Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

Plan Canada - Summer 2022

Suburban Transformation (Summer 2022)

As many have pointed out, the world is now more than half urban. Fewer, however, have noted that the urban is actually mostly suburban. The suburbs have been identified as a challenge in planning going back to the 1960s and the profession has been torn in terms of its central role in the dissemination of suburbs across the land while at the same time denouncing them as “cookie cutter”, ’sub-urban”, “placeless”, “inefficient”, “exclusive”, and “sprawling”. The social composition of suburbs has changed much over the last few decades, with many now serving as home base for growing immigrant communities. There is more poverty and homelessness in suburban areas than we reckoned with in the past. Not surprisingly, much of the planning rhetoric is focused on reforming the suburban model to make it more broadly inclusive and equitable, less auto-dependent, and more compact.
This issue of Plan Canada will look at how suburban places have changed over the last decades - partially in response to these critiques - and how the new suburbs are performing as a human habitat in the age of climate change, deepening social inequality, neo-liberal politics, economic dislocation, demographic change, and continued rapid population growth. Looking forward, the issue will also speculate on how the suburbs will continue to evolve and the main opportunities that are now presenting themselves for reformatting this very popular but, for many, deeply flawed landscape. 
The issue will take stock of the numerous trends now impacting the suburbs, including the move towards polycentric development around suburban nodes, retrofitting of failing shopping malls, new suburban downtowns, and transit-oriented development. What are the best practices and examples of these initiatives? Are these various movements transforming suburbs into a new kind landscape model? Could these changes address one set of problems while exacerbating others, such as suburban gentrification or social exclusion? What do higher densities achieve? What are the economic, social, and environmental costs of retrofitting suburbia? Do complete streets, transit services, bike paths, and pedestrian facilities make these places more walkable? Are suburbs doing enough to address housing affordability?
The suburbs are transforming. Let’s highlight how Canadian planners are leading the change.

Submit your Article


We invite submissions of short papers and research reviews, notes on practice, and book or film reviews. Articles submitted must be original and not published or submitted for publication in other media (including websites, electronic newsletters, or other print publications). We favour articles with a strong policy framework and context, containing clear methodologies pertaining to studies and research, and providing critical reflection or lessons for planning practice. Authors can expect a three month time frame for initial review of submitted material and will be notified if their submission is rejected, accepted as is, or accepted conditionally with revisions. All submitted articles will be returned to authors along with comments and advice regarding any revisions required to render it suitable for publication.

See the Author Guidelines for further submission information.