Local and Urban Politics

E17 - Multilevel Governance: Democratic and Policy Consequences

Date: Jun 14 | Time: 10:15am to 11:45am | Location:

Collaborating with the Public on Designing for Public Participation: The Case of Advisory Committees of Council in the City of Guelph, ON: Leah Levac (University of Guelph), Wai Yin (Winnie) Chan (University of Guelph)
Abstract: Municipal governments across Canada are served by Advisory Committees of Council (ACOCs), a widely used public participation mechanism where Council-appointed residents provide advice on a wide range of topics, including accessibility, transit, heritage, land use, the arts, and more. In Guelph, ON (and likely elsewhere), there is wide variation in their mandate and authority, overall purpose and objectives, membership composition, staff liaison roles, and reporting processes (and frequency) (Buchnea & Laban, 2021). Despite their ubiquity, little research has explored their functioning and effectiveness, how residents experience their service on them, the extent to which ACOC membership is accessible to residents who often face barriers to participation, or how city staff and Council perceive and receive their advice. Moreover, and perhaps in part because of these knowledge gaps, ACOCs have served as sites of conflict between members and the Councils they are intended to inform (e.g., Coleman, 2020; Vivian, 2021). This paper presents the collaborative research and community engagement approach we undertook to respond to these gaps and learn more about this ubiquitous form of public participation. Guided by principles of engaged scholarship (Beaulieu et al., 2018) and their application to policy development (Levac et al., 2022), we describe our methodological approach, emphasizing our efforts to centre residents’ lived expertise of serving (or facing barriers to serving) on ACOCs. We demonstrate the value of informing public participation design with the public’s experiential knowledge of these mechanisms and argue for more entrenched forms of public participation in municipal governance design moving forward.

Local and Regional Governance Navigating the Changing Contours of Canadian Federalism: Charles Conteh (Brock University)
Abstract: Subnational jurisdictions at the Local and regional levels are confronting the growing challenges of breakneck technological changes, shifts in markets and growing concerns about the mounting ecological crisis of climate change. These problems have catapulted these governance entities into the frontlines of countries’ efforts to confront the challenges and exploit emergent opportunities. Cities and regions have in turn deployed various innovative initiatives over the past two decades in responding to these trends. One central implication of their governance adaptations is that local and urban jurisdictions have been assuming greater policy responsibility and agency. The proposed paper examines these trends in Canada, focusing on how several midsized regions across the country are adapting to the growing complexity of economic development in an age of greater knowledge intensity and new innovation policy approaches. Drawing insights from the concept of multilevel governance (MLG) as a framework for thinking about policy alignment across jurisdictions, the paper will investigate the emergent institutional, structural, and procedural mechanisms by which local and urban entities are navigating the currents of change in Canada’s multi-tiered system. The MLG literature calls attention to the fluid mechanisms by which lower-tier jurisdictions like municipalities interact with and engage in joint policy action with upper-tier jurisdictions. It also sheds light on the porous boundaries of local and regional governance at the strategic interface between the state, market and society. The paper concludes with practical and theoretical implications for present and future trends of local and regional governance in the 21st century.

The Governance of Sister City Agreements: Tom urbaniak (Cape Breton University), Andrew Molloy (Cape Breton University)
Abstract: This paper will examine and propose potential best-practices in the governance, implementation, and co-ordination of international sister-city agreements (also known as partner-city agreements or twin-city agreements). Such agreements have been increasingly common for most of the past century, with varied purposes and initiators. Such agreements have sought to promote one or more of the following: peace, democracy, trade and access to markets, tourism, the needs of diasporas, and, occasionally, specific ideologies or political agendas. The authors will be relying on participant observation, involvement in inter-municipal and inter-agency consultations, and comparative literature reviews about historical sister-city agreements. One of the authors facilitated the 2019 twinning of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), Nova Scotia, and Wałbrzych, Poland. The process to arrive at the agreement will be discussed in the paper. The two municipalities are post-industrial, primarily urban, with populations of approximately 100,000 people. Both municipalities struggled with urban decay and unemployment. The authors have also been involved in the agreement’s implementation and the facilitation of civil society collaborations, as well as inter-institutional and educational collaborations (including a summer field school) involving the CBRM and Wałbrzych. In so doing, the authors and colleagues studied other sister-city agreements, including, but not limited to, agreements among other Canadian and Polish cities. It will be argued that viable twinning agreements require a co-ordinating body that includes participants from outside the municipal structure, complementary inter-institutional agreements (such as between schools and universities), and, significantly, opportunities for participation by youth and students. Enduring and impactful agreements may need to envision multiple, not singular, avenues for mutual benefit. They may need to cycle through the following phases: 1)initiation by a champion(s); 2)experimentation with tangible projects; 3)consolidation of the Agreement’s governance along with the development of parallel agreements, such as between schools and universities; 4) evaluation or planned sessions to take stock; and 5) an intentional, even if low-intensity, rhythm of activities and contacts.

Public Transit Policy and Trilevel Governance in Canada: What are the Local States’ Resources Securing Strategies?: Hao Xi (University of Waterloo), Hongying Wang (University of Waterloo)
Abstract: The persistent infrastructure deficit has been an intriguing topic for decades in Canada. Public choice theory indicates that decentralization will empower local jurisdictions to efficiently provide public good, which can be illustrated in Canadian cases that show that the federal government’s intervention in the local public good supply would blur accountability and thus undermine the policy performance. However, some in academia and industry also contend that current federal role in public transport providing is less than ideal. Specifically, who should be counted on regarding urban and rural public transit policy if those infrastructures have obvious externality? To what extent can the federal government intervene in the municipal public transit policy agenda? What are the local governments’ strategies for securing resources? Regarding these questions, there still have been few robust studies that integrate the topics related to intergovernmental relations and public transit policy from a political science perspective. This research aims to do a comparative case study among Canadian cities (or regional districts) and explore the factors that lead to successful or less efficient public transit policy outcomes (e.g. Ottawa’s failed LRT project and ION LRT in Waterloo). More importantly, this research tries to retrospect the conventional understanding of municipal government’s status as the “invention” of provincial government and how this special status influences local states’ strategies in striving for resources within the intergovernmental political dynamics. Moreover, this study will also investigate the role of local states’ changing governance structure in shaping their strategies.