Entries in transportation (4)

Wednesday
May272015

Peterborough needs more than a road win

The provincial government is going to be spending the summer hosting roundtables on the infrastructure needs of communities.  The Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure along with the Minister of Transportation are looking for input on how to keep “moving Ontario forward” outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).   The goal is to help create jobs and support economic growth through infrastructure projects in our communities, and they are starting with three discussion questions:prioritizing infrastructure investments, and improving natural gas programs and transportation networks.  The government has earmarked $15 billion to be available for projects outside the GTHA.

There are some projects that have already started including four in the County and City of Peterborough.  Three address sewer and water system concerns and one is to complete bridge improvements.  These initiatives were announced in February as part of the $100 million per year Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund.   

There is also $272 million available over 10 years to support projects in communities with populations under 100,000, $1 billion for strategic transportation infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire Region, $62 million to support the Ottawa River Action Plan and $15 million annually for the new Connecting Links program to help pay for the construction and repair costs of municipal roads that connect communities to provincial highways (Moving Ontario Forward – Outside the GTHA Discussion Guide). 

Within these programs there is opportunity for Peterborough area municipalities to put forward projects, but ultimately we're still on the outside looking in, particularly when you look at the most recent transportation investments: 

  • Expanding Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon
  • Constructing a new alignment of Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph
  • Improving Highway 401 in London and Highway 417 in Ottawa
  • Supporting the Maley Drive Extension project in Sudbury 
  • Advancing an environmental assessment for a high-speed rail line that will connect Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.  

Take a look at the projects above.  What’s missing?  There is an extensive network of roads and rail currently planned for south- and northwestern Ontario, but the eastern side of the province seems to barely register.  

One of the most important questions the government is asking in its Discussion Guide is “What is the long-term future of your transportation network, and how can Moving Ontario Forward support that?”

Yes, the 407 is scheduled to be completed to the 35/115 by 2020, and while it’s an important economic link for this region, it was a decade long battle to convince the province of its importance to Ontario and one could argue that it has greater significance to the Durham Region. At a time when the goal is to move Ontario forward as a province, as a whole, there seems to be a fairly gaping hole in the plan.  In fact, that combination of roads and rail we’re seeing develop in southwestern Ontario can easily be developed in eastern Ontario.  Add in the constant expansion at the Peterborough Airport and Peterborough could easily be declared a transportation hub.      

With its diverse business community, Peterborough has a lot of opportunity in its future. Our post-secondary institutions are growing; Fleming with its focus on the skilled trades is at the frontline of a Canada battling a skills shortage and Trent is further solidifying its reputation for groundbreaking life sciences research, a strong business school and research on the Canadian North and Aboriginal peoples.  

We have an Innovation Cluster that is working hard to develop a new generation of technology companies.    

There is a strong advanced manufacturing sector based in Eastern Ontario that is reaching out beyond our provincial borders.  In fact, this group of employers along with the Chamber Network just affected a change to the requirements for bringing service technicians to Canada for repair and servicing of equipment.  The change means these instances will not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment, saving companies thousands of dollars.  

In the Peterborough Economic Development Strategic Plan, agriculture, aerospace, and entrepreneurship were identified as areas and sectors ready to grow and take flight.  These areas have also been identified as priority areas by the provincial and federal governments.   

So in answering the question "What is the long-term future of your transportation network?", the
Peterborough area is ready to create several connections to and through eastern Ontario with a completed 407, the Shining Waters Railway and the Peterborough Airport. Doing so opens up a whole host of economic opportunity and fills a glaring gap with people and jobs.     

The provincial government is accepting comments until September 18, 2015.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Jan282015

Economic Outlook 2015: Strong growth in 2014 means modest growth in 2015

After a strong 2014, economic growth in Peterborough is expected to slow over the next two years, according to a new economic outlook from the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and the Credit Unions of Ontario.  

Economic conditions in Peterborough exhibited surprising strength last year, as residential and non-residential investment surged and total employment grew by 9 percent. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped slightly in 2014 to 8.3 percent. 

On balance, employment growth is forecast to ease considerably following last year’s strong growth, with forecast gains of 1.0 percent in 2015 and 1.8 percent in 2016. Growth will be underpinned by a general improvement in economic conditions in the province and higher tourism levels. Unemployment is expected to decline slightly to 7.8 percent by 2016. 

According to the outlook, job creation in the area is forecast to record modest growth over the next two years as non-residential construction activity begins to taper off. While the investment flows of previous projects in the broader region should continue to benefit the economy, the value of non-residential building permits is expected to decline this year by about 30 percent before recovering in 2016.

Stronger U.S. demand and a weak Canadian dollar should buoy the region’s manufacturing sector, while tourism-related industries such as accommodations and food services, are expected to benefit from increased visits from outside the region.

“The challenges faced by Peterborough businesses in the past number of years have forced some companies to reach into other segments of the economy to fill in space left by traditional clients”, says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. 

Some recent developments bode well for Peterborough’s future prospects. The new Nordia call centre opened in November 2014 and management plans to hire about 400 people in the first 12 to 18 months of the facility’s operation. Minacs, another call-centre operation in the city, will also be hiring another 60 people in the coming months. In addition, the GE Canada plant in Peterborough has won a tentative contract from TransCanada Corp. to build electric motors for the Calgary-based company’s Energy East pipeline project. The contract win for the plant follows the $65 million modernization of the facility over the past five years and is expected to create 250 jobs at its Peterborough facility and across its local supply chain over a two-year period. 

“It’s anticipated recent and long-term investments in transportation will have a positive economic impact on the Peterborough area”, adds Harrison. “The announcement of the construction of the 407 to the 35/115 expected to start in the fall and further growth at the Peterborough Airport will continue to open Peterborough to new markets and introduce new markets to Peterborough.”

