Economic Recovery: What does the path forward look like for Canada’s urban regions?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Social Infrastructure and ground-up solutions are key to economic recovery
The recovery from COVID-19 provides cities with an opportunity to improve existing social infrastructure and confront the deep inequity in our default growth-at-any-cost mindset. Nova Scotia’s value proposition as a growing economy is directly linked to the city’s wellbeing and quality of life, says Jennifer Angel, President and CEO of Develop Nova Scotia. “We see great opportunity in continuing to prioritize social infrastructure so that the economy we rebuild is one where everyone can participate. [We also need to change] the way we measure growth and progress to be focused more on wellbeing […] than on growth at the expense of people and planet”.
2. Systemic inequality puts minority-owned businesses and workers at greater risk.
COVID-19 has exacerbated existing systemic inequalities in the Black community. Frances Delsol, Executive Director of Black Business and Professional Association, quotes a recently published report by the African Canadian Senate Group and Senator Colin Deacon on the barriers faced by black entrepreneurs: 80% of Black-owned businesses stated that emergency subsidies would not help them as compared to only 37% of non-Black-owned businesses; 85% of Black-owned businesses are worried about permanent closure; and 98% of Black-owned businesses have no more capacity to take on debt. Indeed, 20% of non-Black-owned businesses were able to remain open during the pandemic compared to only 7 to 8% of Black-owned businesses. Says Frances, “The infrastructure has to be dismantled and be rebuilt to include those who have been excluded.”
3. Harnessing the potential of turning IP in to GDP
Edmonton’s regional economy was facing challenges well before the pandemic. The Region’s current growth strategy, in large part focused on diversifying the economy and reducing its dependence on the oil and gas sector, aims to help the region become more competitive globally. Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global, says that the region is concentrating on emergent technologies and industries: food and agricultural technology, hydrogen, artificial intelligence (AI), and more. Edmonton is one of the top three major cities in Canada exploring AI, and the University of Alberta is ranked third globally for its AI research. Turning that IP into GDP, says Malcolm, will lead Edmonton through the economic recovery.
4. Foreign Direct Investment is closely related to a vibrant and dynamic city
Despite COVID-19 challenges, Stéphane Paquet of Montréal International reports that Montréal just had its best first quarter ever for regarding attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the Greater Montréal region. He discusses how FDI is crucial in bringing in new actors and ideas, providing employment opportunities for local talents, and stimulating the local economy. Stéphane highlights that attracting FDI depends on building a vibrant, dynamic, and attractive community where talent can live, work, and play. Cities must invest in urban wellbeing and complete neighbourhoods to stimulate economic growth.
5. Transportation infrastructure will help distribute the economic growth and success
According to Marcy Burchfield, Vice President of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, to chart the best path forward, we need to understand the unique dynamics of our economies at the regional and subregional scales. Regional connectivity is also critical. Marcy gives the example of better transportation infrastructure in the Toronto region, such as a Two-Way All-Day commuter GO service. Just last month, the Province of Ontario announced the next step towards this service on the Kitchener line, which will contribute to continuing to stimulate the region’s economic development.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:58] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased that you’re joining us here for CityTalk. It’s a gorgeous day here in Toronto, and behind me, I can hear the construction sounds and backup beepers, which is in some ways a reassuring sound, but it’s also a bit bothersome. I appreciate that so I’m sorry if you’re getting lots of background noise. Toronto is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa, the Annishnabec, the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. Home to many First Nations, Metis and Inuit, and diverse communities across Turtle Island. And we have two treaties here, Treaty 13, the Williams Treaties. We are a national organization and we have colleagues and partners, many of whom are on this call today actually, across the country and each of us coming from different ancestral lands, and coming to terms with the legacies of exclusion and the extent to which are the way we built communities and the way that we resourced communities had reinforced all sorts of kinds of discrimination. And how are we going to come out of this in a way that confronts that head-on, and build cities differently, builds communities differently, taking into account all voices and trying to dismantle some of the patterns that have actually excluded folks. And Covid made that so clear to everyone, I think, and we can now visibly see it, and it’s had tragic, tragic consequences. So I was just saying before the broadcast came on that we have an enormous opportunity. We all, I think, feel the weight of that to come out of Covid with cities in a stronger place, in an economically fairer place, in a more equitable place. And here we’ve got fabulous leaders to talk to us about how do we address that from a regional perspective and what are the realities that we’re seeing in terms of the economic challenges emerging. We have some things that were pre-existing that got worse, and then we’ve had some extraordinary shocks placed, particularly in our metro areas and downtown cores. And at CUI, we’ve been focused on two components of that, main streets and neighbourhoods and in downtowns and in downtown cores. And we’re about to set into five or six weeks of a heavy focus on what the future of the core, what we call “restore the core”, needs to look like. And we’re really, really pleased to have this group of folks come on and participate with us and for us to learn from each other and create those kinds of channels of connective tissue, learning so that we can learn faster and adapt faster and hopefully recover as equitably and fast as we can. So joining us today from one coast to the middle of the country, we didn’t quite get to the West Coast, is Jen Angel from Develop Nova Scotia, who’s in Halifax. Malcolm Bruce, who’s the CEO of Edmonton Global in Edmonton. Stéphane Paquet, who is the president and CEO of Montréal International. And Frances Delsol, who, bless her heart, has stepped in at the last minute because a colleague was unable to make it. And she’s the executive director of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA). And I just want to say that the opening pictures, you know, when we had the holding slide up, honestly, you’re just a handsome group of people. And Frances, it looked like you had your hand on a swing or something. Were you sitting on a swing when they took that picture? Hilarious, that’s what I want to do. You’re muted Frances, but I can see you nodding. So it just made me want to get out on a playground since we’re now, apparently we’re allowed to go back on the playgrounds and swing. So thanks for that little moment of just reminding us that there are different worlds other than our Zoom rooms. So if everyone on the chat could check in with us, let us know where you’re coming in from. It’s always good for all of us to see. There’s lots of veteran CityTalkers and we have listeners across the country and in the United States and in Europe too. So and actually, we have a regular person who comes in from South Africa. So I hope to see you’re all checking in on the chatbox so we know who we’ve got. And everybody remembers that we broadcast these live. We then post a video with some takeaways and we also post the chat. So we encourage you to put questions and comments up in the chat. There’s always a very powerful alternate universe going on over there. But just remember, like Vegas, what goes in the chat actually stays in the chat and is seen by everybody. So terrific to have all of you here. And we’re going to start, if we can, with Marcy, who is going to, Marcy Burchfield, who I actually didn’t introduce because she’s the one to start us off, from the Greater Toronto Board of Trade, Regional Board of Trade, to talk to us about their initiative and just to give us a bit of a grounding of what they’ve been tackling. And then I’m going to go to the other folks who have similar kinds of challenges in their regions. And Frances, you’re the kind of Pan-Canada view here in terms of how you see your constituency fitting into the recovery and each of these plans. OK, so, Marcy, I’m going to go over to you and again, thanks for joining us, everybody, and welcome to CityTalk.
