Project: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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Hardly a month goes by without a report that a particular city is the best place to live, work, invest in, or visit. Rankings and ratings make for an easy news story. Reporting in numerical terms that Vancouver provides a quality of life superior to that of Johannesburg, or that Cleveland is a better place to do business than Paris, satisfies a contemporary appetite for cut-and-dried empirically grounded “facts.” And local media coverage of a city’s changing position in rankings has become a regular event that politicians and public officials dare not ignore.

How good are these rankings? How do they work? Are they well designed? How should they be interpreted by policymakers? This project sought to answer all these questions.

Featured in the Atlantic Cities blog.

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Project: Shaping the Toronto Region

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This report examines 16 districts in the Greater Toronto Area to assess how density is related to era of development, standards for parks and schools, housing type mix, street configuration, employment, and travel behaviour.  We also analyzed 24 hypothetical scenarios to estimate the effects on density of planning policy changes. The findings have implications for urban growth policy.

Prepared with John van Nostrand, PlanningAlliance Inc., for the Neptis Foundation.

The report won an Excellence in Planning Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners in 2009.