At the ACE Space, our collective goal is to understand and explore what small- and medium-sized cities offer to themes and challenges of critical importance in Canada and the wider world: circular and adaptive economies; settler colonialism, reconciliation, and Indigenous places; and, immigration, multiculturalism, and the politics of securitization.
We ask: How can smaller cities promote inclusivity and social justice?
We have broad and overlapping research interests, as you'll find below, and if you like what you see, consider joining us.
Many researchers focus on the economies of major metro areas, but we direct our attention toward small- and medium-sized cities. How do they adapt to factors outside their control, from global to local? Are they more susceptible to economic disruption, and how might the negative outcomes resulting from it be mitigated?
Dr. Nicholas Lynch is exploring how the Circular Economy is taking shape, including in small Canadian cities, and its impact on housing, neighbourhoods, and sustainability policy.
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Unbuilding the City: Deconstruction and the Circular Economy in Vancouver
Systems of practice in the Circular Economy: Transforming mobile phone product service systems
Diversifying and de-growing the circular economy: Radical social transformation in a resource-scarce world
Adapting to Socio-Cultural Change
Multiculturalism is a defining feature of Canada's national image and its major cities use their diversity to brand themselves as open and tolerant. However, in the context of recent refugee resettlement patterns and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, those very cities are grappling with questions of identity and place.
Dr. Yolande Pottie-Sherman explores immigrant-centred revitalization efforts in the US Rust Belt and how the election of Donald Trump has affected international students in the Midwest.
Dr. Tchoukaleyska examines urban agrarian protests and transnational economic agreements, and the process through which rural actors occupy, use, and appropriate city spaces in France and Canada.
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Austerity urbanism and the promise of immigrant-and refugee-centered urban revitalization in the US Rust Belt
Retaining international students in northeast Ohio: Opportunities and challenges in the ‘age of Trump’
Public space and memories of migration: erasing diversity through urban redevelopment in France
Canadian cities rest on Indigenous homelands and are shaped by settler-Indigenous relations, making the study of Indigenous urban forms and processes central to reconciliation. In northern and Indigenous geographies, the “urban” connects smaller settlements with towns and cities where key services are concentrated, turning the latter into sites of rich and dynamic community building.
Dr. Julia Christensen's research looks at the ways in which these dynamics frame the emergence of housing insecurity and homelessness in northern urban locales.
the Built Environment
The built environment affects urban residents in many ways. As the economies and demographics of small- to medium-sized cities change, so too does the pressure for different forms of housing, transportation, and commercial property. The key is to ensure these changes are undertaken in an equitable way.
Dr. Lynch examines how historical buildings are being repurposed for new uses and the new urban forms causing contention between new and long-time residents.
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Remaking the Obsolete: Critical Geographies of Contemporary Adaptive Reuse
Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market:
Gentrification and the Perception of
Chinatown as a Form of Revitalization
Public places and empty spaces: dislocation, urban renewal and the death of a French plaza
Co-housing childhoods: parents’ mediation of urban risk through participation in intentional communities
Governance, Private Space and Adaptability
Important decisions about urban space don't come exclusively from
governments; the private sector, civil society, and other groups can have a lot of power in shaping the city to align with their priorities. Neoliberalism, in particular, shifts decision-making power to the private sector, while regional governance structures and the location of urban boundaries have other implications.