RCCAO supports the 2021 Provincial Fall Economic Statement
By Nadia Todorova
The Government of Ontario recently introduced its 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, Bill 43, the Build Ontario Act. The government has made significant commitments to building and maintaining critical infrastructure in the province. RCCAO strongly supports these commitments and wrote the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to support their study of Bill 43.
An essential part of critical infrastructure is a transportation system that can address the movement of goods and people today, and in the future. The Build Ontario Act contains critical commitments, allocating $2.6 billion to expand and repair highways and bridges, while advancing the construction of the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413.
Both these projects will reduce congestion, boost Ontario’s economy and long-term competitiveness, improve connectivity through the establishment of transportation corridors for future growth of communities and the economy. The building of these two infrastructure projects will also facilitate job creation and the training of Ontario’s next generation of builders.
A commissioned economics report by RCCAO found that building Highway 413 will support up to 8,000 jobs annually in construction and other industries over a five-year construction period, generating up to $2.3 billion in earnings for workers in Ontario. The report also found that building Highway 413 would generate nearly $1 billion in tax revenues for governments.
The Growing Need for More Infrastructure
The population of the GTA is expected to grow by 2.8 million people over the next 25 years, with
58% of that growth occurring in York, Peel, and Halton regions. The construction of Highway 413 will create a transportation corridor for additional future transit development to serve a growing region where more than 80% of people commute by vehicle. By connecting two of the most vital provincial arteries – Highway 400 and Highway 404, Bradford Bypass represents critical transportation infrastructure for Simcoe County and York Region that will address the congestion and travel demand in this growing area.
As reflected in the Ministry of Transportation’s Fall 2020 Discussion Paper survey, 75 percent of Ontarians noted that they use a car daily or one to two times a week prior to COVID-19. Statistics have consistently shown that most trips in the region – by cars, bus, truck, or bicycle – take place on a road, and this will continue in the future.
The need for Ontario to invest in infrastructure to meet the needs of the province is clear.
The Benefits of Expanding Infrastructure
Infrastructure lays the foundation for building a prosperous and inclusive province. As Ontario seeks to recover from the effects of COVID-19, the role of infrastructure has never been more important. Strategic investments in infrastructure provide a boost to the economy during construction and support conditions for long-term economic growth.
It fosters connections between communities across Ontario. As the backbone of local and regional economies, roads and highways are essential for the movement of goods across Ontario. It allows products to move efficiently through the supply chain and to end-use customers throughout the region and beyond. Demand for goods have reached historic levels during the pandemic. This demand projected to increase further as the popularity of e-commerce intensifies and the population of the region continues to grow.
Building and maintaining road infrastructure increases business productivity and competitiveness by reducing the time and cost of transporting goods. It allows products to move efficiently through the supply chain and to end-use customers throughout the region and beyond.
Building the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413
Building the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 will also provide additional benefits for the region and the province. As the region continues to grow, building transportation infrastructure to keep people and goods on the move is crucial.
Both the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 will support the expansion of housing supply by increasing available land and facilitating housing development. In the past, the majority of new immigrants to Canada chose to make their home in the Greater Toronto Area, adding to the economic expansion and opportunities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Given the projected population growth over the next three decades as well as the Federal Government’s plan to attract 1.3 million new immigrants over the next three years, we need to be building in Ontario to create the needed infrastructure to facilitate this growth where it is needed.
More Than A Highway
Much of the discussion for these two projects has focussed on the highways. Not enough has emphasis has been on the fact this will create a transportation corridor that includes future transit.
Highway 413 in particular will create a transitway alongside it and be dedicated exclusively for public transit, be it buses or light rail. This sort of mix of transit and transportation infrastructure in one project is commendable and forward-thinking. It will help create vibrant communities.
Transportation Technological Transition
Canada has pledged to transition to all new cars and light-duty trucks being zero emission by 2035, this will add a new perspective to the role that highways and roads will play. They will become important facilitators and enablers of environmental stewardship, which is
reflected in the planning of the GTA West Highway as it is being designed with significant EV-related infrastructure in place.
Transportation projects like the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 will provide the necessary infrastructure to meet this inevitable growth in population and employment in Ontario. These types of critical long-term infrastructure projects will ensure a viable transportation corridor required to meet demand and support the economic vitality of the region. That is why RCCAO supports Bill 43, Build Ontario Act (Budget Measures) and believes that it contains the necessary groundwork for critical infrastructure work that will ensure Ontario’s long-term competitiveness and prosperity.
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