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While Thunder Bay has traditionally benefited from the large employment from natural resources and transportation industries, fluctuating commodity prices, high energy costs, and increasing global competition is forcing investments in automation, with a resulting decrease in the number of people now being employed in these industries.
Like in so many other parts of the country, small business is now providing the largest employment gains and quickly becoming the backbone of our economy. Unfortunately, most of the growth in small business ownership in Thunder Bay has occurred as a result of downsizing and restructuring at all levels of government and in the larger resource-based industries.
This sector has the potential to transform our community by creating many needed jobs and helping develop a more reliant and diversified economy. However, it still faces many difficulties and issues.
High Commercial Taxes
Thunder Bay commercial tax rates while coming down in recent years are still above the provincial average average. My plan will help lower these taxes and help us compete in the global market when attracting new investments.
High Multi-Residential Tax Rates
If you own multi-residential, you are paying 20% above the provincial average. This is affecting building construction in multiresidential apartments (housing starts have picked up slightly in recent years, but are still projected to be half or our historical average of 400 homes per year)
Red Tape and Bureaucracy
While many improvements have been made, it still takes too long to get a building permit (mostly as a result of the requirements of the building and planning act), especially when we take into account our short building season. The process can be streamlined through proactive meetings with developers and builders to ensure that our respective roles and ability to work together are enhanced.
Or value for your tax dollars is becoming even more important in light of a slow growth economy not bringing in sufficient revenues to maintain taxes low while paying for infrastructure and services.
Need for a Pro-Business Attitude
While many municipal agencies such as Tourism Thunder Bay and the Community Economic Development Commission strive to encourage development and growth, their efforts ca be greatly enhanced by a coherent vision and plan from the top.
Thunder Bay can attract investments from outside and from within our own community, but in order to do so we must ensure that when we say we are "open for business" we really mean it.
The small business sector needs a receptive, capable, and helpful Mayor and Council in order to grow and prosper. Our future as a viable community depends on it. As Councillor at Large and with the support of the Mayor and the rest of Council, we can "Awaken Thunder Bay's Giant Potential", address the above issues and help revitalize Thunder Bay by bringing back its vitality, pride and prosperity.