For many years, ICURR Press actively published research reports that examined Canadian urban, rural, and regional issues. ICURR Research Reports were typically produced in collaboration with academics and experts in municipal affairs, and addressed a wide range of important and topical issues, including local economic development, alternative services delivery, development charges, local government reorganization and depopulation of Canadian communities. ICURR ceased publication of this type of collaborative report in 2000, but many are still relevant today. A selection of the most significant reports produced follows.

ICURR permits users to download and print all of these reports on the provision that they are not reposted or disseminated; the reports are available for personal use only. All citations must acknowledge ICURR Press as the express copyright holder.



Communication strategies for municipal governments.

By NITTEL, Keiko

This Literature Summary reviews a selection of documents which focus on communication modes and strategies for municipal government. Drawn from Canadian and American experiences, the documents in this summary are organized under the following four categories: (1) communication strategies, (2) connecting citizens and municipal government, (3) service provision, and (4) media relations.




The role of Canadian municipalities in economic development.

By SKELLY, Michael J.

This report presents a national perspective on how Canadian municipalities see their role in economic development and determines the roles they would ideally like to play. In addition, the author looks at the tools and techniques which Canadian municipalities use to facilitate the economic development process, determines what Canadian municipalities are allowed to do in terms of enabling legislation and provides a brief theoretical discussion of the appropriate role of local governments in economic development.

The report also presents an identification and quantification of a host of economic development techniques used by municipalities across Canada.


Successful local economic development initiatives.

By YOUNG, Dennis R. & CHARLAND, Janine

Explores successful activities and the reasons for their success.

Appendix 1 presents a Community Economic Development Checklist for Success.




Ecosystem planning for Canadian Urban Regions.

By TOMALTY, Ray, GIBSON, Robert, ALEXANDER, Donald, & FISHER, John

A survey and analysis of ecosystem planning. Discusses definition, goals, 7 central principles, assessment of 15 case studies from Canada and the U.S., insights from 11 other innovative approaches for environmentally-responsible urban planning, 5-step ecosystem planning model. Includes a literature review and case studies.


Environmental policy review of 15 Canadian municipalities.


How are municipalities progressing in their efforts to address pressing environmental issues? This two-volume report seeks to answer this question through an examination of the environmental policies and programs of 15 Canadian municipalities.

Ms. Ouellet examines the initiatives of each municipality to determine the presence, or absence, of environmental policies and programs in the following areas: air quality, water quality, solid waste, hazardous waste, land use, energy and transportation, environmental impact assessment.

Barriers to the implementation of environmental policies and programs at the municipal level are also identified.


Integration of environmental assessment and municipal planning.

By PERKS, William T., BILKHU, Jagdev, & THOMPSON, Dixon A.

This report seeks to lay the groundwork for a better integration of provincial environmental assessment and municipal planning. In chapter 1, the authors define the problem and outline their research. In chapter 2, they report on the results of a survey of 42 provincial and municipal officials and 18 consultants. The survey focused on environmental assessment procedures, policies, effectiveness and its integration with municipal planning. Chapter 3 comprises a brief literature review of environmental assessment documents written within the context of municipal planning. Chapter 4 reports on the outcome of seven focus-sessions on environmental assessment held in major Canadian cities. Chapter 5 considers the impacts of sustainable development and municipal restructuring on the planning-environment interface, surveys practices in municipal environmental assessment and describes the "Environmental Management System" now gaining recognition among Canadian municipalities. Chapter six looks at and critiques selected provincial and municipal environmental initiatives. The final chapter examines the strengths and weaknesses of environmental assessment and explores opportunity for change, both at the provincial and municipal levels.




Development charges in Canadian municipalities: An analysis.

By SLACK, Naomi Enid

This report transcends recent studies of development charges which have tended to focus on their application in a specific province, region or municipality. Ms. Slack not only provides a national overview of legislation governing development charges but also presents detailed findings from a survey of how thirty-one municipalities across Canada view and use development charges. Both legislative and municipal survey information is tabulated to facilitate comparisons.

