Toronto Office Coalition warns that the target of 15,000 new financial
services jobs cannot be met without attention to development in the
TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2011 /CNW/ - The City of Toronto is reaching a
tipping point where it may no longer be able to accommodate the
thousands of new jobs projected to be destined for the city, according
to a report prepared for the Toronto Office Coalition (TOC) by the Canadian Urban
Institute (CUI) and Real Estate Search Corporation (RESC).
The report notes that half of the jobs in the 416 area are in office
buildings and between half and two thirds of these jobs are in the
financial services sector. These are high paying jobs which feed the
life of the city around it. Current targets set by the Boston
Consulting Group for the Toronto Financial Services Alliance call for
the creation of 15,000 jobs in the financial services sector to be
created by 2015. The TOC report challenges this assumption because
there are simply not enough development ready building sites that could
house those jobs in downtown Toronto.
"What this means is that those jobs will go to car-dependent locations
outside the 416 region, adding to existing high levels of congestion,"
said Jeff Orlans, TOC Chairman. "Consider the obstacles to office
development - commercial taxes that are uncompetitive, a condo boom
eating up prime office development space, creating a severe shortage of
sites for commercial development, and the fact that it takes five years
from a commitment to lease to moving day."
"Frankly that's two years too long for most businesses," Orlans said.
"The playing field favours our neighbours in the 905 region who will
clear the permits in half the time."
The CUI report's authors, Glenn Miller and Iain Dobson, note that over
the years, the location of employment in Toronto has changed
dramatically with companies other than those connected to the financial
services sector leaving the core and growing in Brick and Beam areas on
either side of the core, but most notably in industrial parks outside
of the 416 region. As a result Toronto is rapidly becoming a one
industry town, dependent on the health of the financial sector.
"No city should be so dependent on one sector," said Dobson. "Nor should
such a singularly important sector be taken for granted. Imagine if
Oshawa turned a deaf ear to the needs of General Motors," he added. "It
could be devastating."
"Toronto is an extraordinary city," Orlans said. "We know what to do to
help it grow and provide well paying jobs that are minutes away from
home not hours. What we lack at the moment is the public policy and
public awareness that we need to act now."
The report urges city and provincial planners to take a number of steps including:
Drafting planning and incentive policies which meet the competitive
needs of tenants so that they are able to grow where transit and other
amenities are available.
Introducing tax and land use policies that recognize that office jobs
are the only form of high density employment. Steps need to be taken to modify public
policy to create a competitive environment for office development.
Creating conditions on the ground which meet the needs of employers,
encouraging them not discouraging them.
Amending the current provincial Growth Plan to recognize that
significant concentrations of office space exist outside of the
designated Growth Centres, and need to be integrated into the strategy
for creating Growth Centres.
Committing the province to work with local municipalities in the GTA to
adjust priorities and fine tune the planned roll-out of rapid transit
projects to better connect to approximately 108 million square feet of
office space that is currently dependent on automobile access.
Creating the necessary provincial legislation to require binding
commitments for transit-supportive development along transportation
corridors in advance of transit construction.
The Toronto Office Coalition represents the interests of property owners
and tenants of office buildings in the City of Toronto, who occupy
approximately 55 million square feet of office space (35 per cent of
the leasable commercial space in the Greater Toronto Area) and employ
some 250,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area, the majority in the
SOURCE Toronto Office Coalition
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