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Making Hay with Urban Food Scarcity?

Posted on June 4, 2011
Sometimes you've just got to laugh. Tuesday's Globe and Mail led it's investment section with an article titled “Warming Trend May be Boon to Canada.” The piece focused on a new study, published in Science, which shows that since 1980 rising temperatures have reduced global yields of wheat and maize by 5.5 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively. The report may be the first to conclusively show that climate change is already taking its toll on global food supplies. The Globe and Mail's take on the situation: it's a great time to invest in Canadian [...]

CNAM Day One: Apples to Barrels of Apples

Posted on May 9, 2011
Most of what I learned today can't be reported on (yet...) but there were some lively discussions that I can talk about--one of which culminated in an audience member shakily saying to presenter Dana Vanier (UBC), "If you understood how much work it is, you wouldn't be suggesting we implement the SORP at the same time." SORP, of course, being the Public Sector Accounting Board's (PSAB's) Statement of Recommended Practice. It was meant as a framework to help governments pull together their financial statements to comply with PSAB 3150.Vanier analyzed the statements [...]

Office Space and Transit Planning

Posted on May 2, 2011
A recent report from the Canadian Urban Institute on office sprawl (The New Geography of Office Location and the Consequences of Business as Usual in the GTA) makes a few points crystal clear: 1. Office sprawl continues in the Toronto area. While often neglected, non-residential sprawl is as or more important than residential sprawl. The report notes that 66 million square feet of office space – more than that found in Calgary and Edmonton combined, accommodating 325,000 workers, has been built over the last 20 years in car-dependent suburban locations. 2 [...]

Transit City: Buried

Posted on April 25, 2011
At the end of March 2011, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford agreed to a new plan for public transit in Toronto. The Province had allocated just over $8 billion dollars to fund Transit City,  a plan that included Toronto’s a series of light rail lines around the city. Now, the province with spend $8.2 billion to put the Eglinton LRT line entirely underground. So, that’s it for Transit City. Previously priced at $4.6 billion dollars, this announcement has pushed the Eglinton line from number four on our Top 100 list, to number [...]

P3s or Social Housing: Do We Have to Choose?

Posted on April 7, 2011
Although it was created in 2007, P3 Canada only officially opened for business in 2009. Since then, only about eight per cent of the $1.2-billion P3 Canada Fund has been allocated. Some funding announcements were made here and there (see here, here, and there ) but it's been fairly quiet overall. Suddenly, I'm noticing more announcements. The Toronto Transit Commission recently indicated that it would be asking the fund for $333-million from the P3 Fund toward Mayor Ford's 25-kilometre underground line. Moncton is applying for $25 million towards an entertainment [...]

A City's Climate Change To-Do List

Posted on April 3, 2011
I'm one of the many contributing authors for this year's UN Habitat Global Report on Human Settlements, launched in London on Monday (see also BBC). This is the first time that the report, one of the most authoritative sources for analysis on urban issues, has focused on climate change. The picture it paints isn't pretty. Looking to the middle of this century, and overlaying our understanding of climate change on top of the rates and locations of urban growth, the report invokes a world of “unprecedented disaster, wide-scale disruption and loss [...]

Measuring Earth Hour's Savings

Posted on March 25, 2011
In 2011 over a billion people in more than 4000 cities in over 120 countries are powering down for Earth Hour.  Powering down for the hour is a symbolic act towards leading the way to a sustainable future. Earth Hour is a tremendous way to show the world the cumulative impact of a large number of small efforts to reduce energy use. Our mission at Pulse Energy is to help the world’s buildings to take those actions every day, to ensure a long-lasting legacy of this event. This year, Pulse Energy will be measuring the energy reduction in our client [...]

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 [...]
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