There is nothing like a budget to get you writing again, and with the wealth of commentary out there already I am going to keep this entry brief. Reaction to the announced $12billion for infrastructure spending and $1billion for green infrastructure has received mixed reviews. But overall people seem pretty excited about it. A few notes to provide context:
-- Expansion plans for both the Vancouver and Toronto public transportation systems currently have deficits of close to $11 billion and $40billion respectively. Funds for these projects, and other like them across the country, come from municipal and provincial as well as from Ottawa. But transit is a key component of infrastructure development, urban livability and economic stimulus. The new budget seems to provide little money or leadership on the issue. I would have liked to see a targeted approach to public transit spending.
-- The small amount of money set aside for intelligently designed infrastructure (also known as "green" infrastructure) again clearly shows the Conservative governments instinctive dislike for innovation. Details are slim, but what is there points to a continued focus on Carbon Capture and Storage research, that also received a large chunk of the money earmarked for enviro projects in the last budget. This despite the fact that CCS has been shown to be ineffective for Canada's main single source of emissions and that many other investments would create considerably greater short and long term economic and environmental returns.
Looking for Inspiration
If you are looking for alternatives, custom has it that you should turn to some European leader. Instead, I'd say look to Ontario. Not only is it on track to completely cut coal by 2014, it has also gone further than any other Canadian province to put in place the type of energy grid that makes alternative energy and microgeneration viable. EnviroWonk, a blog that I have been enjoying recently, put up a good profile a few days ago. To really stimulate the economy, the budget would have taken a page from Ontario's playbook. Effective federal spending would have helped to jump start a national infrastructure transition, not just tried to find more places under the carpet to hide things.
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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.
You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.
You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.
Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.
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