Commentary

Millions of dollars each year are poured into our federal trade initiatives around the world and to a lesser degree our provinces follow suit, at least most of them do. And, while its fine to say that we should be relying on the services of the International Trade Ministry and our Foreign Trade Services and Consul offices, will it be sufficient to get us what we want (or as much as we want) – namely, more trade opportunities in more markets for our own local businesses and more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) coming into our respective communities?

The final leg of our cross-Canada rail tour brought us from the interior of British Columbia to the beautiful west coast. Passing through the town of Hope BC, the site of one of Canada's infamous World War Two internment camps for Japanese Canadians, then continuing to wind through the endless Rockies, it became clear that much of British Columbia is still pristine wilderness, connected only by rail, the Trans-Canada Highway, and the province's vast river system.

In March of this year, PSD published an article entitled, "The Top 7 Most Intelligent Communities: How 3 Canadian Cities Made the List." This article was extremely well received. We have noted your enthusiasm for the subject, and have decided to build on this article by partnering with the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), as well as the cities of Kingston and Stratford, to deliver an engaging and informative webinar entitled, "Small Communities, Intelligent Communities."

Featured Research Articles

Tight financial times often prompt municipalities to explore ways to reduce costs and realize efficiencies. Service reviews have become a popular means of such exploration. A service review is a systematic process in which a municipality examines the services it provides, with an aim to answer some difficult questions: do we need to provide this service?

In Ontario, water shortage events are occurring in some watersheds with increased frequency. These events are a significant concern in sub-watersheds where the land base is largely comprised of irrigation dependent agriculture. A detailed watershed scaled drought management plan needs to be robust and scientifically defensible. It also needs to be realistic, practical, and locally owned and endorsed. Accordingly, some vulnerable watersheds have undertaken various initiatives towards developing such a plan. As an example, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) has leveraged several projects and initiatives to help ensure that the stakeholders of the Innisfil Creek sub-watershed are adequately prepared for future adverse low water and drought conditions. Like many watersheds across Canada, the Innisfil Creek sub-watershed faces most of the water stressors described above.

Cities are important drivers of productivity, innovation, and economic growth. To achieve their full economic potential, they need to provide a wide range of services – "hard" services such as water, transit, and roads, but also "soft" services such as cultural facilities, parks, and libraries that will attract knowledge workers. Cities that fail to provide these services will lose their economic advantage. The challenge cities face is to raise enough revenue to deliver high quality public services that will attract residents and businesses in a way that does not undermine the city's competitive advantage.