January 21, 2016 – Regional Chair Roger Anderson addressed the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce at the 12th Annual Regional Chair Luncheon at the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club, sponsored by Collins Barrow Durham, LLP and Roy Nichols Motors Ltd.
Mr. Anderson noted 2015 had been a very productive and eventful year with great progress in some areas and frustrations in others and one of the highlights being the Pan Am Games.
Chair Anderson’s keynote speech targeted issues pivotal in importance to Durham Region in 2016: the Pickering airport, the long awaited opening of Highway 407, the Province selling Seaton lands, transit in Durham Region, Metrolinx’s transit plan and the Regional Council’s review of Regional Council composition.
“The final testing phase for the Durham York Energy Centre plant has taken longer than expected but is hopefully nearing completion. I want to be clear that the plant passed the MOECC’s mandated tests,” Anderson stated. “What it did not meet was one of the additional tests that the Region imposed in our effort to ensure that the plant would be environmentally as good, or better, than the best in the world.” He assured the audience that Durham and York Regions are holding Covanta to the requirement that the plant operate at the world class environmental standards established in the contract.
One of Regional Council’s top priorities is the review of Regional Council composition. A special committee of Regional Councillors and representatives from Chambers, Boards of Trade and post-secondary institutions across the region was formed and have met six times since last July.
“We need your input on questions about the size of council, how many people each councillor should represent, and whether Regional councillors should sit at both the local level and Regional Council or just at the Region,” Anderson noted. “And given that Oshawa will be reverting to the ward system, your residents should be very interested.” He encouraged the audience to review committee materials and send feedback online by visiting www.durham.ca/rccrc or emailing email@example.com.
From a municipal perspective, Mr. Anderson was happy to see an increased commitment to infrastructure investment. “Regardless of political leanings, I think most Canadians and certainly the provinces and municipalities, appreciate the optimistic tone and collaborative approach of the new federal government,” Anderson noted. What is unknown is how they will help.
Ontario is the only Province where social housing is financed by municipalities. Currently the Region has a long waiting list for social housing units (6500 people) and a $200 million capital repair deficiency.
“This is unacceptable and needs to change because we can’t do it alone,” he stated. “We also need the federal government to resume a role in funding affordable and social housing.”
Concluding his speech Anderson commented that he knows the assets, resourcefulness and determination that exist in the Durham community and felt, with the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce as a valued partner, Durham Region can capture those.
The luncheon left business leaders with a few things to think about.