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Anne Golden on the Ecstasy and the Agony of Cities


Earlier this month,  Anne Golden [past] President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada spoke at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.  Her presentation was entitled “What I Have Learned About Cities.”

While Ms. Golden’s remarks focuses mainly on experiences and observations in Toronto, her analysis apply to all Canadian cities; particularity larger cities such as Vancouver.

Read the speech (pdf)

Watch the Webcast 


Cornerstones of Competitive Cities

In the presentation, Ms. Golden outline 4 “Cornerstones of Competitive Cities.” These building blocks provide strong foundation for urban success, and include:

  • a strong knowledge economy;
  • connective physical infrastructure linking people, goods and ideas;
  • environmentally sound growth; and
  • socially cohesive communities


Politics in Full Sentences

One of the enabling conditions for these cornerstones is “Effective Governance. ” Ms. Golden highlighted Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s high energy, pro-citizen engagement approach as an example. Mayor Nenshi owes much of his success to his rejection of “sound-bite politics” in favour of “politics in full sentences.’ As a result, he is able to have a mature discussion with Calgary residents about the future of their city.

PlaceSpeak wholeheartedly agrees with this approach. As Colleen Hardwick outlined in the video we posted on Monday, PlaceSpeak’s vision is ultimately  to tap into the desires of citizens to drive a compelling urban agenda. This requires more than campaign promises and scripted open houses. It requires new structures and new systems that enable meaningful opportunities for in-depth dialogue and discussion. This is exactly the type of engagement we are trying to facilitate through our platform. We are closely watching Mayor Nenshi’s efforts in engaging Calgarians and look forward to bring his spirit of engagement to Vancouver and elsewhere.

PlaceSpeak is excited to hear a national leader such as Anne Golden eloquently lay out the challenges facing cities in Canada and offer practical solutions. With the upcoming provincial election in Ontario and municipal elections in British Columbia,we suggest you take a few minutes to read the speech.  Afterwards, you can ponder the points Ms. Golden makes as you decide who you will be voting for later this fall.


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