Struggling with New Regionalism: Government Trumps Governance in Northern British Columbia, Canada

Chelan Zirul, Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, Laura Ryser


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the dynamics of a (new) regionalist development process that sought to enable communities, within a rural region of British Columbia, Canada, to chart a new strategic direction for their future development. We highlight the case of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (C-CBAC), which formed in response to the mountain pine beetle infestation that has destroyed much of the province's pine forests. Spurred by this crisis, the C-CBAC formed to create community and economic transition strategies to cope with long-term economic restructuring and environmental change. While the coalition has achieved many admirable successes, internal governance struggles and the reliance of senior governments on traditional vehicles to distribute supports have severely hindered any regionalist potential for implementation. Ultimately, government trumped governance in this attempt to construct a new regional ideal. The paper highlights the need for 'co-constructing' new regional governance, which entails both bottom-up and top-down responsibility and coordination in the implementation of new regional development processes.

Keywords: regional governance; rural; new regionalism; British Columbia

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