Perspectives Papers | 2016

National Urban Policy: A Roadmap for Canadian Cities

Over the past 50 years, interest in a national urban policy in Canada has waxed and waned. Although the 1960s represented a high water mark in terms of creating national institutions on urban issues, efforts to develop a national urban policy languished until the early 2000s.

The 21st century has seen a renewed interest internationally in national urban policies. This paper draws on the experience of countries that have explicitly pursued national urban policies to solve complex and interrelated urban challenges: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Brazil, and France.

It is unclear whether Canada will establish a similar policy or institution. If it does, however, this paper proposes three elements for a national urban policy:

  • Collaborative governance involving cities as joint partners in deciding their fates with the provinces and federal government.
  • Coordinating the diverse policies that affect the quality of life of Canadians living in cities.
  • Robust policy, research, and monitoring mechanisms to identify what is working and best practices both nationally and internationally.
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