Marcy Burchfield [00:05:48] Thanks, Mary. And thanks to the Canadian Urban Institute for this partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade, you know, an opportunity to speak to our work. And I really appreciate it. And, you know, the title of the talk is really around turning the path forward for recovery. And I would argue that to chart the best path forward, we need to really address two things. One is a framework for measuring and understanding the dynamics of regional economies, both at the metropolitan scale and the sub-metropolitan scale. And I’ll talk a little bit about what I mean by that. You know, we’re really good in Canada collecting data at the national level, at the provincial level, but in our city region level, particularly economic data, there are lots of gaps. And then secondly, I think to chart the best path forward, we need to really take a good look at the challenges and opportunities in our respective regions pre-pandemic. So in the Toronto region, just before the entire world locked down, we were one of the fastest-growing metropolitan regions in North America, a destination choice for immigrants, for tourists, for international students, a huge amount of tech investment. And while all this growth really fuelled our booming economy, it also resulted in many challenges that we all know about: unparalleled congestion, lack of transit access for many residents, and a housing affordability crisis, all of which led to increasing inequality of economic opportunities for all residents. So not all residents had equal access to the best jobs in the region, even though we were booming and growing. And last year around this time, my unit, the Economic Blueprint Institute, was set out to release the sort of five-year forward report, a data-driven blueprint, if you will, that would paint the picture of the region’s strengths and pain points, and really identify the economic enablers that would support the region’s continued growth and our global competitiveness, which also has to address all those issues that I raised. But when the pandemic hit, we were quickly forced to pivot from a blueprint that focussed on growth, to a playbook that focussed on the regional economy. And in that playbook, we introduced a framework for identifying five different types of business districts in our region, and a framework that could also be used to measure and to track economic recovery. And so over the last five months, and with the generous support of the Government of Canada, we pour over gigabytes of data. You know, everything from consumer spending data to travel pattern data to see what was the changing travel patterns in our region, occupational analysis that identified essential workers and workers who could not work from home, for example. And what that deep dive told us and revealed is that there was a real uneven impact across the five business districts that we identified. And I’ll give you just a little bit of an example and kind of flavour of that. You know, with the departure of thousands of workers and our daytime workers in our downtown core, 67 percent of that workforce was able to pivot to work from home. And also with the collapse of the business economy, both the business and leisure tourism that happened, that was, you know, that really focused on activities that were happening in our downtown core. In-person consumer spending downtown dropped by 60 percent from the previous year and just has never really come back. In contrast, if you look at another business district that, you know, where activities such as logistics and manufacturing and warehousing, where 62 percent of the jobs require workers to be on site. And where all those activities were deemed essential in Ontario, in-person consumer spending dropped 50 percent in April 2020, but rebound sharply within the next three months and actually surpassed spending from the previous year. And our e-commerce spending in that same district jacked up 30 percent from the previous year. And at the same time, where all the spending was happening in this district. We also had one of the highest exposures of workers to Covid in that district next to the health care workers in our region. So what our work really showed is that the economic impacts of the pandemic are uneven across the region. Very “hyperlocal” is a great word that Mary used to call. And really also spatially differentiated based on the kind of activities that are happening in an area, based on the workforce that’s there, and based on the physical form that’s there. And I think the other point to really speak to and this really gets to recovery is, you know, each of the districts will require a unique set of strategies for recovery to address pre-pandemic pain points, to just accelerated trends because of the pandemic, and then also to address trends that were triggered by the pandemic. So I’ll leave it at that in terms of what we are working on. And I’d love to hear from my colleagues across Canada.
Mary Rowe [00:10:37] Thanks, Marcy, and we’re appreciative of the leadership that the Board of Trade has taken on this and their partnership in trying to raise these issues. But we also appreciate that it’s not just the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) that’s experiencing this and as you just suggested. So I want to go to Jen next because the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is a particular geography. I mean, Marcy just talked about this, about the spatial nature of this. And I was interested, you sort of signalled that, Marcy, that the conditions depend on the nature of the kind of economic activity that was taking place, but also the the spatial kinds of components of that. And we’ve been seeing that repeatedly in terms of where the incidence of Covid is and where the, and also where the impact of lockdowns is, and how that varies. And Jen, if you go over to the HRM, one of the things that I am repeatedly reminded by you and your colleagues and your mayor especially, is that HRM includes lots of rural communities, it’s not just dense urban. So I’m wondering if you can give us a bit of a picture, remembering we got listeners across the country. And actually, I’m just noticing, folks, if you’re in the session and you send us a comment, can you switch your settings to panellists and all attendees, because otherwise only the six of us see it and we’d be great. And so, for instance, Sana’s coming in from Iran today. Andrew Muir, Andrew, you have a very Scottish-sounding name and you’re coming in from Edinburgh. So I just want to remind folks to change your settings so that everybody can see that you’re coming in. And we’re very interested in perspectives, if you can offer them, if you’re from another jurisdiction and want to put in something to augment the conversation, we’re really pleased to hear that. So, Jen, over to you in terms of what your perception is, in terms of the kinds of challenges that you’re seeing for your region.
Jennifer Angel [00:12:17] Yeah thanks, Mary, and I’m really pleased to be joining the panel today from Mi’kma’ki, this is the ancestral and unseated territory of the Mi’kmaq People. And I work for Develop Nova Scotia, which is a provincial Crown corporation, so talking about sort of cities today but our purview is a little bit broader than that. And as you pointed out, Halifax, the city or HRM the city, is a mix of urban and rural. You know, not unlike Marcy’s kind of summary, covid certainly revealed a lot of things that were already happening. So, you know, things like deep inequity, and I think a difficult focus on growth-at-any-cost, that is, I think something that Covid has helped us to recover from. Or through the recovery of Covid, I hope that we recover from. And I think that’s where our minds have turned. So our work is really about placemaking and social infrastructure, and the power of social infrastructure to be a catalyst for well-being for people. So everything from climate resilience, and even regeneration, to economic participation, equitable community building. And through that social infrastructure work over the years, it’s been sometimes a challenge to be heard amongst competing priorities and hard infrastructure, or important priorities like health and education. And I think what Covid has helped to do is evidence that social infrastructure is a really critical platform for communities coming together, for diverse communities coming together, to build community and also to build resilience. And Nova Scotia has done relatively well compared to other centres, Halifax has done relatively well compared to other centres through Covid. So at many times over the last year or so, things haven’t felt that different from usual. We’re now in a third wave and a bit of a lockdown, so it’s certainly challenged now. But as we look to recovery, we see great opportunity in both continuing to prioritize social infrastructure so that the economy we rebuild is one where everyone can participate, and also changing the way we measure growth and progress to be focused more on wellbeing and subjective wellbeing than on growth at the expense of people and planet.
Mary Rowe [00:15:12] Interesting to hear an economic developer talking about well-being. And how are we gonna get that, do we have the measures for that, I guess, is the question. Frances, I want to come to you next, because you’re the person with the broadest purview here. You know, Canada’s history in investing in infrastructure isn’t a particularly laudable or glamorous one. I mean, we built railways using basically indentured labour. I mean, we have a long, long history of these kinds of large investments without equity at all being centred either in what is being built or who is being built by. So I’m interested what your perspective is and what are you seeing in the black business community in terms of the priorities that your members are identifying? So welcome to CityTalk and interested to hear your perspective. And then I’m going to go to the men on the panel. So don’t fall asleep, Malcolm and Stéphane, we’re getting to you. Go ahead, Frances.
