The Institutionalization of Montreal's CDECS: From Grassroots Organizations to State Apparatus?

By Fontan, Jean-Marc; Hamel, Pierre et al. | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview
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The Institutionalization of Montreal's CDECS: From Grassroots Organizations to State Apparatus?


Fontan, Jean-Marc, Hamel, Pierre, Morin, Richard, Shragge, Eric, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Resume

Durant les annees 1980, les acteurs communautaires et les mouvements urbains ont fait la promotion du developpement economique local a Montreal, en soulignant l'importance d'y inclure des preoccupations sociales et celle d'ameliorer les conditions de vie des populations defavorisees vivant dans des quartiers en declin. Des intervenants sociaux et des organismes communautaires ont alors cree des corporations de developpement economique communautaire (CDEC), don't le nombre a ete multiplie au cours des annees 1990. Ces organismes de developpement economique communautaire ont ete consideres par l'Etat comme des acteurs-cles du developpement local a Montreal, ils ont ainsi recu des fonds et des mandats des trois ordres de gouvemement. Dans cet article, les auteurs traitent du nouveau contexte metropolitain auquel le developpement economique local doit faire face, se penchent sur le processus d'institutionnalisation des CDEC montrealaises et commentent quelques aspects de l'evolution de ces organismes.

Mots cles: Developpement economique communautaire; developpement local; institutiormalisation; Montreal.

Abstract

During the 1980s, community actors and urban movements promoted local economic development in Montreal by emphasizing the importance of including social dimensions in economic development and improving living conditions for poor people in decaying neighbourhoods. Social activists and community organizations created community economic development corporations (corporations de developpement economique communautaire, CDEC), which multiplied during the 1990s. These community economic development organizations were considered by the state as key players for local development. Thus, they received funds and mandates from the three tiers of government. In this article, the authors examine the new metropolitan context that the Montreal's CDECs are facing, address the process of institutionalization of these CDECs and discuss some aspects of the evolution of these organizations.

Keywords: Community economic development; local development; institutionalization; Montreal.

Introduction

The theme of governance has emerged with economic, political, cultural and institutional transformations over the last few years. This has been associated with a questioning of the status of public bodies as well as the position of civil society. These changes help explain why the old regulation models--based on hierarchic organizational structures and centralized decision making processes--are largely put under scrutiny in numerous sectors of the human and social sciences. The issue of local economic development, as well as the policies of urban development, is also bound up with these new inquiries. However, the right paths to follow in order to enhance development while maintaining social cohesion in urban agglomerations and contemporary metropolises have not yet been designed in a satisfactory way. The conflict between a capitalistic vision and sustainable forms of development is based on value conflicts between, on the one hand, those who are betting on market virtues, and, on the other hand, those who fight against poverty, defend social justice and protect the environment. This is another way of expressing the traditional tension inscribed in modernity between the market strengths channelled through liberty and democratic virtues oriented towards equality.

Nevertheless, recent changes in the definition of public space, public policies and public action are forcing us to reconsider the social choices in the matter of local economic development. On these grounds, as in many other projects and spheres of activity, social actors at the local level have been forced to make decisions about their interventions within a context of uncertainty in which commitment is highly dependent on everyone else's choices, values and convictions. At the time of the emergence of community economic development practice in Montreal, the nature of the economy, poverty, employment and the role of the state were all in a period of flux.

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