Slack also looks at the advantages and disadvantages of development charges based on survey results and on some recent works on the impact of development charges. Within this context, she examines who bears the burden of development charges, how they affect new and existing homeowners, how borrowing compares with development charges as a means of financing development and how development charges affect land use planning and development time frames.


An examination of Canadian property tax exemptions.


This study explores the historical origins of property taxes and property tax exemptions. It provides a detailed context and explanation of exemption provisions for the property tax legislation of the ten provinces. Also, examines the major differences and issues regarding property tax exemptions in Canada.


Intermunicipal cooperation: Sharing of expenditures and revenues.

By SLACK, Naomi Enid & WIGHT, Ian

This report includes chapters on the principles for evaluating intermunicipal cooperation, expenditure sharing, and tax sharing. It includes Canadian and American case studies.


The land use implications of alternative municipal financial tools.

By SLACK, Naomi Enid

Reviews the impacts of user fees, property taxes, development charges, site value taxes, and land value capture taxes on land use and development.

Also discusses trends in municipal finance and in planning.


Review of the regulatory environment of municipal capital borrowing.


This study examines whether or not the existing arrangements, procedures, and regulations relative to municipal capital borrowing are appropriate given interest in redefining the roles and responsibilities of provincial and municipal governments in Canada. The study also assesses whether the regulatory process is supportive or a hindrance to municipal infrastructure planning and the development of multi-year capital budgets.


Trends in municipal finance across Canada, 1983–1990


The paper analyzes trends in municipal finance for the period 1983 to 1990. It highlights the level and type of support by federal and provincial governments, discusses issues related to municipal powers and provincial oversight, analyzes the changing composition of municipal revenues, and examines the role that the provinces and territories play in redistributing the burden of the property tax, e.g., resource equalization grants to municipalities and tax relief provided to ratepayers.

The report is a follow-up to the ICURR report "Trends in Municipal Finance Across Canada, 1985–1989," which was produced for the annual meeting of Ministers of Municipal Affairs in 1991.



The impact of Aboriginal land claims and self-government on Canadian municipalities: The local government perspective.

By DUST, Theresa M.

Covers case studies of Saskatoon, SK, urban reserves, Temagami, ON, shared stewardship, and Inuvik, NT, public government; federal additions to reserve policy; two comprehensive land claims agreements in Saskatchewan and the Yukon; taxation and services; dispute resolution; other communities across Canada; etc.




Canadian municipal water conservation initiatives.

By WALLER, Donald H., SCOTT, Richard Scott, GATES, Christopher, & MOORE, David B.  

Municipalities or utilities responsible for the production of municipal water supplies have a variety of reasons to reduce residential water consumption: avoid or defer costs of capital works; avoid or defer development of a new source; comply with conditions for receipt of transfer payments or address environmental concerns. Using 12 in depth case studies and a large survey of municipalities, the team of researchers from the Technical University of Nova Scotia documents the reasons and financial aspects of initiatives undertaken by municipalities to reduce residential water consumption. These include the introduction of metering or of retrofit, the enactment of new by-laws and regulations, the modification of the rate structure, or the undertaking of infrastructure work. The study also assesses the effectiveness of the initiatives and of the accompanying public awareness programs.




Amalgamation vs. inter-municipal cooperation: Financing local and infrastructure services.

By SANCTON, Andrew, JAMES, Rebecca, & RAMSAY, Rick  

Describes and analyzes Canadian cases of municipal amalgamation and intermunicipal cooperation to assess the pros and cons of each. This study evaluates some of the mechanisms used to govern local communities and arrange for the provision of local public services. Case studies include Laval, Edmonton, Cape Breton, St. John's, Abbotsford, Regina and Moose Jaw, London and the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham.


Local government reorganization in Canada since 1975.

By SANCTON, Andrew

Author Andrew Sancton guides us in an examination of the principles underlying local government reorganization in the 1960s and 70s, the impact of neo-conservatism on local government structure and the five major local government reorganization mechanisms which have been used in Canada since 1975: centre-city annexation, incorporating cities into counties, tinkering with reformed structures, incorporation and amalgamation, creation of special-purpose bodies and use of inter-municipal agreements.


