Municipal election campaigns are officially underway!
The deadline for all prospective candidates to file their papers was Friday, August 19. Official candidate lists will filter out in coming days — all in preparation for election day on Oct. 24
As a Chamber of Commerce, our role is to be non-partisan advocates for the local business community.
We have an ambitious plan to engage the community and candidates this fall by hosting nine election debates — an in-person mayoral debate in the city and eight Zoom debates in the townships of Peterborough County.
• Monday, Sept. 26 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Township of Douro-Dummer (via Zoom)
• Monday, Sept. 26 7:30 – 9:00 pm — Township of Asphodel-Norwood (via Zoom)
• Tuesday, Sept. 27 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan (via Zoom)
• Tuesday, Sept. 27 7:30 – 9:00 pm — Municipality of Trent Lakes (via Zoom)
• Wednesday, Sept. 28 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen (via Zoom)
• Wednesday, Sept. 28 7:30 – 9:00 pm — Township of Cavan Monaghan (via Zoom)
• Thursday, Sept. 29 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Selwyn Township (via Zoom)
• Thursday, Sept. 29 7:30 – 9:00 pm — Township of North Kawartha (via Zoom)
• Thursday, Oct. 6 7:00 – 8:30 pm — City of Peterborough mayoral debate (in person and streamed on YouTube)
Ward councillor candidates in the City of Peterborough will be provided with a questionnaire on local issues and we’ll be sure to share their feedback online.
The last two years have shown the power of streaming events like political debates online. Our provincial election debate in the fall garnered 1,400 YouTube views and our federal election debate the year before had 3,200 views. And that’s just YouTube. The debates were posted on other social media channels and broadcast on YourTV. We’re reaching more people than ever before.
We will also be hosting an election page at pkchamber.ca with the latest information on local candidates, issues and events.
You can also find municipality-specific election information here:
• City of Peterborough
• Township of Asphodel-Norwood
• Township of Cavan Monaghan
• Township of Douro-Dummer
• Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen
• Township of North Kawartha
• Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan
• Township of Selwyn
• Municipality of Trent Lakes
The biggest factor in the effectiveness of our election advocacy program is you! We need you to be part of the process — engaging the candidates, attending debates and submitting questions/issues. We need to hear from businesses and the community at large on what are the pressing issues your council should address in the next four years (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org). As the voice of business in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, our role is best served with an engaged community that amplifies our voice in advocating for a stronger region.
It's up to all of us to elect leaders that will put their attention and energy to invest in what our communities need — and not in isolation, but as a region. We need homes that are affordable and accessible to new home owners. We need to ensure everyone has access to fast and reliable internet. We need solutions for poverty that is becoming far too visible to ignore.
Take some time over the next couple of months to get to know your local candidates, the issues, and attend one of the numerous events being hosted by the Chamber and other community organizations. An informed and engaged community is good for democracy and the health of our region.
The return of the legislature marks the beginning of a new mandate with new MPPs and a new cabinet.
While the governing party may not have changed, this new term of government will certainly be different from the last. We’re in the midst of a public health crisis far different than the last one, inflation has driven up the cost of pretty much everything, and economists are projecting a looming recession.
It already seems like the June 2 election was ages ago.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has issued the Blueprint to Bolster Ontario’s Prosperity, which includes letters to each provincial government minister outlining key policy priorities.
As Chambers, we’re calling for priorities that create the right conditions to support competitiveness, productivity, and growth.
Labour: Addressing Ontario’s labour market challenges by boosting immigration, removing barriers to labour mobility and introducing workforce development strategies for key sectors such as construction, health care, tourism, hospitality, and transportation.
Healthcare: Bolstering our health care system by developing a health human resources strategy, delivering on digital health, and addressing backlogs in routine vaccines, diagnostics, and cancer screenings.
Red tape: Continuing to prioritize lowering the administrative burden on business and ensuring that regulation is streamlined and effective.
Energy: Planning for Ontario’s long-term energy needs to ensure businesses and residents continue to have access to reliable, clean, and affordable energy for generations to come.
Housing: Propelling housing affordability through increased supply and regulatory reforms to fuel the industry and help organizations attract and retain talent.
Infrastructure: Advancing regional transportation connectivity and fare integration as well as broadband infrastructure projects in collaboration with the private sector.
Procurement: Modernizing public procurement to support small businesses and equity-seeking entrepreneurs to diversify the supply chain.
Climate: Seizing Ontario’s opportunity to lead in the global green economy by minimizing uncertainty, supporting cleantech, mobilizing clean energy solutions, and strengthening climate adaptation.
Locally, MPP Dave Smith is parliamentary assistant to both the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. The OCC’s priorities for him include prioritizing economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, providing everyone access to reliable high-speed internet, investing in mining in northern Ontario, and making regional immigration pilot programs permanent.
What’s clear is that the bar has been raised in terms of expectations. While there are some new faces, Doug Ford is leading a government more experienced than the last. The constantly changing threat of COVID-19 is fading as new challenges are arising. Over the next four years, chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province will be putting pressure on the government to bolster Ontario’s prosperity.
Access to high-speed internet is a must for life and business for most people.
