Sustainabilityand Localeconomic Developmentin Canadaandthe United States

Sustainabilityand Localeconomic Developmentin Canadaandthe United States

L. Reese G. Sands

Global Urban Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.

Urban Planning, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.

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This article provides a description, summary, and analysis of representative efforts to deal with the challenges to sustainability that result from the predominant patterns of land use in the metropolitan areas of North America. Two broad categories of public policies are considered: management and control of peripheral growth and revi- talization efforts to improve the competitiveness of older urban areas. Metropolitan efforts to achieve more sustainable development through management of new development tend to rely more on voluntary agreements that preserve local government autonomy than on regional collaborations. The regional approaches that have been implemented to date have had only limited effectiveness. Efforts to make older communities more competitive with greenfield development have focused on downtown revitalization, industrial location incentives, business incubators, and neighborhood revitalization. While most of these efforts are carried out by state and local governments, faith-based organizations have come to play an increasingly important role. Downtown and industrial revitalization initiatives frequently provide only limited benefits despite their high public cost. Business incubators and neighborhood improvement efforts appear to be more cost effective strategies. On balance, the lack of political will and the preferences of households and businesses for new, low-density developments are likely to continue to foster unsustainable forms of urban development in most North American urban areas.


business incubators, downtown revitalization, growth management, industrial location incentives, regional planning, tax base sharing, tax increment financing, urban growth boundaries.​


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