Author: 800 CHAB News
Two University of Saskatchewan economists have been awarded $250,000 from
Infrastructure Canada to study how joint planning between expanding urban
centres and their neighboring rural communities can enhance prosperity
throughout their regions.
Though cities and their neighboring communities are often interdependent,
there is very little interactive planning around issues such as
transportation corridors, zoning, sewage and water requirements, economic
development, recreation, and environmental protection.
"Creating a more cohesive rural-urban infrastructure plan could help ease
congestion, slow urban sprawl, and preserve valuable green space, while
stimulating rural revitalization and enhancing rural quality of life," says
U of S agricultural economist Mark Partridge who holds the Canada Research
Chair in the New Rural Economy.
Partridge and fellow agricultural economist Rose Olfert will study the
commuting, land use, and employment patterns for communities across the
country. They will develop models that cities and their supporting rural
areas can use to plan together to build shared economic regions. They will
identify both problems and successes, information that will guide urban and
rural planners and policy makers.
"Increasingly, Canada's effective communities are neither urban nor rural,
but a combination of the two," Partridge says. "Yet, although they depend on
each other, governance structures in the city and the country aren't
coordinated to reflect this reality."
Saskatoon will serve as the first of two communities to receive detailed
scrutiny as a case study in the research, with the other two to be chosen
later. A further 10 communities will also be selected for special scrutiny,
though in less detail.
"Many commuters live in the rural areas surrounding Saskatoon and the
information provided by this study will be important to the future of
regional infrastructure planning," says Saskatoon city planner Lorne Sully.
One graduate student, a post-doctoral fellow and a research associate with
the project will have a chance to work with city planners and transportation
specialists to focus on the practical aspects of infrastructure planning,
such as roads, sewer, water and electric service.
The researchers note that cities are Canada's engines of growth and these
expanding urban centres are sprawling into their rural fringe, encroaching
on the country with acreages and bedroom communities. More than 80 per cent
of Canadians now live in cities and suburbs, and another 10 per cent or more
live within a one-hour commute of a city.
Infrastructure Canada funding is being provided by the Peer Reviewed
Research Studies program. This is augmented with in-kind contributions
totaling $160,000 from the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF),
the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), and the City of Saskatoon.
Ultimately, the goal of the funding partners is to help coordinate
rural-urban planning policies and move toward a cooperative planning
approach across interdependent regions.
"The findings of this research will develop a foundation for investigating
new forms of rural-urban interaction and help us understand the impact of
increasing interdependencies on the environmental, social, economic and
cultural dimensions of Canadian communities," says CRRF president Rob
Infrastructure Canada works with partners to identify regional and local
development priorities and finance infrastructure projects that support
national objectives.  As part of this, the department is committed to
building, connecting and sharing research
CRERL - Canada Rural Economy Research Lab (www.crerl.usask.ca) examines all
issues that affect the vitality of Rural Canada from a diversified economy,
healthcare, environment, amenities, transportation, to a productive and
sustainable agricultural sector.
CRRF (www.crrf.ca) aims to revitalize rural Canada through education and
research for rural leaders in the community, the private sector and in
FCM (www.fcm.ca) is dedicated to improving the quality of life in all
communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal
government. Along with its policy interests, FCM remains a professional
association serving elected municipal officials.
SSHRC (www.sshrc.ca) promotes and supports university-based research and
training in the social sciences and humanities.