The International Joint Commission (IJC) has been involved in a 14-year effort to formulate a new water regulation plan for the Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River (“LOSLR”) area that balances the interests of a diverse group of stakeholders including shipping and navigation, hydropower, environment, recreational boating, municipal and domestic water supply, First Nations, and shoreline property owners. It has embraced the principles of collaborative and participatory management and, applying a Shared Visioning Planning (SVP) approach, has worked closely with stakeholders throughout all stages of this process; however, conflicts between competing stakeholders have delayed and complicated this effort. The overarching aim of this paper is to consider the extent to which the SVP approach employed by the IJC was effective in managing conflict in the LOSLR context. Audio recordings and transcriptions of public and technical hearings held by the IJC in 2013 have been systematically analysed using stakeholder mapping and content analysis methods, to gain insight into the stakeholder universe interacting with the IJC on Plan 2014. The principal conclusions of this paper are that (a) the Shared Vision Planning approach employed by the IJC had some significant successes in terms of conflict management—particularly notable is the success that has been achieved with regards to integration of First Nation concerns; (b) there is a distinct group of shoreline property owners, based in New York State, who remain opposed to Plan 2014—the IJC’s public outreach and participation efforts have not been successful in reconciling their position with that of other stakeholders due to the fact that this stakeholder group perceive that they can only lose out from any regulation change and are therefore unlikely to be motivated to engage productively in any planning dialogue; and (c) a solution would require that the problem be reframed so that this stakeholder can see that they do in fact have something to gain from a successful resolution, which may necessitate bringing the prospect of compensation to the table.
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