Mayor Rob Ford – Economic Club of Canada Speech, Tuesday June 5 2012
Storified by HiMY SYeD · Tue, Jun 05 2012 16:48:34
For a copy of my speech @EconomicClub this afternoon, please go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/rob-ford/building-on-our-foundation-creating-a-stronger-toronto-economic-club-of-canada-s/416898164999914 #Toronto #TOpoliMayor Rob Ford
Today at #TO City Hall – Across the street at the Marriott, Mayor Rob Ford is speaking to the Economic Club of Canada #TOpoliDon Peat
The title of Mayor Ford’s Economic Club speech is "Building on our Foundation, Creating a Stronger Toronto" #TOpoliDon Peat
The CLMR will be at the Economic Club today to see a speech by Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto.Ryerson CLMR
Mayor Rob Ford addressing the Economic Club of Canada today on "Building on our Foundation, Creating a Stronger Toronto"Natalie Alcoba
Mayor Rob Ford now in the room for his Economic Club of Canada speech #TOpoliDon Peat
Notice the Fordian touch at this Ec of Can Club luncheon table? Mayor to speak soon http://pic.twitter.com/bsJ7EhDorobyndoolittle
@robyndoolittle Hm, that’s his home number, isn’t it?Matt Elliott
Rob Ford magnets handed out to all the tables at today’s speech #TOpoliDon Peat
At Economic Club Luncheon key note speaker Mayor FordAntonette DiNovo
Rob Ford magnets at Economic Club speech #TOpoli http://pic.twitter.com/QsDr33MSDon Peat
The view from the media seats at Mayor Rob Ford’s Economic Club speech #TOpoli http://pic.twitter.com/qZlSDyWoDon Peat
This is Mayor Rob Ford’s first speech with the Economic Club of Canadarobyndoolittle
This is the 1st time Mayor Rob Ford has delivered a speech to the Economic Club of Canada since he was elected #TOpoliDon Peat
This is the first time Mayor Ford is addressing Economic Club of Canada since elected. Sold out crowd of 300. $79 a plate.Natalie Alcoba
Mayor Rob Ford about to make his debut at Economic Club. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
Great turnout at Economic Club of Canada lunch with Mayor Ford. Joining economic development leaders, Expo 2025 supporters, city leaders.Monte McNaughton
In the Economic Club of Canada luncheon about to listen to Mayor Rob FordPaul Ainslie
"The Ford vision is certainly about fiscal responsibility" speaker intro for Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Preview of Ford’s speech at the economic club: "Folks" "Absolutely" "Activists" "Ladies & Gentlemen" "Said it couldn’t be done" "Waste"Matt Elliott
Ford: we’re here to talk about how to make Toronto the strongest city in the worldrobyndoolittle
Mayor Rob Ford says his speech will be about how we can make Toronto "the strongest city in the world" #TOpoliDon Peat
Rob Ford is now at the Economic Club "to talk about how we’re going to create a Toronto that is going to be the strongest city in the world"Torontoist
View from the cheap seats. @TOMayorFord speaks to the Economic Club of Canada.#sl http://yfrog.com/od6hjqmjJamie Strashin
@TOMayorFord prepares to speak to the #EconomicClubofCanada #topoli #tocouncil http://pic.twitter.com/p2jUyS5RAdrienne Batra
At the Economic Club of Toronto lunch with Toronto Mayor Ford. Mayor now speaking. @CIJAinfoStephen A Adler
Councillors in the house: Nunziata, Thompson, Milczyn, Shiner, Di Giorgio, Vaughan, Wong-Tam, Ainslie, Crisanti, Kelly, Minnan-Wong, DFordrobyndoolittle
"we’ve turned the out of control spending and are working more efficiently than ever before"robyndoolittle
"My favourite councillor, my brother Doug Ford," Mayor Ford "Sometimes" Cllr Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford: "The good news is that Toronto is now closer to attaining a sustainable fiscal foundation than at any time since amalgamation."Torontoist
12 city councillors here for Mayor Rob Ford’s speech #TOpoliDon Peat
Mayor Rob Ford speaks to a packed room at the Economic Club of Canada on the financial health of Toronto. http://pic.twitter.com/BuhY6XoxCarole Berry
At the end of our first quarter we are already expecting 90m "positive variance" – note: Ford avoids saying surplusrobyndoolittle
Mayor Ford speaking about building a stronger Toronto at the Economic Club of Canada. http://yfrog.com/od37wqjjCAASCO News
