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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 12:22 PM
Stryker Stryker is offline
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Canada's micro cities.

Alright being from stephenville newfoundland and seeing a bit more of the country in recent months I've come to a sudden realization.


There is a huge difference between population numbers and functionality of a place. A place may have a population of a 100,000 people yet have less of the services of a small town.

So my question what are some micro cities, places with very small populations yet having the full services of an area typically much larger.

Stephenville, two high rise apartment buildings, a hospital, a college, a strong downtown with a whole collection of bars, a golf course, a hockey arena, two gyms, an airport all your non specialized shopping needs, a dockyard/harbor, a highly walkable communte, etc all with the population of just 6500 people.

I lived there most of my childhood, and can safely say, it's very easy to go over a year without leaving the place.

Last edited by Stryker; May 15, 2013 at 1:44 PM.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 12:30 PM
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I've noticed this as well.

Have a look at this. It's a town of 3,100 in Manitoba: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=205548

It has more than any city in Newfoundland excluding St. John's. It beats Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, Corner Brook... all of it. More restaurants, more recreational facilities, more parks, more attractions, a golf course, campgrounds... for 3,100 people than we can manage for 30,000.

It really is shameful how little we expect communities to get by with in Newfoundland and the Maritimes.

Stephenville is a perfect example of what we should be doing. And it's not just that Stephenville has lots of amenities - it also has a proper, dense downtown. Compare it with Marystown, which has a similar population. Stephenville feels much larger because everything in Marystown is spread out. The downtown is like one half-hearted big box store development. I mean, the Walmart in Marystown is half-way to St. John's.

We need far more Stephenvilles out here. Small town residents from the west would be horrified if they saw how people in communities with the same population live here. Some of our towns of 3,100 would be lucky to have a general store.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
I've noticed this as well.

Have a look at this. It's a town of 3,100 in Manitoba: http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=205548

It has more than any city in Newfoundland excluding St. John's. It beats Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, Corner Brook... all of it. More restaurants, more recreational facilities, more parks, more attractions, a golf course, campgrounds... for 3,100 people than we can manage for 30,000.

It really is shameful how little we expect communities to get by with in Newfoundland and the Maritimes.

Stephenville is a perfect example of what we should be doing. And it's not just that Stephenville has lots of amenities - it also has a proper, dense downtown. Compare it with Marystown, which has a similar population. Stephenville feels much larger because everything in Marystown is spread out. The downtown is like one half-hearted big box store development.

We need far more Stephenvilles out here. Small town residents from the west would be horrified if they saw how people in communities with the same population live here. Some of our towns of 3,100 would be lucky to have a general store.
Yeah stephenville was chosen by the american military due to it's superior weather, geography, with the intentions of building a much larger complex during the cold war. They decided to leave much sooner than they expected, which is why stephenville feels like a city.

I've been searching for a place similar to stephenville, somewhere in the country, but I guess it's design is unique due to its history.

It's funny as a child before moving there I use to think of the place a as a big city(only 6500 peeps), only much later did I realize how foolish I must of been as a child.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Just look at the difference.

Marystown, Newfoundland (Pop: 5,506)



Stephenville, Newfoundland (Pop: 6,719)

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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 1:11 PM
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This is interesting, you would think the more isolated small towns in Newfoundland would have to have many more amenities out of necessity since you can be hundreds of kilometers away from any sizable population center. In Southern Ontario, even the small towns of <10000 people have a downtown on their main street, and usually a full-fledged grocery store, local hospital, and big box store. Even though your never usually more than a 1-2 hour drive away from a larger city like Sarnia, London, Owen Sound, Waterloo, or Kingston, the towns provide most things you need.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 1:41 PM
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This is interesting, you would think the more isolated small towns in Newfoundland would have to have many more amenities out of necessity since you can be hundreds of kilometers away from any sizable population center. In Southern Ontario, even the small towns of <10000 people have a downtown on their main street, and usually a full-fledged grocery store, local hospital, and big box store. Even though your never usually more than a 1-2 hour drive away from a larger city like Sarnia, London, Owen Sound, Waterloo, or Kingston, the towns provide most things you need.
I don't think your getting the comparison in population numbers. 6500 people is actually quite a large population in newfoundland.

