Originally published February 27, 2018 in eNews
By Alexandra Valcour
I’m stepping in again this month for our illustrious Chair who is taking a well-deserved break. So, I’ll do my best at filling you in on what your GR committee has been discussing and planning.
Let’s start with the City of Oshawa where there is a lot on the go right now. As an update, the city will sit down with provincial officials at the end of the month to discuss the Highway 407 Employment lands. No one is necessarily expecting big promises at this point, but the conversational ball is rolling and that’s the best place to start. City officials also recently approved a motion to send a letter, on behalf of a local group, to the Federal government to seek Rights of First Refusal to a portion of protected lands around the Second Marsh should they become available. The Mayor has also written a letter expressing his interest in creating an Innovation Hub; in his letter he said that the most successful Hubs offer a wide range of services, thus making Oshawa a prime location for a Hub. He has requested First Right of Refusal on a piece of property downtown Oshawa to make this Hub a reality.
The City is also diligently working on the Smart Cities Challenge application. This is a Pan-Canadian competition open to all communities; it encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. The City has completed Phase 1 – which included studies and surveys to pinpoint the needs and preferences of our community. Oshawa’s focus will likely be on economic and social equality – and the next phases will intake ideas on how to increase economic equality and better the lives of all Oshawonians using the prescribed resources.
The City has also partnered with the BIA to work on a Streetscape Project. The project is intended to help improve the image of downtown Oshawa and get more people walking and shopping there. A committee has been formed and discussions have started on how to best achieve this goal. In addition, the City is working among a network of organizations providing insight to the ACE facility on autonomous vehicles; and they are launching an Ideas Lab, in conjunction with UOIT, that will provide students with practical experiences and an opportunity to engage in their community. The Ideas Lab is an evolving endeavour that we hope will continue to grow and spread throughout other cities and schools.
In news slightly closer to home, our Chamber is working hard for you too. To start with, we are participating in the Transportation Summit this April. This is a roundtable event, all about transportation; it will include 10 business members from each of the Durham Region Chambers. It is being held in an effort to prepare a unified message against Superlinx. Superlinx is a proposed agency that would take control of all public transportation in Toronto and throughout the GTA. There has been no consultation and we in Durham Region are being completely left out. We will work with our neighbouring chambers to find the best way to approach this issue, to better understand the role and responsibilities of this super agency and ensure that the voices of our local businesses are heard.
Nancy, our CEO, and our new President, Kyle Douglas, will be attending Advocacy Days at Queen’s Park at the end of February. They will participate in the information sessions, and they have requested to meet with the Ministers who are being made available for the day (Economic Development, Finance etc.). We will be well represented by Nancy and Kyle and thank them for taking our voices to Queen’s Park to represent us!
Finally – there are a lot of great Chamber events coming up so check out the Events Calendar on the website. In particular, it has come to our attention that the impacts of Bill 148 are becoming a reality for many businesses, and in turn lot of people still have questions and concerns. To help, the Chamber is offering the Bill 148 Seminar again. Mason Bennett Johncox offered this seminar at the end of last year; but they have agreed to come back to address any changes, and to answer any new questions or additional questions you may have – please register online for this informative event!