Report: Local Governments and the Sharing Economy

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How do local governments strategically engage with the Sharing Economy to foster more sustainable cities?

While sharing has always been part of city life, there is an acceleration in the past few years of Sharing Economy activities from bike sharing to short-term rental accommodation to neighbourhood swaps to ride-sharing.  Some activities are disrupting industry sectors including taxis and hotels and posing challenges for policymakers as to how to respond.

There are city governments that are leading the way:

  • In Montréal, Québec - Société de Transport de Montréal is creating an integrated mobility approach that combines public transit buses and metro with taxis, ride sharing, bike sharing, car sharing, car pooling and rail,
  • Austin, Texas requires all short-term rental accommodation operators (including with Airbnb) to purchase licenses and remit a hotel occupancy tax to the city from clients,
  • Vancouver, British Columbia is developing an integrated strategy for engaging with the Sharing Economy building on its past efforts - supporting car-sharing, grants for Sharing research and startups, and providing space for sharing in parks, community centres and public lands,
  • Hennepin County,Minnesota coordinates fix-it clinics that reduce waste and build social connection through repairing goods, and
  • The Cities of Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, York Region and the Region of Peel, Ontario are supporting business-to-business sharing through Partners in Project Green Materials Exchange Network.

The Local Governments and the Sharing Economy roadmap explores other possible roles for municipalities and provides examples from North America and around the world. It describes a sustainability filter which the authors use to analyze shared mobility, spaces, and goods and community sharing, and to take a lighter look at shared food and energy.

This roadmap was developed and written by One Earth supported by a grant from The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation as part of the Cities for People initiative. The One Earth team is grateful to the expert advisors and the advisory committee of eight Canadian and US member cities of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

There are three key messages in the roadmap:

  1. The Sharing Economy is not inherently sustainable but cities can help to make it more so.
  2. Community sharing is a promising area where local governments can play proactive, enabling roles.
  3. Addressing data gaps is critical for understanding sustainability impacts on cities.

Below is an excerpt from the roadmap.

Download the summary (36 pages in English and French) and the full report (216 pages in English):

Excerpt: Pages 9 - 10 of the Local Governments and Sharing Economy Roadmap:

Not unlike the printing press and the Internet, the Sharing Economy promises to evoke profound cultural and economic shifts. It spreads across almost every sector of the economy, challenging many traditional business and organizational models. It involves people from all walks of life, and is giving rise to powerful new lobby groups who may or may not align with sustainable city priorities. Which Sharing Economy actors and activities are advancing the public good and sustainability is a critical question.

By creating a definition of the Sharing Economy that includes five categories of actors, we explore the digitally enabled, for-profit companies and start-ups that are dominant in the mainstream media. But we also look beyond these actors as there is a lot more to the Sharing Economy than Airbnb and Uber and new, for-profit ventures. There are also non-profit, social enterprise / cooperative, community sharing innovators, and public sector entities that are part of the Sharing Economy.

Sharing Economy activities do not automatically advance urban sustainability. This roadmap analyzes which Sharing Economy activities advance living within ecological means first and then considers other sustainability dimensions – resilience, natural systems, equity, prosperous local economies and quality of life.

Local governments should care about the Sharing Economy because it could...

  • Reduce ecological footprints of city inhabitants and wasteful practices
  • Save local government money
  • Create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Advance social connectivity and ‘social capital’
  • Spur social innovation
  • Lower the cost of education, collaboration, and research, and
  • Reduce our need to acquire material things to earn status or social distinction

But without thoughtful checks, it could also....

  • Appear to reduce overall consumption while simply shifting it from one sector or activity to another
  • Increase ecological and carbon footprints by growing the volume of vehicle traffic, travel, and consumer demand
  • Erode the tax base as more economic transactions take place outside of spheres subject to accountability
  • Negatively impact people not directly involved in Sharing Economy exchanges
  • Push local wages and benefits down
  • Erode the supply of affordable rental housing
  • Exacerbate inequality as status is redefined by access to resources rather than ownership

This roadmap serves to support local governments in making strategic decisions that support those activities of the Sharing Economy that create better cities and that foster human and ecological wellbeing.

Read more:

Find out about the February 2014 April Rinne Collaborative Economy Tour of Canada hosted by Social Innovation Generation and Cities for People:

Cities for People in transition

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As you may know, Cities for People is an experimental initiative – one that’s testing out approaches to shaping more livable and resilient cities.  Since January 2014, we have focused on supporting, connecting, and amplifying work in cities across Canada to build on what’s already happening and facilitate new collaborations and ways of working.

