Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership
A major 7-year, six Canadian metropolitan area, research partnership was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in early 2012.
Title of the research grant proposal: Neighbourhood Inequality, Diversity, and Change: Trends, Processes, Consequences, and Policy Options for Canada’s Large Metropolitan Areas
Short title of the project: Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership (NCRP)
The Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership focuses on urban inequality and socio-spatial (i.e., neighbourhood) polarization in six Canadian metropolitan areas: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto (including Hamilton and Oshawa), Montréal, and Halifax.
With our partners we will explore (1) trends in urban and neighbourhood change since 1971; (2) processes responsible for these changes; (3) the consequences of change that lead to inequality and polarization; and (4) policy and program options that address inequality and thereby improve human well-being and urban environments.
Socio-spatial inequality and polarization are pressing global issues, yet difficult to understand, because they exhibit distinct national, regional, and (especially) local forms. We are particularly interested in understanding changes that result in cities that are sharply divided between wealthy and impoverished neighbourhoods.
The research is timely and important. Mounting evidence of increasing income and wealth inequalities in western nations points to the emergence of new and intense socio-economic, ethno-cultural, and spatial divisions in many cities. There is a need for appropriate policy responses to prevent or alleviate inequities, reduce concentrated poverty, and reverse trends that affect the liveability of large urban areas. Jurisdictions in Canada and elsewhere have implemented policies to respond to these divisions. Identifying and evaluating the effectiveness of such policies with our community partners is a key objective of the research.
Several aspects of the research are unique and will contribute to scholarship and benefit governments, social organizations and agencies, and civil society actors.
- First, the research will compile systematic and coordinated knowledge on neighbourhood restructuring in major cities in Canada – a country not previously included in comparative studies of neighbourhood change.
- Second, it will fill a gap in knowledge of how moderating factors explain different neighbourhood outcomes in cities in Canada and other Western nations.
- Third, our investigation of the causes and consequences of neighbourhood change will be essential for evaluating current and proposed policies and programs designed to address social inequality.
- Fourth, whereas most similar studies have been confined to the past 10 or 15 years, this research will cover the period since 1970, allowing a deeper analysis of the forces contributing to neighbourhood restructuring processes and their impacts.
- Fifth, we will engage in national and international knowledge exchange and capacity-building, with a focus on policy responses and program options that effectively address the consequences of urban inequality.
The research has immediate relevance for informing and shaping the policies and practices of governments, NGOs, private-sector investors, social agencies, and communities. In addition to the traditional academic outlets, with the help of our national and local partners, we will disseminate our findings through the news media, as well as establishing local neighbourhood research networks, setting up a dedicated website, publishing frequent research bulletins, and launching a free eBook of edited readings.