It is at the community level that Canada’s environmental and economic challenges meet. Small towns and large cities are on the front lines of environmental problems such as waste management, water quality and transportation. At the same time, they are where most of the country’s economic activity occurs – and where economic hardships are most keenly felt. Constrained by provincial law, many municipalities are looking for innovative solutions. SP focuses on developing a broad array of market-based instruments to help municipalities address environmental concerns while creating new sources of revenue.

Top Policy Research Priorities
  • Smart Budgets for Sustainable Communities
  • Market Tools for Sustainable Transport

Financing Residential Energy Savings

Assessing Key Features of Residential Energy Retrofit Financing Programs
Residential energy retrofits offer substantial opportunities in Canada for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, job creation and residential energy savings. Many residential energy efficiency measures are cost-effective with favourable payback periods and investment returns, yet up-take of these measures has been lower than expected due to persistent market barriers.

Suburban Sprawl: Exposing Hidden Costs, Identifying Innovations

Suburban sprawl is spreading across Canada as cities expand outwards to accommodate the growing demand for lower cost houses. But it’s time to look behind the low price tag, and examine the true costs of suburban sprawl. Suburban development imposes an economic and environmental burden on all Canadians regardless of where they live – and we need to recognize the hidden costs and look for alternatives. The full costs and trade-offs are not always obvious, but they are real.

Partner Engagement for Community Sustainability

Supporting Sustainable Development Initiatives by Reducing Friction in the Local Economy
Community sustainable development is complex. Implementation of sustainable community plans is beyond the local government’s jurisdiction, so requires the involvement of numerous local organizations.

Managing Urban Sprawl

This type of development in turn necessitates investment in new, and more costly, infrastructure by municipalities. There are many factors that influence where development happens, including zoning by-laws, planning policies, and market factors that influence supply and demand. But development charges are a significant cost that can influence development location, timing and other decisions. As a result, more municipalities should consider better aligning the design of their development charges with growth management policies.

C.D. Howe: Congestive Traffic Failure

The main aspect of this report is the usage of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes as a mitigation measure to highway congestion. The report, by Benjamin Dachis, conveys that changing carpool lanes into HOT lanes would improve reliability in travel time, increase highway capacity and could reduce congestion on un-tolled lanes.

RAC Foundation: The Acceptability of Road Pricing

Charging systems must be technically robust and accurate but experience elsewhere suggests they need not be excessively complex and hence expensive. Put simply, the theoretical needs to move at the same pace as the practical, while recognising circumstances change and systems will evolve. Motorists in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Stockholm, Norway, Singapore, Australia, and North America are familiar with the idea that they pay as they use certain roads and this report shows how they receive better service in return.

Moving Forward in Hamilton

The City of Hamilton faces a number of serious challenges – air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, sprawl, vacant properties downtown, and a heavy reliance on property taxes. Without changes in public policy and investment, Hamilton can expect these and other challenges to become more serious in the future. Fortunately, Hamilton is well positioned to make changes and there seems to be a willingness to think big about solutions. By doing so, Hamilton can fulfill its potential for a stronger and more diversified economy, as well as a greener and healthier city.

CivicAction: Keeping on Track

A Reality Check

The paper was prepared by Neil Irwin (IBI Group) and Andrew Bevan (Executive Director, Sustainable Prosperity), as well as informed by discussions of CivicAction's Transportation and Infrastructure Working Group.


Greening Greater Toronto

2011 Living City Report Card

The Living City® Report Card and its companion Scorecard delivers a unique analysis of the drivers that influence the GTA’s environmental performance, assesses where it is making progress, sets out short and long-term targets, and assigns grades by rating current environmental conditions against the long term targets. It goes on to identify opportunities for action by GTA leaders, organizations and residents.


Sustainable Communities

Sustainable Communities

About the Project

The goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment by exploring the linkages between changes in our natural capital and our measures of productivity generally, and through the construction of an environmentally adjusted measure of productivity specifically.

While it is now commonly accepted that economic activity and the state of our environment are linked, many economic measures still fail to incorporate the environment – both the things we draw from it and the pollution we release into it. By developing and calculating measures of productivity that include natural capital, Canada may be able to better understand these linkages. This, in turn, may lead to the identification of strategies that can help Canada become more efficient and innovative in the use and protection of natural capital, and thus more productive and more prosperous.

Using the forestry sector as a case study, this project aims to construct an environmentally adjusted measure of multifactor productivity. In doing so, we aim to add another layer of understanding to the environmental and economic performance of this sector. The proposed measure will have relevance to the Canadian economy as a whole.