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'Turning the corner on COVID': Newmarket mayor speaks on town's future to business leaders

Mayor John Taylor addressed the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce about municipal growth and housing at its first in-person event since the pandemic began
Oct. 27, 2021
Joseph Quigley

Mayor John Tayor spoke about moving the municipality past the pandemic at a Newmarket Chamber of Commerce luncheon Oct. 26.

Dozens of business leaders and politicians attended the "mayor's luncheon" -- the chamber’s first in-person event since the pandemic began -- highlighting the latest municipal news and activity.

Taylor said the town kept strategic priorities in mind throughout the pandemic to ensure it could progress when COVID-19 was over.

“We’ve been through a lot. We’re not over COVID, but we’re certainly turning the corner on COVID,” Taylor said. “We need to focus squarely on a stronger and better Newmarket for the future.”

The presentation highlighted municipal COVID-19 programs, growth, housing and community-building to come over the next several years. The event was attended by chamber members, all of town council and dignitaries including Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen.

Taylor spoke positively about the town’s one per cent growth rate, buoyed by two to three per cent growth from its neighbours. He said Newmarket is a major economic centre in northern York Region, but that comes with challenges.

"In terms of planning for infrastructure, construction challenges, the roads, it’s challenging, but it’s also a great advantage.”

But Taylor said the region lacks affordable housing, and no municipality in the GTA can meet the demand in the next 20 years. He noted the region has failed to meet its affordable housing targets for three consecutive years. He said the town is exploring all kinds of options, including affordable housing like the Bayview Parkway project.

“Our communities don’t want to talk about growth because a lot of people don’t like growth. The fact of the matter is you cannot build a successful community, or a successful business community 10 years out if you do not have affordable housing options for everyone,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to pursue all options.”
The event also served to introduce new Newmarket Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Chris Emanuel. He said members kept supporting the chamber throughout the pandemic despite challenges, and the chamber would help them.

“We’re going to continue to stick together and support you as we emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever,” Emanuel said.

Chamber board chair Kyle Burgis said it is good to see people in person again, and it has been a challenging time. But he said the chamber will continue to advocate for business interests while also looking at “forward-thinking” positions. This includes advocating for the contested Bradford Bypass while asking for electric vehicle charges to be part of any infrastructure investment, carbon-capture initiatives, and more.

“COVID has altered the business landscape and with input from our businesses guiding us, from Newmarket to Queen's Park, from the region to Ottawa, we will advocate for policies that move us positively into a post-pandemic world," Burgis said

Taylor also highlighted the town’s environmental initiatives, including solar panels and partnerships. But drawing on examples like the future Mulock Park and the downtown core, he said the biggest thing the town can do to support businesses is make it an “amazing place to live and work.”

“So that your employees want to stay here. So that new businesses want to locate here,” Taylor said. “So that you want to stay here and grow your business here.”