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City Lives and City Forms

City Lives and City Forms: Critical Research and Canadian Urbanism

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 347
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  • Book Info
    City Lives and City Forms
    Book Description:

    Focusing on a series of pivotal issues confronting Canadian cities and city-dwellers today, this volume address key themes in urban studies, including the interaction between social relations and urban landscape.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7298-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    This book addresses a series of pivotal issues confronting Canadian cities and city-dwellers at present. It has two objectives.

    First,City Lives and City Formsis meant as a resource for critically oriented urban studies curricula. Towards this purpose, a selection of key current themes in the urban field are explored through a representative cross-section of the preoccupations and perspectives of ‘critical’ urban researchers in Canada. The focus is especially on the interaction between social relations and urban landscapes, on the status of Canadian cities in the new world economy, on the sociocultural complexity of Canada’s urban populations, and on...

  6. Part 1: People, Places, Cultures

    • 1 The New Middle Class in Canadian Central Cities
      (pp. 15-32)

      The 1960s were an era of massive landcape change in many Canadian cities. The full force of postwar economic growth led to significant development pressures, including new construction in the suburbs and the reshaping of the central city, with an expansion of office growth downtown and the private redevelopment of inner city blocks into low- and high-rise apartments. This was the period when high-density redevelopment forever transformed the face of residential districts like Vancouver’s West End and St Jamestown in Toronto. State intervention was also at a high point with major infrastructure additions, notably freeways that sliced through pre-existing neighbourhoods,...

    • 2 Monster Homes: Hong Kong Immigration to Canada, Urban Conflicts, and Contested Representations of Space
      (pp. 33-46)

      Hong Kong migration in recent years has upset standard stereotypes of migrants as predominantly composed of low-income groups, who keep to their own ethnic areas in less desirable parts of the city, or who participate in processes of ethnic succession in the ‘zone of transition.’ Instead, a considerable number of migrants from Hong Kong have purchased homes in the most expensive parts of Canadian cities, often areas which previously were neighbourhoods dominated by Anglo¹ upper-middle or upper-class populations. The processes by which this ‘incursion’ has taken place seem to have threatened the ‘sense of place’ of the social groups associated...

    • 3 ‘Urban’ and ‘Aboriginal’: An Impossible Contradiction?
      (pp. 47-62)

      In recent years the question of how space is implicated in the construction and reproduction of minority groups has become an important focus for social and cultural geographers (Jackson 1987). Researchers have noted that groups socially constructed as ‘other’ are assigned to spaces which express their marginalization, and that spatial arrangements contribute to the reproduction of racial and minority group categories over time (see, for example, Anderson 1991; Sibley 1981, 1992; Smith 1989; Western 1981). However, recognizing the entanglement of space and the definition of minority groups does not explain the connection for any particular group. The content of the...

    • 4 Excavating Toronto’s Underground Streets: In Search of Equitable Rights, Rules, and Revenue
      (pp. 63-81)

      Canada’s sidewalks are changing; they are moving indoors onto private property. During the past several decades, Canadians have witnessed the erosion of traditional streets where public life transpired. The automobile, the skyscraper, the dispersed residential suburb, and the shopping mall have contributed to the demise of a pedestrian-oriented, outdoor street life in our city cores by introducing vehicular noise and air pollution, undue shade and wind, automobile dependency, and the desire, if not necessity, for pedestrian/vehicle segregation. Much of the country’s civic life now occurs indoors on privately owned, publicly used, pedestrian places in the form of above-ground ‘skywalks’ between...

    • 5 Feel Good Here? Relationships between Bodies and Urban Environments
      (pp. 82-97)

      When we wander around our town or city, we encounter so many opportunities for fun, for enjoyment, and for straightforward pleasure. However, urban environments are studded with signs forbidding just such activities: ‘Do Not Walk on the Grass’; ‘No Skateboarders’; ‘Children Only in the Playground’; ‘Walk Don’t Run.’ We read ‘Keep Off’ on the sculptures; ‘No Swimming’ in the fountains, and ‘No Loitering’ on the shopping mall doors.

      Such notices are evidence that enjoyment and taking pleasure in the urban environment is a cultural problem for society, for planners, and for the administrators of public sites. This problem extends beyond...

    • 6 Metropolis Unbound: Legislators and Interpreters of Urban Form
      (pp. 98-128)

      Just as we marvel at the rise and fall of the Greek polis or the medieval city, future urban historians will perhaps marvel at the rise and fall of the modern metropolis in the twentieth century. The metropolis was not simply a large city. As Jones (1990) argued, there were large and great cities in history such as Babylon, Rome, and Constantinople – though these were not metropolises. At least since 3000 bc humans have been living in cities. From Ur to Uruk in Mesopotamia, from Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley to Tikal and Chichén Itzá in Mesoamerica,...

  7. Part 2: The Economy of Cities

    • 7 Economic Restructuring and the Diversification of Gentrification in the 1980s: A View from a Marginal Metropolis
      (pp. 131-172)

      Over the past three decades economic and social change in Canadian inner cities has been increasingly linked to the fortunes of the ‘advanced tertiary’ sector (sometimes referred to as the ‘quaternary’ sector) – an array of private and public sector services needed to coordinate and regulate regionally and globally dispersed economic activities, to control flows of capital and information, to produce and disseminate research, and so on (see, for example, Castells 1989: 126–71). National and regional administrative centres such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax saw major downtown investments by private and public branches of the advanced tertiary sector....

    • 8 Restructuring the Local State: Economic Development and Local Public Enterprise in Toronto
      (pp. 173-194)

      By 1990 the culmination of long-term economic crisis and the trough of a cyclical recession had left 283,800 people relying on some type of social assistance payment in Metropolitan Toronto (Toronto Star, 14 November 1991). In Canada the latest North American recession was geographically concentrated in southern Ontario and it had a severe impact on employment levels in the urban region of Toronto. Under such conditions there was considerable pressure for local governments to act to redress problems that had resulted from the actions of markets. The pressure to act gave rise to several local government initiatives in Toronto and...

    • 9 The Impact of Global Finance in Urban Structural Change: The International Banking Centre Controversy
      (pp. 195-214)

      This chapter is based on the proposition that a comprehensive analysis of urban change must be grounded in an understanding of the global nature of political economy. In addition, such analysis requires an understanding of the relationship between global processes and more locally proximate determinants of urban social change. Global, regional or national, and local are inherently interactive.

      Cities change not only as a result of the requirements of global or local capital but also as a result of power relations at these levels. There are, in effect, two world-wide logics: an economic (capitalist) logic and a socio/political logic. These...

    • 10 Women and Work in a Canadian Community
      (pp. 215-238)

      The research reported here was stimulated by the widely observed fact that increasing proportions of women of all classes are employed fulltime in the labour market.² Primary interest lay in the effect this change would have on community life. It therefore took the point of view of a community as a whole, looking back in time at the work women contributed to its development; the aim was to understand better what was in the process of changing.

      The perspective for what follows is urban planning. It is appropriate for planners to investigate social issues of this kind because their professional...

    • 11 Unemployment and Labour Markets in Hamilton during the Great Depression
      (pp. 239-260)

      To the thousands of Hamilton workers who faced the prospect of long periods of extended unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, and homelessness, Monteith’s comments to the Annual Conference of Ontario Employment Office Superintendents, at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, would have been not only personally offensive, but also indicative of the low priority given by the state to solving the worst economic depression Canada had ever faced. The economic laws Monteith identified did not solve the problems of Hamilton’s unemployed women like Elizabeth McCrae who wrote to Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in the spring of 1934 that ‘this day I am faced with...

  8. Part 3: Urban Social Movements

    • 12 New Social Movements and Women’s Urban Activism
      (pp. 263-281)

      Women are at the forefront of urban protest movements and urban activism. In Toronto, in recent years, women have been active in tenant movements directed at gaining access to affordable housing. Single-parent mothers, including many immigrants and visible minority women, have organized to improve the security of the public housing projects where they live. Neighbourhood women have set up action groups to address crime and fear of crime in their neighbourhoods. At a city-wide level, women have been instrumental in establishing a Safe City Committee at City Hall to focus on preventing crime and violence against women, and women have...

    • 13 Anti-Racism Organizing and Resistance: Blacks in Urban Canada, 1940s–1970s
      (pp. 282-302)

      Following the Halifax ‘mini-riot’ in July 1991, the African-Nova Scotian community pressured the province to initiate and develop an anti-racism plan in order to avoid a repeat of the incident. It argued that the ‘mini-riot’ focused attention on black youths’ frustrations regarding the impact of racism which, in addition to immediate concerns regarding admission to night clubs and bars, included longstanding grievances in such areas as education, employment, housing, and police-community relations (Lee 1991, Nicoll 1991, NSAG 1991). An Advisory Group on Race Relations, comprising representatives from the three levels of government and the African-Nova Scotian community, was appointed to...

    • 14 Challenging Spatial Control of the City: Capitalism, Ecological Crisis, and the Environmental Movement
      (pp. 303-323)

      Canadians at present face two realities. First, more people than ever before live in cities (Ley and Bourne 1993: 5), and the development of these cities seems dependent on escalating environmental destruction (Roseland 1992: 22–3). Second, since 1989 a majority of Canadians have said they are very concerned about environmental issues (Gallup 1994); the environmental – or green – movement may have anywhere between one to two million members (Wilson 1992: 111), most of whom live in cities.¹

      This chapter addresses two questions that arise from these realities and are of interest to people concerned with understanding the future...

    • 15 Victoria Regina: Social Movements and Political Space
      (pp. 324-347)

      A century ago Victoria was the centre of Canada’s drug trade (Baskerville 1986: 53–4). However, in this as in much else the city has had to cede pride of place to Vancouver. In those days the drug of choice was opium, and it was manufactured in large quantities in Victoria’s bustling Chinatown. The principal markets for the drug were in the United States, which had banned opium production. The supplies of raw materials came through Chinese commercial networks recently extended across the Pacific. As is well known, Chinese labour was welcomed in Canada for a time, partly because of...