The 21st Century City (CHS)

Multi-level Governance in Canada: the Vancouver Essay

UBC Team Member: Thomas A. Hutton

Project Summary

Centre for Human Settlements ∙School of Community and Regional Planning
College for Interdisciplinary Studies – University of British Columbia
UBC Team Member: Thomas A. Hutton
Project supported by: Sub-grant from University of Western Ontario
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Program
Funding: $15,000
Period: April 1, 2006– December 31, 2008
Prof. Hutton is responsible for writing the Vancouver essay for this major collaborative project.

The research is designed to answer one central question: How do state actors and social forces interact to
create public policy in Canadian municipalities? The practical corollary is to engage in a debate about
how to improve these important policies.
Canada’s municipal systems are in a period of flux that borders on the revolutionary. Major structural
changes provide new opportunities for innovative research. More visible are widespread problems--
economic polarization, homelessness, derelict lands, deteriorating infrastructure, and the social
exclusion of various minority groups. Under the pressures of globalization, demographic and
technological change, and shifting public values, governments at all levels initiate policies to address
these problems. We want to discover what causes differences in these policies across provinces and
municipalities. Ultimately we aim to evaluate policies and to contribute to improving them.
Our scholarly purpose is to explain variation in public policy. We posit two explanatory factors. First is
the structure of intergovernmental relations; that is, the patterns of interaction between officials and
politicians based in different levels of Canada’s complex system of multilevel governance. The special
focus is upon municipal-federal relations, an area where interaction appears to be increasing sharply, but
one which has been generally neglected. Second are the social forces active in the municipality and
beyond. This category includes community organizations, business associations, trade unions, interest
groups, voluntary associations, and members of social movements. These social forces make policy
demands, take some decisions, implement policy, and represent clients and citizens. Their relations with
state actors must be grasped in order to explain policy.
We aim to take a broad comparative approach, studying how policy is made in provinces with a range of
institutional structures, in municipalities with different networks of social forces, and in six policy
fields--emergency planning, federal property, immigrant settlement, municipal image-building,
infrastructure, and urban Aboriginal policy. This is a large project. Our team numbers 66 researchers
from every province, and eight from other federations. In order to grasp the views of social forces, and
to understand the different policy fields, we must confront our research questions from a wide variety of
perspectives: economics, political science, sociology, geography, history, and other disciplines.
The bulk of our research will be in the provincial studies, because each province’s system of
municipalities is unique in structure, financing and demography. Each provincial team will study the
municipal system, the biggest city, two policy fields, and how the provincial government mediates
municipal-federal relations. The federal studies parallel these, with overview papers, studies of each
policy field from Ottawa’s viewpoint, and studies of five other fields where the federal government is
intervening in new ways. Last are comparative studies of municipal-federal relations in nine other
countries, work that will illuminate the Canadian case and reveal structural options.
This project requires a major exercise in collaboration. Many devices will integrate the work, including
websites, workshops and conferences, and we have designed a tight, coherent management structure to
ensure comparable and reliable research results.
Our research will interest the international academic community, for we will speak to general issues
about new modes of public management, collaborative government, the power of business in local
affairs, and public participation in policy making. In Canada, the information and analyses we will
produce should have major impacts on scholarship in several disciplines. We will also introduce many
students to the study of municipal matters. More practically, we will disseminate our results widely, so
as to help Canadian citizens understand the larger context of the policies they witness near home. We
also hope to stimulate decision makers to question their current relations with each other and with social
forces, and to improve public policy in Canadian municipalities.


Social Dynamics of Economic Performance: Innovation and Creativity in City-Regions

