The Maritime provinces of Canada share with many other nations the experience of nineteenth-century industrialization and twentieth-century deindustrialization. For deindustrialized areas, the social and environmental pressures imposed by deindustrialization are frequently held to be open to mitigation through urban regeneration projects that seek to build on existing cultural heritage and ultimately enable communities to thrive in both cultural and economic terms. In the Maritime provinces, however, two factors have greatly complicated the emergence of effective urban regeneration. One is the historical complexity of both industrialization and deindustrialization in the region, while the other is the critical weakness of evaluation criteria for defining success in urban regeneration and thus assessing the effectiveness of regeneration projects. Without advocating the adoption of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model, and recognizing the complexity – even intractability – of the ‘wicked problems’ that attend any regeneration project, this essay will argue that historical and policy-related analysis can be combined to generate a regional approach to urban regeneration and its evaluation, which will take account of the need to maintain existing cultural integrity and to support processes of policy learning and social learning.
For valuable comments on an earlier version of this essay, the authors wish to thank Donald J. Savoie and the participants at the Swansea Conference organized by the Canadian Studies in Wales Group on Regeneration, Heritage and Cultural Identity: Trans-Atlantic Perspectives, June 2013.