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Messages from the Chair of the Board and the President

orla johnston Chair's Message

What do Johnny Cash, the circus and Oakville have in common?  The answer:  Ring of Fire.

Ontario’s Ring of Fire, the mineral resource-rich region in the James Bay Lowlands, will generate up to $9.4 billion in new economic activity over the first 10 years of operation and sustain 5,500 jobs annually.

Ontario’s Ring of Fire provides an opportunity to champion and grow Oakville’s manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors. There are also significant opportunities for engineering companies and Oakville is home to some of Canada’s largest including Siemens Canada, Hatch, SNC-Lavalin and AMEC.

According to the study Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire, created in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the mining development could generate more than $25 billion across numerous sectors in Ontario by 2047, including $550 million for the province’s manufacturing sector and $300 million for support activities related to mining.

The study shows that the Ring of Fire will generate significant revenue for governments, to the tune of $1.95 billion within 10 years of its development. The study calls on the provincial and federal governments to design and fund a plan to address inadequate transportation infrastructure in the Ring of Fire, which is cited as a significant barrier to the development.

Dealing with transportation challenges and opportunities are high on the Oakville Chamber’s priority list. In partnership with the Professional Engineers Ontario, Oakville Chapter, the chamber is hosting a one day transportation symposium on May 2, 2014 entitled Moving Today for Tomorrow. This symposium will discuss the trends, safety issues, barriers to success, business and engineering opportunities around the movement of both goods and services in all four modes of transportation: air, rail, road and water.

In many ways, an investment in the Ring of Fire and transportation infrastructure is an investment in Oakville’s economy.

Additional highlights from study include:

Within the first 10 years of its development, the Ring of Fire will:

●          generate up to $9.4 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

●          generate up to $110 million in support activities to mining

●          generate up to $210 million in the manufacturing sector

●          sustain up to 5,500 jobs annually (full time equivalents)

●          generate nearly $2 billion in government revenue, divided between the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Within the first 32 years of its development, the Ring of Fire will generate more than $25 billion in economic activity across numerous sectors in Ontario, of which mining is just one:

●          $2.7 billion in revenues for the financial services sector

●          $1.2 billion for the wholesale and retail trade sectors

●          $600 million for the manufacturing sector

●          $500 million for utilities sector

●          $110 million in support activities to mining

To view a copy of Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire, please visit

Orla Johnston
Chair of the Board
Oakville Chamber of Commerce

President’s Message

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce has long promoted the value of bringing jobs to Oakville.  The ability to live and work in the same community brings many benefits to the municipality and enhances the quality of life of its residents.  

Oakville has many characteristics that make it a very desirable community in which to locate a business.  We have a great talent pool; our residents are among the most educated on the continent.  We have easy access to respected institutions of higher learning like McMaster University, the University of Toronto and of course Sheridan College, which is recognized around the world as the leading school for animation and digital media.  We have access to customers through key road, rail, air, and water transportation routes.   Thirty percent of the North American market is within a day’s drive of Oakville.  Our new hospital will provide outstanding healthcare.  We are a clean, safe community that offers an exceptional quality of life.  These are all attributes companies will consider when looking for a place to locate.   

From an environmental perspective, transportation, primarily related to commuting, is the single largest factor affecting the quality of the air in Oakville. Living and working in Oakville reduces the congestion on the highways which reduces the burden on the current infrastructure.

From a financial perspective, businesses pay two to three times the tax rate that residents pay and a business typically uses half the services required by a resident.  The business community subsidizes residential tax payers.  There is a significant personal cost to commuting both financially and in terms of time.

From a quality of life perspective, getting people off the roads improves the ability of all of us to get around.  It also eliminates the need to spend an hour or more at either end of the day commuting.  That time spent commuting could be better spent on leisure activities or more importantly with our families.  Bringing jobs to Oakville will have a positive effect on our finances, our environment, our social well-being, our quality of life and our sustainability.

Given all that Oakville has to offer we need to look at what barriers exist that inhibit businesses and jobs and all the benefits they bring to our community.  Cost is certainly an important factor, which brings us to the issue of development charges.  Provincial legislation permits municipalities to impose a levy on new development to pay the capital costs of providing infrastructure services like roads, water and wastewater services, police, fire and transit.  Since the passage of the Development Charges Act in 1997, municipalities have interpreted the Act beyond its intended scope, raising revenue in ways that go beyond the legislated requirements of the Act.  Development Charge by-laws have increased disproportionately to tax increases or cost-of-living increases.

Oakville is a premium location and with all we have to offer one should expect to pay a premium price.  However, markets for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector are very price sensitive and like it or not we are competing in global marketplace.  In order to attract the kind of jobs we want in Oakville we must be competitive.   Clearly we do not need to have the lowest development charges but we have long advocated that it is in the community’s long term best interests that we be competitive.

We have seen efforts to expand the scope of development charges and load the entire cost of infrastructure onto new development. Costs for services that municipalities add (specifically due to new growth development) also benefit existing residential and non-residential sectors. Therefore the burden of cost should not rest solely on those that will occupy the new development.

Businesses need consistency and predictability to operate successfully.  This is an extremely complex issue and we have asked the province to provide a framework for municipalities to administer consistent, transparent and equitable development charges. Development charges need to be accountable and predictable with the objective of supporting equitable contribution for all.

In order for our community to sustainably grow and prosper in a way that is effective and well-managed, the chamber believes Oakville will, in part, be dependent on the competitiveness of our growth-related fees and taxes, such as development charges.

The benefits of attracting new jobs to the community are significant.  New, local jobs will contribute positively to our tax base, reduce costs to governments and individuals, reduce our impact on the natural environment, help address social issues and improve our quality of life.  These benefits to the community need to be part of the equation in the “growth paying for growth” calculation.

John Sawyer
Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Minister Lisa Raitt - PhotoMoving Today for Tomorrow Transportation Symposium

May 2, 2014 

Learn More and Register

Wed Apr 23 @ 6:00PM
Chamber Travel Program
Thu Apr 24 @ 6:00PM
Canadian Club Dinner Speaker Series
Fri Apr 25 @11:30AM
Lunch with Tim Hudak, MPP
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