and pulp prices appear to be the best indicators in the post-1980 period. While this research project has updated some of our knowledge respecting housing markets in single industry resource dependent towns, it also opens the way for additional research to test and push the findings.


Labour

Research in Precarious Settings: Topics for Qualitative Research with Mobile Workers

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

On the Move Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2018.

Since the 1950s, resource-based industries have increasingly used mobile labour to address labour shortages and specific skill needs. At the same time, a series of market, policy, and activist pressures have placed pressure and uncertainty on new resource development. Researchers have only recently begun to reveal issues associated with conducting research within these volatile conditions. Drawing upon observations from five years of fieldwork on labour mobility, the paper reflects on the research process associated with interviewing mobile workers in the exploration, construction, and operational phases of resource-based projects in northern British Columbia, Canada. Based on these reflections, we identify issues for universities, industry, senior government, labour, and external conditions through three themes: obtaining access, recruitment, and capacity issues that shape how different parties are able to engage in the research. All of these issues pose challenges for academic freedom, reliability, and validity throughout the research process. 


Mobile Construction Workforces in the Transforming Political Economy of BC’s Resource-Based Regions

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

On the Move Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2018.

The political economy of labour landscapes in resource-dependent regions continues to transform with important implications for workers, families, communities, service providers, businesses, and industries. Over time, mobile work has created a new form of worker-employer dependence where some elements of traditional local labour relationships exist, but other elements have shifted. In this paper, we focus on evolving mobile workforce practices and their associated implications for workers in the construction sector. In particular, we look at how the changing demand for mobile labour in Canada has shifted the negotiating power of both industry and workers. This is important because underdeveloped industry policies and weak senior government regulatory regimes do not reflect the realities of these changing mobile work landscapes. Drawing upon our case study of BC Hydro’s Site C dam project in British Columbia, Canada, we situate new institutionalism in this political economy and mobile landscape to expand the understanding of how stakeholder behaviours are affecting labour practices. Among our key findings are that, at this time, industry stakeholders have failed to renew workplace policies and processes to reflect mobile labour practices. The result has been a dis-orienting environment for mobile workforces where many of the impacts or externalities associated with mobile work have been transferred to workers, their families, and their communities.


Mitigating, Managing, Leveraging? Community Impacts of Labour Mobility in British Columbia

Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

On the Move Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2018.

Research suggests that employment-related geographic mobility (ERGM) presents a range of socio-economic benefits but also costs for both host and source communities. For many rural and remote communities, ERGM contributes to community survival and resilience by providing an important source of local earnings and an alternative to outmigration particularly in regions where traditional industries have declined and job opportunities may be limited or of limited duration. Yet studies suggest that a commuting workforce can undermine social supports and processes of community-making in source or home communities, among other impacts. In host communities, ERGM can bring increased economic benefits and tax revenue. However, there are also a number of challenges in terms fly-through and fly-over effects where benefits accrue elsewhere while challenges include pressures associated with planning, infrastructure use and housing affordability. This presentation was part of a session that provided an overview of the community impacts component that emerged over the last 7 years in case study regions from across Canada.


A Preference for Immobility: Promoting Place in Rural Resource Regions

Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

On the Move Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2018.

Annual Meetings, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Nelson, BC September 2017.

The increasing prevalence of mobile workers who travel long distances to work presents opportunities and challenges for communities in the new political economy of resource-dependent regions. In an era where workers can increasingly choose where they wish to work and live, this paper explores the efforts of two northern communities, in British Columbia, Canada, to capture benefits from resource development by attracting and retaining mobile workers and their families. The findings suggest that several complex problems – research, planning, infrastructure investments, housing, education, amenities – must all be addressed in order to facilitate a sense of place-attachment in an otherwise mobile world. 


A Community Development Approach to Prosperous Labour Force Development

Greg Halseth, Laura Ryser, Marleen Morris, and Sean Markey

Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Conference, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 2018.

Current approaches to labour force development have focused on the economic side of the ledger. Investments have typically been based upon assessments of industrial labour demands in the short- to near-term future and sought to satisfy those demands through short-term training or skills upgrading initiatives. While useful for plugging gaps in the existing economy over the short term, such an approach fails to develop the type of workforce that rural places need to be successful in the future. This presentation focuses upon a community development approach to questions of labour force development. As such it emphasizes three things. The first is the need to understand one’s place or region in the contemporary global economy. The second is to understand the processes of change occurring within both the economy and our community demographics, all with a focus on the needed elements of a future workforce, namely that it be a learning workforce that is resilient and adaptable in a rapidly changing world. The third is a structured long-term investment strategy towards building a resilient learning workforce.


Localization and globalization: Industrial re-organization in Mackenzie, British Columbia

Greg Halseth, Laura Ryser, and Sean Markey

World Congress of Rural Sociology, Toronto Ontario, August 9-14, 2016.

British Columbia’s rich and diverse forest landscape has supported a large and internationally important forest industry. But changes in the global economy, especially since the economic recession of the 1980s, revisited again after 2008, have been buffeting that industry. To explore how the industry is changing ‘on the ground’ in BC’s central interior, this presentation examines corporate restructuring, including changing ownership and market structures. Key findings around corporate structure include that the industry now involves increasingly large BC based firms, the response to competitive pressures has been an aggressive substitution of capital for labour, and there has been a significant expansion of operations into the Southeastern US. Among the key market findings are that while still reliant upon a limited range products, the industry is branching out (at this time mostly into energy), and a continued reliance upon the US housing market with efforts to diversify into Asian markets, especially China.


A Preference for Immobility: Promoting Place in Rural Resource Regions

Sean Markey, Kristina Welch, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Association of American Geographers, San Francisco California, March 29-April 2, 2016.

The purpose of this paper is to trace the tensions of immobility that coincide, and seemingly act in contradiction with, an increasingly mobile workforce in rural resource regions. Rural and small town regions across the industrialized world have been undergoing significant transformations due to industrial and political restructuring since the early 1980s. These changes are defined by processes of disengagement by government and industry from direct forms of responsibility for community development, and increasing levels of flexible production that have fundamentally reshaped the social contract between workers and companies that had previously defined the relative stability and growth of the post-war period. Labour and economic development patterns have shifted substantially as a by-product of these restructuring dynamics. One of the key changes has been the growth of long distance labour commuting (LDLC). LDLC describes a situation where the workplace is isolated by a distance of at least 200 kilometres from the worker's home community. As workers themselves have become more flexible, and are either bound by preference or economic circumstance to remain in-place, worker mobility is a direct response to community economic decline and/or economic opportunity that is in essence placeless. This paper, drawn from research in northern British Columbia, Canada, investigates community strategies that seek to both entice workers and their families to relocate permanently to the resource region, and strategies that seek to encourage families from moving away for work.