Municipal consolidation in Canada and its alternatives.

By O'BRIEN, Allan

Examines how provincial governments have approached municipal restructuring over the last decade.


Municipal consolidation in the 1990s: An analysis of five Canadian municipalities.


Igor Vojnovic examines the short-term impacts of five municipal amalgamations. Vojnovic pays particular attention to the political, administrative, service delivery and local finance changes following each amalgamation. He also reviews pre-amalgamation structure, anticipated benefits of amalgamation and the dynamics of transition to amalgamation.

Contents: Municipal reform : an introduction to consolidation — The effects of consolidation : constructing the framework — Case study - British Columbia - City of Abbotsford — Case study - Ontario - Township of Aldborough — Case study - Québec - City of Victoriaville — Case study - New-Brunswick - City of Miramichi — Case study - Nova Scotia - Halifax Regional Municipality — Consolidation - conclusions.


Public consultation: A tool for local democracy.

By QUESNEL, Louise

This study explores the role that citizens play in the political system. Chapter 1 discusses the basic concepts of democracy, representation and the consultation process. The next chapter analyzes the various formulas for public consultation. In Chapter 3, relevant provincial legislation is described while the following chapters analyze the referendum experiences in Great Britain, France, Switzerland and the United States.


Use of mediation in intermunicipal dispute resolution: Literature summary.

By ANDREW, John S.

A literature review on the subject of intermunicipal mediation with a Canadian focus. The sources are presented in chronological order and are based on ICURR library holdings.


The viability of Canadian municipalities: Concepts and measurements.

By DOUGLAS, David J. A. & MARSHALL, John A.

This report discusses stresses on municipal government capacities. It covers the evolution of Canadian local government, a historical perspective on viability, municipal capacity, viability definitions and financial and community viability. It also examines viability of governance and illustrations of non-viability.




Alternative guidelines and practices for municipal planning and development.

By WIGLE, Jill

This Literature Summary describes a collection of documents presenting a number of guidelines and practices for municipalities interested in exploring alternative planning and development options that are generally consistent with more sustainable forms of urban development. These documents are organized and presented under the following subject categories: transit-supportive land-use planning; planning for more sustainable suburbs; alternative development standards; and planning for reurbanisation.


The compact metropolis: Growth management and intensification in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.


Using three case study regions (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal), Tomalty examines the dynamics of growth management and intensification among the various levels of government that have adopted policies to promote more compact urban form.

Each region is examined under the following headings: the Region and its governance, Growth patterns, Growth-related issues, Provincial planning policies, Metropolitan planning policies, Municipal planning policies, Recent initiatives and current challenges, and Concluding comments.


The delegation of planning responsibilities in Canada.

By ROMANELLI, Terry Ann & MARCHAND, Claude

Authors examine the views of 241 municipalities across Canada on the allocation of planning responsibilities and on the desirability and impacts of increased planning responsibilities.

The authors explore, amongst other things, the advantages and disadvantages of community plans, the adequacy of planning department staffing, the resources which municipalities see as required in the event of increased planning responsibilities and the perceived costs and benefits of the delegation of planning authority.

The report includes an overview of the major planning instruments used in each province and territory and a summary of delegation issues specific to provinces and territories.


Heritage preservation and conservation procedures for local governments.

By MORALE, Belinda

This Literature Summary reviews a selection of documents which focus on the many faces of heritage preservation. Drawn from Canadian and American experiences, the documents in this summary are organized under the following four categories: Policy and programs; Stewardship; Tax incentives; and Conversions.


Professional attitudes toward alternative development standards.


This study looks at professional attitudes toward alternatives to costly low-density urban sprawl that has characterized post-war development of land. By engaging a wide spectrum of professional practitioners, the study explores whether there is a strong belief that things must be done differently and examines the degree of acceptance for various alternative standards being proposed across the country.


Regulatory processes and timeframes for residential development in ten Canadian cities: An update.

