Mega-project planning and economic welfare : a case study of British Columbia's North East Coal Project

Nancy Knight
This research investigates the characteristics of natural resource mega-project planning processes. The implications of staple theory and selected characteristics of natural resource mega-projects are used to construct eleven characteristics of such planning processes. Staple theory suggests that optimistic expectations will be a fundamental characteristic of resource development planning in Canada, and that the state's role will be to facilitate, rather than evaluate, staple production. The
more » ... e, complexity, visibility, and meaning of mega-projects may create momentum around them that weakens rational analysis and stampedes the planning process. Overall, the planning process may focus on narrow, technical issues concerned with constraints facing the mega-project. Alternatives may not be considered, overly optimistic expectations may not be checked, and risk and uncertainty may be inadequately addressed. These proposed planning process characteristics are investigated in a case study of British Columbia's North East Coal Project (NECP). The institutional structure of the planning and implementing organizations are investigated, and the major planning issues are identified. The expectations generated within the planning process regarding the mega-project's contribution to regional economic growth and development, and its economic viability are reviewed, and then evaluated by comparing them to information available at the time from sources within the planning process and from sources outside the planning process, and to actual outcomes. The case study findings support many of the eleven proposed characteristics of natural resource mega-project planning processes. The NECP's public planning process focused on identifying and overcoming constraints that would prevent the mega-project proceeding, and on minimizing the costs of the public sector's infrastructure responsibilities in the mega-project. The terms of reference for the various Sub-Committees requested analyses of constraints in most cases. The absence of a [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0100391 fatcat:ciwxsjddera55ljgr3rjtjgh64