Durham Region understands the need to “show restraint, plan wisely, be efficient and keep taxes reasonably low.” That’s why it won’t accept downloading from senior levels of government without a fight. “There may be turbulence ahead,” Regional Chairman Roger Anderson warned in his annual address to the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, held at the Oshawa Golf & Curling Club on January 26. “Brace yourselves and buckle up.”
Anderson took aim at the provincial government early on, urging Chamber members to “remain vocal” and ensure the Province meets its commitment to extend Hwy. 407 to Harmony Road. Infrastructure Ontario is expected to announce the winning bid for a consortium to build and manage the first phase of the extension early this year.
He criticized the Province’s controversial decision to shut down the Region’s Ontario Municipal Board appeal regarding the planned Seaton community in north Pickering, describing the issue as a “source of delay, frustration and expense.”
Provincial policy questions must be resolved so Durham can build and rebuild the infrastructure needed to serve the region of the future, Anderson maintains. He called for a “reliable revenue stream from senior government” and urged Chambers of Commerce to “add their voice” to discussions for long-term provincial and federal funding.
The Region is planning to widen and realign the Bayly-Victoria-Bloor corridor from Ajax through Oshawa and to widen Harmony Road from Rossland to Conlin Roads—all pending budget approval. Improving the Ritson-Winchester intersection has received pre-budget approval.
“Developing and diversifying our economy is critical to building employment and economic resilience in Durham,” Anderson said. The Region is turning its attention to culinary and sport tourism. Its goal of marketing and promoting Durham to attract foreign investors is pending budget approval.
The Regional Chairman applauded the recently-opened Energy Systems and Nuclear Science Research Centre and the nearly-complete Automotive Centre of Excellence, both at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. He also tipped his hat to the Office of Research Services and Innovation at Durham College, and the Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network.
“With this critical mass of new facilities, we can now promote Durham globally as a dynamic hub for research,” Anderson said. He pointed to the proposed refurbishment and new nuclear buildings at Darlington as “tremendous opportunities” for the Region.
The Durham Partners in Project Green program, meanwhile, promises to help local businesses pursue opportunities in the green economy. Anderson also urged local businesses to invest in accessibility.