@NPsteve exactly. We must bench press twice our weight in condo developmentrobyndoolittle
"We’ve achieved many things are critics said were virtually impossible" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Listening to @TOMayorFord speak at The Economic Club of Canada. He’s reviewing his campaign plan and financial plans for the year. #TOpoliKristyn Wong-Tam
Mayor Rob Ford speaking @ the Economic Club of Canada luncheon http://pic.twitter.com/k2nOo4m9Paul Ainslie
Mayor Ford speaking at Economic Club. So far, he’s going over past successes. #TOpoliDavid Nickle
@TOMayorFord is giving the keynote speech @ The Economic Club now #Toronto #TOpoli http://pic.twitter.com/lzYD1dAcTom Bee
Mayor Ford refers to projected $90-mill surplus for 2012 as "positive variance. " #TOpoliElizabeth Church
Big applause when mayor says his administration got a new contract with city unions without strike.Natalie Alcoba
"We will not have a garbage strike for the next 4 years" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford says we’ve achieved many things critics said were impossible: "fair & reasonable" union contracts, privatized garbage 11.5m in savingsrobyndoolittle
@TOMayorFord delivering similar speech he gave to TREB last week. Listing off accomplishments- garbage, union deals.#slJamie Strashin
"I’m sad to say the City of Toronto is a terrible landlord" Mayor Ford on TCHC #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford re: TCHC "I’m sad to say that the City of Toronto is a terrible landlord…but that is starting to change."Torontoist
"I’m sad to say the city of torontonis a terrible landlord" says mayor, adding he has a soft spot for those in tchc buildingsrobyndoolittle
Mayor Ford begins talk with same points he made last Friday at TREB event. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
Ford praises new TTC pres Andy Byford, says his handling of union station flood is proof of his excellent leadershiprobyndoolittle
Mayor’s speech is so far very similar to the one he gave Friday to the Toronto Real Estate Board. #TOpoliDavid Nickle
Mayor Rob Ford talks about #TTC CEO Andy Byford’s response to Union Station flooding. "That’s the type of leadership we need" he saysDon Peat
Ford praises new TTC CEO Andy Byford. "You look at what happened at Union Station. That’s the kind of leadership we need."Natalie Alcoba
Ford: Last year’s core service review has already achieved 100s of millions in efficiencies and savingsrobyndoolittle
Ford repeats for emphasis that in 2012 city will spend less money than in 2011Natalie Alcoba
Mayor praises TTC CEO Andy Byford for "hands on" leadership at Union St flooding on Friday. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
"We are reducing the size and cost of government in a way few residents will ever notice" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord lauds TTC’s Andy Byford. Points to his hands on approach at Union last Friday. "That’s the kind of leadership we need."#slJamie Strashin
And to big applause Ford notes the city is spending less money this year than last, a trend which will continue year to yearrobyndoolittle
"We are reducing the size and cost of government in a way that few residents will ever notice," says Ford.Torontoist
Ford says managers have got the message. They’re looking at inventories and going "hey maybe I don’t need 3 or 4 of these"robyndoolittle
Much of today’s speech is similar to Friday’s speech Mayor Rob Ford gave to Toronto Real Estate Board on Friday #TOpoliDon Peat
Target for property tax increase next year: 1.75%Torontoist
In 2013 – Mayor Rob Ford says residents can expect a 1.75 tax increaserobyndoolittle
Mayor Rob Ford says city will target a 2013 tax increase of 1.75% #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord says he wants 1.75 percent property tax increase this year.#slJamie Strashin
RoFo says we won’t have a garbage strike for the next 4 years, which is quite a promise for someone who won’t be mayor in 2.5 years. #topoliPope Shakey
Mayor Ford leaves out the shot he took at "paid activists" he had in Friday’s address. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
@TOMayorFord: "Our focus on fiscal discipline is beginning to change the corporate culture at the City of #Toronto " #TOpoliGeorge Christopoulos
