Entrenched Instability: The Community Implications of Flexibility in British Columbia's Northern Interior

Alex Martin


Economic restructuring of British Columbia's forestry sector, stimulated by the
recession in the 1980s, has challenged the viability of the post-war institutions and
economic landscape. This period marked an end the expansion of the forestry
sector as industry and the province worked to contend with a number of global and
local pressures. Restructuring instigated processes whereby engrained institutional
arrangements were dismantled and redefined. This paper examines how forestry
companies are redefining relationships at the local level, enacting flexibility
outside of the mill, within communities. The analysis of case study findings from
three communities explore how companies have negotiated flexibility and
rationalized business practices in an effort to address uncertainty. These processes
have exposed the inherent tension between companies and communities regarding
relationships. Furthermore, corporate visions of 'flexible communities' ignore the
structural and geographic realities embedded within resource-dependent
communities. The push for flexibility within the forestry sector and resourcedependent
communities has resulted in exacerbating longstanding issues of
dependence, vulnerability, and disparity; a result that runs contrary to the interest
of the province, resource-communities, and forestry companies.
Keywords: flexibility; restructuring; resource towns; forestry; local development

Full Text:


The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.