Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Geography

Supervisor

Dr. Jamie Baxter

Abstract

This thesis primarily examines wind energy policy and development through the lens of local acceptance and environmental justice in Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada. It has been argued that encouraging more participatory planning alongside introducing financial benefits, can powerfully shape local responses. With little in the Canadian context to substantiate this claim, this dissertation attempts to fill a gap in the literature. The thesis also investigates a methodological question within the social scientific, mixed method literature. Using a small subset of this literature associated with wind energy development, research was undertaken to examine potential relationships between research design and method dominance. Results from Study 1- which looked at distributive justice and wind energy development highlight stark differences between Ontario and Nova Scotia in terms of perceptions of local benefits. Qualitative and quantitative findings point to the strength of traditional benefit sharing initiatives but also more novel forms of benefit structures. Study 2 examined local residents’ experiences of planning processes and found much stronger levels of procedural justice in Nova Scotia. It also suggested that local opposition to wind turbines in Ontario was intertwined with procedural injustice including few opportunities to participate. There were low levels of ‘the ability to affect change’- an idea that was common to both provinces. The findings from the methodological investigation (Study 3) suggest there is little evidence in the domain that qualitative methods are being heavily marginalized, yet there is some indication that research design may influence method priority. Some of the key theoretical contributions relate to the advancement of the resident-centered viewpoint, and the application of Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation. Methodologically, the multi-jurisdiction approach is unique and likely will help to inform Canadian wind energy policy. In study 3, novel methods were used to look at the concept of method priority- an idea that should inspire future researchers to question the ways the concept has been measured in the past. Practical contributions, including public engagement through the media, as well the publication of a ‘Toolkit’ and the hosting of a stakeholder workshop rounded out the research.


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