"We are not going back to the olden days" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford rule of threes! Warns of credit downgrade "if we start spending spending spending, borrowing borrowing borrowing."Torontoist
Mayor Rob Ford says city needs a new business model #TOpoliDon Peat
We’re getting some vintage Rob Ford oratory here today circa summer 2010robyndoolittle
"We will need new ways to increase revenue each year to cover our costs" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
At the Economic Club of Canada luncheon with @TOMayorFord courtesy of #TDGroup http://pic.twitter.com/rkj73gXjAngie Kim
Mayor says time for new business model for the city. Can’t keep increasing tax rates. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
"We must be proactive folks" Mayor Rob Ford on need for a plan to grow assessment base #TOpoliDon Peat
Rob ford apparently says need to increase revenue but I thought the left was a tax and spend. So why is he trying to cut any of LTT #topoliZak TA
@TOMayorFord talking about new revenue tools. Says city never had plan grow assessment base. We need one now.#slJamie Strashin
Ford says Toronto’s unemployment rate is consistently above national average by 2%. And that’s unacceptable. Wants that gap closed within 5yrobyndoolittle
At Economic club of canada where Mayor Rob Ford focusing on building a better, stronger TorontoPaul Golini
Mayor Ford says city needs to pro-actively grow assessment base. Next work is to advance economic development strategy for Toronto. #TOpoliDavid Nickle
Mayor Ford wants strategic plan to grow assessment base thru economic dev strategy. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
Ford’s next major focus will be to "advance an economic development policy for the City of Toronto. Trumpets number of cranes, new building.Torontoist
Mayor Rob Ford says he wants to see gap between Toronto’s unemployment rate and the national unemployment rate closed in 5 years #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford says his next big task will be tackling Toronto economy. Delivers often quoted factoid: 189 cranes in Toronto skiesrobyndoolittle
"An amazing skyline of opportunity" Mayor Rob Ford on Toronto’s plethora of construction cranes #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord tells Economic Club, "we’ve never had more cranes in our skies". He’s talking building not birds.Kevin Misener
Ford wants more of those cranes to be building commercial space #TOpoliDon Peat
Says most of this cranes are building private residences. He wants more of them to be building commercial properties which create jobsrobyndoolittle
Growing assessment base still means relying on property taxes more than similarly-sized cities. Diversifying revenues is a better strategy.Matt Elliott
@TOMayorFord next most important priority to accelerate Economic Development plans for city and grow investment attraction and create jobs.Renato Discenza
Next big step for @TOMayorFord : advance comprehensive economic development strategy for city. Wants more commercial space built.#slJamie Strashin
Approaching the 20 minute mark in Mayor Rob Ford’s Economic Club of Canada speech #TOpoliDon Peat
Mayor Ford says will present economic strategy to council in fall. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
@TOMayorFord: "There are 189 construction cranes in the skies of #Toronto. That’s more than any other city in North America." #TOpoliGeorge Christopoulos
@TOMayorFord Economic Club speech focuses on assessment and commercial growth.Renato Discenza
Underlying message seems to be: increased revenue through property tax growth, not other tools (e.g. road tolls, parking levy increase, etc)Torontoist
Ford: must make development process easier and betterrobyndoolittle
Mayor Ford listing 5 areas he wants to improve within city #TOpoliDon Peat
An ec dev strategy with a focus on commercial development is a good next step for Ford. Glad to hear this is happening.Matt Elliott
@TOMayorFord says he will grow assessment base and reduce unemployment. Details on how to come.#slJamie Strashin
