Zack Taylor

I am  Director of the Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance in the Network on Economic and Social Trends and Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Western University in London, Canada. Before joining Western in 2015, I taught for three years in the University of Toronto’s undergraduate City Studies Program and graduate Program in Planning. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on urban politics, public administration, and public policy. My research focuses on three themes: the contemporary and historical governance and planning of Canadian and American urban regions, the relationship between place and politics, and planning and governance theory.

I am a fellow of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and a non-practicing accredited urban planner. I regularly participate in meetings of the Canadian and American Political Science Associations, the Urban Affairs Association, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

I am currently an investigator of two research projects funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Cities in Canadian Political Development (2019–2025) with Jack Lucas (University of Calgary), and Canadas Implicit Urban Policy (2019–2022) with Neil Bradford (Huron University College) and Alison Smith (University of Toronto).


Shaping the Metropolis: Institutions and Urbanization in the United States and Canada

“An impressive, important, and influential book, Shaping the Metropolis is the defining text for the future of literature comparing US and Canadian urban politics and urban political development.”
— Richardson Dilworth, Drexel University

How American and Canadian cities came to be governed
differently – and what it means for the future.

Most contemporary policy problems and their solutions are to be found in cities. Rising income inequality and concentrated poverty threaten the social sustainability of North American cities. Suburban growth endangers sensitive ecosystems, water supplies, and food security. Existing urban infrastructure is crumbling while governments struggle to pay for new and expanded services. Can our inherited urban governance institutions and policies effectively respond to these problems.

In Shaping the Metropolis I compare the historical development of American and Canadian urban governance since the 19th century, both at the national level and through specific metropolitan case studies. Examining Minneapolis-St Paul and Portland, Oregon, in the United States, and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, I show how differences in the structure of governing institutions in American states and Canadian provinces cumulatively produced different forms of urban governance, and ultimately quite different cities. These institutional differences continue to shape distinct American and Canadian responses to contemporary urban challenges. 

Departing from the common focus on local government in urban political studies, Shaping the Metropolis shows that urban governance encompasses far more than local government, and that states and provinces have always played a central role in responding to urban policy challenges and will continue to do so in the future. This book helps us better understand the evolution of urban governance in the United States and Canada and its future potential.

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