Roger Anderson, Chair of the Region of Durham, addressed key business leaders on Tuesday, January 22 to update them on the progress being made at the Region at the Oshawa Golf & Curling Club. Sponsored by Roy Nichols Motors Ltd. and Collins Barrow LLP, the Chamber’s Annual Luncheon was attended by over 145 business leaders.
Roger Anderson has been Chair of the Region of Durham since December 1997. As Chair, he is also a member of all Regional Standing Committees. In his opening comments Chairman Anderson thanked everyone for attending and stated “the Region values and counts on the active support of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce in our shared quest for Durham Region to emerge stronger.”
His keynote address focused on three areas that he believes are pivotal in Durham’s future development, a new federal long term infrastructure plan, the Region’s Foreign Direct Investment initiative, and the proposed Pickering Airport.
As part of its annual budget process, the Region does a five year rolling forecast that includes its highest priority capital projects. That five year plan is part of longer range plans for roads, water and sewer, waste management and other infrastructure to support future growth and maintain existing infrastructure.
“To substantially grow our Durham Transit system, which currently has a ridership of 11 million annually, we need the same scale of federal and provincial investment as York Region and Toronto,” Mr. Anderson stated. Metrolinx has begun public consultations on how to fund regional transportation systems in the GTA. Chair Anderson encouraged attendees to participate in the upcoming workshop on February 7th at the Jubilee Pavilion.
Last year, the federal government consulted on an infrastructure program to replace the current Building Canada program which expires in 2014 and in the fall of 2012 the Province released its infrastructure strategy which sets provincial priorities. The document noted the need for more federal leadership and involvement in areas like transit.
The second issue addressed was the Region’s Foreign Direct Investment initiative. “Last year, Durham launched a three-year program to attract foreign investment. The Region is working with foreign-owned companies already in Durham to encourage them to stay and expand here,” stated Anderson. He also noted the Region is directly promoting Durham Region in targeted foreign markets, having hosted delegations from India, China, and the Ukraine, attending a major real estate investors’ conference in France, undertaking trade missions to China and by participating at trade events in Brazil and the United States.
“In China, we signed friendship agreements with two cities as a basis for building trade relationships,” Anderson noted, “UOIT and Durham College also signed agreements with Chinese education and research institutions. Durham’s educational facilities are a critical asset in attracting the Chinese in particular.”
As part of attracting foreign investment Durham has renewed its commitment to work with the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance (GTMA) noting Mayor Dave Ryan, from Pickering, is currently serving as GTMA co-chair, along with John Tory.