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


  • Alex Martin Independent Scholar


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