I Hit Pause! – Issue 78 

I hit pause! I needed to take a break and re-focus. I had never intended to write an overtly political blog. However, that was exactly what I had started to do. Politics had taken over a project that I wanted to dedicate to my other interests and, in particular, urban development

Where to re-start?

So, a reset! I pulled the power cord for a few weeks. Not that I will avoid politics entirely – I don’t think that could be possible. And, my personal convictions and politics will often be obvious. 

I have to get back to my core interest – the evolution of towns and cities. I have already written a number of newsletters on this topic and I started to try and organize these into book format. I think that side-exercise caused me to post articles about everything other than urbanization as I rushed to catch up with what I had already written. So, I will try to stick to the associated topics:

Back to the Office

In person equals collaboration and creativity.

I work at home, normal for someone carrying on with  an active business life post-retirement. And maybe it is ok for call centre work! But I just don’t get how work that requires collaboration is done on Zoom or Teams.  Maybe I am just a grumpy old man, but I find that the quality of work and analysis took a nose-dive with “work-at-home” regimes. 

Demographics

All western nations have a labour shortage. More people retire than enter the work force. At every level! We don’t just need skilled workers!  We need people with ambition that will wash dishes, clean offices, work in agriculture, and look after our aging population. We need immigration. 

Places to live

Housing demand isn’t a problem! Housing supply is! How do we limit urban sprawl, preserve agricultural land and forest, and yet build more homes. 

Urban Agriculture

Will inflation herald the return of the Victory Garden? Maybe, but I am more interested in the potential of vertical, rooftop, and other types of urban gardening.  Can non-traditional urban gardening reduce dependence on food products transported thousands of miles? 

The Impact of Climate Change?

Which cities may be submerged due to rising sea levels? Which cities may dry out due to a lack of water? The North Atlantic Current continues to slow – will London and Paris be colder places than Toronto and Montreal? 

Cars and Cities

OK – even if you don’t believe in climate change, you likely acknowledge that cars pollute city air. But, over the last 60 years we have built city infrastructure to support increasing car ownership.  Better public transit and active transportation networks could alleviate the dependence on the automobile and reduce air pollution.

Entertainment & Shopping

The attraction of luxury retail

I think we usually say “shop & play”. Well, during the pandemic then number of people that have chosen to shop from the comfort of their living rooms has exploded. I don’t know about you, but I hate the frustration of internet shopping. On the other hand, I love walking down the several kilometres of the pedestrianized Avenue Mont-Royal or wandering around Old Montréal. I see people, I am entertained. Also if I choose, I can get a glass of wine or have lunch. And there is shopping! 

Culture is an Industry

Opera, glorious opera

I use to nod agreement that government investment in the arts was a waste of taxpayer money. Now I think, really? Museums, art galleries and opera houses are huge tourist attractions around the world. They make a major contribution to a city’s creativity in all walks of life.  

  • The Cirque du Soleil employs 1500 people at its Montréal headquarters. 
  • The Canadian film/tv industry employs 117,000 and generates over $5 billion in revenues. 

Lots to write about

I hit pause. But now, I think my mind is in the right place. I will probably continue to post about things that I read and think could be interesting to you. Or things that I like. But I will try to stick to the core subjects.

The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

January 22, 2024

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I […]

The Affordable Housing Conundrum

October 3, 2023

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]

Vienna on Top Again

June 25, 2023

Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]