10 speakers in 3 ½ hours – the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of Realtors Land Planning session was once again a plethora of information.
With the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce representing 900-member businesses in the City and County of Peterborough, I find the information helpful on many fronts and often dovetailing with the principles set out in the Peterborough Chamber’s municipal business platform “Building a Community Outside the Ordinary.”
The full room at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club learned about how agricultural land is rated and how that land is designated and used from a planning perspective. For example, if you are considering identifying your property as a hobby farm, what does that mean versus developing a farm-based business? The Ontario Federation of Agriculture representative Peter Jeffrey said that as a sector it is considered very high tech and more and more technical innovation is expected to enhance how farms work for us.
Martin Ward from the City of Peterborough spoke about the transit system. Did you know that City transit has about 5 million rides per year? He went on to say that the City fleet is 100% accessible and that partnerships with Trent University and Fleming College are working well and benefitting the entire community. When it comes to cost recovery, Peterborough Transit has one of the highest cost recovery rates of like municipalities.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll stop looking for ways to improve. Currently, a transit review is underway and the City is looking for feedback on routes, a long-term growth plan and a downtown transit hub review. Ward told the crowd that bus stop upgrades in 2018 resulted in 143 new pads and 50 new solar powered shelters.
Challenges in transit include long routes and travel times through the hub, new growth areas, and increasing ridership numbers. When it comes to opportunities, the department is looking to the future for a new bus yard and potential hub as well as an intelligent bus system app that can help riders follow their bus.
Building a Community Outside the Ordinary Platform Principle"
Chief Building Inspector, Dean Findlay brought home the reality of the building code and an openness
to work together to address challenges. He outlined how the original intent of the code to address structural soundness, weather resistance, and overall safety has expanded to include energy efficiency, accessibility, climate change, and use of innovative building materials.
Building a Community Outside the Ordinary Platform Principle"
The room heard from planning officials Bryan Weir from the County of Peterborough and Ken Hetherington from the City.
The County’s official plan review has four stages with the process currently between stages 1 and 2. Weir defined an official plan as the base land use document for guiding development. Before it comes into effect the plan must be approved by the province. Currently, the County and four of the townships fall under the County plan for development. There is the possibility that the review exercise could result in all eight townships being covered. One of the biggest challenges with the County plan is scale and how settlement areas are more likely to face land use compatibility issues.
On the city side, the official plan has been in various stages of review since 2011 after last being fully reviewed in 1981. Under new provincial guidelines, Peterborough must achieve a density of 50 residents and jobs per hectare with the downtown at 150 residents and jobs per hectare. They are also working on a labelling system for Peterborough’s Natural Heritage System. Hetherington says the hope is to have a draft plan to council this fall.
In her address to the crowd, Mayor Diane Therrien identified three areas of focus including the development of a housing market assessment, identifying new parking needs in all areas of the city and creating a housing commission to be proactive in combatting homelessness.
Building a Community Outside the Ordinary Platform Principle"
MPP Dave Smith used his time to talk about his government’s goal of reducing the debt and deficit in Ontario - two areas he says are holding the province back from spending taxpayer dollars where it is needed most. During the Q&A of his presentation, MPP Smith was also asked about the status of the VIA Rail High Frequency Rail project, to which he replied that the project is still very much at the forefront of the federal
The event and commentary once again proves that in this region we are connected in many ways and need to work together to achieve prosperity.
Ontario Economic Report by the numbers
The Ontario Economic Report (OER) is authored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and offers a unique perspective on the experience of businesses of all sizes across the province.
The OER is comprised of three documents:
1. The Business Confidence Survey
2. The Business Prosperity Index
3. The Economic Outlook
Overall, the report presents a candid look at private sector sentiment and opportunities for economic growth for the year ahead.
As the survey of businesses across the province shows, businesses are gaining confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook as well as gaining confidence in themselves. Yet, they are still facing challenges such as access to talent, embracing technological innovations, and the cost of doing business which includes regulation, taxation, and input prices.
The report also recognizes that Ontario’s overall prosperity depends on the strength of its regional economies. And yet the challenges expressed by all are expected to be most acutely felt in rural regions of the province. In fact, a recent survey of the Peterborough Chamber membership identified that lack of access to talent was their number one barrier.
Mayor Diane Therrien attended the Ontario Economic Report launch and was one of the panelists speaking about the impact of the findings. She spoke to the need for broadband to be accessible for all businesses, the importance of re-skilling as the economy changes and adapts as well as the need for transportation systems in rural areas.
According to the Bank of Montreal Economic Outlook prepared for the report, in the Muskoka-Kawarthas CMA of which Peterborough City and Country are a part, there is limited change anticipated in
population, employment and job growth between 2018 and 2019.
