Toronto Mayor John Tory on Wednesday called for his city and Waterloo Region to work more closely to develop and promote the two cities as a single technology corridor.
Tory made the call during a speech to the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, at which he said the two municipalities will grow a knowledge economy better and more quickly if they work together. Earlier in the day, he and the mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge hosted a roundtable discussion at Communitech on how they can collaborate to improve the ecosystem.
Early next month, these municipal leaders will go to Silicon Valley together to promote the innovation corridor, meet with major technology companies active in Ontario and greet Canadian expats living in the San Francisco area. It’s the beginning of a more coordinated effort at developing a single tech ecosystem in the region.
“The relationship between Toronto and this region is similar to that of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, London and Cambridge and Tel Aviv and Haifa,” said Tory. “Each of those hubs is comprised of two regions no further apart than Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, one of which is a large urban metropolis and the other home to a renowned institute of higher education.”
In his speech, Tory outlined a plan to promote the Toronto-KW innovation corridor as a globally competitive hub of innovation, on par with San Francisco, London, and Tel Aviv.
This corridor is a special place in the global tech world, he said, because of its diversity, educated population, global network, and quality of life.
And he stressed that all politicians and leaders in the enlarged region have to work together to improve transportation links so that Toronto-KW can truly be considered a single destination.
“The most obvious and immediate area for joint advocacy is to accelerate the flow of people, ideas and goods along the corridor by improving our transit and transportation networks,” said Tory.
“We need to push for improved connections as an economic imperative for our region -- as a competitive imperative. And that means we should have faster and more frequent rail service, commuter flights and access to HOV lanes.”
The two regions are not competing against one another but must work together to compete against the rest of the world, he said. And the story they have to tell is especially timely as the low Canadian dollar makes Toronto-KW an affordable alternative to other hubs.