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  1. (Courtesy of The Globe and Mail) First stop London, next stop global domination!
  2. Which Are The World's Cleanest Cities? Robert Malone, 04.16.07, 12:10 PM ET In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities There is clean and then there is clean. In the world, as a rule of thumb, the North is clean and the South is dirty. Indeed only two of the top-25 cleanest cities in the world are below the Equator--Auckland, New Zealand, and Wellington, New Zealand. The cleanest cities are largely located in countries noted for their democracy and their industrialization. The only Asian cities represented are in Japan. There are no top-25 clean cities in South or Central America, Africa and Australia. The U.S. has five of the top 25; Canada, a strong five, with the top spot its city of Calgary; Europe has 11 of the top 25; and Japan has three. The 25 cleanest cities are located in 13 countries. It may not be accidental that these countries are among the highest in purchasing power parity according to the World Development Indicator database of the World Bank. Twelve are in the top 20, and only New Zealand lags in wealth, at No. 37 on the list of world's wealthiest. So clean may also mean well-off. In Pictures: The World's Cleanest Cities To be clean a city has to face and solve many problems that otherwise lead to unsanitary conditions and poor health as well as possible economic stagnation. Producing energy for industry, homes and transportation has to be planned and executed reasonably, and this means some form of regulation and control. To be clean means organizing what is done with waste. Landfills are being closed or filled up. Recycling is the only long-range answer, but this takes civic discipline, a system and preferably a system that turns a profit. Green only works well when it results in greenbacks. In addition a city has to look closely at its transportation infrastructure (roads, rail, air, subways) and their impact upon being clean or going dirty or staying dirty. The logistics infrastructure is also critical in terms of efficiency that can translate into money and fuel savings that in turn affect cleanliness (air quality, water quality and ground quality). Taken all together as with clean energy generation, waste control, recycling and various levels of infrastructure reorganization, the challenge is formidable. Some will recommend taking on one challenge at a time, and this may be what President Bush has in mind with ethanol. Bush's advocacy of ethanol is a step towards cleaner fuel and in turn cleaner cities. The idea is also controversial as the resources available for ethanol are directly related to the food supply chain. There can be great friction over sharing such resources. Some are advocating inputs beyond corn grain. "One of the most abundant potential resources we have is the nonfood parts of the corn plant, including the stalks, leaves and husks,” says Dr. Michael Pacheco, director of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The figures for the cleanest cities are derived from studies by the Mercer Human Resources Consulting that cull from 300 cities, identifying overall quality of living as well as special reports on regions. It is interesting to note that size does not appear to be a factor either in terms of size of population or physical size of the city. The most common trait in common to each is a focus on high tech, education and headquartering of national and international companies along with an extensive public transit system.
  3. Le géant minier luxembourgeois ArcelorMittal s'associe avec la firme vancouvéroise pour construire un port destiné au transport du minerai de fer au Brésil. Pour en lire plus...
  4. http://www.wintercities.com/ On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WinterCitiesInstitute Those who live and work in northern cities recognize the need for better planning and design. The sustainability of winter cities requires a creative approach that addresses the problems of snow and cold while enhancing the advantages, opportunities and beauty of the winter season. A positive approach benefits the attitudes of residents, and bolsters the community’s ability to attract new business and residents. The Winter Cities Institute was organized in 2008 to identify, promote and share the positive attributes of winter living, new concepts in architecture and urban design, and success stories from those places that are thriving in the north. The Institute was founded by Patrick Coleman, AICP, recognized for his work with the Livable Winter Cities Association (WCA). From 1982-2005, the WCA organized conferences, published books and the quarterly magazine “Winter Cities”. A totally volunteer staff made the WCA difficult to sustain and in the end it struggled with its mission. As Coleman incorporated winter enhancement strategies in his planning practice with multi-disciplinary design firms in Alaska and northern Michigan, he found enthusiastic reception to the idea of making winter a better time of year. “People are looking for answers to common winter problems and issues”, he said. “I experienced firsthand and heard from many the need for a source of information, networking and resources, and decided to launch the Institute as a web-based network and resource sharing project”. The Winter Cites Institute offers a place for those looking to improve the quality of life in wintertime and need information on what is being done in other northern places. Our members are from around the world and include: cities and towns architects planners engineers parks and recreation professionals economic development and tourism officials Welcome to the resources available on this site and consider joining the network to get even more benefits.
  5. Conference Board of Canada Report Calls for City Investments Invest in major cities now or pay price, report warns Environment, global competitiveness, arts and culture at risk, board advises Toronto Star 6 February 2007 Failing to boost Canada's cities will damage the environment, cost billions of dollars in productivity and perhaps even kill Canadian arts and culture as we know them, a new report says. A long-awaited study by the Conference Board of Canada released today says Canadian cities have been forgotten for too long and that failing to inject needed capital will hurt the entire country. "The distinctive needs of Canada's six big cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary and Edmonton) are being ignored. Chronically short of resources and poorly equipped with governance powers, our big cities are struggling to fulfill their potential as engines of national prosperity. Citizens and leaders alike must recognize that big cities are intrinsically different from smaller cities and towns in both their higher economic potential and their greater needs." Canada has slipped to 12th from third in the world in comparative economic performance in just two years, the board said, and the only way to fix that is to make up for decades of neglect in Canadian cities by making investments now. "Neither our cities nor our economy will be globally competitive" if that investment doesn't take place, the report states in the kind of language that big business and the federal Tories might relate to. "We are also unlikely to sustain the arts and culture that are so important to Canadian identity." The report said 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban areas. But Canada is still using government structures and ideas brought in when most Canadians awoke to the sound of mooing cows or chirping birds and not garbage trucks and car alarms. "We still think of ourselves as a rural nation, and we have to start internalizing the fact that we're urban," Conference Board president and CEO Anne Golden told the Star's editorial board yesterday. While some of the themes aren't new, the fact that the report comes from such a highly respected body - the Conference Board of Canada is a non-profit and non-partisan group - lends further weight to the arguments of those pushing for a new deal for Canadian cities. "Big city mayors are right when they say there's all this talk about fiscal imbalance vertically between the federal government or horizontally among the provinces, but the real fiscal imbalance is at the city level, the municipal level," Golden said. "It's a combination of rising needs and expectations and shrinking resources. It's impossible to ... really compete with the cities in the world that are competing with us, from Tokyo to Glasgow to New York to London, unless we put our own house in order." The report says Ottawa and provincial governments should "work to end the municipal fiscal imbalance for major cities, potentially through such means as granting access to a growth tax, increasing transfers and reassuming responsibility for previously off-loaded services." It also argues that provinces have to give cities wider taxation powers and that cities have to find cost savings and better use the tools they already have. The Conference Board report, titled "Mission Possible: Successful Canadian Cities," found that investing in nine key cities would be a "win-win" proposition for all residents of the country. "New research by The Conference Board of Canada shows that economic growth in each of the nine Canadian 'hub' cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton) generates an even faster rate of economic growth in other communities in their province or region," the report states. "Increasing resources allocated to major cities would have a substantial impact on accelerating national economic growth." "We're not saying invest all money in our major cities," said Golden, who's slated to speak to the Toronto Board of Trade today and will appear with Toronto Mayor David Miller on Friday at an Ottawa gathering of Canada's big city mayors. "We're arguing for strategic investment." The board said a 2004 report found that Toronto was the only Canadian city to make a list of so-called "well-rounded global cities," and it said it will take willpower and co-ordination to boost Canadian cities up the rankings. "At the very least," the report said, "Canadian public policy should focus on ensuring that Toronto has the resources to maintain its singular status among global cities." While the report pushes for major investment in big cities, it also argues that governments must continue to help smaller cities. Among the recommendations: Governments work together to intensify urban growth and cut down on damaging suburban sprawl. The federal and provincial governments prepare a national urban transportation strategy. Federal and provincial governments increase their investments in affordable housing in major cities. Federal and provincial governments "design new approaches to municipal funding to permit the strategic allocation of funds in line with the distinct needs and potential of major cities." The board states that municipalities are hampered because senior levels of government have shifted responsibilities to local governments and that cities don't have access to taxes that grow when the economy grows. In 1993, federal and provincial transfer payments to local governments accounted for 25 per cent of municipal revenues. By 2004, the board said, that had dropped to just 16 per cent. The authors note that citizens expect their municipalities to provide parks, police, garbage collection and snow removal. But cities today also have to manage high-cost security concerns to prevent terrorism and handle a growing array of environmental problems related to energy use, waste management and urban transportation, the board said. Thirty one U.S. states have a local sales tax, the report said, while 3,800 local governments in the U.S. have local income taxes. But Canadian cities rely almost entirely on property taxes.
