Part One: Tickets for Wendell Cox Luncheon moving quickly following HRM development moratorium

Tickets for AIMS upcoming event with Wendell Cox, a respected international consultant in both demographics and transportation, are moving quickly. With the recent imposition of a freeze on development in Halifax Regional Municipality, interest in Mr. Cox’s talk is high among developers, civic officials and others interested in urban planning issues.

In recent years, many urban centres have adopted the “Smart Growth” strategy. This advocates restricting urban expansion thereby creating higher density cities. Mr. Cox refers to this strategy as “anti-opportunity” and says it is a recipe for urban decline and social injustice.

“Smart Growth, restricts the supply of housing and drives up prices. This means fewer households are able to climb on board the economic engine of home ownership, which clearly discriminates against those with average or below average incomes. We can’t have it both ways. Either we want to reduce poverty or we want to achieve a particular city form that makes planners feel warm and fuzzy as they pedal around town. Urban planning should be responsive, not prescriptive. It should respond to the needs and desires of people, not seek to impose standards of behaviour on them. ”

Wendell Cox is sought after as a compelling and thoughtful speaker with extensive experience consulting on urban transportation issues throughout Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Cox was a vocal opponent of amalgamation of the city of Toronto. He has recently spoken to Quebec Public-Private Partnership conference, the Greater Toronto Transportation Summit and the 10th annual Canadian Society of Civil Engineers Student Conference at the University of Toronto.

This AIMS luncheon is a must for anyone with an interest in urban development in Atlantic Canada and the country more generally. Join AIMS for this timely, informative and thought-provoking talk on Monday February 23rd at 12 Noon at the Casino Nova Scotia Hotel, Lower Water Street Halifax. Register for this event by contacting Bonnie Williams by phone at (902) 446 3332, by fax at (902) 425-1393  
 

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Part Two: Tax Drives Money-Jobs Out Of Vermont
Latest in AIMS’ “Atlantica” Series Verifies Importance of Cross-Border Synergy

Vermont is driving retail business out of state with its sales tax. That is the conclusion of the most recent Atlantica paper released by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.

The Atlantica project is examining the international northeast as one interconnected economic zone. As part of this multi-year research initiative, AIMS is releasing A RIVER DIVIDES IT: A Comparative Analysis of Retailing in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire authored by Art Woolf, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Vermont. The conclusion of this paper outlines economic distortions caused by conflicting public policy choices across a common border.

This study examines the nature and extent of changes in retail activity in the border counties of Vermont and New Hampshire over the past forty years. The border counties have seen similar population growth over that period of time, but economic growth rates of the two regions have diverged significantly.

Dr. Woolf states in his report that, “If Vermont had not implemented its sales tax, Vermont’s border counties would have 1,900 more retail jobs and $322.7 million more in retail sales than existed in 1997.”

There is evidence provided that the public policy choices Vermonters have made are pushing retail business across the Connecticut River. The study also concludes that the effect of Vermont’s sales tax took well over a decade to be felt.

This paper is a component of a much larger initiative being led by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). Through the Atlantica project, AIMS is focusing on removing the barriers to cross-border economic growth in the region that includes the Atlantic provinces, northern New England, northern New York state and southern Quebec.
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Part Three: AIMS Participating in CD Howe Institute Policy Roundtable Luncheon

How Governments Can Best Promote Economic Development in Atlantic Canada

C.D. Howe Institute will present a 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, Hollis Street, Halifax.

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.

Presentations will be made by AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley, who has written extensively on this topic and Basil Ryan, Chief Operating Officer, Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations.

William Black, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Maritime Life Assurance Company will chair the luncheon and Jack M. Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the C.D Howe Institute will also be in attendance.

C.D. Howe Institute Policy Roundtables offer an unequalled opportunity to meet decision makers and discuss vital policy issues in an off-the-record forum. For more information send your request to meetings@cdhowe.org.

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Part Four: Scientific Consensus: The first refuge of scoundrels

True science is not about committing to any particular outcome or set of results. It is not about proving global warming or the safety of genetically engineered foods. It is about a commitment to using scientific method to determine what is true. That means being committed to whatever results the method produces, regardless of the popularity of those results.

When Galileo set out to determine if the earth was indeed not the centre of the universe, he was met head on with a “scientific consensus” of the day that vehemently said otherwise. 400 years, and presumably some enlightenment later, the argument of “scientific consensus” continues to be trotted out when the result of scientific study proves politically inconvenient.

In his regular column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald and Moncton Times and Transcript, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley argues that science does not move ahead via consensus and that scientific innovation almost always has to struggle against those with a vested interest in things staying just the way they are. 

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Part Five: Farmed Salmon: The moral panic du jour

Farmed salmon is safe. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has repeatedly said so, Health Canada promotes it as a healthy form of protein, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it is an excellent source of those Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and proteins and Britain’s Food Standards Agency says there is evidence that eating salmon reduces the risk of death from heart attacks. So why is it being removed from some supermarkets?

Recently, media reports citing a study that says farmed salmon contains higher levels of chemicals than wild salmon are giving people the impression that farmed salmon is bad for you. The study published in Science magazine says the farmed salmon have higher trace levels of PCBs. What the study doesn’t point out is milk, eggs, and meats routinely contain the same or higher trace amounts of PCBs, yet all are quite safe to eat. So, why single out farmed salmon? It may have something to do with who helped finance the study in the first place. 

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