Filion, Pierre. 2013. “The Infrastructure is the Message: Shaping the Suburban Morphology and Lifestyle.” Suburban Constellations: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century. Edited by Roger Keil. Berlin: Jovis Verlag: 39-45.
Illich, Ivan. 1974. Energy and Equity. New York : Harper & Row.
Latour, Bruno. 1997. Trains of thoughts—Piaget, Formalism and the Fifth Dimension.” Common Knowledge 6(3), 170-191.
McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media: Extensions of Man. New York: New American Library.
Sharma, Sara. 2011. “It Changes Space and Time! Introducing Power-Chronography.” In Communication Matters: Materialist Approaches to Media, Mobility and Networks. Edited by Jeremy Packer and Stephen B. Crofts Wiley. New York: Routledge: 66-77.
Macdonald, Sara, York University 'Greenfrastructure': The Ontario Greenbelt as urban boundary?
Global Suburban Infrastructure Workshop
June 14-16, 2015 University of Waterloo Sara Macdonald
(The City Institute at York University) In this paper, I will be exploring the idea of how the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) greenbelt can act as green infrastructure. As counterpart to the province's 'Places to Grow' legislation, the greenbelt provides important ecosystem services and functions both as an infrastructural conduit for major crosscutting mobility infrastructures and as a buffer between the city and leapfrogging suburbanizing settlements beyond. This paper will conclude by discussing the role that green infrastructure plays in the remaking of boundaries between the suburban fringe and the surrounding non-urban areas.
1. Green Infrastructure The concept of green infrastructure has gained popularity in the past few years and has emerged as an important concept in both planning theory and practice. However, finding a single, common and agreed upon definition of green infrastructure in the literature is challenging. Hannah Wright has stated that green infrastructure is a concept that is ambiguous, evolving, contested and is difficult to define as different groups attach different environmental, social and economic meanings to it (Wright, 2010, 1004). However, she argues that there are three interrelated ideas at the core of most definitions: connectivity, multifunctionality and "green" (Wright, 2010, 1007).
In the past few years, green infrastructure has emerged as a new planning policy in the United Kingdom which has attracted attention due to an increased interest in “regional strategy production, as conditions have been favourable for the insertion of a new storyline about urban fringe green space governance [in] the national spatial discourse” (Thomas and Littlewood, 2010, 204). Within this context, “the concept of green infrastructure has emerged as a new way of looking at the urban fringe in the UK” and is considered to be a possible solution to spatial planning policies and is seen as an opportunity to deliver a range of environmental, social and economic benefits (Thomas & Littlewood, 2010, 209). Amati and Taylor have argued that the GGH greenbelt "is multifunctional and acts as green infrastructure to provide a sustainable context for future growth in the region." (Amati and Taylor, 2010, 147), and this argument will be discussed in the paper, after an overview of the GGH greenbelt is detailed.
2. The Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt The Greater Golden Horseshoe greenbelt is a permanently protected countryside of 1.8 million acres that stretches 325 km from the Niagara Peninsula at the American border to Northumberland County north of Lake Ontario. In February 2005, the Greenbelt Act was passed by Ontario's provincial government and this legislation allowed for the creation of a Greenbelt Plan, which was also released that year. The greenbelt was designed to protect against the loss of farmland, natural heritage, and water resource systems and to support the economic and cultural activities associated with rural communities (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2005). The Greenbelt Plan generally prohibits the designation of protected areas for development purposes, prevents development close to environmentally sensitive areas and promotes the creation of recreational spaces.
3. How can the Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt act as green infrastructure? The main method by which the GGH greenbelt can act as green infrastructure is through its delivery of eco-system services. Green infrastructure can be seen as a tool to deliver eco-system services in planning policy, and this concept of ‘eco-system services’ has become popular because of its emphasis on the human benefits of ecological functions (Wright, 2010, 1010).
The David Suzuki Foundation has defined “eco-system goods and services [as] the benefits derived from eco-systems. These benefits are dependent on the ecosystem functions, which are the processes (physical, chemical and biological) or attributes that maintain eco-systems and the species that live within them” (Wilson, 2008, 10). The wetlands, forests and agricultural land found within the greenbelt provide significant ecosystem services (such as carbon and water storage, flood control, erosion control, waste treatment, water filtration and pollination) and that this natural capital can be valued at $2.6 billion per year (Wilson, 2008, 1). As a result of these eco-system services, greenbelts can be seen as 'untapped potential’ that could become increasingly important for urban and suburban areas in the future, in particular in the face of uncertain global changes. As the role of greenbelts has evolved (and will continue to evolve) over time, this highlights the changing relationship between the city and nature, as both urban and suburban residents may become more dependent on the greenbelt's assets in the future.
4. Infrastructure within the Greater Golden Horseshoe Greenbelt Filion and Keil discuss the importance of suburban infrastructure for the functioning of the entire region, in particular the urban core, and that necessary services are located in the urban periphery such as airports, golf courses, landfills and water treatment facilities (Filion and Keil, 2015, 3). In the case of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, those noxious uses or networked spaces can sometimes be located within the greenbelt, so it is important to examine the implications of the location of those suburban infrastructures.
Within the Greater Golden Horseshoe context, the Greenbelt Plan does allow for the creation and expansion of major infrastructure projects within the greenbelt provided that it supports the rural activity found within the Greenbelt or supports the significant growth projected for Southern Ontario (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2005).
This paper will conclude by exploring what role does green infrastructure play in the remaking of boundaries between the suburban fringe and the surrounding non-urban areas (Keil and Filion, 2015, 21). Since greenbelts can act as green infrastructure, than a large scale planning policy such as a greenbelt could play a significant role in the remaking of suburban boundaries.
References: Amati, M., & Taylor, L. (2010). From green belts to green infrastructure. Planning, Practice & Research, 25(2), 143-155.
Filion, P. and Keil, R. (2015). The Contested and Unpredictable Nature of Suburban Infrastructures. Draft paper for “Global Suburban Infrastructure Workshop”. University of Waterloo. June 14-16, 2015.
Ontario. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. (2005). Greenbelt Plan. Retrieved from: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Asset1277.aspx Thomas, K., & Littlewood, S. (2010). From green belts to green infrastructure? The evolution of a new concept in the emerging soft governance of spatial strategies. Planning, Practice & Research, 25(2), 203-222.
Wilson, S. J. (2008). Ontario’s Wealth, Canada’s Future: Appreciating the Value of the Greenbelt’s Eco-Services. Vancouver, BC:David Suzuki Foundation.
Wright, H. (2011). Understanding green infrastructure: the development of a contested concept in England. Local Environment, 16(10), 1003-1019.
Moos, Markus, University of Waterloo Sustainability as an urban way of living? Equity implications of planners’ interpretation of sustainable infrastructures Dr. Markus Moos, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
Even though sustainability is a loosely defined concept, it has been interpreted in very specific ways in the North American planning community. Urban planners have largely translated sustainability to mean increasing development densities and constraining urban growth to promote more active modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling and public transit. While there are other interpretations, for instance ecosystem planning, slow growth movements or local food systems, the “sustainability-as-density” or “smart growth” approach has arguably been the most prevalent.
Cities such as Vancouver or Portland are often celebrated in the planning community for their success in implementing the sustainability-as-density model. There is no doubt great value in pursuing an urban development agenda not based purely on automobility due to the environmental, public finance and health issues associated with an automobile based lifestyle. Nonetheless, the academic literature has been largely critical of the sustainability-as-density approach. This is because of its association with gentrification, tendencies toward environmental determinism, romanticizing of European urban forms and structures, and neglect of the social geographies of cities that shape housing and transportation patterns among other factors.
Following in the tradition of critical quantitative geographers, this paper examines how the implementation of sustainability in North American cities under neo-liberalism is creating new exclusion that keeps certain demographic groups from accessing mobility infrastructures. The gentrification literature has already documented the ways inner city redevelopment is contributing to the displacement of lower income earners and increases in housing costs near “sustainable infrastructures” such as transit stations, walkable neighbourhoods or cycling lanes.
However, less is know about the inherent demographic and lifestyle bias arising from the way sustainability is being implemented through the workings of the private sector real estate market. Condominium developments, either owner-occupied or investor-owned and then rented, have constituted the bulk of what is now often called “sustainable urbanism”. The high-rise housing form, the condominium tenure, and reduced public sector intervention, has blurred the lines between urban and suburban ways of living. This is because the increase of higher income earners in the center of cities has meant increases in home and in some cases even automobile ownership rates—these are qualities traditionally associated with suburban ways of living in North America.
