Research & Publications

One of the Centre’s principal goals is to produce research that can be used by local government professionals, non-governmental organizations, and the public. Policy Briefs and Research Reports are distributed on the university’s data repository, Scholarship@Western. Open data and data tools are made available through Ontario’s ScholarsPortal Dataverse.

Research Highlights

Research Reports

Power and Purpose: Canadian Municipal Law in Transition 

Zack Taylor and Alec Dobson

This report, which is the first such overview prepared in almost two decades, identifies similarities and variations within and among the provinces in how they articulate the provincial-municipal relationship, municipal powers and jurisdiction, the organization of municipal institutions, and financial powers. It identifies five trends:

  • Provinces increasingly recognize municipalities as accountable, democratic governments.
  • Municipal grants of authority are becoming more expansive and permissive.
  • The courts have increasingly demonstrated a generous interpretation of municipal authority.
  • Big cities operate more and more under bespoke legal arrangements, but their long-term impact remains unclear.
  • Fiscal empowerment lags legal empowerment.

The paper is the first in a series of papers being prepared for the Urban Project, an initiative led by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) that brings city leaders together with other levels of government, academia, civil society, and the private sector to identify actionable and scalable solutions to the biggest challenges facing Canada’s cities. The paper is co-published with the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governancein the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.


Municipal Resource Guide to Leading Practices in Cost Savings

Martin Horak, Andrew Sancton, Rachna Goswami, and Umera Ali

Ontario municipalities of all sizes face pressure to “do more with less.” Commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, this Resource Guide provides municipal officials with information about current leading practices in cost savings in small and mid-sized Ontario municipalities. 

In addition to 14 case studies, the Guide presents a reference compendium of 159 cost-savings recommendations from recent Municipal Service Delivery Reviews. The Guide is intended to serve as a source of ideas and inspiration for Ontario’s local officials as they seek to provide the best possible services to their residents in challenging fiscal times.

Open Data

Canadian Longitudinal Tract Database

Zack Taylor and Jeff Allen

One of the most difficult tasks for users of the Canadian census is linking data across years. The Canadian Longitudinal Tract Database enables the spatial apportionment of Canadian census tract-level data from different census years to common geographic boundaries. This dataset contains the apportionment tables and associated documentation.