GREATER TORONTO SUMMIT 2011

Day One Connects Regional Leaders, Creates Civic Vision on Issues of:
Economy, Transportation, Housing, Labour and Diversity

TORONTO, Feb. 11 /CNW/ - Day One of CivicAction's Greater Toronto Summit 2011 saw more than 700 city region builders and civic enthusiasts address tough issues and big opportunities facing the Toronto region. Participants in the first day of the two-day, highly interactive event tackled key urban challenges and began building consensus on a collective action plan to improve the region's economic, social, and environmental future.

"The Summit is an extraordinary example of non-partisan collaboration, vision and action producing results for our region," says John Tory, Chair, CivicAction. "It is a hub of imagination, uniting regional representatives from business, labour, non-profits, education and all orders of government, and turning ideas into action for the benefit of the Greater Toronto Region."

Highlights from Day One include:

  • Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty gave an opening address, reviewing his government's achievements to date and discussing future goals. He referred to the Greater Toronto Summit 2011 as one of those "all too rare magnetic forces that actually pulls us together."
  • Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the Conference Board of Canada, delivered a first-ever Greater Toronto and Hamilton economic forecast which showed that the region's economy is recovering from the recession with real GDP growth expected to reach three per cent in 2011, although unemployment rates have not yet reached pre-recession levels.  In response to this forecast, GE Canada President and CEO Elyse Allen focused on the need for the region to think beyond its borders to the international marketplace when recruiting business and investment, while Toronto & York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright highlighted the need for prosperity to be equitably shared.
  • In his keynote lunch address, Michael Littlejohn, IBM's New York-based Vice President, Smarter Cities Strategy and Business Development, talked about the fiscal constraints on municipal governments worldwide and the need and opportunities to leverage available technologies and new forms of collaboration and partnerships - both government to government and with other sectors.
  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi kicked off a panel discussion addressing the "diversity advantage", focusing on Canada's greatest strength and biggest national challenge: immigration, economic growth and social cohesion. The Mayor shared his personal experience growing up in a working class new Canadian family. He focused on the opportunities available to immigrants and advocated for stronger language training, settlement funding that follows immigrants and multi-sectoral partnerships as ways to ensure the ongoing success of immigrants, communities and the country. A panel discussion following Mayor Nenshi's talk focused on the costs - economic, social and health - facing the Toronto region if it doesn't better include new immigrants.
  • A plenary panel presentation with the co-chairs of CivicAction's Greening Greater Toronto, DiverseCity and Emerging Leaders Network initiatives examined their progress to date, lessons learned about convening people across sectors, and challenges to consider as new initiatives develop.
  • Carol Coletta, CEO, US-based CEOs for Cities, gave a lively presentation citing remarkable examples of other leading North American cities and how innovative ideas lead to lasting transformation.
  • Breakout sessions involving approximately 100 participants per session and advancing ideas and next steps on the following topics:
    • Towards A New Model for Economic Cooperation Across the Toronto Region
    • Keeping on Track: Moving The Big Move Forward
    • Housing for Everyone: An Affordable Housing Agenda for the Toronto Region
    • Labour Markets & Labour Force Readiness
    • Return on Investment: The Value of Diversity in Corporate Leadership
    • Youth Engagement: The Pan/ParaPan Am Opportunity

An evening Civic Soiree sponsored by RBC brought together Summit participants and other CivicAction partners for an evening of networking and celebration, highlighted with a video production by acclaimed youth-led production house Hightop Studios.

For a full list of summit program speakers and sessions from both days, click here.

"This incredible event demonstrates how many people care deeply and are willing to work with others to make our region successful," says Julia Deans, CEO of CivicAction. "It is this spirit of collaboration and aligning on promising strategies that will strengthen regional cooperation and help us to work together more effectively."

The Greater Toronto Summit started on Thursday, February 10th and will continue on Friday, February 11th from 8 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The Summit trended in Twitter throughout the day, garnering over 100,000 tweets. Follow Day 2 developments on the CivicAction website/Twitter live feed: @CivicAction, hashtag #GTASummit.

About the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance
CivicAction is a multi-sectoral coalition of thousands of civic leaders committed to acting collectively to tackle tough issues and big opportunities facing the Toronto region. CivicAction's Greater Toronto Summits bring leaders from all walks of life together to assess the region's strengths and challenges and to identify priority areas for attention. In the periods between Summits, CivicAction takes a role in incubating innovative initiatives designed to galvanize action in these priority areas. CivicAction's current initiatives are aimed at: making the Toronto region a flourishing area renowned for environmental action and innovation (Greening Greater Toronto); creating a leadership landscape that better reflects the region's diversity (DiverseCity: the Greater Toronto Leadership Project in partnership with Maytree); and connecting and supporting rising city-builders (the Emerging Leaders Network). For more information, visit www.civicaction.ca.

SOURCE CivicAction

For further information:

Rebecca Geller
CivicAction
rebecca.geller@civicaction.ca
(416) 309-4480 x509 (work)
(416) 992-4966 (cell)


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