Place-Based Sustainability Planning: Implications & Recommendations for Rural Northwestern Ontario
As rural regions in Northwestern Ontario are faced with dynamic changes, it is important they are equipped with the tools and strategies needed to maintain healthy environments, resilient communities, and robust economies. There is a need for innovative approaches to rural planning that incorporate the values and tools of sustainability planning and, as such, will be more equipped to address the diverse strengths and challenges of rural regions. This article attempts to identify the potential for place-based and northern adaptations of sustainability planning. It highlights challenges for sustainability planning in rural areas and discusses how smart growth approaches have the potential to guide planning processes in rural locales. It then examines an existing rural smart growth framework and gaps in that framework from a northern perspective. The article concludes with some proposed adaptations to the rural smart growth framework to address the unique characteristics and needs of northern, rural communities and regions; adaptations that might help to further development of regional, place-based, sustainability planning in Northwestern Ontario and across Canada’s Provincial North.
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