Beyond the Document

Since 1996, economic planning in Newfoundland and Labrador has largely been carried out by regional economic development boards (REDBs), which operate on a regional scale. REDBs have developed strategic economic plans, which are intended to develop more prosperous regional economies, across the province. The Rural Secretariat is a department of the provincial government that has taken a more holistic approach to planning, incorporating economic, social, cultural and environmental considerations of development. They are engaged in regional and sub-regional planning, through visioning processes, collaborative partnerships, citizen engagement strategies, and community-based research. Economic and socio-economic planning on the more localized (community) level has been far more sporadic than at the larger REDB and Rural Secretariat scale. In a 2008 self-assessment conducted by 250 municipalities across the province only 36 municipalities (14%) indicated that they had an economic development plan in place and only eight communities had a comprehensive community sustainability plan. Over the span of the past three to four years several planning local socio-economic processes have been initiated within the Gander–New-Wes-Valley Rural Secretariat region, also known as the Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation economic zone. Local planning processes have been initiated mainly by the communities themselves – whether single municipalities, local industry associations or groups of neighbouring communities. For the purposes of this project plans created for a cluster of interconnected communities are referred to as multi-community or regional plans (sub-regions of the larger Gander–New-Wes-Valley region). The varying approaches taken to planning throughout the region, challenges faced and successes achieved are discussed in the report.

This project is based on the research conducted by Memorial University students in the 2009 fall semester of the Community and Regional Planning and Development course in the Department of Geography. The project represented the first of a two phased, collaborative, community-based research project initiated by the Gander–New-Wes-Valley Rural Secretariat Regional Council. The project has been led by a steering committee of government and non-government representatives from the region working with community and university partners. Three objectives of the research were: to identify critical success factors and barriers for small communities in moving from planning to plan implementation, including consideration of the unique requirements and challenges in multi-community planning processes; to recommend steps that can be taken by local and government actors to maximize benefits and minimize challenges associated with these processes; and to share lessons on effective community and multi-community socio-economic planning processes regionally and provincially.

For more information on this project please visit

Research Team and Partners

Project Resources