The OCC says, “We should all be concerned that the province’s employment growth has been largely concentrated in the Greater Golden Horseshoe since 2003, while other regions have experienced slow or even negative growth during that same period.”
“This year will be a formative year for the Ontario economy. We call on decision-makers to develop thoughtful policies that foster competitiveness and address the potential vulnerabilities that loom large within our province,” stated Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce. “We need to take action and address these challenges to build a stronger Ontario for years to come.”
As Ontario’s economy continues to face the many challenges outlined in the OER, the OCC’s 2019 Ontario Economic Summit will be dedicated to the question of competitiveness with an agenda that will explore how our province can lead in innovation, knowledge-generation, and trade.
A red tape update for business
2019 has started off with some regulatory changes and updates for business.
After two roundtables with about 35 members regarding the upcoming provincial budget, it’s safe to say that one of the biggest challenges for business is regulatory compliance or the often-used, much maligned moniker, "red tape".
Federally, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified that there are around 380,000 regulations impacting business; add in the provincial and municipal levels and that number pushes closer to 500,000.
Red tape is the stuff of kitchen tables and late nights at the office for employers. This article will touch upon three areas: CPP, WSIB and provincial health & safety inspections.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
On January 1st the latest round of CPP enhancements started with the enhancement program expected to be in place until 2025. Under the previous regime, the plan was designed to replace a quarter of a worker’s earnings whereas now that goal is to replace a third of a worker’s earnings.
Employers and employees over 18 contribute to the fund equally on earnings between $3,500 and the annual earnings limit, which for 2019 is $57,400. If you are self-employed you would pay both portions.
To accomplish this the following changes have been made:
Employers will continue to make the deduction off paycheques as part of payroll taxes.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Premium update: Now that WSIB is operating without an Unfunded Liability they are once again reducing rates for Schedule 1 businesses. The 2019 rate reduction is 29.8%. All but seven of the 148 rate groups are seeing a rate reduction while the remaining seven will hold steady at 2018 levels.
For years, WSIB has had a Small Business Health & Safety Program to encourage small businesses to build on their health and safety initiatives. The incentive was 5% of customers’ annual premium. Now WSIB has increased the incentive to $750 minimum.
Here is the amount businesses will receive based on their annual WSIB premium:
$1000-$1333 75% of annual premium
$14286-$90000 7% of annual premium
If you need more information please connect with us and we’ll connect you.
Health and Safety Inspections
The Ministry of Labour has scheduled its list of health and safety initiatives for 2019. According to an information release “Ministry staff will visit workplaces such as warehouses, retail and grocery stores, manufacturing plants, hotels, group homes, health care organizations, mines and construction projects.
Occupational health and safety inspectors will look for health and safety violations involving issues such as slips, trips and falls, musculoskeletal disorders and respiratory hazards across all sectors. Sector-specific hazards such as suspended access equipment, personal protective equipment, machine guarding, ground control and violence will also be focused on. The goal is to raise awareness that safety is everyone’s
responsibility, to enhance workplace health and safety, and to proactively prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.”
Several initiatives have already started including an industrial check around machine guarding, a health initiative around group homes and a construction initiative around personal protective equipment.
An all-sector initiative on slips, trips and falls will start in March.
For more on these initiatives check out ontario.ca/page/workplace-inspection-initiatives
The Chamber has an array of members who can help in these areas if you need it.
Our business directory can be found at peterboroughchamber.ca
The City of Peterborough is talking transit and reaching out to the community to hear how we would like our transit system to evolve in the future.
There is a demand from within our community to be operating on all cylinders in order to take advantage of the opportunity of an expected increase in population growth. The backbone of that economic utopia of jobs, business growth, and sustainability, is a coherent transportation network that allows for the effective movement of goods and people. One piece of that strategy is the City’s transit network.
As a part of a review to update the Peterborough 2012 Comprehensive Transportation Strategy, the City is conducting three concurrent studies:
The route review will:
The Peterborough Chamber membership has been very clear that, as employers looking for employees they want their community to have a transit system that is efficient, timely and reliable. This transit system should also connect all economic nodes in a community such as the Peterborough airport, as it currently does the post-secondary, industrial parks, shopping nodes and downtown core.
There is also great value seen in a plan that has the ability to be regionally integrated. This idea was discussed at a committee convened by MP Maryam Monsef. City transit solutions should include hubs that can accept connections from more rural routes and rural options should use outer edge city
connections to move people in and around the city.
We encourage our Chamber members to offer their thoughts on a new transportation strategy.
There are several ways we’d like to see you engage: