Planning In Ontario’s Far North: Preservation, development and culture in policy
Youden, Holly L.
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Growing development pressure in Ontario’s Far North has prompted northern First Nation communities, who have recognized these potential outcomes, to initiate community-based land-use planning. In 2009 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) announced Bill 191, An Act with Respect to Land-Use Planning and Protection in the Far North, to guide the planning process and promote a balance between conservation and development. The way the legislation develops and advances will be a determining factor in the degree of benefit to local communities. This manuscript thesis explores the issues related to land-use planning in Ontario’s Far North, specifically the James Bay lowland region, through two articles. Information collected through participant observation, an extensive multi-disciplinary literature review, interviews with key policy actors and review of transcripts from Standing Committee hearings was combined to inform the development of both articles. The first article explores the landscape to highlight the abiotic, biotic and cultural features of the region. This article provides a scoping exercise to begin to describe features that should contribute to the creation of the community-based land-use plans. The second article critically examines the development of Bill 191 to guide land-use planning through policy, organizational and operational institutional levels from a First Nations perspective. Themes of power, social justice and participation in the planning process are central to the consideration of the emerging planning process. This review reveals a process that, instead of initiating a new relationship between the government of Ontario and First Nations, has contributed to increasingly acrimonious relations between the two.