Originally published January 30, 2018 in eNews
By Gary Valcour
Members will no doubt be pleased to learn that here at the Chamber we’re doing our bit to lower our carbon footprint – we’re recycling Committee Chairs. Our newly minted President, Kyle Douglas, has had the perspicacity to retread this old Chairman so you’re stuck with me at the helm of the GR committee (and on these pages) for another year. As we noted in our last missive, 2018 promises to be an exciting year for government relations: we have two elections and a wild and crazy economic roller coaster from NAFTA negotiations, to US tax reform and all the zany antics of our Premier and Prime Minister, neither of whom ever met a business they actually understood or of which they approved.
Our first meeting of 2018 got off to an interesting start when we learned that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) had released its latest Master Plan in which, among other things, seemed to knock the legs out from under a key argument for a new airport in Pickering. If we’re back to the drawing board on airport issues, we really need to rethink how we can take advantage of our own airport as an economic engine, including some serious questions about its mandate and possibilities.
We still have no movement on the development or lack thereof in respect of the Highway 407 Employment Lands. The Committee’s City Rep reported on the building permits for 2018 and added that it’s the 5th year that has been really strong for Oshawa. He also noted that 90% of the permits are residential. Mr. Benham will be making a full presentation to the Chamber Board at its February meeting outlining a range of issues surrounding the matter of available employment lands in Oshawa and the growing split between the residential and commercial/industrial tax base. Finally, Kyle reported that the City of Oshawa will be participating in the Smart City Challenge. The City has until spring to submit an application.
The Joint Chambers group is looking at putting on a Transportation Summit this spring. We’ll be involved and will keep you informed as more information becomes available. Transportation in all its facets is a key issue for the city and region and this event promises to be very interesting.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the returning and new members of the GR Committee for their service. The Chamber cannot be an effective voice and advocate for its members without a vibrant GR committee. We have been fortunate to have that in spades and I see no reason to think it will change in 2018. I’m looking forward to a busy and interesting year.
Our next GR committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. in the Chamber Board Room.