No municipality works in isolation — we all have neighbours and it’s imperative that we work together toward common goals.
Business, life, and recreation don’t stop at political boundaries.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce have long been advocates for regional cooperation. One barrier we are working on is relating to how we track job creation for the province.
We have a resolution that we have submitted to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce titled Accounting for economic outcomes in regional collaboration projects. We first submitted it three years ago but it has largely gone unaddressed and so with the support of other Ontario Chambers, we’re pushing for this again.
Jobs created during collaborative regional economic development projects are only attributed to the municipality in which they are geographically located.
The 2019 report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce titled The Great Mosaic – Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies, states:
“Ontario’s economy is undergoing a period of rapid change. Twenty-first century globalization, urbanization, and technological transformation are challenging the status quo and redefining what it means to be competitive. Given these and other pressures, Ontario’s overall prosperity will increasingly depend on the strength of its regions.”
It’s a fitting to start to a discussion around how to then calculate economic impact. Municipalities impacted by A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe are bound by provincial legislation to have official plans, land needs assessments, and zoning by-laws in place that detail how each municipality is going to achieve the pre-determined milestones of jobs and residents per hectare. Those results are then reported to the province.
And while these plans and processes are necessary, they don’t account for the fact that more and more economic development is collaborative and crosses geographic lines. One example can be found in the City of Peterborough. The City has contributed significant dollars to infrastructure at the regional airport that lies just outside its geographical boundary. The combined investment by the City, County and local township has resulted in the number of jobs increasing from 50 to over 300 over the past decade. The question becomes how is the outcome of those investments (jobs, new economic opportunities, etc..) accounted for in growth targets? Right now, the outcome falls to the municipality in which the tangible asset exists – therefore, we are back to geographical boundaries even though it is a regional collaboration.
This disconnect between investment and reporting rules is a barrier to regional economic development because the value of the investment is diminished when the result is not recognized. To resolve this issue and encourage more regional collaboration that will benefit all of Ontario, we ask that government amend the reporting rules and allow all municipalities to account for the jobs they have helped create through regional projects.
The Growth Plan document identifies a need for complete communities with the following paragraph in section 2.1:
“To support the achievement of complete communities, this Plan establishes minimum intensification and density targets that recognize the diversity of communities across the GGH. Some larger urban centres, such as Toronto, have already met some of the minimum targets established in this Plan, while other communities are growing and intensifying at a different pace that reflects their local context.”
This allowance will encourage more collaboration across geographical lines by municipalities and help regions invest in projects that will benefit their area and the province as a whole. It will also more accurately reflect the local context of the urban rural mix in the outer ring municipalities. These outer ring municipalities also address issues such as transit and conservation issues across geographical lines, yet recognition of the impact of regional economic development on multiple municipalities does not happen.
Continuing in 2.1 is the following:
“…consider opportunities to better co-ordinate our collective efforts across municipalities to support their contribution to economic growth and improve access to transit.” If this call is to be realized to its maximum potential then there has to be allowance to recognize the impact of jobs created and economic impact when municipalities work together.
Our recommendation to the Government of Ontario is to develop a mechanism that allows for multiple municipalities who have invested in a regionally significant project to account for jobs created proportional to financial contribution when reporting to government.
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