As of July 1, 2015, we are wrapping up this first, experimental phase, and moving into a transition period. During this time, we’ll reflect on what has worked well, what needs more exploring, who we should be reaching, and what the next phase of Cities for People might look like. Don’t worry, while our focus will be on regrouping and strategic planning over the summer, we will still be updating the site and blogging periodically: look out for reflections from our cross-Canada network of curators and convenors coming up soon.

One component of our learning and evaluation process is a Cities for People 1.0 Final Report.  This report will share out what we’ve been up to and learned along the way with lots of photos, videos, and stories.  Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below to be notified when we release the report in fall, 2015.

We encourage you to check back here regularly for Cities for People updates and to find out what we’ll be working on in the fall and beyond.

Thank you for your ongoing interest – and we’ll touch base soon!

New video: Artist Roundtable (A.RT) on New Economies

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Last May, as part of the second Disruptive Imaginings gathering in Vancouver, Simon Fraser University hosted an Artist Roundtable (A.RT) on the theme of New Economies.

The A.RT brought together a diverse group of panellists who have provocative ideas about art, economy, and transformative change. Set within a staged 1983 corporate boardroom, the A.RT started off with a presentation by artist Marilou Lemmens about her collaborative, multidisciplinary practice with Richard Ibghy. She presented artistic projects that explore the ways in which the economic system pervades nearly every facet of our daily lives. In response, panellists from various fields engaged in lively discussion, digging deeply into the issues at the heart of the duo’s practice. The panellists drew on their experiences in the realms of art and culture, activism and citizenship, and sustainability and radical urbanism as they shared stories, debated ideas, and challenged each other and the audience with thought-provoking questions.

About the panellists:

Community organizer, writer, and activist Matt Hern teaches at UBC and is known for his work in radical urbanism, community development, and alternative forms of education. He is founder of the Purple Thistle Centre, Car-Free Vancouver Day, and Groundswell: Grassroots Economic Alternatives.

Cédric Jamet is former Project Manager at the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre and a Curator at Cities for People, now pursuing a degree in Human Systems Intervention at Concordia. His work explores the relationship between the urban imaginary, active citizenship, and the co-creation of sustainable cities. He has worked on many citizen engagement projects including coordinating 100in1 Day in Montreal.

Artist and cultural producer Todd Lester has dedicated his career to supporting and enabling socially engaged artists around the world. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and founder of both freeDimensional and

You can watch the full video here - and if you want to know more about new economies, read the recent Report on New Economies by CCEDNET and One Earth here.

Newsletter archives

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You can now access all of our past Mailchimp newsletters, dating back to April 2014.


New Economies report released!

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One Earth, in collaboration with CCEDNet, has released their Voices of New Economies report, inspired by all those who are rising up to shape new economies that work for people, places, and the planet. The report brings together visually engaging content from the New Economies blog series to map out key ideas, patterns, and perspectives and chart new economic approaches.

The report includes interviews with leaders in the areas of Rethinking our Fundamentals, Healthy Ecosystems & Happy Communities, Building an Inclusive Economy, Tools & Policies to get us there, and New Economies at Work.

“Although the large-scale patterns of economic inequality and inadequate measures continue to prevail, individuals, institutions, and communities around the world are beginning to awaken to a new economic era. This compendium was put together to spark dialogue around the question: What might new economies in the 21st Century look like? The following pages feature the insights of various thought leaders and practitioners from across North America, with backgrounds ranging from policy to computer science to accounting to biology.” - excerpt from the Introduction, written by Jane Zhang.

You can access it in full on Issu - see the link below. And, as part of the ongoing collaboration between One Earth, Musagetes, Adjacent Possibilities, and others, the Artist Round Table (A.RT) on New Economies brought together a diverse group of panellists with provocative ideas about art, economy, and transformative change. Watch a video of the A.RT, hosted at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, here.

Feel free to share the report and video widely!



Cities for People Internship Opportunity

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Dates: January-June 2015

Location: Montreal, QC

In cities across Canada, people and organizations are finding ways to address complex challenges and creatively shape the future of their communities. They are greening neighbourhoods while producing local food; creating social enterprises to reduce poverty; mentoring immigrants and making spaces for them on community boards; and using community arts and sports to mobilize and celebrate civic participation.

Cities for People is a collaborative experiment that explores the following question: How can we enhance social, ecological, and economic well-being and help civic cultures thrive? It engages multiple stakeholders – citizens, community organizations, policy makers, municipalities, universities, private companies and foundations – in taking collaborative action to create more resilient and livable cities.

Cities for People is offering a 6-month (full-time) internship to support the coordination of its network and communication activities.  This is an opportunity to learn about and contribute to fresh, innovative approaches to working together to make cities more resilient and livable, and to develop a range of professional skills. In addition to experience gained on the job, the intern will be supported in developing a learning plan to help realize his or her learning goals.

Job Tasks

Communications (network and public-facing)

  • Web site: Manage and maintain website, write and post content (blogs, events, resources, updates), and provide support to others in the network on their posts
  • Social media: Tweet and post based on Cities for People network activities and other relevant items
  • Newsletters: Write and assemble a weekly bulletin for the Cities for People network and prepare regular e-newsletters for the broader mailing list
  • Network communications platform: Organize weekly meetings, set up and run calls via WebEx; respond to partners and general enquiries; manage network web site
  • Other communications activities:
    • Webinars: organize, promote, and manage technical production ofa Webinar series
    • Create presentations (prezi and powerpoint) and reports as needed
    • Video/audio production: support creation processes
    • Input on thinking about and experimenting with collaborations and initiatives to enhance resilience and livability in cities in Canada and beyond


  • Travel bookings for guests; planning, organizing, and logistics as needed
  • Event planning and coordination (g. bookings, catering, speaking tours, site visits)
  • Expense reporting and processing
  • Note-taking, summarizing, and sharing documents
  • Additional support as needed to the National Curator and National Coordinator



  • Demonstrated interest in and curiosity about social change and improving cities
  • Ability to self-direct; good judgment about decision-making and when to ask for guidance
  • High tolerance for ambiguity and openness to new ways of working and problem solving
  • Well-developed organizational skills
  • Strong capacity to work both independently and collaboratively
  • Excellent IT skills (including experience in managing a wordpress website and using mailchimp)
  • Social media savvy
  • Excellent communications, writing skills, ability to copy-edit and communicate complex information in an accessible and compelling manner.
  • Fluently bilingual (English and French; flawless written English in particular)
  • Desirable: education (preferably Masters level) and / or equivalent experience in a field related to urban planning, sustainability, urban resilience, or city livability.
  • Desirable: education and / or work experience in communications or administration


Location: downtown Montreal with occasional travel

Salary: $2400 per month

Please send CV and cover letter to Jayne Engle at

Deadline for applications: 15 December 2014 (Interviews will be held starting 17 December). Please address any questions to Jayne Engle, National Curator: or by phone: 514.235.7824.


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In early October, people gathered at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto to listen to eight speakers talk about how cities can not only grow and develop but also flourish. The Walrus Talks Resilience, produced by The Walrus Foundation in collaboration with Musagetes and Cities for People, responded to the question: how can cities and communities build themselves to thrive through difficult times? With diverse backgrounds and interests—from the arts to indigenous rights, entrepreneurship to the environment to technological innovation—each speaker spoke passionately, reflected on their own experiences and viewpoints, and offered fresh ideas about how to build more resilient, collaborative, and innovative communities.

The Walrus Talks Resilience featured:
Poet Mustafa Ahmed
University of Guelph’s Ajay Heble
Cisco Canada’s Rick Huijbregts
People for Education’s Annie Kidder
Cisco Canada’s David Miller
Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada’s Gabrielle Scrimshaw
SiG@Waterloo’s Frances Westley

To watch Ajay Heble's talk entitled Improvisation, Resilience, Hope: Enacting the possibilities we envision, please visit Walrus TV.

The Walrus Talks is a national series of events produced by the charitable, non-profit Walrus Foundation as part of an educational mandate to provide forums for conversation on matters vital to Canadians. The Walrus Foundation produces The Walrus magazine, the most awarded publication in Canada, as well as producing content at, on Walrus TV, and on stages from coast to coast to coast.


Culture Days presents the new Cities for People award

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Culture Days is a non-profit organization committed to reaching the goal of having all Canadians in every community declaring "I Love Culture" and making culture a daily habit.

The fifth annual Culture Days weekend took place on September 26, 27 and 28, 2014, and featured thousands of free, hands-on, interactive activities that invited the public to participate “behind-the-scenes,” to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, designers and other creative people in their communities.

