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Earth Hour and the Future of the Canadian Economy

Posted on March 23, 2011
Events like Earth Hour get a lot of attention, and they should. Who could have imagined four years ago that the simple act of switching off the lights for one hour in Sydney, Australia would grow to a global phenomenon with a record 128 countries participating last year? Earth Hour highlights the importance of sustainable energy and the negative effects of global warming once a year, but it's also important for everyone in Canada — including the business community — to think year-round about ways to help combat global warming and work towards sustainability. RBC [...]

Why Infrastructure Ontario and The Ontario Realty Corporation Should Merge

Posted on February 15, 2011
On January 25, 2011 Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and I announced a proposal to merge two important government agencies–Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC). This announcement follows the government’s commitment to reduce , and builds on previous actions to find savings that was made on December 14, 2010. The proposed merger, when fully implemented, would see a single, more efficient organization that would allow for the seamless delivery of infrastructure and realty services. By way of background, IO was created [...]

The Big Picture Approach to Cities and Climate Change

Posted on February 9, 2011
It was former London Mayor Ken Livingstone who started the ball rolling in 2007 when he announced that urban areas are responsible for over 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. He said, "The battle to prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in cities.” That figure–75 per cent– became the urban climate factoid of the decade.  It spread like a virus popping up again and again in newspapers, mayor's speeches, and government reports. The thing was, no one knew quite where it came from. What was the math behind the meme? Was [...]

Live from The National Infrastructure Summit

Posted on January 27, 2011
Even though it's mostly on the part of reporters and city staff, there's some tweeting going on at this week's summit in Regina. "We're tweeters," said Mayor Pat Fiacco after telling us about council's last-minute lesson in the ways of the Twitterverse. Interestingly, most of the tweets were coming from the session on civic engagement, with city staff--and a few Leader Post reporters--typing up a pretty good synopsis of the session in 140 character bursts. The useful, update tweets were, of course, cut with a fair number of tweets about how much Calgary's [...]

How Big Can Cities Get? Or, Ecocities of The Future

Posted on January 20, 2011
Sometimes we spend so much time looking at the challenges that cities face today, that we forget to look forward into the future and imagine what cities could be. This week What Matters, is running a series of interesting thought pieces under the banner "How Big Can Cities Get?" Contributors include Richard Register, founder of Ecocity Builders; Dr. Dickson Despommier, from Columbia University and president of the Vertical Farm Project; and Stewart Brand, co-founder of The Long Now Foundation. Not all of their ideas will be entirely new - we've all [...]

Infrastructure Hotspots

Posted on January 5, 2011
The theme of CG/LA Infrastructure's annual Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum is "engineering growth in infrastructure hotspots." After working closely with the conference organizers, it's clear that our U.S. counterparts consider us to be a significant hotspot when it comes to infrastructure development. There's a strong interest (from an international audience) in Canada's megaprojects. The long list of projects we considered for a Canadian stream included several of Hydro Quebec's facilities (two of which are on our current Top 100 Projects list) [...]

News Roundup: Long-Term Energy Plans, Stimulus Fail, and a Transmission Superhighway

Posted on November 25, 2010
It's been a week of energy news--news we've been a little too busy to fully cover (we're in the final week of production on our annual Top 100 list, as well as our massive January/February issue with stories on transmission, run-of-river, nuclear, project finance, and more). Ontario has released its long-term energy plan, which includes an investment of $33 billion in nuclear--both new builds and refurbishment of existing plants--an estimate some would say is on the very low side. Numbers like $26 billion have been tossed around for just the refurbishment [...]

INTERVIEW: Missy Stults on ICLEI's New Climate Resilient Communities Program

Posted on November 23, 2010
“We have to tell the international community that it's in the cities that the battle to slow global warming will be won.” That's Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard speaking before a World Mayors Summit in Mexico that concluded this Sunday.  One week before the UN climate negotiations begin in Cancun, 138 mayors at the summit signed the voluntary Mexico City Pact that commits them to measurably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. For people who follow this kind of thing, the announcement will sound familiar. Thanks in large part to work by ICLEI [...]

World's First Commercial Rooftop Garden

Posted on November 3, 2010
Montreal is soon going to be home to the world's first commercial rooftop garden. The 31,000-square-foot hydroponic farm is set to open in early 2011 and is aiming to provide year round harvests.  Run by Luffa Farms, crops have been selected in collaboration with plant science and nutrition from McGill university.  Shorter transportation distances mean crops chosen for taste and nutritional value, not how long they can sit in a crate before they get funky. Unlike other high profile urban agriculture projects, Lufa Farms plane looking greenhouses aren't inspirationally [...]

Who Doesn't Like Free Money?

Posted on November 3, 2010
During a session at Canadian Brownfields yesterday, BCMAL's Scott Bailey said there's been healthy uptake on the Province's funding programs for brownfield remediation/redevelopment. "I mean, who doesn't like free money?" said Bailey. Bailey said smaller communities are really engaged. What's more, communities are talking to each other, sharing best practices and spreading the word about available funding. Why, then, does it seem that certain funding programs are struggling to assign all available funds? Even Revi-Sols, Quebec's provincial funding [...]
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