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Interesting Reading - January 2008

City Magnets - Benchmarking the Attractiveness of Canada’s CMAs
The Conference Board come out with a steady stream of excellent reports. Mostly they are economic in focus but, under the leadership of Anne Golden, previously of United Way, they are developing a broader, more social orientation. This report looks at 27 Canadian cities, comparing them against indicators in 7 areas. To my mind, who comes top is immaterial; the question every city or community should be asking is ‘what is our vision for the future?’ and this report provides an excellent context for this insight.

Seen and Heard - Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people
Demos is a UK Think Tank, with strong ‘New Labour’ or ‘Blairite’ connections. To those of us who have long advocated for more consideration of children within the public realm, there is little new in this publication. But it is the start of a much bigger project which Demos is leading in the UK, with partners who have good political backing. The recent injection of 55m GBP from the Big Lottery for children’s play is another sign that this issue will get better coverage and that policy and infrastructure will be improved. We will be keeping a close watching on this and other UK initiatives.

No outdoor play 'hurts children' 
This BBC news clip reports on the same kind of area as the Demos study noted above. 

Designing Better Streets
Another look at what is happening with children’s recreation in the UK. This publication and useful website is from CABE, or Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. They have lots of other useful materials about children and young people (see CABE-Education) and urban design. As we think about taking recreation into the community, active living, walking, etc, streets are critical elements.

Children’s Play Update 
Another UK resource - this one focused very much on the details of children’s play policy and practice. Note in particular that almost every local authority in England now has a formal play strategy; these are part of the English version of Official Community Plans, and are a required element of funding applications to the Big Lottery fund noted above. Does any Canadian municipality have a formal play strategy? we think not, but would be pleased to hear (and champion) any ones that do.

Future of the Region Sustainability Dialogues: Culture – People, Places, Values
This is the most recent document released on Culture in the MetroVancouver region. It provides an excellent framework for thinking about culture as part of a broader sustainability framework. This also links it to the work of the Creative Cities Network (www.creativecity.ca)

The future of futurology 
We planners need a dose of skepticism every now and again - the Economist can always be relied upon to deliver!

Extinction Timeline
Notwithstanding the Skeptical Economist, some thinking about where we, as a society, are going is in our opinion a healthy and necessary activity. This timeline covers the 100 years that we are roughly in hte middle of. Do you think that ‘Getting Lost’ will be gone by 2015, and ‘Spelling’ by 2030, ‘Coins’ and ‘Oil’ by the 2030s and ‘Nation States’ by 2050? Lots of food for thought here.
Note: this graphic has a Creative Commons licence - please use it in accordance with these principles.
Click here for the timeline as a pdf

Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and Municipalities: Beyond Principles, a Brief Overview of Practices 
This report, commissioned by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities but not prepared or endorsed by them, offers a critical view of P3s. Good reading for anyone who feels that they are being railroaded into their use.

Physical Activity and Sport: Encouraging Children to be Active
Excellent survey based research with data for Canada and each province/territory, but no municipal or CMA-level data. It would be great to have this survey available for replication at the local level.

PlayRights an international journal of the theory and practice of play
Volume 29 ~ Issue 4 December 2007
For those interested in children’s play internationally, there are lots of excellent articles in this publication; it covers the strategic policy level all the way down to the design of play structures. If this area is of interest to you, please also consider joining IPA-Canada - Individual memberships are only $65 ($39 for students).

Age-Friendly Cities Project  
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada
Portage is one of Canada’s pilot cities in the WHO Age Friendly Cities initiative - Saanich is the other one. This report has simple and straight-forward layout and does a great job of identifying age friendly features and barriers for a range of domains, with recommendations for each one.  For the uninitiated, age friendly could also be termed ‘senior friendly’.

Agile Government – A Provocation Paper
Another interesting Demos report, this one co-authored with and reporting on an Australian initiative. This is not really one of our areas of consultancy focus, but we enjoyed reading it - so will you.

TALKING BACK TO GROWNUPS: Healthy Children, Healthy Communities 
An interesting report from the United Nations Association of Canada.

Winning: A Tourism Strategy for 2012 and Beyond
This is the UK’s strategic tourism plan for leveraging the value of the 2012 Olympics. The themes are applicable (maybe adaptable) to many other sport tourism venues.

Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addictions and Homelessness
So many of the issues that face our communities are intractable and of long standing - homelessness is certainly one of them. This report takes a ‘comprehensive’ look at the issues, and indicates the immense amount of money and other resources that are nibbling piecemeal at the problem. Its recommendations are in line with this comprehensive approach. Homelessness is all our problem. An excellent report (the link below is to the Executive Summary - other reports also on the City website).

What Is Placemaking?
The Project for Public Spaces has many excellent materials. This short five page report should be required reading for anyone who deals in any way with public spaces - parks, streets, squares, intersections, etc.