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Commuters and Communities: How Employment Mobility Affects Community Development in Source Communities


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Joshua Barrett

MA Candidate, Geography

Memorial University of Newfoundland September 17, 2015

Commuters and Communities: How Employment Mobility Affects Community

Development in Source Communities



—  ‘On the Move’?

—  Definition of employment mobility

—  Research objectives

—  Methodology

—  Conceptual Framework

—  Data collection methods

—  Study Area

—  Preliminary Findings

—  Questionnaire results

—  Implications on source communities

—  Future research directions


What is employment mobility?

Employment-related mobility takes into account

people who commute for work away from their

place of residence that involves more than 2

hours daily to more extended absences and

journeys lasting weeks, months or even years

(Temple et al., 2011).


On the Move Partnership

—  Working in seven

Canadian provinces and abroad

—  British Columbia

—  Alberta

—  Ontario

—  Quebec

—  Nova Scotia

—  Prince Edward Island

—  Newfoundland and Labrador

—  Norway, Iceland, the United Kingdom, the United States

—  Multiple sectors

—  Oil and gas

—  Mining

—  Nickel processing

—  Retail service

—  Health

—  Construction

—  Trucking

—  Shipping

—  Tourism

—  Forestry

—  Fisheries


Research Objectives

—  What are the impacts of commuting on community development in source communities?

—  Community involvement (volunteering)? (Hall, 2014)

—  Spending patterns (buying property, goods)? (Esteves, 2006)

—  Emotional attachments to place? (McDonald, Mayes,

and Pini, 2012)


Conceptual Framework

—  Positioned within the ‘new

mobilities paradigm’ emphasizing the importance of systematic

movements – work, family, leisure, politics, and protest (Sheller and Urry, 2006)

—  Community development: “a purposeful and systematic intervention through public

policy(ies), programs, projects…to influence change towards a set of desired economic, social,

cultural, physical, environmental

outcomes” (Douglas, 2010)


Data Collection Methods

To date …

—  Four community consultations have taken place since 2012

—  Phase 1 of research on host communities completed in fall of 2014

—  131 completed questionnaires received from nickel processing employees

—  3 semi structured interviews completed, more to



Nickel Processing Facility Long Harbour, NL

(Vale, 2014)


Source Communities


Questionnaire Findings:

Commute Time

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Less than 15 minutes Between 15 and 29 minutes

Between 30 and 44 minutes

Between 45 and 59 minutes

Between 60 and 74 minutes

Between 75 and 89 minutes

90 minutes or greater

Number of People

Commute Time

Commute Time to Nickel Processing Facility - One Way


Questionnaire Findings:

Stress of Commute

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

1 2 3 4 5

Number of People

Level of Stress

How stressful do you find your commute (1-Not stressful, 5- Very



Questionnaire Findings:

Community Investment

ActivitiesMobileWorkersParticipateintheir localarea

Activity NumberofPeople

Recreation 68

CommunityFestivals 50

HolidayParadesandFestivities 43

Fundraisers 27

Church 20

Bingo 2

RedCross 1

SocialEvents 1

Hobbies 1

Outdoors 1

Tourism 1

Noresponse 36

Haveyouvolunteeredinyourlocalarea inthelastsixmonths?

Response Activity NumberofPeople

Yes   37

  Recreation 23

  Church 9

  Schoolprograms 6

  Firedepartment 6

  Lions/Service Club 2

  Municipal Politics 2

  Canadian BloodServices 1

  SpecialEvents Committee 1

  Bowl forKids 1

  FirstLegoLeague 1

  PsoriasisSocietyofNL 1

  Fundraisers 1

  Scouts 1

  SPCA 1

  Musician 1

No   95


Questionnaire Findings:






1% 2%

2% 2%



Communities Where Workers Purchase Automobiles

St. John's Gander Mount Pearl Carbonear Bay Roberts Clarenville Portugal Cove Halifax Montreal Toronto

















1% 1% 1%

1% 1%



Communities Where Workers Purchase Gas

St. John's

CBS Whitbourne Placentia Paradise Bay Roberts Mount Pearl Holyrood Clarenville Chapel Arm New Harbour Norman's Cove Carbonear Blaketown Clarke's Beach Goulds

Green's Harbour Harbour Grace South River Summerford Eastport Stephenville Salmonier Line


Questionnaire Results:

Sense of Belonging

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Very weak Somewhat weak Neutral Somewhat strong

Very strong

Number of People

Level of Belonging

How would you describe your sense of belonging to the community

where you primarily reside?

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Very weak Somewhat weak Neutral Somewhat strong

Very strong

Number of People

Level of Belonging

How would you describe your sense of belonging to the community of

Long Harbour?


Implications for Source Communities

How employment mobility enhances resiliency:

—  Allows residents to remain in permanent place of residence

—  Stimulate local economic development opportunities in local communities

How employment mobility deters resiliency:

—  Losing human resources for local opportunities

—  Negatively affecting social development,

camaraderie, and sense of belonging


What can communities do?


Conclusions and Future Directions

—  While extended commuting is common, it has yet to take a stressful toll on most workers

—  Significantly less mobile workers volunteer vs. non- mobile workers; impacts community resiliency

—  Local economic development opportunities can be stimulated by mobile workers’ income

—  At what threshold will workers relocate vs. commute?

Does ‘sense of place’ matter?


The  On  the  Move  Partnership  is  a  project  of  the  SafetyNet  Centre  for  Occupa9onal  Health  &  Safety  Research  at  Memorial  University.  On  the   Move  is  funded  by  the  Social  Sciences  and  Humani9es  Research  Council  of  Canada,  the  Research  &  Development  Corpora9on  of  

Newfoundland  and  Labrador,  the  Canada  Founda9on  for  Innova9on,  and  numerous  university  and  community  partners.  

Le  partenariat  en  mouvement  est  un  projet  du  Centre  SafetyNet  for  Occupa/onal  Health  &  Safety  Research  à  l’Université  Memorial.  En   mouvement  est  subven9onné  par  le  Conseil  de  recherche  en  sciences  humaines  du  Canada,  par  la  Newfoundland  and  Labrador  Research  &  

Development  Corpora/on,  par  la  Fonda9on  canadienne  pour  l’innova9on,  ainsi  que  par  de  nombreux  partenaires  et  universités.  


Thank you!




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