Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Regional Immigration and Dispersal: Lessons from Small- and Medium-Sized Urban Centres in British Columbia

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Regional Immigration and Dispersal: Lessons from Small- and Medium-Sized Urban Centres in British Columbia

Article excerpt


Government officials and academics have voiced concern over the sustainability of immigrant concentration in Canada's three largest cities. Although research on the effects of such concentrations suggests both negative and positive outcomes, geographic dispersal has been suggested as an alternative to metropolitan concentration. This paper presents findings from research on immigrant settlement in Kelowna, a second-tier city, and Squamish, a small urban, resource-based community, both in British Columbia. I examine the factors that contribute to immigrant settlement and integration in these regions, and evaluate the urban policies and practices employed by municipal governments in each region to attract, retain, and integrate immigrants. Findings suggest that the municipal governments interviewed do not actively attract immigrants, but they are involved in funding services that assist in immigrant settlement. The successful attraction and retention of immigrants is linked to the pre-existing social and economic context, but it is not necessarily determined by the size of the community. Research findings suggest that in order to succeed, any regional immigration policy must involve all levels of government in a commitment to address credential recognition problems and adequately fund settlement and language service provision.

Les representants gouvernementaux et les universitaires ont formule leurs inquietudes quant aux consequences de la concentration d'immigrants dans les trois plus grandes villes canadiennes. Bien que l'etude des effets de la concentration d'immigrants suggere des resultats a la fois negatifs et positifs, la dispersion geographique a ete proposee comme solution alternative a la concentration metropolitaine. Cet article presente les conclusions detudes portant sur l'etablissement des immigrants a Kelowna, une agglomeration urbaine secondaire, et a Squamish, une petite communaute urbaine dont l'industrie est axee sur les ressources, toutes deux en Colombie Britannique. L'auteur examine les facteurs qui contribuent a l'etablissement et a l'integration des immigrants dans ces regions et evalue les politiques et pratiques urbaines employees par les autorites municipales dans chaque region pour attirer, retenir et integrer les immigrants. Les resultats suggerent que les autorites municipales interrogees n'oeuvrent pas activement afin d'attirer les immigrants, mais elles participent au financement des services d'aide a leur implantation. Reussir a attirer et a retenir les immigrants est lie au contexte economique et social pre-existant, mais n'est pas necessairement determine par la taille de la communaute. Les resultats des etudes suggerent que pour reussir, une politique d'immigration regionale doit impliquer tous les niveaux de gouvernement afin de repondre aux problemes de reconnaissance des titres de competences et de financer de facon adequate les services axes sur l'etablissement et les services linguistiques.



The majority of Canadian immigrants settle in one of the country's three largest urban centres. According to 2002 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) figures, approximately 49 percent of immigrants settled in Toronto, 13 percent in Vancouver, and 14 percent in Montreal. While these urban regions are increasingly seen as the engines of growth for the Canadian economy, some commentators have argued that such immigrant concentrations may lead to negative social and economic consequences. For example, Martin Collacott argues:

   Sheer numbers and their concentration in relatively few areas could
   ... lead to a reduction in the level of acceptance by Canadians
   that would affect, not only immigrants, but many of those who have
   already arrived. (2002, 42)

Stoffman (2003) echoes these concerns and highlights the potentially negative effects of geographical concentration on the urban environment. …

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