Unintentional Influence: Exploring the Relationship between Rural Regional Development and Drinking Water Systems in Rural British Columbia, Canada


  • Sarah-Patricia W Breen Simon Fraser University
  • Sean Markey Simon Fraser University


Rural drinking water systems face a number of challenges, not the least of which is a growing infrastructure deficit. While age and investment are typically highlighted as key factors influencing the infrastructure deficit, other pervasive challenges remain for rural drinking water systems in British Columbia, Canada. This raises the question of whether factors influencing the infrastructure deficit extend beyond those typically captured in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between rural regional development and drinking water systems in order to provide a historically and theoretically informed lens on the relationships between the two and how these links influence present day challenges. The authors aim to temper the presentism that often characterizes current debates surrounding the infrastructure deficit and to frame current drinking water system challenges within a more contextually-informed and regionally integrated framework. Keywords: drinking water; infrastructure; staples theory; rural; regional development

Author Biographies

Sarah-Patricia W Breen, Simon Fraser University

Sarah-Patricia W. Breen is a PhD candidate at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Sarah’s current research focuses on different elements of regional development rural Canada. Her work is centred in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia. Sarah received her MA from Memorial University and her HBA from Lakehead University. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation.

Sean Markey, Simon Fraser University

Sean Markey is an Associate Professor with the Resource and Environmental Management Department and an Associate with the Centre for Sustainable Community Development and Department of Geography. His research concerns issues of local and regional economic development, community sustainability, rural development, and sustainable infrastructure. He has published widely in academic journals and is the principal author of Investing in Place: Economic Renewal in Northern British Columbia (UBC Press 2012) and Second Growth: Community Economic Development in Rural British Columbia (UBC Press, 2005), and co-editor of The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in Global Economies (Cabi Press, 2010). Sean continues to work with municipalities, non-profit organizations, Aboriginal communities and the business community to promote and develop sustainable forms of community economic development. He serves as co-Chair on the Board of Directors with the Vancity Community Foundation.







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