Small Cities, Big Issues
364 pages, 6 x 9
2 figures, 4 tables
Release Date:14 Aug 2018

Small Cities, Big Issues

Reconceiving Community in a Neoliberal Era

Athabasca University Press

Small Canadian cities confront serious social issues as a result of the neoliberal economic restructuring practiced by both federal and provincial governments since the 1980s. Drastic spending reductions and ongoing restraint in social assistance, income supports, and the provision of affordable housing, combined with the offloading of social responsibilities onto municipalities, has contributed to the generalization of social issues once chiefly associated with Canada’s largest urban centres. As the investigations in this volume illustrate, while some communities responded to these issues with inclusionary and progressive actions others were more exclusionary and reactive—revealing forms of discrimination, exclusion, and “othering” in the implementation of practices and policies. Importantly, however their investigations reveal a broad range of responses to the social issues they face. No matter the process and results of the proposed solutions, what the contributors uncovered were distinctive attributes of the small city as it struggles to confront increasingly complex social issues.

If local governments accept a social agenda as part of its responsibilities, the contributors to Small Cities, Big Issues believe that small cities can succeed in reconceiving community based on the ideals of acceptance, accommodation, and inclusion.

Pulling together an immense amount of material about the governance of small towns, Walmsley and Kading observe the new reality of governing and living in a small city. What they offer is a larger and much longer picture of the effects of neoliberal policy on municipalities in Canada. Darlene Marzari, former Municipal Affairs Minister of British Columbia, 1993–96

Christopher Walmsley is professor emeritus at Thompson Rivers University. He taught social work for over 25 years at Thompson Rivers University, University of Manitoba, and University of British Columbia. He is the author of Protecting Aboriginal Children and co-editor with Diane Purvey of Child and Family Welfare in British Columbia: A History. He has also published numerous articles and reports on fathers and child welfare. He lives in New Westminster, BC.

Terry Kading is associate professor of political science at Thompson Rivers University where he teaches courses in Canadian politics, comparative politics, and local government. He is also involved in several community-based research projects with a focus on social and economic challenges in the small city.


Part I: Displacement, Isolation, and the Other

1 Homelessness in Small Cities: The Abdication of Federal Responsibility / Terry Kading and Christopher Walmsley

2 Zoned Out: Regulating Street Sex Work in Kamloops, British Columbia / Lorry-Ann Austin

3 Needles in Nanaimo: Exclusionary Versus Inclusionary Approaches to Illicit Drug Users / Sydney Weaver

4 Being Queer in the Small City / Wendy Hulko

5 “Thrown Out into the Community”: The Closure of Tranquille / Diane Purvey

6 Fitting In: Women Parolees in the Small City / Jennifer Murphy

7 Walking in Two Worlds: Aboriginal Peoples in the Small City / Sharnelle Matthew and Kathie McKinnon

Part II: Building Community

8 Social Planning and the Dynamics of Small-City Government / Christopher Walmsley and Terry Kading

9 The Inadequacies of Multiculturalism: Reflections on Ethnicity, Identity Formation, and Community in a Small City / Mónica J. Sánchez-Flores

10 Municipal Approaches to Poverty Reduction in British Columbia: A Comparison of New Westminster and Abbotsford / Robert Harding and Paul Jenkinson

11 Integrated Action and Community Empowerment: Building Relationships of Solidarity in Magog, Québec / Jacques Caillouette

12 Small City, Large Town? Reflections on Neoliberalism in the United Kingdom / Graham Day

Conclusion: The Way Forward

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