The cost of electricity has been a constant concern for the Peterborough business community.
To start off, it's worth acknowledging that there are electricity savings programs in place through the federal and provincial governments and our local utility. And that we have a great number of businesses who have been able to access and realize cost-savings from these programs. It is also worth acknowledging that it is the foundation of the system that is the ongoing challenge.
The provincial government recently wrapped up a two-and-a-half month online and in-person consultation (including one in Peterborough) with business and industry. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) also wrote a submission that was sent to government before consultations closed on June 14th.
In the OCC letter, they express how in the 2019 Business Confidence Survey 62 percent of respondents cited electricity costs as critical to their competitiveness. Businesses also report that electricity is undermining their capacity to grow, invest in new equipment and technologies, hire new workers, and ultimately compete.
From 2011 to 2016, Ontario’s on-peak electricity prices rose by 71 percent while off-peak prices rose by 149 percent, far outpacing economic growth. Industrial rates within the province are now amongst the highest in Canada and higher than most jurisdictions across North America. Much of the reasoning for the increase has been attributed to the cost of building and maintaining electricity infrastructure.
Through the submission to government, the OCC offers feedback in three areas:
The OCC offers two options to help those businesses who have not benefitted from the ICI:
The call from the business community has been for a principled approach to energy planning that balances affordability, transparency and flexibility. This approach will not necessarily result in a quick win, but rather one that gives Ontario a more sustainable competitive edge.
The Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement regarding the government’s decision to defeat many of the amendments to Bill C-69 that were added in the Senate.
“The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is deeply disappointed with today’s announcement that the federal government will reject a number of the Senate’s improvements to Bill C-69. These amendments are essential to avoid driving investment away from major Canadian infrastructure projects.
While the current regulatory regime, CEAA 2012, should be replaced because it continues to discourage investment in Canada’s mining sector, the government has prescribed a cure that is worse than the disease.
The Canadian Chamber attempted to work with the government to fix the legislation’s flaws. Earlier this month, we wrote to ministers and again laid out the five key improvements Canadian business needed.
Because the announcement rejects most of these improvements, we cannot support the bill. As proposed by the federal government today, Bill C-69 will further discourage investment in Canada and threaten the financial security of millions of Canadians.
Although most of the public attention has centered on the bill’s impact on the oil and gas sectors, the proposed legislation will also limit Canada’s ability to create trade-enabling infrastructure that is so desperately needed, including ports, transportation corridors, and modernised energy grids.
Canadian business has made a good faith effort to collaborate with the government. Sadly, they have opted to double down on measures that are unfair, discriminatory and plain bad economics. If passed as proposed, Bill C-69 will undermine both our economy and the unity of Canada. We call upon Parliament to defeat the bill.”
Peterborough City Council has lowered the proposed tax guideline for the 2020 budget. After a meeting of the finance committee earlier this week, the guideline was lowered from the 2.84% recommended by staff to 2.34%.
Councillor Henry Clarke made the proposal by suggesting to eliminate raising $856,000 through taxation for the city’s capital program. He said the City will still have options to realize that money through the PDI sale and casino revenues.
From a business perspective, council is continuing to move forward on completing the Tax Ratio
Reduction Program started in 2009. The program doesn’t impact the overall levy requirement and helps keep Peterborough businesses in a competitive tax position compared to other Ontario communities.
Also in the guideline is the impact of the federal carbon tax and provincial funding changes. There will be challenges on a number of fronts.
On its own the federal carbon tax on fuel and natural gas adds another $500,000 to the budget by 2022. There are electric vehicle programs in place through federal and provincial governments, but what are the realities around a fully electric fleet? Would there be a net savings?
Provincial funding is expected to change in 2020 and staff say it would add $2.3 million to the 2020 budget.
The City is going through a different budget process this year that has involved more public engagement as staff builds the guideline document.
"Kudos to staff and council for getting out in front of the budget, and for engaging the taxpayer in the process," says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. "Both time and input will yield better budgets."
Part of the engagement so far has included a survey that yielded interesting results. The City received 996 survey responses to the 2020 Budget Survey. Those respondents were asked to rank community issues. Here are the top five:
So, at the end of the day, where do the bulk of residential tax dollars go?
Here are the Top 6 for 2019:
The budget process officially begins in the fall with approval set for the December 9th council meeting.
By: Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
There is no “old economy” or “new economy.” There is just the economy and it is constantly evolving based on new technologies, discoveries, and innovation.
Tech is not a sector, it is the application of scientific knowledge that, for practical purposes, is transforming all sectors. It is a horizontal that cuts across sector verticals. Artificial intelligence, for instance, will be ubiquitous, changing everything from telecommunications to health care to natural resources.
It is a mistake to assume that economic changes are leading to a shift from the legacy sectors that have historically driven growth in Canada – energy, mining, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing – to new emerging sectors like quantum computing and big data. We need to recognize and capitalize on the incredible innovations taking place in the very sectors in which Canada has traditionally been competitive. Failing to do so will be a huge missed opportunity.
Canada’s economic strategy should leverage our top talent and high education levels to apply the power of technology regardless of sector. This should include leading the remarkable technological advances taking place in our legacy industries. The advanced manufacturing, oceans, and proteins superclusters are a good start, but there is much more work to be done.
