Zack Taylor and Leah Birnbaum
Greater Toronto is recognized as a high-performing urban region. Over the past decade, however, negative social, economic, and environmental trends have emerged that threaten the region’s future. On the basis of documentary research and four focus group workshops with a diverse array of professional practitioners, this paper assesses the Toronto region’s current assets and vulnerabilities in relation to future risks.The discussion is framed by the concept of resilience—an increasingly popular, yet abstract, concept in urban planning and public administration. This paper proposes, first, that planning and policymaking be directed toward increasing the region’s resilience, understood as the diversity and redundancy of social, economic, environmental, and fiscal-governmental systems. Second, it suggests that public resource allocation be guided by what some have called anticipatory governance—the proactive use of scenarios to discover where multiple risks and vulnerabilities intersect, and therefore where returns may be greatest. Finally, the paper suggests that an appeal to improving quality of life rather than to crisis or individual self- interest may be the most effective way to build broad support for long-term investments in resilience-enhancing infrastructure and services.
Western’s Department of Political Science is an international leader in research on local governance, urban politics, and urban public policy. This series comprises original research papers by faculty, graduate students, and associated researchers on related topics.
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