Number 1 – Make development process easier and better #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford: we must make Toronto much more cost competitive. It’s too expensive here now. Commercial property tax way too highrobyndoolittle
@TOMayorFord focus on making planning and growth simpler for investors and developers.Renato Discenza
Number 2 – Make #Toronto more cost competitive for businesses #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford: we must be better at marketing and sales. need to improve our customer servicerobyndoolittle
Number 3 – "We (the city) must be better at marketing and sales" Mayor Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord focus on making business costs more competetive especially business tax.Renato Discenza
Ford: we must all the city does to support this strategy. Must attract the right ppl who want "affordable and comfortable" lifestylerobyndoolittle
Number 4 – We must attract talented workers #TOpoliDon Peat
Some things he’d like to do: reduce costs for business, better at marketing city–find out what existing biz needs. #slJamie Strashin
Number 5 – "We must make it easier to move around in Toronto" Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Ford: we need to make it easier to move around Toronto. Transit must be better. He didn’t mention subways.robyndoolittle
Key to Ford’s econ dev plan is transportation: "Transportation plays an essential role… We need roads highways, airports, ports."Torontoist
Is the mayor just reading from my blog post from last week? http://bit.ly/KBxr2yMatt Elliott
Mayor Ford says he will host a transportation roundtable in the fall #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord committed to business attraction acceleration and getting business expansion a priority.Renato Discenza
Ford:"Toronto should be the city where people and businesses around the world most want to live, invest and thrive"robyndoolittle
"Folks, we’ve done a great deal of work" Mayor Rob Ford on repairing the city’s fiscal foundation #TOpoliDon Peat
"We’ve done a great deal of work already rebuilding our crumbling fiscal foundation"robyndoolittle
Mayor to host transportation roundtable in the fall. Mentions need to improve roads, hyways, ports. No mention of subways or any transit.Elizabeth Church
"I love to work hard" Mayor Rob Ford #TOpoliDon Peat
Mayor Ford is offering up a major, positive platform for economic development and prosperity. Hard work, "but folks, I love to work hard."David Nickle
Ford, closing line: "It’s going to take a lot of work. But folks, i love it work hard, and I’m excited to move this city forward."Torontoist
Ford says its going to be a lot of hard work "but I love to work hard". He gets a standing Orobyndoolittle
@TOMayorFord wants #Toronto to be the best city in the world to live, work and invest in. #EconomicClubRenato Discenza
Mayor Rob Ford’s speech done. Now getting a standing ovation at Economic Club of Canada #TOpoliDon Peat
@TOMayorFord receives standing ovation from crowd at Economic Club.#slJamie Strashin
Mayor Rob Ford’s Economic Club of Canada speech was just under 30 minutes long #TOpoliDon Peat
I’m at the Economic Club of Canada and listening to @TOMayorFord deliver remarks. #TOpoliGary Crawford
To recap, mayor uses talk to unveil plan for economic strategy. No talk of land ransfer tax. #TOpoliElizabeth Church
Well then. That’s an interesting direction from the mayor’s office. Hope a copy of that speech will be released. @TOMayorFord @georgeTdotMatt Elliott
"@reporterdonpeat: Ford wants more of those cranes to be building commercial space #TOpoli" True. Agree w him there.Dan Milford-Warren
@TOMayorFord: "Folks, I love to work hard and I am excited about moving the city forward." #TOpoliGeorge Christopoulos
@reporterdonpeat doing double duty as TV reporter at mayor’s speech http://pic.twitter.com/B6HRWdilrobyndoolittle
With Mayor Ford at Economic Club lunch. Good speech delivered by Mayor Ford talking about reducing size & cost of govt. http://pic.twitter.com/qKSzGjGAMonte McNaughton
I like Rob Ford way more than I usually do this week. #topoliSonia S
What’s concerning about Ford’s speech isn’t what was in there but what wasn’t: income inequality and the environment. #topoliAdam C-F
Have to say, @TOMayorFord gave a good speech today – hope his long-term economic plan sees light of day. And @towhey was smiling. Good sign!Stefan Baranski
