Quietly Shrinking Cities
Canadian Urban Population Loss in an Age of Growth
At 5 percent, Canada’s population growth was the highest of all G7 countries when the most recent census was taken. But only a handful of large cities drove that growth, attracting human and monetary capital from across the country and leaving myriad social, economic, and environmental challenges behind.
Quietly Shrinking Cities investigates a trend that has been largely overlooked: over 20 percent of Canadian cities lost population between 2011 and 2016, and twice that proportion grew more slowly than the national average. Despite a clearly uneven urban landscape, continuous, ubiquitous growth is considered normal, and policy and planning professionals have had little success in managing the practical challenges associated with population loss. Continuing rural-urban migration, declining birth rates, and an aging population only compound the worrying phenomenon of shrinking cities.
Maxwell Hartt provides an empirical baseline of the geography and trends of urban contraction across the nation, and outlines the industrial and demographic processes that have led to a distinctly Canadian pattern of population decline. This meticulous work demonstrates that shrinking cities need to rethink their planning and economic development strategies in response to a new demographic reality, questioning whether population loss and prosperity are indeed mutually exclusive.
Students and scholars of urban planning, urban studies, economic development, public policy, and geography will find much to recommend this work, as will planners, developers, policy makers, and community-based organizations.
Quietly Shrinking Cities is extremely well-written and a joy to read. The analytical framework it introduces is very valuable for urban studies scholars worldwide.
Maxwell Hartt has written a terrific book that engages with a considerable range of scholarship, while at the same time contributing much-needed Canadian content.
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