Along with healthcare and taxation, a “new deal for cities” has become a central theme of the 2004 federal election. This restructuring of the financial relationship between Ottawa and the Canada’s municipalities has moved to centre stage, but are the arguments being put forward for major new senior government intervention in the life of the country’s cities sound?
In DO CITIES CREATE WEALTH? A Critique of New Urban Thinking and the Role of Public Policy for Cities, Patrick Luciani, AIMS Senior Fellow in Urban Policy, reviews the three key arguments that are used to justify a greater role for senior government policy (and senior government spending) in the affairs of Canada’s cities. These arguments centre on the themes of clustering, the rise of the global city-state, and the importance of attracting educated workers or what has come to be known as the “creative class”. These ideas have become the foundation for what is called “new urban thinking”
Luciani says, “This ‘new urban thinking’ is just another name for ‘new industrial policy’, with an urban twist: a justification for greater state involvement in urban affairs.” In this, the second paper in The AIMS Urban Futures Series, Mr. Luciani argues that many of the big spending strategies being promoted by politicians simply don’t stand up to analysis. Luciani suggests the best urban policy is to deliver genuine municipal services efficiently without the distraction of attracting specific clusters, creating global city-states, or attempting to attract knowledge workers. The key is to establish an environment where all businesses want to invest and expand.