#MayorFord actually delivered a very powerful & constructive speech today. I’m impressed with his speaking progress https://www.facebook.com/notes/rob-ford/building-on-our-foundation-creating-a-stronger-toronto-economic-club-of-canada-s/416898164999914Ted Heighington
Mayor Ford gives speech at the Economic Club this afternoon #topoli http://pic.twitter.com/94eDf1GDIsaac Ransom
Building on our Foundation, Creating a Stronger Toronto – Economic Club of Canada Speech, June 5, 2012 | Facebook"Check against Delivery" Good afternoon everyone, it’s a real pleasure to be here at the Economic Club of Canada to talk about how we’re …
Building on our Foundation, Creating a Stronger Toronto – Economic Club of Canada Speech, June 5, 2012by Rob Ford on Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Building on our Foundation, Creating a Stronger Toronto
”Check against Delivery”
Good afternoon everyone, it’s a real pleasure to be here at the Economic Club of Canada to talk about how we’re going to create a stronger Toronto.
Toronto has taken great strides forward since December 2010. We’ve turned the tide on out-of-control spending and are working more efficiently than ever before. There is still room for improvement – and we will continue our disciplined efforts to improve efficiency as we close the gap between projected spending and revenue growth.
The good news is, Toronto is now closer to achieving a sustainable fiscal foundation than at any other time since amalgamation. We balanced this year’s operating budget using about $100 million in one-time funding from a prior year surplus. At the end of our first quarter, we are already projecting a $90 million positive variance for the current year – much of which is sustainable savings. That means our current year actual will be very close to balanced without one-time draws. Folks, that’s amazing.
Today, I’d like to talk about two things. First, let me tell you some of what we’ve done to rebuild our fiscal foundation in Toronto. Second, I’d like to talk about one exciting initiative that will help us build on this foundation to create a Toronto where people from around the world will aspire to live, invest & thrive.
It’s been a very busy 18 months since I was sworn in as Mayor. In that time, we’ve focused on four priorities: Reducing the Size and Cost of Government; Ensuring Customer Service; Improving Transparency & Accountability; and Improving Transportation. We’ve achieved many things our critics said were impossible.
This April, we re-negotiated our relationship with the city’s unionized employees. We spoke honestly and frankly with union leaders – and we bargained hard to achieve negotiated agreements that were fair and reasonable for both employees and taxpayers. At the end of the day, we saved over $150 million and we won increased management flexibility that will let city managers improve customer service while reducing costs. And, all of this with NO labour disruptions.
Beginning this August, a private contractor will begin collecting garbage from all homes west of Yonge Street. Our critics said we could never save money. But, I’m happy to say Toronto will save $11.5 million every year for the next seven years under our new contract with Green For Life.
Last year, the public lost confidence in the management of Toronto Community Housing Corporation – Canada’s largest social housing provider with over 160,000 tenants. I’ve been to many of these buildings and met thousands of residents. I am sad to say – the City of Toronto is a terrible landlord. But that is changing.
We took action. We replaced the board of directors with a new action-oriented board led by an outstanding Chairman – Bud Purves. Two weeks ago, TCHC hired Eugene Jones as its new CEO. Gene has led social housing change in Indianapolis, Kansas City and Detroit. We’re making tough decisions to eliminate the backlog of critical repairs to housing stock – and I continue to hope the province will support us in this important work.
We designated the Toronto Transit Commission as an essential service and hired an exciting new CEO – Andy Byford – who is refocusing our transit system on operational excellence.
