“Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policies and Urban Sprawl”

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Feb. 21, 2013

Many of us feel, and indeed know, that Burlington is a great place to live, work and play. In a recent Environics poll, 95% of those polled ranked their quality of life as either good or excellent. That is something that I believe we should all be proud of and is certainly something we should all strive to maintain in the future.

In 2011, I initiated a speakers’ series called Inspire Burlington. Through this initiative, I have been inviting visionary speakers to address our Burlington residents.

I have asked these speakers to spark our imaginations, challenge us into thinking differently, show us new ideas, and bring global issues into focus with a Burlington perspective.

Inspire has become a marketplace of innovative thinking that encourages your input through interactive question and answer sessions.

Our next event takes place on February 28th at 7 pm at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

I have invited Dr. Pamela Blais to speak to us. Her talk is entitled Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl:

“We’ve been trying to curb urban sprawl for some time now – decades in fact – with limited success. With the Province’s Places to Grow plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, there’s a renewed emphasis on shifting urban growth to the already built up parts of the city, and on creating compact, “complete” communities. But, given our planning history, will this actually happen?

The main reason that we’ve had limited success so far is that our public sector financing tools actually promote sprawl. We need to fix these powerful financial misincentives if we are really serious about shifting our pattern of urban development to one that’s more sustainable.” – Dr. Pamela Blais

Inspire Burlington, February 2013As a City, we are interested in having Dr. Blais talk to us about what we could be doing in Burlington to better ensure that our municipal financing tools serve the vision we lay out in our Official Plan. We want to make sure that our policies can be implemented in a realistic way. We want to hear how sustainable development can be achieved through market-oriented tools that promote efficient, sustainable cities.

The City is carrying out an Official Plan Review, and is also embarking on a review of its Development Charges framework. These initiatives present an excellent opportunity for the City to consider our
current approach with respect to our municipal tools.

Many of our current planning policies promote the efficient use of land and sustainable development. Since the city is reaching a state of “build-out”, our Official Plan Review will address how we can “grow in place” within our urban limits.

I encourage you to register to attend Inspire Burlington with Dr. Blais through my website: www.burlington.ca/mayor or by calling 905-335-7607. As always, this is a free event and open to the public but seating is limited so please call to ensure space is available.

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