  6. St. Lawrence River to become a power plant? Tue Jul 27, 2:03 PM By The Canadian Press MONTREAL - The mighty St. Lawrence River will soon be home to a power-generating pilot project that could one day churn in rivers across Canada. The company that builds the underwater river turbines says the test phase will start off small, producing enough energy to power 750 homes. But RSW Inc. president Georges Dick says the technology has huge potential in Canada's biggest waterways, including the Mackenzie, Peace and Fraser rivers. The federal and provincial governments are funding one-third of the $18 million project. Federal Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis says it's a low-cost, renewable energy source that will create hundreds of jobs. Paradis insists the spinning blades inside the three-metre-high turbines will not have an impact on underwater wildlife. The pilot project will see two turbines plunked into water off the shores of Montreal in the coming weeks. Quebec hopes to eventually use the technology to power its northern communities, which rely heavily on polluting diesel-fuelled generators.
  7. Alcan buyout called "economic suicide" for Canada Lynn Moore, CanWest News Service Published: Saturday, July 14, 2007 MONTREAL -- The proposed acquisition of Alcan Inc. by the London- and Melbourne, Australia-based Rio Tinto Group is a symptom of "economic suicide" underway in this country, Montreal billionaire and shareholder activist Stephen Jarislowsky said Friday. Others use less dramatic language as they engage in the hollowing-out-of-corporate-Canada debate but admit to growing concern over deals such as Rio Tinto's friendly $38.1-billion US bid for Alcan. The Montreal-based aluminum producer is the 10th company on the TSX 60 to be taken over, or poised to be taken over, by a foreign company in the past three years, Jarislowsky noted. Foreign takeovers are fuelling the Canadian dollar, which is "going through the roof" and contributing to the woes of Canada's exporting and manufacturing companies, he said. "I think the Canadian government is wrong to let any of the 60 biggest companies get taken over by foreigners," said the founder and chairman of Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., which manages $60 billion in assets. The Conservative government's appointment of a panel to asses Canada's competition policy and foreign investment is akin to closing the barn door after the best horses have run away, Jarislowsky said. "Only the stupid horses are left," along with banks and companies that, for regulatory reasons, can't leave, he said. Ken Wong, an associate professor at Queen's University's business school, said there are few takers for unprofitable, poorly-run businesses, so it's not surprising the best companies are being bought. But while businesses are looking out for their own interests, someone should be considering the national good, particularly when resources or resource-dependent companies are concerned, he said. "I would be looking for certain signs that tell me that the merger or acquisition will be good for the country, not just the company" or shareholders, Wong said. Ottawa should ensure the long-term stewardship of resources is factored into the equation so that lost resources can be tabulated in much the same way lost jobs have been, he said. The Rio Tinto offer, unveiled Thursday, would see Rio Tinto Alcan with a head office in Montreal but its chief executive officer would report to Rio Tinto's CEO. Rio Tinto currently has its key aluminum and aluminum-related assets and offices in Australia. Rio Tinto Alcan would be "the new hub" of Rio's aluminum business, although investment in Australia "would not be diminished," Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese said at Thursday's press conference in Montreal. There would be some ebb and flow of employees between Montreal and Brisbane, Australia, but the employment levels in Montreal would remain as high, if not higher, he added. Descriptions like that make Concordia University finance professor Lawrence Kryzanowski uneasy because they remind him of what was said as Montreal head offices moved west when the separatist movement was gaining strength in Quebec. "It is clear when a company moves a head office; less clear is when a company moves key functions out," he said. "Smart companies will do that over time." The Royal Bank of Canada, for example, contends that it maintains a head office in Montreal but its corporate headquarters is in Toronto. "You can say you still have the head office here in Montreal but (what matters) is where the head office work is carried out. I would expect of lot of that to happen" with Rio Tinto Alcan, Kryzanowski said. Alcan "probably arranged the best deal for shareholders ... and Montreal," given the circumstances, Kryzanowski, an Alcan shareholder, said. The Rio Tinto Alcan office in Montreal "will be a divisional office at best," Jarislowsky said. One thing that helped tie Alcan to Canada were agreements between it and the governments of B.C. and Quebec that were linked to long-term, low-cost energy supplies for the aluminum producer, Kryzanowski said. "If it wasn't for the agreements they had in both Quebec and B.C., I think the head office would probably move," he said. The Quebec deal, signed last December just before Alcan announced a $1.8-billion US investment in the Saguaenay, requires that Alcan maintain in Quebec "substantive operational, financial and strategic activities and headquarters ... at levels which are substantially similar to those of Alcan" at the signing of the agreement. Now it's up to Quebec and other interested parties to "be vigilant" and ensure that the deal is honoured, Kryzanowski said. Quebec will have to decide how best to measure Rio Tinto Alcan's presence in Quebec, based on what it most values, be it payroll numbers, new products development or research-and-development money spent, Wong said. Montreal Gazette [email protected]
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