New Mobile Realities in Mature Staples Dependent Regions: Local Governments and Work Camps

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, and Marleen Morris

Annual meetings, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Guelph, Ontario, October 12-15, 2016.

Resource industry workforce accommodations have evolved significantly over time.  These changes have not only reshaped workforce recruitment and retention strategies, but they have guided new expectations for relationships with communities. This is because work camps are increasingly being deployed within, or adjacent to, municipal boundaries - prompting important questions for local leaders about policies and processes guiding work camps within resource-based communities. Drawing upon experiences from Australia, Canada, Scotland, and the United States, this presentation looks at how local governments are working to accommodate work camps in rapidly growing resource-dependent communities. 


“We’re in this all together:” Community Impacts of Long-Distance Labour Commuting

Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Vancouver, BC. June 1-5, 2015.

Labour and economic development patterns in rural regions and small towns have shifted substantially as a by-product of both economic and political restructuring. An important manifestation of this restructuring has been the growth of long distance labour commuting (LDLC) associated with increased labour flexibility and worker, family preference. In this article, we draw upon research in Mackenzie, British Columbia (BC), Canada, to explore the broader impacts of LDLC on a home community from a series of different perspectives. Our findings focus on two core themes: 1) family and community dynamics; and, 2) the capacity of community organizations. It is clear from our findings that there are numerous negative outcomes associated with the LDLC phenomenon: for example, family stress, and volunteer burnout associated with trying to maintain community services and events with a depleted community capacity. Our research also reveals a variety of positive dimensions associated with LDLC including the ability to continue to call Mackenzie home and a strengthened sense of community. The experience in Mackenzie offers some important themes for research in other communities and places experiencing LDLC.


Community Readiness for Labour Mobility and Mining Expansion in BC’s Interior

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Kourtney Cook, and Sean Markey

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. Prince George, BC. 2014.

Since the 1980s, the restructuring of resource development through the efficiency and adoption of labour shedding technology has reshaped labour demands and increased labour mobility.  There are challenges, however, associated with integrating transient workers into the fabric of community and maintaining consistent services with the limited capacity available in these places.  Drawing upon research in Williams Lake, BC, this presentation will explore key issues identified as needing attention in order to better position places to be ready for, cope with, and benefit from mobile workforces. These issues include attention to labour force development, infrastructure, appropriate service models, communication, operations, organizational culture, and collaboration.  For stakeholders attempting to better understand the changing dynamics between industry and communities, context and place matter. The distance between the industry operations and the community, as well as the stage of an industry’s operations, impact perceived opportunities and influence the potential for embedding local benefits.  


The Next Rural Economies: How Can Communities Prepare for an Increasingly Mobile Workforce?  

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Thunder Bay, ON, 2013.

This paper uses recent research from northern BC to ask the question “how will rural and small town places prepare for the increasingly mobile workforces that are a characteristic of the next rural economy”? The paper begins by introducing issues of change in the global economy as well as the rise of increasingly mobile workforces. It then turns attention to a better understanding of the next generation workforce that is growing into this contemporary context. The paper then explores ten topic areas identified as needing attention if places are to cope with, and benefit from, increasing mobile workforces. These topic areas are: local/regional governments, infrastructure issues, regional transportation, housing, health care, community services, protection services, recreation amenities and services, hiring, and business recruitment/retention. More attention is needed to develop flexible shift schedules, to adopt flexible benefit packages, to support workers’ ongoing capacity and skills development, to invest in communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills for workers, to invest in fatigue management training, to broaden the infrastructure and opportunities for interaction to connect workers and their families with support networks, and to ensure information about local and non-local supports is current and available in multiple formats.


Long Distance Labour Commuting from a Northern Canadian Small Town: The Workers’ Perspective
 
Laura Ryser, Alika Rajput, Greg Halseth and Sean Markey

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Memorial University – Newfoundland & Labrador, 2013.

The town of Mackenzie, British Columbia is a resource dependent ‘instant town’, built in the late 1960s to house the workforce for a new regional forest industry. A significant economic downturn beginning in early 2008 resulted in the closure of all local major forest industry operations (sawmills and pulp and paper mills).  As a result, many forestry workers had to engage in long distance labour commuting (LDLC).  For most, this was their first experience with LDLC practices. By 2011, most of Mackenzie’s forest industry was back in operation. Drawing upon 22 worker interviews, this research provides the opportunity to explore the experiences and impacts of LDLC on the workers themselves, including a look at how it impacted their family and community life. Understanding the impacts of LDLC is important if we are to strengthen the capacity to support workers and their families during these experiences and to provide a foundation to support their return to work in the community.  Key benefits included financial support, education and training, and work experience in other sectors.  However, key concerns also included financial impacts, as well as safety concerns, and emotional and household impacts.  More attention is needed to develop flexible shift schedules, to adopt flexible benefit packages, to support workers’ ongoing capacity and skills development, to invest in communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills for workers, to invest in fatigue management training, to broaden the infrastructure and opportunities for interaction to connect workers and their families with support networks, and to ensure information about local and non-local supports is current and available in multiple formats.


Preparing for the Next Boom: The Implications of Mine Construction and Expansion in BC’s Interior

Laura Ryser, Daniel Bell, Alika Rajput, Kourtney Chingee, Gerald Pinchbeck, Sean Markey, Greg Halseth, and Alex Martin

Annual Meetings of the Canadian  Association of Geographers, Memorial University – Newfoundland & Labrador, 2013.

Labour mobility presents numerous opportunities and challenges for small communities. Opportunities exist in terms of addressing needed service and worker demands, while also presenting the possibility for community growth and stability by attracting new residents and businesses. However, there are challenges associated with integrating transient workers into the fabric of community and maintaining consistent services with the limited capacity available in these places.  This presentation explores the impacts of labour mobility on various facets of the community by looking at the construction and expansion in the mining industry near two small communities in British Columbia’s Interior.


Changing Commuting and Employment Patterns for Women in Post World War II Instant Towns in British Columbia

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Victoria, British Columbia, 2003.

Gender literature suggests that women have faced challenges obtaining employment opportunities in post World War II resource towns.  While there have been limited job opportunities for women in these towns, their participation in the labour force has been increasing.  However, women’s employment was often seen as an extension of their domestic labour, and this employment was often part-time with few benefits.  Commuting and lack of public transportation are additional barriers to female participation in the labour force, and since the 1970s, services in northern British Columbia that traditionally employ the female labour force have been increasingly regionalized.  Transportation networks have improved making “extra-commuting” commuting easier.  Using examples of the instant towns of Kitimat and Mackenzie, B.C., Statistics Canada data and historical time lines will be used to examine how women’s participation in the labour force has changed over time, as well as whether women have adapted commuting patterns to follow the changing geography of employment.


Long Distance Labour Commuting and Post World War II Instant Towns in British Columbia

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual meetings of the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Prince George, British Columbia, 2003.

In the post World War II period in B.C., isolated instant towns were created to help retain labour, improve quality of life, and reduce company costs.  New resource development is emphasizing long distance commuting with the use of fly-in, fly-out camps.  Critiques of long distance commuting assert that companies leave little economic benefit in the region, and workers spend their money in larger cities.  However, isolation of instant towns and a lack of a diversified economy means some residents must travel to access higher order goods and services in regional centres.  Literature suggests that travel for services can lead to out-migration, town instability and even town closure.  Using Statistics Canada data (1981 - present) and historical time lines, this presentation will examine if instant town development negates long distance commuting by examining local and ‘extra community’ commuting labour forces in the instant towns of Kitimat, Mackenzie, Tumbler Ridge, Gold River, and Logan Lake, B.C.


Gender at Work and Gender at Home: The Mediating Role of the Household Economy in Resource Dependent Towns in Northern British Columbia

Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Toronto, Ontario, 2002.

The social geography of single industry and resource dependent towns in Canada’s hinterland regions is highly structured by gender. In the periods both before and immediately after the Second World War, the workplace was male space while the home was female space. This gendered separation of productive and reproductive spaces defined both life and lifestyles, as well as much of the social and economic research on these towns. However, the upheaval inherent in the economic restructuring of resource industries is also transforming the social geography of both work and home. This paper examines household adjustments to the loss of employment in resource dependent towns. The need for survival of the household economy has meant a blurring of older notions and relations as both gender at work and gender at home are mediated through both place and the needs and capacities of the household.


Poverty

Poverty and Rural Regions

Laura Ryser, Julia Schwamborn, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Olds College, Olds Alberta, 2012.

Most of the research and policy attention is focused on urban poverty.  Rural poverty, however, is very different from urban poverty.  The economic and social restructuring processes that have affected rural regions, as well as the opportunities and challenges to address poverty, have been conditioned by the unique characteristics and capacity of local people, relationships, infrastructure, and institutions of rural and small town places. Drawing upon 22 key informant interviews with residents, service providers, community groups, and leaders across the Robson Valley in British Columbia, we will explore how some places have been working together at a regional level to address the complex issues of rural poverty.  Our findings demonstrate that organizations are working together at a regional level to monitor needs, to share information and referrals, to advocate for the needs of regional residents, to enhance food security, and to enhance the outreach and distribution of supports.  More attention, however, must be paid to regional policy imperatives by finding ways to positively construct and maintain social capital in order to make efficient linkages with a broader range of information, expertise, and resources at the community, regional, and senior government levels.


Housing Costs in an Oil and Gas Boom Town: Issues for Low-Income Senior Women Living Alone

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, University of British Columbia - Okanagan Campus in Kelowna, British Columbia, 2012.

In resource-based towns that have historically been dominated by young workers and their families, seniors’ housing issues have received little attention by community leaders and senior policy-makers. Since the 1980s, however, there has been a growing trend of older women living alone in Canadian rural and small town places. While research on rural poverty focuses upon small towns in decline, booming resource economies can also produce challenges for low-income senior women living alone due to a higher housing costs and the retrenchment of health care and service supports. As housing costs can consume a significant proportion of household income, low-income senior women living alone may not have the financial resources to cover expenses in a competitive housing market. Drawing upon a household survey, we explored this different dimension of the Canadian rural landscape by looking at housing costs for low-income senior women living alone in the booming oil and gas town of Fort St. John, BC. Our findings indicate that low-income senior women living alone are incurring higher housing costs compared to other senior groups.


Shedding Some Light on Hidden Rural Poverty

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Nanaimo, BC, 2009.

Communities across northern BC have been exposed to mounting pressures stemming from the economic recession, fluctuating commodity prices, poor conditions on aboriginal reserves, the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic, and the mobility of capital.  This has led to renewed concerns about poverty rates and support services.  At the national level, growing interest in rural poverty emerged with the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry’s recent report documenting rural experiences with poverty.  Despite these renewed interests, there is no national poverty strategy, and little research has explored the complex underpinnings of rural poverty.  This presentation explores the spatial relations that undermine and drive coping strategies for rural poverty.  Among the issues of concern are the unique context of rural poverty, the impact of power relations and social exclusion, the presence of physical and social infrastructure, and institutional barriers to addressing rural poverty.


Recreation and Tourism

Gateway or Destination Tourism: Conflicting Paths Towards Culture, Place, and Identity

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Don Manson

North Atlantic Forum & Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Annual General Meeting, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, 2011.

Since the early 1980s, rural and small town places have been experiencing an accelerated pace of economic and social change. To adjust, some places are working to diversify their resource-based economies through the inclusion of new sectors such as tourism. To pursue new tourism opportunities, however, rural and small town places must first be able to imagine alternative community futures and economies through different ways of using local assets. Such a creative ‘re’-imagining can be a challenge given the momentum of past economies. Drawing upon the concepts of social cohesion and social capital, this presentation discusses motives behind the construction of conflicting identities for Clearwater, BC as a ‘gateway’ versus a ‘destination’ for tourism. The conflicting pathways for this former forestry-based town are driven by such things as a built infrastructure designed to support an ‘old’ resource-based economy, a workforce trained with skills suited for work in an old economy, long-term residents who are linked to and invested in the old economy, and community infrastructure that is linked to expectations, lifestyles, and behaviours connected to the old economy.  


Regional Development

(Re)Constructing Rural Places in a Globalized World I: Insights from Place-Based Development, New Regionalism, and Competitive Advantage Theories

Greg Halseth, Keynote Address

GARGIA CONFERENCE – Alta, Norway, 2009.

That rural and small town places are changing is not a new phenomenon. What is new is that the pace of that change has accelerated. This presentation reviews and shares a series of ideas about how we can understand the changes affecting our rural and small town places. One of the great challenges with divining a pathway to the future is understanding the pressures that are driving change. A key problem for rural and small town renewal in North America is that many of our approaches are still being constructed as if it was the year 1970.  The processes of change today, however, are not those of 1970.

By way of outline, this presentation starts with some comments about the nature of the New Rural Economy.  The presentation explores the nature of the New Rural Economy as well as where trajectories in the global economy may be leading. Once we better understand those foundations, then local places and regions can evaluate for themselves where they think they may wish to go with community and economic development planning.


