Settlement and Housing Experiences of Recent Immigrants in Small- and Mid-sized Cities in the Interior of British Columbia

In this era of globalization, Canada’s increasingly diverse immigration flows have come to be understood not only as contributors to population growth, but also as engines of economic growth and social transformation. Most immigrants prefer to settle in the major metropolitan areas of Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal). The urban phenomenon of Canadian immigration has led to regionalization policies intended to redirect immigration away from major metropolitan areas. At this stage, all levels of government have developed measures to attract and retain immigrants, thus rebalancing Canada’s population. In this context, the interior of British Columbia (BC), including the cities of Kelowna and Kamloops, has been identified as a region that could benefit from additional immigration (Depner and Teixeira, 2012; Drolet, Yan and Francis, 2012; Nolin et al., 2009). In fact, in the last two decades, data from the Canadian Census have indicated some immigrant dispersal outside major urban centres to smaller centers (Bonifacio and Drolet, submitted; Drolet, Robertson, and Robinson, 2010; Teixeira, Li, and Kobayashi, 2012). The decentralization of immigration policy, or regionalization, encourages provincial and municipal governments to consider how to attract immigrants to the regions or smaller centres. These settlement patterns present both opportunities and challenges for destination areas in Canada. Scholarship needs to address the new realities of immigration outside major Canadian urban areas and the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships. As Radford (2007, p. 47) notes, with such research, “we would be able to better assist policy-makers and researchers in their assessment of recent government initiatives aimed at the redistribution of immigrants throughout Canada and inform future policies aimed at accommodating immigration in the critical years to come.”