The first is coping with the inexorable trend towards urbanization. By 2036, over 60 per cent of the world's population will reside in cities. The burgeoning number of urban dwellers worldwide will put pressure on city governments in areas ranging from housing to services, infrastructure to transportation.
Cities are more important than ever in efforts to address climate change. By 2050 global city populations are expected to almost double in size, but urban areas already account for nearly 75 per cent of total carbon emissions. Cities all around the planet have the opportunity to transition "from grey to green."
Cities have a different approach to migration. They are not in the business of controlling who crosses and settles within their boundaries, or ordering their communities based on where residents are coming from. Rather, their role is to be inclusive and provide access to resources and services for all residents.
The Olympic Games in Rio are about to open, and there is great cause for celebration. The Olympics were founded to foster harmony between nations and celebrate the achievements of individuals who devote their life to excellence in sports. However, the Olympics offer little cause for celebration on economic grounds.
For the most part, our brains didn't evolve in cities. But in a few decades, almost 70 per cent of the world's people will live in urban environments. Despite the prosperity we associate with cities, urbanization presents a major health challenge. Cities, with their accelerated pace of life, can be stressful. The results are seen in the brains and behaviour of those raised in cities or currently living in one.
The economy is not an abstract concept to be debated like some complex math equation. It is the day to day moments of our life that tell us whether it is safe to dream of something better for ourselves and for our children. The truth is this: on Thursday night, if a party leader does not spell out a serious plan to work with cities and municipalities, then don't be fooled. They don't have a serious plan for jobs and the economy. With that it mind, here are five questions federal political leaders need to answer in Thursday night's debate.
Here in Canada, where more than 81 per cent of us now live in urban centres, the challenge is how to create successful communities that are safe, healthy and sustainable. Jobs are of course central, but so too is making cities affordable for the majority. In Greater Vancouver, the average house price now exceeds $801,000, a rise of 83 per cent in the past decade.
Canada's newest "national park" is a vibrant patchwork of green space meandering through dynamic downtown neighbourhoods in one of Canada's densest metropolises, along the former path of a creek buried more than 100 years. It's a welcoming space for birds and bees that's nurturing a new generation of city-builders. And it may spread to your city.
Amid the dire warnings about global warming's impacts, what's often overlooked is that actions to reduce or prevent them will lead to livable communities, improved air quality, protection of natural spaces and greater economic efficiency, to name just a few benefits. So it's not surprising that tangible positive action on climate change is happening in Canada's cities. Local progress can spur even greater momentum as cities collaborate with each other and other levels of government.
Despite being a vast land of mountains, forests and ice, Canada is an urban nation. Over 80 per cent of us live in large centres like Montreal, Toronto and Calgary, as well as rapidly growing communities like Regina, Surrey and Markham. This increasing concentration of people in cities is consistent with rapid urbanization over the whole planet.
The question of how cities regulate night-time behaviour is a very old one, but it has emerged as the focus of innovative thinking in the last two decades. The conflict between a growing market of young people demanding late-night entertainment and gentrified homeowners complaining about noise is being handled in various ways across the country.