SCUGOG: Each year, the Port Perry Chamber of Commerce features a local leader and business owner as the key-note speaker during their annual luncheon for their members.
On Thursday, Jan. 29, a crowd filled Scugog Community Centre to hear what recently-elected Mayor Tom Rowett forecasts for Scugog’s business community.
To open his 30-minute presentation, Mayor Rowett lauded the resilience of Scugog’s local business community, but expressed a need to brace for the future, and carefully allocate Scugog’s coming intensification.
“The three biggest barriers which were identified are taxes, red-tape, and taxes,” said Mayor Rowett. “It’s not getting any cheaper to run a business in North Durham, but the Township is trying to provide much-needed water and sewage servicing, and internet connectivity, without breaking the backs of tax payers.”
Council has been in talks with MPP Granville Anderson to propose the concept of cost-sharing with the Province of Ontario - and hopes to band-together with the Uxbridge and Brock Townships to formulate future growth plans.
“Commercial tax rates always seem to get skimmed over in presentations like this,” Mayor Rowett told the business owners. “I want to make it clear that commercial taxes are 40 per cent to the Region of Durham, 18 per cent to Scugog, and 42 per cent to the Province of Ontario. This makes it difficult for Council, because no matter what moves we make, we can only affect a small portion of the total costs.”
The next topic was the coming expansion of the Hwy. 407 East into connection both north and south of Port Perry.
Mayor Rowett believes it is a double-edged sword, but could be made beneficial with due diligence. While it should bring in new tourism, it is also slated to increase Scugog’s traffic and parking woes, and amplify the current road and bridge deficit within the Township.
With the improvement of local roads, and a municipally-owned internet service provider already placed on the forefront of Mayor Rowett’s agenda, councillors hope to ‘think outside the box’ and look into tapping into grants and funds. Additional funding, such as the ‘Connecting Canadians Grant’ for internet connectivity, is hoped to offset the dwindling support Scugog receives from the Provincial and Federal governments.
“In 2016, the Nonquon Sewage Treatment plant will go live, offering us a larger tax base and the ability to welcome new industrial lands into the fold,” said Mayor Rowett. “This will help to offset the costs or fixing our road-problems, and hopefully offer new, fresh business opportunities in the IT sector.”
In the face of coming expansion, Mayor Rowett told the crowd that working closely with developers would be a priority - hoping to address the needs of Scugog’s residents, and avoid putting pressure on the current business owners who have made Scugog their home.
“It’s important that Scugog sees intensification in the right places and in the right ways,” said Mayor Rowett. “We need to make future developments work for Scugog, not move our businesses around them.”