New report: Metropolitan governance innovation in Canada

Report cover

My new research report for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance takes stock of metropolitan governance practices and innovation in Canada.

While Canada was best known in the postwar decades for innovating two-tier metropolitan local governments in Toronto, Montréal, Winnipeg, and other cities, this model no longer exists at the metropolitan scale anywhere in the country.

Instead, I identify five distinct models in operation, sometimes in combination with one another:

  • the “unicity,” or single-tier municipal model;
  • the compulsory regional intergovernmental organization;
  • the voluntary intermunicipal partnership;
  • the metropolitan single-purpose body; and
  • the provincial policy overlay.

This diversity of institutional forms found across Canada reflects variation in both provincial systems of local government and geographies of urban settlement. It also points to both the flexibility of Canadian governance and policy making and the central role provincial governments play as “metropolitan metagovernors.” 

The report is the third in a series entitled “Perspectives on Regional Governance: Global, National, and Local,” which examines how different jurisdictions in Canada and around the world have implemented regional governance models to help cities tackle longstanding challenges that cross municipal boundaries. The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, at which I am a Fellow, is an academic research hub and non-partisan think tank based in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.