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Social and Political Dynamics of the Canadian Suburb Pierre Filion School of Planning University of Waterloo APSA, Chicago, August 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Social and Political Dynamics of the Canadian Suburb Pierre Filion School of Planning University of Waterloo APSA, Chicago, August 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social and Political Dynamics of the Canadian Suburb Pierre Filion School of Planning University of Waterloo APSA, Chicago, August 2007

2 Organization of the presentation The changing political structure Suburban diversification The future of the suburb The “End of Suburbia”?

3 Definition of the suburb used here: Continuous urban area built mostly since 1946; does not generally coincide with political entities. Thus defined, suburbs contain about 3/5 of the Canadian population.

4 The Changing Political Structure Three categories of metropolitan political structures: -The main municipality includes all or most of the urbanized territory (or even much rural territory) -The main municipality includes the inner city and all or most of the inner suburb -Politically fragmented metropolitan region

5 Main municipality includes all or most of the urbanized territory HalifaxIncludes all the urbanized territory and much rural land; amalgamation in 1996 QuébecIncludes most of the urbanized territory; amalgamation in 2002 Ottawa/ Gatineau Includes all the urbanized territory and much rural land; amalgamation in 2000 and 2002 WinnipegIncludes much of the urbanized territory; amalgamation in 1972 CalgaryIncludes much of the urbanized territory; annexations EdmontonIncludes much of the urbanized territory; annexations

6 Halifax Regional Municipality

7 The main municipality includes the inner city and most of the inner suburb Toronto: amalgamation of Metro municipalities in 1998; includes inner city and inner suburbs; centralized decision-making Montréal: amalgamation of Montréal Island municipalities in 2002; de-centralized decision- making; in municipalities de- amalgamate

8 Politically fragmented metropolitan region Vancouver: the central city mostly includes the inner city; however, powerful metropolitan planning agency (GVRD)

9 Absence of home rule for a majority of suburbanites Access to local administrations mediated by bureaucracy rather than more direct political contact (as in smaller municipalities) Major influence of suburbs on central city due to greater demographic weight in large central cities or in metropolitan-wide municipalities Influence of suburban density, configuration, and life styles on values and political choices (Gainsborough, 2001; Saunders, 1986; Walks, 2007)

10 Southern Ontario results: 2003 provincial elections

11 Suburban Diversification It is a truism that suburbs have become more diversified Inner suburbs (mostly built between 1946 and 1971) adopt some of the socioeconomic features traditionally associated with the inner city Different types of housing from the start because less advanced land use specialization than in the outer suburbs and government funding available for affordable housing during its period of development

12 Research on risks of homelessness, which identified poor tenant households, depicted two metropolitan distribution patterns (Bunting, Walks and Filion, 2004) In some metropolitan regions such households are clearly concentrated in the inner city (important gap between the inner city and inner suburb): Winnipeg, Hamilton, Vancouver and Montréal In Toronto, Québec, and Calgary, much more concentrated in the inner suburb

13 Urban distribution: Households spending at least 50% of income on rent Inner cityInner suburbOuter suburbExurb Montréal40.5%36.3%18.7%4.3% Québec31.2%41.5%25.7%1.3% Vancouver39.7%28.7%29.5%1.9% Halifax38.7%24.6%32.6%3.8% Toronto33.7%42.4%20.9%2.6% Ottawa31.8%38.3%23.5%6% Saskatoon37.9%35.6%25.2%1.2% Hamilton46.4%30.7%19.5%2.7% Winnipeg56%20.5%22.7%0.8% Edmonton31.1%35.5%27.7%5.4% Calgary31%41.3%25.3%2.1%

14 Diversification also pertains to ethnic groups Break from past distribution pattern where the inner city was the port of entry for immigrants, followed by eventual sectoral or nodal suburbanization Now frequent location of new immigrants in suburbs, due to the higher incomes of some of them and to the growing share of metropolitan regions taken by suburbs

15 2001 residence of immigrants who arrived between 1996 and 2001 (Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, 2006)

16 The future of the suburb Ethnosuburbs, how they deal with diversity In Toronto, relatively few clashes Due to:  Fairly large municipal administrations with expertise with diversity  Ethnic concentrations take place in an environment where land uses are all very specialized  Reshuffling of populations, e.g. very little ethnic diversity in growing exurban retirement communities

17 The aging of the suburb, experienced presently in the inner suburbs, endangers the financial health of local governments Felt only in the case of inner suburban municipalities Financial health supported by development -- development charges and premium associated with newness of built environment When territory built out, depreciation of built environment and loss of revenues associated with development In large metros, inner suburbs caught between gentrifying inner city and the modernism of outer suburbs

18 The “End of Suburbia”? Suburbia has proven to be highly flexible, has moved far from the “Leave it to Beaver” model Accommodates different activities, social groups, life styles, and economic trends One example of flexibility is its ability to host all types of retailing, from exclusive malls to the down-market commercial strip But flexibility is predicated on an unlimited access to the automobile Suburbs have developed in a time of declining automobile use expenses

19 But these conditions will be challenged by rising fuel costs and from an environmental perspective Much talk in planning circles of suburban intensification, but much less impact on the reality of development Nodes launched, but only partly meet their objectives Insufficient presence of public transit to create accessibility peaks and foster intensification NIMBY reactions against intensification


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