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    The Front Lines – December 2018

    Originally published December 8, 2018 in eNews
    By Gary Valcour

    We did not know the hour or the day, but we don’t think anyone paying attention over the past decade or more should not be surprised at the General Motors announcement this past Monday. Any enterprise that shrinks its workforce by 90% is giving a clear indication of the direction it’s going. While we feel badly for those directly and indirectly affected we must learn from the experience and redouble our efforts to encourage all levels of government to adopt policies and regulations that will support entrepreneurs and investment in economic development. And we must do all we can as a Chamber movement to support our members and all businesses that struggle to survive in the growing morass of regulations and polices that drive businesses to friendlier jurisdictions.

    While the GM announcement was certainly the biggest news, there are many other issues and developments facing local businesses. We continue to press for the immediate release of the 407 Employment lands; an issue that takes on even greater immediacy in light of GM’s decision. We have been tenacious in asking our local and regional councils to do all they can and have recently had the opportunity to make the case to the Premier and a number of local MPPs. We can only hope that we see some action on this front and that, if the lands are released, we don’t just see another rash of residential dwellings.

    Another important and ongoing issue is transportation in all its guises. In particular, the push by the Toronto Board of Trade to implement a Supermetrolinx program has gathered some unfortunate momentum. As we have reported before, the original proposal was made without consulting any of our eight regional chambers and boards of trade. While our joint chambers group has now had an opportunity to make our position known, the juggernaut continues to roll. Most of you will have seen the recent announcement from Queens’ Park that the TTC will be “uploaded” to the Province. This could be the thin edge of the bigger proposal to see all public transit dollars siphoned off to the Supermetrolinx model. That model which is, not surprisingly, supported by most of the regions and Chambers/BOTs west of the city including Hamilton and Kitchener Waterloo, would be a potential death knell for GO development in Durham. With our associates in the joint chambers group we continue to monitor these developments and we’ve had discussions with our MPP, our Mayor elect and our Regional Chair elect. We were surprised to learn that neither of our municipal leaders were aware of this proposal, especially since we have representatives of both levels of government on our Government Relations committee where this has been on the agenda for months. The good news is that they are now aware and appear most willing to work with us in addressing this very critical infrastructure issue.

    In other news, we are pleased to see that the legislation to reverse much of the impact of Bill 148 has been passed and received Royal Assent. One of our Board members, Stephanie Miner, has produced an excellent summary of the changes which is available on our website.

    UOIT reports that their new President is working diligently on his four priorities as well as the announced launch of a new program “Women in STEM”. The University is also hiring some new senior leadership. In other higher education news, Trent reported on the expansion of its Oshawa Campus.

    By the time you read this, our new City Council will have been sworn in. The Chamber is committed to fulfilling its role as the voice of business; that means we are your voice and we need to hear from you and to help keep you informed so that we can ensure our elected representatives understand the critical importance of business to the well-being of our city and region and all its citizens.

    As always, we welcome your thoughts on any of these issues and your suggestions for other matters to be considered and educational events you might like to attend.

    Our next GR committee meeting is scheduled for December 13, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. in the Chamber Board Room.