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
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.
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.
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. This is also related to new social demands that can be associated with a model of governance (Lafaye 2001) that questions older decision-making frameworks.
It is in such a context that in Montreal, starting in the 1980s, community actors and urban movements promoted local economic development by emphasizing the importance of including social dimensions and improving urban conditions for poor people living in decaying urban neighbourhoods. Their action challenged the dominant vision of local economic development that the business milieu was promoting, a vision oriented above all towards economic or financial concerns and in line with their particular or limited interests. Through their actions, community groups--following and redefining the struggles of urban movements of the 1970s and 1980s-created community economic development corporations (corporations de developpement economique communautaire, CDECs) and constituted themselves as legitimate social actors.
Almost 20 years later, they no longer enjoy the same legitimacy. As a result of the involvement of these local organizations, issues of local economic development are perceived in a different way by all of the actors participating in local development. In addition, the scale of local economic development has changed. It is now defined at a metropolitan scale and related more directly to an international economic space. The consequences for community actors involved in local economic development are numerous. They have to adjust to a new reality. What about the alliances made in the past on the basis of neighbourhoods? Are they sufficient nowadays? How to build solidarity on a metropolitan scale? With globalization, are these actors able to take advantage of the new opportunities? Are they able to resist its negative impacts? For the time being, what is the place left for these actors who were active in promoting a social vision of local economic development in the 1980s? Finally, in the face of recent economic and institutional changes, what assessment can be made of local economic development in Montreal?
The paper is divided into three parts. First, we put into context local economic development by referring to the main issues of metropolitan governance. Second, we focus on the institutionalization of local economic development, presenting the main phases that the CDECs went through. Finally, we assess the new challenges the CDECs face.
Local Economic Development and Metropolitan Governance
The social and spatial forms of contemporary metropolises have changed our perception of the so-called "urban question." The problem is no longer defined in relation to improving the planning of urban services or controlling urbanization processes. What is at stake has more to do with social integration and social exclusion. In fact, the main issue seems to bring back to the urban scene a policy agenda that is preoccupied with social justice. This is what Ray Pahl is suggesting when he writes: "So-called urban processes, if indeed there be such, are now generally accepted to be largely epiphenomenal and irrelevant" (Pahl2001 : 882). For him, urban systems alone are difficult to implement if we do not change the range of income …
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Publication information: Article title: The Institutionalization of Montreal's CDECS: From Grassroots Organizations to State Apparatus?. Contributors: Fontan, Jean-Marc - Author, Hamel, Pierre - Author, Morin, Richard - Author, Shragge, Eric - Author. Journal title: Canadian Journal of Urban Research. Volume: 12. Issue: 1 Publication date: Summer 2003. Page number: 58+. © 2000 Institute of Urban Studies. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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