Think twice, vote once-Decision 2014

The year ahead will be a critical one for the City of Toronto, the municipalities and regions of Halton, York, Peel and Durham and all of Ontario. A provincial election is likely; municipal elections are a certainty. As a result, 2014 may well mark a turning point in the history of this province and the prosperity of its citizens. The purpose of this discussion paper is to lay out the issues upon which the Toronto Region Board of Trade (the Board) believes our prosperity will hinge, and to spark discussion on the solutions that will ensure it.

With the successful VoteToronto 2010 and VoteOntario 2011 campaigns, the Board demonstrated how it can play an important role in shaping public debate in advance of both municipal and provincial election campaigns. This discussion paper is unique: it looks at both the municipal and provincial campaigns through a single, regional lens. The logic behind our approach is simple: at this moment in Ontario’s history, municipal and provincial issues have converged in a way they rarely have before.

It’s commonly agreed that gridlock is a regional issue whose solutions will require a new level of

cooperation and coordination among all of the region’s municipalities as well as Queen’s Park. Similarly, our municipalities’ need for increased fiscal capacity, a common refrain from city halls in Toronto, Mississauga, and elsewhere, will be impossible to resolve without political will at the provincial level. And the growing gap between our most and least affluent neighbourhoods will be impossible to close without all levels of government working together.

More than ever, we need to find ways to develop a common plan for this region. Whether provincially or municipally, this region needs leaders who are committed to the same key objectives:

* Building regional transportation now

* Increasing fiscal capacity to upgrade civic infrastructure

* Promoting job creation across the region

* Closing the prosperity gap

The Board will be urging municipal candidates of all stripes to articulate their positions on each of these four crucial matters. We will demand the same of provincial parties and candidates. The Board will also beputting forward its own recommendations to each of these challenges in the months ahead. The Board will rally the region’s business, academic, government and community leaders towards realizing a vision, strategy and action-plan for implementation.

As always, candidates and parties are welcome to borrow from our research or present solutions of their own. But there can be no excuse, in this election year, for any candidate or party to ignore, prevaricate, or pass the buck on these pressing challenges. The people of this region deserve better, and the Board is urging them to focus on the issues – and to think twice before casting their vote.

Finally, I would like to extend warm thanks to our Board of Directors, policy pillar committees and AdvisoryCouncil for their thoughtful contributions to this paper. As well, I would like to extend gratitude to Agency 59 for its excellent advice and counsel on key communication elements of our campaign.

Carol Wilding, FCPA, FCA

President & CEO

Toronto Region Board of Trade