Planning. Growth targets. Responsible development. Impact of provincial legislation. Nodes.
Settlement areas. Official Plans.
All are pieces of the puzzle that when completed is the base from which the City and County of
Peterborough will grow. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was pleased to welcome Directors of Planning for the City and County Jeffrey Humble and Bryan Weir to speak at our Annual General Meeting recently.
What we heard is that planning is in a time of transition and that in the wake of reviews of several pieces of provincial legislation, from the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan to the Places to Grow Plan to the Provincial Policy Statement there is a more defined vision for growth from the provincial government. Then add in an agricultural land mapping exercise and a natural heritage map and as Bryan Weir described “the development landscape is getting narrower and narrower.”
Now while that situation presents challenges; there are still opportunities. Weir took us through almost a dozen projects in various communities around the County where development in the form of
residential properties is occurring or is planned to occur. With growth targets predicting increases in the current population by 15,000 people in the County by 2041, current projects will create space for 5,100 permanent residents in addition to the seasonal crowd.
Weir acknowledged that the lack of transition time between new and old legislation has caused a few projects to face significant obstacles. While they may not be able to go ahead as planned, work is being done to see if adjustments are possible.
One of the biggest changes is the direction of development to the serviced and unserviced settlement areas. This means that someone who owns land and would like to apply for a severance to create a lot for a new home or building may not have that option. It also means greater thought will be required around infrastructure in the timing, cost, and need. The new planning landscape requires a mindset change as to what development is and how to manage it in a way that makes sense for the community.
Follow the County of Peterborough Official Plan here: www.ptbocounty.ca/en/growing/official-plan.aspx
Follow the City process at: www.peterborough.ca/Business/Studies___Projects/Official_Plan_Update.htm
The challenge with these new planning directives will be for municipalities to mould their communities and residents into provincially pre-determined targets. According to provincial directives, by 2041 the City of Peterborough will have grown by 10,000 jobs and 31,000 people. The journey to those targets also has to be realistic, as was explained by City Planning Director Jeffrey Humble. Industrial, commercial and institutional growth gives the city approximately $60 million a year. While, the City is running out of employment lands, Peterborough Airport will continue to be a significant economic driver, along with development of Cleantech Commons at Trent University which will allow for world-class innovation, collaboration and leadership in clean technologies.
Humble also told us that Peterborough’s current residential intensification rate within the built up area is 47% and to expect 3% growth on that rate over a decade is not unreasonable, but for provincial expectations of 20% growth in the intensification rate in the following decade it would be challenging. From 2031 to 2041 the City will be recommending an "alternative" intensification target of 55% of residential growth in the built up area and 45% in the designated greenfield area.
Humble indicated the more challenging provincial target is for density targets for the Designated Greenfield Areas of 80 residents and jobs per hectare. That’s why the City will be asking the province for intensification adjustments ranging between 55-65 jobs/residents per hectare between the time the Official Plan is adopted and 2041. He adds that Peterborough is moving toward increased density options for housing, which is a good thing, however, at this time single-family homes are the predominant housing type. He told Chamber members at the AGM that the City realizes $70 million annually in construction value from residential development. Moving too fast to achieve density targets could end up being very disruptive to the economy.
Meeting these provincial targets requires a strategy as it is the private sector that will carry out the actual development. A plan to expand the development charge exemption from the core urban growth centre to the broader central area (the J schedule under the Official Plan) is one way the City plans to stimulate growth in designated densification areas. Humble also pointed to reinvestment such as the Louis Street Urban Park and how the investment of $5.6 million by the City will lead to numerous private sector redevelopment opportunities in the immediate neighbourhood.
City planners are currently in the midst of land use and transportation modeling around the Central Area and commercial nodes such as Lansdowne, Chemong, Clonsilla, Ashburnham, and Armour Road to assess the impact of future development.
The Official Plan is moving forward and scheduled for completion a year from now. The Chamber of Commerce is a part of those discussions with Chamber Board Chair Jim Hill a member of a
community advisory group.
Our planning directors demonstrated that growth alone is a key economic driver. However, it is also a driver that requires significant preparation and consideration of a multitude of issues such as economy, building, trades, employment, transportation and land use to manage and plan for our future.
The Peterborough Chamber & Board of Directors thank all of the Chamber members able to attend the 2018 AGM. 2017 was a solid year for the organization.
Thank you to event sponsor Bell Let's Talk
Thank you to Bryan Weir, Director of Planning, County of Peterborough and Jeffrey Humble, Director of Planning, City of Peterborough for speaking to our members about the planning process, the official plans for both city and county, and some of the challenges under new planning legislation.
Check out our photo gallery below!
This coming Wednesday, March 28th, the 2018 provincial budget will be delivered in the Ontario legislature. Earlier this year the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Peterborough MPP and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Minister Responsible for Small Business Jeff Leal highlighting three priority areas for Peterborough business.
Helping businesses transition under Bill 148
This provincial budget cycle is of particular importance to many of our Chamber members as it will be the first budget with the opportunity to implement cost mitigation measures around significant legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts. It is anticipated that the impact of these changes will be felt for some time, possibly up to two years. As a result, businesses will require transitional help as was given after the approval to move to a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
Public transportation projects that ensure economic competitiveness
For Peterborough one of these projects is upgraded freight and passenger rail. In the past decade, the Ontario government has contributed to engineering studies and we thank them again for those investments. Currently, the provincial government is a partner with the federal government on a freight rail
analysis for the Peterborough-Toronto-Havelock-Blue Mountain line. We encourage timely analysis around this project as freight considerations were part of the afore mentioned engineering study and the current VIA Rail proposal that is before the federal government.
An upgraded rail line through the heart of southern Ontario along with the upcoming completion of the 407 extension to the 35/115 will offer significant economic benefits to the province as a whole and to eastern Ontario in particular.
Encouraging strong and healthy communities by encouraging strong municipalities
The Peterborough Chamber is a proponent of a request to increase the ‘Heads and Beds Levy’. The current rate of $75 has not been adjusted in 30 years and we believe that increasing it to $100 and then attaching any future increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will help municipalities and more closely reflect the cost of providing services.
We thank Minister Leal for his response to a previous request to increase the heads and beds levy and agree that while uploading to the province has resulted in savings to the municipality, more can be done. The heads and beds levy is one that gets at the heart of municipal challenges – cost of infrastructure and providing services to residents. A rate that has not been adjusted in 30 years may not be reflective of the current requirements and is worth re-examining.
Peterborough businesses are looking for a province that is flexible and able to anticipate changes in the marketplace in a way that doesn’t slow down the economic wheel, but rather improves its efficiency and function, so that Ontario reaps the benefits.
The Peterborough Chamber will have post-budget reaction and identify the pieces important to Peterborough. Earlier this week the Lieutenant-Governor delivered a speech from the throne. The speech provided a general overview of the government's policy commitments around the theme of 'care' rather than specific details.
Recap of Throne Speech - Ontario Chamber of Commerce Rapid Policy Update
“82% of Ontario businesses who hired in the last year experienced one challenge – usually finding someone with the proper qualifications.”
The above statistic is from two surveys by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and is found in “Vote Prosperity: The 2018 Election Platform of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce” which was released last October.
What it tells us is that there is a skills mismatch across the economic spectrum. One of the areas where this mismatch is most prevalent is in the apprenticeship realm. The Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce has identified the apprenticeship system as a key driver to the success of urban/rural areas such as ours. However, the system as it is currently creates barriers for employers, apprentices, and would-be apprentices. In 2016, we authored a policy resolution asking the provincial government for the following:
Implement a three year pilot project that would allow small and medium-sized employers in rural communities and small urban centers across Ontario to apply for an apprenticeship ratio increase.
Compile and assess the data from the pilot project to inform future ratio review discussions.
The Chamber became connected locally to this issue through discussions around apprenticeships with member Fleming College and the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, and member businesses in this space. We also sit on a committee led by the three area school boards delivering the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. The result of this work and Chamber advocacy led to an invitation by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for us to participate in group discussions around
developing a multi-year Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy.
In February of this year that strategy was released. At the outset our commentary about regional priorities and apprenticeship ratios is featured in this strategy which is based on five pillars:
We see references to the Chamber recommendations above in the short- and long-term initiatives under Pillar 3 Engage and Support Employers and Sponsors where there is discussion about employer consortiums (which were given the green light in the Fall Economic Statement) and regional strategies.
The Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy also commits to a modernized apprenticeship system that is transparent and accountable for outcomes. To that end, the report states that four broad measures to monitor progress will be used initially:
All of this is good work and we were proud to be part of the strategy to move the apprenticeship system forward.
Federally, the 2018 budget included the creation of the Apprentice Incentive Grant for Women offering yearly $3000 in grants to women pursuing training in Red Seal trades.
However, this strategy is not quite a homerun. There is an area that is not mentioned once in the report and that is the impact of apprenticeship ratios on 33 trades and how those ratios can hinder employer capacity and the apprentice’s ability to find a sponsor, particularly in rural areas. Ultimately, supporting apprentices and employers through various programs and the tax incentives mentioned in the strategy is a good step forward, but if a business cannot afford to hire additional journeymen to bring on additional apprentice or we reach the point where the number of journeymen is lower than the number of apprentices seeking placements because of the ratio restrictions then barriers will only continue to exist.
Read the Provincial Strategy
With the bill coming into effect on January 1, 2018 there are significant changes that employers need to be aware of around:
In 2019 more pieces will be coming into effect around scheduling and on-call work.
In partnership with Peterborough DBIA, the Chamber is hosting a Ministry of Labour representative to talk about the changes and what business can expect.
Join us on Tuesday, March 20th at the Peterborough Library from 5-7pm.
Chamber members can sign up for the event here
With the announcement of a Pharmacare Advisory Council in the 2018 federal budget, the issue is now one being discussed by both our provincial and federal governments. For the business community, at the Chamber Network level pharmacare has been an issue that has been discussed through the policy resolution process on several occasions with no real definitive result.
Now though with increasing government support the time has come to define the position of the business community and offer its perspective to our bureaucrats and elected leaders.
During the discussions in which I’ve been involved, debate often starts with how could Canada be a progressive country and yet not offer a pharmacare program? Not the best place to start as it could potentially lead to a solution that doesn’t fit Canada’s or Ontario’s true need; a solution that is more expensive than it needs to be, or creates more red tape.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recently released a report called “Principles for an Effective Pharmacare Program”. The report authored by Ashley Challinor, Director of Policy, lays out a test of five principles in which a new pharmcare plan could be evaluated.
Those five principles include:
Currently, as detailed in the OCC report, medicines taken in hospital are covered while those in the community are accessed through a variety of means including public drug plans, private group plans, individual insurance plans and payments out of pocket. Given the current breadth of access the OCC is encouraging collaborative discussions with all health care system stakeholders from industry to policy makers and patients. Should consideration be given to a pharmacare program, the decision to move forward must also be evidence-based.
Who currently has coverage in Canada? The OCC report explains that with the implementation of OHIP+ (coverage to all Ontarians under 25), the Conference Board of Canada reports that 1.8% of Canadians do not have access to drug coverage and that 4.1 million Canadians that don’t have private coverage are eligible but not enrolled in a public plan.
The OCC is also asking that the OHIP+ and any other new pharmacare program be evaluated after one year so adjustments can be made, if necessary. The Chamber Network also believes that the evaluation should be made public.
Ultimately, the business community is asking for a collaborative and evaluative solution that is targeted at those who are most affected while also creating a climate of sustainability and innovation for the industry.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce membership includes a significant number of members in the Health and Wellness category, Peterborough is the location of a regional hospital and we also know of continued innovation in health care through the Innovation Cluster and new businesses coming through entrepreneurial programs.
With nursing and new programs around mental health and healing arts Fleming College and Trent University are building the next generation of health care workers.
How can Peterborough weigh in on the discussion?