Take precision agriculture for example. This established and enduring industry is leveraging new technologies to do everything from increasing crop yields to decreasing environmental risks and the footprint of farming. Drones and satellite imagery are being used to track nitrogen and moisture levels to determine varying conditions across a single field. Big data is being used on the farm to provide predictive planting advice, as well as providing real-time updates on air and soil conditions during the crop cycle. Applying more precise amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides not only improves productivity and maximizes yields, but is also a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture.
Or, for another example, take a look at the remarkable changes taking place in Canada’s mining and energy sectors. 3D visualization and imaging are being used to locate deposits far beneath the Earth’s surface and review safety alerts. Autonomous e-vehicles are making smart mining a reality, lowering emissions and costs while boosting productivity. And advanced sensor technology is enabling real-time monitoring of temperature, pressure and flow in pipelines and wells to automatically print replacement parts using 3D printers and deliver them to the site using delivery drones. Through these technologies, scientific discoveries like carbon scrubbing, and new financial models like cleantech funds, our natural resources industries are driving the innovation that will help us transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Canadian policy makers should approach the false dichotomy between a ‘new economy’ and an ‘old economy’ with reservations. Our legacy sectors will have an expanding role in the digital economy after the federal government’s recent Budget announcement to connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2030. Realizing the full potential of smart cities and towns will involve harnessing the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to connect—and collect data on—our natural environment. This is a growth area where Canada can be a global player and that can have significant positive impacts on our rural economies.
Geography has been one of our greatest economic advantages throughout Canadian history. Canada should strategically invest in applying new technologies to the areas where we have continuously been competitive to ensure we remain at the forefront of invention in our legacy sectors. We would be foolish to let this advantage fritter away by failing to recognize the opportunities for innovation sitting right under our noses.
The policy resolution process is how grassroots ideas are inserted into the thinking and policy making of government. These researched, solution-oriented recommendations to government come from the
businesses in communities across the country. The goal is to make suggestions that help our economy, businesses, and communities at the local, provincial, and federal levels.
This year, the Peterborough Chamber has a direct hand in four policy resolutions. Two are resubmissions from 2016 and two were newly developed with members.
The Resubmission Resolutions:
Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Short Line Rail which asks the federal government to:
a. Create a dedicated short line rail capital funding
program that is accessible to all short line rail companies.
b. Establish a tax credit
program to assist short line rail companies in making capital investments.
Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness asks the federal government to:
a. Restore the SR&ED tax credit to 20%, as it was before 2014
b. Simplify the process of the SR&ED application so that Canadian companies of all sizes can move forward with confidence to bring their
innovations to market
c. Create an innovation environment that encourages private sector investment in R&D and technology
The New Resolutions:
Level the tax playing field to allow for more family run businesses to stay in a family asks the federal government to:
a. Adjust the Federal Income Tax Act, so that the sale of a business to a family member is taxed as a capital gain.
Investing in Building Community asks the federal government to:
a. Create a new stream for assessing social enterprise through the Community Futures Network.
b. Allow those who invest in the Community REIT structure to receive a tax credit of up to 5% on their investment.
c. Increase the allotment for TFSAs to allow for socially responsible investments.
The family business tax resolution was developed in conjunction with the team at Chamber member Park Place Financial and is in response to the growing reality that in the coming years more and more baby boomers will be developing exit strategies. Therefore, it is imperative that all options available to sell a business are success driven.
“We are firm believers in the legacy of family businesses and are committed to doing all we can to grow and preserve them,” said Terry Windrem, President of Park Place Financial. “We aren’t asking for a different playing field, but rather a level playing field.”
Chamber member Paul Bennett brought forward the idea of a community Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) at a social financing session hosted by the Mount Community Centre earlier this year.
“With so many social and environmental issues affecting our world right now our governments will not be able to support the needed services and initiatives,” said Paul Bennett, Ashburnham Realty. “This highlights the need to engage the private sector to contribute and partner with the public sector to create the needed change.”
All resolutions were discussed and vetted by the Peterborough Chamber Policy Committee and approved by the Board of Directors. They have been submitted to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to be considered at the Annual General Meeting in St. John, New Brunswick in September. In all, the delegates will have about 80 new and resubmitted resolutions to debate and vote on.
After the Canadian Chamber AGM, the resolutions that receive the support of the delegates will make up the advocacy agenda to the federal government.
On Monday, June 24, 2019 the City will be hosting a public meeting to discuss development charges (DC) in nine new development areas including Lily Lake, Cold Springs and Lift Lock.
The DC report for Peterborough Utilities Commission looks at the water servicing needs and the cost-recovery for new development.
The study proposes: Area-specific development charges that are calculated for the recovery of water services in the City of Peterborough. This approach results in ten different charges that vary by planning area.
In the 10 planning areas, only development charges for the Lift Lock and Cold Springs are
increasing (by 2% of the current rate) while non-residential development charges will decrease across all 10 by 12 percent. The decreases are due to higher development forecasts than in the last study.
Over the planning period from mid-2018 to build-out, the total number of new residential units in the growth areas will increase by approximately 19,615 which translates into a population in new units of approximately 50,811. The planning area with the largest proportion of growth is Coldsprings, with over 4,700 approved and potential units.
Of the 19,615 new units, 3,929 units have been approved by the City, and the remainder are
potential new units.
The non-residential space forecast prepared for development charges purposes is the basis for the non-residential development charge calculation. About 854,000 square metres of building space is
forecast to come on-stream over the planning period to build-out. Keeping the City’s activity rate consistent with historical trends, the employment to build-out is forecasted to grow by 21,340 jobs.