Locating the Urban In‐between: Tracking the Urban Politics of Infrastructure in Toronto


In the urban studies literature, urban politics is usually considered in two distinct locations: the city (often understood in quite conventional centralist ways) and the suburb (understood as spatially peripheral and politically at odds with the central city). At the metropolitan scale, the two types of urban politics are discussed in relation to one another. More recently, the metropolitan scale of urban politics has been expanded to regional dimensions. We pose the question of location of urban politics from a specific deficit in the geography of centre, suburb and metropolis. We argue that in today’s regional political socio‐spatiality, politics will have to be found ‘in‐between’ the old lines of demarcation. Following Tom Sieverts’ (2003) advice to look at the ‘in‐between’ cities that are neither old downtown nor new suburb but complex urban landscapes of mixed density, use and urbanity, we reveal the political vacuum that is at the heart of the urban region today. Using the politics of infrastructure in Toronto as our empirical example, we will show that vulnerabilities and risks for urban populations in that Canadian metropolis’ in‐between city are co‐generated by the failure of conventional political spaces and processes to capture the connectivities threaded through those places that are in‐between the centre and exurbia.