National leadership and vision vital to a "new deal" for cities--Report

September 10, 2004
OTTAWA--An effective "New Deal" for cities requires a coherent National Urban Strategy to reinforce and redirect current levels of federal involvement in community development and sustainability, according to a briefing paper released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

"More than Money: The New Deal for Cities and a Federal Urban Lens" by Hamilton-based researcher Paul Shaker, provides an overview of federal involvement in urban development from its inception as a "nation-building" exercise. While the current federal government appears to have undergone a shift from this earlier commitment, there remains a significant level of federal involvement in community development and sustainability, ensuring that the basic foundation is in place to significantly advance federal involvement in urban matters. Furthermore, the reorientation and expansion of initiatives already in place would lead to a more coherent approach by the federal government in dealing substantively with urban issues.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the federal government in order to help establish an "urban lens" for relevant federal program and policy activities. These proposals include:

  • a National Urban Strategy to provide federal officials with a policy compass upon which to base their own activities, as well as a communication tool to inform the broader citizenry of the federal government's role with regard to the communities in which they live;
  • a Canadian Urban Development Agency, combining the significant strength and knowledge of the CMHC in the area of housing and planning with the large funding capacity and growing knowledge of infrastructure issues of the new Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities;
  • implementing a federal EnerGuide for Communities program to help promote tools, research and best practices concerning energy use and urban development; and
  • adopting Good Neighbour Legislation to ensure that the massive real property presence of the federal government on the Canadian urban landscape is developed and managed in such a way as to maximize the benefits for local communities.

"Reorienting existing federal policy and program capacity is both an opportunity and necessity if the Government of Canada is to be a successful partner in helping to solve the major urban issues of the day," explains the author.

"The diverse needs, objectives, and politics of all governments, at all levels, demand national leadership on basic issues of urban development, particularly when there are such clear national implications," he concludes.

Paul Shaker is an urban planner and former policy analyst with the federal government. Currently he is a Director of the Hamilton-based Centre for Community Study.


For more information contact Paul Shaker, Centre for Community Study, (905) 528-6969