UBC Team Member: Thomas A. Hutton
Project Summary


Social Dynamics of Economic Performance: Innovation and Creativity in City-
Centre for Human Settlements ∙School of Community and Regional Planning
College for Interdisciplinary Studies – University of British Columbia
UBC Team Member: Thomas A. Hutton
Project supported by: Sub-grant from University of Toronto
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Program
Funding: $40,750 (to Dec. 31, 2008)
Period: January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009
It is becoming clear that city-regions are now the key source of economic vitality and innovative
capacity for nation-states. Despite well-established trends towards a globalizing economy, innovative
activity is becoming more, not less, concentrated in city-regions. The reasons for this remain the subject
of vigorous scholarly debate. Recently, some have suggested that the comparative advantage of cityregions
in the knowledge economy rests on their social characteristics as much as their economic assets.
Restating these arguments, one could say that a city-region’s social characteristics have now become its
principal economic assets. The critical issues to be address in the research are: how do local social
characteristics and processes in city-regions determine their economic vitality and dynamism as centres
of innovation and creativity? In particular, how do the social learning dynamics between economic
actors, the social dimensions of quality of place (including diversity, openness, and inclusion), and the
social nature of civic engagement and governance processes shape the city-region’s economic growth,
creativity, and innovative potential?
Because these principal questions span the economic and the social, as well as the local and the global, a
multi-disciplinary perspective is required. Moreover, in a country as spatially diverse as Canada, with
its strongly distinctive cities and regions, one size most definitely does not fit all. Our previous work
confirms that different city-regions follow their own particular evolutionary paths, as unique local
conditions shape responses to global forces of change. Hence, a research design that is national in scope
but attentive to local experiences is called for. The diverse, multi-perspective team approach in this
proposal is designed to achieve exactly this. The team builds on an existing national network of
researchers currently investigating the evolution of industry clusters in communities across Canada.
The research has the potential to make very significant contributions to international and Canadian
scholarship. As a tightly integrated, interdisciplinary team of scholars, with close working relationships
and critical input from widely recognized international colleagues, we have developed expertise and
international profile in three key research fields most relevant to this study: the structure and evolution
of innovation systems (national and regional); the local and global dynamics of cluster development; and
the role of culture and creativity in city-regions. As a group, we are uniquely situated to integrate the
conceptual and empirical insights arising from these three realms of knowledge, and to articulate
findings of direct relevance to economic development policy formulation, using the city-region as the
primary device for integration. Our intent is to explore the points of convergence (and contradiction)
between these three streams of scholarship, leading to a much more strongly integrated theory of
innovation than the literature has yet produced, in which the role of proximity and social characteristics
of place are clearly defined and set within a global context.
Recognizing Canada’s unusually diverse ethno-cultural composition and its highly urbanized character,
a Canadian study of the social determinants of urban economic performance will be of great interest to
scholars nationally and internationally, as well as to a wider lay audience. It also holds great promise to
produce breakthrough insights into the processes underlying the geographical concentration of
innovation and creativity, and to inform policy makers concerning the local, provincial and national
initiatives that are most effective in shaping a city-region’s economic potential. Once these processes
are better understood, our work will provide the scholarly evidence to inform a fundamental
reorientation of economic development policy. Public initiatives that define effective new governance
mechanisms, and that shape social tolerance, diversity, neighbourhood strength, relative freedom from
social deprivation, and access to social services may then be recognized as critical foundations for urban
economic growth, creativity, and innovative performance.



UBC Team Member: Thomas A. Hutton
Project Summary


The 21st Century City Program
Centre for Human Settlements ·School of Community and Regional Planning
College for Interdisciplinary Studies – University of British Columbia
Dr Tom Hutton
Research projects conducted within this program cluster at CHS are directed at producing new
knowledge on processes and outcomes of urban growth and change, both among advanced and
transitional societies. At the heart of the program are collaborative research projects on comparative
development, comprising empirical investigations of aspects of transformative urban change, and
interrogation of both foundational urban theory (postindustrialism, post-Fordism) and emergent
concepts, notably those associated with the ‘new cultural economy’ of the city. The normative
dimension of the program includes, at a strategic level, the conflicts and contradictions associated with
the two most influential policy paradigms of our age: globalization, with its emphasis on competitive
advantage, and inherent destabilizing tendencies; and sustainable development, with its insistence on
progressive development achieved within the Earth’s ecological limits.
Partners and collaborators include: Trevor Barnes (University of British Columbia); Larry Bourne
(University of Toronto); Peter Daniels (University of Birmingham, UK); Elena D’ellegnese (University
of Milan); Graeme Evans (London Metropolitan University); Kong Chong Ho (National University of
Singapore); Leonie Janssen-Jansen (University of Amsterdam); Deborah Leslie (University of Toronto);
David Ley (UBC); Ronan Paddison (University of Glasgow); Jamie Peck (UBC); Pier Luigi Sacco
(IUAV University, Venice); Richard Shearmur (INRS – Montreal); Giorgio Tavano Blessi (IUAV
University, Venice); Elvin Wyly (UBC)
Graduate Student participants include: Markus Moos, Björn Surborg, Cornelia Sussmann, Ren Thomas,
James White, Sheng Zhong
Project sponsors include: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Hampton
Fund, UBC; Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, UBC
Sample Outputs: Peter Daniels, K C Ho and Thomas Hutton (eds.) Service Industries and Asia-Pacific
Cities: New Development Trajectories (Routledge: 2005); Thomas Hutton, The New Economy of the
Inner City: Restructuring, Regeneration and Dislocation in the 21st Century Metropolis (Routledge:
2008); Thomas Hutton, ‘The Inner City as Site of Cultural Production sui generis: a review essay’,
Geography Compass (Blackwell) 3/2: 600-629; Thomas Hutton (ed.) Trajectories of the New Economy:
Regeneration and Dislocation in the Inner City (special theme issue of Urban Studies 46 (Nos. 5 & 6:
Current projects: Larry Bourne, Thomas Hutton, Richard Shearmur and Jim Simmons (eds.)
Transformative Change in Canadian City-Regions (Oxford University Press); Ronan Paddison and
Thomas Hutton (eds.), Cities and Economic Change (Sage); Peter Daniels, K C Ho and Thomas Hutton,
New Economic Spaces in Asian Cities: From Industrial Restructuring to the Cultural Turn (Routledge);
Trevor Barnes and Thomas Hutton, Creativity and Innovation in the City-Region; Thomas Hutton and
Leonie Janssen-Jansen: ‘Rethinking the Metropolis: Reconciling Globalization and Sustainable
Development in the 21st Century Metropolis?’; Thomas Hutton, Pier Luigi Sacco and Giorgio Tavano
Blessi, Culture, Society, and Space; Jamie Peck, Trevor Barnes, Elvin Wyly and Thomas Hutton,
‘Remaking Vancouverism’