(Re)Constructing Rural Places in a Globalized World II: A New Rural Development Vision for Northern British Columbia

Greg Halseth, Closing Keynote Address

GARGIA CONFERENCE – Alta, Norway, 2009.

Rural and small town places around the world are experiencing considerable and dramatic change.  These changes are driven by the increasing pace and complexity of the global economy.  With a focus upon examples from northern British Columbia, Canada, this chapter reviews issues of rural change and the transition towards a more place-based approach to local and regional development as rural and small town places reposition themselves in the global economy.


Regional Economic Shifts in BC: Speculation from Recent Demographic Evidence

Greg Halseth, Debra Straussfogel, and Amy Wishart

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Victoria, British Columbia, 2003.

The regional economies of British Columbia (BC) have been a dynamic and changing landscape for more than 100 years. Since 1980, fundamental changes in the structure of resource commodity markets has accelerated the pace and scope of this change. In this paper, we use recent census information to suggest possible ways in which the regional economies of BC may be shifting. Following an overview of the historical context for BC’s heartland - hinterland geographic construction, recent population data are examined for a variety of regions and key localities within those regions. Building on the three regional centres of Prince George, Kelowna, and Kamloops, there is a suggestion that BC’s non-metropolitan hinterland is diversifying into at least three development regions. There may be evidence of a northern resource hinterland, a new growth pole centred upon the Okanagan, and the emergence of a mixed resource and amenity value economy in the Thompson-Kootenay region. Following this review of the three possible development regions, each with different economic and population trajectories, the paper concludes with suggestions for future regional science research.


Resource Royalties

Path Dependency or Investing in Place: Understanding the Changing Conditions for Rural Resource Regions

Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, Cameron Gunton, and Neil Argent

NZGS / IAG Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 2018.

Over the past few decades, senior governments in many developed OECD countries have pursued regulatory roll-back strategies to promote stable, incentivized jurisdictional environments for resource development. As senior governments promote resource development, however, they are also reducing their financial support for communities experiencing social and physical infrastructure pressures associated with restructuring and resource development impacts. This has prompted municipalities to pursue regional strategies to retain a portion of resource wealth. Drawing upon the tenets of staples theory and evolutionary economic geography, we explore how municipal stakeholders in the Peace River Region of British Columbia, Canada leveraged their lack of jurisdiction within an underdeveloped provincial policy regime to recapture resource revenues through the Fair Share Agreement (FSA). Once the FSA was adopted, municipalities needed to follow strict spending and investment guidelines. Based on their property tax regimes and limited jurisdiction, these focused on infrastructure repairs and expansion of basic services (i.e. water, sewage), but also with some investments in recreation centres and schools. Tensions emerge, however, about how these revenue regimes can either entrench path dependency or create opportunities for investing in place. Under this regime, no emergency or legacy fund investments are allowed. As local government stakeholders acquired resource revenues, they had no jurisdiction to support new development pathways, resulting in no significant changes from path dependency.


From Power to Fragmentation of Place: Rural Resource Region Revenues in an Age of Policy Incoherence

Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings, American Association of Geographers Conference, New Orleans, 2018.

This presentation examines how institutional processes at the sub-national level contribute to making or fragmenting rural resource regions through the redistribution of royalties/revenues from resource industries. Different political and economic contexts are examined for their role in shaping how resource royalties/revenues are collected and distributed back into the region from which the resources were extracted. Drawing from a theoretical foundation of staples theory and evolutionary economic geography, we look at the changing power relationships between the Province of British Columbia and the communities of the Peace River Region in Canada through two sets of negotiations: the Fair Share Agreement and the Peace River Agreement. In the former case, the lack of an explicit provincial policy regime around the redistribution of state royalties and taxes created space for the regional communities to seize the agenda and maximize benefits from their negotiations with the Province. These regional communities achieved this through extensive research, preparation, and a coordinated negotiating plan. Following the success of this agreement, however, the region was unable to remain cohesive once the money started to flow. In the latter case, the Province seized the agenda and set the framework by negotiating the new agreement. This time the communities were not able to come together due to their now different fiscal circumstances and the limited time the province gave them to prepare. The result was a fragmentation of regional coherence and collaboration, and a recapturing of ‘power’ in the negotiations (and the subsequent agreement) by the provincial government. 


Public Benefit from Public Resources?: Understanding the Changing Conditions for Rural Resource Regions

Sean Markey, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Nelson, BC September 22-23, 2017.

The purpose of this presentation is to understand how institutional processes at the national or sub-national level contribute to making rural resource regions attractive places for capital and labour through the redistribution of royalties/revenues from resource industries. The presentation will outline how different political and economic contexts shape how resource royalties/revenues are collected and distributed back into the region from which the resources have been extracted, and how effectively resource royalties strengthen the regional economy. Drawing from a theoretical foundation of staples theory, evolutionary economic geography and new regionalism, this presentation will examine the relationship between the state and resource regions. In particular the presentation will seek to engage the CRRF audience with a more detailed understanding of: (i) the political economy of the redistributive policy mechanisms used to support economic development in rural resource peripheries, (ii) how and why these resource royalty regimes have evolved (and changed) over time, and (iii) how royalty funds are collected and used at the regional and local level to support community and regional economic development.


Services

Disjunctures Impeding New Rural Service and Infrastructure Arrangements

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

Annual Meetings, Association of American Geographers, San Francisco California, March 29-April 2, 2016.

Since the early 1980s, neo-liberal policies in many OECD countries have downloaded more responsibilities to local governments and increasingly looked to non-profit contractors to deliver services and manage infrastructure.  At the same time, public policies called for collaborative smart service arrangements and shared infrastructure as a part of “bottom up” community development.  This means that small communities must pay increasing intention to their place-based assets and how possibilities for developing those assets can create local benefits.  Based on 51 in-depth interviews with rural local government and service leaders in 35 communities in British Columbia, Canada, this presentation examines how senior government policies are shaping the capacity and operations of these new service and infrastructure arrangements.  Despite some limited financial support and expertise to guide the early development of these arrangements, rural stakeholders continue to be constrained by restrictive infrastructure agreements, inconsistent application of policies, varying contract flexibility across different ministries, limited understanding or rural environments, constantly changing procurement and reporting processes, inappropriate accounting and information management systems, ineligible expenses for rural areas, and program uncertainty.

Recognizing Change, Recognizing Rural: The New Rural Economy and Towards a New Model of Rural Services

Lana Sullivan, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Thunder Bay, ON, 2013.

