Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Suburban (dis)advantage : views of suburban life from low-income immigrants in Surrey, BC Miro, Jacopo 2020

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
24-ubc_2020_may_miro_jacopo.pdf [ 2.76MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 24-1.0389995.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0389995-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0389995-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0389995-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0389995-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0389995-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0389995-source.json
Full Text
24-1.0389995-fulltext.txt
Citation
24-1.0389995.ris

Full Text

  SUBURBAN (DIS)ADVANTAGE:  VIEWS OF SUBURBAN LIFE FROM LOW-INCOME IMMIGRANTS IN SURREY, BC by JACOPO MIRO  B.A. (Hons.), The University of Victoria, 2009  M.A., The University of Victoria, 2011  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Planning)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  April 2020  © Jacopo Miro, 2020    ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled:  Suburban (Dis)advantage: Views of Suburban Life from Low-Income Immigrants in Surrey, BC  submitted by Jacopo Miro  in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Planning  Examining Committee: Leonie Sandercock, Planning Supervisor  Penny Gurstein, Planning Supervisory Committee Member  Maged Senbel, Planning University Examiner Daniel Hiebert, Geography University Examiner Roger Keil, Environmental Studies External Examiner   Additional Supervisory Committee Members: Heather Campbell, Planning Supervisory Committee Member    iii Abstract A defining feature of changing patterns of spatial inequality in Canadian metropolitan regions is the growing dispersal of low-income households into suburban municipalities. Closely related to this process is the suburbanization of immigrant settlement, as more and more recent immigrants settle directly into the suburbs. Although local dynamics are complex and difficult to generalize, evidence suggests that Canadian suburbs are housing an increasing number of lower-income immigrant households. Behind these changes are processes of urban development and gentrification, which are deemed to be ‘pushing’ lower-income households out of the urban core and into outlying areas. Much of the current literature suggests that suburban location compounds social and economic disadvantages, arguing that historically marginalized populations in the suburbs become cut off from needed services, employment opportunities and community supports. Focusing on a case study of Metro Vancouver’s largest suburb (Surrey, BC), my research reveals a more complex picture of how residents experience life in the suburbs, and what informs their decisions to move there. I show how studies that emphasise a narrative of exclusion, displacement and unequal access to opportunities are not fully consistent with the experiences of local residents. My findings both confirm and upend current understandings of the rise of low-income suburban areas, conveying a picture of neighbourhood change as a process of both push and pull factors. I make the case that alongside challenges and barriers, moving to the suburbs affords lower-income newcomers with opportunities and benefits that go overlooked in the established literature. I also argue that narratives of displacement and social exclusion are ultimately rooted in particular ideas about what constitutes good planning and good neighbourhoods. I make the case that urban scholars project their own ideas about what constitutes good planning onto a culturally diverse group of people whose varied wants and needs do not always align with those of today’s leading urbanists.    iv Lay Summary For a long time, the geography of class divides of urban areas was thought to coincide, however roughly, with the division between city and suburb. Minorities and low-income households traditionally concentrated in the urban core. The upper and middle classes lived in the suburbs. But today’s spatial divides are different. The geography of disadvantage in Canada is taking an increasingly fragmented form, cutting across city and suburb alike. A growing number of scholars are raising concerns that as lower-income households are ‘pushed’ into the suburbs, they become isolated from services, employment opportunities and community supports. Focusing on a case study of Surrey, BC, my research reveals a more complex picture of how residents experience life in the suburbs, and what informs their decisions to move there. I show how narratives of exclusion, displacement and unequal access to opportunities are not fully consistent with the experiences of local residents.    v Preface  This dissertation is an original, independent, and unpublished work by author Jacopo Miro. The fieldwork reported in Chapters 3-6 was approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board (Certificate Number H15-02601).    vi Table of Contents  Abstract ...........................................................................................................................................iii Lay Summary .................................................................................................................................. iv Preface .............................................................................................................................................. v Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ vi List of Tables ................................................................................................................................... ix List of Figures................................................................................................................................... x Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................................... xi Dedication ......................................................................................................................................xiii Chapter 1: Introduction .................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Setting the context ............................................................................................................. 1 1.2 Gaps in the literature ......................................................................................................... 6 1.3 Theoretical frameworks .................................................................................................... 7 1.4 Guiding questions and contribution ................................................................................ 14 1.5 Key arguments ................................................................................................................ 16 1.6 Methodological framework ............................................................................................. 20 1.7 Considerations and stumbling blocks .............................................................................. 40 1.8 Thesis structure ............................................................................................................... 44 Chapter 2: Literature Review ....................................................................................................... 47 2.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 47 2.2 A new geography of income ........................................................................................... 51 2.3 Upending traditional narratives ....................................................................................... 54 2.4 The power of place .......................................................................................................... 56 2.5 Suburban disadvantage.................................................................................................... 57 2.6 ‘Pushing’ people out ....................................................................................................... 59 2.7 Gaps in the literature ....................................................................................................... 61 2.8 Further methodological issues ......................................................................................... 63   vii 2.9 Old trends ........................................................................................................................ 69 2.10 Suburban diversity .......................................................................................................... 73 2.11 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 79 Chapter 3: Opportunities .............................................................................................................. 82 3.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 82 3.2 Co-Ethnic Networks ........................................................................................................ 83 3.3 The housing piece ........................................................................................................... 93 3.4 Where are the jobs? ....................................................................................................... 106 3.5 Beyond housing and employment: the other pulls of suburban life .............................. 121 3.6 Conclusion: ................................................................................................................... 126 Chapter 4: Challenges: Getting around in the suburbs ........................................................... 127 4.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 127 4.2 Transport Disadvantage ................................................................................................ 128 4.3 Circuitous routes, infrequent service and limited coverage .......................................... 132 4.4 Getting around in the night time ................................................................................... 145 4.5 Walking ......................................................................................................................... 152 4.6 Car as a mode of transportation .................................................................................... 162 4.7 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 171 Chapter 5: Challenges: Safety and social isolation ................................................................... 174 5.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 174 5.2 Social Isolation .............................................................................................................. 175 5.3 Safety ............................................................................................................................ 189 5.4 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 199 Chapter 6: Current interpretations and the recognition of difference ................................... 200 6.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 200 6.2 The supremacy of the central city ................................................................................. 204 6.3 Socio-spatial inequality under the spotlight .................................................................. 210 6.4 Expanding the analytical framework ............................................................................ 214 6.5 Distributive justice ........................................................................................................ 216 6.6 The politics of difference .............................................................................................. 219 6.7 Desirable for whom? ..................................................................................................... 221   viii 6.8 Place, culture and experience ........................................................................................ 223 6.9 Planning in the age of difference .................................................................................. 232 6.10 Local testimonies .......................................................................................................... 237 6.11 Systems of meaning ...................................................................................................... 245 6.12 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 249 Chapter 7: Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 254 7.1 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 254 7.2 Reflections and future directions .................................................................................. 259 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................. 265 Appendices .................................................................................................................................... 308 Appendix A: Analytical framework .......................................................................................... 308 Appendix B: Profile of study participants ................................................................................. 311 Appendix C: Recruitment – list and titles of expert interviewees ............................................. 314 Appendix D: Interview schedule – local residents .................................................................... 316 Appendix E: Interview schedule – expert interviewees ............................................................ 318 Appendix F: Interview schedule – focus group ......................................................................... 320     ix List of Tables  Table 1.1: Challenges and benefits of suburban location ............................................................. 18 Table 1.2: Push and pull factors .................................................................................................... 19 Table 1.3: Recent immigrants ....................................................................................................... 25      x List of Figures  Figure 1.1: Organizational structure of the research ..................................................................... 12 Figure 1.2: Theoretical frameworks .............................................................................................. 13 Figure 1.3: Municipalities of Metro Vancouver ........................................................................... 24 Figure 1.4: Immigrant status ......................................................................................................... 26 Figure 1.5: Visible minority status................................................................................................ 27 Figure 1.6: Surrey neighbourhoods............................................................................................... 29 Figure 1.7: Low-income population ............................................................................................. 29 Figure 2.1: Change in neighbourhood income .............................................................................. 53 Figure 2.2: Change in immigrant status ........................................................................................ 54 Figure 4.1: Map of Rajpal’s commute to Annacis Island ........................................................... 