What is Happening?

Canada today is facing an urban problem unparalleled in its history. As urban problems go, this one has been commented on seldom, and studied less by academics. However, many, if not most Canadians are aware of it, and there is much effort being spent on tackling this problem by cities and citizens of those cities across the country. The problem is that small and medium-sized Canadian cities are stagnating or shrinking. This manifests itself primarily in population figures, as well as economic indicators such as unemployment.

Compare the growth of Canada’s 5 most populous urban areas with those of the next 10, and of those 25 cities below that. Over the past century, of Canadians living in the 40 largest urban areas, the proportion living in the top 5 DECLINED from 65.% in 1900 to 57.3 in 1980. That is, until the last two decades as the proportion in 2000 was 58.8%. Conversely, the proportion living in the middle 10 increased consistently from 1900 (17.6%) to 1980 (25.6%), then declining in the past two decades to 24.7%.  This is the most visible manifestation of the effects of modern urban planning on Canada’s cities.

While a few smaller cities have done well (of which many are essentially satellite cities near larger centres), this has not prevented the broader trend from happening

Most people are aware that our “northern” or “eastern” or “prairie” cities are not faring well. This does not cause particular surprise or confusion. However, from the perspective of conventional urban planning and urban economics, this phenomenon should be truly perplexing…

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Published in: on September 4, 2006 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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