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Harry Moroz

Urban Lessons from Abroad: Money, Power, Respect

When Mayor David Miller of Toronto (yes, Toronto, Canada) talks about the relationship of Canada’s cities to its federal government, he riffs off the album title of Billboard’s Top Hip Hop Album of 1998: It’s about money, power, and respect, he says.

Although the Mayor’s New Deal for Cities confronts governance issues that are unique to Canada’s federal system, Miller’s New Deal is designed to force the federal government to recognize the unique value of Canada’s cities and to listen closely to their requests. As Mayor Miller told MayorTV:

“We’ve been arguing for a long time in Toronto that the national and provincial governments needed to understand that Canada’s major cities were different. That because of the economy, because of social values…you needed to support your large national cities.”

The effort has paid off:

We’ve been very successful in having resources transferred from the national and in some cases provincial governments to the cities.

Miller’s New Deal for Cities informs how the federal government here in the United States can rethink its relationship to the nation’s cities in order to recognize their importance and better address their concerns.

Although the “money, power, and respect” motto seems a bit bold, the Mayor’s subtlety lies in what he expects to gain from the federal government. It’s not exactly money he wants, but investment. Pressed to provide an example of the difference, he argued to MayorTV that there are three demonstrable gains from investing in public transit: an alternative to cars that can save consumers money at a time of costly gas prices; density that creates a vibrant economy and promotes walking (good for physical health); and well-paid jobs.

Watch Mayor Miller, an international spokesperson for cities, describe Toronto’s success in working with the federal government and talk about his efforts to green Toronto’s apartment towers at MayorTV.

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Posted at 1:29 PM, Sep 26, 2008 in Cities | Infrastructure | Urban Affairs
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