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Toronto - Ontario - Canada
Ecosystem Planning and Governance in Halifax
18/01/2004

A friend of ours recently returned from Halifax where she completed her Master of Environmental Studies degree at Dalhousie. Seeing the bound volume of her thesis brought back fond memories of working on my own Master's thesis, and momentarily had me thinking about a PhD. I think that moment has passed.

Anyway, her research touched on subjects that I write about here, so I thought some of my readers might find the work interesting. So, here is a summary... if you have any interest in this, write to me and I'll pass your note along to Linda. More importantly, she's also looking for a job (preferably, but not necessarily, here in Toronto), so if you know anything, please write. Thanks.

The work is:

Ecosystem Planning and Governance: A Case Study of the Regional Planning Process in Halifax Regional Municipality

by Linda Tam, 2003

And here's a summary of the contents:

Chapters:

  1. Introduction: Urban growth management and sustainable development
  2. Literature review:
    • Ecosystem planning and urban ecology
    • Urban policy is environmental policy
    • Environment and development
  3. Methodology: qualitative case studies -- semi-structured interviews with municipal, provincial and private-development representatives -- assisted by document and legal review
  4. Case study overview: key planning and growth trends in Halifax, public perceptions of planning, and the regional planning process
  5. Interview findings and insight:
    • Perspectives on regional environmental planning
    • Role and activities of Regional Council
    • Institutional issues, i.e., inter-governmental or inter-department relationships, the human resource factor, civic engagement, social norms, etc.
  6. The legal context of ecosystem planning in Nova Scotia -- municipal vs. provincial powers
  7. Final perspective and conclusions

Here's the conclusion at the end of her abstract:

Governance practices are a key influence not only on physical urban form but also on what the notion of planning and development is in the eyes of decision-makers and the wider public. Perceptions of limited authority and routine in decision-making should not be underestimated as a barrier to forming an environmental basis for regional planning. Stronger learning efforts within municipalities are needed to dissolve the notion of fragmented environmental authority to encourage use of planning as a pollution prevention tool. Muncipalities can exercise leadership and vision by confronting the subtle yet powerful impacts of planning practices on cultural perceptions of "planning and development", "environmental policy" and "nature".


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