With more and more processes moving to cloud-based and remote access, businesses depend on reliable internet for bookkeeping, client management, scheduling, and meetings as well as applications like marketing and research. There are very few aspects of business that don’t have an online component. It also spans all business sectors, with rural sectors like agriculture and mining pushing for better connections so they can make better use of technology to make them more efficient and competitive.
Our personal lives are very similar. It’s where we interact socially, find entertainment, shop, make reservations, and attend school.
Yet our community, along with many others across the province, has been lacking in consistent, reliable high-speed internet access.
While the problem is more prevalent in rural areas, there are places within Peterborough’s city limits that are considered underserviced and have been put on a provincial priority list.
Recently, the Government of Ontario announced it had concluded its procurement process and signed agreements with eight different internet providers for its plan to expand broadband internet access.
Locally, this includes the City and all eight townships of Peterborough County as part of a deal with Rogers Communications Canada, Bell Canada, and Xplornet Communications worth $894.8 million. The agreements should provide an estimated 266,600 un- and under-serviced businesses and homes with high-speed broadband internet.
This deal will build on the ongoing efforts to increase connectivity. It follows years of advocacy from chambers of commerce, boards of trade, business improvement areas, municipalities, the Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus, industry associations, cottage associations, and many of the people who have struggled with internet access in their home or business. It’s largely a non-partisan issue with different governments passing on the broadband torch to the next government.
The issue isn’t about intention. There isn’t really any opposition. The issue is follow-through. This is part of a program that has been running for more than a decade. Progress has certainly been made over that time with many communities receiving or getting upgraded internet service thanks in part to government investments. But there are still 266,000 homes and businesses in Ontario struggling to interact with the modern world.
Adding further complexity is that the remaining areas left to service are likely the more difficult ones. Infrastructure projects like this tend to focus on the easy wins that provide the best bang for the buck off the start before making their way to the more complicated and sometimes hyperlocal issues.
The last couple of years have certainly added urgency to the situation as the need for online access moved ahead in leaps and bounds.
The Government of Ontario has set a target of connecting every corner of the province by 2025. For those without proper internet, that’s still three long years away.
Our advocacy efforts need to focus on keeping pressure on our government and internet providers to keep the momentum up. We need the continued voice of municipalities, businesses, organizations, and residents. Everyone should have a level playing field when it comes to accessing businesses, government services, schooling, social interaction.
As the voice of business in Peterborough and the Kawarthas for 138 years, advocacy is a core component of the role of the Chamber in our community.
We work with the local business community to identify barriers and opportunities. That grassroots input turns into various forms of advocacy initiatives.
Currently, we’re in the midst of the national-level advocacy program. As members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC), we have an opportunity to submit local issues of national significance as policy resolutions.
We have two resolutions proposed:
• Tax Rebates for Home Care – We’re looking to save taxpayers money while providing a higher level of care for people with long-term health needs. Currently, access to key equipment like hospital beds and patient lifts are a barrier people being eligible for home care support work. Additionally, a bit of help with paying for those services will go a long way in enabling people to receive care at home instead of an institution.
• Increasing Public Notice and Consultations for Federal Projects – The rules around providing public notice regarding road closures are vague when it comes to federal agencies. Peterborough experienced this with very little notice regarding the Parkhill Road bridge closure. We’re advocating that the federal government increase requirements for federal agencies to provide public notice to affected residents and businesses when closing a road for planned work.
These resolutions will be debated by CCC members in the fall. In the mean time they’re being vetted by members of various committees (of which our Chamber is a part of) to make sure it’s a significant enough business issue to need attention at the federal level. These committees help improve local advocacy efforts with other perspectives and expertise.
The provincial policy process is very similar to the national one. We are active members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and submit resolutions on provincially significant issues. Earlier this year we had a resolution approved regarding tiny homes and secondary suites. We’re looking to have the Province work with municipalities to streamline the approval process for this type of niche housing, keeping cost, risk, and complexity to a minimum.
When it comes to local government, the policy process is entirely based around grassroots advocacy. We take input from local businesses directly to the government involved and work on solutions, whether it’s reducing the commercial and industrial tax ratio or making sure the perspective of local businesses is heard in the official plan, transportation master plan, and other municipal planning initiatives.
Regardless of the government body we’re advocating to, the majority of our work doesn’t result in policy resolutions or even formal letters to our leaders. Most of the advocacy work we do starts with an email, phone call, or a casual conversation at a networking event. Someone is facing a very specific barrier like a zoning issue or haven’t had a response from a government agency on a crucial application. Sometimes they just need to chat with someone to make sense of government regulations. Other times we partner with industry associations to amplify their voice.
It's not that we have all the answers or can solve every issue brought to our attention. Sometimes it can be sorted out quickly with some pressure, compromise, or better communication. Other times it’s a long-term process. We’ve been advocating for the return of passenger rail to Peterborough for more than a decade and we don’t plan on stopping until that first load of passengers arrives. We’ve hit some obstacles along the way, but right now passenger rail is closer to becoming a reality than any time since service ceased, with support from all major political parties and a government that now has parts of the project into the procurement phase.
Whether you’re facing a pressing issue, have new opportunities you need help exploring, or are looking for long-term results, we’ll continue to be your voice of business.