OECD: GTA Must Improve Coordination, Ease Congestion

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 10, 2009

A new report on the Greater Toronto Area mega-region by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finds that the GTA has underperformed the OECD average in annual productivity growth since 1995.

Its economic growth is "under pressure" from declining industrial sectors, "mixed scores on innovation output indicators", and severe traffic congestion due to "poorly integrated regional transit services and underdeveloped public transport infrastructure".

Further, while the GTA is "Canada's main immigration node" and one of the most diverse regions in the OECD, it does a poor job of utilizing the skills and training of immigrants into the economy.

The report recommends: boosting innovation by improving coordination between universities and creative industries; encouraging economic cluster development around lucrative economic niches; reducing friction in integrating foreign-educated immigrants into their respective fields; increasing funding commitments for integrated public transit to reduce car use; and focusing more on regional strategic planning.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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By Bern Grush (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2009 at 14:22:11

Bravo! Someone to tell us the truth!

But why do we need to pay an external body to tell us we have “one of the highest rates of car use among cities in the organization's 30 member countries” and that “the Toronto region should consider measures such as toll lanes, local fuel and parking taxes, and a Singapore-style congestion charge in which roads in the city centre and major routes such as the 400-series highways would be subject to fees that vary according to peak hours”? We know this, don’t we? Or perhaps like a case of a person in the next cubicle with a body odor problem, we need someone else to deliver the message.

The Globe article reports one of the OECD’s findings as “our region lags on innovation indicators such as patents, citations, high-tech employment and entrepreneurship… Governments should invest in more initiatives like Toronto's MaRS Discovery District.”

Now that cuts a bit close. A firm called Skymeter is in MaRS. They have developed several patents there. In fact those patents permit Ontario to solve the aforementioned “congestion charge” that would allow road-use fees to vary according to peak hours and well as cleaning up our parking problem. They have entrepreneurs and hire high-tech staff. I am one of them. And some 15 countries and cities are studying this Canadian-innovated and Canadian-made technology. Innovations like Skymeter’s can prove the OECD wrong.

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