How Can Cities Advance Climate Change Priorities in the COVID Recovery?

In partnership with WSP Canada. Featuring Deborah Harford, Executive Director, Adaption to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University; Mel de Jager, Senior Advisor, Climate Change and Resilience, WSP Canada; Shoshanna Saxe, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, University of Toronto; and Chandra Sharma, CAO, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. No more ‘regressing to the mean’

We cannot go back to the way that we used to operate. Resilience shouldn’t mean to “bounce-back” but to “bounce-forward.” We need to utilize the policy window that COVID has created and implement plans that are just and sustainable. We need to invest in projects that have multiple co-benefits. This is no time to regress to business as usual.

2. Simple > Sexy

As we begin to see cities transition to a new phase of recovery, there is a cloud of speculation over how stimulus investments will be spent. Our panel discussed the benefits of smaller and faster local infrastructure projects.

3. Gendered impacts of stimulus investment

Infrastructure is a male dominated industry. Investing in big infrastructure projects will put people back to work, but the jobs that are created will not benefit everyone equally. We need recovery investments that benefit everyone.

4. Pilot Season has come to Canada

Municipal governments need to show their leadership by embracing innovative and daring ideas. Canadian cities are experimenting with non-permanent pilot solutions. But cities should avoid “knee-jerk” reactions, such as building out to the suburbs to avoid population density, and should instead test, assess, and adapt as necessary as we move through and out of the crisis.

5. How do we pay for the change?

The panel discussed how governments can raise the capital necessary to implement shovel-worthy green projects. We need to find new ways to pay not only for green infrastructure and more green spaces, but also for affordable housing and social programs for vulnerable populations.

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