The Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance’s Research Paper series comprises original research papers by faculty, graduate students, and associated researchers on specific questions related to urban policy and local governance.
Martin Horak, Andrew Sancton, Rachna Goswami, and Umera Ali
Ontario municipalities of all sizes face pressure to “do more with less.” Commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, this Resource Guide provides municipal officials with single-source information about a range of current leading practices in cost savings in small and mid-sized Ontario municipalities. Municipalities across the province are continually developing innovative practices that save costs without incurring service level reductions. Most of these practices involve small-scale initiatives that result in modest savings. Yet even modest savings add up over time, and multiple small initiatives in a single municipality can make a big difference. In addition, by providing an opportunity to re-think established service provision practices, these initiatives often have significant non-monetary benefits as well.
This Guide, based on a year of research by a team at Western University, presents detailed profiles of 14 selected cases of leading practices in cost savings. The case studies come from municipalities of varying sizes in all regions of the province, and profile leading practices in a wide variety of service fields. In addition to these cases, the Guide presents a reference compendium of 159 cost-savings recommendations from recent Municipal Service Delivery Reviews. The Guide is intended to serve as a source of ideas and inspiration for Ontario’s local officials as they seek to provide the best possible services to their residents in challenging fiscal times.
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.