Urban Strategy Policy Paper

National advisors are required in each of our urban centres. This investment in an urban strategy will enable us to educate and work with business to create maximum trade benefit for Canadian companies.

Our Canadian Urban Policy Summary

The Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) is a strong proponent for national policies that build competitive and sustainable Canadian urban economies. In conjunction with chambers of commerce from across major urban centres, the CGCC advocates for the development of a cohesive National Urban Strategy. 

A proposal to build necessary infrastructure in each Canadian city to foster commercial growth and strengthen Canada’s position as a competitive economy in international markets. The national urban strategy draws consistent goals and measures for regional economies to navigate similar yet distinct economic hurdles in various regions and sectors.

The economic success of Canada’s private sectors is contingent on the quality and capacity of its urban, transport, trade, and digital infrastructure. Without these foundations of business and with a comprehensive strategy for economic development, Canada and its regional areas of commerce are limited in their ability to scale and reach greater markets.

Does Urban Policy Add More Regulations?

Policy does not always mean making more rules and regulations. Sometimes, good policy involves removing regulations that hinder economic development. For example, when navigating red tape becomes too costly it may deter business and stunt economic prosperity.


The Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) is advocating for the development of a cohesive National Urban Strategy. The overarching objective of the urban strategy is to help cities build necessary infrastructure to foster commercial growth across the country and to strengthen Canada’s position in the competitive global economy.

The first step in this national urban strategy is to create a board of national advisors to administer and monitor these economic policies. These national advisors can compile consistent data and create informed recommendations to various regions and sectors with industry-specific expertise. In sum, these national advisors would provide the CGCC with better metrics to help educate and support Canadian businesses, a resource currently unavailable to most urban commerce centres.

It is through prudent policies, organization, and infrastructure investment that city regions benefit from investment and planning that aligns with regional priorities. Providing regional areas with broad guidelines and strategies for their respective areas and industries generates a more competitive Canadian economy.

Three Broad Policy Shifts for Urban Strategy Development

For a National Urban Strategy to be successfully be implemented three broad policy changes would have to occur:


A Central agency or an office within an existing ministry would need to measure infrastructure quality, disseminate best practices for the regions, and identify national urban policy goals. Currently, the evaluation of infrastructure support is left to provincial agencies and not-for-profits with no codified standards and a lack of necessary resources.


Regional economic members and leaders need to play a central role in the development of long-term urban infrastructure planning. Provincial governments, agencies, institutions, and other key stakeholders would act as a conduit to more regional entities by signing onto an agreement with Ottawa.


Federal funding for urban infrastructure would “fund the plan” with per-capita or near-per-capita grants, rather than funding projects or programs. This would give cities and city-regions more flexibility to substitute federal, agency, pension investments or other revenues for the municipal share of costs.

Call to Action for a Canadian National Strategy

The economic success of Canadian private sectors is contingent on the quality and capacity of its urban, transport, trade, and digital infrastructure. Without these foundations of business, Canada and its regional areas of commerce are limited in its ability to scale and reach greater markets.

“Without an ongoing planning process and coherent funding strategy for infrastructure, Canada is falling behind other countries—this impacts business competitiveness, job growth and quality of life. —Jan De Silva, President & CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade and 2018 Chair of the CGCC:

An economic planning process of this scale requires national advisors in each urban centre to oversee the implementation of a cohesive urban development strategy. In addition, long-term economic planning requires action from other actors to join the conversation. Government actors, private interest stakeholders, media, and anyone else concerned with Canada’s future economic development needs to voice their concern. The CGCC is dedicated to building a better Canadian economy through inclusive discussion and collaboration. Please see our members page or reach out to us regarding any information or questions you may have.

In the Context of Pandemic Economic Recovery

The CGCC’s 2018 report on Canadian economic strategy outlined policies to help mitigate external events that could disrupt business continuity. In the context of the covid-19 pandemic the report proved to be a prescient effort for economic crisis recovery .

The report promotes a streamlined approach to fund distribution to quickly aid affected businesses during crisis:

“Dedicating federal funds on a fluid basis to city and city-region plans rather than projects will mean that for the vast majority of federal urban investments, there will be less need for project-specific negotiations and approvals. This can mean less time and energy wasted on duplication and renegotiation. For those concerned about the need for due diligence, federal officials in a non-partisan infrastructure office can now take on the role of setting standards and spot-auditing progress against them, rather than conducting upfront, repetitive approvals.” (Planning For an Urban Future, pg. 29, 2018)

Greater fluidity to federal fund distribution not only helps to expedite the distribution of funds but also contributes to the adaptability and consistency between federal government regimes. As reasonable changes to funding can be better accommodated without tedious renegotiations and uncertainty between shifting parties.