Business, Toronto and Business in Toronto

As a candidate in Toronto Ward 29, I am often asked:

“As Councillor in Toronto Ward 29, what would you do to help business?”

The short answer is:

I would go to City Hall with an attitude that “Business Matters” and that it should be a full partner  in making decisions that affect the community.

In the long run, most things  that help  business will help the community and most  things that hurt business will hurt the community. Note, that I said “In the long  run”. As a general principle, as City Councillor I would consider how city initiatives (or lack thereof) would  help or hurt  the delicate relationship  between between business and the community.

It seems fairly obvious that:

– higher  property taxes hurt  business;
– a sub-par TTC makes it harder for businesses to retain customers and employees to get to work;
– overly aggressive traffic ticketing cannot  be  helpful  to business;
– excessive regulations make  it harder  for builders  and renovators to improve our housing stock;
– laws that force  businesses to stay closed, are not  helpful  to business

Now, that doesn’t mean that business should not be subject to laws and regulations. It doesn’t mean that business can just do what it wants.

But, we do need  to hear from business and make businesses part of the process of making these  decisions.

Given a choice of living with business without government, or government without business, I would choose:

Business without government!

Why you ask? Simple, a business that doesn’t meet the needs of its customers will be out of business. But, a government that doesn’t meet the needs of residents will just raise  taxes. (sound familiar?)

Business is the “life blood of a city”. It is businesses that:

– provide jobs for residents (if there is no work people cannot live)
– provide incomes for workers (which are taxed by governments)
– generate profits that are taxed by governments
– pay property taxes and a variety of other taxes.

In other words:

Toronto City Council  lives  off the businesses of Toronto.

The businesses of Toronto do NOT live off the Toronto City Council.

As goes the business community, so goes the community. Toronto Ward 29 cannot survive as a community  without its businesses.  Toronto needs vibrant, profitable successful businesses which are committed to the community.

Here is an example of a government that understands that:

Business Matters!

I recently attended a talk given by a small city mayor who has made an impact in his two terms in office. He made two points:

1. It is hard to attract new business to a region;

2. It is easier to  retain and expand the existing businesses.

Retaining and expanding existing business depends on governments building a respectful and positive relationship with the business community. In order to develop this relationship, governments must:

– behave in a manner that generates an atmosphere of openness, trust and respect on both sides;
– if the City of Toronto is to be part of a contract, that contract should be tendered;
– assess the impact on businesses when various public policy initiatives are considered;
– let businesses know that the city is not their enemy, but can be helpful

This small town mayor told me an interesting story. A certain manufacturing company was having trouble hiring and retaining employees for reasons that related to the city bus system. The company’s shift ended at 11:00 p.m. and the last bus left at 11:00 p.m. Furthermore, the bus stop was a few blocks away from the company (making it impossible for workers to make the last bus). This particular city simply did two things:

– extended the last bus to 11:30 p.m.
– created a bus stop in front of the company

This is an example  of the principle  that: “Business Matters!”

Does  Toronto City Council have the same attitude  toward business?

Let’s meet some business owners.

Sheri  Punjab restaurant

Re-Reading used bookstore

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