In his year-end interview with the CBC, Mayor Brian Bowman offered a belated acknowledgement on behalf of the Mayor’s office that the city is building too much infrastructure, and providing too many city services, that returns too little revenue to cover costs. (Click here, and skip down to the section entitled “Big bad budget.”)
Asked how the city could address that problem, the Mayor retreated into vague generalities about “sustainable, smart” development and “stakeholders from multiple levels of government…” In reality, making development pay for development boils down to two issues — issues much more clearly identifiable than Mayor Bowman’s generalities. The first is development charges, and the second is phasing development so that existing empty spaces are filled up before new areas are opened to development. I dealt with the second issue in a post a year ago last August. I’ll look briefly at development charges in this post. Continue reading
In both Canada and the United States, we have largely left urban growth issues to local governments, and many local governments have failed to manage them. Many will never succeed because local councils are not, in general, able effectively to resist development interests.
As a result, the growth of our cities is, in practice, primarily responsive to the interests of developers. These interests are frequently at odds with the considerations that bear on preservation of the environment, maintenance of agriculture, an efficient infrastructure network and a transportation system that serves the population as a whole.
Therefore, in a series of posts on the multi-level governance of land use I’ve argued that:
• In urban growth policy, unlike many other policy domains, too much local control is a recipe for bad policy.
Posted in City politics, Multi-level governance, Researchers' corner, Urban growth and development, What's wrong with the way our communities are governed
Tagged case studies, developers' political clout, global issue, international comparisons, major metropolitan areas, national issue, urban sprawl, urbanizing municipalities
This is the second in a series of two posts about the findings I’ll be presenting next week in Toronto at the IPAC-PPM Cities and Public Policy conference. The previous post dealt with the mismanagement of homelessness in Winnipeg. This one focuses on the achievement of deep federalism in the administration of immigration and settlement in Winnipeg. In both entries, the overarching theme is that slow-growth cities have policy problems that are very different from those of cities that are growing rapidly, and that these differences are not being given the attention they deserve.
Posted in Multi-level governance, Slow-growth cities - problems and possibilities, Vanishing borders: rethinking politics, What's wrong with the way our communities are governed
Tagged community knowledge, diverse society, economic growth, expand tax base, inundated in immigrants, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, labour shortages, revitalize neighbourhoods, Société franco-manitobaine, Vancouver, Winnipeg
I’ll be at the IPAC-PPM Cities and Public Policy conference next week in Toronto, reporting on some of the things I’ve learned about the impact of federal government policies on Winnipeg. My overall theme will be that slow-growth cities have policy problems that are very different from those of cities that are growing rapidly, and that these differences are not being given the attention they deserve.
Posted in Multi-level governance, Slow-growth cities - problems and possibilities, The age of community, Vanishing borders: rethinking politics, What's wrong with the way our communities are governed
Tagged decayed housing, depressed housing prices, high price of housing, insufficient incentive for renovations, National Homelessness Initiative (NHI), numbers of the homeless, Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI), unsafe and inadequate housing
I’ll be at the Canadian Political Science Association conference in Ottawa next week delivering a paper originally entitled “Building cohesion, aggravating division”, with an even more obscure, academic-sounding subtitle. But I’ve changed the title and the new one is the one I’m using for this blog entry. My article grows out of studies I did recently in Winnipeg of aboriginal policy and policy regarding immigration and settlement. Originally, these studies had nothing to do with each other, but when they were finished, I was struck by the contrast between them.
It is becoming more evident with each passing year that urban growth is a matter national concern. The growing ease and speed of the global movement of money, goods, people and ideas has made it more and more clear that the prosperity of nations is heavily dependent on the prosperity of cities. At the same time, poorly managed urban growth is a major contributor to the global-scale environmental problems we face. For both environmental and economic reasons, therefore, we need to think of urban growth as a national and global issue, not a purely local one.
Posted in Cities are more important now... or maybe they always were, Multi-level governance, The age of community, Urban growth and development, What's wrong with the way our communities are governed
Tagged Agriculture and urban sprawl, Anola, Dugald, ground water, growth at the urban fringe, high-potential agricultural land, Oak Bank, residential development damages agriculture, septic tanks, sewage disposal
Last October I sketched out my argument that local and metropolitan governments can’t meaningfully regulate urban land use because developers swing too much political weight at the local level. I pointed out, on the basis of European case studies and my own analytical work, that the position of developers is markedly different in countries where a significant amount of city planning takes place at the national level than it is in the typical North American case. We can verify that by considering the concrete reality of how land use decisions are made in Canada and the United States.
In a recent issue of Plan Canada, a house organ for professional city planners, my colleague Andrew Sancton pointed out that, in the establishment of the Ontario Greenbelt, provincial government imposition produced a result that would have been much harder, or maybe impossible, to achieve through regional governance. Urban affairs columnist John Barber, writing in the Globe and Mail, cited Professor Sancton’s findings to suggest that, perhaps, old-fashioned provincial oversight over municipal government makes more sense than all that fashionable piffle about multi-level governance.
“While the hives buzz with talk of European-style ‘subsidiarity’, national urban policy and new ‘governance structures’,” Barber writes, “Prof. Sancton points out that the actual Ontario government has quietly implemented almost all the policies the quasi-constitutional reforms aim indirectly to achieve.” As a long-time, and unrepentant, purveyor of multi-level governance piffle, I guess it’s my turn to speak.
In Canada, the mention of federalism generally puts us in mind of federal government initiatives that are carried out in co-operation with provincial and territorial governments. Sometimes provincial initiative is also a factor, especially in recent years, since the creation of the Council of the Federation, an association of provincial and territorial premiers that aims “to play a leadership role in revitalizing the Canadian federation and building a more constructive and cooperative federal system.”
We are less likely to think in terms of municipal or community initiative, but community initiative in intergovernmental relations is a current reality, in fact one that has been with us for some time, though it remains an exception to the rule of top-down government. In the late 1960s, in the most epic of Canada’s battles over plans for urban expressways, citizens opposing the Spadina Expressway made a strategic decision to bypass Metropolitan Toronto Council and take their case to the Ontario Municipal Board and the provincial cabinet, and it was the cabinet that gave them their victory.
Posted in Multi-level governance, The age of community, Vanishing borders: rethinking politics, What's wrong with the way our communities are governed
Tagged City Charter Movement, deep federalism, infrastructure renewal, multi-level governance, municipal government, senior governments, Toronto, tri-level initiative, Vancouver, welfare-to-work, Winnipeg, workfare