Page 28

Image: Adam Roy. University of Northern British Columbia. Prince George, BC

In Prince George, BC, there is still a substantial timber industry. There are three operating lumber mills, three pulp mills, and a number of small pellet plants. Of course there have been ups and downs, most recently exacerbated by the mountain pine beetle. We were interested to learn in our interviews that the city had diversified its resource and service focus to include potential liquid natural gas mining work, but remained relatively unconcerned about the sustainability of these resource activities. The relationship between the resource firms and the community was changing too, to one that was less paternalistic and less committed, and which demanded municipal improvements, instead of offering contributions or building the community, as in the past. There was a strong perception of Prince George as an innovative, attractive, and competitive city, but it was less clear how place-based these discourses were: it was not clear whether these stories were dependent on the specific circumstances of Prince George, or rather the product of consultants borrowing from generic innovation stories floating around globally. It was hard to discern whether the innovation story had taken root, was locally adapted, and had the ability to coordinate real change. At the same time, the innovation story veiled the community’s continued dependency on a resource economy which is not questioned, nor complemented with really different activities. Path dependencies are not simple, and the past does not necessarily determine the future. Armed with a strong understanding of the past and how to work within existing dependencies, internal and external forces can redefine existing relationships and open up new possibilities for the future.

• On Vancouver Island, Port Hardy, BC has a long history of lumber as an economic driver. While the importance of this industry, as measured by direct employment, is nowhere near its peak, lumber remains an important identity for the community. The development of fish farms is a more recent source of employment for many residents, yet community identity remains unchanged.

16

Boom and Bust: a guide

Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Advertisement