The figures are stark and, to my mind, unbelievable.

York Region’s Committee of the Whole is told today that employment in York Region grew by 77,000 between 2009 and 2014 – and Newmarket’s contribution was a pitiful 100. 

Staff presented the Region’s Economic and Industry Report 2014 showing Newmarket treading water for five years while Aurora, for example, chalked up an impressive additional 5,700 jobs. (Click on documents in the panel top left, navigate to York Region and open “York Region Total Employment by Municipality 2009-2014)

Disbelief as Newmarket gets the wooden spoon

Taylor shakes his head in disbelief. The police HQ moved to Aurora and that cost jobs but he doesn’t believe the figures. Neither do I. He wants the report to be referred to Newmarket staff to look into. Taylor is concerned about inaccuracies as inward investment decisions are often influenced by perceptions of the local economy and how strong it is.

The Mayor, too, is not a happy bunny. Secrecy is in his banker’s DNA. He wants to know if copies of the report are in the hands of the public!  He doesn't want this suspect information leaking out. He is told it is not on the Region's website. 

He wants the figures re-examined. They don’t add up.

Another councillor expresses concerns about employment in agriculture – which is based on a 9% return on a questionnaire sent out in a busy month for farmers. I worry about the methodology that throws up these figures.

Open data

As I am listening to these exchanges, it occurs to me we need more open data.

There is a lot of really historic stuff on York Region’s website but we need access to the data (and the algorithms) that informs policy making now – not ten years ago. York Region believes it is doing its bit. But I am sure it - and Newmarket - can do more.

The question is this. Is there a public harm in releasing data that informs policy making or is there a public good?

If there is no public harm (definition needed) then put it out there.

I shall return to open data and its virtues tomorrow.

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