137 Figure 4.2: Map of Rajpal’s commute to Progress Way ............................................................. 140 Figure 4.3: Street network and block size ................................................................................... 160 Figure 4.4: Walking routes ......................................................................................................... 161      xi Acknowledgements  This thesis was many years in the making and could not have been completed without the input and support of countless individuals. The initial line of inquiry originated in Prof. Tom Hutton and Andy Yan’s class, Plan 548 – one of the few field courses offered at the time that ventured beyond the boundaries of the city of Vancouver. Early on, I also had the privilege of exploring my fledgling research interest in Prof. Elvin Wyly’s Urban Research Studio. Both classes were unique in that they encouraged students to think beyond the geographic limits of the central city and view the suburbs as places to study in their own right.   Above all, I’m indebted to Prof. Leonie Sandercock and Prof. John Friedmann for their unwavering support and guidance. I’m grateful for all the encouragement, frank criticism, and painstaking feedback you both provided over the years. You were both always there for me when I needed it, always eager to listen, answer questions, offer advice and help with tedious, last-minute administrative tasks. I will always cherish the conversations I had with John over lunch. Memories of his delightful grin and sharp intellect will stay with me for years to come. Leonie, you’ve shaped this thesis in more ways than you can imagine, and have been an incredible role model, not just to me but to countless other students. I am also deeply thankful to Prof. Penny Gurstein for all the honest feedback, and for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to serve on my supervisory committee.   Much of what is contained here was contributed by dozens of residents who took the time to meet with me and share their views of life in Surrey. The personal details that participants shared about their journeys and settlement experiences were as moving as they were incisive. I am forever thankful to everyone who took interest in the project and contributed to it. I also would like to thank the dozens of community experts (planners, outreach workers, managers, directors, etc.) who participated in the research, contributing insights and context that confirmed and challenged many of my assumptions. Many agencies made this project possible, including the City of Surrey, DIVERSECity, Douglas College, the Immigrant Services Society of BC, Invergarry Adult Education Centre, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Mennonite Central Committee, MOSAIC BC, Oak Avenue Neighbourhood House, Options Community Services,   xii Pacific Community Resources Society, Progressive Intercultural Community Services, Sources Community Resources Society, SUCCESS BC, the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership, the Surrey Muslim Foodbank, Surrey Community College, and UMOJA Operation Compassion Society. Special thanks go out to the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition whose dedicated members gave me a ‘seat at the table’ and an opportunity to witness first-hand the challenges and rewards of local community development. I’m especially grateful to Aileen Murphy, Vera LeFranc, Alice Sundberg, Steve Dooley and Judy Villeneuve for all the support over the years, and for being remarkable role models and mentors. Your dedication and commitment to the community are inspiring.   I would like to thank the many friends and fellow graduate students that provided encouragement, support, guidance and camaraderie. In particular, Brett Dimond for endless conversations and the numerous outdoor outings. Many thanks to the SCARP Ph.D. crew: Leonard, Lyana, Jess and Magdalena. The wonderful Fraser House documentarians and housemates Sarah, Rob, Craig, Kerria, Gab, Elanna, Jed, Janice, and Nicole. I could not have done this without your friendship.   Financial support for the research came from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (Doctoral Graduate Scholarship), and the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (Graduate Entry Scholarship).  Finally, to those that mean most, a most heartfelt thank you to my parents, my sister and my brothers for always being there. I owe the world to my wife, Meredith, the rock of the family, without whom none of this would be possible.     xiii Dedication  To Duff, Ru and F for all the small things,     1 Chapter 1: Introduction  1.1 Setting the context  Inequalities in power, status and wealth have long been imprinted in urban space. While this fact is usually recognized of urban America, where the intersection of race, place and class shares an unsettling and deeply contested past, it is also true, though to a lesser extent, of Canadian cities. The affluence of such neighbourhoods as Shaughnessy (in Vancouver), Westmount (in Montreal), or Rosedale (in Toronto) is obvious even to the most casual observer, as is the poverty of some of Canada’s many inner-city neighbourhoods. Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Winnipeg’s North End, or Toronto’s Moss Park come to mind. For much of the twentieth-century, the geography of class divides of urban areas was thought to coincide, however roughly, with the division between city and suburb, at least in North America, where the process of metropolitan settlement more or less followed an outward-oriented pattern marked by run-down working-class districts near the urban core, and middle- and upper-class suburbs in outlying areas. To this day, the suburbs conjure up images of two-car garages, cultural homogeneity and middle-class lifestyles. In contrast, when people think of low-income areas they tend to think of the inner-city, if not neighbourhoods in or near the urban core.   1.1.1 The changing geography of income  But, as a growing number of scholars point out, today’s spatial divides are different. The geography of disadvantage in Canada is taking an increasingly fragmented form, cutting across city and suburb alike in previously unseen ways (Hulchanski 2010; Ley and Lynch 2012; Ley and Smith 2000; Walks 2010, 2011).1 Recent research on socio-spatial divides points to a trajectory of increased neighbourhood inequality (i.e. a growing gap between rich and poor neighbourhoods) and increased polarization (i.e. dwindling numbers of middle-class  1 Hulchanski, in his acclaimed study on the three cities within Toronto, notes that “poverty has moved from the centre to the edges of cities (2010: 1).” Urban geographer David Ley echoes Hulchanski’s point when stating that the new geography of income inequality in Canada represents “a dramatic transition from the old model of concentric social areas with poverty at the urban core and a solid band of middle-income districts in the suburbs (Ley and Lynch, 2012: ).” 2 neighbourhoods).2 At its core, the current literature identifies three main trends impacting cities today: (1) a rise in the number of low-income households in the suburbs, (2) a consolidation of middle- and upper-income households in the urban core, and (3) an overall disappearance of mixed-income neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of metaphors to describe the return of upper-income professionals to the central city, and the concomitant outward shift of lower-income households to the suburbs. Some have called it the great inversion (Ehrenhalt 2012), the urban turnaround (Simmons and Lang 2003), the fifth migration (Fishman 2005), the new urban renewal (Hyra 2012), and the back-to-the-city movement (Sturtevant and Jung 2011).  In Canada, much of the interest for new research on socio-spatial inequality can be traced back to David Hulchanski’s pioneering study The Three Cities Within Toronto (2010). First published in 2007, the much-publicized report documents a new geography of income inequality in Canada’s largest city, one marked by an affluent urban core surrounded by a belt of low-income suburbs. Most striking is the disappearance of traditional middle-class neighbourhoods, and the shift of low-income households from “the centre to the edge of the city (Hulchanski 2010, 1).” Over the past few years, a number of studies have lent further support to the overall trends presented by Hulchanski, including Ley and Lynch (2012), Walks (2010), Townshend et al. (2018), and Rose and Twigge-Molecey (2013). The general consensus among scholars is that while the trajectory toward greater neighbourhood polarization and inequality is most pronounced in Toronto, it also describes, to a lesser extent, other Canadian cities as well.    In Vancouver, the signature dynamic has been a continued concentration of low-income households in the Downtown Eastside and the city’s eastern part, alongside growing pockets of suburban disadvantage, particularly in the municipalities of Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey (Ley and Lynch 2012). Although economic marginalization should not be overstated– after all, many neighbourhoods remain largely middle-class and economically diverse (Stanger-Ross and Ross 2012) – significant pockets of low-income have indeed emerged throughout the metropolitan region, expanding well beyond the traditional borders of the city’s urban core.3  2 For an in-depth discussion of the difference between inequality and polarization see Walks et al. (2016). 3 In Canada, the suburban trajectory is more about growing spatial inequality than it is about declining suburbs per se. The distribution of census tracts by median household income categories reflects this fact. Hulchanski (2010) and Ley and Lynch (2012) clearly demonstrate that the overall trend between 1971 and 2006 is one of increasing household income inequality among census tracts. Also see Filion et al. (2011). 3 1.1.2 Diversifying suburbs  These changes have been accompanied by an equally significant shift in the residential location of new immigrants, who increasingly settle in surrounding suburban areas directly circumventing the inner city (Hiebert 1999, 2000, 2000b; Hiebert et al. 2008; Murdie and Teixeira 2003; Ray et al. 1997). Socio-spatial inequality in both Toronto and Vancouver has been shown to be strongly correlated with visible minority and new-immigrant status. Neighbourhoods that have experienced the sharpest decline in income are also housing a disproportionate number of newcomers and visible minorities, pointing to a troubling relationship between economic success, ethnicity and place (Ley and Lynch 2012; Hulchanski 2010). These trends suggest that lower-income immigrants aren’t just moving to the suburbs, they are increasingly finding refuge in suburban neighbourhoods with disproportionately high low-income rates (Fiedler et al. 2006; Heisz and McLeod 2004; Keung 2006; Lo 2011; Ley and Lynch 2012; Smith and Ley 2008).   The changing geography of income and immigration, along with the densification of the built environment, and the diversification of commercial activities, have become defining features of current processes of suburbanization in Canada (Edgington et al. 2006; Fiedler and Addie 2008; Filion et al. 2000; Grant and Filion 2010; Hutton 2010; Keil 2013; Lo et al. 2007; Murdie 2008; Murdie and Skop 2012). Combined, these trends are reshaping the fabric of suburbia, raising fundamental questions about the ability of local community planning to assist the needs of a rapidly growing and diversifying suburban population (Andrew 2011; Keil and Young 2011; Lo 2011).  To be sure, neither immigrant suburbanization nor suburban impoverishment are new phenomena per se. As revisionist historians have shown, early twentieth-century Canadian suburbs were socially diverse, housing not only working-class households but also immigrants (Harris 1996, 2004, 2010; Harris and Lewis 2001; Harris and Larkham 1999; Lewis 2000, 2004). What is different today, however, is both the extent of the rise of lower-income immigrant neighbourhoods in the suburbs, and the blurring of distinctive patterns demarcating city from suburbs. As suburbs become more urban, they also increasingly incur a host of urban-like problems such as street homelessness, gang violence, and immigrant poverty (Paperni and Dhillon 2011; Young and Keil 2010). 4 1.1.3 Suburban disadvantage  But although the problems of city and suburbs are progressively similar, they each present different risks and challenges to their respective inhabitants. In particular, many observers argue that life in the suburbs presents added difficulties to historically marginalized populations, such as new immigrants and low-income people (Hulchanski 2010; Ley and Lynch 2012; Lo et al. 2015). Concerns of this sort are borne out of the idea that suburban municipalities have been slow to respond to the needs of a growing and changing population (Young and Keil 2009, 2010). More specifically, urban scholars argue that low-income households in the suburbs lack adequate access to the type of services, amenities and infrastructure that would help them enhance their life chances (Hulchanski 2010; Filion 2013; Forsyth 2013; Ley and Lynch 2012; Ley and Smith 2000; Lo 2011; Lo et al. 2011; Lo et al. 2015; Smith and Ley 2008; Young and Keil 2010; Walks 2010b).  Anxieties about suburban deprivation are ultimately rooted in concerns over the power of place in determining a person’s quality of life. The idea being that suburban neighbourhoods have attributes that exacerbate the challenges of poverty and immigrant integration, making suburban residence a new kind of social and economic trap (Andrew 2011; Freeman 2011; Walks 2010b). In other words, where you live can be an important predictor of your life chances (Walks 2010b). Numerous neighbourhood-level characteristics are cited as factors that heighten the risks of vulnerability among low-income and new immigrant households. These include a lack of reliable public transit options, limited job opportunities, a dearth of amenities and services (public health facilities, immigrant settlement agencies, recreational centres, educational institutions, etc.), and physical infrastructure that limits accessibility for those without the means to buy a car such as automobile-oriented street design, and low-density and highly segregated land-use patterns (Andrew 2011; Filion et al. 2011; Ley and Smith 2001; Lo 2011; Lo et al. 2015; Shalaby et al. 2010; Smith and Ley 2008; Young and Keil 2010).4  4 For example, Smith and Ley note that “the availability and access to services, jobs, education, and other support structures can be profoundly affected by suburban versus centre city residence (2008: 687).” Similarly, Lo et al. (2011) argue that the suburbs can generate serious accessibility problems for recent newcomers and those without the means to buy a car (2011), a point also echoed by Wang and Truelove (2003) who found that settlement services targeted to immigrant low-income groups are disproportionately located out of reach in the inner city. Pierre Filion, Professor of Planning at the University of Waterloo, is outright skeptical of the ability of Canadian suburbs to meet 5  There are good grounds to believe, as many urban scholars increasingly do, that changes in the geographies of advantage and disadvantage in Canadian cities are leading to new forms of social isolation and economic disparity in the suburbs. By most standards, suburban residence limits accessibility to economically marginalized groups in the form of poor access to needed services, amenities and community supports (Lo at al. 2011; Smith and Ley 2008). Given that Canadian suburbs are known, if only anecdotally, for their limited public transit options, sprawled out areas, and segregated land uses, it is reasonable to contend that suburban life may exacerbate existing challenges for more economically marginalized populations (Lo et al. 2015).  1.1.4 Displacement and push factors  Equally relevant, the current literature emphasises a narrative of displacement to explain the rise of low-income neighbourhoods in the suburbs. Urban scholars suggests that newcomers and low-income people are being pushed out of the urban core and into surrounding suburban areas, a process largely thought to be driven by gentrification and the rising cost of housing in the central city (Allen and Farber 2019; Bunting et al. 2004; Ley and Lynch 2012; Murdie and Skop 212). In so doing dominant narratives frame the new patterning of urban disadvantage squarely in terms of push factors. That is, they emphasise those forces which pressure people to leave the urban core in favour of the suburbs. Again, focusing on gentrification and urban development in the central city makes intuitive sense. Given what is known about the skyrocketing cost of housing in the central city it is reasonable to suggest that, unlike in past decades, life in the central city is out of the financial reach for a growing number of lower-income households.    the rising needs of a diversifying population, particularly those of recent immigrants (Grant et al., 2013). Finally, Hulchanski notes, at the very outset of his hugely influential essay “The Three Cities Within Toronto,” that the city’s low-income population is increasingly stuck in suburban neighbourhoods with “poor access to transit and services (2010).” 6 1.2 Gaps in the literature  If, as an increasing number of urban scholars suggest, low-income minorities are being ‘pushed’ into suburban neighbourhoods with poor resources and weak community supports, then it becomes all the more imperative to examine how the spatial patterning of urban disadvantage operates and manifests itself on the ground. But statements about the risks associated with suburban residence, and about people being pushed out of the central core tend to be assumed rather than demonstrated. Although often cited in the literature, concerns about social isolation, and lack of access to opportunities are largely under-examined and poorly understood. With a few exceptions, current studies largely focus on describing neighbourhood income trends, but give little attention to how people experience and negotiate life in the suburbs. We know surprisingly little about the factors influencing people’s decisions to move to the suburbs, and the unique barriers and opportunities, if any, that come with suburban residence. To what extent are low-income people in the suburbs being cut off from opportunities, services and support systems? What are the finer-grain mechanisms by which suburban location amplifies or entrenches socio-economic disparity? Do suburban areas provide any kind of benefits to historically marginalized populations? Are there things about the suburbs that lower-income newcomers might find appealing? The current literature leaves these basic questions unanswered.   These shortcomings partly reflect the methodological orientation of current research on socio-spatial inequality. For the most part, studies follow a narrow quantitatively-oriented methodology centred on the use of aggregate census statistics.5 Existing scholarship predominantly focuses on three things: (1) categorizing neighbourhoods along income lines and studying their distribution across metropolitan areas, (2) testing the relationship between various statistical variables through the use of regression analysis, and (3) generating statistical indexes to gauge the residential segregation of different population groups.6    5Alan Walks recent paper “Income Inequality and Polarization in Canada’s Cities” (2013) is a case in point. The 125 pages-long document is a meticulously crafted and carefully researched piece of scholarship. Published by the University of Toronto Cities Centre, the paper reads like a policy report, and is framed within a purely quantitative methodology (which is likely Walk’s primary intent). Other notable examples include Hulchanski (2010), Ley and Lynch (2012), Ley and Smith (2000), Townshend et al. (2018), and Rose and Twigge-Molecey (2013.) 6 Some of the most notable examples include, Hulchanski (2010), Ley and Lynch (2012), Stanger-Ross and Ross (2012), Walks (2013), and Walks et al. (2016). 7 This is not to say that the present literature isn’t useful. Current studies provide a strong framework from which we can start to make sense and interpret the nature and character of spatial inequality in Canadian urban areas. Census tract analysis, in particular, offers an effective way of comparing socio-economic divides across metropolitan regions, and track their income trajectories over time. Perhaps most notably, quantitative approaches make it possible to identify broad trends and dynamics on a scale that might otherwise be hard to identify through the use of qualitative techniques.  In as much as it is useful to examine broad regional trends, it is just as important to speak concretely about why some areas are deemed to entrench socio-economic disadvantage, while others are deemed to foster positive social and economic outcomes for their residents. But quantitative methodologies are not well suited for capturing the nitty-gritty mechanisms by which disadvantage operates and manifests itself at the local level. By taking a sweeping, top-down, bird’s-eye-view of the city, current studies gloss over the subtleties and complexity of neighbourhood-level dynamics. Granularity is lost as the geographic scale moves from street- to regional-level. To understand what life is like for low-income residents in Canadian suburbs, or even to describe what low-income suburban areas look like on the ground we need – in the words of Smith (2004) – to bring the research to residents and neighbourhoods themselves.  What this means, is to incorporate more qualitatively-oriented methodologies capable of capturing people’s perspectives and experiences of life in the suburbs. It is by asking people about how they themselves experience and navigate life in the suburbs that one can start to understand the challenges and opportunities that come with settling in suburban areas, and why people might choose to live there.  1.3 Theoretical frameworks  1.3.1 Distributive justice  The gaps in the literature identified above are not simple casual omissions. They reflect a scholarly blind spot integral to the very theoretical framework currently being favoured in research on socio-spatial inequality. What follows is an abridged discussion of the theoretical 8 underpinnings informing this thesis.7 For the purpose of the research I situate my discussion in contemporary theorizations of inequality, difference, and social justice and the city.   Recent studies on socio-spatial inequality in Canada favour a political-economic framework centred around the theme of redistribution. Concerns over the ability of low-income people to access needed services and opportunities in the suburbs, are ultimately rooted in an understanding that resources tend to be unequally distributed across urban space, including jobs, community services, amenities, institutions, shops, public transit, and so on. In this context, inequality broadly concerns unjust or uneven social relations reflected in differences in power, political representation, mobility and/or access to resources (Mains, 2006). Integral to this definition is the notion that unequal social relations take on a distinct spatial dimension. Inequality, therefore, manifests itself not only relationally between people, but also across space. Scholars agree that problems arise when there is a mismatch between the location of resources (private and public) and the people who need them. This way of framing urban inequality comes straight out of the work of American scholars interested in the study of concentrated inner-city poverty, notably Wilson (1987) and Kain (1968). But it is also seen in recent Canadian studies on spatial-inequality, including Hulchanski (2010), Walks (2011), Ley and Lynch (2012) and others. When these authors raise concerns over an increasingly affluent urban core, and the rise of low-income neighbourhoods in the suburbs, they do so with a clear eye toward issues of distribution. The general premise here is that as low-income households move to the suburbs they become cut off from crucial resources, opportunities and support systems that would be better accessed in the central city.   Understanding urban inequality as primarily a problem of ‘who gets what where and how’ makes intuitive sense. By most standards, disparities in the distribution of political power, physical infrastructure, economic opportunity, and services is what distinguishes affluent communities from impoverished ones. There is a reason why low-income neighbourhoods tend to be described as ‘under-serviced’. While some residents might have ready access to job opportunities, others might not, and the same is true of education, adequate housing, social services, community  7 For a more detailed discussion of the theoretical frameworks informing my research see Chapter 7.  9 amenities, etc. According to this line of thought, the way to address social injustice is to ensure that people and resources are evenly distributed.   In this way, the current literature situates contemporary debates about the changing geography of disadvantage squarely within what scholars call a ‘distributive justice framework’ – or a framework that understands social justice as primarily an issue of distribution. Distributive justice frameworks have been the primary way by which urban scholars have made sense of social justice issues in cities (Fainstein 2009). They inform the radical geography of David Harvey (1973), the political philosophy of John Rawls (1971), and lay the foundations for Davidoff’s (1965) and Krumholz’s (1982) advocacy and equity planning respectively. All of these authors were writing at a time of deep social upheaval when it was increasingly clear that the wealth generated in postwar America was not being distributed evenly across segments of society.8   Redistribution remains the benchmark by which today’s scholars approach the study of urban inequality. Again, this is sensible. By definition, inequality is about social and economic disparities between people (or places). Attention to how power and resources (whether public or private) are distributed in society and across space offers a useful starting point from which to make sense of the social and economic divides in our cities.   1.3.2 Recognition of ‘difference’   8 For Harvey, the asymmetric distribution of wealth and resources in American cities is intrinsic to the economic structures of capitalist society. Taking a Marxist perspective, Harvey (1973) argues that just social outcomes can only be secured outside the dominant system of capitalist production. In contrast, Rawls (1971) outlines a vision of liberalism whereby the equitable distribution of ‘primary goods’ (wealth, income, political power, etc.) are ensured through a model of rational choice. Unlike Harvey, Rawls argues that social justice (or the fair distribution of social and economic benefits) can be built in within the existing institutions of Western liberal democracies. Distributive justice frameworks also underpin foundational texts in planning theory and social justice. Davidoff (1975) – long considered the founder of advocacy planning – urged planners to think in “distributional terms” when assessing the strength of a proposal. He believed that ‘redistribution’ (of public and private resources) should be the foremost criterion for judging the worth of a public policy. According to Davidoff, ensuring that resources and power were evenly distributed across metropolitan areas offered the most effective way of redressing the failures of urban renewal, and the disinvestment plaguing American inner-cities in the 1960s. Equity planning – a framework typically associated with Krumholz’s work in Cleveland – shared the same foundational theory of justice (Krumholz 1982; Metzger 1996). 10 Distributive understandings of inequality can only go so far in shedding light on the finer-grain mechanisms by which socio-economic disadvantage operates and manifests itself on the ground. I contend that as a way to bring needed analytical depth, scholars must consider approaches capable of prioritizing personal experience and multiple ways of knowing. Here, I draw from the work of Young (1990) who argues that social justice is as much about recognition of difference, as it is about redistribution. In this context, ‘difference’ is meant to acknowledge that “population groups, differentiated by criteria of age, gender, class, dis/ability, ethnicity, sexual preference, culture and religion, have different claims on the city for a full life (Sandercock 2000: 15).” Young’s politics of difference provides a useful theoretical framework from which to study multicultural cities in that it favours an epistemology that is contextually and historically situated rather than abstract and universal. Engaging with and recognizing difference means to reject the notion of a single public around which to build impartial and universally-applicable policies. At the core of Young’s theory is the idea that group-based difference needs to be recognized, not erased, because it is precisely the difference between one social group and another that shapes the experience of marginality (Maboloc 2015; Young 2001). Said another way, social justice necessitates not equality of treatment, but different treatment based on the extent of a group’s marginalization and cultural needs (Young 1990).  The work of Young (1990) has been picked up by intercultural planners – notably Sandercock (1995, 1998, 2000a, 2003a, 2003b) – who have been pushing to incorporate the views and experiences of minorities or otherwise socially excluded groups into dominant planning paradigms (Burayidi 2003; Fincher and Jacobs 1998; Iveson 2000; Milroy 2004; Wood and Landry, 2008). What makes an intercultural planning lens relevant to the study of urban inequality is that it validates the lived experience of historically marginalized populations as legitimate knowledge. In doing so it promotes an approach that is sensitive to the nuances of local context, local knowledge and the experiences of local residents. Just as relevant, intercultural frames recognize that minority groups may have aspirations, outlooks, wants and needs that do not always align with those of the dominant culture in which they live. As Sandercock (1995) and others have argued, the idea of a single public, average user or ‘one-size-fits-all’ public interest is at best suspect, and at worst a myth. People’s views of what makes a good neighbourhood, a good service, or a good public space is mediated by class, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, (dis)ability status, etc. In one neighbourhood bike lanes might be 11 welcomed as an effort to promote healthy lifestyles. In another neighbourhood, bike lanes might be linked to fears of gentrification and viewed as part of longer history of discrimination. Equal distribution of resources across space doesn’t always translate to socially just outcomes. Recognition of difference helps expose forms of group-based injustice, inequity and even privilege/bias that might go unnoticed in traditional distributive justice frameworks.   More to the point for my own research, theoretical approaches that recognize and engage with the question of difference are vastly better suited for examining how people of varying cultural backgrounds might navigate and experience life in the suburbs, and why people might choose to live there. To perpetuate preconceived notions of suburban residence as inherently unfavorable to minorities and low-income households is to overlook the obvious: different people want different things from the communities in which they live. The same is true of narratives that frame a move to the suburbs as a result of forced displacement, and not personal preference. While it might be true that for some people the best and most desirable neighbourhoods are located in the central city, that’s not likely to apply to all people. Recognition of cultural heterogeneity and difference offers a compelling framework by which scholars can move beyond generalizations, and explore the complexities and subtleties of neighbourhood-level dynamics.   To summarize, I organize my research around theorizations of distributive justice and the politics of difference. Within this theoretical framework I focus on contemporary research on socio-spatial inequality/polarization in Canadian cities, while straddling two related research fields: immigrant settlement, and suburban studies. Informing my studies are more peripheral and US-centric discussions about economic restructuring, social polarization, gentrification, neighbourhood effects, spatial segregation and the urban underclass (Figure 1.1). For a list of key readings associated with the fields presented in Figure 1.1 see Appendix A.  12 Figure 1.1: Organizational structure of the research       13 Figure 1.2: Theoretical frameworks                       Not mutually exclusive Two dimensions of social justice Distributive justice paradigm Politics of difference paradigm • Social injustice is understood as the unequal distribution of power and resources in society • Achieving social justice means a melting away of group differences & allocating power & material goods equally • Social justice is also about cultural recognition • “Recognition of difference should lead not to equality of treatment, but to different treatment based on cultural need or difference” • Knowledge situated in concrete cultural/historical context • Philosophical roots in Marxist political economy • Prominent: 1970s to present day • Dominant framework by which scholars have made sense of urban inequality • Focus on ‘distribution’ and ‘access’ • ‘Who gets what, where and how?’ • Equal treatment leads to equal opportunity •  • Philosophical roots in postmodernism, feminist theory • Prominent: 1990s to present day • Dominant framework by which scholars make sense of heterogenous urban areas • Focus on ‘recognition’ and cultural inclusivity • Group difference should not always be erased, but needs to be affirmed, celebrated, and recognized •  • Quantitatively-oriented methodologies • How are ppl. distributed in metro areas relative to services/resources? • Census statistics  • Measures ‘access’ primarily in terms of physical distance • Multiple publics • Different ways of knowing • Lived experience & local knowledge • Qualitatively-oriented methodologies Lit. on socio-spatial inequality/polarization in CND  Expand frame to include 14 1.4 Guiding questions and contribution  In this context, I engage with narratives that frame the suburbs as new sites of socio-economic disadvantage, to examine the question: how does suburban location shape the everyday life of lower-income newcomers? My research gives particular attention to the claim that suburban residence fosters social exclusion, and amplifies the challenges of poverty and immigrant integration. I build my argument around the premise that the experience of being a low-income minority in the suburbs is unique from the experience of being poor in the inner city. This is a premise I interrogate, rather than take for granted. To this end, my research focuses on the intersection between place, class and ethnicity. At a higher level, I am interested in examining how place shapes people’s quality of life and life prospects. While there is remarkable and ample literature on the role of place as a consolidating feature of socio-economic disadvantage, much of it remains oriented toward the inner-city. Few scholars recognize that, increasingly, social and economic precarity in Canada is a suburban rather than an urban experience.   There are three broad sets of questions that inform and motivate my research:   1. What insights can be drawn from the lived experiences of lower-income newcomers to better understand the type of prospects suburban life offers them? What do they themselves make of the suburbs as places in which to live in?   2. Does suburban residence amplify the challenges that come with being a new immigrant with limited economic means? Can it act as a springboard for socio-economic uplift?   3. What are the finer-grain mechanisms by which (dis)advantage operates and manifests itself on the ground in the suburbs?   To explore these questions, I centre my research around a case study of Surrey (BC), asking the following sets of sub-questions:   • What are some of the challenges and opportunities, if any, that life in Surrey creates for newcomers with limited economic means?  15  • How do people describe what life in Surrey is like for them, and their decision to move there?   My research makes two main contributions to the existing literature on socio-spatial inequality in Canada. First and foremost, I build on the work of Hulchanski (2010) and others, to examine what growing neighbourhood inequality and polarization mean for local community life. Are historically marginalized populations in the suburbs cut off from support systems and needed services? Does suburban residence heighten the risks of social and economic isolation? How do people feel about the prospects that life in suburbia has to offer them? The intent here is to give close attention to neighbourhood context and the experiences of lower-income new Canadians, with the ultimate goal of examining the barriers and opportunities, if any, that suburban residence creates for this group.   The contribution here is not just one of substance, but also one of method. To examine these questions requires moving beyond the comfort zone of statistical analysis and incorporating the perspectives of residents themselves. Despite the growing literature on socio-spatial divides, this vantage point has been overlooked so far. Current studies largely ignore local residents or tend to treat them as simple victims of displacement processes. Residents’ perspectives help shed much needed light on the finer-grain mechanisms by which social and economic disadvantage operates and manifests itself on the ground. Furthermore, the experiences of local residents offer an additional, yet neglected, position from which to interpret the trajectory of socio-economic change in suburban neighbourhoods. Can push factors alone explain the rise of low-income immigrant neighbourhoods in the suburbs? To what extent are pull factors also contributing to these changes?   Second, my research makes a contribution to academic and mainstream understandings of suburbia. While increasingly under question, uncritical views of the suburbs as culturally homogenous middle-class enclaves continue to resonate today. Scholarship on urban inequality in North America has for a long time advanced a simple ‘city-suburb’ dichotomy premised on the idea of an impoverished inner city surrounded by relatively affluent suburbs (Fiedler and Addie 2008; Bourne 1996; Harris 2010). My study is situated within a broader effort to develop 16 a richer and more complex understanding of suburban spaces and the people who live in them (Allard 2017; Anacker 2015; Keil 2013; Vaughn 2015).   1.5 Key arguments This thesis is centred around two main arguments. First, I argue that my interviews with local residents reveal a more nuanced response to suburban life than what is generally assumed in current writings on socio-spatial inequality in Canadian cities. The existing literature emphasises a story of exclusion and isolation when considering what life must be like for lower-income newcomers settling in the suburbs. I contend that this line of thought is not so much wrong, as it is incomplete and oversimplified. I make the case that alongside challenges and barriers, moving to the suburbs affords newcomers with opportunities that go overlooked in the established literature (Table 1.1). This is not to deny the difficulties that come with life in the suburbs, or the constraints – many of them economic – that shape where people can live. Scholars are right to point out that people’s residential choices are constrained by wealth and income in very real ways. But studies that emphasise a narrative of displacement from the central city only tell part of the story. While people are certainly priced out of certain neighbourhoods, the factors contributing to lower-income households moving to the suburbs are more complex than what the existing literature seems to suggest. My findings both confirm and upend current understandings of the rise of low-income suburban areas, conveying a picture of neighbourhood change as a process of both push and pull factors, or factors that drive people away from the central city, and factors that pull people to the suburbs (Table 1.2).  Second, I argue that concerns over the fate of marginalized groups in the suburbs stem from a common, though largely unspoken assumption: the idea that low-income households would be better off locating in the central city. I argue that when holding this line of thought, urban scholars are in fact projecting their own ideas about what constitutes good planning onto a culturally diverse group of people whose varied wants and needs do not always align with those of today’s leading urbanists.   17 I define ‘urbanists’ to mean popular urban commentators who’ve been recognized as experts in their fields, and whose writings and thoughts about planning, cities or urban design have reached a mass audience. This comprises a broad group of people including academic scholars such as Richard Florida and Edward Glaeser, planning practitioners such as Janette Sadik-Khan and Brent Toderian, urban designers such as Andrés Duany and Jan Gehl, and writers such as James Kunstler and Charles Montgomery. These individuals, and others like them, have emerged as leading popular voices on cities and urban planning today (at least in Canada and the United States where they routinely make various top 100 lists of most influential urbanists).9 They embody and shape the current planning zeitgeist by having a reach and public platform that is hard to dispute.10 What they promote is a specific brand of urbanism, one focused on complete-communities, mixed-use and human-scale development, pedestrian-friendly places, green design, vibrant streets and the creative industries. This brand of urbanism isn’t wrong nor bad, in fact, it has proven to be both effective and useful in improving the quality of life of countless urban residents. But it has a uniquely urban-centric perspective that doesn’t always lend itself well for thinking about the local realities and challenges facing suburban or rural communities.   I do not mean to suggest that every planner or urban thinker espouses a single planning vision or philosophy. There are admittedly a variety of perspectives and opinions about what constituted good planning and good neighbourhoods. This is true among planning practitioners, planning scholars, urban geographers and even among some of today’s most beloved urbanists.11 But despite the many voices and perspectives, it is also undeniable that the particular brand of urbanism being promoted by today’s ‘top’ urbanists is incredibly fashionable, pervading mainstream culture far more broadly than other views. It is precisely because of this widespread appeal that these ideas are worth considering, not because of their substantive value, but because of the way they influence how many urban scholars today view and understand suburban spaces.   9 Among the most notable is Planetizen’s “100 Most Influential Urbanists” ranking.  10 They give TED talks, deliver keynote speeches at prestigious urban forums, make regular appearances on radio shows, write op-eds, and actively promote their views on social media and web publications. 11 Ellen Dunham-Jones is a case in point. A former TED speaker who’s made various prestigious “top urban thinkers” list, Dunham-Jones centres her research specifically on ‘suburban spaces’, doing so without disdain or contempt for the suburbs. In fact, she considers them authentic places worthy of serious academic study. Having said this, it is also telling that Dunham-Jones’s overall vision for the future of suburbia is very much in line with that of many of her fellow urbanists. She promotes walkable, green, mixed-use communities with a strong focus on the built-environment and urban design (Dunham-Jones and Williamson 2009).  18 Table 1.1: Challenges and benefits of suburban location Challenges: Benefits: The current literature emphasises the following challenges (listed below) to describe the prospects lower-income households face in the suburbs.  I argue that suburban location offers opportunities or benefits* (listed below) to lower-income newcomers that are overlooked in the existing literature. • Lack of access to social services • Lack of employment opportunities • Poor public transit options • Lack of community amenities  • Increased risk of social isolation/exclusion • Personal networks (family relations; friends; acquaintances) • Established coethnic community • Lower cost of family-size dwellings & rental • Job networks • Employment opportunities * The benefits listed here emerged from my interviews with local residents in Surrey. These same benefits are the pull factors making suburban location appealing to lower-income newcomers.    