By LEUNG, Hok-Lin

This study is an update of the 1992 report: "Regulatory Processes Fact-Finding Project," which focused on Calgary, Charlottetown, Halifax Regional Municipality, Laval, Mississauga, Regina, Saint John, St. John's, Surrey and Winnipeg. It examines the steps and timeframes of the regulatory processes that developers must follow to build housing; outlines changes to provincial planning legislation and municipal streamlining initiatives since 1992; summarizes local developers views of the regulatory processes; and relates the study's findings on housing affordability.


Remediation and redevelopment of former industrial sites.

By WIGLE, Jill

This Literature Summary presents a selection of documents that present many of the key opportunities, challenges, issues and policies related to the remediation and redevelopment of former industrial sites. Drawn from Canadian and American experiences, these documents are organized under the following three categories: general overview, remediation and redevelopment.


Sustainable urban development in Canada: From concept to practice.

By MACLAREN, Virginia W.

This three-volume report documents the plans, policies and tools which Canadian local governments use to implement sustainable development.
The Compendium of Initiatives provides detailed descriptions of 235 innovative sustainable urban development projects in areas as diverse as transportation, hazardous waste management, urban forestry, water conservation, creek rehabilitation and CO2 and pesticide reduction.
Each project is examined under a series of easy-to-consult headings: organizing unit, project origin/motivation, project outline, analysis of project problems and successes, commentary, project documentation.




Depopulation of Canadian communities, 1981–1986.

By MARCHAND, Claude & CHARLAND, Janine

Since the early 1980s, there have been various accounts of population decline in resource-dependent or single-industry communities. However, despite the growing concern about the future of these communities, there had been no national study of this phenomenon up until then.

The authors conducted a study of small communities in Canada, which experienced a population decline of more than five percent between 1981 and 1986. This report identifies the 182 communities that declined in population during the period 1981–1986 and the economic sectors that are linked to the decline. The authors set out five factors that differentiate the 182 communities experiencing decline, thereby presenting the possibility of developing policies and programs that are more reflective of the different needs of these communities.




Canada's aging rural population: The role and response of local government.

By HODGE, Gerald, MCKAY, Lauri, & BEECKMANS, Pierre

It is in Canada's small and rural communities where the aging of the country's population has been most felt.

This study examines the kinds of impacts that the aging of the population is having on local governments in Canada's rural regions. Based on a survey of 209 small and rural municipalities, the report takes stock of how municipal governments have addressed these impacts.

Using a series of benchmarks, Hodge pays particular attention to determining the extent to which supportive environments for seniors exist in rural Canada.


Facing the challenge of industry closure: Managing transition in rural communities.


The report presents insights on the context and actions influencing the recovery of resource-dependent rural communities facing the crisis of industry closure in order to provide a better understanding of the tools and strategies of the transition management process. The report, commissioned by the Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Local Government in Canada, moves beyond a regional economic development perspective to take a broader approach that focuses on the experience and role of all actors in coping with and managing transition to redevelop these rural communities.


The rural-urban fringe: A review of patterns and development costs.

By MARCHAND, Claude & CHARLAND, Janine  

Reviews the literature on the economic impact of urban sprawl.




Alternative service delivery.

By SKELLY, Michael J.

Municipalities in Canada are faced with decreasing revenue sources and increasing service delivery responsibilities. Consequently, many local governments are turning to alternative means of delivering local services, involving the private or non-profit sectors as well as other local governments. Alternative service delivery methods include contracting out, intergovernmental agreements, franchising, charging user fees to achieve efficient consumption of a service, vouchers, subsidy arrangements, using volunteers and promoting self-help. This report documents Canadian and other local government experiences in using alternative service delivery practices and evaluates a series of case studies based on the criteria of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and equity.


New directions in municipal services: Competitive contracting and alternative service delivery in North American municipalities.

By CARR, Glenna, BOWDEN, Jeff, & STORRER, Judi

This study gives an overview of municipal services that have been contracted out and provided by means other than direct, in-house delivery.

Focusing on Ontario, the study is based, in part, on a written questionnaire completed by municipal officials in seventeen Ontario municipalities, and on follow-up telephone interviews. The authors also reviewed the literature and interviewed municipal officials with experience in alternative service delivery (ASD) elsewhere in Canada and in the United States.

