Policy For the Sharing Economy
When the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario endorsed a proposal to develop a framework for dealing with the emerging sharing economy, the Guelph Lab was enlisted to help conduct the research.
Many questions were being asked about how municipalities could be smarter and more co-ordinated about developing policies and regulations in response to the issues that were coming out - including how the businesses involved would affect the tax base, public safety and liability.
The idea was to develop a strategic, principle-based guide that municipal governments could use to both reduce barriers to innovation and protect the public interest. In essence, it would put theory into practice.
Students conducted a large literature review and investigated how municipalities in other countries were dealing with these issues. Elected officials and city staff in Guelph, London and Mississauga were involved, as was the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and the province.
Here are some of our findings:
Municipalities are already involved in shaping the sharing economy locally, they should be aware of a wide range of models and can employ a range of policies and tools.
Sharing economy businesses can be mission/community driven or for-profit, but the lines can be blurry with for-profits providing social goods and community driven initiatives generating employment and revenue.
The sharing economy presents an opportunity to improve government-citizen relations by using tools that promote meaningful local economic development, civic engagement and participatory government.