19 Table 1.2: Push and pull factors ‘Push’ factors: ‘Pull’ factors: Factors ‘pushing’ households out of the urban core* - Understood as structural obstacles and challenges that propel people to leave certain areas. Factors ‘pulling’ households to the suburbs - Understood as structural opportunities and benefits that attract people to certain areas. The factors below are presented in the academic literature to explain the rise of low-income, minority households in suburban areas. While distinct they are interellated to one another.  The factors below emerged from my interviews with local residents, and create a more complete picture of the rise of low-income, minority households in suburban areas. • High cost of housing in the central core • Central-core gentrification • Urban redevelopment in the urban core • Loss of affordable rental housing • Personal networks (family-relations; friends; acquaintances) • Established coethnic community • Lower cost of family-size dwellings & rental • Job networks • Employment opportunities • Social and community services • Access to nature • Lower-density neighbourhoods * I recognize that push-pull models can be considered too simplistic and deterministic (Skeldon 1990; de Haas 2011). But they remain the most widely-used explanatory frameworks in migration studies, with most scholars agreeing that despite obvious flaws, they have ongoing merit (Van Hear et al. 2018).   20 1.6 Methodological framework  1.6.1 Theoretical influences  The methodology for this proposed research is structured around a qualitative case study, and draws mainly from two philosophical perspectives: social constructionism and critical theory. Although a discussion about the theory of social science research (how it should be conducted and what it entails) is beyond the scope of this essay, it is nonetheless crucial to recognize that methods and approaches of social science research are informed by particular epistemological and ontological paradigms. Reflecting on how and what underlying philosophical assumptions and beliefs shape one’s research goes a long way toward situating and developing a stronger thesis.  My proposed research is built on social constructionism, an ontological position premised on the idea that knowledge of events, phenomena, institutions, etc. is socially constructed (Creswell 2012). Social constructionist perspectives maintain an abiding concern for the specific and everyday context in which people live (Silverman 2013). They emphasise subjective meaning and personal experience over objective and universal facts. Methodologies based on social constructionism rely on participants’ perspectives, and are rooted in an understanding that these perspectives (however varied and complex) are shaped by various markers of cultural identity including, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, class, and race.  The other philosophical paradigm that informs my methodological approach is critical theory, a theoretical perspective that seeks to expose relations of oppression, inequality, and discrimination, and promotes positive social change. The ‘critical’ aspect of critical theory stems from the commitment to go beyond the study of society for the sake of understanding to an approach that explicitly aims at redressing social injustice (Patton 2014). In addition, critical theory gives particular attention to intercultural matters, and more specifically how relations of inequality and power intersect with constructs of race and ethnicity. Critical approaches push one to question how dominant and hegemonic practices and values may help to create and reinforce processes of societal oppression and discrimination (Creswell 2012). It is this explicit commitment to human emancipation and social justice that makes critical theory a fundamental inspiration for my methodology. 21 1.6.2 Methodological approaches  Drawing from both social constructionism and critical theory, I organize and structure my proposed research around a case study. Case study research is particularly well suited to answering complex questions, and to studies that require in-depth analysis and description of some contemporary real-life social phenomenon (Yin 2014). With this in mind, case studies work best when both the substance (what the case study is about) and the boundaries (the parameters or the research) are carefully defined. One often-voiced criticism of case study research is that its findings, which are highly contextual, provide little basis for generalization (Yin, 2014). But as Flyvbjerg (2001) convincingly argues, formal generalization as understood in the natural and physical sciences is too strict and too narrow of a requirement for the vast majority of social science research. Equally important, generalization itself is but one epistemological approach among many others to generating valuable knowledge (Flyvbjerg 2001).  The case study has become a favoured methodology in planning and urban geography. But research on the changing geography of income and immigration has yet to embrace it. Recent studies favour the study of region-wide socio-demographic trends steeped in positivist methodologies. Neighbourhood-level statistics (usually drawn from the census) are collected for given metropolitan areas and are then subjected to various statistical analyses. This is true of much of the recent scholarship coming out of Canada, including Ades et al. (2016), Hulchanski (2010), Ley and Lynch (2012), Townshend et al. (2018) and Walks (2011). Like similar research in the United States (Allard 2017; Kneebone and Berube 2013; Orfield 2002) these studies take a strong public policy orientation and as such are heavily reliant on statistics and quantification – the language of government administrators and policy wonks.12   Migration scholars have conducted case study research on disadvantage and exclusion in Canada’s suburbs, but the body of research remains very limited. For one thing as Teixeira (2007, 496) points out, “the ethnocultural dimension of suburbanization has been largely  12 Many of these studies do focus on a single metropolitan region, and as such could broadly be considered case studies. Take for instance, Ley and Lynch’s (2012) study of Metro Vancouver. But because their analytical focus is on high-level trends, rather than in-depth local context, they don’t quite fit the label of ‘case study research.’ 22 overlooked in the scholarly literature.” The converse is also true, few studies take the suburban dimension of immigrant settlement as a subject of inquiry in its own right.13 Among these studies, even fewer situate their research explicitly within broader debates about the changing geography of disadvantage in North American cities. Perhaps the most notable exception is Lo et al. (2015)’s case study on York Region. But even then, the authors rely on a quantitatively-oriented methodology centred on the analysis of customized census statistics, and spatial analytic techniques usually associated with transportation studies.   Within planning scholarship, the study of suburban areas is largely situated within discussions about smart growth, ecological sustainability, healthy lifestyles, and the built environment (Connelly and Roseland 2010; Grant 1994, 2002, 2006, 2009; Grant and Filion 2010; Grant and Perrott 2011; Filion 2001; Filion 2000; Filion and McSpurren 2007). For the most part, this is a literature with a strong technical positivist orientation that lacks broader social justice and equity perspectives.   There are only a handful of studies in Canada that situate the study of socio-economic disparity within a suburban, rather than an urban, setting, and do so using a qualitatively-oriented case study methodology. In this regard, my thesis takes direct inspiration from research by Smith and Ley (2008), Teixeira (2014), and Ghosh (2014). These studies set a clear precedent (or template if you will) for how scholars can effectively apply qualitative methodologies to research on socio-spatial inequality in Canada.14 The dearth of such type of studies in the academic literature prompts me to believe that conducting a qualitative case study is all the more important.   The nature and complexity of my research questions makes a qualitative approach well suited for my thesis. As Denzin and Lincoln explain, “the province of qualitative research is the world of  13 Skop and Li (2010) make this very point when they point out that “the suburbs are among the least analyzed settings in ethnic studies.” In Canada, studies on the suburban aspects of immigrant settlement include Wang (1999), Lo and Wang (1997) (business and commercial activity); Teixeira (1996, 2007, 2014), Ghosh (2014), Murdie (1994) (housing); Hiebert (1999, 2000b, 2005), Murdie (1998) (changing social geography); Lo et al. (2007, 2011) (transportation). 14 Smith and Ley (2008) examine the experiences of low-income immigrants in Toronto and Vancouver, paying close attention to the unique character of the experiences of those living in suburban localities. Ghosh (2014) examines the daily routines of Bangladeshi newcomers who live in high-rise complexes in Toronto’s inner suburbs. Texeira (2014) studies the strategies by which newcomers (in Surrey and Richmond, BC) cope with the local housing market. These authors conduct focus group discussions and in-depth interviews to capture nuances in the lived-experience of local residents that would otherwise be difficult to convey through purely quantitative techniques.  23 lived experience for this is where individual belief and action intersect with culture (2011: 2).” Unlike traditional positivist approaches that stress objective and replicable truths derived from scientific methodologies, qualitative techniques consider subjective interpretation as a valid form of knowledge production. Qualitative researchers strive to make sense of the world by interpreting the meaning that people bring to it, rather than by organizing society into neatly defined categories of quantifiable data.  A major advantage of qualitative perspectives for my research is that they incorporate sources of knowledge that are mostly ignored in current Canadian studies on spatial inequality. These include such things as personal experience, introspection, life stories, and visual and photographic materials. Such elements are necessary to broaden our understanding of the neighbourhood-level implications of growing suburban poverty and immigration. Equally relevant, qualitative approaches are conducive to creating a richer and more layered understanding of how inequality manifests itself on the ground. In so doing they create a better position from which to address the question of whether suburban residence is creating new forms of social exclusion and isolation, or acting as a springboard for social uplift.  1.6.3 The Case  This thesis focuses on the municipality of Surrey (BC), Metro Vancouver’s second largest city – second only to Vancouver – and the region’s largest suburb. With a land area of over 300 square kilometers, and home to just over half a million people (517,900), Surrey is the main population centre south of the Fraser River (Figure 1.2). The city is one of Canada’s fastest growing municipalities and is expected to surpass Vancouver as BC’s largest city by 2040 (Metro Vancouver, 2011). About 1,000 new residents are added to Surrey’s population each month through immigration, migration and birth (Statistics Canada 2016).15 The pace of growth is creating challenges for residents and government officials alike, as the city struggles to keep up with heightened demand for public services and infrastructure notably in housing, transportation,  15 Immigration accounts for the bulk of Surrey’s population growth. Of the 49,636 residents added to Surrey’s population between 2011 and 2016, 36,340 (or 73%) were recent immigrants (Statistics Canada 2016a, author calculations). 24 and education sectors (City of Surrey 2008; SurreyCares 2014).16 These challenges are further compounded by the city’s vast sprawling land mass, which is about three times as large as the area covered by the city of Vancouver (Figure 4; Sinoski 2013).17 As an outer suburb, Surrey contains a mix of housing types, density gradients, economic activities, and land uses, including large swaths of agricultural land, which can make the city resemble that of a rural community more than an urban centre (Dowling 1996; Frost 2010; Walton-Roberts 1998).  Figure 1.3: Municipalities of Metro Vancouver  Map produced by the author   16 Hutton (2010) also points out that despite experiencing significant job growth, Surrey – along with the outer suburbs of Delta, Coquitlam, and Langley – maintains relatively weak jobs-to-residents ratio which coupled with its scattered low-density form poses problems for regional and local planners (2010: 121). 17 For a comparison more useful to an American audience. The entire island of Manhattan spans a land area of approximately 60 square kilometres, meaning that the area covered by the 260 odd-blocks from Battery Park to Inwood would fit five times in the city of Surrey. 25 Like other major Canadian suburbs, Surrey has a diverse population mix. It is a ‘minority-majority’ municipality, with 59% of its residents identifying as visible minority (Statistics Canada 2016a). To put things in perspective, the city of Vancouver is 52% visible minority. Immigrants account for 43% of the total population of Surrey, and are primarily from South-Asia (India and Pakistan), Southeast Asia (Phillipines) and East Asia (China and South Korea). In recent years, Surrey has also become the primary settlement destination for refugees in British Columbia, with the bulk arriving from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and most recently Syria (Surrey LIP 2015).18 Surrey is arguably best known as the hub of Metro Vancouver’s South-Asian community (Table 1.3). One in three residents claim South-Asian heritage, with most having roots in the Punjab region of northern India (City of Surrey 2017).  Table 1.3: Recent immigrants Percentage of recent immigrants by country of birth, Surrey, 2016,  (three largest population groups) India 41% Philippines 15% China 13% *Recent immigrants are immigrants who entered Canada between 2011 and 2016 Source: Calculated by author from Statistics Canada, Census 2016  What is perhaps most striking about the socio-demographic profile of Surrey’s population is its trajectory of change. In 1986, only 22% of Surrey residents were immigrants, compared to 43% in 2016 (Figure 1.3). The immigrant population in Surrey grew from 39,300 to over 220,000 in the span of just thirty years (Statistics Canada 1986, 2016a). Similarly, the proportion of visible minority residents in Surrey increased by more than 30 percentage points from 1996 to 2016 (from 29% to 59%, Figure 1.4).19 These changes are all the more dramatic when compared to the city of Vancouver. Between 1986 and 2016, the percentage of immigrant residents in Vancouver increased only marginally, from 39% to 42.5% (Figure 1.3). Likewise, between 1996 and 2016, the share of visible minority residents in the city grew by only 6.5 percentage points  18 As of 2016, about 20,500 refugees lived in Surrey, compared to about 18,000 in Vancouver (Statistics Canada, 2016a).  19 Statistics Canada introduced the ‘visible minority’ question only in 1996. Counts of visible minority populations prior to 1996 were produced by combining responses on ‘ethnic origin’, ‘birth place’ and ‘mother tongue’ (Statistics Canada 2016c). 26 (from 45% to 51.5%, Figure 1.4). But these statistics belie a more surprising trend. Unlike Surrey, Vancouver is becoming less immigrant and the expansion of its visible minority population has come to a screeching halt. Today, 42.5% of Vancouver residents are immigrants, down from 46% in 2001 (Figure 1.3). In like manner, the proportion of visible minorities in Vancouver has remained effectively stagnant, going from 49% in 2001 to 51.5% in 2016 (Figure 1.4). These numbers signal the divergent socio-demographic trajectories Vancouver and Surrey are taking. The former is adding fewer and fewer immigrants and people of colour, and becoming less diverse as a result, while the latter is following a trajectory of increased diversity, having become the primary reception site for newcomers, and refugees.   Figure 1.4: Immigrant status Proportion of residents who are foreign-born, 1986-2016, selected cities  Source: Calculated by author from Statistics Canada, Census 1986 to 2016   10%20%30%40%50%60%1986 1996 2006 2016SurreyVancouver27 Figure 1.5: Visible minority status Proportion of residents who identify as visible minority, 1996-2016*, selected cities  *Note: Data from the 2011 National Household Survey are omitted from this graph Source: Calculated by author from Statistics Canada, Census 1996 to 2016  Surrey offers a particularly good vantage point from which to contribute to emerging research on spatial inequality in Canadian suburbs. Since the 1970s, Vancouver’s geography of income and immigration has shifted in remarkable ways, a process largely marked by the dispersal of low-income and immigrant households away from the urban core and into surrounding suburban areas (Ley and Lynch 2012).20 In line with trends south of the border, there are, today, significantly more low-income households living in Vancouver’s suburbs, than in Vancouver proper. This fact might seem hardly surprising given that much of the region’s growth has been concentrated in suburban municipalities. But the finding is relevant for it speaks to the idea that the experience of being poor today is as much, if not more, a suburban rather than an urban experience, a reality that goes largely ignored in the scholarly literature.     20 Neighbourhoods with the highest increases in average income are concentrated in three areas. First, in Vancouver’s historic elite neighbourhoods (Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, Point Grey), and older inner-city neighbourhoods (Kitsilano, Fairview, False Creek, and Coal Harbour). Second, in the north shore suburbs of West and North Vancouver. Third, in the outlying areas of the Lower Fraser Valley around Delta, Langley and South Surrey. While, neighbourhoods with the sharpest decreases in average income are consolidated in East and South Vancouver, along the Expo Skytrain corridor in Burnaby, around Richmond’s city centre, and in the Surrey neighbourhoods of North Surrey and Newton (Ley and Lynch, 2012). 20%30%40%50%60%70%1996 2001 2006 2016SurreyVancouver28 Today, only five of the region’s twenty most populated low-income neighbourhoods are located within the municipal boundaries of the city of Vancouver, the remaining fifteen are all located in the suburbs, predominantly Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey. The Downtown Eastside remains the neighbourhood with the highest concentration of poverty in Metro Vancouver, but high-poverty areas (defined as neighbourhoods with low-income rates of at least 30%) can be found in Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, Burnaby and even Langley.21    Surrey occupies a central place in this new geography of income. Anywhere between 60,000 to 75,000 Surrey residents live in low-income households, the second largest population in Metro Vancouver (Statistics Canada 2016a). Among its poor, Surrey counts between 17,000 to 22,000 children and youths, more than any other municipality in the region.22 This reflects the profile of the low-income population in Surrey which, unlike Vancouver, is skewed more toward single-parent families than unattached adult men. The overall low-income rate for Surrey is moderate (12% to 15%), which can partly be explained by the continued presence of a significant number of middle- and even upper-income areas. This is especially true in the southern part of the city.  But city-wide statistics hide a more complex reality, as there are many areas within Surrey with much higher concentrations of low-income households, particularly in the neighbourhoods of Whalley, Guildford and Newton. In fact, low-income rates in these areas are among the highest in Metro Vancouver (Figure 1.5 and Figure 1.6).   21 Low-income rates in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside range from 40% to 65% depending on how one defines the neighbourhood.  22 The 2016 census provides two main statistics for measuring low-income status. The Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO) and the Low-Income Measure (LIM). If you use LICO rather than LIM you arrive at higher low-income numbers and low-income rates. For more on low-income statistics see Giles (2004). 29 Figure 1.6: Surrey neighbourhoods  Figure 1.7: Low-income population Percentage of residents in low-income (LIM-AT, 2016)    Map produced by the author          10% 10 - 14% 15 - 19% 20 – 24%  25%   Map produced by the author with data from Statistics Canada, Census, 2016  But what makes Surrey a compelling site for studying urban inequality is not only the presence of a large low-income population, and the multi-ethnic profile of its community. It is also the fact that there are various areas within Surrey that share characteristics typically associated with distressed neighbourhoods. For instance, parts of Guildford have low-income rates ranging between 31% to 38%. In the area surrounding Holly Park more than one-in-three residents live in low-income households, and almost 20% of residents are recent immigrants (Statistics Canada 2016a). The median household income in the area is low, sitting near the $45,000 mark compared to the regional average of $72,000 (City of Surrey 2017). Whalley has an equally pronounced concentration of low-income households as well as a visible street population. The character of the neighbourhood, however, is also changing prompted in part by an influx of new 30 development near the Skytrain rapid transit line. As a result of new development pressures, the more suburban neighbourhood of Newton located just south of the city centre, has now emerged as the area with the largest low-income population (totalling 21,500). Home to the city’s largest South-Asian community, Newton is also a highly immigrant district – about 75% of residents there are visible minorities (City of Surrey 2017).  Another reason why Surrey is a good case study for this research is that neighbourhoods like Whalley, Guildford and Newton present unique sides and different manifestations of suburban spaces. In this way Surrey offers a view of suburbia that is multifaceted rather than unidimensional. Guilford, for instance, is an area anchored and centred around a typical postwar suburban mall. But it is also an area with a significant stock of very modest, rental apartment buildings typically seen in older central-city neighbourhoods. The same is also true of Whalley, which, in parts, resembles an inner city – with its elevated rapid transit line, laundromats, payday-loan stores, and even light-industrial districts. Both Guildford and Whalley are neighbourhoods that Keil and Young (2010) would call “in-between cities,” the space between the traditional more compact city centre and the sprawled out, low-density outer suburbs. They  have a fair concentration of amenities and services typically not seen in postwar suburbs, and are both fairly well connected (economically and in terms of transportation) with the rest of the region. Just as relevant is north Surrey’s multi-ethnic character which surpasses that of most central city neighbourhoods, something obvious to anyone stepping onto the platform at Surrey Central Station.   In contrast, Newton resembles a more conventional outer-ring suburban neighbourhood, with a landscape dominated by single-detached houses, large arterial roads and big-box store developments. Located a few kilometres south of the city centre, it sits on the border with the municipality of Delta, a predominantly agricultural community. Newton’s proximity to agricultural land is reflected in the neighbourhood’s ethnic composition, which comprises a majority South Asian population from India, many of whom are employed in agricultural related activities. Due to its location and its car-centric transportation network, Newton is not as well connected to Surrey’s city centre, or for that matter the regional economy north of the Fraser River.   31 As stated above, this case study centres around Surrey as a way to capture the multifaceted and heterogenous nature of many of today’s suburbs. Surrey is a highly-diverse suburb with a changing and rapidly growing population. My intent here is to avoid offering a unidimensional view of suburban life focused on a narrow type of built form, or one that prioritizes the experiences of a single group. Failing to do so could give a skewed and limited image of suburbia, especially since most Canadian suburbs today are highly varied – socially, culturally, economically and physically. After all, the barriers and opportunities created by neighbourhood context are likely to vary from place to place, but they are also likely to be mediated differently by different groups. The exploratory nature of this approach is well suited for capturing a broad spectrum of experiences, which is what I am after.   1.6.4 Gathering and analyzing information  As explained earlier, anxieties over the dispersal of low-income minority households in the suburbs are rooted in the belief that place plays a critical role in shaping people’s quality of life. Scholars tend to frame these concerns within a specific belief that changes in the geography of income and immigration are leaving historically marginalized populations isolated from services and community supports, producing new forms of social exclusion and neighbourhood disadvantage (Hulchanski, 2010; Ley and Lynch, 2012, Lo et al., 2015; Smith and Ley, 2008). My proposed research puts these concerns and beliefs under the microscope, with the aim to develop a richer understanding of the barriers and opportunities that come with suburban residence. I do so by examining the experiences of suburban life from the perspectives of lower-income newcomers living in Surrey, BC.    Given the research scope and goals of this research, the methods of data-gathering are oriented toward three main activities: 1) in-depth, semi-structured interviews with local Surrey residents; 2) in-depth, semi-structured interviews with local community experts; 3) naturalistic observation.   1.6.5 Interviews  Over the course of the field work, I conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with 25 local immigrants who lived in Surrey. Most interviews ranged between 60 to 90 minutes, but some 32 lasted well over 2.5 hours, and two interviews lasted only 45 minutes. Alongside these 25 participants, I also interviewed an additional five participants in one single focus group session. My initial intent was to interview everyone individually, but because these five participants voiced preference for meeting as a group, I set up a separate focus group discussion to better accommodate their needs. The session lasted about 75 minutes. Needless to say, the material of the group discussion was not as rich as that of the in-depth interviews – where participants had more time to answer questions, and I could more freely probe respondents for details. In all, nine men and twenty-one women participated in the study. Fifteen different source countries were represented in the sample, with India being the most strongly represented country (thirteen respondents were immigrants from India). For more details about the sample characteristics of study participants see Appendix B. Most of those interviewed were in their thirties, had children, and were married. But four participants were young, single adults in their twenties, and three participants were in their mid-fifties or older. Study participants were living in precarious circumstances – working low-pay, service-sector jobs – or had experienced, either individually or as a household, economic hardship while living in Canada. The vast majority of participants (20) had been in Canada for five years or less. Everyone interviewed was living in Surrey at the time the interviews took place, but some had also lived in other municipalities in Metro Vancouver prior to moving to Surrey. In line with Canada’s immigrant population, almost everyone in the sample was highly educated. Of the thirty participants, twenty-seven had a post-secondary education, with more than half having arrived in Canada with a Master’s degree. Participants were selected from three neighbourhoods in Surrey, 40% lived in Whalley, another 40% in Newton, and 20% in Guildford.   I knew entering the research that I was not looking for a representative sample from which statistics could be generalized and applied to the broader population of Surrey. While generalization can be an effective tool in social science, the intent of my chosen research design was to get at the specific and contextual dimension of people’s experiences. Rather than trying to erase the ‘subjectivity’ of research participants, I set out to examine it. I was not interested in revealing the ‘average experience’ of life in suburbia for a hypothetical ‘average’ newcomer or ‘general’ immigrant group. In fact, I approached the research recognizing that people’s experiences and perspectives of suburban life were likely going to vary, not only between but also within different ethnic groups, and from one person to the next.  33  Given the paucity of in-depth, case-study research on Canadian suburbs, especially here in Metro Vancouver, it was clear to me that taking an exploratory approach would provide the best contribution to this emerging field of study. With this in mind, I purposely prioritized a broad, rather than a narrow, research scope. This is the reason why I decided in favour of a diverse sample that would include men and women of varying age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and with different length of residency in Canada. Likewise, I deliberately adopted a semi-structured approach to the interview process (see Appendix D for the interview schedule). While I had, inevitably, preconceived notions of the barriers and opportunities that come with suburban residence, the purpose of the interviews was to let people define what they themselves judged to be important. Just as critically, I wanted to allow for unanticipated answers and themes to emerge. Looking back now, it is clear that some of these unanticipated themes are among the most compelling findings emerging from the thesis.   