Developing a Planning Strategy and Vision for Rural-Urban Fringe Areas: A Case Study of British Columbia

Article excerpt


La zone peripherique urbaine-rurale pose de nombreaux defies juridiques et politiques en ce qui concerne sa planification et gestion adequate. L'analyse se concentre sur le taux de croissance, le genre et l'emplacement des zones dans les regions non regies par un gouvernement local en Colombie Britannique. II a ete discute que la nature desorganisee suivant laquelle le developpement de ces territories non municipalises a ete poursuivi est le resultat de la mauvaise coordination entre les differentes administrations regissant ces territories. Cet article conclut qu'une methode d'aborder ce probleme a l'echelon superieur pourrait aboutir a une reussite si une pensee provinciale etait jointe a une vision same d'urbanisme, en ce qui concerne le developpement de ces regions non municipalisees.

Mots cles: peripherique urbaine-rurale, Colombie Britannique, regions non municipalisees, developpement, urbanisme, gouvernement local


The rural-urban fringe poses numerous legal, political and procedural challenges regarding its proper governance and planning. This paper focuses upon the rate, form and location of fringe developments in British Columbia's unincorporated areas. It is argued that the chaotic nature of development results from a messy and uncoordinated governance structure where unincorporated territories are concerned. The paper concludes that a superior coordinated approach could be achieved by incorporating into provincial thought a sound planning vision regarding the development of the unincorporated areas.

Key words: rural-urban fringe, British Columbia, unincorporated areas, development, planning, local government.


Planning at the rural-urban fringe has posed long-standing challenges, including: documenting and recording land use changes at the urban fringe (Hathout 2002, Pond & Yeates 1994); creating operational definitions of the various components comprising rural-urban fringe environments (Bryant et al. 1982, Friedland 2002); controlling extreme development pressures (Isakson & Ecker 2001, Pacione 1991); the loss of agricultural land (Beauchesne & Bryant 1999, Pierce 1981) and bringing together the diverse interests of a variety of private and public stakeholders in order to properly manage fringe lands (Bryant 1995, Halseth 1996). Planners and policy makers have responded to these challenges with a variety of policies, regulatory approaches, and institutional-governance frameworks (Bryant et al. 1982, Daniels 1999, Easley 1992, Sancton 1994).

Yet planning ideas to address fringe developments tend to minimize the type and diversity of governance institutions involved in managing fringe growth, particularly in unincorporated areas beyond the metropolitan areas. The governance system in non-metropolitan areas is much more complex than has apparently been understood by past research (Goodwin 1998, Magnusson 1985). While emphasis has been placed on the complex and fragmented governance structure of metropolitan areas (Barlow 1991, Bourne 1999, Sancton 1994), the multi-jurisdictional aspects of governing the rural-urban fringe in non-metropolitan areas has received much less attention.

This paper examines the various planning strategies and visions that emerged in response to fringe development within British Columbia's unincorporated territories beyond the metropolitan areas of Vancouver and Victoria over the past eighty years. The Province's unincorporated areas are defined as any lands beyond the boundaries of municipal governments, i.e., cities, towns, villages or district municipalities, although such a definition does not mean that unincorporated areas are unorganized from a political and administrative standpoint. In fact, they typically are ripe with institutional fragmentation resulting in multifarious experiments regarding the management of fringe growth. This paper, therefore, explores the complexities in achieving consistent and comprehensive planning in a multi-jurisdictional environment, particularly in the face of strong urban-economic and demographic pressures at the urban fringe. …