Economic development officials in the Peterborough area say businesses need to embrace the forthcoming change once the Highway 407 East extension is complete.
The challenge for businesses will include an increased population, says Julia Wood, Business Development Lead (Agriculture and Rural) at Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development. The 407 extension will connect to Highway 115/35 south of Peterborough.
“With that population growth there are likely new and competitive businesses that are coming to the area,” she said.
According to the report Planning Peterborough to 2031: How the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Will Impact Peterborough, the City of Peterborough is forecast to grow by an additional 13,000 to reach 88,000 by the year 2031. The 407 extension is being cited as a major contributor for the projected growth.
Local merchants, Peterborough city, and County township staff and economic leaders are hosting an open house Wednesday night to get feedback on tapping into the new consumer base.
“I think it’s critical that we plan as much as we can for the growth that’s coming,” said Stu Harrison, president and CEO of the Peterborough and District Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the 407 is a really strong indication of the opportunity that we have to look ahead and decide what kind of community we want to live in.”
Harrison says renewed talk of restoring commuter rail service to the region is a prime example of change businesses could.
“We’re sitting beside a set of railway tracks that would see up to 15 trains a day going in both directions,” he said. “So now you’ve got access to everything between Quebec city and Toronto, the airport, there’s a lot of potential there if that happens.”
Wood says businesses have several years to welcome the influx of newcomers when the 407 is completed by late 2020.
“So this isn’t the end of the conversation, it’s just the beginning,” she said.