While I don’t produce findings that can be generalized, this research still meets its original objective: providing a perspective on suburban life that until now has been taken for granted if not ignored. The accounts emerging from this small sample by no means provide a definitive take on the type of prospects lower-income newcomers face in the suburbs. Rather the point is to highlight the fact that the experience of suburban life, including its challenges and opportunities, are likely varied, and that narratives of exclusion, isolation and displacement are likely incomplete. What makes generalization difficult isn’t simply the study’s small sample size, but also the fact that there is a great deal of variation both internally within individual suburbs, and externally from one suburban municipality to another. Capturing such diversity is challenging whether one uses quantitatively- or qualititative-oriented approaches. But taking a broad-based exploratory approach centred on one specific suburb – as I do in this research – offers a good first step by which we can start to understand the complexities and nuances of local dynamics.   Alongside the 30 interviews with local residents, I conducted an additional 20, semi-structured, interviews with 19 community experts (see Appendix C). These experts were mostly managers and outreach workers engaged in various sectors of public and non-profit service delivery, including immigrant settlement, foodbank, municipal government, skills training and employment, and youth services. Most interviews were between 60 to 75 minutes and were 34 conducted one-on-one. I conducted these interviews wanting to hear from professionals who had a pulse on local community dynamics in Surrey, and who could provide hands-on knowledge of Surrey’s changing social and demographic landscape. The intent here was to gather information that could help me contextualize the perspectives and lived-experiences of local residents. I needed a way to situate people’s individual experiences within a larger discussion about growing suburban diversity and change, but the lack of scholarly research on Surrey made this task difficult. For this reason, I relied on expert knowledge to paint a clearer picture of the trends and issues that were impacting the city at that time (see Appendix E for interview schedule). Interviews with community experts allowed me to better gauge the extent and nature of social service provision in Surrey, and the wider community supports available to local residents. This information was all the more important given the scholarly concerns over the rise of low-income immigrant households in the suburbs. Underlying many of these concerns is the idea that suburban municipalities are ill-equipped to assist the needs of more economically marginalized populations. I knew that in order to tackle some of the assumptions that were being made in the literature, there were certain basic aspects of the city that I needed to get right, such as the general state of service provision in Surrey, what kind of services were available where, the kind of employment opportunities accessible in the city, and the changing profile of the local population.   1.6.6 Recruitment  Study participants were enlisted through a purposive recruitment strategy. First, I identified and approached local organizations that could assist me in advertising the study to local residents. I used professional connections – developed over the course of three years of working with a non-profit agency in Surrey – to this end. I connected with about twenty different organizations involved in delivering services to new immigrants and/or low-income populations in the neighbourhoods of Whalley, Guildford and Newton. While local agencies did not directly recruit participants for me – as is the case in many social science research projects – they did grant me access to their premises and programming so that I could advertise my study to their clients. In practical terms, this involved making trips to the respective agencies, and delivering a five- to ten-minute presentation at workshops, classes and other various programming. I would then hand out a recruitment poster to the agency with my contact information. Individuals who were 35 interested in participating in the research contacted me via phone or email. I expected to rely on snowballing techniques to build my sample, but I was not successful in this regard. Only two people were recruited through contacts made with initial participants.   To ensure a good mix of occupational backgrounds, I visited agencies and gave presentations on weekdays and weekends, as well at various times during the day (mornings, afternoons and evenings). This allowed me to recruit people with day jobs enrolled in evening classes, and people who worked outside the traditional 9am to 5pm schedule who took classes during the day. Alongside these efforts I also advertised the recruitment poster on various bulletin boards in the community, including Surrey libraries, recreation centres, service agencies, and neighbourhood houses. The interviews were conducted at a public library branch or recreation centre most convenient to the participants. All in all, I reached out to about twenty different agencies, and gave about thirty different presentations as a way to advertise the research.   Criteria for selection of study participants was fairly straightforward. First, individuals had to be living in Surrey, and most specifically in the neighbourhoods of Whalley, Guildford or Newton. I did recruit one participant who was in the process of moving from the neighbourhood of Clayton to Whalley. I did so because despite living in Clayton at the time of the interview, the respondent’s life revolved much more around the neighbourhoods of Newton (where she took classes) and Whalley (where she was working and moving to). In other words, she had strong first-hand knowledge of two areas important to my research. She also provided further insights into what makes neighbourhoods like Newton, Whalley and Guildford appealing to newcomers. Second, I mostly selected individuals who were ‘recent immigrants’, which I defined as having been in Canada for five years or less. Ultimately, I decided not to include Government Sponsored and Privately Assisted Refugees in my sample, though they are certainly an important population with a significant presence in Surrey. The circumstances around the migration process and settlement experience of refugees are so unique that I did not feel they could adequately be covered without drastically expanding the scope of this research. There is certainly a real need for more finely grained research on the experiences of refugees in the suburbs, but this ultimately calls for a separate research project.  36 Third, I recruited people who were or had experienced life as newcomers engaged in low pay, precarious work. I did not have a simple way of gauging socio-economic status and felt that recruiting people based on income levels would be ineffective or problematic.23 Rather, I advertised the research as a study geared toward individuals or households who were or had struggled to find their footing in the Canadian labor market. In the initial stages of the recruitment process I used such phrases as “struggling to get by,” “making ends meet,” or “scraping by”, but soon realized that many newcomers did not easily understood the meaning of such colloquial slang. Effectively, I confirmed participants’ socio-economic status over the course of the interview, asking questions about their employment history, job situation, housing tenure, etc. All the participants in this study were or had experienced economic precarity, often having worked in such jobs as cashiers, security guards, caregivers, labourers, taxi/truck drivers, etc. For more on the job profiles of study participants see Appendix B.  It is worth noting that my research findings are ultimately drawn from a small and particular group of people. The majority of participants in my sample tended to be not only highly educated – a common trait among newcomers coming to Canada – but exceptionally so: almost half of the respondents had a master’s degree, and another ten percent Ph.D’s. The high level of educational attainment within my sample is in line with what we know about response bias in academic research and government surveys: persons of lower socio-economic status are less likely to participate in studies and surveys (Tourangeau and Plewes 2013). At the same time, because my recruiting efforts centred around immigrant settlement agencies, participants in my sample were likely not as isolated and marginalized as other fellow newcomers. Both of these dynamics are likely to have shaped participants’ outlooks on life in Surrey, perhaps leading to a brighter view of suburban residence than it might otherwise have been reported through other methods. It is still worth pointing out, though, that most respondents in my sample did also speak about the many and serious challenges that come with living in Surrey, so the picture conveyed in this thesis is by no means all positive, or unidimensional. But mainly, what is important here is to recognize that perspectives about life in Surrey are likely varied. Again, in this thesis, I don’t argue that there is a single experience of suburban life among lower-income newcomers, but that  23 As various scholars have shown, income levels, especially as they apply to immigrant populations, can be misleading. Households may report low incomes while holding significant assets in the form of investment, expensive real estate or wealth stored abroad.  37 the experiences and outlooks reported by participants in my research do not always align with the dominant narratives found in the existing literature on socio-spatial inequality in Canada. Therefore, I propose that current analytical frameworks be expanded to incorporate a more complete and ultimately truer picture of the type of prospects and opportunities low-income people face in the suburbs.   There are two other methodological considerations worth mentioning regarding my sample. First, in gauging new immigrants’ experiences about life in Surrey, my research is likely skewed to more positive responses, if only for the fact that it fails to catch the experiences of people who might have decided to move out of Surrey because they did not like living there. By focusing on Surrey residents, I’m effectively drawing from a pool of participants who are likely content with the area in which they live. Second, as migration scholars have recognized, new immigrants have a vested interested in justifying their decision to move to a new country (Houle and Schellenberg 2010). There is a lot that rides on the decision to uproot oneself and one’s family and migrate to a distant land, precisely because doing so is a risky and arduous endeavour. With this in mind, newcomers are likely to maintain high levels of life satisfaction even when facing a difficult settlement experience. As Houle and Schellenberg (2010) note, the tendency to be optimistic functions as an important coping mechanism for new immigrants. This dynamic is likely to have shaped many of my research participants, though it is worth noting again that – while most had a positive outlook of their life in Surrey – many did not hesitate to bring up the unique challenges associated with living there.    Expert interviewees were also recruited through purposive sampling techniques. My involvement with the Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), and the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition facilitated contacts with local community experts. In fact, I recruited expert interviewees from the same pool of twenty or so agencies that assisted with the recruitment of local-residents. While distinct, the two recruitment efforts were happening simultaneously of one another. Contact information for potential expert participants was publicly available online. Participants were recruited from agencies with a solid background in immigrant settlement work or service delivery for low-income populations in Surrey. Unlike the recruitment process for local-residents, the recruitment of expert professionals was a lot more expeditious and benefited greatly from snowball sampling techniques. After four years of combined involvement with the 38 Surrey LIP, the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition, and the City of Surrey Social Planning Department, I had established strong professional networks within the non-profit sector in Surrey. Having something of an ‘insider’ status enhanced my legitimacy and trust in the eyes of potential expert participants who, for the most part, did not hesitate to speak to me.   1.6.7 Analysis of information   For the analysis of the interview material I followed common approaches in qualitative interpretative research (Mason 2002). All the interviews with local residents were audio recorded, except for four interviews where participants explicitly requested not to be audio recorded.24 I took notes during the interviews, highlighting key segments and points as the interview unfolded. I personally transcribed all the interviews myself, a process that proved to be incredibly painstaking as many participants had basic English language skills, and strong accents.25 The benefit of transcribing the interviews by myself is that I became deeply acquainted with the material at hand early on in the investigation. It also gave me a stronger vantage point from which to discern people’s perspectives as I could hear the pauses, hesitations, chuckles, discontent, sarcasm, etc. that are harder to capture or convey in transcript form. After transcribing the interviews, I printed all the transcripts and started an initial process of reading and review, manually highlighting passages and key words. I identified two broad themes around which to centre my analysis: 1) What were people’s perception of Surrey? What did they like about the city and the neighbourhood in which they lived? What did they not like? What would they like to see improved? 2) Why did people choose to live in Surrey? How did they end up there? Did they see a future for themselves and their families in the city? Were people hoping to move elsewhere? Alongside these themes, I also colour-coded the transcripts for information on five sub-topics: employment, housing, transportation, services/amenities, and social and  24 In those four cases where I could not audio record the interviews, I took detailed notes during the interviews, and as soon as the interviews were done, I went back to the page and filled in any details still fresh in my memory that had been left out. It wasn’t always clear why some residents requested not to be audio-recorded. Those residents that expressed not feeling comfortable being recorded, seemed to be extra concerned about remaining anonymous. In some cases, I got the impression people were concerned about the risk of being identified by current or previous employers. Because participants were employed in low-pay, precarious work, many did not have good things or experiences to share about their workplace. I was careful to explain to participants the measures taken to protect their identity. I kept confidential all information that could readily expose the identity of participants: people’s names, addresses, place of employment, etc.    25 It was not uncommon for me to take 6 to 8 hours to transcribe an hour and a half of interview material. 