How Should Cities Prepare for Stimulus and Recovery?

In partnership with WSP Canada. Featuring John Godfrey, former federal Minister for Infrastructure & Communities, and Amarjeet Sohi, Senior Advisor, ALAR Strategy Group

5 Key

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

1. Appetite for post-COVID-19 intergovernmental collaboration

In the recovery phase, the lessons we are learning from COVID-19 highlight the importance of and opportunities for greater intergovernmental collaboration. Creative collaboration between levels of government is critical, and meaningful open discussions are needed on how to rebuild going forward. “There is cooperation and collaboration, and a willingness [of governments] to work together to find solutions,” noted one of the panelists.

2. Filling the gaps

As cities recover, there is a need to consider future investments that mitigate gaps in physical infrastructure of cities, such as expanding high-speed internet access, green conditions in stimulus packages, and retrofitting apartment neighbourhoods.

3. Autonomy through trust

COVID-19 has shown the opportunities and limitations of municipal responses in a federalist system. The panelists agreed that cities need more autonomy, as well as a federal Minister of Urban Affairs, who functions as an intergovernmental facilitator to tackle wicked problems collectively. However, long-term intergovernmental collaboration requires the building of trust between the three levels of government, and a trust that survives political regimes.

4. Human-centric recovery

Recovery post-COVID-19 must take a human-centric approach, as cities are composed of people and are made vibrant by interpersonal relationships and networks. People must be part of the process of rebuilding, especially through investments in social infrastructure that contribute to the long-term sustainability of communities. Questions about housing and the need for secure housing should be front and centre, and alternative land-uses for existing sites in cities should be considered in the rebuilding effort.

5. Transit post-COVID-19

The role of transit post-COVID-19 will require support from all levels of government. While transit is critical to mitigating climate change and the path to decarbonization, the perception of mass transit will change after COVID-19. The panellists noted that we must not lose sight of the long-term benefits of transit, and consider now to be the time to think about transit innovations like electrification. We must use the crisis as a catalyst to imagine the future of mobility so that we do not go back to unsustainable patterns of land-use.

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