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The Permeable City: Toronto's Spatial Shift at the Turn of the Millennium

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This article presents an analysis of the relationship between urban governance restructuring, and global, national, and local action through a case study of the Toronto city-region. The Toronto city-region recently underwent a massive reorganization of its governance structures, functions, and jurisdictional boundaries. This restructuring raises questions about why these changes occurred at this particular juncture in the region's history. Why did the city that had always been known in the academic and political discourse as the “city that works” stop “working”? What global and national forces might have accounted for such a radical restructuring? And what did local action contribute? These questions are explored in both historical and contemporary contexts by drawing on insights from regulation theory, urban regime theory, and an analysis of Canada's changing fiscal federalism. This approach informs the role that institutions — regardless of their origin or territorial scope — play in sustaining a local accumulation system, and how this “local” accumulation grounds a national regulatory mode and regime of accumulation. The approach also explores the relationship between regime and regulation theories in the context of policy formation and institution building. The study concludes that the current policy set is incapable of resolving the region's crisis tendencies. Notwithstanding external forces, the current policy set is not inevitable. Globalization does not predetermine all spatial-economic outcomes.

Keywords: Toronto; economic geography; political geography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Queen's University at Kingston

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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