A Tale of Two Tech Companies

Two major tech companies have found themselves in the centre of urban controversies during the early part of 2019. Amazon and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), two of the world’s four largest companies, have waded their way into the world of urban issues. Intentionally or not, these two entities have created a unique opportunity to think about what role private enterprises should be playing in city building. What should the relationship between government and large private sector organization look like, and what expectations should we as citizens have about how these organizations interact with our homes?

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Director’s Note: 2019 and the Importance of Balance and Patience

2018 has come and gone, and we are already more than halfway through the first month of the New Year. For me, 2019 came in like a lion. Or a bull. Or an elephant. Whatever animal I choose, it came in like something that would come in hard and intimidating. That’s okay – I’ve learned that ebbs and flows are the nature of business. Being an entrepreneur and taking care of yourself, you’re hit with downtime and then you’re hit with lots of activity at once. I’m happy for the uptime. In fact, if there wasn’t any there would be cause for concern.

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Is St. John's Missing Its Middle?

For the past century, cities have been building themselves differently than they have for most of the history of civilization. It seems that with the rise of industrialization, planners and developers started to feel like things should be separated. This isn’t an unreasonable thought – a factory billowing smoke will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the value of the residential property next door. We started separating our buildings and their uses through municipal zoning – a way to determine what is allowed to be built where. Departments of municipal governments would determine that commercial should go in one area, residential in another, and industrial in another still.

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In St. John's, Youthfulness is a Struggle

Earlier this year, Youthful Cities, a not-for-profit focused on engaging cities on their "youthfulness", completed their first ever Canadian Index. The index aims to “create credible data for decision-makers, provide inspiration for urban innovation efforts, launch a network of young urban decoders, and creates national exposure for Canadian cities.” The index assessed and compared 13 cities across Canada, measuring how they performed in specific areas identified as important by the youth who live there. The good news is that St. John’s was included in this assessment. The sad news, unfortunately, is that our rank on the index was dead last. 13/13. The lowest ranked Canadian city in the categories that youth find most appealing.

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