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Vol 38  No 17
July 20, 2006


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Development opportunities for urban and rural communities

Harris Centre director takes part in two national research projects

By Deborah Inkpen

Dr. Rob Greenwood (Photo by Chris Hammond)

“The population of rural Canada is still growing, but most of that growth is in rural communities adjacent to urban centers,” said Dr. Robert Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre. “In Newfoundland that can be seen in the North-East Avalon and in the Humber Valley. While neighbouring rural and urban communities have many areas of interaction, ranging from labour force and transportation infrastructure, to water supply, solid waste management and recreation facilities, most of the municipal governments in Canada have very limited geographic scope.”

Dr. Greenwood is a co-investigator on two national teams of researchers and regional development practitioners that will examine ways to maximize development opportunities in rural and urban communities in Canada, including Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Greenwood is a co-investigator on a project led by Drs. Mark Partridge and Rose Olfert, University of Saskatchewan called, Mapping the Rural-Urban Interface: Partnerships for Sustainable Infrastructure Development, which will see research across Canada on the implications of rural-urban interaction on the provision of various types of infrastructure. A total of $410,000 has been allocated for the national project, with $250,000 provided by Infrastructure Canada, through a peer-reviewed program administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

This research will complement another national study, on which Dr. Greenwood is also a co-applicant, titled, The Social Dynamics of Economic Performance: Innovation and Creativity in City Regions. University of Toronto professors Dr. David Wolfe and Dr. Meric Gertler are the co-directors of the national project that will examine why creative and innovative workers are attracted to certain city-regions, and how the resulting innovation contributes to economic development. SSHRC is providing $2.5 million for the project under the Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) program.

As president of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF), Dr. Greenwood led the development of a national project to study the interaction of rural and urban areas and to make recommendations on how to improve related governance mechanisms Dr. Greenwood explained that CRRF has an alliance with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), “to increase research and education on how municipalities in rural areas can maximize their effectiveness.”

Dr. Greenwood will receive $81,000 over three years to conduct interviews with firms, workers and community organizations and governments to understand how the St. John’s region stacks up against other Canadian city-regions in offering the richness of employment opportunity, high quality of life, a critical mass of cultural opportunities, social diversity and good governance, that all impact innovation and creativity in a region. “The North-East Avalon plays a significant role in the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Greenwood. “One key area of activity has been identified in the ocean industry cluster, which links traditional and emerging industries with research and development infrastructure, export activities and rural enterprises throughout the province.”

Memorial University faculty and students will be involved in these projects, along with municipal, industry and other stakeholders. For more information on the role of the Harris Centre in coordinating and facilitating the university’s activities in regional policy and development, visit www.mun.ca/harriscentre. For more information on these projects, contact Dr. Greenwood at robg@mun.ca or call 737-6170.

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