Quotes of the week

“Income tax is by far the biggest revenue producer, generating almost 65 per cent of the federal government’s revenues (personal income tax makes up about 47 per cent, while corporate income tax contributes about 15 per cent), with sales tax next at 15 per cent. Excise taxes, tariffs on traded goods, revenues from Crown corporations, and other fees account for the remaining 20 per cent of revenues.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“If all three levels of government had access to a wide range of taxes, citizens might not be happy, but they would be served by a fair and efficient tax regime.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“But the problem for Canadian cities is that they don’t have access to a broad range of taxes, but are instead overly reliant on one tax, the property tax for about 50 per cent of their revenue, compared to 15 per cent for US cities and 5 per cent for European cities. We are not the only country in the world whose cities are so reliant on property tax, while northern European countries have a heavy reliance on income tax, and southern European countries rely on a broader mix of property, income, sales, and other taxes. Cities in the United States vary widely; some are highly dependent on property tax, while others have a broad array of revenue tools, including income and sales taxes, and a good mix of debt instruments.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“It does not grow with the economy, because property values grow relatively slowly, whereas in a booming economy income grows quickly and sales tax revenue grows quickly as more people buy more goods and services. Property taxes also do not reflect a person’s ability to pay them.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“In addition to the property taxes on which they presently rely so heavily, Canadian cities should be able to levy income tax, payroll tax, a general retail sales tax, and special excise tax on liquor sales, hotel rooms, parking spaces, tobacco products, and whatever other things they might want to influence or control the use of. They should to be able to charge tolls to use their roads and add licensing surcharges for vehicle registrations. And they should be able to issue a range of debt instruments, such as municipal bonds and other financing tools.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

” ‘Yes, that is a common reaction we get. But we have been around for some centuries, and we know that nations come and go, but cities last forever.’

The Roman Catholic Church, as it turns out, is on to something. People who map cities will tell you that, despite all the cranes we might see in our cities during boom times, cities change very slowly and are highly stable places.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“A city could levy an income tax, a modest surcharge on the provincial or federal bill. To use Toronto as an example if the city levied an income tax surcharge equivalent to about 1 per cent of taxable income, according to Kitchen and Slack, it would raise close to $500 million, a good contribution to an annual budget of about $7 billion. Levying an additional 1 per cent sales tax would net Toronto about $375 million a year. Specific excise taxes on liquor, tobacco, or hotels rooms would be much less lucrative. A one cent levy on vehicle fuel would yield $35 million, and most other taxes less. But the mix would spread the burden.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“Canadian cities are making do with much less revenue than they need to reach their potential. The large thriving urban regions have a particular need to be able to invest in those things that will enhance their international competitiveness. Waiting for federal and provincials governments has not worked out very well for them over the past century.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“It was simply this: We knew we could be gone at any time. Standing by the window, up on the roof, playing golf, on the phone. The possibility of being blown out like a match made us burn.”

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

“We do have political systems and politicians who focus on power as an end. And if we are to empower our big-city regions for the good of the nation, we need to find those politicians who are prepared to relinquish power, to see their power transferred to other leaders for other purposes.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“They have growing responsibilities and obligations on one hand, as cities get bigger and more complex, while on the other they face constrained revenues that are locked into a primary revenue source that doesn’t grow with the economy. The mayors look at other developed countries, the ones with which Canada competes in the world economy and see that they have national programs to fund assisted and low-income housing, public transit systems, and infrastructure, but that Canada doesn’t.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“Canada sometimes seems like a country preserved in amber. For those interested in change, it seems like a hard place to make it. Our constitutional structure exerts a drag on modernizing.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“The other problem with proposing such approaches is that the federal government has to actually want to help the cities.”

Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“Seventy-one per cent want (the Tories) out. That’s a lot of people. Is that 71 per cent going to split themselves four ways and let the Tories back in, or is there going to be some reckoning?”

NDP achieving record support in Quebec, holding lead nationally, new polls show

“But neither Holland nor Moskowitz see mobility fees exempting developers from their fair share. As Moskowitz points out, decreasing the number and length of vehicle trips that need to occur in a given area is the whole point of encouraging density.

‘When you provide incentives for mixed-use and transit, people actually do drive less,’ she says, adding that bike and pedestrian systems cost less to build than their car-based cousins.”

Florida Cities Want Transportation Dollars to Incentivize Infill

“Much of the focus at the nexus of health and design at the moment is on the physical health risks – most especially those associated with our often-sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart disease and diabetes. This often means designing built environments that nudge people to be more physically active. But opportunities for health promotion extend beyond physical activity: the World Health Organisation defines health as a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing.”

We should think more about the link between urban design and mental health

“In the wake of Quebec’s provincial election in 2014, a bitter contest that saw the Liberals win a convincing majority and the Parti Québécois suffer its worst defeat in 40 years, newly minted premier Philippe Couillard spoke of a “tectonic shift” in Quebec’s political landscape.

But I would argue that the result we saw in this province a year ago was an aftershock of larger, even more unexpected political earthquake that occurred here in 2011 — the NDP’s “Orange Wave” breakthrough in Quebec.”

NDP’s ‘Orange Wave’ in Quebec could become a tsunami as poll puts party’s support at 47 per cent

“If lying were an Olympic sport, Canada’s PMO would be the Jamaican bobsled team. They’re really bad, but it’s great TV.

The PMO’s culture of casual lying made possible by tightly controlled media access is withering under the relentless onslaught of Donald Bayne’s cross-examination. As a former criminal prosecutor who watched the last three days of Nigel Wright’s testimony at the Duffy trial in person, I find hard to envision a way out now for the government. Nigel Wright’s best moments in the witness stand are far behind him, and by my estimation he’s not even half-way through.”

Your lie-detector guide to the latest PMO spin

“Stephen Harper is the one person who remains conspicuously absent from the hundreds of emails and strategizing over the burgeoning mushroom cloud of Duffy’s expense scandal. Nigel Wright has testified that he briefed the prime minister daily on matters of political sensitivity, yet in the written record Harper seems about as influential as an absentee landlord.

Despite his reputation as an obsessively controlling micro-manager, there’s not a whisper of the PM’s input in the emails anywhere, with the exception of Novak’s own memo on his behalf in February. Obviously Harper was receiving regular briefings and updates on the subject. From what we know of the man, he would demand to know.”

Your lie-detector guide to the latest PMO spin

“In addition to charges of fraud and breach of trust, Duffy faces one count of bribery for accepting Wright’s money; however Wright has not been charged for giving Duffy the money.”

NDP wants RCMP to consider charges against Wright over Duffy affair

“My strategy is the same as ever: I may not win, but you will know that I was here. I still bring three carloads of effort to every endeavor. (That’s certainly how I became a professional writer: I wouldn’t quit submitting my work until publishers yielded.) The uniquely talented pastry chef with his fancy dessert still usually wins the big prestige prizes, but you know what? People have to acknowledge me anyhow, because I won’t go away.”

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert Shares Her Unexpected Secret to Success

“Now can we stop? Please? Can we please stop acting as if Conservative, right-wing ‘Christians’ make any sense or are even ‘good’ people? Any extreme is bad. Any. And that goes for people who call themselves ‘Christians’ and it goes double for anyone who calls him or herself a ‘fundamentalist’ anything.”

Here’s Why it Makes Perfect Sense That Josh Duggar Cheated

“Extremism creates monsters. We have to teach science. Not fantasy. We have to respect the reality of humans and their development. Not promote puritanical myths of purity.”

Here’s Why it Makes Perfect Sense That Josh Duggar Cheated

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