What I've seen that is similar in population in ontario usually has 3/5 times the population. And the need to have a car is so much stronger.

Also it's important to note simply having a box store, or a grocery store is not what I'm talking about. It's a complete or semi complete downtown. That feels more complete than many area much much larger. I can remember moving to st john's being dumb founded by the lack of a walmart in walking distance etc.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 1:57 PM
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Signal used Stepenville (Pop 6500) as an example of what Newfoundland should be doing, giving the impression that there are towns of similar size that don't do this. I found it surprising since it would be very rare for similar sized towns in Ontario to not have these features.

Particular examples include Listowel (pop. 6500), Madoc (pop. 2100), Wingham (pop. 2900), Mt. Forest (pop ~4500)
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:06 PM
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Yeah, in my opinion Stephenville is an outlier in Newfoundland. It compares to (and even beats, really) places with double the population, like Grand Falls-Windsor.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:10 PM
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Acres Consulting out of Toronto did a large multi-phase development plan for Stephenville in 1967. It covered everything from which industries to pursue to how streets should be landscaped, crazy amount of depth, and the vast majority is still relevant today. One of the most interesting sections was that on population growth. The conservative estimate was 18,000 people by 1986, while the high end was 34,000 by the same year. Even more impressive is that we outpaced the high end estimate for a few years in the 1970s and nearly reached the 1986 estimate ten years ahead of schedule.

Then global markets shifted and Canada began to lose its advantage in manufacturing, which was the kingpin in our growth. Acres is the reason we have a neighbourhood called Area 13, they divided the town in 20 areas to identify different needs. Area 14 is actually the mall/middle school, not the new housing development on Gallant Street Ext.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd expect to see a few places on the prairies that are good examples of micro cities, such as Beausejour. The big difference with prairie towns is that there is a different ratio of city residents to outlying residents than we have. Newfoundland is built along coastlines with regional service centres every so often. Towns here tend to rely on broader population bases than what are within their borders, but Beausejour will probably be more self-reliant. Stephenville needs the 30,000 people in the region, but Beausejour can probably get by on it's own.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suburbanite View Post
Signal used Stepenville (Pop 6500) as an example of what Newfoundland should be doing, giving the impression that there are towns of similar size that don't do this. I found it surprising since it would be very rare for similar sized towns in Ontario to not have these features.

Particular examples include Listowel (pop. 6500), Madoc (pop. 2100), Wingham (pop. 2900), Mt. Forest (pop ~4500)
Alright I guess it's kinda my fault but the features itself, wasn't directly what I was referring to. I mostly put them in their so people didn't critisize me for being vague.

The mainstreet of stephenville is layed out like a downtown of a place much larger, because when the american's built it they envisioned stephenville to grow to be much larger.

You may be right about your examples I'm not sure, as I haven't been there, my best examples are truro, new glasgow, sydney etc, as they have a much less central center as it were. Of course there are other places in ontario, but I haven't spent enough time in those locations, to name names, but from most of what I've seen it's exceptionally sprawly with having a car a necessity.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:34 PM
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People might be surprised to learn that Waterloo, Ontario, a city of over 100,000 people, had no public high school until the 1960s. It still has no hospital (that's a block over the frontier in Kitchener!). Size matters, but so does geography when it comes to urban amenities.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:38 PM
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I find Nelson BC to be a place that has lots of amenities despite having a small population (10K). It's a perfect definition of a micro city.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:47 PM
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Also Yellowknife, although at 20,000 people it may go past your "micro" definition.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 2:47 PM
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I have one other example from Newfoundland that I believe exhibits what you mean by good urban planning, Stryker.

I thought of including places like Bonavista and Placentia - because they are dense. But there's still no proper downtown core in those. It's just smatterings of larger buildings in among the houses near the centre of the towns.

But Grand Bank (Population: 2,580), I think, compares nicely with Stephenville.

It too was clearly built to be a major city (by our standards). The layout is different than Stephenville because Grand Bank, like St. John's, was built by Newfoundlanders and has our haphazard urban form (not to mention public and private buildings of surprising grandeur).

But... it just never became the second city everyone expected it to be. So we're left with this exceptionally dense (again, by our standards) core serving a community that barely extends beyond it.



A few of my pictures from there:

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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 3:52 PM
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Yellowknife and Whitehorse can both be in that category; however they are the capitals of the respective Territories and would need the services anyway.

Having being forced to stay in Chilliwack BC for 10days this spring I was quite and pleasantly surprised by the amount of services it had for its proximity to greater Vancouver.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 5:22 PM
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Banff is certainly a more formidable settlement than its population of 7,500 would suggest, though the thousands of tourists that come through every year might have something to do with that. And to that effect, most "resort towns" have more amenities and are more built up than non-resort towns of their size.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 5:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SignalHillHiker View Post
I have one other example from Newfoundland that I believe exhibits what you mean by good urban planning, Stryker.

I thought of including places like Bonavista and Placentia - because they are dense. But there's still no proper downtown core in those. It's just smatterings of larger buildings in among the houses near the centre of the towns.

But Grand Bank (Population: 2,580), I think, compares nicely with Stephenville.

It too was clearly built to be a major city (by our standards). The layout is different than Stephenville because Grand Bank, like St. John's, was built by Newfoundlanders and has our haphazard urban form (not to mention public and private buildings of surprising grandeur).

But... it just never became the second city everyone expected it to be. So we're left with this exceptionally dense (again, by our standards) core serving a community that barely extends beyond it.



A few of my pictures from there:

That's the one part of the island I've never been to. The Burin peninsula is the one area I haven't had a chance to see, and Grand Bank looks quite surprising.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Airboy View Post
Yellowknife and Whitehorse can both be in that category; however they are the capitals of the respective Territories and would need the services anyway.

Having being forced to stay in Chilliwack BC for 10days this spring I was quite and pleasantly surprised by the amount of services it had for its proximity to greater Vancouver.
Yellowknife and Whitehorse are both small cities, similar in size to Corner Brook, NL. By a Canadian standard, I feel that these would all be classified as small cities rather than micro cities. And like you say they're capitals so they fit in their own category anyway.

Capital cities are distinct from others because of the service levels they have to provide for their entire jurisdiction. It's that which gives St. John's an edge over any other city of 100,000 in Canada, or Charlottetown an edge in the 30,000 category.

I'm thinking a micro-city is a town in terms of population, but physically functions and caters to residents as if it were a city.

Antigonish, NS is another one. About 5000 residents, a well respected university, regional hospital, dense layout and nice downtown. To me, this is what Stephenville should aspire to be, except a little bigger and with CNA as our economic incubator instead of St. FX.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 5:54 PM
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I think it just might have to do with isolation. If the town is the biggest one in an area of very small rural farm communities, it will end up with lots of amenities with which to service its surrounding economic region. Look at Brandon Manitoba, 46 000 people, but has the amenities of a city of over 100 000 as far as I know.
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 8:03 PM
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Another thing I notice in Ontario is that the legal status "city" is often reached at a much higher population, especially in southern Ontario. Many communities of 10,000 to 25,000 - and even higher - often are legally "towns".
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Old Posted May 15, 2013, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealplaces View Post
I find Nelson BC to be a place that has lots of amenities despite having a small population (10K). It's a perfect definition of a micro city.
I would mention Nelson as well but to you cant fly there you have to fly to the regional airport here in Castlegar. The main campus of the community college is also here in Castlegar. And the regional hospital is in Trail. Coincidentally, Castlegar is a sister city to Stephenville NL.
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