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July 13, 2000
Toronto City Council Committee Backs Strategy for Economic Development
An innovative economic strategy to improve the liveability and quality of life
in the city was given the go-ahead yesterday by the City of Toronto's Economic
Development and Parks Committee.

The strategy lays out an approach for economic growth to create high quality
jobs, generate wealth and investment, and help ensure the city's long-term
fiscal health. The Committee is recommending to Toronto City Council that the
strategy be circulated widely as a framework for future action and dialogue.
City Council will consider the strategy at a meeting in early August.

"For Toronto in this period of its history, this strategy is more important
than when Columbus discovered America," said Councillor Brian Ashton, the
Committee's Chair. "I am eager for us to take the report back into the
community and begin the work that needs to be done."

The report calls on Torontonians and the federal and provincial governments to
think differently about competitiveness and Toronto's role in the global
marketplace. It says that Toronto is one of a very limited number of cities in
the world that compete globally, and that failure to improve Toronto's
international position would hamper economic growth throughout Canada and

The report says that implementing the economic strategy will need the
co-operation, collective know-how and resources of other levels of government,
the private sector, labour, academic institutions and volunteers.

"Toronto is outperforming other North American economies and is superbly poised
for future development, but there is an urgent need to reinvest in the city in
order to sustain our economic position," said Brenda Librecz, Toronto's
Managing Director of Economic Development. "Either we take risks or be at
risk. The greatest risk to our future is to do nothing."

The report departs from traditional economic development strategies by
identifying the people of Toronto as the city's most important asset, and its
key focus for economic growth. It recommends that more ways should be found to
enhance knowledge and skills, embrace design and innovation, and promote
entrepreneurship to help Toronto's businesses.

The report also discusses Toronto's global cost-competitiveness, but highlights
the need to resolve the property tax disparity between Toronto and surrounding
municipalities in order to convert this advantage into more local investment
and jobs.

"This strategy will benefit the entire region. Our true competition is other
metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, not other
communities in the region," said Librecz.

Other recommendations include:

· finding ways to improve the competitiveness of Toronto's export industries,
which are already more diversified than in any other city in North America;
· nurturing entrepreneurship and the formation of new firms through initiatives
such as incubation and support for small business;
· doing more to promote the use of advanced design and new technologies;
· marketing Toronto itself as the most ethnically, culturally, socially and
economically diverse city in the world.

The report is based on consultation with a broad range of business, labour,
academic institutions and community groups. If adopted by Toronto City Council,
the report would be circulated widely for the development with stakeholders of
action plans. Implementation of the action plans would begin next year, subject
to City Council's approval.

Action plans would include the foundation of a "Toronto First Council", in
which business and community leaders would join the Mayor in a partnership to
act on a common vision for the City's economic growth.

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