Entries in city of peterborough (4)

Wednesday
Apr132016

Moving the goods takes trains, planes, and autos

There’s a catchphrase emerging in the discussion around transportation: multi-modal transportation strategy.  I have read it in a few articles, the federal budget document and then provincial Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca used it twice in a discussion during the Chamber’s advocacy day at Queen’s Park.

A broad definition of the concept figures prominently in the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006) and can be found in the work of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation at the University of Montreal, which defines the concept as a chain made up of several transportation modes that are more or less coordinated and interact in intermodal terminals to ensure door-to-door service.  While the context of this particular definition is based in the movement of freight, it could also be easily applied to the movement of people.  You could also define it as – "anywhere in Europe…"

In the year 2041, the provincial government estimates the population of the GTHA and the outer ring (which includes the Greater Peterborough Area) will be 13.5 million people.  That is just below the current population of the entire province of Ontario.  

Developing a coherent transportation strategy for Peterborough now will serve us well into the coming decades.  We need roads and public transit to move people and things, we need air and we need rail.  If we are going to consider all modes of transportation, Peterborough also has the opportunity to move people and things via water and the Trent Severn Waterway.  

Transportation corridors are different from public transit, but both are connected and rely on each other. For example, an efficient bus system relies on efficient roads. 

By Road

The business community is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the 407 to the 35/115 in 2020.  This economic link will see commerce and people flowing both ways – from the GTA in the form of tourists and companies wanting to do business or relocate, and into the GTA from here allowing our companies easier access to the vast market known as the Golden Horseshoe.  

By Air

The intentional investment by the City and County into the Peterborough Airport is paying off with innovative partnerships, companies and opportunities.  There will be new passenger service starting this summer, continued flights by Stewart Travel, 15 companies that are employers driving the local economy, and there is space for a lot more.  The Peterborough Airport is also considered a part of a network of regional airports that is tasked with defining how they could help relieve anticipated pressures at Pearson Airport.  

By Water

The Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) was originally built as an economic thoroughfare.  Today its primary role is to ferry tourist traffic, but in that role it is a significant economic driver for the area.  Are there any other ways to use the TSW for modern day movement of goods?

By Rail

The return to rail movement is gaining steam throughout the province. There are projects being pushed in southwestern Ontario and along the GO Lakeshore East line to Bowmanville.  It’s no secret that Peterborough has had a project of its own on the go for over five years and that improved freight and the return of passenger service would go a long way to further opening up the area to new economic opportunities.  How we get there is not the critical point, just that we get to the point where we can offer a freight option that improves time to the GTA and eventually a passenger option as well.  There are quite a few infrastructure dollars on the table right now.  If there is a willingness for either the provincial or federal governments or both to repair the tracks for freight use, perhaps the case for passenger rail would become more attractive to Metrolinx/GO or VIA to take on.

For its part, the City of Peterborough’s transportation master plan was last updated in 2012 and will be due for review in the next few years.  Their thinking about the future is along the same track as the province. “While the next review will also look at all modes of travel in the City, the approach to delivering transit services may be quite different as we get closer to the next review,” says Kevin Jones, Manager of Transportation, City of Peterborough. “Our planning for transit may start to focus on serving activity areas, also known as hubs.  These hubs could serve as areas to support land use intensification and provide transfer points where local neighbourhood transit services connect to a core route system, featuring enhanced service levels.   Providing hubs in locations that allow for connections to regional GO bus services or a future rail corridor to serve the City would be ideal.  Can we find locations to build these hubs so that they accommodate the needs of the community in the present, but can also be transformed as needed in the future?”  

“The province is also reviewing its transportation strategy,” says Jones.  In a meeting with the Minister of Transportation (MTO) recently, I heard the same comment that the ministry is working on a plan that is looking 50 years into the future.  Minister Del Duca also recognized that there is more work to do to incorporate the needs of mid-size cities such as Peterborough into plans for improved linkages for future employment and economic potential.

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. Supporting and building a multi-modal transportation network will take multi-modal collaboration from government.