Services provide support for both community development and community economic development. Their delivery provides for routine and emergency needs, and through their functioning, services help to support the local economy, local employment, the training of new workers, the development of social cohesion and social capital, and overall quality of life across all ages and stages of life. Drawing upon the foundation of work completed through the New Rural Economy project, this paper opens by reviewing the three general eras of service provision and highlighting the role that services play in recruiting and maintaining both businesses and residents. Following a review of the research and general findings from the NRE services project, the paper closes with a series of case studies. These case studies highlight the continuing importance of services in rural and small town transition and renewal, as well as the pressing need for innovation as older models are not suited to the contemporary context of rural service delivery. In developing integrated and comprehensive service policy and provision, there needs to be a greater recognition and understanding of the specificity and uniqueness of the rural context.


Innovation Towards Smart Service Provision

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the National Rural Research Network – Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Conference, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, 2010.

The provision of local services in rural and small town places has always faced the challenges of small population numbers and large distances between settlements. While these challenges were somewhat mitigated during a period of proactive public policy and Keynesian economic reforms, the application since 1980 of neo-liberal policy and neo-classical economic modeling has resulted in widespread closure and downsizing of rural and small town services. Such services, however, are vital to supporting both community and economic transformation and renewal. In response to these restructuring pressures, a range of ‘one-stop’ service delivery sites have emerged to enhance the efficient use of available resources, and to help residents connect with supports in an increasingly complex and constantly changing service environment.  This presentation looks at three models of ‘one stop’ service delivery sites: portals of collated information, sites with expanded service mandates, and co-located services. The presentation draws on examples from northern BC and elsewhere in Canada. Through partnerships, creativity, leadership, flexible policy, and appropriate applications of technology, it is possible to deliver needed services in rural and small town places to support the community development foundation needed for local sustainability.


Service Delivery to Support Population Aging in Northern BC’s Peace River Region: Sharing Core Health and Quality of Life Services within a ‘Dispersed City’ Model of the Rural and Small Town Countryside

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Conference of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, National Rural Research Network, and the Canadian Rural Health Research Network. Lakeland College, Vermilion, Alberta, 2007.

This presentation is directed at three issues and literatures that speak to the reorganization of rural and small town Canada. The first literature refers to the challenge of providing care and quality of life services in a rural and small town setting. The recent data suggests that both general and health services are being withdrawn from smaller locations. The second literature draws upon the demographic shifts being experienced in rural and small town Canada. In this case, resource frontier aging is accelerating the local needs for those general and health services in settings increasingly challenged to provide them. The third part of the paper draws upon the relatively underdeveloped literature on the ‘dispersed city’ concept. As originally posited, the dispersed city is a network of rural and small town locations, with relatively easy access between most points, where they can collectively achieve the economies of scale in order to maintain higher order services.

Drawing upon recent projects examining the issue of population aging, and the provision of housing and other services for that aging population, in northern BC’s Peace River region, this presentation explores the viability of the ‘dispersed city’ model as a strategy for coping with service withdrawal and population aging.  


Service Restructuring and Building Capacity in Rural and Small Town Places

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, at the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, Saskatoon, 2007.

Over the past two decades, social and economic restructuring has been accompanied by service cutbacks and closures in rural and small town Canada.  Limited services can make these places vulnerable during periods of change.  A lack of services can hinder bottom up community development efforts for attracting and retaining residents and economic activities.  Using in-depth interviews, we will describe how services in four rural and small town places across Canada are being reorganized, and how communities are responding, especially through the voluntary sector, to build capacity and resiliency to meet service needs.  Findings indicate that the voluntary sector has used human capital and social capital to share knowledge, obtain expertise, and access a wider range of resources to assist in daily operations and delivery of services.  We conclude that policies and programs to assist with the restructuring need to assess demands, benefits, and evaluations at a regional level to reflect the changing geography of service delivery.


Building Social Cohesion and Social Capital Under Stress: Examples of the Role of Innovative Services and Voluntary Organizations in Small Communities

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings, Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Kamloops, BC, 2006.

During the past two decades, rural and small town places across northern B.C. have experienced increased demands for services to help residents cope with social and economic restructuring.  Services provide opportunities for building relationships, partnerships, and trust.  These are the foundations for social cohesion and social capital, and can subsequently lead to the creation of new partnerships and innovative ways for delivering services where they might otherwise not exist.  Using in-depth interviews, this presentation will explore research on how service providers and voluntary groups mobilize relationships and build trust to provide services when people need them the most.  Using the case studies of McBride and Valemount, B.C., we explore stressful events that occurred over both short and long term periods.  Exploring short-term events allows us to explore how residents mobilize, while long-term events enable us to explore how local relationships, efforts, and partnerships may be sustained over longer periods of time.  The results indicate that such events have provided opportunities for groups to mobilize and test relationships that have led to increased trust and confidence in the organizations that helped out.  


Sustaining Innovative Service Providers and Voluntary Organizations

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

CRRF Conference, Twillingate, Nfld., 2005.

During the past two decades, social and economic restructuring in rural and small town places across Canada has been accompanied by service cutbacks, regionalization, and closure.  Unfortunately, this occurs as the demand for social, health, and retraining services increases due to the loss of jobs and family wealth.  Some communities are finding ways to overcome these challenges through the re-conceptualization and re-organization of services.  Using in-depth interviews, this presentation will explore how innovative services and voluntary organizations in four rural and small town places across Canada may be sustaining themselves over time.  Results indicate that organizational structures, such as boards of directors, networks, and partnerships, have provided important opportunities to share knowledge and to develop more expertise and options for delivering services.  Organizations are also using a range of recruiting strategies and are relying more on local revenue sources to cope with human and financial constraints.  


Building Capacity in Rural and Small Town Places across Canada with Innovative Services and Voluntary Organizations

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

INE Spring Workshop, UNBC, 2004.

Limited services in small towns can make them vulnerable during periods of economic and social restructuring when there are more demands for such services.  Services help to build community capacity by providing opportunities for building relationships, partnerships, and trust.  These are the foundations for social capital and social cohesion, and can subsequently lead to the creation of new partnerships and innovative ways for delivering services where they might otherwise not exist.  Such services can enhance local quality of life and reduce out-migration from rural and small town places.  Important tools used to develop innovative services also include the effective use of new technologies, including new communication tools.  Using in-depth interviews, this presentation will examine the changing capacity and roles of 41 innovative services and voluntary organizations in four rural and small town places across Canada.  Results indicate that while innovative partnerships and new technologies are emerging, many of these organizations face numerous challenges from limited funding, lack of members, government cutbacks, and volunteer burnout.


The Changing Nature of Service Provision in Rural Canada

Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Moncton, NB, 2004.

Social, political, and economic restructuring is reshaping the geography of places. The challenges this creates for rural and small town Canada has been prominent of late in popular debate. One facet of this reshaping in small communities involves the availability and location of common services. This paper uses data from 22 rural communities, from across Canada, which was collected at intervals in 1998, 2000, and 2003, in order to track changes in local services. Key health, education, government, and business/economic development support services are reviewed. Among the key findings are that services availability is being significantly reduced in rural Canada, and that public sector services are being most aggressively reduced. Further, service availability is being consolidated from local to regional scales.


Voluntary Sector

Pursuing Alternative Infrastructure Arrangements to Strengthen Rural Service Provision

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Sean Markey

RPLC Webinar, February 2019.

CAG / IGU conference, Quebec City, 2018.

Rural British Columbia has been experiencing an ongoing transformation of infrastructure investment and services. Since the 1980s, public policies that are driving new expectations for integrated or shared service arrangements are challenging the transformative capacity of rural organizations. At the same time, small communities are confronted with the challenges of aging and inadequate infrastructure established in the post-World War II era. Drawing upon 16 case studies of local governments and service leaders around BC, we explore co-location initiatives to pool financial resources and expand infrastructure capable of supporting local government and community service initiatives. Despite a number of senior government infrastructure programs, there is no central hub for rural stakeholders to learn about different models and processes to develop and operate these assets.  There is also a limited understanding of ownership and user agreements; design features that can improve the functionality of multi-purpose spaces; risks and liabilities; and protocols to guide the development, operations, and maintenance of these facilities. Given the limited tax base of many small communities, greater flexibility is needed to support financing arrangements and adequate time for community stakeholders to build relationships, plan, and mobilize assets for these complex infrastructure initiatives.


Best Practices for Sustainable Non-Profit Operations: Service and Infrastructure Arrangements

Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser

Presentation for the Prince George Community Portal, Prince George, BC, November 7, 2017.

Shared service and infrastructure arrangements are not new and have been pursued by public, private, and non-profit sectors in many OECD countries since the 1970s.  Our research team examined best practices and hard lessons that must be considered by non-profit and other community stakeholders and senior governments who wish to strengthen smart service and infrastructure projects in British Columbia.  In particular, our research profiles key governance, funding, human resource, infrastructure, collaboration, and policy issues that are shaping three specific types of shared infrastructure and service arrangements, including: multi-purpose or co-location initiatives (share physical space, as well as some equipment, operational costs, and some administrative resources), service co-operatives, and multi-service or one-stop shop organizations.


The Changing Capacity and Role of the Voluntary Sector

Greg Halseth and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings, North Central Local Government Management Association, Prince George, BC, 2016.


The Role and Capacity of Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector Groups in Supporting Sustainable Community Development: A Case Study of Kitimat, BC Canada

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Nordic Ruralities, the 4th Nordic Conference for Rural Research - Akureyri, Iceland, May 22-24, 2016.

Community‐based voluntary and non‐profit sector groups have long been part of the community development fabric of rural and small‐town places. As the pace of globalization has increased, and as central governments have withdrawn policy and fiscal supports, small communities must depend more on these internal community development groups. Using the example of Kitimat BC, Canada, this paper examines the changing role of the voluntary and non‐profit sector groups to better understand how policy and program supports can be restructured and deployed to enhance the capacity of these groups. The findings suggest that place‐based supportive policies and programs are needed to establish smart social infrastructure; create synergies and collaborative approaches across organizations; streamline administrative and accountability procedures; stabilize daily operations; renew mandates, roles, policies, procedures, and tools; enhance business and community development expertise; build diversity, capacity, and support for volunteers; and develop better information management systems. By investing wisely and purposefully in the voluntary sector, communities can draw upon a broader range of assets for community development and renewal.


Voluntarism, Community Development and Healthy Aging-In-Place: Pathways of Integration and Marginalization

Neil Hanlon, Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Laura Ryser, and Greg Halseth

The Sixteenth International Medical Geography Symposium, Vancouver, BC. July 5-10, 2015.

This paper contributes to emerging academic and policy interest in the linkages among processes of population aging, community development and voluntarism. We outline an innovative approach to understanding the various ways in which voluntary sector led community development seeks to create supportive environments for healthy aging-in-place. Employing this approach, we outline key findings from case studies of healthy aging initiatives in two resource-dependent communities in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. We critically examine assertions that voluntarism offers a potential means of transformation in the lives of older people, as well as in the trajectories of their aging communities. We also challenge what we regard as dualist tendencies in the literature on voluntarism (e.g., that it must be regarded as a force either for neoliberal acquiescence or resistance, social cohesion or marginalization). We conclude with a discussion of ways to acknowledge the social dynamics, nuances and contradictions of voluntary-led community development initiatives, and what this means for moving geographical gerontology theory and policy forward.


Planning for all Ages and Stages of Life in Resource Hinterlands: Lessons from Northern British Columbia

Sean Markey, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

The presentation situates resource hinterland ageing in northern British Columbia within a broader contextual and historical framework of community development. The paper will present two phases of development that are posing significant challenges to the pursuit of planning for all ages and stages of life in rural and northern BC. First, in historical terms, the phenomenon of “instant towns”, from which many of the resource communities in British Columbia owe their existence, created uniform community infrastructure designed to accommodate young, working families. Retirement and long-term commitment to place were never part of the imagined trajectory of development for resource towns in BC. As people settled, towns matured, and restructuring forces significantly altered the prospects and affordability of the traditional retirement regions of the province, the demographics of these small towns has changed. Community leaders and stakeholders have been struggling to build and update infrastructure and services to accommodate ageing populations. Second, and somewhat ironically, owing to the structural forces driving labour mobility in rural places, these towns are now struggling from a different demographic absence, a hollowing-out of the prime working-age population. These workers are increasingly part of the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce that effectively removes them from the patterns and rhythms of community life. This again places tremendous pressure on communities to sustain activities and services, even though it may sustain certain levels of individual and family economies. These two phases also chronicle a difference in community development approach – from space-based in the first instance to place-based in the second.  Using case study research from across northern BC, this paper will document these two phases of development and provide insights in practice and policy drawn from community responses that will better inform contemporary place-based community development approaches suited to planning communities for people of all ages and stages of life.


Role and Participation of Voluntary Organizations in Handling Severe Crisis in Gamvik, Norway

Tor Gjertsen, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

This presentation examines the role and participation of voluntary organizations in handling severe crisis in two resource dependent municipalities in northern Norway. The town of Gamvik (pop. 1,000), on the coast of Finnmark, was dependent on a fish processing plant that closed in the mid-1990s, while the mining town of Kirkenes (pop. 10,000), on the border to Russia, experienced the closure of its iron mine at about the same time. Both places have been quite successful in dealing with the social and economic crises caused by the closing down of their ‘cornerstone’ (fish and mining) industries, partly thanks to a broad social and political mobilization in the communities. In Gamvik, this social mobilization was led by the municipal authorities and mobilized through many civil society groups. It sought to regain control of local and regional fishing quotas from the international trawling fleet. This movement has since spread to many coastal communities in northern Norway. In Kirkenes, where an Australian company that took over and reopened the iron mines 7 years ago (albeit with a smaller workforce), mobilization of a cross section of interests has helped the economy become much more diversified after the first mine bankruptcy of mid-1990s. These cases show how broad participation by groups and organizations, including those in the voluntary sector, has helped local communities in northern Norway become better prepared to withstand new social and economic crises.


Older People, Voluntarism and Aging Places: Pathways of Integration and Marginalization

Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Neil Hanlon, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development, and the Voluntary Sector. Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, August 23-28, 2014.

In late-August 2014, twenty leading international experts in various aspects of rural community change gathered in Tumbler Ridge, a coal mining town in northern British Columbia that is ageing rapidly, to discuss the evolving and potentially transformative role of voluntarism in shaping community responses to population ageing in resource frontier regions. Their collective aim was to advance the field of scholarship on the new phenomena of ‘resource frontier ageing’; a unique context of rural change in which people are growing old in resource-dependent communities that were neither originally designed nor presently equipped to support an ageing population. Interwoven throughout four days of in situ discussion was an increasingly clear gap in understanding how it is that the voluntary sector and volunteers manage, at once, to create supportive environments for ageing in place and positive community development. This presentation provided a foundation for this event by bringing together population ageing, community development, and voluntarism in this under-researched context.


Participation and Transformation: Drawing-out the Links among Voluntarism, Ageing and Community Development

Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Neil Hanlon, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

Community seminar presentation in Letterfrack, Connemara, Ireland, June 7, 2014.


Voluntary Sector Leadership to Support Healthy Aging in British Columbia’s Interior: The Role of Place Integration

Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Neil Hanlon, Greg Halseth, and Laura Ryser

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Memorial University, Newfoundland & Labrador, 2013.

Resource dependent communities are amongst the most rapidly aging communities in Canada, yet many features that distinguish such communities (e.g., geographic remoteness, small population base, infrastructure built with younger and able-bodied persons in mind) also pose significant challenges for healthy aging. These challenges more often than not lead to substantial gaps in access to formal health and social services.  In this paper, we explore the efforts of voluntary sector leaders to transform resource communities into more livable and supportive places for older adults. We offer two case studies from British Columbia’s central and northern interior: Quesnel (population 12,000), a forest-dependent community characterized by aging-in-place; and Tumber Ridge (population 3,000), a coal mining community characterized by both in-migrations of retirees and aging-in-place. Our case studies are informed by analyses of secondary data (e.g., Census, print media, local government documents) and primary data collected from key informant interviews with municipal officials and voluntary sector representatives at both sites. We found that voluntary sector leaders in both communities possess many of the attributes of place integration, a concept first introduced by Malcolm Cutchin to explain physician retention in rural practice. We suggest that greater attention to place integration is needed to account for the transformative capacity of the voluntary sector, and we conclude with some thoughts on the implications of our findings for research and policy.


On the Edge in Rural Canada: The Changing Capacity and Role of the Voluntary Sector

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Keynote presentation for Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Victoria, June 5-7, 2013.

Local service provision in rural and small town places has always faced the challenges of small population numbers and large distances between settlements. While these challenges were somewhat mitigated during a period of proactive public policy and Keynesian economic reforms, the application since 1980 of neo-liberal policy and neo-classical economic modeling has resulted in the widespread closure and downsizing of rural and small town services. Such services, however, are vital to supporting both community and economic transformation and renewal. In response, service providers and non-profit groups have engaged in voluntary work in order to retain some basic service supports.  At the same time, economic and social restructuring has changed the environment within which voluntary groups work.  But is the rural voluntary sector changing to engage in this new landscape?  If we are to understand the impacts of rural restructuring, we must also understand and address the needs of the voluntary sector.  How voluntary groups are impacted, and how they react, will affect the ways by which community development will play out in rural and small town Canada.

Drawing upon almost 15 years of research across northern BC, this paper explores the changing capacity and role of the voluntary sector in rural and small town places.  This presentation opens with a brief introduction to the changes associated with restructuring and the new rural economy.  It then turns attention to a better understanding of what makes the rural context unique for contemporary voluntary organizations.  The presentation then explores institutional barriers impeding the renewal of the rural voluntary sector.  In response to these barriers, voluntary groups have been diversifying their human and financial capital, expanding local and non-local partnerships, developing a range of smart infrastructure, and using other innovative responses to enhance the efficient use of available resources, and to help residents connect with supports in an increasingly complex and changing economy and service environment.  

Our findings provide a foundation to develop responsive institutional capacities and strengthen new multi-faceted approaches to address the voluntary sector’s needs in rapidly changing places.  To support the renewal of the rural voluntary sector, we suggest that more place-based supportive policies and programs are needed to renew relationships; create synergies and collaborative approaches across organizations; streamline administrative and accountability procedures; stabilize daily operations; renew mandates, roles, policies, procedures, and tools; develop leadership and management training supports; enhance business and community development expertise; build diversity, capacity, and support for volunteers; and develop information management systems.  Developing an effective voluntary sector engagement and development strategy will be important to enhance the resiliency of small places.  By investing wisely and purposefully in the voluntary sector, communities can draw upon a broader range of assets for community development and renewal.


Renewing Innovative Non-Profit Service Provision: Structural Barriers and Innovative Responses

Laura Ryser, Lana Sullivan, and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, Thunder Bay, ON, 2013.

Since the 1980s, the application of neo-liberal policies has resulted in the closure and downsizing of rural and small town services. In response, voluntary and non-profit groups have played an increasing role to retain basic service supports.  How voluntary and non-profit groups are impacted, and how they react, will affect the ways by which community development will play out in rural and small town Canada.  Drawing upon our research across northern BC and our work through the New Rural Economy Project, this paper explores the changing capacity and role of the voluntary and non-profit groups in rural and small town places.  Our focus is on the structural and institutional barriers impeding the renewal of these groups.  In response, organizations have been diversifying their human and financial capital, expanding local and non-local partnerships, and developing a range of smart infrastructure to enhance the efficient use of available resources, and to connect residents with supports in an increasingly complex and changing economy and service environment.  To support the renewal of these groups, we suggest that more place-based supportive policies and programs are needed to renew relationships; create synergies across organizations; streamline procedures; stabilize daily operations; renew mandates, roles, policies, procedures, and tools; develop leadership and management training supports; enhance business and community development expertise; build diversity, capacity, and support for volunteers; and develop information management systems.  