The report reveals some common characteristics of successful ASD efforts. These include strong political support, leadership by senior management, willingness to work flexibly with employees and unions and to consider their proposals, use of outside advisors and experts, clear baseline to compare internal costs with bids, a focus on both service quality and cost-savings, and effort to work with employees affected by change.

It also identifies several key obstacles faced by Ontario municipalities in this area: clauses in collective agreements that prohibit contracting out and specify placement of staff in the municipality, deficient information on the cost and quality of services, a lack of in-house expertise on formulating competitive proposals, and inadequate guidelines and lack of policies on ASD.


Performance measurement and program delivery.

By WIGLE, Jill  

This Literature Summary reviews a selection of documents which focus on the various aspects of implementing and managing performance measurement systems to improve program delivery. While performance measurement and program delivery are the main focus of the summary, other strategies such as benchmarking, best practices and program/activity-based management are also discussed. The summary presents a brief overview of these practices, highlighting a number of particular approaches utilized by local governments in their efforts to improve the cost and quality performance of programs and services.




Healthy cities/healthy communities.

By WIGLE, Jill

This Literature Summary reviews a selection of documents which focus on healthy cities and communities. The Healthy Cities Project, which has been in existence for over a decade, was originally a pilot project of the World Health Organisation. In Canada, the healthy communities concept was first supported by the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This summary deals with the concept of healthy cities and communities in a general sense. It does not include works that focus on specific aspects of creating healthier communities (e.g., air quality, public transit, or green spaces).


Safe city and crime prevention strategies.

By NITTEL, Keiko

This Literature Summary reviews a selection of documents that present many of the key issues, ideas, and strategies relating to public safety and crime prevention. Drawn from Canadian and American experiences, these documents are organized under the following three categories: Safe cities, safe communities; Crime prevention strategies; and Crime prevention through environmental design.




Causes and consequences of urban sprawl.

By NITTEL, Keiko  

This Literature Summary presents a selection of documents which discusses the key causes, impacts, issues, and debates related to the topic of urban sprawl in Canadian and American cities. These documents are organized under the following three categories: general overview, alternatives to sprawl and case studies in sprawl.


Developing indicators of urban sustainability: A focus on the Canadian experience.

By MACLAREN, Virginia W.  

This study, sponsored jointly by the CMHC, Environment Canada and ICURR, reviews a range of frameworks and selection criteria for urban  sustainability indicators. Canadian examples figure largely in the review.

The first phase of the review establishes options for a consistent methodology for identifying standardized indicators of urban sustainability. The second phase of the review identifies a range of practical and theoretically-sound indicators based primarily on Canadian experience and which fulfil some or all of the conditions required for sustainability indicators.


Directory of bodies concerned with urban and regional research.


A directory listing 46 organizations in Canada that undertake research on urban and regional issues. Each entry states the contact information, the focus, the organizational structure, the research approach and topics addressed, and publications available.

The directory was prepared for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Directory of organizations engaged in urban and regional research in Canada.

By MARCHAND, Claude & ISIN, Engin F.

The directory provides detailed information on a wide range of public and private sector agencies in Canada involved in urban and regional research including federal, provincial and municipal agencies, universities and social planning councils. Entries, which are arranged by type of agency, then alphabetically, comprise information on the focus of the agency, how it is organized, the research it undertakes, its address, telephone and fax numbers.


Population distribution and the management of urban growth in six selected urban regions in Canada.

By BRYANT, Christopher R. & LEMIRE, Daniel

Information from Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Examines patterns of population change and urban growth, and consequences of responses to urban growth. Includes questionnaire and statistical tables. Includes case studies.




User-pay systems for solid waste management in Canadian municipalities.

By MUNROE, Glenn

This publication examines the alternatives to tax-funded collection and handling of residential solid waste. The study examines user-pay approaches to financing municipal solid waste programs in Canada; there were well over 100 municipalities using some form of user-pay system. The nature and impact of these systems are considered as well as success factors in implementation.