The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “cities

Letting Our Cities Take Flight

Posted on March 13, 2018

“It is always easy to create an ordinary city; what is difficult is to create an extraordinary one, peaceful and restful one, smart and tidy, artful and cultivated one.  In short, a livable one,” wrote Mehmet Murat ildan. It makes sense, seems perfectly plausible, and for committed citizens and good politicians should be doable.  Yet many Canadian cities are having trouble achieving it.  Those that struggle inevitably compare themselves to other municipalities elsewhere that seem to have their act together and lament that we lack the resources, leadership or innovation to replicate such success.  There’s a lot of that going around these days in this country, especially among mid-sized cities. Since my time as a member of parliament in Ottawa a number of years…

Cities – Our Future Battleground

Posted on March 1, 2018

Whatever the future holds, the fate of humanity will be played out in our cities. Seem far-fetched?  It shouldn’t.  This much we know.  In the next 100 years, the greatest migration to cities around the world will occur, with some 7-8 billion people becoming urbanites – more than exist on earth right now.  Nothing in history matches this.  Most of this vast movement will take place in developing nations, but the cities of the West won’t be able to escape the remarkable challenges and opportunities that come from this phenomenon. When you think about the greatest challenges facing us at present, they have been emerging mostly in our urban centers for a half a century or more.  Climate change, poverty, wealth creation, jobs, unemployment,…

What’s a City For?

Posted on May 19, 2016

THE IMPOSSIBLE OFTEN HAS A KIND OF INTEGRITY which the merely improbable lacks,” wrote Douglas Adams. Sounds great, but what does it mean exactly? For cities and communities, understanding this distinction is pivotal to assessing themselves. It is why the impossible will always hold greater appeal in our lives. We all know that the things we value most also cost the most – it’s what makes them treasures. Raising children, making marriage work, building a successful business, excelling at the arts, saving the environment, or overcoming mental illness – all of these take effort and loads of it. Why, then, should building a valuable city be any different? If we’re going to go cheap, then we might as well pack it up. Just ask…

Cities are Rebuilding Faith in Government

Posted on May 12, 2016

IT HAS BECOME A PERSISTENT NARRATIVE, especially during the American primary season south of the border – politics is broken. There will be those who argue the opposite, but in the minds of most citizens north or south of the 49th parallel something has gone wrong in our politics and we feel it for a certainty. Yes, a cruel partisanship has gripped the political class for years. Yes, our deeper problems remain insufficiently addressed as an uncertain future moves into our collective life. But perhaps the greatest cause of the present disillusionment has been the growing distance citizens have experienced from the kind of society they would seek for themselves and their children. Maybe that’s changing. While America fights through its own political wars…

When Cities Define Us

Posted on May 10, 2016

“EVERY PERSON IS DEFINED BY THE COMMUNITIES she belongs to,” says author Orson Card. Depending on where you live, that could be encouraging or disillusioning. In the realm of city building, many don’t wish to be defined by municipalities that seem to be falling behind, but would rather be seen as part and parcel of smart cities doing intelligent things as they move into the future. London, Ontario, is living through such a moment, and some see it as a crucible. The current subject under debate is Light Rail Transit (LRT) versus Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Some view LRT as a sign that we are committed to the future, whereas others prefer BRT as a more affordable decision to manage the present. In unexpected…

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