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Spreading the ‘Wealth’ in the Far North of Ontario, at What Cost?

Fleisher, Hannah

Since 2002 both public and private interests have initiated planning and development projects in a remote northern region of the province of Ontario (Canada) to extract mineral deposits and encourage regional economic growth. To regulate this development, the Far North Act was passed in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 2010. Among other things, the Act facilitates an opt-in, government led, community-based land use planning in the self-governing First Nations (aboriginal) communities in the region. Many of these FNs opposed the Act, however, expressing dissatisfaction with both the planning process it mandates and their related development outcomes throughout the region. One group of FNs has developed their own planning practices to counter these dissatisfactions, with promising initial results. To investigate the differences between these approaches, this thesis provides a review of the policies and legislation that currently define self-governance, planning, and development in the region, as well as a case study of self-led planning and development practices formulated by the Matawa First Nations Management tribal council. This investigation demonstrates the particularly complicated nature of maintaining the aboriginal right to self-govern in competitive, resource-rich regions, and the conscientious methods required to implement transparent and equitable planning practices in aboriginal communities facing development pressure. The research concludes that the only means for achieving planning and development outcomes that benefit the welfare of First Nations, and that inherently respect their right to self-govern, is through instituting genuine participatory decision-making in the region: opportunities for meaningful input First Nations input that is factored into final outcomes. Furthermore, this research recommends that, as a critical foundation to the success of these inclusive processes, First Nations must be continually supported by the government to develop their own capacities to led planning practices and stabilize all aspects of their communities, and also share lessons learned from the development process amongst themselves, in order to function as full and equal stakeholders who can more effectively advocate for themselves within collaborative processes.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
October 22, 2015

Notes

Full Title: Spreading the ‘Wealth’ in the Far North of Ontario, at What Cost? The Matawa Tribal Council as a Case Study of Self-Determined First Nations Planning and Economic Development Practices within a Multi-Level Governance Framework

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