Understanding Community Conditions to Improve Place-Based Rural Development Policies and Programs 




Oliveira, Diogo

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The Rural Policy and Programs Branch (RPP) of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is the area responsible for rural policies and programs that support economic diversification and that promote resilience in rural communities across British Columbia. RPP’s work requires an understanding of rural communities’ conditions to help design policies and programs that target the main barriers to development in rural areas. It further requires the ability to communicate rural communities’ conditions in a manner that is clear and accessible to support policy decisions that are beneficial to communities. In order to strengthen RPP’s ability to understand and communicate community conditions, this project set out to answer the overarching question: How can RPP use georeferenced or community-level data to improve their understanding and ability to communicate rural community conditions in order to support better place-based policies and programs?  This project’s methodology used a smart practices approach, which was operationalized through a literature review and a jurisdictional scan to answer this question. The key deliverables of this research include a literature review of the rural development and rural policy literature; a list of best practices in composite indicator (CI) construction; a jurisdictional scan of CIs that have been used to assess and communicate community conditions in Canada and abroad; a compilation of available data sets that may help RPP measure community conditions in rural B.C.; and recommendations to help RPP improve their ability to effectively assess and communicate community conditions to support better rural development policies and programs. The project concludes that capturing a complex reality in a way that is simple enough to be easily communicable but sophisticated enough to provide quality information is an extremely hard task. Since 2016, RPP has been working to understand local conditions in rural areas and use this knowledge to help guide policy and program decisions to provide effective support to the rural communities that need it most. This project is an effort to continue advancing this knowledge.



Rural, Community Data, Composite Indicator