New Revenue and Cost-Savings through Operationalizing Sustainable Community Plans within Small Municipalities in Ontario
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This thesis explores the cost-saving potential of market-based instruments (MBIs) and other cost-savings mechanisms for small Ontario municipalities looking to operationalize their sustainable community plans. Market-based instruments are policy tools that encourage behavioral change through financial incentives or disincentives such as water pricing, anti-idling by-laws and user-pay garbage disposal (Clarke & MacDonald, 2012). Small Municipalities refer to all areas with municipal responsibilities, such as local administrations, with an urban core population of 10,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. Small municipalities are using sustainable community plans (SCPs) as a way to determine necessary areas of change. While 265 communities across Ontario are reaping the benefits of their sustainable community plans, small municipalities have been slow in operationalizing their plans due to limited financial capabilities. As a potential response to these limited financial capabilities, three research questions were developed: RQ1: Which market-based instruments or other cost-saving initiatives are related to sustainable community plan operationalization, and are generating cost-savings (and/or new revenue) in small municipalities? RQ2: What is the business case for operationalizing SCPs in small municipalities? RQ3: What are the sustainable community budgeting implications and local government policy implications of this study? Including, what new contributions does this study provide for literature? A multi-case study analysis using key informant interviews was used to research the use of market- based instruments and other cost-saving initiatives as a means of operationalizing small municipalities SCPs within five case communities: Halton Hills, Huron County, Frontenac County, King Township and Huntsville. The research was conducted in partnership with Lura Consulting; Lura is a sustainable consulting agency that specializes in formulating sustainable community plans. Face-to-face interviews with key sustainability personnel were conducted to record the usage of cost-saving or new revenue initiatives. The results of the study describe 22 of the 45 most common market-based instruments and other cost-saving initiatives that are being utilized within the case communities as a means of operationalizing SCPs. Of the total most commonly used cost-saving initiatives, 67 of the 105 initiatives have been directly or indirectly implemented within the case communities. These results further validate the inclusion of market-based instruments as a means of revenue generating or cost-savings.