Thus, the result of policies promoting “sustainable urbanism”, ironically, is that we have witnessed the emergence of suburban ways of living in inner cities, and the emergence of urban ways of living in suburbs, for instance due to the growth of lower-income, transit-dependent, largely immigrant households in the inner suburbs and “in-between cities”, but also the development of high-rise condos in suburban transit nodes.
The analysis of the changing social geography of two Canadian metropolitan areas, Vancouver and Montreal, shows “sustainable urbanism” as associated with a particular demography and lifestyle constituted by largely younger and childless households. Middle-aged households, particularly those with children and larger immigrant families, are increasingly denied access to “sustainable infrastructures” due to the lack of family-sized housing in walkable, cycling- and transit-friendly neighbourhoods. The exclusion effect is more pronounced in Vancouver than in Montreal, the former seen as the poster child for “sustainable urbanism”.
The planning solution to environmental concerns has been the promotion of an urban way of living, in terms of housing size and form, which has translated into demographic transitions in high-density areas rather than actually decreasing the housing consumption and automobility of larger and higher income households. Larger households and those with children who cannot afford central city living are increasingly portrayed as making “unsustainable choices” by living suburban lives, when these outcomes are actually dictated by the neo-liberal approach to implementing “sustainability-as-density” through the private sector housing market.
Bibliography Burton, E. (2000). The compact city: just or just compact? A preliminary analysis. Urban Studies, 37, 1969–2006.
Buzzelli, M. (2008). Environmental justice in Canada – It matters where you live. Canadian Policy Research Networks. www.cprn.org
Champion, A.G. (2001). A changing demographic regime and evolving polycentric urban regions: Consequences for the size, composition and distribution of city populations. Urban Studies, 38(4), 657-677.
Harvey, D. (1973/2008). Social justice and the city (Revised edition). Athens, GE: The University of Georgia Press.
Jarvis, H. (2001). Urban sustainability as a function of compromises households make deciding where and how to live: Portland and Seattle compared. Local Environment, 6(3), 239-256.
Kern, L. (2010). Gendering re-urbanisation: Women and new-build gentrification in Toronto. Population, Space and Place, 16(5), 363-379.
Marcuse, P. (1998). Sustainability is not enough. Environment and Urbanization, 10(2), 103-111.
Moos, M. and Mendez, P. (2014) Suburban ways of living and the geography of income: How homeownership, single-family dwellings and automobile use define the metropolitan social space. Urban Studies.
Mendez, P., Moos, M. and Osolen, R. (2014) Driving the commute: Getting to work in the auto-mobility city. In A. Walks (Ed.). The Urban Political Economy and Ecology of Automobility: Driving Cities, Driving Inequality, Driving Politics. Routledge.
Moos, M. (2014) “Generationed” space: Societal restructuring and young adults’ changing location patterns. The Canadian Geographer, 58(1), 11-33.
Moos, M. (2013) Generational Dimensions of Neoliberal and Post-Fordist Restructuring: The Changing Characteristics of Young Adults and Growing Income Inequality in Montreal and Vancouver. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
Porter, C. and Moos, M. (2014) Growing food in the suburbs: Estimating the land potential for sub-urban agriculture in Waterloo, Ontario. Planning Practice and Research. 29(2), 152-170.
Quastel, N., Moos, M. and Lynch, N. (2012) Sustainability as density and the return of the social: The case of Vancouver, British Columbia. Urban Geography, 33(7), 1055-1084.
Morphet, Janice, University College London Rescaling the suburban: new directions in the relationship between governance and infrastructure a response to The contested and unpredictable nature of suburban infrastructures
Pierre Filion and Roger Keil Janice Morphet
The suburban as subordinate is a dominant determinant in the discussion of the ‘The contested and unpredictable nature of suburban infrastructures’1. Accidental, unplanned and market impulses to create suburban space in the service of neo-liberal economic policies are identified as determining suburban form. Detached, de-politicised dependencies, created by contested geographies and administrative boundaries of selected separation, have defined suburbanism in the era of economic liberalisation.
Yet new tropes of integration and multi-level governance2 are serving to redefine city-suburban relationships with a particular emphasis on the role of functional economic areas (FEAs)3. Shifting suburbanism suggests a fundamental re-conceptualisation of the power relationships with city dominance dependent on suburban success not serendipity4. The underlying reconceptualisation of this relationship can be explored through the concepts of subsidiarity, security, sustainability and society and they are refocusing attention on infrastructure away from sectors to scales.
The reformation of the understanding and governance of FEAs is a dominant economic ideology emerging from the OECD5 and being performed through its members including the EU, US and Australia. In this, the state’s success becomes reliant on the cumulative contributions of FEAs to GDP. This has been fuelled by Krugman’s theories6 on the value of internal as well as external trade. The rise of city growth using non-Western governance models in non-OECD countries is outpacing its members and is regarded as a threat7. If state economic success is dependent on trade both within and between cities, then the focus on removing institutional barriers that dominated world trade have transferred to concerns for internal fragmentation and costs of non-cooperation.
The success of the EU Single Market depends not only on removing barriers between states but also within FEAs. Similarly, the OECD has identified 784 different transport institutions operating in the Chicago FEA8. FEAS are being nudged to review their administrative boundaries away from bounded individualism to economic inclusion, celebrating internal interdependencies. Cities without integrated, equal and formal governance relationships with their suburbs are at risk of social, economic and environmental underperformance. Yet FEAs want the power to form their own relationships, focus on what is important and move away from state dominance. Subsidiarity offers the potential benefits of smaller independent territories or nations within the state9.
Why do suburbs want to enter these new relationships with cities? Defined by difference and their attraction in separation, suburbs are facing their own challenges. Changing societal values of sustainability and economic equality in the home are driving a shift from the suburbs to more densified cities. City flight is now to rural areas leaving suburbs as ageing and less-engaged communities characterised by short-term rentals by those frozen out by increasing city land values. Cites recognize that their scale and growth into powerful FEAS will depend on their ability to access a skilled workforce that can access workplaces through sustainable means10. Whilst separation from city neighbours defines suburbs, they are also dissimilar to their rural neighbours. Suburbs concerned by reverse flight and ‘peak car’11 want to engage to perform their role in ways that are now recognised and valued. This means change for the suburbs. Reshaping, densification and TOC around defined hubs gives a new sense of purpose12.
The recognition of the role of suburbs in the creation of FEA success, welcoming them into economic and administrative governance has changed power relations. In the UK these changes have been witnessed around major cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff where political differences have been overcome in new alliances. These new governance formations have also started to recognise their power in larger groupings or ‘powerhouses’ that are redefining the role of the state with the local.
But why should the state welcome more powerful sub-state alliances? Re-sizing governance not only provides greater opportunity for economic success but is the only means through which sustainable adaptation is likely to be met. Carbon reduction is not only a concern to meet international protocols and agreements but is now central to energy security concerns that have arisen as a consequence of greater geo-political instability13. Individual behaviours cannot be coerced but have to be incentivised and acculturated within society. FEAs and their groupings, higher densities and public transport systems make a contribution to reduced consumption.
Energy security is also reversing state liberalisation policies14. Security is not an issue to be left to the market. Regulatory reform may mean less regulation but also a return to more centralised control. Sectors remain in internal silos of mode or method, isolated and inward looking relying on the arguments of competiton. These sectoral institutions are another set of barriers that are creating costs and inflexibility in achieving state economic, sustainability and security objectives. The dominant narratives of integration and multi level governance create policies with their focus on territory and place reducing the power of sectoral interests. If places matter more, infrastructure sectors and providers have a new set of criteria to meet politically and in the market-place. Dominant and more powerful FEAs, in larger groups, can assert the role of place as they take responsibility for territorial integration of sectoral separation.
The suburbs are in transition. They may never trade ‘edge’ for ‘edgy’ but without their inclusion within new governance spaces that equalise powers between the centre and the periphery, the futures of both are jeopardised. Suburbs have never been ‘outsiders’ or ‘other’ but semi-detached. Now recognition and equalisation of their role in the global future may be another, but less contested, step on an unpredictable journey from space to place.
Peters, Frederick, York University Abstract for the Workshop, Infrastructure Problems and Solutions,
University of Waterloo, June 13-16, 2015
Research Fellow, City Institute at York University
“Experiments in Neoliberal Infrastructure: dynamic capitalist and institutional
learning in the neoliberal experiment of post-Soviet Europe.”
This paper discusses urban-suburban networks of water infrastructure in Eastern Europe in their hydromorphological and social-historical contexts to present an analysis of the governance situation of two cases in the eastern Baltic region. I focus on Gdansk, Poland and Tallinn, Estonia, comparing these two situations of public-private partnership to one another but also to their regional suburban neighbours’ situations, where the water companies remain in public hands; in all cases a “corporatization” of water management in Eastern Europe is also at issue. Introducing Matti Siemieticki’s sence of periodization of public-private partnerships into this region, it makes sense to think of the period of 2005 to 2015 as distinct from the initial period (1995-2005). My primary emphasis is on the official recognition and reaction to mistakes made in enacting public-private partnership, in governance and environment. Grounding the analysis in local specifics of place and personal agency in the political and corporate forces involved, I explore institutional learning in terms of neoliberal infrastructure, while making the argument that even “hard” infrastructure is a highly social entity, its forms determined through contestation. Moreover I make the case for further exploration of a materialist, political ecological account of such as social infrastructure, a term I use as expanded from its traditional definition as the “soft” sub-category of infrastructure.
Water infrastructure governance was dynamically restructured in the post-Soviet period in Eastern Europe, surprisingly quickly on a legal level in many of the countries that aimed to join the EU in 2004. This legal process plus the environmental regulations put in place with EU membership aspirations were coupled with financial implications for local municipal governments who now had control of their water infrastructure but not yet capacity to both govern and finance them. From central state controlled entities, water management organizations were devolved into municipally owned companies. These companies, now subject to significant investment requirements in order to meet regulations relating to environmental goals, became in certain cases, objects of interest for international financial organizations and multi-national corporations; in certain places, not in others. This era from around 1995 to 2005 in the region marks a significant moment of neoliberalism on the ascendancy in international financial institutions and governance bodies of the EU, the beginning in Eastern Europe of neoliberal infrastructure. Empirical study of the cases of Gdansk, Poland and Tallinn, Estonia, ground a discussion of what neoliberal infrastructure means, but also allows for grounding of a discussion of what I am calling social infrastructure.
While water infrastructure, pipes and treatment plants, pumping stations and the like have traditionally been understood in terms of technical discourses, the domain of experts with instrumental takes on defining adequacy of service provision, what the neoliberal turn in water infrastructure governance in the expanded EU highlights precisely the degree of social determination factors into categorically “hard” infrastructure. As much as the technical requirements for acceptable levels of organic and inorganic compounds that may be consumed as drinking water, or expelled as waste-water became a significant concern, restructuring the water services in both bigger new municipal units and smaller peripheral ones also became a highly political discourse, as in certain places, issues of monetization of water infrastructure assets and costs revealed issues of the uneven social distribution of significant value, and related questions of social equity and justice. Water infrastructure is largely buried or the plants and pumping stations hidden in the urban periphery, into the suburbs own edges – subterranean and suburban simultaneously – the technical orientation of water infrastructure discourse could not quite hide just how social is this category of “hard” infrastructure, as capitalism took a run on certain networked systems – Gdansk, Tallinn, but not others.
Tracing out what came to be known as neoliberalism historically in Europe with regard to infrastructure restructuring, this paper engages debates raised by Filion and Keil (Workshop Paper, 2015). The questions they raise, of contestation of asset and value distribution, the far-reaching internationalization of local infrastructure, and the unpredictability of the downstream outcomes of upstream decision making are explored through the recent (2005-2015) evolution of Gdansk and Tallinn’s varied takes on privatizing their water systems. Given the considerable impact basic water service provision has on the populations a networked system serves, the cost and value calculations made locally and on the level of EU granting bodies and international financial institutions, and the complexities of the ecological, hydromorphic realities of a place, there is a high level of inter-constituent conflict around water management. There is also evolution to be seen in the methods used to try to manage that conflict, in the relationships between private and public bodies, between populations and the water systems that serve them. Neoliberal restructuring has in many ways exposed the “black-box” of corporate water management, be it as a municipal entity or a market-driven public-private partnerships. Emphasizing the social through preference for the term “social infrastructure” this paper addresses how inequities and risk around water management modes continue to play out.