Andy has a long road ahead of him, but we’re already seeing improvements.
And… both TCHC and the TTC are working better with the City than ever before. That’s important because Toronto subsidizes these agencies with hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Last year, we launched the most comprehensive service review process the city has ever seen. It’s already achieved hundreds of millions of dollars in efficiency savings and become a model for other governments across Canada and around the world. Our focus on fiscal discipline is beginning to change the corporate culture at the City. In 2012, we will spend less money than we did in 2011. That’s unprecedented.
We are reducing the size and cost of government in a way that few residents will ever notice. They are noticing, though, that their taxes have not been going up like they used to.
While we were pushing managers hard to find savings for 2012, they began saving money in 2011. Much of last year’s operating variance was due to efficiency savings. Managers everywhere are starting to say – “Hey, maybe I don’t need three of these!”
At the same time we were reducing City spending, we also reduced the cost of living for Toronto taxpayers. We eliminated the $60 Personal Vehicle Tax on January 1, 2011 – putting $64 million back into taxpayers’ pockets. We had a 0% property tax change in 2011 – and actually reduced some non-residential tax rates. In 2012, we held the line at 2.5% – that’s less than inflation. And, for 2013, we will target a tax increase of less than 2%. Also, beginning in 2013, we will introduce a multi-year operating budget that will make it easier to manage the city more effectively from year to year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are on the right track. But, don’t just take my word for it. In May, Moody’s bond rating agency confirmed the city’s AA1 credit rating – after downgrading the province’s rating just weeks before. Moody’s likes what we’re doing – maintaining strict fiscal discipline.
However, they also warned that our credit rating could be downgraded if we start to do what many Councillors want us to do: ignore fiscal prudence and begin spending, spending, spending and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing. We can’t afford to slide backwards like that. We’ve worked hard for the past 18 months to rebuild our fiscal foundation. We must protect what we’ve achieved.
And, we can begin looking forward to an exciting new Toronto built on this sustainable fiscal foundation.
Moving forward, we must create a new business model for the City. We know our expenses go up every year. We’ve proven we can slow this growth by being very disciplined about cost control. But, we cannot stop it completely. So, we will need new ways to increase our revenues each year to cover this cost.
In the past, we’ve increased our tax rates to do this. But that is simply not sustainable. No business expects to earn more revenue each year simply by raising its prices. Smart businesses look to grow revenues by selling more of their products and services at the same price. The city needs to do the same thing.
Property tax is the single biggest chunk of revenue we earn. In essence, Toronto is in the property business and property tax is the price people and businesses pay to locate in Toronto.
Every year, our tax base grows as the city attracts new businesses and residents who pay property taxes to the city. This Assessment Growth is part of the solution to growing Toronto’s revenues.
To sell more products, most businesses devote significant resources to marketing and sales. The City, however, has never had a plan to grow its assessment base. Instead, we receive a year-end report showing how much our assessment base has grown. We are entirely reactive. It’s time to become proactive.
Toronto needs a plan to grow its assessment base strategically, so it can contribute more to the wealth and wellbeing of our city.
We also need to get serious about attracting more jobs to our city. Toronto’s unemployment rate is consistently higher than the national average – and higher than surrounding cities. In 2011, the national unemployment rate averaged 7.5%. In Toronto, our unemployment was 9.5% — even higher for our young people. That 2 percent gap is equivalent to about 50,000 jobs. I would like to see this gap closed within five years.
Higher unemployment means people find it harder to live here. It drives up our social services costs and hurts families.
We need a plan to proactively grow our assessment base in a way that encourages job creation.
Ladies and Gentleman, the next major piece of work I plan to advance is an Economic Development Strategy for the City of Toronto.
There are 189 construction cranes in the skies of Toronto. That’s more than any other city in North America. In fact it’s more than New York and Mexico City combined. That’s an amazing “skyline of opportunity.” However, almost all of those cranes are building residential units – because people love living in our city.
