Institutional Creation and Death: Urban Development Agreements in Canada

Urban development agreements (UDAs) in Canada represented an innovative governance approach that involved all three levels of government and civil society organizations jointly deliberating and setting policy to address enduring and seemingly intractable issues like homelessness and economic development. By 2010, however, all UDAs in Canada had been terminated. This article applies a new institutionalism framework to analyze and explain the creation and termination of UDAs in Canada. First, I argue that the creation and termination of these institutions are most productively explained by applying both historical institutional and discursive institutional analytical frameworks. Second, I examine the specific UDAs in Vancouver and Winnipeg to illustrate the historical, institutional, and ideational context under which they emerged. Finally, I consider the institutional termination literature to frame a discursive institutional analysis of the “death” of UDAs in Canada, concluding that there was an ideational or discursive turn stemming not simply from political turnover, but cognitive (how to do it) and normative (what is appropriate) ideas.

Publication Date: 
July 12, 2011
Journal Name: 
Journal of Urban Affairs