Frances Delsol [00:16:06] Thank you, Mary. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and this esteemed panel today. I’d say that Covid-19 exacerbated a problem that had already existed in the black community for ages. And as we speak economic recovery, it is critical that the populations like ours and the Aboriginal community that have historically struggled to find loans, to find investments, are assisted because these businesses are at an elevated risk of closure, a significant risk of closure, more so than the rest. And even I know that from a Canadian economic perspective, many of our businesses are. But I think the minority businesses are actually at a greater risk. And we did a survey at the BBPA and the results were astounding. Yesterday, a survey came out from the Senate and it involved a number of black businesses that were asked to give their thoughts and they interviewed black entrepreneurs. And 37 percent of regular businesses said they were, you know the, 37 percent of Canadian businesses said that the emergency subsidy wouldn’t help them. 80 percent of black businesses said it wouldn’t help them. 85 percent of black businesses were worried about permanent closure. 98 percent of black businesses believe that the government should make better enhancements to the programs. Another 98 percent said they had no more capacity to take on debt. And, you know, 20 percent of non-black businesses were able to remain open. Seven to eight percent of black businesses felt that they could remain open. So the results of the survey were staggering when you looked at the state of black business in Canada. And the survey that came out yesterday just, you know, legitimized what we have been saying for years, which is what we have been hearing from the black businesses and the black entrepreneurs. But it’s not just the pandemic, it’s the structure that has been built around not providing access, access to capital and funding. It’s the ways that the financial institutions see the black business when they walk into that door. It’s access to HR, to human resources, when we work in the corporate world, how do they see us before we even open our mouth. It’s access to diversity and inclusion amongst the board, and when you sit at the board table and nobody looks like you, how can your issues then be brought to the forefront? So that’s what we are dealing with as a black community. But it is our hope that with the government’s focus now on grants, that the 221 million dollar grant that is being geared towards the black community, will make a significant difference, if not for my generation, for at least the next one. But it’s a good first start, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Mary Rowe [00:19:25] The study that you are reporting from came out yesterday. Whose study was it, Frances?
Frances Delsol [00:19:30] It was a study by the Black Senators in the Canadian government.
Mary Rowe [00:19:36] From the Senate. OK, so one of my colleagues will find it, get the link and put it up in the chat so people can see this. I think this may have been something Senator Omidvar [0.9s] got started. I don’t know if it was Ratna or others, but I think there was some. And part of the issue we’ve got, as everybody knows I think, is that we haven’t had the data we need. You know, if there’s anything we’re going to wake up and come out of this with, it’s going to be, you know, we need to collect better data at the local level, granular level. We were publishing reports every hundred days about Covid and found it extremely difficult to get race data to show even the racialization of the incidence of Covid. And eventually, we scraped it off. But it was very, very difficult to find. So I hear you in the data piece. The other thing I thought you were going to talk about, Frances, was procurement because I know your background is also in procurement. And how can, I mean, these are I guess we’ll circle back to that, because I want to get back to Marcy and talk about what are the tools that you’re going to propose based on your regional piece and then have everybody comment on that so that we start to figure out, well, what’s the action list? And you just suggested access to credit, access to capital is critical. And then the issues of representation. And how do we get decision-making and powers that are making decisions better informed so that there are people of colour on those boards and participating? I’m going to come to you next, Malcolm, if I may, from Edmonton. I’ve gotten this far in the broadcast without making a joke about hockey. It’s really hard to maintain a Canadian sense of humour when we’ve got so many parts of the country that are struggling. And so I never want to make light of that, and we always want to acknowledge there are people still on the front line saving lives. But just saying, and Stéphane, I guess I’ll hold the hockey comment to you since you are in Montréal and we’ll have our jabbing then. So, Malcolm, over to you in terms of Edmonton and what your perspective is. And I also want to hear from the broad group about what role do you think international investment is going to place, because I know that’s part of that Malcolm and Stéphane particularly are focused on. So, Malcolm, over to you to give us a picture from Edmonton and how you’re sort of prioritizing the recovery and investments you think need to happen.
Malcolm Bruce [00:21:42] Thanks, Mary. Thanks for the opportunity to be on this panel.
Mary Rowe [00:21:45] Delighted to have you.
Malcolm Bruce [00:21:48] It’s just tremendous. So Edmonton Metropolitan Region is a bit of a different place. And part of it is, as we’ve suffered the same kind of challenges that have been highlighted already from Covid. But the difference was, as we went into Covid with already a set of challenges that we are dealing with. And I would say to you that this has put us in a little better position when we talk about the recovery, simply because we’ve had to deal with some real challenges in 2014, crash of oil, where we’re actually giving our energy away for less what we are paying for it, as well as the infrastructure. As you know, Energy East, Northern Gateway was in question. The challenges of moving products from western Canada to coastlines for market export have been enormous and haven’t gone away. So those two challenges, the crash in energy and the lack of infrastructure to move product were well before Covid hit. So when Covid hit, it just exacerbated all the challenges. So for those that may not know, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region has 10.2 percent unemployment, the second-highest unemployment currently today in the country behind Newfoundland. We have the second youngest metropolitan region in the country at 36 years of age, so young people is a concern for us. So what this force the region to do before Covid was figure out how we were going to become more globally competitive as a region and stop competing locally because we are no longer able to compete locally to create the outcomes we wanted. So Edmonton Global was created from a regional perspective to look at global investment and global competitiveness. So when Covid hit, we said, do we still have this right? Are we still able to track into the direction that we wanted to in the sectors that we think we have some real strength and some value proposition we can take to a global marketplace? And the answer was yes. So we didn’t really need to change many things when Covid hit because we were already starting to diversify our economy and get off the dependency to a large degree of the oil and gas sector. So, for example, I’ll give you one sector that we’re looking at is food and agriculture. And if you look at Ontario, their farm sales to value-added is three to one. So three dollars of value-added for every one dollar of farm sale, British Columbia is three to one. In Alberta, it’s one to one. And you figure the prairie provinces are the breadbasket of Canada in terms of its production and its amount of arable land for farming, and yet, by and large, we’re at one to one or less than one to one in terms of farm sales and value-added. So we are not taking full advantage and diversifying the economy and some of the strengths we have. The other one is where are the emerging technologies are? So if you think about Artificial Intelligence, you don’t think about Edmonton necessarily, but it’s one of the three major centres in Canada for Artificial Intelligence. The University of Alberta is ranked number three globally for Artificial Intelligence. And then you figure out how do you take that IP and turn it into GDP. That was a phrase that’s only quoted to me once and I thought it was fantastic. So really, when it comes to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, we went into Covid with a plan, Covid has obviously impacted many sectors, but we’re coming out of Covid with the same plan, with the approach, because we needed to do that before Covid even hit. So I’m actually pretty buoyed by the opportunities and the diversification that we’re going to see coming out of Covid. And I really do believe that some of the emerging trends, whether it be hydrogen, whether it be Artificial Intelligence, whether it be digitization, or food and ag and ag-tech and food-tech, are going to be where we see it. And the interest from international investors is there. But I will caveat, we just did a big market work with Japan for example, and when asked about what were their top three things that we should consider about Japan being a feeder market for our hydrogen, the second point was B.C. and Alberta need to work better together to get the product to market. So the Japanese are telling us that we like your product, we just can’t get it from you because you can’t seem to get it to market. So I think the realities, our infrastructure remain a challenge for us as well as the investor perception and especially the energy projects or commodity projects from Canada.
