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Strengthening local autonomy could also entail the creation of a set of new actors, each contributing to further revenue generation and visioning. As in Revelstoke, BC, for example, this could include an economic development authority, a community controlled mill, a community forestry association, a tourism board, and an energy plant. In this case, local governance does become more complex. However, the collective potential increases dramatically and the leverage with provinces to redefine local powers increases. Alas, decreasing local autonomy is just as real a possibility, although usually not one reached deliberately. It can emerge out of local action or inaction, often without intent, such as forgetting about planning instruments, or allowing expertise to disappear or go unnoticed. Communities may stop reflecting on assets and alternative futures, accept existing traditions and power relations, and get trapped in rigid identity narratives, all with the overall result of eroding adaptive capacity and autonomy. Such a decrease could be the result of a higher level strategy, or be an unanticipated effect of higher level decisions aimed at something else. In many ways, this is a pattern that has been long-established in rural Canada. While Canadian local government is considered to have the least authority of comparable systems in the OECD, provincial governments have a long history of contributing to, if not directly causing, this weakness. In addition to provincial legislation that severely limits the capacity and authority of local governments, and informal traditions of divide and rule, a more recent pattern that has emerged since the 1980s is often called devolution — that is, the tendency of provincial governments to move away from the provision of public services. Instead, the province becomes a contractor of services, often providing funding, but little more. As a result, municipalities and privatized utilities become the de facto service provider. Municipalities acquire more responsibility but without an increase in real autonomy. They receive barely enough financial support from the province to fulfill the new tasks, and often operate without the legal authority and capacity to deliver and oversee services. Theoretically, the overload on municipalities could be leveraged to increase local powers. In practice, however, it tends to reduce them, as local politics and administration are continuously overworked but lose oversight and the capacity to engage consciously in governance beyond government administration and the pressing concerns of the present day. Mapping relationships with higher level actors has already proved to blur the lines between path and context mapping, and between mapping

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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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