Highlights from Inspire Burlington “Perverse Cities” Discussion

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March 1, 2013

Inspire Burlington featuring Dr. Pamela Blais will air on TVCogeco:

  • Monday, Mar. 11, at 2 pm
  • Tuesday Mar. 12 at 3 pm. 
  • Wednesday, Mar. 13 at 1 pm

Last night Dr. Pamela Blais gave a very interesting talk about municipal finance and planning at the first Inspire Burlington event of 2013.

IMG_2005Dr. Blais did a very good job of highlighting some of the effects and impacts of municipal tax, spending and policy. We heard about innovative ways that other municipalities have used municipal financial tools to encourage growth  and creative ways to finance investment in infrastructure, transit and community building.

Dr. Blais talk highlighted how a municipality may have specific planning goals in their official plan, but do not always achieve the expected results because of “perverse subsidies” around development charges.

In the past we have wanted development charges to be simple, to encourage growth and development. We have been over charging some types of development, and undercharging and subsidizing other types of development that are more expensive to provide services.

Going forward, we need to have clear policy about IMG_2032what type of development we want to encourage, and we also need to have the correct municipal finance tools in place to encourage that type of development. Our financial policies need to match with our planning policies and official plan in a way that encourages mixed use, compact and walkable communities.

I always appreciate hearing different perspectives IMG_2051and learning different points of view. We had some great questions from the audience about transit spending, investment in local roads, and property tax vs. user fees collection for municipal services.


Dr. Blais presented an intriguing idea about development charges on a per hectare basis to encourage condensed, infill development in areas that are already serviced by municipal infrastructure and services.

These ideas and the discussion are particularly timely as we continue with our  Official Plan Review  and a review of our Development Charges Framework for the city. This is an excellent opportunity to consider our current approach and new ideas to achieve the type of growth that we want for our future.

For those not able to attend, Dr. Blais talk will be broadcast on TV Cogeco in the near future. We will advise of the date.

Please take a few minutes to provide your feedback in this short survey.

I look forward to continuing this conversation with you and hearing your thoughts on Dr. Blais presentation, our Official Plan Review, and also about Development Charges.



Thank you to those who completed the survey for this event. 97% of you found value in the information provided by Dr. Blais’ keynote address; 100% believe the Inspire Burlington series beneficial to residents and plan to attend our next event. There were several wonderful suggestions made on future topics as well. Our next event is May 2, 2013 – see information below.

Dr. David Mowat
Medical Officer of Health, Peel Region
“Healthy Cities”
May 2, 2013
7:00 pm
The Burlington Performing Arts Centre
Please reserve your seat by registering online or by calling 905-335-7607. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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