Voluntary Sector Leadership to Support Healthy Aging in British Columbia’s Interior: The Role of Place Integration

Neil Hanlon, Mark Skinner, Alun Joseph, Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Annual Meetings of the Canadian  Association of Geographers, Memorial University – Newfoundland & Labrador, 2013.

Resource dependent communities are amongst the most rapidly aging communities in Canada, yet many features that distinguish such communities (e.g., geographic remoteness, small population base, infrastructure built with younger and able-bodied persons in mind) also pose significant challenges for healthy aging. These challenges more often than not lead to substantial gaps in access to formal health and social services.  In this paper, we explore the efforts of voluntary sector leaders to transform resource communities into more livable and supportive places for older adults. We offer two case studies from British Columbia’s central and northern interior: Quesnel (population 12,000), a forest-dependent community characterized by aging-in-place; and Tumbler Ridge (population 3,000), a coal mining community characterized by both in-migrations of retirees and aging-in-place. Our case studies are informed by analyses of secondary data (e.g., Census, print media, local government documents) and primary data collected from key informant interviews with municipal officials and voluntary sector representatives at both sites. We found that voluntary sector leaders in both communities possess many of the attributes of place integration, a concept first introduced by Malcolm Cutchin to explain physician retention in rural practice. We suggest that greater attention to place integration is needed to account for the transformative capacity of the voluntary sector, and we conclude with some thoughts on the implications of our findings for research and policy.


Cents and Sensibility: Creating Effective Policies to Support Voluntary Initiatives in Rural Canada

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, and Don Manson

Annual Meetings, Canadian Association of Geographers, Regina, SK, 2010.

For the past three decades, neoliberal policies have reduced, closed, or offloaded rural and small town services in order to reduce senior government costs.  In response, service providers and non-profit groups have engaged in voluntary work in order to retain some basic service supports.  Economic and social restructuring has created new service pressures from groups ranging from ‘functional’ lone parent households to grandparents raising grandchildren.  New service gaps created by neoliberal policy decisions, however, have limited community responses to assist youth, residents with addictions, and those living in poverty.  Drawing upon 237 key informant interviews with service providers and voluntary groups in 26 communities across northern BC, we explore emerging service gaps stemming from ongoing social, economic, and political change.  We also explore the lack of local supports that now exist as a result of neoliberal policy and program changes.  To support voluntary initiatives that have limited financial and human resources, we suggest that more community-focused supportive policies and programs are needed to create synergies and collaborative approaches across organizations, streamline administrative and accountability procedures, stabilize daily operations, develop leadership and management training supports, enhance business and community development expertise, build capacity and support for volunteers, and develop information management systems.


Burdening the Overburdened: Understanding the Rural and Small Town Voluntary Sector in Health Care Reform

Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth, Neil Hanlon, and Lana Sullivan

Annual Meetings of the Canadian Association of Geographers, London, Ontario, 2005.

The restructuring of Canada’s health care system has included a shifting of burdens from the formal to informal sectors. In rural and small town places, this shift is often taken up by the local voluntary sector, a sector already under stress from covering responsibilities downloaded through other service closures. This paper outlines the roles and challenges of the rural and small town voluntary sector in health care reform. The paper begins with the definitional challenges of both conceptualizing the voluntary sector, and with understanding this sector as one form of community capacity. It then situates contemporary services restructuring into an historical context that considers the changing roles in care provision of the public, private, and civil society sectors. Drawing upon examples from across Canada, the paper concludes with a review of the stresses on rural and small town voluntary organizations and consideration of whether current health care reforms may simply be burdening the overburdened.


Youth

Developing Responsive, Flexible Policies to Support Youth in Transition in the New Rural Economy

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

From Policy to Action and Back Again, Ottawa, Ontario, 2011.

Over the last 30 years, population decline and demographic aging have been two significant rural policy issues. Policy responses have affected service closures, economic development programs, immigration programs, and a host of programs and services for seniors. These population and demographic issues, however, are not straightforward and have differential impacts across rural Canada. There are areas of population growth, and there are also areas of population decline. Sometimes these shifts are due to economic issues, sometimes to specific public policy decisions. In terms of aging, there is the general process of demographic aging, but there also are exacerbating effects in some places through processes like resource frontier aging. While much policy attention in rural Canada has shifted to the aging population, our research identifies significant youth populations ‘hidden’ within these aging places. This is notable in resource communities and especially in Aboriginal communities. Given that many of these communities have never dealt with population aging issues, and that there remains a significant youth population, it is not simply an option to shift policy and funds from one end of the age spectrum to the other – services and supports will be needed for both young and old. By using a community capital framework, our work draws upon a qualitative study conducted with 237 local leaders, service providers, and community groups in 26 communities in northern BC. We argue that place-based flexible policy approaches are needed to develop the next competitive workforce that will be ready to engage in the new rural economy. This will require strategic attention to education, work experiences, as well as cultural and social skills for our ‘forgotten’ youth.


Including Youth in an Aging Society

Laura Ryser, Don Manson, and Greg Halseth

Edmonton, 2010.

Northern BC is a rural landscape whose small town communities are struggling to cope with economic, social, and political change.  Population aging, workforce aging, and an out-migration of young working families and youth has prompted a shift in policy attention to the growing needs of older residents.  Despite such general shifts towards issues for older residents, there still remains a large share of children and youth in northern BC communities.  If we are to understand the impacts of rural restructuring, we must also understand and address the needs of youth.  How they are impacted, and how they react, will affect the ways by which community development and community renewal play out in rural and small town Canada. This presentation explores gaps impeding the development and capacity of youth to respond to rural change.  


Perspectives on the Value of Rural and Small Town Community: Opportunities for Youth

Laura Ryser and Greg Halseth

Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Conference, Gatineau, QC, 2006.

There are perceptions that rural and small town places experience youth out-migration due to limited opportunities for youth.  This presentation attempts to debunk these perceptions by exploring how small communities are an incubator of opportunities for youth to develop skills and obtain experience that they may not get in other places.  Rural and small town places can provide an ideal setting for innovation as local groups adopt technology, create partnerships, and find new ways to provide opportunities for youth in their communities.