Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance

Most Canadians now live in cities and large metropolitan areas. Social, economic, and environmental policymaking by all levels of government is increasingly urban in its focus.
Western’s Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance (CUP-LG) was created in 2017 to respond to the many new challenges facing local governments and urban policymakers at all levels. Bringing together academic researchers and students from across Western and beyond, our goal is to facilitate new interdisciplinary collaborations on pressing questions, to foster dialogue between academics and policy practitioners, and to communicate the results of research to policy professionals and the broader public.
As Western’s hub for urban research, the Centre builds on the university’s established strengths: the graduate Local Government Program and undergraduate Urban Development Program, the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, and the work of dozens of faculty members and graduate students across multiple Social Science departments. The Centre is a proud member of Western’s Network for Economic and Social Trends (NEST), which brings together the research centres in the Faculty of Social Science.



Roundtable participants

The Centre held its official launch event on November 23, 2018, a roundtable on: 

The Intentional City: Shaping London’s Urban Future

Moderated by the Centre’s associate director, Prof. Martin Horak, the roundtable brought together civic leaders and academics for an open public discussion of these questions. Five panellists participated: Pierre Filion, Professor in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo and an expert in mid-sized cities; Arielle Kayabaga, Councillor-Elect for City of London’s downtown Ward 13; Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of London’s Pillar Nonprofit Network and Co-Founder of Innovation Works; John Fleming, Managing Director of Planning and City Planner for the City of London; and Neil Bradford, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Huron University College.

If you missed the event, we invite you to watch the video, read the summary of the remarks, or peruse the edited transcript


As part of the NEST’s Distinguished Speaker Series, the Centre hosted a talk on January 10, 2019 by of Canada's most accomplished geographers, David Ley of the University of British Columbia.

A Regional Growth Machine, a Great Wall of Capital, and a Metropolitan Housing Market


Vancouver was transformed by the globalization of property markets following Expo 86. A powerful growth machine developed in British Columbia as substantial Asian capital flowed into Vancouver. Prof. Ley will discuss how the B.C. government became addicted to the spinoffs from these funds, the emergence of a growth coalition composed of politicians and the real estate industry, and the deregulation of private institutions and the underresourcing of public agencies. 

Research areas in 2018–19

The Centre will focus on three research areas each year. Each will culminate in a research report or other publication targeted at policy professionals working in local or provincial government, non-governmental organizations, or private practice. In the future, we will solicit ideas for research areas from the policy community. 

Local Elections

Our home in London, Ontario, is the first Canadian municipality to adopt a ranked-ballots electoral system. We are monitoring this closely with a specific focus on administration. How is London preparing for the deployment of a new electoral system? And what can other municipalities learn from London's experience? Separately, faculty researchers are studying recent changes to Ontario's campaign finance rules for local elections to see what impact they have on electoral competition.

Local Economic Development

All municipalities have economic development policies and programs, many of which are designed by external consultants. How effective are these policies, and how much are they tailored to local conditions?

Canadian Local Government Inventory

It has been over a decade since provincial legal and regulatory frameworks for local government have been comprehensively reviewed and compared. We are building an inventory of information regarding the provincial-municipal relationship in each province and territory.

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Are you interested in joining the Centre as a Faculty Associate, Graduate Fellow, or Visiting Scholar? Contact us for more information!