Mary Rowe [00:26:19] Yeah, I mean, it’s a bit of a slap eh, when another jurisdiction says if you guys would just get your act together over there. Malcolm, thanks for that. We have a program at CUI called CUIxLocal like as of TEDx, except CUI x Local. We spend a week at a time in a city, and if we haven’t come to your city, you should email us because we’d love to come. And we spend a week and we learn like crazy and we have gazillions of meetings. And it’s part of our mandate to try to uncover what’s really working and what’s particular to cities and city-regions so that we can share that across the country. And in the late last year, we were in both Edmonton and Calgary, where we wanted to start because we wanted to make this point that Malcolm has just spoken to, which is that there are things manifesting in those two cities and they are in a province that isn’t often seen to be progressive, shall we say, or on the cutting edge of new technologies or all the kinds of things that you just described. And we were really excited by the dynamism and the vibrancy that we saw in Edmonton and around AI and around hydrogen and all the pursuits and the cultural community. And we will next month be releasing our CUI x Edmonton report and our CUI x Calgary report early in June and want to try to continue to lift up these things. And then in September, we’re coming to Jen’s town, we’re going to be in Halifax doing a CUI x Local there. So I appreciate you signalling this because I think it’s important for people across the country to realize that there are these pockets of innovation and that we need to be sharing and talking more broadly about that. Stéphane, let’s come to you next. I always sort of joke on all the convening we do across the country with people from across the country on different topics. Yesterday, we have something called the Municipal Working Group on Housing and Homelessness. And depending on the week, people have envy for one of the cities, you know, oh, I wish we were Edmonton or I wish we were. And often they say they wish they were Montréal. So even though we are pitted in a generational challenge once again between the Toronto Maple Leaves and the Montréal Canadiens.
Stéphane Paquet [00:28:20] Don’t talk to me about it!
Mary Rowe [00:28:21] Oh, yes. OK, can you talk to us about the leadership that Montréal has been providing? Because your mayor has been really out there in terms of championing what economic recovery needed to look like, how you need the downtown, particularly, to come back. And you’ve been working in tandem with your province in a way that I think is enviable for lots of us. And so I’m curious what your perspective is in terms of how you’re going to prioritize, what are the bumps you’re running up against? And then I’m going to come back to the group and we’re going to tackle some of these specific things that each of you have raised. So, Stéphane, just give us a little picture out of Montréal, could you?
Stéphane Paquet [00:28:55] Well, the first thing well, thanks for the invite. The first thing I’d like to say is when the Covid started, Montréal was really on the run. We had the biggest economic growth in all the major cities in Canada in 2018, in 2019. So we were just there. Everything was going well. Malcolm was talking about AI a bit earlier, but well, for the last three or four years in Montréal, we attracted the 40 foreign, just the foreign ones, projects in AI worth more than one billion dollars. So that was new money that was not there prior to when AI became something that we could make money out of it, but just something academic. So Montréal was really on a roll. Obviously the Covid first wave, everybody saw it, Montréal was hit pretty hard, but we did much better on the second and the third wave. And honestly, I’m listening to you today, and it’s not the first thing I have, the first time I have that feeling. But I think the mood in Montréal right now is a bit different than it can be in other places in Canada. We are already thinking, well, we’re thinking the summer. We know the terrace are going to open this week, the restaurants are coming back. And when I look at the Montréal International results for the first quarter, we had the best first quarter in 2021 that we’ve ever had regarding attracting foreign direct Iinvestment (FDI), the value we had and also the number of projects, we’ve never done so well. And last year, well, we had ten out of ten months of Covid, obviously, we were lower than the year before – 2019 we were at minus 15 percent in value. But still, we had a record number of projects at 90 that we did attract. And also when we compare to the rest of the world, the rest of the world was more or less minus 35 percent in FDI, we were minus 15. So we did much better than the rest of the world. And I see the economy growing right now. In fact, we’re almost where we were in terms of GDP prior to the pandemic where we are now. There aren’t that many economies in the world that can say that. And so, yeah, I think the mood has changed. As I said, the first wave was very, very, very depressing, very sad. But nowadays, I think we’ve done, the government have done a good job for the second and the third wave and we’re ready. And how could it look, this relaunch of the economy for us? Obviously, there’s going to be a bigger focus on everything that’s green tech, because we think with the hydroelectricity that we have and we’ve already had the few projects and that, but we will put more focus on a green recovery than we could have thought we would have done normally. So that will be one of the focus for Montréal International in the coming years, because we think there’s something to be done, and we think that also companies who are doing investment prior to that focused more on that aspect now. So we think that our sales pitch will be more receptive, will be received more positively, let’s put it this way.
Mary Rowe [00:32:34] Marcy, I’m interested – thanks, Stéphane – I’m interested how you have in your efforts, how have you reconciled what you’ve just heard from Stéphan and Malcolm, as I can hear some tension here around how much we recover our economy to attract foreign investment and how much of it do we find ways to reinvest locally and create local jobs. And I have some apprehension just saying that if we go gangbusters, I mean, when you say, Stéphane, that the first quarter of 2021 you’ve done better, part of me – I mean, I’m celebrating because it brings money into the system and we need to recover – but part of me worries that we will just, you know, knee jerk back to something that wasn’t actually serving communities as effectively as it could and wasn’t strengthening local communities. So, Marcy, I know in your coalition you’ve had all those different interests in that mash-up. How are you squaring that? How did you sort of see about that? How are we going to prioritize?
Marcy Burchfield [00:33:40] So, I mean, I think Toronto is a similar story in terms of – you see in the Toronto Star, you know, every day – like we’re actually also attracting all of these new tech companies, Reddit, DoorDash, like all these companies are still, the tech boom is still continuing here. And, you know, if you look at economists who says that for every kind of knowledge economy job, you have seven service economy jobs. So it actually does, that tech investment and much of which is foreign direct investment, you do spark local jobs and local entrepreneurs and local businesses. And that, I spoke off the top about just how important the visitor economy was to our downtown core and Toronto, both from bringing in tech, the biggest North American tech conference in collision, just pre-pandemic, which, again, sparks lots of opportunity for jobs, for businesses and jobs here. But I think Mary, partly what you’re speaking to is this need to integrate economic development, economic development opportunities with city building and community building. And I think that’s where we have this opportunity post-pandemic to think about that more carefully, because for those seven jobs, seven service jobs, those people need to live somewhere. You know, those people can’t just live in the periphery or drive till they qualify for a mortgage. We have to think about how we have housing, how we have transit accessibility to jobs within our larger metropolitan regions and not just our downtowns. So I think it is around taking this opportunity and to really examine what were our pain points pre-pandemic that we need to address, you know, as part of this recovery. And certainly, in many of our cities including Montréal, and cities across Canada, housing affordability is one of them. And that has not changed in the pandemic. The pandemic, we see housing prices still booming. Right? So what do we need to do to house the people who are fulfilling some of these jobs, you know, as it was?
