This morning, the Toronto Board of Trade (TBOT) released its latest, Reaching Top Speed, adding to the mounting pile of evidence gridlock is an economic drain. Carol Wilding, president and CEO of TBOT said at a media availability this morning, “Numerous independent studies confirm that our economy is being negatively affected by congestion. Siemens, PwC, Colliers, Phillips, FCM, the OECD, the Economist Intelligence Unit and others have all recently highlighted the impact congestion has on jobs and growth.”
Wilding called on Ontario’s campaigning parties to get serious about reversing this “unhealthy trend” and to commit to tackling the problem. “It is imperative for our next provincial government to reveal how it will finance the regional transportation plan by spring 2012,” said Wilding. “The Toronto region cannot afford to stall progress on a financing strategy for its infrastructure needs.”
Other regional stakeholders agree.
Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, says, “Infrastructure investment is essential for continued provincial economic growth and prosperity. While there will clearly be positive impacts on construction job creation, these investments are vital to build a stronger foundation for Ontario and the many regional growth centres, including the Toronto region.”
Roland Aurich, president and CEO of Siemens Canada, says, “We know that transportation challenges, such as congestion and commute times can be greatly improved through the implementation of technology, which we believe is critical to the region and the province when it comes to being competitive and attracting investment.”
The report found that Ontario’s economy is losing $6 billion annually and headed towards a $15 billion annual loss due to swelling commute times. With current revenue streams, neither municipalities nor the province can afford the $50-billion regional transportation plan, says the TBOT. The cost of this project is almost twice the cost of the England-France Chunnel and almost three times Boston’s Big Dig.
“Our elected leaders must acknowledge that all levels of government, citizens, and the private sector must work together to get the financing needed to build the regional transportation plan,” said Wilding. “It’s a discussion our members—and the broader public—are ready for, but it requires political leadership to advance.”