The draft Economic Development Strategy being received by the Town’s Planning and Development Council signals that the Economic Development Department is committed to providing a foundation upon which businesses can prosper.
Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce said “The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is encouraged to see that the Economic Development Department has listened to the business community and is making plans to improve the business climate in Oakville.”
“Last fall we released The Roadmap to Business Success highlighting four pillars identified by our members: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruiting and Retaining Talent and Innovation. This strategy clearly addresses many of our member priorities that will foster a business supportive environment while encouraging economic growth for the Town” Redden continued.
The draft Strategy has been developed through research and community consultation of which the Oakville Chamber was part of, underscores key areas of concern to the business community such as reducing red tape, improving transportation services, and the ability to recruit and retain talent.
The document also highlights professional and financial services, digital media, information communications technology film and life sciences as key sectors of growth.
Tim Caddigan, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce said “We commend the Town’s Economic Development Department for identifying opportunities where the Town can support existing businesses while promoting the long-term health of our local economy.”
“As an advocate for the Oakville business community, we look forward to further consultation with the Town of Oakville as it embarks on finalizing its five-year strategy and its commitment to making Oakville the best place to work in Canada.”
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Read the Mayoral Candidate statements below highlighting how they will address transportation challenges in Oakville.
What is your plan to address transportation challenges in Oakville, both movement of goods and movement of people?
Smart Traffic Technology Investments
Many proactive communities around the world are benefiting from improved traffic flow through smart traffic management systems. These systems can provide centrally-controlled traffic signals and sensors that regulate the flow of traffic through the city, in response to demand.
Oakville needs to manage growth before the growth happens. With almost all growth planned a decade or more in advance, and with the Town of Oakville levying some of the highest development fees on new home construction in North America ($73,900 in municipal development charges. Source: Atlas Group Report, April 2018), the Town should be able to better anticipate and manage traffic congestion on Town roads.
As Mayor, I will support increasing capacity on Oakville’s arterial roads to keep people moving. I will champion the implementation of smart traffic technologies. And I will work with Council to improve the Town’s planning process to ensure we align the implementation of congestion management strategies with future development.
Advocate for GO Transit Improvements
GO Transit is a vital link for thousands of Oakville residents every day. Metrolinx has been making significant improvements to the frequency of service and the infrastructure supporting it to make service more reliable. As Mayor, Oakville’s GO riders can count on me to be a tireless advocate at every level of government to continue this progress. Fast, reliable public transit is one of the best ways to get people home in time for dinner.
Efficient and economical transportation, is critical to economic competitiveness and mobility. Oakville doesn’t need “more” roads, it needs “more” from its roads. Congestion (and commuter delays) is largely a problem of a growing regional population, new development beyond traditional urban areas, as well as increased longevity. That population is largely on the “go” over existing road networks, increasing gridlock, noise, pollution and placing more stress on operating & capital budgets, as well as accelerating the decay of those assets. I will quickly introduce zero-emission electric vehicles, both public & personal transit, reducing pollution, noise and operating costs. This de-carbonized transportation is also innovative, environmentally friendly as well as more “fun”. I will encourage a municipal rebate zero-emission purchase/use program as well as special “green transit” lanes on our roadways. Single person/per vehicle trips are no longer sustainable, rather multiple person/per trips are preferred, removing the number of cars on the road during peak travel times, as well as preserving the environment and reducing travel times for both goods and persons. Behavioral changes to transportation thinking are necessary, beginning with Oakville transit which will run “grid” return routes, with electric-vehicles at a $2 flat fare (PRESTO integrated) anytime rate, on a 24 hour basis (reduced service after 11:00 p.m.) with connections to GO stations — and also run a “special” 4 time daily trip to Milton return, to serve that growing labour & residential market. Ride “sharing” will finally be rewarded, with gas tax revenues (expected to decline) funding a “rebate” program for 2 or more in a car! Free parking (24/7) will also be instituted Town wide, to promote business, tourism & recreation.
Our regional and provincial partnerships are at the core of improving Oakville’s movement of goods and people.
The largest projects are with Metrolinx, for grade separations at Burloak Drive and Kerr Street. These will give commuters and commercial traffic faster, safer access to the QEW. Future rail electrification, with its associated 10-minute GO service, forecasts an increase in demand for rail service. We’re asking the province to increase station capacity with a GO station expansion on the west side of Trafalgar Road. This would provide faster access for commuters from the north and east. We continue to ask our provincial representatives to move forward with the construction of our “missing link” highway interchange at Royal Windsor Drive.
