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.