Mary Rowe [00:35:58] Yeah. So I want to pursue that with you because I think part of that is my bias, you’re singing my song. I mean, I think we need to create more complete neighbourhoods and if and more complete districts in the cities that you have more of a variety. For instance, if we had more residential and more housing mix in downtowns and we had seen work from home become – as you said, I think you had 70 percent of the population was able to adopt work from home – so if I had worked from home, which was actually, you know, four blocks from where my office had been, then I dare say the service industries that were surrounding me in that downtown core would have stayed open because I would have still walked like I do in my neighbourhood. Now I walk over and get a takeout, whatever. And so I’m wondering if we can challenge ourselves, as you suggest, to make more complete communities and alter the mix, you know, so that the more diverse the community you have of users and spatial organization and you’ve got good transit and you could potentially – I understand it’s quite a large jurisdiction actually in terms of the Toronto’s downtown core, quite a lot of those workers could walk into work. But I’m curious about that, if you, have you sort of pushed that a little bit or are you imagining that people will now live in Burlington or living in the GTHA and then they’ll just be, technology will enable them and they won’t have to return?
Marcy Burchfield [00:37:22] So what I’ve heard and what we are hearing is that we’re going to have a hybrid model. Right, and that it’s not going to be all just work from home like it is today. I mean, it can’t be for many reasons in terms of collaboration, that’s been a big part of both knowledge economy jobs and tech jobs. And you know that the companies that are coming to Toronto that want to be part of a tech ecosystem, it’s hard to be part of that tech ecosystem if everyone dispersed across the region. But I do think that it is an opportunity, and we’re building transit in the Toronto region that is going to be more connected to two more jobs and more communities. But there’s a lot more to it than just these kind of large, you know, corridors. It is that local connection. And again, it is around how do we share in this economic success that some of our cities are having amongst local businesses in our communities? Because it wasn’t just those people who are working and living downtown that were frequenting those businesses. It was the international travellers that we brought into our cities, it was the international business travellers, it was the international leisure travellers, you know, it was other parts of Canada who come to visit. So that’s part of why we had this boom in our downtown for our service jobs to our restaurants and all that was not just for people who work there, but also for people who are visiting in our economy. That visitor economy is huge to our cities in Canada.
Mary Rowe [00:39:02] I’m interested, though, as you guys go forward in the roles that you play, do you just kind of want to go back to what we had, oh we needed this and we needed that, or are you going to prioritize a little differently? Malcolm, you’re shaking your head. Are you going to, what do you think?
Malcolm Bruce [00:39:15] I mean, the reality is we’re not going back to the way we were. And if you think you are, I think you’re wrong. I mean, the trends are, you know, digitization is the way of the future. So if you’re in any kind of supply chain and you’re not digitizing, you’re not going to be part of the supply chain. The reality is you’re going to see a lot more resiliency be built into supply chains, which means that you’re not going to have just-in-time delivery, you’re going to actually have redundancy and supply chains to be able to make it all work. It’s not the same products, and things like that aren’t going to be built, but you’re still going to have these trends that are continuing. And if I just may just highlight one other thing that’s important. Stéphane and I are both members of the Consider Canada City Alliance, which represents the 12 largest metro regions in the country. 85 percent of all foreign direct investment that comes into Canada comes into these 12 communities. So when you talk about other communities in Canada, there’s largely inherent or innate growth that occurs from the small start-up through the scale-up and the businesses. But the vast majority of foreign direct investment is coming into 12 economies in this country. And so when you talk about the differences in regionalism, things like that, so Edmonton is the fifth largest economy in Canada, it gets a chunk of FDI, it gets far greater FDI input than, say, other ones. So I think it’s important to recognize as well from a foreign investor looking into Canada, they’re not going everywhere in Canada, they’re going to very select destinations that provide a full range of services, whether it be logistics, educational requirements for talent, the innovation ecosystem, the quality of life they’re looking for, all those kind of things that are factors when they come in.
Mary Rowe [00:40:56] But can the ecosystem be made bigger? I mean, I hear you, Marcy, you’re suggesting, well, you know, proximity is important. I understand that. But on the piece that you just raised, Malcolm, about supply chains, Frances is saying that her constituency has been blocked out of supply chains systematically. So are there going to be ways – for instance, for the federal government, they did put something in the federal budget about black business investment – is procurement part of the answer to guide this investment in a certain kind of way? That would be the first question I would ask. And then the second thing that’s coming up in the chat is the role of the infrastructure assessment that the federal government is taking, are these tools to make some interventions to make a better spread, a better distribution? Frances first, and then I’m going to ask Jen, comments on this disruption to the supply chain to make it more inclusive and the notion of infrastructure as a tool to jump-start in a certain direction. Frances first then Jen.
Frances Delsol [00:41:54] Thanks, I’ll take the second question. Yes, infrastructure has to dismantle and rebuilt to include those who have been excluded. That’s the first thing. From a procurement perspective – as somebody with a background, my whole corporate life has been procurement – I know it is built for the small. And I’m sorry to be a fly in the ointment, but I have to speak here with a black lens. It has not been built to encourage or to include small black businesses. And black business is small to medium, we’re not large, we’re not multimillion-dollar corporations. We’re still struggling to survive. So I know that it has not been built and we’re working now with organizations like the Government Procurement Group to try to build that and to include minority populations, blacks and Indigenous more specifically, to be able to access that constricted set of limitations that have been built so that, you know, it just has not been possible, just opening the door, there’s a cost to opening the door and stepping in. And when you don’t have money to pay rent, that is not an option for you, looking for government procurement is not an option for you. So we’re trying to, we’re working with the government organizations to try to rebuild that. But, yeah, the infrastructure has to be broken down, rethought about including everybody, and rebuilt so that we can know that it is really inclusive of the Canadian mosaic.
Mary Rowe [00:43:30] I mean, one of the common ways that is being talked about now in these infrastructure investments is that you build into the deal a requirement for community benefit agreements. And that those community benefit agreements have to produce jobs and procurement opportunities for minority-owned, black-owned businesses and locally owned businesses. So that’s one method. But I think, I hope Malcolm and Stéphane are hearing my question here, which is that I think there’s apprehension about foreign direct investment coming in, or even Marcy, the suggestion that there’ll be competition for these large companies that want to come in, and the question we’re asking is, do those resources actually affect the parts of the Canadian workforce that were not getting a share of this? And how do we actually introduce different kinds of rules or incentives or something? And I’m not sure community benefits agreement is the only answer, you know. Jen, do you want to comment? And then I want to ask people about a question that’s come into the chat, about which we talked about foreign capital, someone saying should the Bank of Canada’s rates be changed and what would that impact be? So, Jen, first to you and then a broader question about finance. Go ahead.
Jennifer Angel [00:44:35] Thanks, Mary. And I think it links back to your comment. You know, it’s odd to hear an economic developer talk about wellbeing. In fact, our value proposition as a growing economy in Nova Scotia is directly linked to wellbeing and quality of life and quality of place. And so we really think investment in the quality of place and placemaking, which is not done well unless it’s done with everyone, both engages broader participation, including by racialized and marginalized communities, which results in better thinking, more innovation, better decision making, but also contributes to the attractiveness of Nova Scotia as a place where talent wants to live. And so while I hear a lot about ecosystems being rooted in place, I think the ecosystems of the future are very much distributed. And we’re investing in the Internet for Nova Scotia right now to ensure that wherever you are in Nova Scotia, wherever your job is, you can do it from Nova Scotia. You can do it from the beach, or you can do it from a place where you can surf in the morning and be downtown in the afternoon. And so we’re really doubling down on the quality of life and wellbeing that can be achieved in Nova Scotia as a way to attract talent and attract talent from outside and also participation by people already living here, which we think will serve us well, not only the social fabric but also our future economy.
Mary Rowe [00:46:07] You know, our municipal governments or provincial governments or economic development organizations that all of you work for, are they set up to take this holistic view that it’s about investment and it’s about placemaking and it’s about, or do you have to kind of be the outliers and say that’s the approach we’re going to take. In the Consider Canada group, the big twelve, Stéphane, is everybody moving in the direction that Jen is? That it’s got to be a kind of coordinated investment in places, or are there some still saying, we’re just going to get those factories and get them to relocate here and that’s all there is to it?
Stéphane Paquet [00:46:49] But I can’t talk for eleven of my colleagues.
Mary Rowe [00:46:52] Right. But you do listen to them, you do talk to them.
Stéphane Paquet [00:46:55] What is true for her, yes, I’m very proud of attracting FDI and yes, my mandate is to attract the most of them I can in the best sectors I can. But, I would be stupid to think that bringing them in a poor city with poor neighbourhoods where it’s dull, where there’s no fun, there’s no restaurant, that it would be an easy sell. It would not be. So if I want to be successful in attracting FDI, I need to have an interesting city. And an interesting city is a city where people can live, can work, can play, they can have fun. And I often say prior to Covid that, you know, you can go in the US in some cities and you have that kind of doughnut cities where nothing happens downtown. It is not very interesting for foreign direct investment to go there. And why isn’t it? Because they need their talent? Because why do they choose Montréal? Why do they choose Toronto? Why do they choose Edmonton? Well, they are the markets sometimes, the cost sometimes, but also most of the time, the major factor is talent. So if you are to go in Edmonton or Montréal and say, well, I want to go there and I need 500 people, you better have a nice city, you better have a city where the neighbourhood is interesting so your employers will be happy, they will stay there and they will have a cost of living that is, will be fair, and that everybody will be a winner in that case. And when I bring FDI to Montréal one of the key factors, one of the matrix I look at is how much do they pay? What’s the average salary? The average salary in Québec is still a bit lower than it is in the rest of Canada. But last year, the figure was $84,000 per employee. So 84, what does that mean? It means these employees are paid better than the rest of the average salary in the Greater Montréal Area. So what does that mean? If they earn more money, it’s not a bad thing. The good thing is they’re going to go to the local shop, the local student they will have money to go to these places and make sure that the main street stays alive, be it in downtown Montréal or other main streets that we can have, then we can have around because I have 82 municipalities I’m covering. But that is the reality. We need to. What we do when we attract direct investment is we take money abroad and we bring it back in our downtown or in our suburbs, and we make sure that this money is spent there. And I posted on the chat that instead of just for the workers, but also the foreign entities in Québec in 2018, that’s the last time we have the figure, they bought for 17 billion worth of different material to local suppliers. Well, I saw the figures, what does that mean, 17 billion? Well, it’s more than all the sales that Hydro-Québec, the power that they sell to the US, to the Québec market, to the Ontario market, that’s more, because that’s 14 billion. So it gives you an idea. And I’m not saying that everything must be foreign, that’s not what I’m saying. But in an ecosystem that’s alive, where innovation is being valued, you must have also foreign entities that bring a different way of doing things, that bring different ideas, and that give you for who are present on your territories, access to foreign markets because you can sell to the big guy in front of your shop, and this product, without you ever know it, it’s going to be sold in Tokyo, in Los Angeles or somewhere else in Europe. So, that is one of the main characteristics of FDI. And I’m gonna say, I again, nothing, I would not be in favour of an economy only open to foreign entities, that’s not what we’re saying here. But there is value to have an open economy where these players can come and bring their own contribution.
Mary Rowe [00:51:38] I mean, this is the dilemma that I appreciate is before us here. And it’s not an either-or, and this is a bit of a trope in Canadian economic life, which is way above my paygrade to kind of weight into. But just identifying a question, Tracey Snook, is on the call from the Region of Waterloo and she’s raising questions about what would smaller mid-sized cities – she’s in Kitchener – and could the experience be different? And I’m interested, Marcy, when you were doing the work, and even just thinking about things as a region, I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t actually think of things like a region, and now we recognize that. Do you see, Marcy, in your work, is there a particular opportunity for mid-sized communities? I’m going to blunt my mic because they’re now chipping this tree they’re bringing down next to me. Are there opportunities for those smaller communities? And can some of the inroads that Frances is asking for and that others are advocating for, maybe they can be more quickly realized in small communities who can wrap their arms around the policy levers they’ve got access to and make some changes and then the big guys will learn from them? What are you observing in the GTHA?
Marcy Burchfield [00:52:44] So some of the work that we did prior to this current work was a report called Shaping Our Future. And certainly when I talk about our region, Kitchener-Waterloo, the innovation quarter is part of that, right? And for the business community in this region, we’ve been advocating for two-way all-day GO, two-way all-day commuter GO service for years. Because we know that better connectivity between the Kitchener-Waterloo, the innovation ecosystem that’s happening there, all the grads that are coming out of the University of Waterloo, all the businesses that are started in that area, having them have access to capital in downtown Toronto and the venture capital that’s there, is very important and vice versa. Right? And so having better connectivity in our larger urban regions to include connectivity to these, will absolutely make a difference from the perspective of just allowing more connections to economic opportunities for all residents of the region.
Mary Rowe [00:53:49] Can you do it without governance? I mean, I want to go to Malcolm, who’s saying he can’t get Alberta and B.C. to reconcile. What do you do when we don’t have a regional government? We have some. But can you, have you found another way because otherwise, we’re back into a big monster conversation. But is there a way to do that without changing the-
Marcy Burchfield [00:54:08] Do you really want to raise the G-word, Mary?
Mary Rowe [00:54:11] Yea yea yea that’s right. Or the Constitution word, the other C-word.
Marcy Burchfield [00:54:13] Yea.
Mary Rowe [00:54:13] But is there a way to cobble this together in a new kind of way?
Marcy Burchfield [00:54:18] So I think there are collaborative models of bringing people together. Certainly, you know, CUI has been part of bringing city managers together. There are political representatives in our region that are coming together as well, the mayors and chairs of our region are coming together. I think for a region like ours, it’s pretty hard to reinforce the top-down regional government. So we have to do something in a different way that’s bottom-up, and then also top-down. There has to be some sort of in-between. And I think that we can do this by forging voluntary kinds of relationships. You know, one of the things that came out with this group that we brought together along the corridor for this recovery playbook was talking about the opportunity for local entrepreneurs in the procurement process of local municipalities. And a lot of those municipalities, what we heard was the reason why they will put in a procurement contract favouring certain local actors is because they’re afraid of some of the free trade agreements, like breaking the rules of the free trade agreements. And a lot of that is just perception. And I think other levels of government can actually address that to make it easier for more local entrepreneurs, you know, black entrepreneurs, BIPOC community to be part of those, to be advantaged in some of those local procurement contracts for municipalities. But again, the resources are not necessarily there at the local municipal level to say, OK, can we do this legally? And so the default is let’s just avoid it. So I think there are actually other ways of bringing in the local entrepreneurs into these local procurement contracts, by again, having other levels of government reinforce what the rules are, what you can and cannot do.
Mary Rowe [00:56:15] I mean, so much of this is about workarounds and wiggle room and gee, we found a way and everything. And we’re in the home stretch here, folks. So what I’m going to suggest, I’m going to go around one more time and just to ask if there’s a particular watchword that you’re going to focus on as we start to implement these recovery plans, which are just around the corner, she says hopefully, recognizing parts of the country are not quite so there, but we’re all getting there in different stages. Let me go to you, Frances, first. Particular word, watchword, what do you think we should double down on and focus on?
Frances Delsol [00:56:47] Inclusion in the process. The process is big, everything, inclusion.
Mary Rowe [00:56:52] And actually engaging the process. So, for instance, the infrastructure assessment process has to be inclusive. The suggestions that Marcy was just making around, are there local kinds of, you call them, “voluntary”, let’s come up with a sexier word than voluntary because “voluntary” sounds sort of optional. But I like this idea that we’re gonna cobble together in, you know, innovative ways of working together to get results or something. I don’t know. And that those have to be inclusive. Am I hearing you right? OK, Malcolm, you.
Malcolm Bruce [00:57:26] Leadership. And I say leadership because it takes leaders to create the outcomes we’re looking for. And if there’s a willingness to get things done, then we get things done.
Mary Rowe [00:57:35] Where do you see leadership needing to come from?
Malcolm Bruce [00:57:39] From all levels. And I’ll start with just a simple example. Interprovincial trade barriers. Sure. We have a free trade agreement amongst provinces since 2017, but there are 137 barriers in place. So it is easier to set up shop in Montana than it is to set up shop in Ontario from a Canadian corporation. So things like leadership at all levels, once they determine what the problems are, whether it’s inclusiveness or other things, to get the problems done. And I think there’s been a significant lack of that. And it’s noticed from international investors.
Mary Rowe [00:58:15] You know, I’m interested in your call to leadership, because one of the things that I think we’ve witnessed through the last 16 months is that leaders come at all scales and at all levels. Right? And it’s not always who you expect. And we all have anecdotes about this, about some person or organization that just rose to the challenge. And I think that part of it is how do we make room? At the very beginning, Marcy was talking about what are we doing to enable economic recovery? And so I hear that from Frances too, let’s get the obstacles out of the way so that we can enable people to take on the leadership that they’re capable of taking on. And honestly, folks, looking at all of us of a certain age, within 25 years of each other, just saying, you know, this is the opportunity of our generation. You know, if a global pandemic can’t push us into where we need to be, good heavens, what’s it going to take? OK, Stéphane, a key theme from you.
Stéphane Paquet [00:59:06] Sustainability.
Mary Rowe [00:59:09] Sustainable. Yeah, lots of comments in the chat about this isn’t worth doing if, in fact, we can’t reduce emissions and make this a green recovery. Is that what you mean by sustainability or do you mean economic-
Stéphane Paquet [00:59:23] That’s exactly what I mean. So we need the relaunch of the economy, everybody said it should not be exactly the same, and I totally agree. And where I see a big difference is that we must do more. I think the different companies we’re talking to really, well, the Covid helped them think that way. I’m not saying that they were at 0 now they’re at 100 percent, but let’s say they were 20 and now they’re at 75. So we’re there. I think things are changing and they need to change faster.
Mary Rowe [00:59:58] Last word to you, Jen.
Jennifer Angel [01:00:01] Yeah, so I like all of the words, but I think it is community. This is not, it is, or there is a reinvention imperative and it is not a top-down solution, and we need all voices at the table, including and especially those voices that have not been there before. I’m convinced the big ideas live there and in the intersection of those voices with the usual suspects. So it’s ground-up and all hands on deck.
Mary Rowe [01:00:31] Marcy, thanks for cosponsoring with us. What would you say to close us off?
Marcy Burchfield [01:00:34] I would say reimagining the way we do things. Absolutely reimagining the way, you know, what is the art of the possible to do things differently on the other side of Covid?
Marcy Burchfield [01:00:44] OK, on that very challenging set of parameters that each of you just provided, thank you so much for joining us on CityTalk. Marcy, thank you for sharing the report with us and having these conversations. We’re going to do more and more of these because the economy is not going to recover overnight. And we want to see and continue to watch and pay attention to see what’s really happening in our downtowns and our main streets and in our economies around us. Next week on the 3rd of June, we’re doing a session on, beginning a session around Indigenous issues and indigenizing cities with Douglas Cardinal, you’ll see in the chatbox, they’ll give you links to that. We hope you’ll join us. He’s an esteemed architect, he’s had a long career and brings a particular perspective, which is important for all of us to be aware of. So I want to thank you for that. We know that as placemaking, what Jen mentioned, as CUI continues to work with Community Foundations of Canada on the Healthy Communities Initiative, which is placemaking and linking placemaking to economic development and the health of communities, and we hope that you’re tuning into those mobilization sessions that we’re coordinating with a number of partners across the country. Thanks so much for joining us, Malcolm, great to see you in Edmonton. Frances, lovely to meet you, I’m glad we finally did. Stéphane, Jen and Marcy. And we look forward to the next conversation because these are just the beginning, it isn’t the end. Talk to you soon. Take care. Thank you. Bye-bye.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
00:29:30 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
00:29:46 Canadian Urban Institute: Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?
00:31:52 Tracey Snook: Coming from the Region of Waterloo, situated on the Haldimand Tract, land that was granted to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and within the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples
00:32:32 Christopher Vaccarella: Tuning in from Montreal!
00:32:45 Canadian Urban Institute:
Connect with our panel:
Jennifer Angel, President and CEO, Develop Nova Scotia @developns https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-angel/
Malcolm Bruce, CEO, Edmonton Global @EdmontonGlobal https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolm-bruce-msm-icd-d-96690349/
Marcy Burchfield, Vice President, Economic Blueprint Institute, Toronto Region Board of Trade @Burchfie @TorontoRBOT https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcy-burchfield-72a57710/
Stéphane Paquet, President and CEO, Montréal International @stefpaquet @MTLINTL https://www.linkedin.com/in/st%C3%A9phane-paquet-621b022b/
Frances Delsol, Executive Director, Black Business and Professional Association @TheBBPA https://www.linkedin.com/in/frances-delsol-4822012a/
00:33:19 Deborah Page: Tuned in from Halifax – greetings everyone!
00:33:37 Angela Kiu: Hello Everyone, Angela Kiu (City of Calgary) here. Happy to be here with you all.
00:33:39 Luc Ouellet: Joining in from Halifax
00:33:50 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Economic Blueprint Institute!
00:33:56 John Jung: Great Panel. Hello from the Intelligent Community Forum in NYC and Toronto.
00:34:45 Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Thanks.
00:35:39 Tejas Bhatt: Joining in from North York, Ontario.
00:36:41 Andrew Muir: Hi all, tuning in from Edinburgh, Scotland. Interested to hear the parallels and common themes we look at in UK
00:37:23 Hasneet Punia: Joining from Brampton, Ontario!
00:40:35 AImee Gasparetto: Joining from Halifax NS!
00:40:52 Sean Columbus: Joining in from Mount Albert in York Region
00:41:13 Scott Alain: Listening in from the Nation’s Capital. Thank you to the panel.
00:41:43 Louis Conway: What is the potential of Infrastructure in fostering recovery as in current national infrastructure assessments in Canada, UK and Australia?
00:46:43 Ian O’Donnell: Will stimulus and recovery spending/inflationary pressure lead to the BOC raising rates in the next 12 months or do you think they will keep rates flat for the near-term to work towards greater surety for overall recovery?
00:47:25 Olusola Olufemi: Where can we access these survey or data referred to by Frances? Thanks.
00:47:45 John Jung: The pandemic has accelerated many things both positive and negatively. One of these is the perception of the need of high-speed broadband , especially in non-urban areas. Rural and remote areas have been challenged for many years, but so have neighbourhoods in many urban and suburban areas. This infrastructure is now deemed an essential utility. Are we doing enough at all levels to ensure funding, deployment, training and use of this to ensure we are better connected, especially to assist in recovery and prosperity moving forward?
00:48:54 Rupa Mukherjee-Yazik: 100% agree we need more public access to data.
00:48:58 Arjun Basu: Data in Canada at all levels is… not good.
00:50:20 Canadian Urban Institute: Black entrepreneurs say access to capital among challenges to success, survey finds: https://www.thestar.com/business/2021/05/26/black-entrepreneurs-say-access-to-capital-among-challenges-to-success-survey-finds.html
00:52:28 Ian O’Donnell: Will we see larger urban municipalities shed non-core business steams in an effort to be more efficient and or focusses on certain delivery of services. Would this be beneficial to urban centres or do you see risk going down this quasi-privatization path?
00:53:37 Hasneet Punia: Alberta is leading the way on Micro Mobility in Canada even during a Pandemic!
00:56:01 Tracey Snook: we have, too often, made data generic and “white washed’ and possibly because there has been ignorance in “Canada the Good and Kind” about the need for data along lines that may put a lens on inequity.
00:58:07 Judith Perry: Halifax!
01:10:08 John Jung: FDI and homegrown business development must be seen in a balanced strategy in communities. Both provide advantages and benefits to communities. And yes, more integration of planning and economic development strategies and implementation need to take place to help to create complete communities and robust economic ecosystems.
01:10:53 Tracey Snook: This hybrid model has, in my experience, meant that the local businesses in my neighbourhood are opening, growing and flourishing. We are more active in our transportation and taking in leisure in our local parks and trails. I am sure that the core businesses in downtowns are suffering and will have some rebound when we return to the office, even if only part time (especially when travel opens up again and people can return as tourists). But I’d also suggest that the folks who have made the choice to live in those core areas will be more intentional in their support of those businesses and they will survive too and maybe those areas are now going to be more affordable for people to choose to set up and settle.
01:10:58 Louis Conway: How will economic recovery and Infrastructure stimulus contribute to emissions reduction rather than emissions growth?
01:12:39 Lester Brown: Thank you Marcy. Presently on a working group dealing with the 1st Parliament site. Your ideas of building diverse uses in communities and the importance of the tourist industry.
01:15:00 Andrew Muir: @Louis Conway – good question. Infrastructure build will increase emissions in the short term but if adoption of eg digital solutions from this enabling infrastructure is done right, then the benefits will outweigh the costs. Our believe is that it’s not possible to grow an economy in a developed nation, meet net-zero targets and care for the social wellbeing of the nation without this being underpinned by digital solutions.
01:15:28 John Jung: Talent creation, attraction and retention is a key to attracting FDI but also in creating, nurturing and retaining homegrown businesses, especially startups.
01:16:21 Louis Conway: Is a new definition of Infrastructure needed if current Infrastructure should be “dismantled”?
01:17:23 Niloo Boroun: we must create an attractive ecosystem both economically and socially to attract investment, talent and business. Your business will thrive where the talent is. they are not mutually exclusive of one another.
01:19:45 Niloo Boroun: In 2020 alone, CCCA members closed 244 projects which created 24 511 jobs with an investment value of $6.2Billion……these are local jobs, helping the local ecosystem grow and increase the supply chain for domestic firms.
01:20:45 John Jung: CCCA includes KW
01:22:22 jeffery parker: The 2016 UN Conference on Urban Development predicted every large and medium sized city would double in population in 20 years. A major UN paper, in 44 languages, gives guidelines for sustainable development in urban environments. Canada sent a group of scientists this urban development conference who presented in Quito. The guidelines are brilliant!!! J. Parker
01:22:52 John Jung: But I agree, CCCA is attracting FDI to the top 12 cities/regions in Canada but I think that there are many other communities that it misses – what about NB, PEI and Nfld for instance?
01:25:09 Tracey Snook: I think that we can’t underestimate the eco-system and attractiveness that exists in rural places too as the work/life balance, or the relaxed lifestyle that comes in Glace Bay or places such as that. As many businesses have pivoted due to Pandemic needs, there will always be those who can work from home and will make home where they are (and the economic benefits that will happen in those communities will be dynamic). Can we find a way that supports all of these communities? Kudos to Jen et el for ensuring that there is the necessary tech to do the business from anywhere in NS. We can’t lose the benefit of all the stretch and change that came from this crisis by returning to how things were (or even wanting to go back to that) when things open.
01:25:30 Louis Conway: How can Canada meet its requirements to reduce emissions under the Paris agreement and implement recovery plans?
01:26:07 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Economic Blueprint Institute! You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb
01:27:06 Canadian Urban Institute: Join us next week on Thursday, June 3rd from Noon to 1:15 p.m. ET for an intimate conversation with world-renowned architect, Douglas Cardinal. For more information and to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pSb0BxJeTn-gqwpRpbHHaA
01:27:45 John Jung: Thank you to the panel and to Mary and the CUI for enabling this important conversation. Let’s take this conversation forward.
01:29:19 Andréa Callà: Thank you CUI and panelists for a great session, very informative.
01:29:24 Natalie Smith: thank you!
01:29:41 Tracey Snook: this was SO VERY interesting – thanks all.
01:30:00 Tejas Bhatt: Thank you all! This was great!
01:30:02 Hasneet Punia: Thank you!
01:30:09 Sana(Zohreh) Karami: This was very great session. Thank you!