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Part One: AIMS: A fresh perspective on the future of Canada’s cities

Patrick Luciani: Save Us From City Saviours: An op-ed in The Globe and Mail
Over the past few years mayors, urban planners, and smart-growth and anti-suburban advocates have been arguing that wealthier cities will create investment to benefit the entire country. Civic boosters say they believe by cities keeping more of their taxes, the whole country wins. If Toronto wins, so does Truro. AIMS’ Senior Fellow on Urban Affairs asks “Do cities create wealth, or are they where most of Canada’s wealth is generated?” In this commentary published in The Globe and Mail, Patrick Luciani says the distinction isn’t simply a matter of economic hairsplitting.

Wendell Cox:   How urban planners are threatening the quality of life in our cities.
In spite of the challenges in the wake of the Great Halifax Snowstorm of 2004, AIMS persevered with its plans to put internationally recognised urban development expert Wendell Cox in front of an audience of Atlantic Canadians concerned about urban development issues. Instead of the planned lunch, we managed to stage a well-attended but less formal talk in the Empress Boardroom of the Delta Halifax Hotel.

In his talk, Wendell Cox delivered a compelling argument against the assumptions of “Smart Growth” proponents. “Smart Growth” advocates, among other things, densification of cities and strategies designed to remove choice from those seeking homeownership. Wendell Cox, a respected international consultant in both demographics and transportation, argues this is a recipe for urban decline and social injustice.

In his talk, Mr. Cox made specific reference to the challenges facing the Halifax Regional Municipality drawing from a deep knowledge of the effect of these policies on urban centres in the United States, Europe, Asia and elsewhere in Canada. 

            Wendell Cox: Challenging thinking behind Halifax development freeze
In January, in an effort to restrict development while a regional plan is sketched out, the city imposed restrictions on subdivision development in for 90 days. During that time the city will draw up a moratorium that is expected to last for 18 months until a regional plan is approved.

Wendell Cox, said, “It defies logic to vote in favour of rationing land in a region that is thirsting for growth. While I am sure the move is well intentioned, it is a pity that the HRM council has been beguiled by a very bad set of ideas that sound good, but aren’t. The strategy they have been advised to pursue will in fact defeat the objectives they hope to reach.”

Over the past few years mayors, urban planners, and smart-growth and anti-suburban advocates have been arguing that wealthier cities will create investment to benefit the entire country. Civic boosters say they believe by cities keeping more of their taxes, the whole country wins. If Toronto wins, so does Truro. AIMS’ senior fellow on urban affairs asks “Do cities create wealth, or are they where most of Canada’s wealth is generated?” In this commentary published in the Globe and Mail, Patrick Luciani says the distinction isn’t simply a matter of economic hairsplitting. Patrick Luciani’s full commentary from the February 2, 2004 is available at

                     Brian Lee Crowley: Snow Daze: If Halifax Regional Municipality can’t keep its streets open, what’s it good for?

According to AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley, writing in the Halifax Herald, “snowstorms can be powerful politically because they focus attention on something everybody understands: cities keep the streets open and people are harmed and angered when they can’t get where they need to go. Scent and lawn chemical bans, long debates about whether cats should be leashed and absurd foot-dragging on cleaning up the hurricane damage in Point Pleasant Park merely leave most people bemused. But no one is unaffected when overnight your street is turned into an impassable bog and remains that way for days. “The mayor’s defenders will say he did the best he could in difficult circumstances. But that’s precisely the point: if this is the best he can do, it isn’t good enough. In a place with higher expectations of their government, heads would be rolling.”

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Part Two: Next Tuesday, March 2 Join us for CD Howe Policy Roundtable Luncheon

How Governments Can Best Promote Economic Development in Atlantic Canada
 
AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley will be participating in a C.D. Howe Institute Policy Roundtable luncheon on Tuesday, March 2, 2004, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Harbour A Suite of the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel, Halifax.

Dr. Crowley will be making a presentation along with Basil Ryan, Chief Operating Officer, Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations. As you know, AIMS’ work on this topic has been a touchstone of Atlantic Canadian public policy discussion. It promises to be a forthright and lively exchange. Bill Black of Maritime Life will be chairing the session, and Jack Mintz, President and CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute will also be there.

Regional development has for decades been a staple of Canadian policy and politics. But does good local politics make for good national or regional policy? That is the question raised by grants for regional development, and there is reason to wonder if Canada and its regions would be better served through tax reductions that apply to more general regional investments and avoid the appearance of political influence.

C.D. Howe Policy Roundtables offer an unequalled opportunity to meet decision makers and discuss vital policy issues in an off-the-record forum. For more information please contact the C.D. Howe Institute by visiting their website at www.cdhowe.org or call (416) 865-1904

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Part Three: Brian Lee Crowley on how to empower consumers of healthcare

Facing spiralling healthcare costs, the some American states are embracing a program called “Cash and Counselling”. The premise is simple, but the effect is profound. The idea is to give certain Medicaid beneficiaries a cash allowance with which to purchase needed services and let people make choices about how to spend their healthcare dollars wisely. No one is forced into this program. Not everyone wants these responsibilities. But for those who choose to use it, the program is wildly popular and an unqualified success.

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Part Four: AIMS short-listed for new international Templeton Awards
                    Atlantic Canada’s public policy think tank’ gains more international acclaim

The international think tank community is again considering the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies for one of it most prestigious awards. AIMS’ comprehensive project dealing with the future of coastal communities, “Who Should Own the Sea and Why It Matters: Bringing Prosperity to Coastal Communities” is one of the top five finalists for the first Sir John Templeton Freedom Prizes in the category of Market Solutions to Poverty.

Who Should Own the Sea and Why It Matters is a wide ranging project developing ideas on how to give people in coastal communities ownership, not merely of the wild or capture fisheries, but of aquaculture sites and many other aspects of the sea’s productive capacity, creating opportunities for employment, investment and better husbandry of the ocean’s resources. The project provides an innovative perspective on private ownership and property rights as a foundation for prosperity in coastal and rural communities both in Atlantic Canada and internationally.

To find out more about the Templeton Awards, visit the Atlas Economic Research Foundation website at www.atlasusa.org/programs/tfa/index.php 

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Part Five: AIMS’ National and International Profile Continues to Build
Framing the Debate on Healthcare, Education and Canada – US Relations

Whether it was the national coverage of our groundbreaking Definitely NOT the Romanow Report on health care, or White House policy advisor and speechwriter David Frum’s characterization of AIMS as “the Special Forces of the think tank movement”, or our fourth Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Award for think tank excellence, or Opposition Leader Stephen Harper’s comment that, “dollar for dollar, AIMS is the best think tank in Canada”, or the invitation from Charles Baillie at TD Canada Trust to write the paper on the future of regional development policy for the TD Canada Trust Forum on Canada’s Standard of Living, or the invitation to address an international audience in New Zealand on who should own the seas — 2003 was a banner year for recognition of the influence of AIMS and the contribution that we make to the regional, national and international policy debate. That is the message of AIMS’ 2002-03 Annual Report released earlier this month.

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