Identity and commitment to place
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate whether place is emerging in practice as a critical dimension in the development of Canadian rural regions. Place-based development is defined here as an holistic and targeted intervention that attempts to reveal, utilize, and enhance the unique natural, physical, and/or human capacity endowments of a particular location for the development of the community or region. Recently, Jones et al. (2013) set as an assignment for regional researchers the task to better understand how rural spaces become identified as places—with particular histories, mandates, collective recognition, and responsibilities. This question focuses our investigation of place and place-based development in the project. We are particularly interested in the definition and expression of place-based identity as a mobilizing force for regionalism. In practice, regional actors, particularly in the face of declining senior government or industrial stewardship of regions, must essentially choose to constitute themselves as a region—and to act accordingly in their planning and development decisions and activities. Our findings, and contributions to our holistic understanding of new regionalism in Canada as identified elsewhere in this volume, suggest that while identity plays a critical role in fostering regional development processes, it is either too emergent or actively resisted within our case study regions to be a significant factor for robust place-based regional development.