Category Archives : Topics


Top Asks for Climate Action: 2017 Report Card and 2016 Report

2017 Top Asks for Climate Action – Report Card Enhancing the ability of local governments across Canada to act on greenhouse gas emissions is both a powerful opportunity and an absolute necessity for meeting Canada’s climate commitments says the first annual report card on Top Asks for Climate Action. Local government decisions impact over fifty percent of 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


Back in House: Why local governments are bringing services home

“Back in House: Why Local Governments are Bringing Services Home” says that across Canada and around the world public services that were once outsourced are now finding their way back in-house to municipalities, mainly because using in-house services saves money. That means the expected benefits from privatizing services are not as significant as expected. Download English READ MORE


Ramener les services à l’interne : pourquoi les gouvernements municipaux mettent fin à la sous-traitance et à la privatisation (français)

Le rapport “Ramener les services à l’interne: pourquoi les gouvernements municipaux mettent fin à la sous-traitance et à la privatisation” s’intéresse, comme son nom l’indique, à la tendance actuelle au retour des services à l’interne. Le plus souvent, ce sont les coûts qui incitent les municipalités à ramener les services à l’interne, les économies promises par 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


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


More local governments considering divesting from fossil fuels

More and more local governments and education institutions are facing questions about the impacts of climate change, and the risk of having money invested in fossil fuel companies. Mike McGinn, Mayor of Seattle, recently wrote a letter to the President of Harvard, outlining why Seattle decided to persue fossil-fuel divestment. You can read the full READ MORE


Municipalities stake a claim for more balanced mining rules in BC

Mining in BC is booming. But with outdated regulatory legislation, that boom is presenting challenges for local governments, and at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention, councillors from across BC called for the legislation to be updated. The 2011 BC Jobs Plan foreshadowed eight new mines and nine mining expansions operational by 2015. READ MORE


Canada’s energy strategy: it’s not just a federal-provincial issue

Last month, three Canadian premiers provided a public update on interprovincial efforts to develop a national energy strategy. While their update on the Council of the Federation’s plans opened a needed window on the negotiations, missing from public discussions so far is any reference to the stakes – and potential roles – for municipalities in READ MORE


Don’t Exclude Cities from Canada’s Energy Plan

By Charley Beresford Read this article on the Tyee at: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2013/05/31/Canada-Energy-Plan/ On slashing emissions, many municipalities are already trailblazers. Bring ’em to the table! In April, three Canadian premiers met with media to provide an update on interprovincial efforts to develop a national energy strategy. While their update on the Council of the Federation’s plans opened READ MORE


More Leaked Documents Rip Lid off CETA Giveaways

By Robert Duffy and Charley Beresford. Read this article on the Tyee.ca .   We’ve been following the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) negotiations between Canada and the European Union since 2010, starting with a legal analysis of early  leaked documents , commissioned by the Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute. That analysis, by trade lawyer Steven Shrybman, identified problems for municipalities who want 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


What’s the Big Deal About CETA?

By Robert Duffy Read this article on The Tyee at:  https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/05/03/Secrets-of-CETA/   The proposed Canada-Europe Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is generating serious questions and concerns from local governments across Canada. CETA, a sweeping trade and investment deal, is currently in its tenth round of negotiations, and the Canadian government believes it could be READ MORE


Strengthening Local Democracy

Submission to the BC Local Government Elections Task Force by the Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute April 15, 2010 Click here to download a PDF version of the report including sources .   Introduction The Centre for Civic Governance appreciates this opportunity to present our perspectives and research on electoral and campaign finance reform to the BC Local Government Elections Taskforce.   About the Centre READ MORE


Wild Weather Hammers Home Case for Green Jobs

By Charley Beresford Read this story on The Tyee at:  https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/06/06/CaseForGreenJobs/   Recent spring flooding across Canada, and the carnage wrought by tornadoes in the American Midwest, are terrifying reminders of the potential implications of climate change. Let’s face it, Mother Nature is mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore. These dramatic READ MORE


School Board action on Carbon Offsets

The Trustees of British Columbia’s School District 5 (Southeast Kootenay) recently passed the following motion, and wrote an explanatory letter to the Honourable George Abbott, BC Minister of Education. The motion, and letter, communicate challenges they face within the current structure of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, and suggests improvements that would help their district READ MORE


2011 Polling – Centre for Civic Governance at the Columbia Institute

Each year the Columbia Institute does polling on the local issues that British Columbians consider most pressing. Below is a comparison of results from 2007 to 2011.* You will find a breakdown of responses on the following page. Social Infrastructure includes: Homelessness, Healthcare, Poverty, Immigration/Integration, Education, Lack of social services/sense of community, Childcare. Economic Bottom 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


Tools for Fair Taxation Webinar

Listen to our webinar on Tools for Fair Taxation, with economist and CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie on Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013.  Click here to watch and listen to the full Webinar. Click here to download Hugh Mackenzie’s Powerpoint. Click here to read Hugh’s article on Local Government Finance in Ontario, in our Innovative Strategies Leadership Handbook. Hugh Mackenzie is principal in READ MORE


Local Governments Should Have a Bigger Piece of the Pie

Local government officials meet at the Union of BC Municipalities the week of September 24th through 28th. Climate change, increased social challenges and aging infrastructure will be hot topics. The public is on their side. Polling by the Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance shows that British Columbians trust their local politicians twice as much READ MORE


Municipal government and school districts planning together

“The District of Mackenzie is hoping to get some feedback from School District 57 on its official community plan. As Mackenzie goes through a recovery of the area, the plan is being formed to deal with the resurgence expected to happen. Chief Administrative Officer Mark Fercho says there have been some changes to the area READ MORE


Tools for Fair Taxation WEBINAR

Listen to our webinar on Tools for Fair Taxation, with economist and CCPA research associate Hugh Mackenzie, that happened Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2013.    Click here to watch and listen to the full Webinar. Click here to download Hugh Mackenzie’s Powerpoint.   Hugh Mackenzie is principal in an economic consulting business, Hugh Mackenzie and Associates, based in Toronto. He has worked for over 35 years in a variety of capacities related to 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


Dispelling the Myths about the Bundling of Construction Projects

“Our extensive research on the subject of the bundling of construction contracts discloses a common thread. The actual evidence of the impact of project bundling does not support the claims made about its benefits, including substantial costs savings. Furthermore, the analysis set out in this paper leads to the conclusion that the costs of bundled projects may be considerably higher.”   READ MORE


Canada’s trade minister says ‘little flexibility’ needed to conclude EU talks

“Canadian trade minister Ed Fast says negotiations with the Europe Union are re-launching early next month in a final push to complete a comprehensive deal, adding all that is needed is a “little flexibility” on both sides.   He gave no specifics but sources have said the major stumbling blocks include the EU’s reluctance to READ MORE


Flooding due to rising seas could cost $1 trillion by 2050, with Vancouver’s risk high, study says

“Coastal flooding could cost the global economy $1 trillion a year a few short decades from now due to the rise in sea levels caused by global warming if action is not taken now to stem the flow and Vancouver is one of the cities most at-risk for losses, says a new study.”   To read the full article on the Vancouver Sun click here.


Conservation could create 25,000 jobs by 2025, claims report by unions and environmental groups

“Slashing energy consumption by a quarter over the next decade or so could create 25,000 new jobs, concludes a report by a coalition of environmentalists and unions. The group, Blue Green Canada, maintains that curbing power use would add $3.7 billion to the economy and help cut the federal and provincial deficits by almost $2 READ MORE


Denying Climate Change Is Bad for Your Electoral Health

“Some good news for a change when it comes to global warming:  A new bipartisan poll  shows strong support among young voters for taking action about climate change. That’s incredibly encouraging. And it gets better: 79 percent say they are more likely to vote for someone who supports action on climate change, and 73 percent say they would voteagainst someone READ MORE


Climate change in 2012: record sea-level rise, Arctic melting, warmed oceans, report says

“A new massive U.S. study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10.”   To read the full article on CTV click here.


Climate change occurring 10 times faster than at any time in past 65 million years

“The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker READ MORE


Climate strongly affects human conflict and violence worldwide, says study

“Shifts in climate are strongly linked to human violence around the world, with even relatively minor departures from normal temperature or rainfall substantially increasing the risk of conflict in ancient times or today, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University.”   To read the full article on phys.org click here.


Sorry, It’s Not A ‘Law Of Capitalism’ That You Pay Your Employees As Little As Possible

“In short, the obsession with “maximizing short-term profits” that has developed in America over the past 30 years has created a business culture in which executives dance to the tune of short-term traders and quarterly earnings reports, instead of balancing the value created for employees, customers, and long-term owners.”   To read the full article on Business Insider click here.


Detroit bankruptcy a cautionary tale for municipal workers

“Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr brought forth a bankruptcy filing that would give current and future retired city workers 10 cents on the dollar of pension benefits they had accrued.” “Experts feel the biggest threat to Canadian municipal pension plans is a looming bill of about $200 billion to replace aging infrastructure. If money is READ MORE


Canadian Energy Strategy Update

In July 2012, Premiers agreed to renew “A Shared Vision for Energy in Canada”.  At the July 2013 Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Premiers leading the Energy Strategy discussions   tabled a report on their progress .  The  Premiers are targeting the summer of 2014 for release of the final product and say they are exploring further stakeholder READ MORE


One in eight Canadian households couldn’t access sufficient food in 2011: Report

Food insecurity in Canada is “a serious social and public health problem,” says a new report that found nearly one in eight Canadian households couldn’t access sufficient, safe and nutritious food in 2011. Click here to read the full article in the Edmonton Journal. Click here to read the study.        


Fostering public spaces – without breaking the bank

Public Spaces Matter   “Great public spaces transform an ordinary city into a destination. They are what draw people to visit, do business and live in them. They are investments in the economy of a city – and fortunately, they don’t need to cost that much money. With creative rezoning and re-designating municipal lands, cities can READ MORE


Jamie Biggar – 2013 Centre for Civic Governance Forum

Jamie Biggar’s Dinner Plenary at the  Deepening Democracy  Civic Governance Forum 2013: “In order to be able to address the massive challenges that are facing our society, we have to work on this crisis of declining trust. We need to bring people together, and build social trust, so that we can take collective action, and move from READ MORE