Thanks to a $2.5-million grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a group of Canadian researchers will dedicate the next seven years to studying income inequality and social polarization in the country's major cities.
The principal investigator of the project, University of Toronto professor David Hulchanski, garnered national media in 2007 after publishing a report which used 30 years of census tract data to build a detailed picture of neighbourhood change in Toronto. That report, The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto Neighbourhoods, 1970-2000
, revealed an increasingly stark divide
between Toronto's wealthiest and most impoverished neighbourhoods.
The new project, called the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, builds on the work done by Hulchanski and others on income polarization in Canada's cities. In addition to using census data to trace patterns in and among the six Canadian cities chosen for investigation—Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax—the project will also investigate the causes and consquences of the patterns identified.
"We will work with community partners to carry out case studies in neighbourhoods in the six cities to understand how these trends affect residents' everyday lives," Hulchanski stated in a press release. "This combination of large-scale analysis and local, participatory studies has not been done before on a national scale."
To mark the launch, the University of Toronto last Wednesday brought together researchers from Vancouver, Montreal, Chicago and the Netherlands for a forum on urban inequality. In his opening remarks, Hulchanski spoke to the importance of cross-city comparisons and his hope that the project, rather than just documenting change, will start a movement towards a more equitable and just urban society.
"We all care about cities," he said. "We all care about justice."
For the next seven years, he and his team will be dedicated to thinking through how the fomer can come to reflect the latter.
Source: University of Toronto & University of Toronto Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership Public Forum
Writer: Katia Snukal