PricewaterhouseCoopers has reported on the role of urban centres in the context of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic and social growth. Dear old Soggyville comes in as number 2 – not so bad when Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai are well down the list.  Their work is called “Building Better Cities: Competitive, sustainable and livable metropolises in APEC (and how to become one).” They studied 28 urban centers over 39 indicators in their first-ever city study.
It is a helpful broad view of many of the factors that PwC think important in city-making.
Number 1 ranking goes to Toronto, surprisingly, due mostly to a balanced scorecard.
The full PwC report is here:
How was the study done?  “Building Better Cities draws on the methodology devised for PwC’s Cities of Opportunity  study, and aims to shine a light on urban success in APEC cities by measuring their livability, sustainability, and competitiveness.”
What interested me most was the section on Connectivity, which, among other things, deals with moving physically around the city. Vancouver ranks low on mass transit coverage, and highish on traffic congestion.  Too, the concept of multi-modal transportation appears several times.
And on a topic that I follow closely, PwC has this to say:

“Getting more commuters out of cars or cabs and on to bikes is gathering momentum in numerous cities, such as Santiago and Mexico City. Ecobici, Mexico City’s government-backed bike-sharing program, for instance, is the largest in North America.”

On a currently hot Canadian topic, PwC weighs in on page 27:

Time for a new urban-national Partnership.  In researching this report, we heard repeatedly the call for urbanization to become a national issue—for a new collaboration between national and urban governments to rapidly resolve metropolitan issues, via an urbanization agency, if you will.”

It’s hard to disagree with this idea.
Good reading all. And many thanks to Jacob Parry at BC Business for the tip.
Ken Ohrn
Don’t forget to submit new material on while Gordon is away.


  1. The cries for “National Housing Policy” simply mean country-wide tax collection, funnelled through Ottawa, then dispersed through provinces to local gov’ts to housing providers (private, public, and nonprofit), then whatever is left trickles back to lower-income citizens in a few, token projects. Laundering the tax dollars this way make it harder to follow the money. It would be more of a make-work program for slothful c-servants.
    Housing is an issue that ranges from a neighborhood to (at most) a metro region. Beyond that size, having one-size-fits-all programs are ineffective and wasteful. Housing demands local solutions.
    A centrally-planned program is a non-starter and been diminishing for years. It was a 20th c approach that was inefficient and unsustainable then. Inconceivable now. You can even find idiots calling for UN-sanctioned, ‘global’ housing policy.

  2. I respectfully disagree with Sarah Pottinger.
    The federal government has every right to be more engaged with its own citizens and constituents, the vast majority of whom live in cities. The government can indeed foster better neighbourhoods and therein elevate the quality of life of Canadians through housing programs, investments in transit, building better institutions, providing more efficient programs, and lightening the tax burden where it counts, such as on small businesses and the middle class.
    The removal of physical, institutional and economic barriers for immigrants and refugees also fosters better neighbourhoods and opportunity for residents of all backgrounds and origins. There are parallels between the successes (and failures) of base communities and newcomers. There are measureable differences between crime-addled, desolate communities with troubled, isolated youth susceptible to crime, drugs and extremism (e.g. Brussels’ Molenbeek) and adjacent neighbourhoods with resourceful and thriving youth and families (Cureghem, just across a canal from Molenbeek). These differences are directly related to public investments that result in streets bursting with pedestrian traffic and small family enterprise opportunity, good transit connections, excellent schools, intilligently designed and managed public or subsidized housing where needed, quality day care, access to good health care and legal aid, etc., These are the things that build strong social networks within communities. The federal government contributes to most of these investments in one form or another.
    Doug Sounders wrote an extensive piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail on this very topic, in relation to why so many of the terrorists that attacked Paris came from one neighbourhood in Brussels, and also the urban commonalities with other disaffected and violent youth elsewhere. He cited the research of the Global Diversity Exchange, Ryerson U, Bertelsmann Foundation and the Cities Alliance. Here’s a link to an abbreviated online version of his article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *