Great Canadian Cities, Youth, Startups & Public Transit

Canadian cities – all our urban areas – have achieved some of the highest levels of livability and quality of life in the world.  Why?  Because of diversity and openness; public safety, law and order; good hospitals, roads and schools; quality housing, utilities and parks.


But the most important driver of this success has been economic vibrancy: our cities and towns are amazing places to settle, raise children, grow and create (compared to those in other countries) precisely because Canada created so many more jobs, new businesses and hubs for collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship through a period of crisis for the global economy.


What threatens this success?  The greatest threat to our vibrant cities is a loss of competitiveness due to higher taxes, runaway deficits, higher energy and utility costs, lower rates of business investment and ultimately stalling wages, fewer well-paying jobs and stagnating regional and national economies.


If these factors begin to take hold, real estate markets may become unsustainable and young people could leave for greener pastures elsewhere.


As a result, the best strategy for supporting our cities is to deliver national results on energy and the environment; children and careers; education and skills; taxes and fiscal balance; research, invention and entrepreneurship.


If we succeed on all these fronts, our cities will become important global hubs for international students, youth-driven economic immigration and companies that are global champions.


The ultimate indicator of our success will remain start up and growth phase company activity and success, as supported by colleges, universities, incubators, accelerators and investors.


But there is one challenge that our cities can no longer face on their own – or even with the assistance of provincial and territorial governments alone: planning for growth and public transit.


We need fast, clean, efficient, well-designed high speed rail, subway, light rail, bus, bike and other public transit solutions to end, reverse or prevent congestion in our cities – as well as to connect our cities and towns with one another.


As Conservative Leader and Prime Minister, I would:


(i)             engage through a new joint agency with Canada’s ten largest urban centres on their long-term plans for growth and improved quality of life;


(ii)           establish Public Transit Partnerships Canada as a P3 initiative to be the conduit for all federal infrastructure spending on public transit;


(iii)          support enhanced long-term planning and long-term financing for expanded public transit systems for twenty Canadian census metropolitan areas with populations above 200,000, together with adjacent or nearby major municipalities;


(iv)          with local communities, stakeholders and all levels of government, initiate long-term planning consider potential high-speed rail, light rail or alternative public transit solutions for the following ten regions: (1) the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas (including St Catharines–Niagara, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Owen Sound, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Midland, Orillia, Barrie-Innisfil, Oshawa-Whitby-Clarington, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Port Hope, Cobourg and Belleville-Quinte West); (2) the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec corridors (including Hawkesbury, Lachute, Laval, couronne Nord, couronne Sud, Bromont-Granby, Ste-Hyacinthe, Victoriaville, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Shawinigan, Trois-Riviéres, Sherbrooke-Magog and Lévis); (3) Vancouver-Surrey and the Lower Mainland (including Abbotsford-Mission, Chilliwack and Squamish); (4) the Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary corridor; (5) the Winnipeg-Brandon-Portage La Prairie-Winkler-Steinbach corridors; (6) the Woodstock-Brantford-Stratford-London-Sarnia-Chatham-Kent-Leamington-Windsor corridors; (7) the Saskatoon-Regina corridor; (8) Halifax-Truro-Cape Breton-Charlottetown-Moncton-St. John-Fredericton corridors; (9) the Victoria-Saanich-Duncan-Nanaimo corridor; and (10) St. John’s-Conception Bay South-Mount Pearl-Paradise;


(v)           enhance support for planning, financing and building improved transportation and public transit infrastructure for all other cities, towns and other Canadian municipalities, taking full account of local realities;


(vi)          to link all of Canada’s regions more closely, plan support for an enhanced fully divided Trans-Canada Highway, including through Northern Ontario and British Columbia; as well as improved highways and/or public transit in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Rouyn-Noranda and Northern Québec; Labrador; Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon;


(vii)        enhance long-distance passenger rail service; and


(viii)       strengthen design and architecture requirements for all federally-funded infrastructure projects to promote Canadian excellence.

Alexandra Day