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Brock Carlton: Looking into the future of Canadian municipalities

The future of Canadian municipalities will be filled with challenges over the next two decades, but according to Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) CEO Brock Carlton, local government leaders shouldn’t expect constitutional solutions to these problems.

Carlton helped kick off the 2019 Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association (OMAA) Fall Workshop with a discussion around the findings in FCM’s 2018 strategic planning document, Canada’s Horizons: A Look Into The Canada of 2040.

Before addressing the OMAA delegates, Carlton sat down for an interview with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner where they discussed key discoveries in Canada’s Horizons and how local government leaders can begin addressing these situations.

No Constitutional Path to Local Government Solutions

The challenges will be found in several key areas – including the country’s ageing population, the relationship between Indigenous communities and municipalities, the trend toward urbanization, and the need to adjust Canada’s current governance framework – Carlton said. However, he emphasized the solutions will need to be found outside of any constitutional changes.

“I don’t think going to the constitution route is the right thing to do or the possible thing to do. As soon as you open up the constitution, you open up a whole dog’s breakfast of other issues,” Carlton said. “The solution is to find mechanisms to work together that are not constitutional, are not necessarily political. They are just ways of working together. It’s not governance in the constitutional sense of the word, but it is about the three orders of government sitting down together and sorting out what makes the most sense.”

Many Opportunities for Canadian Municipalities

While there will certainly be challenges, Carlton explained in the video, there will also be opportunities for municipalities as well.

He shared his perspective on opportunities related to demographic changes, as well as the climate change agenda.

“Municipalities have these huge challenges, but great opportunities, because they are on the front line and can make such a difference community by community,” Carlton said.  MW

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Ken Coates’s article: City states and the future of Canada’s smaller communities. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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