Hodge, Gerald and Ira Robinson Planning Canadian Regions.
Article Type: Book Review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Akkerman, Avi
Pub Date: 12/22/2003
Publication: Name: Canadian Journal of Urban Research Publisher: Institute of Urban Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2003 Institute of Urban Studies ISSN: 1188-3774
Issue: Date: Winter, 2003 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 2
Topic: NamedWork: Planning Canadian Regions (Book)
Persons: Reviewee: Hodge, Gerald; Robinson, Ira
Accession Number: 115498166
Full Text: Hodge, Gerald and Ira Robinson Planning Canadian Regions. UBC Press: Vancouver and Toronto, 2002 ISBN: 0774808519 473 pp. + xiv

Since Gro Harlem Brundtland had sounded the alarm almost thirty years ago on sustainable development, phrases such as Smart Growth, and Ecology have represented an important agenda not only for activists but for politicians as well. That is not to say that sustainable development hasn't often become a meaningless exhortation for policy-makers, eco-campaigners and--unfortunately--for some planners too. It is all the more refreshing to sec a book on regional planning that focuses on the discipline for what it is, and has been in Canada for a long time--primarily throughout the latter part of the twentieth century. As the authors remind us, regional planning has existed as a cogent subject-matter for some two hundred years, much before the emergence of trendy slogans in the guise of environmentalism. Regional planning, in Canada as elsewhere, has carved an important niche in the consciousness of planners, politicians and the public due to the necessity for the spatial organization of public affairs in an increasingly complex society and economy. And it is precisely the message of this book to recognize the significance of spatial planning on a scale that is larger than a town or a city, and yet does not have the pretence of encompassing an entire national system. In its systematic review of the discipline, this book clearly resists the temptation of trendy "bumper sticker" issues, focusing rather on the exposition and critical overview of regional planning, reaching as far back as John Macdonald's introduction of the "National Policy" in 1879.

The book comprises 11 information-packed chapters, organized in four parts. Whereas Parts Three and Four are a standard presentation of regional planning as a topic of national significance, and as an urban-based notion, it is the first two parts of the book that seem to be most captivating. The first part, Foundations of Regional Planning, discusses in four chapters the conceptual, methodical and geographical sources of regional planning, primarily in North America, and their European origins. The concept of the region, in Canada, receives an extensive and well-deserved discussion throughout the entire chapter 3, while Chapter 4 reviews the political and economic contexts of regional planning in Canada.

Part Two, Planning Practice in Rural and Non-Metropolitan Regions, draws a great deal on Hodge's earlier book, Planning Canadian Communities, but it further extends the all-important linkages between regional economic development of Canada's rural regions, and the need to protect agricultural lands and wilderness areas. The authors provide an illuminating historical and geographical context to this linkage, particularly from the United States. Disappointing, on the other hand, is the relatively scant discussion on regional and rural planning issues in Canada's northern communities, and in planning for Canada's aboriginal populations. Northern and aboriginal planning is addressed sporadically elsewhere throughout the book, but a focused presentation of this increasingly important issue, so sorely needed, is missing here.

Over the past several decades, regional science has had much to say about suburban sprawl, and throughout this engaging volume, especially in its last two parts, the authors pay an intellectual debt to regional science as one of the cerebral sources of regional planning, while at the same time discussing sprawl in a policy context. However, the authors do not document the Canadian experience with regional science models in planning. Such successes and failures in other countries' have been documented elsewhere, and this was perhaps an opportunity to do so for Canada as well; yet this matter will have to wait for another opportunity to be addressed.

Avi Akkerman

Department of Geography

University of Saskatchewan
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.