Transportation Major Issue for Oakville’s Business Leaders

82% of respondents would advise a colleague to set up a business in Oakville

Transportation Major Issue for Oakville’s Business Leaders
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Joanne Scattolon

Joanne Scattolon

Joanne Scattolon is the Manager, Donor Relations at Sheridan College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning. Her role is to manage a comprehensive Stewardship and Donor Recognition program for donors to Sheridan including Campaign, Major, Alumni, Annual and volunteers. Previously, Joanne was the communications manager for the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

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The movement of people and goods – as well as parking – are top issues for members of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, according to its advocacy survey released today.

The survey, which was conducted primarily online, built on a similar survey done by the Chamber in 2011. The latest version was done in part to probe the views of members on transportation issues as the province’s Big Move transportation plan gathers steam.

“The results show that Oakville continues to be an excellent place to live, work and raise a family,” said Chamber Chair Julia Hanna. “However, respondents are concerned about the ability of the transportation infrastructure to keep up to economic growth, with transportation being the biggest factor in location decisions. This speaks to the importance of moving ahead with the Big Move project, which we fully support.”

newtrainjpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxAccording to the survey, transportation (flagged by 17% of respondents) is the single-biggest factor impacting respondents’ choice of doing business in Oakville. This is followed closely by municipal by-laws (16%), business taxes (16%), attracting and retaining skilled workforces (13%) and business licensing/permits (13%).

In addition, the results show that increasing costs (32%), gridlock (18%) and increasing competition (16%) are the top three most-pressing challenges facing Oakville businesses over the coming 5-10 years.

The Chamber has been heavily involved in transportation issues over the last year. In April 2013, it organized a roundtable with Metrolinx and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on the Big Move – the province’s $50 billion, long-term plan for transportation infrastructure – while also participating in the Western GTA Summit on transportation issues. As well, the Chamber will host The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Transport and Halton M.P. on September 17th at its annual Chair’s Dinner.

The survey also found that parking remains one of the biggest irritants for respondents, as clearly shown in verbatim responses to the survey.

“Parking is a longstanding issue for many of our members, particularly for downtown retailers who are also concerned about rising rents,” said Hanna. “There are many opinions on how to solve these parking issues, and we look forward to ongoing discussions on this with the Downtown BIA and the town.”

Other findings to the survey:

•82% of respondents would advise a colleague to set up a business in Oakville and/or relocate here (exact same response in 2011);
•49% of respondents said there are barriers to doing business in Oakville, up slightly from 47% in 2011;
•75% of respondents live in Oakville or elsewhere in Halton (new question in 2013).

A broad sense of economic optimism forms the backdrop to the survey’s results, with 56% of respondents saying they are “very” or “somewhat” likely to expand in 2013 versus 54% indicating the same sentiment in 2011. At the same time, of those planning to expand, 57% of respondents will hire staff and expand their facilities.

The positive implications of this rise (i.e., increased job and wealth creation and economic spinoffs) are slightly moderated by an increase in those saying they are “very” or “somewhat” unlikely to expand – going from 27% in 2011 to 32% in 2013. However, if the latter finding is taken as a proxy for the status quo as opposed to decline, as the survey also suggests, then the overall economic picture remains positive.

“Our members are increasingly optimistic about economic conditions over the coming few years,” said Hanna. “This is great news, as job growth and business expansions have widespread benefits. However, growth puts added pressure on transportation infrastructure. So we plan to remain very active on transportation on behalf of our members.”

Methodology

The survey was emailed to an Oakville Chamber list consisting of approximately 3,214 email addresses. The survey was also placed on the Chamber’s homepage, and some hard copy responses were completed. The survey collection period ran from April 29 to May 31, 2013 and attracted answers from 281 respondents. Based on this number of responses, the results are deemed to be accurate within +/5.9% 19 times out of 20.

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