Will Amazon Fulfill Economic Aspirations for East Ottawa?

Amazon’s first fulfillment centre (FC) was a modest 93,000 sq. ft. warehouse built in 1997 in Seattle, Washington where the company started 3 years earlier (a fulfillment centre is a 3rd party, in this case Amazon, logistics warehouse where incoming orders from ecommerce vendors are received, processed and shipped). The company has been aggressively expanding its fulfillment space over recent years in proximity to population centres to meet growing demand for fast delivery. Today, Amazon operates 6 FCs in Canada, 2 in the Vancouver metropolitan area (Delta and New Westminster) and 4 in the Greater Toronto Area (Mississauga – the first FC in Canada opened in 2011, Milton, and 2 in Brampton). Another 2 FCs are to be added – one in Balzac just outside Calgary, Alberta to be completed in Q3 2018 and one in Ottawa scheduled for completion by Q3 2019. Continue reading

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The Salvation Army’s Vanier Development Proposal: Who is the Real Applicant?

When applying for amendments to the City’s Official Plan and/or Zoning Bylaw, applicants are required to submit several technical reports as supporting documentation which are then used as part of the review on the part of appropriate City staff (not just planners). These documents include, for example, environmental site assessment, transportation/traffic impact, geotechnical investigation, building elevations and site plan and, planning rationale. Document requirements can vary depending on the complexity of the application. All of the technical documents for the Salvation Army proposal are made available to the public on the City’s web site. Continue reading

The Orleans Community Improvement Plan needs a major overhaul.

Ottawa City Council approved the Orleans Community Improvement Plan (CIP) in 2013. The main goal of this initiative is to attract major knowledge-based employers which would result in a significant improvement in the job-to-household ratio in Orleans so that residents have an opportunity to live and work in the same community.  This has been a long-standing issue in the eastern suburb which has experienced limited employment growth compared to the rest of the City or other suburbs like Kanata. The issue is frequently raised in virtually every recent election held in the community – federal, provincial or municipal. Continue reading

Free Lunch versus Free Market: Did Ottawa Taxpayers Subsidize Downtown Condo Builders?

I read a recent article written by Joanne Chianello, a journalist at CBC Ottawa, about the City of Ottawa’s Brownfield’s policy. This policy, which was approved by City Council in 2007, provides grants to developers to encourage the redevelopment of contaminated lands. Her article points out that City Council has approved over $70 million in brownfields grant since 2007. The article further questioned the public benefits resulting from such grants and the absence of any assessment to see if the policy was actually stimulating investment which would not otherwise occur. Continue reading

What does really matter when it comes to the City of Ottawa’s Economic Development Strategy?

The City of Ottawa’s Economic Strategy 2015 Update known as Partnerships for Innovation has its vision to be a leader in innovation for economic prosperity. This vision statement is based on the following assessment:

Today’s economy is global, competitive, and rapidly evolving through technology and innovation. To excel and outperform, municipalities are proactively investing in economic development initiatives that encourage investment attraction and business expansion and retention, foster entrepreneurship and innovation, strengthen tourism, and provide the necessary tools and research to make informed decisions.

The City’s Economic Strategy is also derived from the argument that Ottawa’s dependency on the federal government has in fact discouraged new investment on the part of private industry and indeed, has created a situation where the local economy is in imminent peril because of its downsizing and spending cuts.

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Job Performance in Eastern Ontario Before, During and After the Great Recession

In this blog, I compare Eastern Ontario’s job performance in the new millennium with the rest of Southern Ontario with a particular interest in seeing how resilient the regional job market has been following the Great Recession. With the exception of Ottawa and Kingston, Eastern Ontario has historically lagged behind the rest of Southern Ontario and continues to face economic challenges in terms of plant closures in traditional manufacturing industries and out-migration of younger workers in search of jobs outside their communities for example.
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Ottawa and Regional Economic Development in Eastern Ontario – A Missing Piece in Today’s Strategic Thinking?

Many decades ago when I was a grad student at McMaster University, my research was focused on regional development and growth poles.  Growth pole theory was a very popular topic in those days in both the academic world as well as in public sector regional development policy. The thinking behind growth pole strategies was, very simply, to deliberately channel growth and investment in a few selected centres, which would then have a positive economic impact on the surrounding lagging regions or hinterland through various “spread” or “spillover” or “trickle down” effects.  Growth pole theory was fundamental to the approach undertaken by, for example, the federal government Department of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE) created by the Trudeau government in 1969. Growth pole initiatives however, were abandoned in the 1970’s and deemed as failures in most countries, largely because they failed to generate the spillover effects predicted by the theory. DREE was disbanded in 1982. Continue reading