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Published on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Oakville mayor says future looks bright in Canada’s best community

Annual state of the town economy speech well received at Chamber of Commerce

Oakville mayor says future looks bright in Canada’s best community
Photo by Julia Le / Special
Oakville Mayor Rob Burton (left) takes part in a question and answer session with Oakville Chamber of Commerce past chair Aby Alameddine during his Economic Update on Tuesday morning
By Julie Slack, Oakville Beaver

The only risk to the success of Oakville is Donald Trump.

At least that’s what Oakville Mayor Rob Burton believes when he was asked what risks business owners have to face during the Mayor’s Business Breakfast, hosted by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce April 3 at the Oakville Conference Centre.

Burton provided the economic update to a packed auditorium — 320 people attended — of local business leaders, politicians and several of Halton regional police’s top brass.

“The biggest risk everyone faces, and I’m not afraid, I’ll name it — it’s Trump,” he said, which garnered much laughter. “We have a president who seems to have no internal governance. Most men and women think before they talk.”

“I’m not sure there are any real barriers in our future. There’s nothing stopping the success of our community.” — Oakville Mayor Rob Burton
On a more serious note, he said the future is green and bright and successful for Oakville.

“I’m not sure there are any real barriers in our future,” he said. “There’s nothing stopping the success of our community.”

He said Oakville aims for Goldilocks’ growth — not too hot and not too cold.

Burton said that as of April 3, Oakville can be masters of its own growth, thanks to the campaign he led to abolish the Ontario Municipal Board.

He said economic growth must continue to be promoted because business needs it to survive.

He touched on some of the new businesses and developments in town including the completion of the new Metrolinx facility at the Oakville GO station, Aviva welcoming 700 new employees, the new Melrose Business Park Industrial Development on the South Service Road near the Burloak plaza at the QEW, with an occupancy targeted for the fall, Virtual Logistics, Taiho Pharma, Loraxian Strategic Infrastructure Solutions, ROMCO Corporation and PCL construction.

The latter is the country’s largest construction contractor and has been selected to build the new library at Neyagawa Boulevard and Dundas Street. He said they build modular slices off site, and the library will essentially be constructed in seven pieces that will be bolted together into one building.

They moved another 500 jobs to town by relocating from Toronto, which Burton noted is also Oakville’s biggest booster when it comes to enticing business to town.

“I think of Toronto as one of our best salespeople,” he said. “Lucky for us the City of Toronto charges businesses a tax rate 30 per cent higher than we charge our businesses.”

Burton, saying he hadn't been sworn to secrecy, said Ford’s Canadian president Mark Buzzell told him that they have many exciting announcements coming this year, noting that the “assembly plant has a long and secure future ahead of it.”

Burton boasted about being one of three in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters and said Oakville will win it.

He said information the Toronto Amazon bid uses to make its decision notes that Oakville is highest for secondary school completion rates and higher education degrees; it’s among the lowest in terms of poverty; and it’s highest among comparators for green space per 100,000 population.

In addition, the new Oakville Hospital has sparked the proposal for a Life Sciences High Tech District, a homegrown project by Oakville’s Dr. Joseph Dableh.

He showed a new two-minute video produced by Invest Oakville, the town’s economic development department. It’s designed to promote all Oakville has to offer.

Burton also touched on transportation, noting Oakville Transit is getting an increase of $66 million over the next 10 years.

“We could start having electric buses by 2019,” he said.

Some 30 kilometres of roads will be resurfaced on 70 of the town’s roads thanks to the Road Resurfacing Program of $10 million a year.

Multi-year work on major roads will continue including Kerr Street, above the QEW, Cornwall, North Service, Speers, Dundas and Trafalgar.

The underpass project for Kerr at the Metrolinx railway line will be going through a public consultation process.

Traffic lights will communicate with each other on major arterial roads to keep traffic flowing more smoothly. They will adjust themselves to changing traffic conditions to make transit and cars move better.

Finally, he discussed the Oakville streetscape that’s to be in place by 2020. It will then have the best downtown community gathering place in the country he said, noting the old post office building will become an Innovation Hub.

“There will be no vacant storefronts in our community’s new downtown. There will be a waiting list,” he promised.

He also promised new affordable housing on surplus town lands on Trafalgar Road.

“We need affordable housing to retain and attract back our young people and others as they form families, to keep the town’s social fabric strong,” he said. “Our seniors need affordable housing, too, when they downsize.”

Burton also said he would like to create a relationship between the town and India, similar to the one they’ve had with China for the past six years.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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