Interface Planning Casebook - Case File 1
Small rural communities with attractive natural settings and even modestly well designed built structures can become amenity destinations, and amenity migration is a powerful engine for sustainable economic development. Interface communities, by definition, are adjacent to Crown land, which has remained in the public estate precisely because its ruggedness or elevation or both make it unsuitable for patenting as privately held farms or residential parcels. In this context, the usual incremental urban expansion of a town or village may be politically uncontrollable and mostly driven by developers rather than strategic planning. Crown lands along the Interface, on the other hand, belong to the provincial government or the First Nation whose land claims have not been settled, or both. In principle, then, it should be possible for the senior government to conduct strategic Interface land use plans which aim to give suitable settlements Crown land settings of a high aesthetic order. Places such as Canmore and Whistler show the kind of synergism which can be achieved between a well-planned landscape and a well-planned settlement. In British Columbia, planning of this sort is done, and even then to an extent well short of its potential, only for designated “resort” communities – and resorts are not essential to amenity migration. (VQA, or Visual Quality Analysis, a procedure employed in LRMP planning, is intended to convince tourists they are driving through pristine landscapes, but it does not deceive residents or prospective amenity migrants.)
If Crown Interface planning added an aesthetic design component to its forestry, agronomy, and biology components, well-placed settlements such as Smithers would enjoy a greatly enhanced potential for amenity migration and tourism. Amenity migration spending has such a high economic multiplier that it alone can sustain local economies, and it does so without seriously liquidating natural capital. Landscape design expertise is readily available from the private sector.
Planning principles at stake
(9), (12), (13), (17), (25)
Refer to Planning Principles
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