Regional Development, Drinking Water, and Infrastructure

Project Title: From Staples to Sustainability: new regionalism and the infrastructure deficit in rural Canada

Principal Investigator: Sarah-Patricia Breen (Simon Fraser University)

Currently, infrastructure systems built during the early stages of regional development have reached a point where investment and planning is required. In rural areas these old infrastructure systems reflect the economic, cultural, and political dominance of natural resource. Heading forward infrastructure systems form the foundation for future development. As a result it is important that infrastructure revitalization considers what type of communities and regions we wish to have in the future.

Initial results from the Canadian Regional Development project found that drinking water systems are a key part of the rural infrastructure challenge. Because water plays a variety of roles in communities (e.g., economic, social, and environmental), the revitalization of drinking water systems provides a unique opportunity to re-shape and re-orient communities.

Sarah’s research examines the relationships between infrastructure and rural resilience. Using a case study of rural drinking water systems in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia, her project examines:

  • The relationships between drinking water systems and regional development;
  • The relationship between current approaches to managing drinking water systems and regional resilience; and
  • The potential of applying a new regionalism framework to drinking water systems.

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