The Toronto Region has released their reply to the famous Amazon HQ2 RFP. The Vancouver Economic Commission says no to this for Metro Vancouver’s submission.
UpdateAmazon says that it has received 238 proposals, from the US, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Convocation ceremony at York U; click to enlarge

The Toronto submission is a 97-page PDF. But the overriding thrust of their pitch is clear from the cover letter: People, People, People. Did we mention People?? Oh yeah, for sure.  People.
Plus we’re really good on the other stuff too, it says elsewhere.  And look, people on bikes.
Toronto Region Amazon RFP Submission
Excerpt from cover letter.

Amazon is a knowledge company.  Your lifeblood is skilled and creative people.  Your RFP is not simply a request for real estate opportunities; it is a call out for a partner who can ensure your most vital and greatest asset of all: talent.
The difference between the Toronto Region and everywhere else is that we have the unparalleled ability to grow, attract, and retain talent — a massive, futureproofed pipeline of highly-educated and diverse talent that Amazon requires to fulfill its strategic objectives.
This submission makes an extensive business case for the advantages our Region offers to meet and exceed your ambitions. In this letter, we present the case for why we can supply Amazon with the quantity and quality of talent you require, at a cost that gives you a competitive edge.
We grow talent. We have the most educated workforce in the OECD and are home to some of its best schools. Ontario is making North America’s biggest investments in first-class education. We are already one of the leading jurisdictions in STEM talent, and we are doubling down. The Ontario Government has taken accelerated steps to make a firm commitment to Amazon and all other businesses in the province: It will increase the number of post-secondary students graduating in STEM disciplines by 25% over the next five years, from 40,000 to 50,000 graduates, and the number of Master’s students graduating in applied artificial intelligence disciplines to 1,000 within five years. We are building the workforce of the future.
We attract talent. Our growth has been built on immigration. Thirty-nine percent of the Toronto Region — and 51% of Toronto proper—are born outside of Canada. We welcome more new immigrants each year than New York, LA, and Chicago combined. We speak over 180 languages and dialects. Toronto is heralded as the most multicultural city in the world, and our labour force and economy benefit directly from our diversity and inclusivity. We build doors, not walls. And those doors open to highly-skilled economic immigrants and international students who can easily become permanent residents and citizens.
We retain talent. The Toronto Region leads North America on almost every important quality of life metric, including safety, crime, healthcare, education, housing, culture, and entertainment. Millennials are settling here at the same rate as in San Francisco. We are progressive and exciting, which is why our Region’s companies retain talent. People want to live here.


  1. Toronto appeals to some. Very ethnically diverse and multi-cultural, for sure. A well written RFP response. Certainly a good candidate. I bet they did not mention the high house & condo prices, the crowded subways and roads, the very high energy prices, the cold weather in the winter ( with hard to use bike lanes) and the high income taxes.
    Given Hispanic purchasing power growth my bet remains on a SE US based city, or even Mexico City.
    Vancouver is too close to Seattle.

    1. When comparing the cost of apartment rentals across key
      tech markets in North America, Toronto comes out ahead
      in terms of affordability, based on tech wages and the
      percentage of wage spent on residential lease rates.

      p. 60

    2. From urban to suburban to rural, the Toronto Region offers
      choice in location, cost, and residence type for Amazon’s
      future employees.
      The inventory of residential housing stock is growing
      to accommodate the steady influx of newcomers and
      immigrants to the Region. The pace of new condominium
      development in the Toronto Region has been steady over
      the past ten years, with an average of 14,000 new units
      annually. Annual housing starts range from 38,000 to
      42,000, and in this past year alone, condo construction hit
      a record high with the launch of 41 new projects, totaling
      11,849 units.
      Housing choices abound in the Toronto Region. Our stock
      accommodates for affordability, fluctuating demographic
      patterns, and changing urban lifestyles. The majority of
      units are currently low-density, followed by high-density
      residential. New projects continue to multiply as the
      Region’s population continues to grow. In the next thirty
      years, the majority of development will be focused on
      high-density residential projects.

      Also p.60. There are tables that quote average prices all over the GTA with a note that the prices would be 20% cheaper in US dollars.
      There are several pages that outline the cost advantages of a lower Canadian dollar on salaries, and the leverage of public healthcare coverage on the payroll.

  2. Altogether an exemplary proposal packed with well-referenced sources, good research and very interesting information. I’d say the GTA has a shot, especially with the decentralized downtown campus idea, the east industrial site (still connected to transit), and Mississauga which is urbanizing at a great clip. The other sites seem too remote from the desirable urbanism Amazon described, and depend on future LRT instead of current GO trains, light rail and subways.
    Both the PM and Ontario premier got behind the proposal in a strong way.
    That said, I’d rather see Canada create its own Amazons and tech hubs that stick around to develop into industry leaders in Canada instead of selling out with the first 7-fugure offer.

      1. Given his totalitarian support for Big Oil and striking secret deals with China that binds Canada for over 30 years to Chinese corporate diktats, I’d say Harper was the biggest “socialist” of all.

    1. The thing that strikes me about Canadian tech is that we are already leaders in things like AI and quantum mechanics. The issue is commercializing them within our borders before selling out, and exporting the knowledge and services as products issued from home-grown companies. This RFP only confirms what has been evident for a few years now, but it doesn’t mention that we already have a tech and knowledge economy shortage of talent, despite all the post-secondary institutions.
      If you want to get out of the fossil fuel opium den and witness the creation of better cities (which are the biggest economic engines), then this RFP shows the way to the future economy, with one glaring exception: do it first with Canadian talent before importing entire corporations.

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