Following the launch of the inaugural annual awards program last year, nominations are now being accepted for the 2014 awards. The awards program recognizes and showcases outstanding initiatives taken to engage the public in arts and culture during the annual Culture Days event. Award nominations will be assessed and winners determined by an independent jury of Canadian arts and community leaders. Award winners will granted an all expenses trip to the 2015 National Congress on Culture in May 2015 and share their experience during the program, a $1,000 cash prize, and be honoured at an awards dinner during that event. Nominations of the 2014 awards are being accepted until Friday, December 12, 2014. Check out the guidelines and nominate now for the 2014 awards!

Culture Days is thrilled to introduce the Cities for People Award. This new award will recognize exceptional leadership and innovation in implementing a collaborative arts or cultural activity/project during Culture Days 2014 that aims to transform the livability of a neighbourhood, community or city for fellow citizens. To learn more about Cities for People and the Art and Society theme, click here

Culture days


April Rinne & The Collaborative Economy Canada Tour

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Four cities, six days, 14 events:

The Collaborative Economy Canada Tour was a groundbreaking tour de force on many levels. It set the stage for Canadian cities and policy-makers to become more shareable, Canadian entrepreneurs and business leaders to understand new opportunities, and individuals and communities across the country to see how they can “unlock wealth” in assets all around them. It also was the launch platform of Cities for People, providing key insights to move a Collaborative Economy and Shareable Cities agenda forward and to learn from a decentralized model of organizing. Collaborative Lab served as an “ideas catalyst” which was amplified by enthusiasm and coordination support on-the-ground.

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Connecting the Dots

In her talks, April Rinne, Chief Strategy Officer of the Collaborative Lab illustrated how the collaborative economy (which includes "the sharing economy") has the potential to transform the way we design products and services, create sustainable and "shareable" cities, re-imagine public services, reduce waste and connect communities. As Lucy Gao, part of the Global Curator Team at Collaborative Lab notes, "A key theme throughout the tour was “connecting the dots,” specifically, how cities connect the expertise, resources and assets between government, citizens, entrepreneurs and companies to create a shareable city.


Close to 900 people attended in-person events and broadcast, & online and print media reached more than 1.4 million audience members.  

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The tour was also an experiment in teamwork and collaboration

It was co-hosted and organized by Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and members of the Cities for People team. In each of the four cities – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver"– local organizers and partner organizations worked to structure the tour events, assemble local partners, participants and resources, ensure that logistics were smooth and content well-prepared. The amount of coordination required was significant (no small feat!), and each of the local teams exceeded expectations.  Close to 900 people attended in-person events and broadcast, online and print media reached more than 1.4 million audience members.

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Supporters and Partners

In addition, multiple funders collaborated to yield maximum benefit. The role of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation was (and continues to be) transformative with regards to both the tour and Cities for People; this has enabled other funders to come forward and leverage collective resources. The robust results are a testament to everyone involved. The tour couldn't have reached the level of success it had without the support of it's partners and supporters:

Primary Sponsors - The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Social Innovation Generation (SiG) National, and Cities for People

Supporting Sponsors Vancity and the Calgary Foundation

Primary Partners - The University of Calgary, Centre d'écologie urbaine de Montréal, One Earth, Concordia University, MaRS, Collaborative Lab

Partners - Village Vancouver, Modo: The Car Coop, The HiVE. The Sharing Project, CityStudio, Board of Change. Extraenvironmentalist, Pogoride, City of Vancouver: Greenest City 2020, Share Shed, BC Partners, Ashoka, and Groundswell.


- Download the final report

- Learn more about the Sharing Economy with April Rinne's presentation on Slideshare

-See the video of April Rinne's Vancouver Presentation - The HiVE, February 2014.

- See April's Toronto presentation on Video: "The Collaborative Economy: How sharing is powering a sustainable future - MaRS Global Leadership", MaRS Discovery District, Toronto, March 2014,  

- "Canada Sharing Economy Roadshow: April Rinne in Toronto". Written March 5th 2014, by Lucy Gao, Global Curator Team, Collaborative Lab, Canada

- Read "The Sharing Economy: It's more than we think, " written by Vanessa Timmer, Executive Director, One Earth - 3 February

- Read, "National Tour on Shared Economy Marks Launch of Cities for People Initiative"written by Jesse Darling, Urban Project Designer, Evergreen CityWorks

- Read, "Sharing Economy goes mainstream", written by Janet Davison, CBC News, Apr 18, 2014

- Read, "Finding Hope in the Sharing Economy", written by Geoff Dembicki, The Tyee. Feb 17, 2014

- Read, "The Sharing Economy", written by Tracy Lindeman. The Montreal Gazette, March 29, 2014.