On Wednesday, March 13th the Durham Economic Prosperity Committee of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, in co-operation with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is hosting a breakfast with Metrolinx at the Quality Hotel & Conference Centre to understand the impact of the proposed Revenue Tools to Durham Region. John Howe, Vice President, Investment Strategy & Project Evaluation at Metrolinx is the keynote speaker.
In early 2012 the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, along with twelve other Chambers of Commerce from the GTA signed on to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) letter sent to Metrolinx stating the GTA Chambers strongly believe transportation infrastructure investments are vital to economic growth and productivity, particularly in light of the uncertainty facing the Ontario economy. Since that time the OCC has established a GTA caucus of over 20 Chambers of Commerce to ensure the business community and ratepayers in the 905 area have input into the proposed revenue tools.
Some of the proposed Revenue Tools include higher property taxes, tolls/charges, higher fuel taxes, regional sales tax, employer payroll tax and non-residential parking space. The implementation of any of the tools could affect Durham Region businesses’ economic competitiveness, locally, regionally and beyond.
In the February 19th Throne Speech addressing the need to pay for better transit, Premiere Wynne left the door open for implementing such measures as road tolls and congestion fees to eliminate gridlock.
“The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce has always been proactive on the transportation file and supports Metrolinx as it moves forward with developing and building political good will and public support for an investment strategy,” stated Bob Malcolmson, Chamber CEO. “The breakfast on March 13th will enable the business community to have its say.”
After the breakfast, a round table discussion will be held with key business leaders from many of the most influential companies in the Region, government leaders, university and college, and forward-thinking entrepreneurs to discuss the proposed Revenue Tools.
Key issues of concern to Durham Region are the number of unfunded projects planned for Durham Region and the time line for those projects. Transit is essential to competing on the world stage and Durham Region needs to leverage the investment to create economic opportunities. If you would like to attend the Metrolinx breakfast contact the Chamber at 905 728-1683 for more details or register online at www.oshawachamber.com.
With 2.6 million people expected to move to the GTA over the next two decades, a massive increase in transportation infrastructure is going to be needed to avoid gridlock.
Metrolinx was created in 2006 to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). GO Transit merged with Metrolinx in 2009.
Congestion costs the economy of the GTHA about $6 billion and will double if current trends continue. GO Transit currently carries about 59 million passengers a year and operates at 110 per cent capacity. Without an investment in public transit, the average commute time would increase by 27 minutes by 2031.
Metrolinx is proposing ‘The Big Move’, a 25-year plan to increase public transit in the GTHA. One of the aims of the plan is to “bring 75 per cent of our region’s population within two kilometres of rapid transit and reduce commuting times and greenhouse gas emissions.”
In Durham, $82.3 million has been set aside for a light bus rapid transit lane along Hwy. 2 from Oshawa to the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto with dedicated bus lanes and intersection improvements. GO has been building parking garages in Durham, including Whitby, Pickering, and Ajax and a second garage in Pickering is slated to open in late 2013.
Currently there are unfunded plans to enhance GO rail service with major increases in frequency and capacity of existing GO service on Lakeshore East, and extending the GO Lakeshore East line to Bowmanville.