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Home Policy Articles: Cities & Communities: Municipal Infrastructure


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Will We Rise to the Challenge? Eight Mega Issues Facing Canada popular

This briefing tracks eight key trends that are having a major impact on Canada’s business and public policy environment. Charles Barrett and Anne Golden point to the global economy and the consequences of competition from developing countries. They examine Canada’s relationship with the United States and the competing priorities of defence and trade. They also look at the need for investment in human capital and innovation for Canada to compete on the global stage, as well as the importance of addressing climate change and environmental issues.

A Capital Question: Infrastructure in Western Canada's Big Six

In this report, Casey Vander Ploeg examines the infrastructure deficit in Western Canada’s six big cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg. Vander Ploeg examines the size of each city’s deficit, and then goes on to explore accumulated infrastructure debt.

A Globalist Strategy for Calgary

Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart distinguish between “globalized” and “globalist” cities. Globalized cities respond to the forces of globalization and are shaped by external interests, while globalist cities are proactive, increasing their presence in the world and improving their economy.

Big Spenders? An Expenditure Profile of Western Canada's Big Six

In this study, Casey Vander Ploeg explores where and how much Western Canada’s big cities spend. Vander Ploeg’s analysis focuses on the “big six” in western Canada: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg. She assesses the expenditure side of each city’s budgets to determine spending on specific services, as well as what portion of fiscal resources cater to funding those services.

Celebrating Access at the Toronto Public Library

In her community story Anne Makhoul describes the success of the Toronto Public Library (TPL), the second-busiest library in the world next to Hong Kong, which also houses the second largest collection of materials in North America.

Creative Cities Structured Policy Dialogue Backgrounder

In this report, Neil Bradford puts current debates about creative cities in context and perspective.

Creative Cities: Principles and Practices

Nancy Duxbury states that, while it is easy to describe the features of a creative city, much less is known about the conditions that foster creativity, and the mechanisms, processes, and resources that turn ideas into innovations.

Creative Cities: Structured Policy Dialogue Report

This report, by Neil Bradford, sets the stage for three other reports published by the CPRN which examine creative cities.

Creative Cities: What Are They For, How Do They Work, and How Do We Build Them?

This report, by Neil Bradford, sets the stage for three other reports published by the CPRN which examine creative cities.

Drop by Drop: Urban Water Conservation Practices in Western Canada

This report seeks to raise awareness and understanding about urban water issues. The authors adopt an urban focus because eight out of 10 westerners live in urban areas, and municipal governments are key players in the delivery and treatment of water.

EPCOR: A Study of Ownership, Accountability, and the Public Interest

As Diana Gibson explains, EPCOR was founded on Edmonton’s power and water utilities, yet operates in other provinces and in the US.

Financing City Services: A Prescription for the Future

Increased funding responsibilities for Canadian cities, reduced provincial grants, and a corresponding increase in reliance on own-source revenues over the past 12 to 15 years have changed the fiscal environment in which cities now operate. At the same time, Harry Kitchen argues, cities have become increasingly important players in the competitive global economy.

Foundations for Prosperity: Creating a Sustainable Municipal-Provincial Partnership to Meet the Infrastructure Challenge of Alberta's 2nd Century

Roger Gibbins, Loleen Berdahl and CaseyVander Ploeg’s report on municipal infrastructure in Alberta rests on three assertions: 1) community infrastructure provides the essential foundation for economic prosperity and quality of life; 2) as infrastructure debts and deficits illustrate, the current funding arrangements for municipal infrastructure are inadequate; and, 3) this is a problem that can be fixed in a sustainable way.

From Global to Local: GATS Impact on Canadian Municipalities

Co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Michelle Swenarchuk’s article From Global to Local: GATS Impact on Canadian Municipalities explores the effect of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on basic municipal services. According to Swenarchuk, GATS applies to municipal government services because both public and private bodies provide such services. Thus, GATS, she continues, could adversely affect Canadian municipalities by limiting their ability to supply and regulate the delivery of municipal services.

Fuelling Fortress America: A Report on the Athabasca Tar Sands and U.S. Demands for Canada's Energy

In this report, Hugh McCullum explores development of the Athabasca tar sands in northern Alberta. Fo...

MetroWest II Conference Report: Focusing on the Future of Western Canada’s Cities

MetroWest II, by Casey Vander Ploeg, follows from the MetroWest II conference held in Winnipeg in October, 2002. The purpose of the conference was to bring together urban practicioners from Western Canada in order to identify and discuss issues confronting western cities.

Mission Possible: Successful Canadian Cities

In this report, Natalie Brender, Marni Cappe, and Anne Golden begin with the premise that Canada’s prosperity depends on the success of its major cities.

Municipal Finance and the Pattern of Urban Growth

Enid Slack argues that the problem of urban sprawl can best be controlled by “removing distortions in the property tax system,” as well as by employing user fees and development charges to support, rather than work against, planning objectives. She cites studies showing that higher-density, downtown neighbourhoods have much lower development costs, and actually contribute to reducing the overall costs for services. Accordingly, Slack posits that urban sprawl must be controlled as it is costly to society.

No Time to be Timid: Addressing Infrastructure Deficits in the Western Big Six

The purpose of Casey Vander Ploeg’s study is to identify various alternatives for financing municipal infrastructure and closing infrastructure deficits. To address this issue, she explores the drivers of the infrastructure problem and examines the ability of traditional financing options, innovative options, and systemic reform of municipal finance.

Organization and Opportunities: Local Government Services Production in Saint John

Robert Bish begins his analysis by pointing out that, since the 1950s, local governments have been moving away from producing services exclusively in-house. Modern municipalities use a complex array of competitive options to ensure efficient and cost-effective service delivery, including contracting out to private companies, other municipalities, and other levels of government.

Public Infrastructure in Canada: Status Priorities and Planning

Following consultation with 32 individuals from government, industry, professional associations, and academia, Yves Poisson of the Public Policy Forum concludes that the majority view is that Canada faces a substantial infrastructure deficit. Though the link between infrastructure and economic well-being is often overlooked in public policy discussion, Poisson states that such a deficit poses an obvious threat to Canadian competitiveness. Accordingly, this report considers the question of what can be done to confront the infrastructure deficit.

Regional Water Works: Sharing Urban Water Services

Susan McFarlane begins this report by pointing out that urban areas in the West, like other parts of Canada, have evolved in an ad hoc fashion. As a result, she argues, the West’s large city regions are comprised of a jumble of large and small municipalities each with its own government and way of doing things.

Social Housing, Neighbourhood Revitalization and Community Economic Development

This report explores the nature of housing production as a part of a larger neigbourhood revitalization program in many Winnipeg inner city areas.

Taming the Tempest: An Alternate Development Strategy for Alberta

Diana Gibson states that with more than CAD $169 billion in planned large-scale construction projects, “Alberta’s already overheated economy is only going to get worse.”

Unaccountable: The Case of Highway Maintenance Privatization in Alberta

In 1995-96, the Government of Alberta decided to outsource all the maintenance on its 15,000 kilometres of primary highways to primary contractors. Since then, neither the provincial government nor any other body has evaluated the current private maintenance program by comparing it with the previous government-run system.

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