Op-Eds

In the past weeks, Canada’s economy has begun to reopen. This restart is tentative and faces great uncertainty. Nonetheless, Canada’s governments must now turn to planning for our economic recovery. The recovery plans should focus on laying foundations for Canadian prosperity in decades to come. Well-targeted infrastructure investments should be the centrepiece. Notwithstanding the risk of a second wave for the pandemic, all indications are for a long, hard recovery rather than any “V-shaped” bounceback. Canada’s economy will likely face a period of weak demand from consumers and for our major exports, as well as depressed capital spending by private business. Managing the crisis required unprecedented outlays by the federal...
One of the tragedies of the COVID-19 crisis is its devastation of arts and culture organizations in this country. Even with emergency support by the federal government, the future for many of these groups is uncertain. As the economy slowly opens up, crowd restrictions and social distancing will mean galleries, museums and the performing arts generally (theatre, music, dance), will face tremendous challenges. Many see a dim and uncertain horizon ahead as revenues shrink or disappear. Financial struggles were a long-standing a fact of life for the arts community well before the pandemic crisis. Notwithstanding pre-pandemic increases in public funding, including the injection of new money for the Canada Council, public financing for arts...
The cost of housing has been going through the roof in many parts of Canada. Most government policies have focused on curtailing the demand for housing. Ontario and B.C. have introduced foreign-buyers taxes. Ottawa has put in place new rules on mortgages. But supply constraints are more likely the key cause of surging prices. Restrictions on housing supply hinder the efficiency of the housing market. Delays in building what people demand result in shortages and higher prices. One way to measure a broken housing market is to look at the gap between construction costs and sale prices. A well-functioning housing market sees the market price of housing mimic the cost of constructing it. In places where it is hard to build, the costs of...
As of April 12, municipalities in Ontario will be able to implement inclusionary zoning, allowing them to require affordable housing units in residential developments. The province’s willingness to grant municipalities this authority reflects its broader commitment to modernizing Ontario’s planning regime. But one relic of this old regime remains: Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act. As the province continues to overhaul its planning legislation, it is time to revisit Section 37 and either repeal it or significantly amend it. Section 37 allows municipalities to secure “benefits” from developers in return for allowing buildings to exceed height and density restrictions. As I note in a recent report for the C.D. Howe Institute, over the...
Many of the challenges that urban regions face spill over the boundaries of municipal governments – none more so than in the current Ontario debate over public transit. The incoming government would be wise to let cities solve regional transit issues rather than to force amalgamation or uploading to a single regional transit agency. However, there’s a clear need to move toward consolidating some parts of the disparate transit operators across the Toronto region into a single entity. For example, a single planning agency could integrate fares across the region, fixing the current practice of many bus lines stopping at municipal borders and requiring passengers to pay a separate fare when they cross them. A single large transit agency...