Rethinking Economic Development Strategy For Eastern Ontario, Again

Over the last 50 years or so, there has been an ongoing effort on the part of the federal and provincial governments directed towards regional economic development in Eastern Ontario. For example, the Province of Ontario embarked on a decentralization approach to regional development during the mid-1960s, known as Design for Development, to deal with the negative consequences associated with the extremely rapid growth of the Toronto region and with the impacts of such concentrated growth may have in other regions of the province. The Ontario Development Corporation was established during this period to provide funding and financial incentives for manufacturing in slower growth areas like Eastern Ontario. Continue reading


Getting Around La Paz Bolivia

I have long had an interest in regional development in South America starting back when I was a graduate student at McMaster University’s Geography Department many years ago. My interest was founded in publications on economic theory and regional disparities by authors like Gunnar Myrdal, Albert Hirschman and John Friedman. Continue reading

Uneven Population Growth in Southern Ontario

On a simplest level, population trends tend to mirror employment trends at the community or regional levels. Communities experiencing sustained job growth are likely to also experience a net in-migration of workers or new hires. At the opposite end, long lasting periods of economic stagnation tends to lead to persistent outmigration of population especially younger working-age people, a result experienced by several smaller communities and rural areas in Eastern Ontario. Continue reading

Ottawa and Regional Economic Development in Eastern Ontario – A Missing Piece in Today’s Strategic Thinking?

Many decades ago when I was a grad student at McMaster University, my research was focused on regional development and growth poles.  Growth pole theory was a very popular topic in those days in both the academic world as well as in public sector regional development policy. The thinking behind growth pole strategies was, very simply, to deliberately channel growth and investment in a few selected centres, which would then have a positive economic impact on the surrounding lagging regions or hinterland through various “spread” or “spillover” or “trickle down” effects.  Growth pole theory was fundamental to the approach undertaken by, for example, the federal government Department of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE) created by the Trudeau government in 1969. Growth pole initiatives however, were abandoned in the 1970’s and deemed as failures in most countries, largely because they failed to generate the spillover effects predicted by the theory. DREE was disbanded in 1982. Continue reading