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sustainability was often considered in local development, in the form of mitigation and restoration, while the social sustainability of the city was ignored. Yet, the conflict did produce partial solutions. Authorities accepted a proposal to expand city limits, and many of the resource companies began to move more of their administration and management to Fort McMurray to support downtown core development. • • In Camrose, Alberta, as in many other rural communities, homelessness has emerged as a very real issue. Homelessness often looks different in smaller communities than it does in cities. The fact that there may not be people sitting on the sidewalks, panhandling, or sleeping in alleys leads many to assume that homelessness is an “urban” issue. However, the reality is that rural communities are often stepping stones to urban homelessness — especially if there are no services available in the rural town, forcing those in need of supports to migrate to larger centres. The experience of many smaller towns points to the importance of incorporating social issues into planning (whether infrastructure, economic development, etc.). Not only can doing so help mitigate conflict down the line, it can also limit the often unforeseen effects of social, economic, and other inequities within the community. Ignoring the issue, avoiding local conflict, and avoiding a reflection on the changing rural identity by silently pushing the problems to cities and blaming them, stands in the way of finding more immediate and locally meaningful solutions. • Despite its many potential benefits, conflict is not always productive. It can also undermine a whole community. It can become counterproductive when it undermines institutions, erodes checks and balances, and especially when it subverts the very rules it seeks to change. If discrediting the current mayor, for example, is the only way to become the mayor, the rule of law is negatively affected, and any community strategy coming out of the new council will encounter problems of legitimacy. Conflict can also destroy trust between groups of actors. If trust has left the community and residents are unable to trust in the fairness, enforcement, and efficiency of institutions, then rules will lose their power. This is another example of performativity: if there is no belief that institutions can fix problems, if there is instead a belief that a problem was always there and will always be there, chances are that the problem is perpetuated and that the tools to deal with it remain weak. Restoring trust does not happen easily, and it does not happen by talking about trust; it must be developed by example, through consistent actions that create a new pattern of expectations and a renewed sense of legitimacy.

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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...

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