Mayor's Annual Address 2015
Mayor Friel Year End Address
December 21, 2015
Good evening. It is my sincere pleasure to deliver my 14th year-end address as your Mayor. Every time I prepare this address, I approach it with hope, expectation and excitement for our City. But tonight is special, because tonight, we stand at the threshold of major transformation. Behind us we can look back and see great achievements; and before us we can see even greater, grander promise. We should, all of us, be filled with optimism about our present progress and future prosperity. And we should be filled with absolute determination to seize the moment.
In November we dramatically launched the Community’s new Strategic Plan “Shaping Our Future 2014-2018.” Based on the collective voices of City Council, City staff, residents and community leaders, the plan highlights specific actions the City will take to enhance economic vitality and innovation, ensure a high quality of life and caring for all citizens, manage growth and environmental leadership and maintain excellence in governance and municipal management.
With an ambitious vision, exciting new initiatives and passionate community partners, Brantford continues to make great strides in shaping our City into one that is increasingly vibrant, innovative, inclusive, and sustainable.
In September we commemorated the 230th anniversary of the Mohawk Chapel alongside the Six Nations of the Grand River. We will continue to preserve history while adapting for the future. Massive efforts to revitalize and develop a Greenwich Mohawk Lake District to compliment our revitalized downtown core are well underway with the Greenwich Mohawk Brownfield remediation and the Mohawk Lake project.
Population, employment and economic growth are all on the rise. In 2015 we continued to demonstrate our success in attracting and retaining foreign investors, a direct result of the community’s key competitive advantages: strategic location, access to large urban markets, a progressive labor force, robust infrastructure, favorable real estate values and a pro-business local government.
Between January and November the City issued 882 building permits valued at $140m. We attracted 172 new businesses; of which 156 were small business start-ups; 11 industrial companies and 5 commercial operations resulting in 742 new jobs. From an expansion perspective 9 major investments in new commercial activity took place alongside of 2 major expansions resulting in 228 new jobs in the sector.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of formally welcoming Mitsui High-tech Inc. to Brantford. MHT is a leading precision machine tools manufacturer based in Fukuoka, Japan. Their Brantford facility will be the first in North America. Specializing in motor core parts for eco-friendly vehicles, MHT is a highly regarded manufacturer in the field of precision tooling worldwide. An innovative provider in the green technology space, MHT is representative of Brantford’s new economy. We know from experience that this will open doors for us as more progressive investors recognize the clear benefits of locating in Brantford.
While we’re encouraging businesses and investors to look at Brantford, we also know that we have to invest in our city’s transportation, infrastructure and our quality of life. Currently the City oversees the design, construction and maintenance of over $2.84 Billion worth of assets. In 2015 we invested $33.76 M in the state of good repair program to upgrade roads, the Civic Centre, an Airport Hangar and several other infrastructure projects.
Collectively we are fostering a vibrant and liveable City. The Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, Kiwanis Field, Laurier Brantford YMCA and the future North of Shellard Sports/Recreation Complex; are public facilities that shine a light on the character of the city – tell people they’ve made the right choice to live, work and play here. Equally important these amenities and public spaces tell potential investors and job creators looking to locate here that we put a premium on quality of life as a city.
In June we welcomed the world to Brantford as the Pan Am Games torch made its way through our City greeted by record crowds. While Stats Canada confirmed it in a study released this year, we already knew that Brantford is the City proudest of its Canadian identity and the moving response to the Torch Relay in our community certainly reinforced this truth. The nation and world watched again in December when Rogers Hometown Hockey rolled into the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, welcomed by nearly 10,000 fans and embraced on social media with over 40,000 mentions. We have now set a sophisticated new standard in event management.
In 2016 a Parks and Recreation Master Plan will be developed through a review of current facilities and programs, together with an extensive public consultation process to identify and fulfill the community’s priorities.
Fundamentally, we have the necessary tools to run a modern, Smart City as well as the willingness and capacity to deal with social issues and challenges that comes with a growing community. We are embracing the opportunity to change how we see and deal with issues such as poverty, homelessness and challenges facing our most vulnerable citizens by looking at solutions through the lens of innovation.
The City of Brantford has embraced becoming a Smart City, a City of Choice through the development and implementation of key strategies such as Safe Brantford, Healthy Brantford and Graduate Brantford, which are all community-wide initiatives that involve the collaboration of citizens, service providers and businesses.
The Neighbourhood Hubs program is just one example of innovative solutions in action. An essential piece of the Smart Brantford strategy the program provides opportunities to engage residents in projects that improve community safety, digital access to experience new technology, increased levels of education and lifelong learning.
Through the Safe Brantford Strategy over one thousand Hub residents have been involved in community safety activities including focus groups, surveys, community ‘chats’ with crime prevention experts and Safe Brantford awareness events. The result has been a renewed focus on community safety in which residents play a key role in addressing the root causes of crime by helping identify issues and working collaboratively with the Safe Brantford Office to develop long-term solutions.
With over 40 participating organizations, the community has also embraced the Healthy Brantford initiative establishing a clear objective to improve prosperity, supports and services, food security, active living and education. Over the next 18 months the City will invest over $180,000 to assist with the central coordination of community-wide resources to improve outcomes for the residents of our community.
Our strong community partnerships are an indication of our commitment to show leadership solutions. That kind of thinking also extends to becoming an age friendly city ensuring that needs and perspectives of all ages are front and centre in our decision making, in the transportation network, in our communications and in our planning for the future.
I believe that we are just now beginning to realize our potential and I encourage each of you to join me as a change champion for our city.
Every great city is a work in progress that will never be complete. Our efforts are making Brantford better. I know how far we’ve come and how far we can go. We have the imagination and the drive to see what we have going for us. Now we have to work to shape our city into something remarkable. The scale of what’s ahead is larger than we have ever considered before. It will mean investment on an unprecedented scale and it will change how we build and shape our community, how we view ourselves and how others view us.
I want to thank our City staff led by Chief Administrative Officer Geoff Rae for everything they do to make our City work each and every day and that includes many of the achievements I spoke about tonight. When you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated and talented staff there really isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.
As we look forward to a new and exciting chapter in the City’s long and rich history, there has never been a more exciting time to live in the City of Brantford. I wish all of you and your families the very best of the holiday season and look forward to sharing several more achievements and successes with all of you in the eventful new-year ahead.
Click to view archived Annual Address on mayor.brantford.ca website