The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), in partnership with the Timmins Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber network, released Moving Forward: A Strategic Approach to Ontario’s Transportation Needs, a policy report calling on the Ontario Government to develop a Long-Term Transportation Plan. To address the current and future transportation needs of the province, the report highlights three areas of opportunity that will help improve the mobility of Northern Ontarians.

“Transportation is the backbone of our economy, affecting the movement of people and goods and the everyday lives of Northern businesses,” said Nancy Mageau, President of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce. “Yet limited transit connectivity, aging assets, unique regional needs, and a historic under-investment in infrastructure have led to a significant gap between the actual and needed infrastructure in the North. This has led to real challenges faced by Northern Ontario residents and businesses every single day.”

The OCC developed thirteen tangible and pragmatic transportation recommendations for a stronger Ontario within three key areas of opportunity. This approach will help to address the current and future transportation needs of the province with a focus on:

1. Transit planning governance;
2. Moving people and goods by rail; and
3. Autonomous vehicles (AV).

While Ontario was the first province to implement a pilot regulatory framework to allow for the testing of driverless technologies, the report questions the readiness of the province for the reality of AVs in the near future, noting that Northern roadways are currently ill-equipped to accommodate such vehicles. The Chamber network urges all levels of government to work together with industry voices to attract future investments, innovation, and jobs, as well as ensure Ontario is the first province to reap the benefits associated with this technology.

The report also points to short- and long-term opportunities for the return of passenger rail to Northern Ontario.

“Northern Ontario businesses view transportation infrastructure as critical to their competitiveness,” added Mageau. “Moving forward, the province needs a plan that is strategic, provides value for public dollars, optimizes existing assets, and takes into account the unique needs of transportation in the North.”

The Timmins Chamber and the OCC have been active on the transportation file for years, looking at transit and transportation governance, the use of rail for the movement of both people and goods, and the province’s autonomous vehicle readiness. Their recent policy report on transportation makes the case for a Long-Range Transportation Plan that can deliver a strategy for better managing the province’s interconnected transportation assets and serving the needs of both Northern Ontario businesses and residents.

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s report: Moving Forward: A Strategic Approach to Ontario’s Transportation Needs.

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