Category Archives : Publications


Climate Change Backgrounder – The Road to Paris (May 2015)

Almost 200 countries will meet in Paris this December for a legally-binding global climate agreement on curbing carbon emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 2ºC from pre-industrial levels. This is the 21st UNFCCC COP (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Conference of the Parties).   The Union of Concerned Scientists READ MORE


Municipalities and Universal Pharmacare

96.5% of local elected municipal leaders say that federal and provincial downloading of costs onto local governments is a problem for their community.1 A new story about downloading is the one emerging through the national pharmacare conversation launched by Canadian Doctors for Medicare.1 Why? There is no universal plan to cover the costs of prescription drugs 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


Buying Local: Tools for Forward-Thinking Institutions

One of our popular resource guides, Buying Local: Tools for Forward-Thinking Institutions, details specific policies and practices for economic development through local purchasing. Earlier this year, we released a study detailing the economic impact of local purchasing – the first study of its kind in Canada. Using office supply procurement in B.C. as an example, the study measured READ MORE


Dynamic Downtowns: Using Heritage to Build Strong, Vibrant Downtowns

Created in collaboration with the Columbia Institute , the Dynamic Downtowns Workbook is a resource for communities that want to know more about how to include heritage buildings as part of their downtown revitalization strategy. The five ‘Case Studies’ included in the Workbook illustrate examples of how some British Columbia communities are incorporating heritage buildings into their 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. Local governments have key stakes READ MORE


Climate Change Backgrounder – The Road to Paris (June 2015)

Almost 200 countries will meet in Paris this December for a legally-binding global climate agreement on curbing carbon emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 2ºC from pre-industrial levels. This is the 21st   UNFCCC COP (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Conference of the Parties).   The Union of Concerned Scientists 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


The Nature of Leadership: Ideas for Building Inclusive, Sustainable Communities

The Nature of Leadership: Ideas for Building Inclusive, Sustainable Communities is the third volume in the “Innovative Strategies Leadership Series” for locally elected leaders. Inspired by conversations at our Centre for Civic Governance forums, this handbook highlights leadership stories from across the country and beyond. It relates stories of individuals and communities who are boldly confronting the myriad READ MORE


Local Governments and CETA

The Centre for Civic Governance has been tracking developments in the Canadian European Comprehensive Trade Agreement and in particular potential impacts on municipalities. Our latest Trade and Policy Update provides information on the likelihood of increased legal and administrative costs, the threats to local decision-making and the potential for the privatization of municipal water services. 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


Municipal Living Wage 101

A handful of Canadian municipalities have implemented living wage bylaws, and many more are on the verge of implementing the policy. Municipal living wage bylaws are legally enforceable policies ensuring that workers employed by a city and those contracted using municipal funds will be paid enough to meet basic family living expenses. Municipal living wage READ MORE


Resiliency: Cool Ideas for Locally Elected Leaders

Resiliency: Cool Ideas for Locally Elected Leaders is the fifth volume in the Going for Green Leadership Series. Inspired by conversations at our Centre for Civic Governance forums, Resiliency highlights the bold and creative ways in which leaders and communities are responding to the major environmental challenges of our time. Note: Download individual articles by 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


Unlimited Vision: Ideas for Building Inclusive Sustainable Communities

Unlimited Vision: Ideas for Building Inclusive Sustainable Communities is a collection of stories featuring courageous leadership, community building and legislative tools in action. It is the second volume in the “Innovative Strategies Leadership Series” for locally elected leaders. Inspired by conversations at our Centre for Civic Governance forums, this handbook highlights leadership stories from across the country READ MORE


Going for Green: 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 leadership series. In this edition, authors Briony Penn and Dr. Robin J. Hood share their stories about leadership in biodiversity. You’ll also find inspiration, legislative tools and promising practices for creating a legacy of biodiversity 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


Going Local: Inspirational Stories of Local Government and Local Economy in BC

Going Local— Inspirational Stories of Local Government and Local Economy in BC showcases 12 stories of local governments that are working to improve their local economies and enhance the quality of life in their communities. As communities face the future, local government leaders are asking themselves what they can do to protect and strengthen their READ MORE


Going for Green: Through the Green Glass

Through the Green Glass: Climate Change Tools for Education Leaders is the third volume in the Columbia Institut’es Going for Green series, where elected officials and climate experts share stories about leadership in sustainability, biodiversity, alongside legislative tools and promising practices for creating a legacy of biodiversity for your community. This collection of presentations is based on 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


Through the Green Glass

“Through the Green Glass: Climate Change Tools for Education Leaders” is the third volume in the Columbia Institute’s Going for Green series. This collection of presentations is based on a conference held in January 2008 that brought together over 20 experts to speak on a variety of education-related sustainability issues. In this book you will READ MORE


Innovative Strategies: Ideas for Sustainable Communities

Innovative Strategies: Ideas for Sustainable Communities is a collection of articles by prominent local politicians, environmentalists, and community leaders who demonstrate how to turn progressive ideas into action. It is the first volume in the “Innovative Strategies Leadership Series” for locally elected leaders. Inspired by conversations at our Centre for Civic Governance forums, this handbook READ MORE


Going for Green: Leadership Makes a Difference

Locally elected leaders are forging innovative, homegrown methods of making sustainability their reality. They are tackling social issues such as the pressing need for affordable housing. In the second edition of the Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance Going for Green Series, Leadership Makes a Difference, we have gathered the best stories on leading-edge policy 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


Going for Green

A green revolution is underway! Get the goods from those making sustainability happen in British Columbia. Across the province, municipalities and school boards are going for green, moving toward sustainability by building green schools; community-wide composting, implementing ethical sourcing and other leading-edge policie; and using sustainability frameworks to guide community decision making We’ve gathered presentations READ MORE