Another Inconvenient Truth
Cities are the engines of the national economy. This is the assertion that girds every call for more money for municipalities: cities are the source of the country’s wealth, and they need major repairs to keep churning out prosperity. Alas for cities, this morning’s Statscan Daily argues otherwise. Real income per capita has been growing far faster in Canada than in the United States in the past seven years, not because cities are such unstoppable juggernauts of economic growth but because commodity prices—oil and minerals—have gone through the roof. It turns out that the engines of the national economy are Sudbury, Fort McMurray and Prince George, not Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Oops.
None of this changes the fact that the country’s civic infrastructure is falling apart. It just makes the case for cities harder to argue, especially with a federal government whose power base does not lie with cities, and which believes that it could throw billions into cities and come away without a single seat to show for their largesse.