Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the current and future priorities outlined in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) Transportation Plan.
The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is the authoritative voice of the tourism industry in Ontario. We represent 200,000 tourism businesses and over 400,000 jobs in every corner of our province. The businesses we represent include tourism operators, hotels and travel accommodations, restaurants, food and beverage vendors, event organizers, attractions and amusement parks, and transport operators. Reliable, efficient, and safe transportation infrastructure is therefore a high priority for our industry to facilitate the movement of visitors, our workers, and our suppliers.
As such, we would like to add our perspective to the discussion. As mentioned during the roundtable discussion, TIAO broadly supports the proposals in the GGH Transportation Plan, as it will deliver improved infrastructure and services to relieve congestion and offer expanded, more frequent, and more seamless transportation options—all of which benefit the tourism industry. We support the proposals listed under the 2051 vision and the near-term actions. Specifically:
- We were pleased to see that the GGH Plan includes a new transit loop connecting the Ontario Line with a new major transit hub at Pearson International Airport. We have advocated for this as a transit investment that will relieve traffic congestion, service the surrounding employment area, and offer greener, more affordable, and more expanded transit options to our workers and visitors.
- In regards to transit integration, the proposal to work with Metrolinx and local transit agencies to improve service integration and streamline fare structures is something we have been advocating for, and we are pleased to see this moving ahead.
- We were pleased to see the commitment to making the GGH transportation system future ready by creating a more resilient and environmentally sustainable system. This will help to ensure that supply chains are reliable in the future in the event of climate change risks; it will support worker movement and equity of access to participating in labour market opportunities in our industry; and it will support the sustainability of our industry as we experience more extreme weather so that tourism operations can continue with little disruption.
- We are supportive of the GGH Plan’s commitment to reducing environmental impact. This has secondary knock-on benefits for our industry, as reducing environmental impact broadly supports the future sustainability of resource-based tourism operators and the natural resources and landscapes they rely upon to operate.
- We were pleased to see the GGH Plan’s intent to build connections to Muskoka, Haliburton, and beyond the GGH, thereby supporting local tourism economies in these regions through visitor dispersion, worker movement, and workforce retention (see below).
Broadly, from our perspective, the GGH Plan will support productivity by facilitating easier and expedited worker movement, especially as our population grows. Expanded public transit offerings will enable more affordable transportation options—we have a vested interest in this, as youth make up 23% of our workforce. Coupled with road and highway upgrades, these expanded transit offerings will facilitate the movement of workers to GGH municipalities outside of Toronto, supporting workforce retention: better commuting options makes it more attractive for workers to fill tourism labour positions outside of the Greater Toronto Area and GGH. Improved road capacity will additionally support the reliability of our supply chains. Overall, the GGH Plan will ensure that high traffic tourism destinations and attractions within the GGH are able to handle the volume of visitors, facilitating visitor movement across the GGH, and keeping Ontario competitive as a tourism destination.
In terms of implementation, we would like to ensure that when integrating fares across systems, affordability of public transit fares is a key consideration so that workers and visitors can actually take advantage of these extended public transit options. From an equity perspective, this will help to ensure that the transportation system is accessible to young workers and workers from marginalized communities.
Tourism in Ontario is a $36 billion industry generating $5 billion in annual tax revenues (prior to COVID-19). However, tourism has been on pause for the last eighteen months due to the devastating financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our businesses look forward to welcoming visitors back to Ontario. Improving transportation infrastructure to more quickly, easily, and safely move workers and visitors and contribute to more stable supply chains is therefore important to our industry’s economic recovery. Thus, we are particularly encouraged by the proposals outlined in the GGH Transportation Plan.
Thank you for considering this response and thank you again for the opportunity to provide feedback. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Transportation to improve transportation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.
Manager of Policy and Government Affairs, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
Submitted August 23, 2021 3:28 PM
Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan – Discussion Paper
Commenting on behalf of