Mississauga, Ontario (April 4, 2013)
- Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, hosted over 70 business representatives today for a discussion with Metrolinx on potential revenue tools to fund the region's $50 billion 25-year transportation plan.
Bruce McCuaig, President & CEO of Metrolinx, the provincial agency charged to make a recommendation to the province by June 1, 2013 on the investment strategy for its 'The Big Move
' plan, presented an overview of the plan and key transportation projects both underway and slated for future should the necessary funding be secured.
Metrolinx's recently announced shortlist of 11 funding solutions were also described to attendees to inform the subsequent roundtable discussions and feedback from the business group.
MBOT's 2013 Chair Karen Ras, Enersource, commented that transportation and traffic congestion is an issue of top concern to business in Mississauga and it has been a steadfast position of MBOT, as the leading business association the city, that significant investment in transportation infrastructure and transit services must be a high priority of all levels of government.
"This business consultation meeting was an opportunity to have an honest, candid and constructive discussion on how the needed investments should be paid for, recognizing that additional costs must be borne by businesses and residents alike," said Ras.
"Much is at stake if we do nothing; much can be gained if we move swiftly - we all have a strong vested interest in getting our people, goods and economy moving."
Approximately $2 billion per year in new revenues will be needed to fund The Big Move
. According to Metrolinx, The Big Move is more than a transportation plan - it is a solution to traffic congestion, transit backlogs and reducing what are currently the worst regional commute times in North America.
Launched in 2008, The Big Move is a 25-year, $50 billion plan for coordinated, integrated transportation and transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which is partnering with local chambers of commerce throughout the region in hosting business consultation roundtables, has indicated that it will aggregate the feedback from the various sessions to formulate a regional business position on the funding strategy.
Similarly, MBOT will also review the feedback from the consultation meeting to capture the sentiments of Mississauga businesses in formulating its own positioning.
"What we heard from business is first and foremost that governments at all levels need to address waste and inefficiencies," said Ras.
"Business and residents already feel a heavy tax burden, but also recognize that we need to make strategic economic investments that support business attraction and retention, and jobs. There needs to be accountability, transparency, and equity around the new revenues to be collected and clear benefit and value for taxpayer's dollars."
A regional sales tax, fuel tax and highway tolls fared favorably in the discussions on revenue tools. Added property taxes, payroll tax, and development charges were not supported. There was also strong concern about a non-residential parking space levy disproportionately impacting businesses in the 905 region where the dependency on cars is high due to limited public transit alternatives for commuters compared to downtown Toronto.
MBOT encourages Mississauga businesses and residents to be informed and engaged in ongoing discussions on the issue.
The presentation from Metrolinx's President is available for viewing on MBOT's YouTube Channel
. As the voice of business since 1976, Mississauga Board of Trade is a private-sector, not-for-profit business organization representing approximately 1,500 businesses, employing 65,000 people in Mississauga. MBOT is well positioned to meet the needs of business by using its considerable influence at all levels of government. As the forum for business, MBOT works together to influence public policy and promote a better understanding of the marketplace among policy makers, media and the general public.
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