Being Realistic About Planning in No Growth: Challenges, Opportunities, and Foundations for a New Agenda in the Greater Sudbury, CMA
Hall, Heather Mary
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Regional disparities, most notably of the 'heartland-periphery' pattern, have been a distinctive feature of Canadian urban geography throughout the industrial era. New regimes of economic prosperity, recessions, and restructuring in the post-industrial era coupled with demographic fluctuations have added new and accentuated divisions and disparities creating an increased gap between cities that are growing and not growing. Under these conditions, it seems realistic to expect that no-growth cities might begin to develop distinctive planning strategies centered on a theme of decline or no-growth scenarios. However, this has not been the case. The City of Greater Sudbury is located in North-eastern Ontario and is best known across Canada for its original resource-based ‘boom’, its unsustainable mining practices and subsequent decline. The 21st-Century City of Sudbury has since evolved into a more balanced regional centre. Nonetheless, the population of the City has been fluctuating over the last 30 years, experiencing decline, slow growth, and no-growth scenarios. The first phase in the research establishes the documentary record of Sudbury’s decline alongside remedial initiatives undertaken at the federal, provincial, and local levels in the general attempt to kick start growth locally and remediate decline. The second phase in the research investigates how those involved in planning and economic development at the grassroots level deal with no growth through key informant interviews with planners, economic developers, consultants, and politicians. The research findings document the contradictory perceptions that surround planning in no-growth locales and further explore the challenges and opportunities associated with no growth urban areas. It concludes with a discussion of what might constitute alternative criteria for a new model of planning and development capable of generating more realistic economic and planning policy and strategy considerations for no growth urban areas and Northeastern Ontario.