Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with other GTHA Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, released the results of a GTHA-wide consultation of business on how to fund The Big Move, the province’s transportation plan to relieve congestion in region.
Face-to-face consultations were held with more than 250 businesses in 10 sessions across the GTHA. In addition, the OCC surveyed its membership, the GTHA and throughout the province regarding their preferences and the results are consolidated in a new report, “The $2 Billion Question: GTHA Business Opinion on Funding The Big Move”. The intent is to outline the findings of the GTHA wide Chamber of Commerce consultations prior to the Metrolinx Report going to the provincial government, at the end of May.
The report reveals a clear consensus among GTHA businesses that new revenue tools are required to fund The Big Move. According to a recent OCC survey, 66 percent of GTHA businesses support the need for new revenue tools. Business understands poor infrastructure is a huge barrier to attracting new investments. The ability to move people and goods efficiently drives investment and creates jobs.
“Businesses understand that the status quo is no longer an option and that the business case for better transportation is overwhelming,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. “The question is no longer ‘if’, but ‘how’ to fund new infrastructure in the GTHA.”
The report identifies three ‘non-starters’ from the business perspective: an employer payroll tax, a property tax, and a vehicle kilometres travelled fee. Businesses were concerned that an employer payroll tax would hurt job creation at a particularly sensitive time in our economic recovery. It could also incent businesses to set up shop outside of the region.
Opinion was split on a number of ‘medium potential’ tools, including a commercial parking levy, a sales tax, high occupancy toll lanes, development charges, land value capture, and a transit fare increase.
High potential tools were those where a large majority of businesses voiced support. They include highway tolls and a fuel tax. The report proposes several design parameters for each of the medium and high potential tools as a means of drumming up support.
“What came across loud and clear from the Durham business leaders was Durham Region needed to see firm timelines and commitment from METROLINX on the expansion of GO service to Oshawa and Clarington. Revenue tools that targeted property taxes, development charges, payroll taxes and parking levees in Durham were non starters,” stated Bob Malcolmson, CEO & General Manager of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.
The report sets out several conditions if new revenues are to be implemented. For example, revenues will need to be dedicated to transportation improvements and not absorbed into the black box of general revenue. Further, the tools must not hurt our overall competitiveness.
Earlier today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and GTHA chambers of commerce and boards of trade released “The $2 billion Question: Business Opinion on Funding The Big Move.”