Halton Region has agreed to my request to move forward with the Wyecroft Road Extension and Bridge. This crossing will benefit merchants and shoppers and commuters.
Halton Region’s Advanced Traffic Management System will assess real time traffic conditions and in turn, trigger traffic signal response to current demand on a 24/7 basis.
Locally, commercial and residential users will benefit from the Speers Road Reconstruction Project which will see the Speers Road Corridor rebuilt from Third Line to Kerr Street. Road capacity increases are also set for Bronte, Dundas, Trafalgar, and Cornwall. The new roads will include separated bike lanes, providing direct access to GO transit for active transportation users.
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Over the next four weeks, the Oakville Chamber will be releasing Mayoral Candidate statements highlighting the candidates’ vision on how they would address each of the four pillars, kicking off today with Business Competitiveness.
What is your plan to strengthen business competitiveness in Oakville?
As one of the most educated communities in Canada, Oakville offers business a highly skilled professional workforce on the doorstep. Our commercial property tax rates are some of the lowest in the GTA and we have ample employment land for development. Oakville is known for its livability and ranks as one of the best places in Canada to raise a family. However,to keep our local businesses moving forward, takes more.
This year, Oakville achieved ISO 37120 platinum certification from the World Council on City Data (WCCD). This is a crucial first step in creating an expanding portal of data that can drive development of new technologies, optimize business processes and enhance research to make data-driven decisions and solve complex problems.
The prospect of a Lifesciences Campus, to be built in close proximity to the new hospital is moving closer. Such a hub doesn’t just create collaboration. It becomes a competitive cluster. Physical co-locating of firms creates an economic zone that shares infrastructure, inter-firm learning and collaboration that can continually feed innovation and improvement.
At the local level we are continuing to improve infrastructure through renewal of local roads and the planning of additional parking in our commercial business areas. Regional projects include widening and improvement of Region roads and updating of storm sewers to adapt to climate change.
Lastly, we continue to nurture relationships with city and regional representatives from both China and India to pave the road for new business opportunities.
Make Economic Development a Town Priority Again
For 12 years, the current Mayor has paid lip service to economic development and Oakville has developed a reputation as a difficult and very costly place to locate a business. Our Town has the highest office space vacancy rate in the GTA and has suffered the departure of major companies like: Tim Horton’s, Manulife, Shredit, Mattamy, as well as many small and mid-sized businesses.
As Mayor, I will champion economic development that attracts more professional, high tech, office employers and businesses to Oakville so more people can work closer to home.
Help Existing Businesses Create More Jobs
As the Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, I met a wide array of businesses. One of the issues I heard over and over was that businesses wanted to expand and create more jobs in Oakville, but their plans were curtailed or abandoned because of the onerous regulations and punishing fees levied by the Town. As Mayor, I will demand a full review of all Town fees levied against business expansion.
Enable Local Companies to Compete Equally for Town Contracts
Oakville has some of the brightest and most innovative companies and entrepreneurs in Canada. As Mayor, I will work with Council and Town procurement to stop small companies from being shut out of Town business and enable them to compete on an equal footing with major multi-nationals. These businesses benefit the whole community, creating local jobs, paying Oakville taxes offering local knowledge and expertise.
Business competitiveness requires a lower business tax rate (not just for BIA’s) & municipal incentives and partnerships. The Chamber of Commerce business membership also agrees. Competitive business practices also requires an integrated transit plan to provide another means for a local skilled workforce to travel to, and from – a workplace, in today’s environment, often on a 24 hour basis. My electric transit zero-emission plan is part of that strategy and will encourage local jobs & sourcing opportunities, plus an infrastructure build-out that is modern, technical & innovative. Local education & training & market opportunities (e.g. skills, trades, computer science, engineering etc.) must be integrated with local business and Chamber member’s, to help sustain and grow a businesses footprint. Our locality, promotes cross-border market opportunities, in conjunction with provincial & federal partners. The “borderless” electronic age also permits business to locate further away from customer’s – provided shipment time or service delivery is only an incremental cost. Additionally, “red-tape” reduction, affordable housing and less road congestion are key factors to competitiveness (and within the Town ‘s control as they created these problems. Also, government training or incentives are critical to innovate, update and increase local employment, plus grow & foster partnerships with supply chain partners and customer markets. Transportation, infrastructure and “free parking” for local customers all contribute to a more competitive business environment for Oakville. The Mayor & Council have failed to keep Oakville competitive, rather at times, political opportunists more interested in their own “re-election”, not Oakville’s economic or social future..