By TOM GODFREY
Gridlock? What gridlock? The City of Toronto is the busiest it has ever been, generating the most jobs ever recorded in 30 years.
Just take a look at all the cranes in the skyline as you roll along the Gardiner Expressway to get downtown.
Traffic gridlock around the GTA is worsening and the situation is not getting better any time soon with summer road construction underway and dedicated lanes required for next year’s Pan Am Games.
Yet, despite the closures and traffic nightmare, more people and businesses than ever before are heading into the downtown area, according to a newly-released Toronto Employment Survey 2013.
The Survey, which was presented to City Council last week, says the downtown area is undergoing record employment and commerce.
The poll has been conducted annually for 30 years for use by City Planning and other divisions to monitor economic activity for policy and decision making.
Data is collected from visits made to each of the City’s 75,000 businesses, of which 4,300 moved here in the last year.
The Survey highlights a record 1,360,000 jobs in Toronto with the largest users of downtown space being office buildings, financial institutions and retail or other sectors.
Michael Wright, a Manager for Research and Information for the City’s Planning Division, says a team of university students visit and interview each store owner and conduct follow-ups.
Wright says the Survey shows Toronto has the highest number of jobs ever counted in 30 years of research.
“This is a record amount of employment for Toronto,” he says. “The City is diverse and has withered the worst and is bouncing back.”
Downtown motorists can expect even worst traffic congestion since 34 per cent of the jobs are in the core and 74 per cent are service based, the Survey says. Most of the new jobs are in the downtown core.
The busy area around the Yonge-Eglinton Centre was the fastest growing, adding 4,320 jobs, while North York Centre shrank by 2.0 per cent, according to the Survey.
It says Toronto has broken an all time employment high that was set in 1989, when there were about a million jobs.
The Survey shows fulltime employment continues to stay above the one million mark for the seventh year, growing by 19,380 to 1,048,150.
And forget about parking, if you can afford it, near the downtown financial and office areas.
Wright says Toronto has joined large North American cities as a place to conduct business. Office employment continues to rebound from a low of 584,200 in 2006 to 656,680 in 2013, the numbers show.
The office sector remains the largest source of employment in Toronto representing nearly half of all jobs, or about 48 per cent,” the Survey states.
“Toronto in the financial sector is competing with New York City and Chicago,” Wright says. “The Toronto economy did quite well in weathering the recession.”
The Survey says most major international firms have an office in Toronto.
“Despite the unsettled global economic conditions, Toronto remains an attractive place for new start-ups and for business to relocate from elsewhere,” the Survey says. “In 2013, 36.2 per cent of Toronto’s business establishments were five years old or younger.”
Even the sources of wealth in our City have changed.
The top five private sector employers in 1983 were: Robert Simpson Co Ltd., Bell Canada, IBM Canada, T. Eaton Company and CIBC. In 2013, they are: RBC, CIBC/Wood Gundy, TD/Canada Trust, Scotia/ ScotiaMcLeod and BMO.
There are now 28,000 construction jobs in Toronto and more than 100 cranes in the sky erecting condos or office buildings.
Sadly, there is no end to the gridlock for a record number of commuters and commercial traffic that must head downtown every day.