Community Economic Development and Metropolitan Governance: A Comparison of Montreal and Toronto

By Jean-Marc Fontan, and others | Canadian Journal of Regional Science, Spring-Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Community Economic Development and Metropolitan Governance: A Comparison of Montreal and Toronto


Jean-Marc Fontan, and others, Canadian Journal of Regional Science


In the context of globalisation, both Toronto and Montreal have had to face major challenges resulting from changes in the international economy. These changes have been accompanied by various effects such as the decline of the manufacturing sector, increases in unemployment rates, the reshaping of social programs, and the downloading of responsibilities from higher levels of government to intermediate and lower levels. In both agglomerations, various development strategies have been initiated as a reaction to these effects.

At the community level, organisations have mobilised to produce innovative approaches to respond to social exclusion. Among these approaches, Community Economic Development (CED) practices aim at making increased linkages between economic and social development. At the municipal level, new programs have been implemented to support economic development by stimulating the private sector. Finally, at the metropolitan level, new structures have been put in place to promote a better co-ordination between municipalities in relation to the private sector in order to maintain or increase the positions of Montreal and Toronto in the new continental marketplace.

In this paper, we highlight these strategies and the differences between Montreal and Toronto. We also pay attention to the relationship between CED strategies and both municipal and metropolitan development strategies. We begin with a wider theoretical discussion of globalisation and two of its consequences: the emergence of the new urban question and the re-emergence of metropolitan issues. Then, we examine the economic development strategies implemented in Montreal and Toronto, at the three levels mentioned above. Finally, we discuss new forms of urban governance focussing on the relation of the local to other levels of government.

Globalisation, the New Urban Question and Metropolitan Issues

More than ever we live in a global economy. This is due to the fact that since the beginning of the century -- and with greater intensity since the end of the Second World War -- capitalism is increasingly organised on a global basis. The economic and cultural processes involved in this fundamental trend are redefining the functioning of the economic system in many ways. Financial markets are more integrated than ever before. The mobility of capital and workers has increased substantially. Nations have become less able to implement social policies to integrate social actors (Dahrendorf 1995).

The new economic order that has accompanied globalisation has had a huge impact on urban agglomerations which are competing more and more within an international market, trying to attract new investments, workers, headquarters and international events, in order to renew their dynamism and maintain or improve their position within the network of global cities (Sassen 1991). The consequences are twofold: first, the emergence of a new urban question, as Donzelot and Jaillet (1997) call it; and second, renewed linkage between metropolitan issues and economic development.

The new urban question is linked above all to the social restructuring that accompanies globalisation. Its impact on social classes is tremendous. Due to the requirements of flexibility imposed by the new economy, workers are becoming more vulnerable than before. The downsizing of the Welfare State and the decreasing role of the state regarding economic regulation have made it difficult to maintain the protection that workers had been able to count on in the past. Neo-liberal ideology seems to have succeeded in convincing the political elite to review their responsibility towards their constituencies. The result is that old models of social integration no longer fit their requirements -- defined in terms of increasing competition and greater flexibility of the work force.

On the urban scene -- and especially within large urban agglomerations -- the reality of social segregation has assumed the shape of new forms of poverty and exclusion, developing with the spread of globalisation. …

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Community Economic Development and Metropolitan Governance: A Comparison of Montreal and Toronto
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