Category Archives : Research Papers


Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Public’s Right to Know

Columbia Institute’s new report, Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Public’s Right to Know, examines the proposed Bank, and government legislation that prevents public access to information. The report also highlights concerns expressed by information commissioners and includes examples of how the Canadian government can do better. “The federal government is ready to invest $35 billion READ MORE


Jobs for Tomorrow – Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions

The Columbia Institute released a landmark study: Jobs for Tomorrow – Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions in summer 2017. Commissioned by Canada’s Building Trades Unions, this study explores the historic role of Canada’s construction industry and potential for low-carbon economy job growth as we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary year. Meeting Canada’s climate goals could READ MORE


Our Future: Seniors, Socialization and Health

With input from eight seniors centres in Metro Vancouver, the Columbia Institute report, Our Future: Seniors, Socialization and Health, spotlights how municipalities are frontline in seniors health by offering a wide variety of programs that help keep seniors healthy and independent and delay/prevent seniors from requiring more costly health care services.   Read full report Read executive summary News release In the Media Older and Wiser: READ MORE


This Green House II

This Green House II follows up on our 2011 research on residential energy retrofit financing. The updated report is about opening the door for local government leadership on home retrofits through minor changes in local improvement charge legislation. Since buildings contribute as much as 30% of community greenhouse gas emissions this represents a huge opportunity. READ MORE


Transportation Governance – 12 Case Studies

This note updates, verifies and adds to the information contained in Regional Transportation Governance: Selected Case Studies produced by the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority in 2006. It contains information about 12 transportation agencies in Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K., and Finland. All of the cases are regional transportation agencies, though the scope of their responsibilities varies. Some are responsible for multi-modal transportation systems, while others READ MORE


Who’s Picking Up the Tab? Federal and Provincial Downloading Onto Local Governments

Who’s Picking Up the Tab? investigates the scale and scope of downloading onto local governments from federal and provincial governments, using B.C. as a case study. Surveys of local leaders and senior staff, a fresh analysis of statistical and financial data and case studies of key policy areas pro­vide a clear picture of responsibilities and READ MORE


Getting the Majority to Vote: Practical solutions to re-engage citizens in local elections

Across BC voting is decreasing in all levels of elections—federal, provincial and municipal. Voter turnout in federal and provincial elections is now below 60 per cent, but more dramatically we are seeing many municipal elections in which only 20 to 30 per cent of people go out to vote. What is happening in communities where 70 to 80 per cent of READ MORE


Made in BC Ferries: The economic benefits of local ship procurement

Institutional procurement is a powerful, and often underutilized, economic development strategy that can positively impact “value added” economic sectors. How and where procurement dollars are spent can have important economic effects. In July 2013, BC Ferries announced it will put three new intermediate class ferries into service by 2016/2017. The corporation is seeking a fixed READ MORE


Mining: The Challenge for BC Local Governments

A rapid expansion of mining activity puts local governments in a quandary. Mining operations offer significant opportunities for communities, bringing great potential for jobs, development, and growth. On the other hand, mining operations can affect communities in adverse ways, from compromising drinking water and air quality to reducing property values.


Multi-Material BC and Local Governments: Will the new industry-run recycling system cause backsliding?

BC local governments are concerned about changes to the province’s recycling systems. Local governments have led the way on recycling in BC, and most support the principles of expanded recycling, zero waste, reduced packaging and producers bearing responsibility for the full life-cycle of their products. However, many are clearly concerned about the structure and implementation READ MORE


A Canadian Energy Strategy: Why should local governments care?

Canada’s federal and provincial governments are actively developing a national energy strategy, and there are compelling reasons for municipalities to become a bigger part of this conversation. Municipalities can play an important  role in ensuring that a Canadian energy strategy addresses the roles and interests of local communities across Canada. Canada’s federal and provincial governments READ MORE


The power of purchasing – The economic impacts of local procurement

Procurement by private and public sector institutions is a major force in the economy. In BC, local governments and school districts alone spend more than $6.7 billion annually on procurement. How – and where – procurement dollars are spent can have important economic, employment, social, and environmental impacts. This report uses the example of office READ MORE


Catch $25: How mandatory carbon offsets are undermining real emissions reductions in BC school districts

School districts in BC are caught in a Catch 22. Provincial carbon neutral measures are forcing districts to pay for carbon offsets that don’t actually reduce the districts’ own emissions AND drain funds from education operating budgets. The bigger the emissions gap, the more offsets districts have to buy; the more they have to buy, READ MORE


This Green House: Building Fast Action for Climate Change and Green Jobs

 This substantive report provides information for getting started on a retrofit program in your municipality, from necessary legislative changes, to case studies to an overview of benefits. Energy use in buildings is one of the largest sources of GHG emissions at the local level. Fortunately, reducing energy use in buildings is something that can be READ MORE


For the Love of Nature: Solutions for Biodiversity

For the Love of Nature: Solutions for Biodiversity is the fourth volume in the Centre for Civic Governance’s Going for Green series. Authors Briony Penn and Dr. Robin J. Hood share their stories about leadership in biodiversity. Read about people behind initiatives like: Portland’s City Repair Ottawa’s Biodiversity Blitz Vancouver’s Stanley Park Ecology Centre And about READ MORE


Municipal Procurement Implications of the Proposed CETA Agreement

Trade lawyer Steven Shrybman (Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell LLP), prepared this paper on Municipal Procurement Implications of the Proposed Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) Between Canada and the European Union for the Centre for Civic Governance in May 2010. This report highlights the potential loss of ‘buy local’ policies through current trade discussion between Canada READ MORE


When More is Less: Education Funding in BC

Why are school districts cutting staff and laying off teachers?A Centre for Civic Governance research report finds growing evidence that the funding formula does not cover the costs of public education. The Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute reviewed the 2008-2009 preliminary annual budgets developed by boards of education across the province. The study READ MORE


Public Private Partnerships: Understanding the Challenge

This resource guide sheds light on the complex P3 world and contains tools and information for community leaders. On balance, our research shows that the Design-Build-Finance-Operate relationship termed P3 has significant downsides for the public interest. P3s are complicated and contentious. They shift the role governments play in the delivery of public services and infrastructure. READ MORE