I want to continue seeing cranes in our skies. But, I want more and more of those cranes to be building commercial space –because commercial space means permanent jobs for city residents. And, it means Assessment Growth that will help us pay our bills.
Right after I was elected, my transition team began talking with City managers about developing this strategy. It would not just guide the city’s economic development division – but would also shape a master strategy for the city as a whole. Since then, we’ve been working with Councillor Michael Thompson – the Chair of our Economic Development Committee – the City Manager and our General Manager of Economic Development.
A draft Economic Development plan was presented to Committee in February – and further staff work is currently underway. I hosted my first Economic Roundtable in April and heard directly from local business leaders about what the city should do.
I expect our Economic Development Strategy should be ready for Council approval this Fall. This Strategy will help shape our Assessment Growth and encourage job creation in Toronto. It will help the City pay its bills – and help create an environment that enables our businesses and residents to thrive.
We will establish aggressive – but achievable – targets for assessment growth and job creation. We’ll break these targets down by industry and market segment and assign objectives to city divisions and our agencies. And, we will get all our resources pulling in the same direction.
I’m not ready to talk about how we will achieve these targets because the plan is still being finalized. But, here are some thoughts on five major areas we need to improve.
1. First – We must make our Development Process better.
It takes too long and involves too much red tape to plan and build new commercial space in Toronto. This must improve.
Our Economic Development and Planning activities must be better integrated.
Our new Official Plan and Harmonized Zoning Bylaw should promote investment and job creation – rather than just regulating and controlling growth.
We must prioritize job-creating development that shapes an environment that business and residents desire.
2. Second – We must make Toronto more cost competitive.
It costs too much to develop and operate commercial space in Toronto.
Right now, our commercial property taxes in Toronto are too high. One business owner told me he would pay $600,000 per year less if he moved his 100 person office to Mississauga. Toronto is losing out like this every month.
That needs to change. Businesses that move outside Toronto pay nothing to maintain our city services.
3. Third – We must be better at marketing and sales.
We must attract new businesses that will create jobs and bring in new money to the city’s economy. We have to understand what they want, and find innovative new ways to provide it.
We need to improve our customer service and make it easy for new businesses to do what we want them to do.
We need dedicated and skilled people who can create strong deals and close the sale.
Existing businesses must also be encouraged to expand in Toronto.
4. Fourth – We must align everything the City does to support our strategy.
We need to attract talented residents who will attract employers. These talented workers are drawn to an affordable, attractive lifestyle. Everything we do from culture and recreation to community infrastructure and solid waste should help make Toronto attractive and affordable.
5. Fifth – We need to make it easier to move around Toronto.
Transportation plays a critical role in our city strategy. We need roads, highways, airports, shipping ports and rail yards that make it easy and affordable to move goods in a “Just in Time” economy.
We also need to make it easier for employees to get to and from work, and customers to reach businesses.
I will host my first Transportation Roundtable in the Fall to kick start this strategic planning process.
There will be many other things we must do. But, let me conclude by saying – Toronto should be the city where people and businesses, from around the world, MOST want to live, invest and thrive. That’s what I want for Toronto.
To get there, we need a plan. Today, we have multiple City divisions and dozens of agencies that are all trying to do good work. But, too often they seem to be working independently. This needs to change.
We need a unified strategy. It’s time for Council to develop a new 10-year strategy for the City of Toronto. It should start with the new Economic Development strategy we’re working on now. It should also include a revised Official Plan and Harmonized Zoning Bylaw – because Economic Development and Planning should be two sides of the same coin.
We’ve done a great deal of work already in rebuilding our crumbling fiscal foundation. Now, it’s time to prepare a plan to maintain our sustainable foundation – and to build on it, the city we all want.
It’s an exciting opportunity. It will be a lot of work.
But, I’m used to working hard. And I’m excited about moving forward.
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