Small Cities, Big Issues
Reconceiving Community in a Neoliberal Era

Edited by Christopher Walmsley and Terry Kading

“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

“As the title of the book implies, municipalities, including smaller ones, are playing an increasingly important role in addressing major social issues such as homelessness and poverty. Municipalities find themselves on the frontlines and are being asked to do more with less. In response, many are developing innovative strategies to deal with these issues and are contributing to a collection of promising practices which need to be shared. This book provides important lessons for municipalities, particularly smaller ones, and case study research which details the inherent opportunities and challenges. While this book highlights the importance of municipal action, it also emphasizes the need for all levels of government to collectively work together if significant and sustained progress is to be made in addressing major social issues.” —Jonathan Coté, Mayor of New Westminster


About the Book
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.