As Toronto tears down roads, and businesses
flee, we now know where they are going - Peel.
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May 20, 2000
$2.6 billion regional boom thrives on low taxes, good roads and green
By Mike Funston
Toronto Star Peel/Halton Bureau
Location, location, location.
The old real estate axiom is the most
significant factor in Peel's mammoth $2.6
billion building boom, industry and
municipal officials say.
``Our accessibility is spectacular,'' said
Brampton Mayor Peter Robertson. ``We
have a great highway system and Pearson
airport, which is undergoing a
Highways 401, 407, 410, 403, 427 and the
QEW all run through Brampton, Robertson
noted. ``That's going to create major
economic spinoffs for us.''
Peel's 1999 total shattered its own previous
record of $2.3 billion in 1988 and was the
highest among communities in Greater
It edged York Region's figure by a mere
$10,000. But the lion's share of York's
development was housing.
Peel led in what is arguably the most
important category - industrial development - recording $600 million worth, compared
with second-ranked Toronto's $232 million.
In the commercial sector, Peel also had $432 million worth of development,
Toronto's $740 million and York's $490 million.
Peel had $1.3 billion worth of residential development, with 8,495 housing
starts, up 17
per cent from 1998.
Peel has led industrial growth in the GTA every year since 1984, chief
officer Roger Maloney said.
A balanced mix of housing and business development provides a healthy tax
well as jobs for the 25,000 new residents a year who pour into the sprawling region of
`People like to look out their
windows and see some green
grass. Not everyone wants to
live in a high-rise condo in
downtown Toronto. That's
helping drive the growth out
- Emil Kolb Peel Region chair
Peel, which includes Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, attracted 57 per
cent of all
new industrial development within Greater Toronto, up from 44 per cent in 1998,
Thriving industries include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, chemicals,
trucking, aerospace, financial services and information technology. Peel is home to at
least 1,500 multinational companies.
Stephen Kaiser, president of Urban Development Institute, which represents
industrial, commercial and residential developers, agrees that Peel is blessed with an
enviable location and infrastructure to accommodate growth.
As an example, he points to Orlando Corp.'s 500-hectare Heartland industrial
which has seen $750 million worth of construction since 1987, ranging from
warehouses to the Canadian head office of Microsoft. It's strategically placed south
of the 401, between the Highway 10 and Mavis Rd. interchanges, and minutes from
Heartland has 12 million square feet of office and industrial space. When
within the next 10 years, it will have 30 million square feet of buildings worth $1.5
billion to $2 billion, said Phil King, senior vice-president of development for Orlando,
Canada's largest industrial developer.
``Our main reason for choosing this site is the highways,'' King said.
``It's second to
Pearson airport is a big magnet because proximity lets companies move employees,
customers and goods more efficiently.
Quality of life is another factor that attracts companies and new home
Chairman Emil Kolb said.
``People like to look out their windows and see some green grass. Not everyone
wants to live in a high-rise condo in downtown Toronto,'' Kolb said. ``That's helping
drive the growth out here.''
Peel mixes intensive urban development in Mississauga and Brampton with
lifestyle of picturesque Caledon, where ``we're fighting to restrict growth,'' Mayor
Carol Seglins said.
``We are under great pressure from developers who want us to extend our
boundaries,'' Seglins said.
``We have it all here, living in the beautiful Caledon hills on the doorstep
exciting and growing urban area,'' she said. ``So we're going to manage our growth
carefully over the next 20 years.''
Mississauga business development director Larry Petovello said companies
locate in their employees' backyards, especially as traffic congestion grows worse in
``And having sports, arts and entertainment facilities, such as our Living
and Hershey Centre, are also factors that help attract companies,'' Petovello said.
Lower tax rates are a big draw for business, although residential rates
higher in Peel than in Toronto.
Brampton's industrial rate of 3.96 per cent looks appealing next to Toronto's
Mississauga and Caledon rates are even lower.
Brampton's commercial rate of 5.02 per cent is less than half the 10.29
Toronto businesses pay; Mississauga charges only 4.78 per cent.
Add to that: lower hydro, sewer and water rates, less traffic congestion,
and a shorter
trip to key border crossings.
The tax situation was definitely a factor in the Royal Bank's decision
to move into two
new nine-storey buildings with 820,000 square feet of space at Mississauga Rd. and
Highway 401, said Peter O'Shea, a real estate adviser for the bank.
`Peel has everything -
shopping, recreation, theatres
and restaurants. It's a thriving
- Roger Maloney Peel Region CAO
The towers, with 4,000 parking spaces, will house 6,000 employees by 2001,
the national head office for Royal Bank Insurance and the bank's call centre, O'Shea
Penreal, the developer, owns the buildings and leases them long-term.
Business also looks at factors such as efficiency in government and financial
stability, other areas where Peel stands out.
`Having sports, arts and
entertainment facilities are
also factors that help attract
Boasting an AAA credit rating, Peel was ranked highest among major Canadian
regions by the Dominion Bond Rating Service in 1999. Maloney noted that the region
is debt-free and has $1 billion in reserve funds.
``Along with interest on that money and revenue from development charges,
have enough money to pay for our $1.6 billion in infrastructure needs over the next 10
years,'' Maloney said.
``We're doing some major expansion of our sewer and water systems as well
improvements to stay ahead of the game, while keeping our books balanced.''
Regional officials project growth will continue at the present pace for
the next 20
years, when Peel will be home to 1.3 million residents and provide 700,000 jobs.
``Peel has everything - shopping, recreation, theatres and restaurants,''
``It's a thriving metropolis now.''
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