Ten years ago the political geographer David Harvey wrote, “The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is…one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” With roots in 1960s civil rights struggles, Henri Levebvre's concept of a "right to the city" was revitalized by Harvey and others in the heat of the 2008 financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street. Since then, it has grown into a global movement for the “right of all inhabitants, present and future, permanent and temporary, to use, occupy and produce just, inclusive and sustainable cities, defined as a common good essential to a full and decent life.”
Contributors to this new year's edition of the Monitor find examples of the "right to the city" at work in Canada alongside formidable challenges to its collaborative, democratic vision for our urban centres. Here's a sample of what you'll find inside:
- The right to the city as a foundation for social justice: Lynne Fernandez and Shauna MacKinnon present their view from Winnipeg.
- The right to a home in the city: Ottawa tentants are fighting back against the big asset managers, writes Laura Neidhart.
- Railroad blues: Sophie O'Manique tracks the unequal investment, infrastructure and access in gentrified, post-industrial Montreal.
- "This is not my beautiful house." Matthew Peters questions Halifax's stubborn attachment to its colonialist monuments.
- Is transit a right? Michelle Perry wonders why Canadian municipalities are so hostile to the idea of free public transit.
- What's missing from the Uber debate in B.C.? Alex Hemingway sees potential for a co-operative ride-sharing platform in the Metro Vancouver area.
- Whose streets? With enemies at Queen's Park, and developers running roughshod over community after community, Torontonians are asserting their right to a diverse and affordable "world class" city, writes Joe Fantauzzi.
- Google's "Smart City of Surveillance" faces new resistance, writes Ava Kofman.
- The right to play in our public spaces: Paul Shaker and Sonja Macdonald asked where children are playing in one Hamilton neighbourhood. The surprising results offer lessons for urban developers.
- Overdose Prevention Societies and the right to safety in our cities, by Fiona Jeffries.
- Get to know the neighbours: Cheryl Gladu explores Canada's collaboratve housing experiments in democratic living.
- The right to come home: More than most, Palestinian refugees are denied a right to the city—theirs or anyone else's, writes Clare Mian.
To receive the Monitor at home, please make a donation to the CCPA.
Cover illustration by François Vigneault.