Commentary

At less than 4%, the unemployment rate in San Francisco is at an almost unprecedented low. As I walk to my office from the transit station each morning, I pass hordes of enthusiastic, mostly young "techies" streaming into the headquarters of Uber, Square and Twitter. These magnet employers offer excellent compensation, stock options, free snacks and meals (including wine and beer on tap), and on-site amenities like dry cleaning. Some even allow workers to bring their dogs to the office. As if that's not enough to attract the best employees, these companies are world-renowned, offering exciting opportunities in the forefront of new technology. How is a relatively staid public employer, grinding along in a highly-regulated civil service environment, to compete for top talent? Read more...

Across Canada there are thousands of undeveloped properties left vacant due to health, safety and environmental concerns. Many of these properties are former industrial sites occupying highly desirable land. The redevelopment of these sites could be extraordinarily valuable for municipalities, and thus they are looking for the guidance and resources to proceed with redevelopment. Read more...

On April 24th leaders from the Arctic nations met in Nunavut to mark the official transfer of the two year Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada to the United States. While Canada's Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq used the opportunity to admonish Russia's aggression in the Ukraine, scientists and world leaders condemned Canada for drawing focus away from climate change mitigation in the Arctic, at the event but also over the course of Canada's entire Arctic Council Chairmanship. At the meeting in Nunavut, Minister Aglukkaq had the following to say in reference to Canada's accomplishments as Chair of the Arctic Council, "As a Canadian, born and raised in Canada's Arctic, I am proud Canada has advocated putting northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council agenda." To be fair, Canada has rightfully put northerners at the forefront of Arctic policy development. But whether Canada was also able to bring focus to the daunting challenge of climate change mitigation in the Arctic is a hotly contested point. What is clear is that the United States will be making climate change its number one priority as Chair of the Arctic Council. With Secretary of State John Kerry leading the initiative, a well-respected authority on climate change matters, the US hopes to make headway on issues like black carbon emissions reduction in the next two years. Read more...

Featured Research Articles

On February 18, 2015 the governments of Canada and the United States announced the latest agreement that edged the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River border a little closer. This agreement cleared the way for the selection of a private consortium to construct, operate, and maintain a publicly-owned bridge, with construction scheduled to begin later in 2015, and be completed by 2020. If this happens, the bridge will be linked to Ontario's Highway 401 by the Herb Gray Parkway that has been under construction since August 2011, and which is scheduled to be completed later this year. Read more...

Urban areas and other municipalities the world over are rightly considered the engines of society, culture, and the economy. Towns and cities serve as hubs for commerce, public services, and amenities (universities and hospitals), and other human capital intensive activities. Without them, our human world would be nearly entropic. The requirement for these conurbations to exist depends primarily on one thing: money. That money arrives from taxes and fees. Determining the best form and level of tax is a tricky political and economic endeavor that - at times in history - has been raised to the level of blood sport. Read more...