There is a long history of Canadian urban scholarship, which in many ways mirrors the trajectory of geography as a discipline. Today, I would argue, Canadian urban scholarship is at a tipping point where its unique blend of largely critical, qualitative, quantitative yet post-positivist, and comparative works have made it increasingly relevant as a brand of research within global urban (and suburban) geographies. Research on Canadian cities not only helps us understand specific places in their own right but often offers comparative insight, and is informed by and informs foundational theoretical debates. It offers a North American perspective, which is also however distinctly non-American (or so us Canadians like to believe).
As diverse in peoples, topics, approaches, and places studied as it is unified, Canadian urban scholarship offers a view on and of the world that is brought together under national discourses of inclusiveness and multiculturalism, which are all at once complex, inspiring, necessary yet fraught and at times superficial. Often situated somewhere between the US and European models of welfare state development, Canadian society is shaped by years of immigration increasingly from Asia, that cannot be easily equated with either US or European trends. Optimistically interpreted the Canadian perspective may offer us insight into how we can build a more diverse and compassionate urbanism.
Unfortunately, Canada is not immune to discourses and practices of exclusion, and has never been free of racism. Canadian scholarship thus may offer at best insight into an urban experiment that disperses discourses of inclusivity yet simultaneously continues to perpetrate practices that exclude, impoverish, and discriminate. I wish I could be more optimistic, sorry. Yet, this rather depressing state of affairs makes it even more important to make visible and fight against such practices, of which Canadian urban scholarship is one important element.
What follows in this issue is a collection of papers that largely though not exclusively focus on housing markets. The papers are meant to provide a range of perspectives ranging from insight on the broad, such as patterns of urbanization, immigration, debt, and globalization, to the specific such as homelessness, planning, and artist-led property development. While I could offer a more detailed view of how these papers come together, I’d rather let the reader judge how and whether there is something unique that unites these works. I hope this is the beginning (and continuation) of a larger conversation on Canadian urbanism and its place in the world.
Markus Moos, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
Jason Hackworth (2015) Why there is no Detroit in Canada, Urban Geography, 37:2, 272-295, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2015.1101249
Pierre Filion, Trudi Bunting, Dejan Pavlic & Paul Langlois (2013) Intensification and Sprawl: Residential Density Trajectories in Canada’s Largest Metropolitan Regions, Urban Geography, 31:4, 541-569, DOI: 10.2747/0272-36188.8.131.521
Loretta Lees & David Demeritt (2013) Envisioning the Livable City: The Interplay of “Sin City” and “Sim City” in Vancouver’s Planning Discourse, Urban Geography, 19:4, 332-359, DOI: 10.2747/0272-36184.108.40.2062
Katharyne Mitchell (2013) Visions of Vancouver: Ideology, Democracy, and the Future of Urban Development, Urban Geography, 17:6, 478-501, DOI: 10.2747/0272-36220.127.116.118
David Ley, Judith Tutchener & Greg Cunningham (2013) Immigration, Polarization, or Gentrification? Accounting for Changing House Prices and Dwelling Values in Gateway Cities, Urban Geography, 23:8,703-727, DOI: 10.2747/0272-3618.104.22.1683
Markus Moos & Andrejs Skaburskis (2013) The Globalization of Urban Housing Markets: Immigration and Changing Housing Demand in Vancouver, Urban Geography, 31:6, 724-749, DOI: 10.2747/0272-3622.214.171.1244
Alan Walks (2013) Mapping the Urban Debtscape: The Geography of Household Debt in Canadian Cities, Urban Geography, 34:2, 153-187, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2013.778647
Sara Beth Keough (2015) Planning for growth in a natural resource boomtown: challenges for urban planners in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Urban Geography, 36:8, 1169-1196, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2015.1049482
Evelyn J. Peters & Vince Robillard (2013) “Everything You Want is There”: The Place of the Reserve in First Nations’ Homeless Mobility, Urban Geography, 30:6, 652-680, DOI: 10.2747/0272-36126.96.36.1992
Fran Klodawsky (2013) Home Spaces and Rights to the City: Thinking Social Justice for Chronically Homeless Women, Urban Geography, 30:6, 591-610, DOI: 10.2747/0272-36188.8.131.521
Alison L. Bain (2017) Artists as property owners and small-scale developers, Urban Geography, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2017.1405687
Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/73543141@N00/41185535545/”>Lee Edwin Coursey</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>