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What influences the power of the city/region to attract people? This is the question that came to my mind these days. It is because I have noticed the improved level of public services in Whistler where I spend my summer and the news of Detroit filing for bankruptcy.

First, Whistler, BC. This summer, I have noticed several things about the public service/infrastructure offered there. Recycling center where you can bring empty cans, bottles, etc. to get deposits back is now open every day, instead of 3 days of the week.  (I recall that I had to make sure which days of the week before, before I bring cans/bottles I accumulate during my stay.)

Public library which used to be closed on Sundays is now open everyday and the hours are longer.  As it is one of the few places where you can print out, library is one of the places I visit most often in the summer, besides, Sports center where I go for the circuit class and/or exercise every morning.

Though they may be perceived rather minor changes,  it improves the quality of life here.  I had a chance to talk with those  in Real Estate business and they say what the place can offer in public service (in addition to nature, cultural activities etc.) affect the value of the real estate in the area.  Now there is a plan to work on the cultural side of Whistler in the near future, I hear.

I contrast this story with that of Detroit.  Detroit in the US has filed for bankruptcy yesterday, and I hear that the public services such as transportation, garbage collection, etc. has suffered tremendously in recent years.  Now that it is officially bankrupt, I assume that public service would be cut even more.

Whether the city/region can attract many people (in particular, “creative class” ) depends upon what they offer in terms of public service, culture, nature etc. etc.   When you have efficient/effective public service, you tend to take it for granted.  But it costs money and good management.  How you prioritize the offering of public service, while making sure that the city/municipal government has healthy financial condition requires management skills..

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