A Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Thompson Rivers University-based research program focuses on mapping quality of life and the culture of Canada's small cities, with a specific emphasis on Kamloops, Nanaimo, Prince George, Port Moody, and the cities of the Comox Valley. The Research team includes 37 community research partners and 26 TRU researchers working in collaboration with faculty from the University of Northern British Columbia; University of New Brunswick, Saint John; and, University of Waterloo.
Canada's urban areas are currently facing serious economic, social and environmental challenges. This is especially true for smaller cities, which have for many years depended on mining, agriculture, manufacturing and industry to sustain their growth, and which are now experiencing stable or declining population bases, are struggling to chart new directions for the future.
We maintain that smaller cities occupy what many observers have identified as a cultural “third space,” positioned as they are in the shadow of large cosmopolitan cities but still bound by rural history and traditions. Understanding this space requires us to address people’s experiences and perceptions: to gather information on what long-term residents and newcomers feel about themselves and their communities. The under-representation of small cities in the scholarly literature on cities generally, particularly with respect to quality of life measures and cultural indicators, is thus a key rationale for research—and for this present research initiative.