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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The silver lining of recession

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 A completely unrelated picture, from Luc at Montreal Daily Photo

The likelihood of this worldwide recession simply blowing over Canada appears to be a increasingly ridiculous possibility. But perhaps this is the ideal time to invest in overdue infrastructure for Canada’s major cities, a tried-and-tested strategy for stimulating the economy in tough times. A “New New Deal”, one might call it.

In fact, that’s exactly what Jean Perrault, president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, is telling Stephen Harper and provincial leaders. As the CBC reports:

Many economists agree it’s a tried and true way of keeping an economy going, especially when they’re not make-work projects (it’s hard to argue Canada’s infrastructure isn’t in need of repair when a bridge collapses in Quebec or a sewage treatment plant leaks sewage into an Ontario river). 

The article cites the need to invest in roads and bridges and the like. I sincerely hope “the like” includes rail, both between cities (like the long sought after high speed rail corridor from Windsor – Quebec City) and urban mass transit options, like the long awaited tramways up avenue de Parc and chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges.


  1. A crazy paradox at the heart of Canada is that while we have always thought of ourselves traditionally as some kind of landscape paradise people, more than half of us live in 6 major urban centers. Add in the smaller cities and it is hard to get away from the fact that Canadians are actually city people. And it has been a long time coming in even beginning to get both federal and provincial governments to acknowledge that. Harper, for example, has no interest in the cities, happy to leave that up to the provinces. So, given who we are in reality, does it make any sense at all to have such a person as Prime Minister? There are some signs at the provincial level, but that is more often because they have little choice rather than being part of any shift in thinking or practice. Whether any one likes it or not, our cities are our future, and what we do with them will decide who we really are indeed.

  2. Leaving aside the highly-needed and highly-desirable expansions of the public transport systems, what about the basic maintenance on our infrastructure networks? Between the collapsing overpasses and rupturing water mains, the existing infrastructure could use a little work too.

  3. I guess that this recession news does have one good side if all of Canada’s major cities get some infusion of cash for their public transit plans. Hopefully the Blue Line gets it’s needed extension eastward if federal dollars start flowing. In the US when FDR had implemented the New Deal, a lot of subway construction happened in NYC as well as dams in Tennessee and other types of needed infrastructure investments. I think federal dollars flow a little easier if rapid transit crosses regions like the extension of the Orange Line into Laval and in Vancouver the building of the Canada Line from Vancouver to Richmond. Here in Toronto we are starting work to extend the University/Spadina line north to York U. and then into Vaughn. Montreal might have a good chance of getting some federal dollars coming if they decided to extend the Yellow Line further into Longueuil.

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