Here’s a letter signed by many leading Canadian researchers (including me) urging the Canadian government to restore the recently canceled Census long-form. This is a key source of data and serious trends-analysis of the Canadian economy, its cities and regions. It needs to be restored.
Posts Tagged ‘Census’
Long-established trends in the growth and decline of America’s cities appear to be shifting according to new Census data released Tuesday. The data cover population trends for cities – that is, incorporated areas – from 2000 to 2009, and also for the immediate post-economic crisis period spanning July 2008 to July 2009.
Some major cities, which had long seen population decline, registered population gains. Chicago, for example, saw its population increase by 0.8 percent, its fastest pace of the decade, while New York expanded 0.5 percent, continuing gains in recent years. Other cities, notably many Sunbelt cities that had long seen rapid growth, saw their gains slow considerably for the first time in modern memory.
The Census Bureau’s participation map made quite a splash last week. More than half of Americans (56 percent) had completed their forms by April 5, but there was tremendous variation across the 50 states. Wisconsin topped the list with 69 percent of Wisconsinites sending in their forms. Midwestern states did well across the board with more than two-thirds of Iowans and Minnesotans completing theirs. At the opposite end of the spectrum, less than half the residents of Alaska, Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana completed theirs; 50 percent of New Yorkers had filled out their forms and 51 percent of D.C. residents.
Sam Barr left his home near the airport at 5 a.m.
“I’ve been walking for 2½ hours to get to work now. It’s pretty tough,” Barr told CBC’s Steve Fischer after meeting him on Bank Street in the Glebe.
He was heading to the Elgin Street Diner downtown, the rendezvous point for him and his colleagues, who do electrical work.
In North America, particularly in the past 50 years, residential planning has been dominated by the concept of the suburb. A demographic that didn’t exist at the time of the first American census now represents over 50 percent of the American population in the 2000 census and is overwhelmingly where children are being reared in Canada as well – in an analysis of the 2001 Canadian census data, it was determined that 17 of the 25 fastest-growing municipalities in Canada are suburbs. Without the automobile opening up the option of living beyond the limits of mass transit, these kinds of demographics wouldn’t be possible.
As the strike lengthens and the (rather surprising) public vitriol towards labor unions grows, a city is getting to know itself by foot in a way that it hasn’t for some time. Pedestrian scale thinking is setting in and people within the region, many without cars, are being forced to re-think the way they navigate automobile-scaled environments.
This means that even moderate distance travel is now delimited by one of three things:
- Cash flow – Can I afford a cab to where I have to go and back? Can I do this every time I go out?
- Walking distance – How far is it? How long will it take to walk there?
- Network capacity – Can I get a ride from someone? Do I know someone going in that direction?
For those without the cash flow to support taxis as their primary mode of transportation, walking distance is the first option for individual movement – a position that it hasn’t enjoyed for quite some time. As I prepared myself to leave my house the other day, I also realized that I hadn’t thought about distance in those terms since I was 11 or 12. And that’s when it struck me:
This strike is to the average non-driving adult in Ottawa what life is like for any kid in the suburbs without a license. While being somewhat inconvenient, this strike also offers an opportunity to appreciate something that we might take for granted: the transportation reality of youth in an auto-scaled world.
If we find those delimiters challenging during this strike as adults, imagine the experience of a young person moving into a suburb with limited access to public transportation. Their movement is restricted exactly the way that mine is now, except compounded by parent-set boundaries, inexperience, and limited income – space is really a challenge for them.
So while it might be a bit to the left, what this transit strike really has me thinking is: how can we include the perspective of someone limited by those three things – cash flow, walking distance, and network capacity – in suburban planning practices? Not specifically for transit-strike situations like this, but overwhelmingly for kids in general?
And now, as always, some music.