Population growth, which is primarily attributed to net positive flows of people from other parts of the province, is forecast to rise to 0.7 percent in 2016. 

On the housing front, sales in Peterborough are forecast to increase to approximately 1.9 percent in 2016. Demographically driven demand and low interest rates have generated a stable environment for the regional housing market, which should help home prices rise moderately over the forecast horizon. 

Key Facts and Highlights:

 

  • Population growth, which is primarily attributed to net positive flows of people from other parts of the province, is forecast to rise to 0.7 percent in 2016. With more retired people moving into the area, less interprovincial outflow, and improving employment growth, total net migration is seen rising above 3,000 persons in 2016.
  • Housing sales in Peterborough are forecast to increase to approximately 1.9 percent in 2016. Demographically driven demand and low interest rates have generated a stable environment for the regional housing market, which should help home prices rise moderately over the forecast horizon.
  • Unemployment is expected to decline slightly to 7.8 percent by 2016 compared to 8.3 percent last year. 

 

 

 Download the full Economic Outlook  

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.
Tuesday
Jan272015

Policy Forum 2014: creating inclusive transportation systems

The final part in the seven-part series from Policy Forum 2014: Connecting the Dots revolves around transportation.  It is a fitting conclusion to the table discussions by 45 Peterborough community leaders as the issue of transportation was the thread that tied them all together. 

The policy forum hosted by the Young Professionals Group (YPG) of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce 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. Seven key areas for improving a community were identified:

  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

So far in this seven-part series we have revealed the table discussions on entrepreneurship, open government, reinventing local democracy, public safety and transforming social services. 

Entrepreneurship wrapped up 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. 

Open government revealed six recommendations in total including two quick wins: 1. Putting the councillor
handbook online as a guide to government for all residents; and 2. Using external language vs. internal language to communicate better with residents and businesses. 

The discussion around reinventing local democracy led to a call for community-building activities, such as a parallel council and highlighting Peterborough’s community areas to continue to engage all residents. 

The group at the table discussing public safety came to the conclusion that when it comes to this issue everyone in the community has a role to play.

The transforming social services discussion concluded that a collaborative approach to social services could lead to a pooling of resources which has the possibility to improve outcomes.

The discussion around creating a sustainable city ended with the thought that a sustainable city is equal to quality of place and that quality of place is a healthy economy, healthy environment, healthy society and healthy culture.

Rethinking Transportation 

This group under the leadership of Brianna Salmon, Manager of Transportation and Climate Change for Peterborough GreenUP identified that there is a fairly progressive policy environment for the transportation portfolio. In Peterborough, there is a Transportation Master Plan, which includes sidewalk and cycling components.

The group identified five quick wins, seven short-term goals, and five long-term goals under these transit topics: transit, ridesharing/co-sharing, sidewalks, funding, land-use and intelligent transportation systems.

Quick wins

  1. Marketing and reframing of current transit service
  2. Real-time transit stop arrival time
    1. Encourage more casual use 
    2. Increase confidence in service
  3. Increasing existing co-sharing 
  4. Encouraging workplace policies that support transit ridership and co-sharing
  5. Need for political champions and community advocates

Short-term goals

  1. Multi-modal Integration
    1. Bikes on buses and trains (This issue was brought up at a recent City Council meeting and the current bus depot is not built to allow buses with bikes on the front to park safely in the bays.)
  2. Transit as an essential public service.  For example, “A person whose income is lower than the average is 10 times more likely to use the service” (Peterborough City and County Health Unit’s Active Transportation and Health Report 2014)  
  3. Enhanced service to Fleming College
  4. Supportive ridesharing systems like Uber
  5. Enhanced ridesharing 
  6. Enhanced sidewalk maintenance in the winter
  7. The provision of cycling and walking infrastructure should be considered essential, rather than as secondary infrastructure to be developed when the budget permits.  This infrastructure should be 
  8. integrated into the roadway planning process

Long-term goals 

  1. Transition from a radial transit system to a grid system
  2. Connecting to rural bus services 
    1. Integration with Peterborough Transit will build ridership and equity of transportation options
  3. Prioritize complete street policy and planning framework so that the needs of the most vulnerable 
  4. roadway users (persons with physical concerns; children; seniors; persons with strollers) are met
  5. Perceptions of distance: how close locations seem vs. how close they actually are
  6. Intelligent transportation systems that would require progressive land use patterns;so far such systems are largely inaccessible to the global population

Ultimately, the group concluded that the provision of transit service and pedestrian/cycling infrastructure must be understood as essential and intrinsic to the entire transportation planning process. All forms of people movement, from cars to public transit to sidewalks and bike trails need to be viewed as equally important.  The group believed that the various modes of transportation should not be viewed as add-ons when budget dollars permit, but simply a piece of the plan. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Oct162014

Business issues drive mayoral debate

On Thursday, October 9, 2014, in conjunction with the DBIA and Women’s Business Network, the
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce hosted a mayoral debate.  

15 questions pertaining to business issues, from job creation to availability of land to transit to the experience needed to be Mayor were asked of five of the six mayoral candidates in front of a crowd of about 200 at The Venue.   

The Chamber has identified 10 areas of concern in this election:  

 

  1. Broader Community Vision 
  2. Business Corridors (Downtown, Lansdowne, Chemong, Industrial Park)
  3. Employment & Job Creation
  4. Finances
  5. Infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc)
  6. Inter-government Relations & Government Accountability
  7. Interest Arbitration Process
  8. Planning Process (What can be done to make it easier for business?)
  9. Transportation
  10. Taxation & Development Charges

 

Find videos of each question and answer on the Chamber YouTube channel 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn.