For those whose daily commute traverses the GTA, be it via car, transit, or otherwise, the headline splashed across the Star‘s website this afternoon—”Toronto’s 80-minute commute ranked last in global study“—was itself a study in the I-told-you-so kind of obvious. According to 2010’s Scorecard on Prosperity, published earlier today by the Toronto Board of Trade [PDF], even half of that crosstown journey could be completed in the time it takes to zip across the greater Los Angeles area, which makes the Don Mills route seem either ridiculously epic or absurdly horrible. Or both.
Cue agitated huffing about Transit City or a war on cars. Or what Adam Giambrone should have been doing with his free time. Take your pick.
According to this year’s report, Toronto’s productivity level has plunged in contrast with other urban centres worldwide. In terms of economic performance, the numbers cited by the Board of Trade are anything but encouraging: twenty-first place out of twenty-four cities; 0.6% productivity growth.
The slightly more encouraging news is represented by our workforce. “Our strength comes from our diverse and multicultural society,” the Board of Trade reminds us, pointing out that close to half of Toronto’s residents hail from other countries. With the rich pool of skills that results from that makeup, Toronto “boasts the highest share of professional employment” in North America and “the highest share of high-tech employment in Canada and access to the largest market of all North American metros.”
The caveat is that with a flagging economic performance, Toronto is at risk of losing its competitive edge in the aforementioned labour attraction category. We may be a city that attracts the best and the brightest, but with an economic standing that ranks “just slightly higher than Montreal and last-place Paris,” that influx of talent may start dwindling without growing, robust productivity. In reversing this trend, the report lays the onus on this year’s mayoral candidates to “shore up Toronto’s economic performance by attracting jobs and investment.”
The innovation in doing so—or the lack thereof—should prove interesting.