The City of Greater Sudbury is unsustainable with its existing tax base and taxes will continue to increase unless we work to create more jobs.
To date, I have focused a significant part of my platform on job creation, economic development, ensuring that citizens are getting the best value for their tax dollar and working to bring our city together.
I have discussed the need to stop development charges and streamline building permit applications, ensuring that the city is working diligently to create new development opportunities. I have argued that we must do better when soliciting new companies to choose Greater Sudbury as the place for new business, ensuring that staff, council and citizens are working in unison to attract new investment to our city.
When possible, the city must also be looking at creative ways to leverage existing municipal assets into economic development opportunities. With more than 600 buildings on the municipal roster, there is ample opportunity to review and identify potential possibilities where city-owned assets could be utilized to spur economic development, create jobs and provide cost savings to citizens, with no impact to the annual budget. Many of the city’s currently owned buildings are a huge drain on municipal resources, with the average building costing $40,000 to $60,000 annually to maintain.
A great example of economic development using a storage building is the Northern Ontario Film Studio currently operating out of the former Barrydowne Arena. As a storage facility, the building was a drain on the budget with $40,000 in expenses. It is now the headquarters for one of the fastest growing industries in Northern Ontario. Recent studies show that in 2015-16, the film industry in Greater Sudbury contributed $63 million in direct GDP and $89 million in spin-off business while providing nearly 1,000 full-time jobs.
Another example is that of the former Capreol high school, better known as the Millennium Centre. The building houses several essential services for the town, including space for meetings, a youth centre, gym facilities and performance space for the Valley Community Theatre.
What is so unique about this facility is that it operates at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. The city rents out the upper level of the building to the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre Foundation. The foundation runs an 18-room bunkhouse for Canadian National Railway crews. The rent the city receives from the foundation covers almost all of the operating costs for the entire facility. In addition, the foundation employs 12 full-time employees and the additional revenue generated sustains the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre so that it is not dependent on municipal operating funds and can contribute to the economic vitality of our local tourism sector.
People in the community with a vision and an opportunity presented these examples, which benefit the city and the partner. If elected mayor, I will ensure that we look to maximize the use of all municipally owned assets to promote new avenues for generating revenue, encourage economic development and, ultimately, create jobs. I will make it my priority to work collaboratively with any industry looking to invest in our community and grow our local economy. When businesses are thriving and successful, we as a community are successful.