Wednesday
Aug122015

Peterborough's past has a lot in common with today

It’s always interesting to peek into the past to see what changes have come about, however, I think more often than not we find how little things have actually changed.  Several weeks ago when Chamber staff found a film canister and then converted the contents to digital form we got a pretty solid look at the building of an iconic Peterborough landmark (or watermark), the Little Lake Fountain.  When Chad Hogan, Member Marketing Advisor for the Chamber dropped off the film and its canister to the Trent Valley Archives he returned with an interesting gift, a document called the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Scrap Book.  The scrapbook is a list of some of the events, speeches, elections and advocacy issues between the years 1928 and 1937.  

Like today, the business community of the late 20s-early 30s was concerned about bringing people and business to the area, along with brainstorming ways to showcase Peterborough to the world.  It was also a similar economic climate.  The stock market had crashed in 1929 and yet most of the documents described could be considered rebuilding or rebranding in today’s terminology.  In our recent past is the downturn of 2008-2009 and the issues of rebuilding and rebranding dominate once again.    

Along those lines think of Peterborough today, in 2015, what issues stand out for the business community and by extension the community as a whole?  

  1. Shopping local
  2. Transportation
    a. Highways
    b. Rail
    c. Air 
  3. Promoting tourism as an economic driver
  4. Trent Severn 
  5. Waterway
  6. Parking downtown
  7. Manufacturing
  8. Workforce

This list could also apply to Peterborough in the late 20s and early 30s when businesses, through the Chamber of Commerce, were also talking about these issues.  Here are some of the headlines from articles of that time frame:

  • Central Ontario Communities encourage highway extension
  • Boat builders make protest against luxury tax
  • Give a man a job campaign
  • Canadian tourist trade worth promoting, and should punish hotels that hurt our image
  • CNR planning to close railway lines from Port Hope
  • Board of Trade not opposed to building of Severn Locks
  • Editorial: Complete the Canal
  • US Tourists spent $517,706 in District
  • Downtown shopping promotion being deferred; idea liked, but too short lead time for Christmas
  • Boatmakers complain the depth of the Trent Canal is sometimes less than six feet that is advertised
  • Business men think it a good idea to promote Kawartha’s through big US sports shows
  • Water supply on Trent holding strong; can operate large factories
  • Parking time on George Street to be limited to 20 minutes

There is also interesting insight into the Chamber and its operation. In March of 1928, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was 39 years old and had 334 members.  Subsequent scrapbook entries add to the Chamber story.  Like today, the AGM was an annual March event and featured a guest speaker, members elected their directorate, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was involved federally through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and we were involved in public service campaigns, just as the Chamber is today.  

A peek into this particular time in Peterborough's past looks a lot like reflections on today.  As in the past, we are a strong voice at the provincial and federal chamber levels.  And moving through our 126th year, the Peterborough Chamber continues to be the voice of business and fulfill its original mandate to strengthen the business community. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn

Thursday
Dec112014

Policy Forum 2014: Cultivating a culture of openness with City Hall

Communication and accessibility are the hallmarks of “Open Government”. Many of the ideas from participants of a round table discussion on the issue focused on communication and accessibility. The discussion was part of a policy forum hosted by the Young Professionals Group of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. About 45 people brainstormed ideas about how to improve the city and county of Peterborough. Sure it’s a conversation that many have had before - that on some level we have every day, however there is inherent value in continuing to communicate ideas that focus on improving this region. It’s a way to hash out older ideas and develop new ideas. 

The policy forum was based on an article by best-selling author, economist, thought leader and current Chancellor of Trent University, Don Tapscott. The article called “As Toronto dithers, Guelph sets sights on 21st century” was first published in the Toronto Star on Friday, October 17, 2014. It identifies seven key areas for improving a community: 

  1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity 
  2. Open Government 
  3. Turning Public Safety Inside Out 
  4. Rethinking Transportation 
  5. Creating a Sustainable City 
  6. Transforming Social Services 
  7. Reinventing Local Democracy 

In the first article of this series entrepreneurship was the focus and it ended with a call for a coordinated strategy. Having an official strategy would allow all interest groups to map out the united front on entrepreneurship the community wants to present to its own residents, the province and beyond. 

In this article, the topic discussed in broader detail will be Open Government. Communication and accessibility are key parts to improving on what is currently happening in Peterborough and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. 

Open Government 

Successful communication of information both outward to the residents and businesses of the community and inward to the city staff and councillors, as well as, the expectations of communication between the two groups is imperative to achieve a true culture of openness. The culture of openness also depends on accessibility – making it easier to interact with City Hall on all levels. 

The discussions led by Jason Stabler, Coordinator of the Peterborough Partnership Council on Immigrant Integration (PPCII) identified that already there are some avenues to reach into the municipal government. 

There is a lot of information online at the City of Peterborough’s website, but it’s not always easy to find. As an example there is a lot of geographical information such as details about specific properties. 

The Peterborough-Lakefield Police Service website, which will be the Peterborough Police Service starting in 2015, has crime information about specific neighbourhoods. 

The Peterborough City and County Health Unit has information about restaurants and health issues. 

There are opportunities for residents and special interest groups to present at council meetings, there is live tweeting of council meetings, and there have been Twitter Town Halls on social media. 

So given what is currently happening in Peterborough, the group moved on to discuss the opportunities for Peterborough. Some “Quick Wins” were identified: 

  1. Put the new councillor handbook online. It is a powerful tool to communicate how local government works on a basic level as well as how policies are developed and the role of staff and council. This is a tool the City of Guelph has used and feels it has been a successful in creating the Open Government feel. 
  2. Use external language vs. internal language. Websites tend to use language that has specific meaning to the people inside the organization. The challenge is to use language that appeals to the organization’s audience. The group felt the City could improve the website to be more user-friendly by featuring more external language vs. internal language. For example, a resident may look for their garbage/ recycling pick up information on the city website not their waste management schedule or use “Starting a Business” instead of “Economic Development”. Subtle changes in language can go a long way to further opening the lines of communication. 

The table also discussed a number of “Short-term Goals”: 

  1. Access the current talent pool in Peterborough. City staff is often looking to other communities for best practices on various issues, which are then presented to council. The group felt that reaching into the community to access more of this knowledge would be helpful as well. One example the Chamber can add to this point features the Electronic Sign By-law. The city and business owners have been working together on creating the guidelines for Peterborough. The more this type of dialogue can happen, the more citizen engagement and participation will occur. 
  2. Service Peterborough. This could be a call centre/service desk that offers a no wrong door approach. The caller/resident is easily given the information/person they need. This type of service is available in a number of municipalities including Oshawa. It is packaged as a one-stop shop for City Hall information.  

Two “Long-term Goals” were also presented: 

  1. Creation of an idea bank. Online forum where the City, residents and/ or businesses can float ideas on any given issue. This bank would be similar to a focus group and could also be used to gauge the general feel of the community on priority projects. 
  2. Just-in-time communications. Residents could sign up to receive emails specific to their interests with regard to the City. For example, road information such as crews have just been called to this area for repairs, please use an alternative route. This can also apply to weather conditions affecting City operations. Currently, the media and website are used as outlets, and this would be another way to get information into the hands of residents. 

It would seem this discussion happened at an opportune time as Mayor Daryl Bennett committed to a number of open government directives in his inaugural speech of the 2014-2018 council term. These included: 

  • Encouraging councillors to hold meetings in their wards 
  • Live-streaming of all committee meetings 

The six items above must have the support of councillors and staff, and the implemented suggestions would have to be carried about by councillors and staff. However, this doesn’t mean that residents and business owners don’t also have a role. Communication cannot happen in a vacuum. It truly is a two- way street. For all that we ask the City to communicate with us, yes; they do need to pump a lot of information through a multitude of channels, as residents and business owners we must also be active participants in community engagement. We have to access the information that is offered and let City Hall know we have accessed that information. 

The cumulative effect of all of these suggestions is to demystify City Hall, to make it even more approachable, to eliminate the perceived barriers and to create a community wholly engaged in its municipal matters at all times, not just at times of contention. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Oct022014

For business, cameras make sense

It’s not just an election issue, it’s not just a downtown issue… it’s a business issue. Video surveillance has a place in the business community. In Peterborough, the issue of cameras has sparked a lot of discussion over the past decade. Locally, business owners who have put in cameras believe it increases the chances of catching someone damaging property or involved in a theft. Businesses would also be able to help police with an investigation. They view it as another way to protect their investment and the people they employ. 

“The Chamber had its own incident to deal with recently,” says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO of the Chamber. “And we believe that cameras could have helped police solve a crime and further protect a community heritage building.” 

Business owners care about the communities in which they operate. However, the reality is that businesses are constantly treading a line between operating an economic enterprise which helps fuel the economy of their community and being part of the front line to social issues such as poverty, addiction and unemployment. This is true whether a business exists in a downtown area or a business corridor. 

The incident at the Chamber led to correspondence with Peterborough Lakefield Police around processes and what can be done to ensure safety. As a 

result, the Chamber is wholeheartedly in favour of a working group to come up with ideas to improve the city for all residents as suggested by Inspector Dan Smith. “There are no simple solutions and we all must work collaboratively to deal with these problems,” he stated in an email. “Every enforcement initiative we undertake just displaces the activity to another location and doesn't provide a permanent solution. I would like to form a working group of interested persons to see if we can come up with some ideas.” 

The number of businesses choosing to set up cameras is gaining momentum for a variety of reasons. It’s a move the Chamber encourages for several reasons. First, protection of a significant monetary and human capital investment. Second, the ability to help law enforcement should the need arise. 

Global research firm IHS, stated in a press release in January of this year, “The worldwide market for video surveillance equipment is expected to expand by more than 12 percent this year. Revenue in 2014 is expected to rise to $15.9 billion, up from $14.1 billion in 2013.” 

And it’s not just large corporations making the investment. A Globe and Mail article from October 2012 indicates “a significant portion of this growth will be the small to medium-sized business market.” The author of the article Robert Moore goes on to say, “There are many reasons for a company to invest in surveillance technology: staff safety, to deter crime, monitor traffic and improve operations.” 

There is another side to the story and it involves privacy. Do cameras in/on a business invade an individual’s privacy? The easy answer is no. However, when it comes to privacy issues employers must adhere to the Personal Information Protectionand Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This is federal legislation that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is aware of the trend, recognizing that, “as technology has evolved and costs have fallen dramatically, video surveillance is increasingly accessible to a large range of organizations.” 

That being said, the Privacy Commissioner wants businesses to know that privacy laws do still apply and has put together the following list as a way of guiding businesses. 

10 things to do when considering, planning and using video surveillance:  

  • Determine whether a less privacy-invasive alternative to video surveillance would meet your needs. 
  • Establish the business reason for conducting video surveillance and use video surveillance only for that reason. 
  • Develop a policy on the use of video surveillance. 
  • Limit the use and viewing range of cameras as much as possible. 
  • Inform the public that video surveillance is taking place. 
  • Store any recorded images in a secure location, with limited access, and destroy them when they are no longer required for business purposes. 
  • Be ready to answer questions from the public. Individuals have the right to know who is watching them and why, what information is being captured, and what is being done with recorded images. 
  • Give individuals access to information about themselves. This includes video images. 
  • Educate camera operators on the obligation to protect the privacy of individuals. 
  • Periodically evaluate the need for video surveillance.  

These guidelines are not meant to dissuade a business but make them aware of the issues around privacy that could be questioned. 

Even ten years after the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/ Ontario completed a Privacy Review on “Video Surveillance Programs in Peterborough” (December 2004) there are questions about privacy. The report mainly focused on municipal cameras in public places. However, there was attention paid to private businesses installing cameras. Concerns included would cameras be pointed to a public street and if a number of businesses install them does that become a cohesive system? 

Done right, with customer awareness and measures to ensure security of the video, cameras in a business have the ability to protect the business owner and potentially solve a crime -- all in a day’s work. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.