Metropole Consultants

Planning for the 21st century city.

Metropole Consultants’ distinct approach grounds city plan- and policy-making within a deep understanding of the complex social, technological and economic forces that shape cities today.


Metropole Consultants conducts research and analysis, and crafts effective policy in the following areas:

Perverse Cities

Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policies and Urban Sprawl

“Analytical and detailed in its approach…consistently daring in challenging accepted views of the causes of and solutions for urban sprawl”.
– The Donner Book Prize Jury

“Pamela Blais’ book Perverse Cities is the best explanation I have read for the persistence of urban sprawl. A must read for urbanists.”

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"Best Practices: Pricing for Efficient Urban Development"

August 12, 2014

The Federal Role in Shaping Canadian Cities

February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

With an election coming this fall, the federal role in cities, and the need for and content of a national urban strategy will undoubetdly be the subject of much debate – at least among urbanists. To date, the focus has tended to be on infrastructure funding. But the debate should be much broader. Infrastructure funding […]
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How perverse subsidies are undermining your efforts to create compact communities (and what to do about it)

June 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

This past weekend, I was thrilled to present at the Congress for the New Urbanism in Buffalo, NY (CNU 22). Peter Katz and Joe Minicozzi showed how municipal revenue returns from compact development are exponentially higher than for conventional development. My presentation exposed the hidden, perverse subsidies that are embedded in our everyday financial tools, […]
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What would happen if… development charges reflected how infrastructure costs vary with density?

May 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! Development charges (“DCs”) are price signals, as such they influence decisions around land use and shape development patterns. But DCs rarely follow the basic economic principle that, in order to achieve the proverbial “efficient allocation of resources” (read: efficient urban development patterns and infrastructure) prices should […]
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Development Charges Act Review, Part Three

January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Aligning DCs with other public objectives Issue: Conflicts between development charges and Provincial planning and transit objectives Though DCs are often seen simply as a revenue-raising tool, the reality is that they have broader impacts, including their important role in shaping urban development patterns. Given these broader impacts, there is a need to ensure that […]
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Development Charges Act Review, Part Deux

January 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Structuring the Charge Issue: hidden cross subsidies embedded in DCs The ultimate objective of the DC process is to establish the dollar amounts that will be charged against new development to cover the cost of the needed infrastructure. In so doing, we need to recognize the economic role that these DC levels play. They are […]
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Development Charges Act review, Part One

December 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Development charges… the very mention of the words has been observed to cause a glazing of the eyes. However, “DCs” are important to cities, for many reasons. And the Ontario government is currently reviewing its Development Charges Act, and looking for input. Herewith the first instalment of some thoughts on the issue. DCs are an […]
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Looking to fund transit in the GTAH? Fix the wonky policies

December 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Province’s Transit Investment Advisory Panel will soon release a report with its recommendations on how to fund Let’s Move – the $50 billion transit investment program. The Panel’s focus is new revenue tools – including Metrolinx’s own short list: increased development charges, increased sales tax, a parking levy, and an increased fuel and gas […]
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Green economy summit presentation

December 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Here is a video of a presentation I made to the Green Economy Summit in October about the linkages between misincentives, inefficient urban form and municipal finances.
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Hamilton to study zone-based development charges

December 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

In a recent report to Council, Hamilton city staff recommended that a zone-based approach be considered as part of their upcoming development charges review. The staff report explains: As a result of previous feedback and direction from Council regarding the 2014 DC review, staff will be looking at methods to encourage intensification, including investigating the […]
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