39 community networks. In looking at these sub-topics, I further organized the interview data around two key themes: challenges and barriers. In speaking of their experience of life in Surrey I paid close attention to how people described their experiences in these sectors (housing, employment, transportation, etc.) I approached the analysis with the ultimate goal of answering the question: ‘what can be gleaned from the lived experiences of residents that can tell us something about the type of prospects suburban life offers them?’ To test the soundness and reliability of my hands-on approach, I also relied on the qualitative data analysis software Nvivo. I used this software as a support tool to check for recurring themes and compare the organizational structure of my analysis.   I treated the expert interviews much in the same way as the interviews with local residents, looking for recurring themes and highlighting key passages and words. But important differences also existed between the two approaches. For example, rather than providing verbatim transcripts, I opted in favour of detailed notes complete with the occasional verbatim citation for key passages. What was of interest to me in the expert interviews was basic information that could help me contextualize the insights drawn from the interviews with local residents. Unlike, with local residents, I was not looking to tap into the feelings and perspectives of expert professionals – though that would certainly be worthy of a separate research project. Because of this, I was less interested in ‘how’ community experts felt about particular issues, and more interested in ‘what’ they knew about Surrey.26   1.6.8 Naturalistic observation  In addition to interviewing, I also spent considerable time in the community serving a variety of roles. Starting in 2012 I became a member of the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition (a consortium of 15 different public and non-profit agencies tasked with implementing the city’s poverty-reduction strategy). The group included two municipal elected officials, City of Surrey planning staff, and managers from various organizations including Vancity Community Foundation, SFU Surrey, and the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. As part of  26 Given the large amount of textual information, I knew I needed a way to prioritize the two sets of data. The process of transcribing the 30 in-depth interviews with local residents was frankly overwhelming, and incredibly time-consuming. I was aware that I was not in a position to replicate the transcription effort for the expert interviews.    40 this group I attended workshops, conferences, and meetings which proved to be invaluable as sources of additional knowledge for this thesis. I also worked closely with the city’s social planning department, first as the lead coordinator of the city’s annual homeless count, and second as a policy analyst and researcher. Lastly, I was hired as a consultant for the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership. Altogether, this amounted to four years of combined, part-time experience, working in Surrey at the community level. I was able to use these roles to develop strong connections with community experts, and gain a deeper understanding of local community dynamics.   1.7 Considerations and stumbling blocks  1.7.1 Terminology  What follows is a discussion of key terms informing this research. I recognize that a thorough review of any of these concepts could extend this dissertation well beyond its intended scope. My intent here is not to provide an in-depth literature review of these concepts, but rather to provide a quick reference guide to assist readers navigate the thesis.   In this study, the term spatial inequality relates to the notion that unequal social relations take on a distinct spatial dimension. Said another way, inequality manifests itself not only relationally between people, but also across space. In this context, inequality broadly concerns unjust or uneven social relations reflected in differences in power, wealth, representation, mobility and/or access to resources (Mains, 2006). I alternatively refer to this concept at various points in this thesis by the phrases: ‘unequal spatial arrangements’, ‘urban divides’ or ‘urban spatial divides’, ‘socio-spatial inequality’, or simply ‘urban inequality.’   Closely related to the concept of inequality is the term polarization. As Walks (2013) and others point out, inequality and polarization, though related, are technically two distinct concepts. Inequality is most often understood as the (income) gap between rich and poor, while polarization reflects the number of middle-income households, individuals, etc. One way to visualize this difference is to think of a society stratified in the shape of a pyramid (inequality), and one stratified in the shape of an hour-glass (polarization) (Marcuse 1989). The distinction 41 between inequality and polarization is one that is made most prominently in quantitatively-oriented studies. But in a lot of the literature on urban inequality these terms tend to be treated interchangeably (Walks 2013). Since I do not set out to measure in hard, statistical terms the distributional structure of income, I treat inequality and polarization – unless specified otherwise – as equal terms for speaking more generally about socio-economic disparities.   My take on the word suburb draws heavily from public policy research. At its most basic level I define a suburb as a municipality that is contained within a given metropolitan region, but is not itself the central city.27 There are two critical reasons for defining suburbs in this way. First, studies that examine changing patterns of spatial inequality in Canada (and the United States), do so through the use of census statistics that are organized along administrative/political boundaries (Hulchanski 2010; Kneebone and Berube 2013; Ley and Lynch 2012). Second, the analysis of socio-economic trends requires reliable data that can be effectively compared across space and time. This is the preferred approach by scholars interested in the study of social disparity and change in urban Canada. With this in mind, I recognize the inherent limitations of this definition.28 A number of important features are often associated with what constitutes a suburb and should not be overlooked. These are: land use, built form, and culture (Jackson 1985). Related to this definition of suburb is the concept of central city. The central city is considered the main population centre and economic hub of a given metropolitan area. In this thesis, I use the name Vancouver or city of Vancouver interchangeably. I refer to ‘Metro Vancouver’ when discussing the wider metropolitan area or what is also commonly called greater Vancouver.   Lastly, I use the term newcomer, recent/new immigrant or new Canadian loosely. Statistics Canada narrowly defines ‘recent immigrants’ as foreign-born individuals who have been in Canada for five years or less. I find this definition to be too restrictive. Others in the literature  27 If we apply this definition to Vancouver the following municipalities are considered suburbs: Anmore, Belcarra, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, West Vancouver, and White Rock. The City of Vancouver is the ‘central city’ around which these suburbs are located. 28 Cooke and Marchant (2006) discuss one notable limitation of using political boundaries and census statistics to define and compare suburban areas. They point out that “some census-defined central cities may contain elements that are suburban in character and some census-defined suburban areas contain elements that are more urban in character. This is because the functional characteristics of a place are not necessarily directly related to their political jurisdiction.” But alternative methods are just as, if not more, faulty. 42 broaden the scope significantly and define ‘recent immigrants’ as all those who entered Canada in the past 20 to 25 years (Walks 2001). Seeking to strike a balance between these two definitions, I refer to a newcomer as an immigrant who has lived in the country for ten years or less.   1.7.2 Stumbling blocks  Like all research, this dissertation is subject to various limitations, some empirical, some conceptual. While I discuss the shortcomings of this study in more depth in Chapter 7, there is one issue in particular that is best addressed here, at the beginning of the thesis: How to think or talk about class and socio-economic status? While seemingly simple, this question proved to be especially thorny to handle.   A lot of the emerging literature on growing urban divides uses the words ‘poverty’ or ‘poor’ to describe the socio-spatial changes occurring in metropolitan areas today. This is especially true of research in the United States, where phrases like ‘suburban poverty’, ‘geography of poverty’, or ‘suburbanization of poverty’ have taken a firm hold (Allard 2016; Kneebone and Berube 2013). While such phrases are nowhere near as prominent in the Canadian scholarship, they are still used to frame discussions about neighbourhood change in the suburbs. For instance, scholars talk of ‘poor households being pushed outside the central core’, and of ‘suburban poverty districts.’ The more I delved into the research, the more it became clear that using ‘poverty’ as framing device was at best ineffective, and at worst inaccurate.   The term ‘poverty’ shares this unusual characteristic of being at once general and narrow, making discussions about poverty confusing. When used in broad terms, ‘poverty’ often evokes vastly different images to different persons. When I told people, in the early days of my PhD, that I was interested in the issue of suburban poverty, many would proceed to ask me questions about the homeless population in Surrey. Others yet, especially students or professors with an international development background, would raise questions about the use of the word ‘poverty’ in the context of a region like Vancouver. They equated ‘poverty’ with populations who lived below subsistence level. In contrast, when the term ‘poverty’ is defined in precise terms – usually via an income measure – it loses much of its analytical force. Many scholars have 43 argued, rightly so, that being ‘poor’ should not be simply reduced to a condition of lack of income (Grusky and Kanbur 2006). Others point out, that standard statistical measures of poverty are inadequate in that they leave too many people outside those measures (Fremstad 2016). A quick look at Canada’s Low-Income Cut-off (LICO) or its US equivalent, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) reveals a remarkably low bar. According to official government statistics, there are roughly 400,000 low-income people in Metro Vancouver, a staggering statistic (Statistics Canada 2016a). Yet the number of people living in precarious conditions is likely much higher.   Over the course of my field work I talked to countless individuals who did not fit the narrow definition of ‘low-income.’ Almost everyone I talked to had a job, sometimes two, some households even had savings. The vast majority were renters, but a few – those who had been in Canada the longest – were homeowners. Many owned and drove cars. Yet their experience of life in Canada, and Surrey specifically, hardly qualified as middle-class. People worked long hours in low-pay occupations – janitors, security guards, cashiers, gas station attendants, labourers, etc. Things typically associated with middle-class lifestyles – job security, benefits, paid vacation, sick leave – were mostly out of their reach. Everyone I talked to had a shelter, and most participants were satisfied with the housing they had secured. But again, people’s housing situation did not conform to what is typically associated with middle-class status. Participants lived mainly in basement-suites, or older three-storey apartment buildings. It was not uncommon for families of four or five to live in two-bedroom apartments and suites. This was also true of households with adult working children. By choosing small dwellings and multigenerational living arrangements, families were able to boost their household incomes. Such strategies allowed households to rise above low-income levels, but not much beyond it.   The profile of the people I interviewed forced me to confront the question of how best to describe their socio-economic status. ‘Low-income’ seemed too narrow a category. ‘Working-class’ too dated. ‘Lower-middle class’ too generous. The most accurate category available seemed to be ‘working poor’ – people who work but whose wages are so low that they remain in poverty (Shipler 2005). But choosing ‘working poor’ would not get rid of the problematic words ‘poor’ and ‘poverty.’ Complicating matters further was the fact that study participants did not seem to identify or view themselves as ‘poor.’ When people talked about ‘poverty’ or ‘poor 44 people’ they did so in reference to dynamics impacting their home countries or in reference to Surrey’s homeless population. In hindsight, these responses make sense. I was interviewing people who had entered Canada as skilled economic workers, which likely meant they had previously belonged to their countries’ middle class. Another sticking point that only became clear once I had started the field work, is that participants presented themselves well. There was little – if anything – about their appearance that could be read as a marker of low economic status. Certainly nothing that would draw the label ‘poor’.   To get around the prickly issue of having to classify study participants into a neat socio-economic category, I decided to settle on the phrases ‘lower income’, ‘low- to modest-income’, or simply ‘modest income’ people. The benefit of using such language is that it evokes the idea of low socio-economic status, without the analytical straight-jacket that comes with using such labels as ‘poor’ or ‘low-income.’   1.8 Thesis structure  The remainder of the thesis is presented in five parts. Chapter 2 offers a critical review of the literature that informs this research, focusing on three scholarly fields: literature on socio-spatial inequality in Canada, literature on the heterogenous nature of Canadian suburbs, and a more theoretically oriented literature on distributive justice and the politics of difference. I engage with these fields to make three main arguments. First, I argue that current research on socio-spatial inequality contains important empirical limitations. Second, I make the point that some of the key findings highlighted in this literature are not as new and fresh as purported to be. Third, I argue that the tendency to frame the suburbs as new sites of exclusion and social disadvantage rest on dated understandings of suburbia. Chapter 2 is effectively a deeper examination of the topics introduced at the beginning of this ch