Comment 51191

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2010 at 12:35:33

I fundamentally disagree about focusing on "key" industries. The healthiest economies always diversify. Single-industry towns are notoriously unstable for obvious reasons. I highly recommend "The Nature of Economies" by Jane Jacobs on the subject.

As for what we do need - I'd definitely say, first and foremost, some serious loosening of the regulatory framework. Let people do things, because throwing a giant wet blanket over the city and then waiting for condo and hotel developers to rescue us plainly isn't working.

Some other suggestions: - Our town makes very little money from energy (homes, business, transport etc) and spends an awful lot on it. Every bit of that we can cut or generate ourselves sets us ahead economically, politically and environmentally in a very serious way. And every bit we do now puts us way ahead of the rest of the region.

  • Take green spaces seriously. There's another story behind the success of the Waterloo region - the parks, gardens, valleys, forests - it works very hard to be a beautiful place to live and raise kids. People care about this stuff, and showing a constant and callous disregard for parks and greenspaces isn't going to encourage people to locate somewhere.

  • Take poor people seriously. An unbelievable number of "creative people" are poor - artists, writers, musicians, students, entrepreneurs, activists, tradespeople and workers of all sorts... the creation of any successful urban space requires tons of people with very little to spend. This means cheap rent. Cheap rent, and cheap rent. Nearly every single "success story" gentrification has to offer (Harlem, Haight, Queen West, James North etc) stars with an area where people can live cheaply enough to devote a significant chunk of their time to something that's creative but not immediately (or reliably) profitable.

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