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Mayor promises to give the city the sameleadership he gave in his first term.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 3, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON

 

He didn’t get it off on his best foot. Mayor Goldring reminded the audience at the Inauguration of the 2014-18 Council that the last time he was on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre he was playing the piano – “and I was terrible” he said.

Foxcroft and Mayor Goldring - the Foxcroft look

Ron Foxcroft on the right explaining to Mayor Goldring that talent was needed to get the job done.

He was preceded by keynote speaker Ron Foxcroft who was funnier and agreed with the Mayor that the city had a fine council to go forward with. The city was now in a position to “elevate its game”.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Dale Fitzpatrick commissioned the declarations of office. The members of Council weren’t actually sworn in they just read a statement saying they would basically behave and do the best they could. They all said that last time.

This Inauguration was the first held outside city hall – and it was a decent event. The seats certainly weren’t filled and about 20% of the 400 in the audience were city hall staff – but it was a good idea and should become a tradition for the city.

All the notables were there – but surprisingly – the only candidate who did not win election was Carol Gottlob who ran in ward 4 against Jack Dennison. Every member of Burlington’s council was re-elected which Foxcroft thought was great – there were now no trainees on Council was how he put it. They were all seasoned veterans.

Rick Goldring said all the right things; he thanked the 61 people, who stepped up as candidates to put their names on the ballot for Regional Chair, Mayor, Council and School Board in the 2014 Municipal Election. “Putting your name on a ballot is an act of courage and a true testament to your commitment and love for Burlington. You put your ideas, reputations, and yourselves on the line, offering to serve your community and share your skill and passion. This is democracy at its best.”

He congratulated his council colleagues: Rick Craven, Marianne Meed Ward, John Taylor, Jack Dennison, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster. Each was applauded when they were introduced; had there been an applause meter Meed Ward would have been the hands down winner.

Save the Planet - Goldring + organizer

During the election campaign the Mayor chose not to address his citizens on the steps of city hall because it would be seen as campaigning. The issue was one of changing the way the world treats the planet; it was a bigger issue than municipal politics. Daring to be a Daniel was just not within the Mayor’s comfort zone. we will all pay for this.

“Your successful election campaigns are” said the Mayor “an endorsement of your tireless efforts and results. We must continue to work diligently and collaboratively, to earn the trust of our constituents. We have been provided a mandate collectively to continue to serve our fellow citizens to address the issues, opportunities and challenges that continue to face us. It is only by working collaboratively, respectfully and in an atmosphere of trust that we can thrive as servants of the residents of Burlington.”

“I firmly believe that holding elected office is an honour and privilege that should never ever be taken for granted. Whether you have served on council for 4 years or 26 years, let us never forget how and why we ended up here. At the same time, we all have to realize that we must make decisions that balance current and future needs.”

“We have to be leaders, not politicians, and be ready to make decisions that may not necessarily be popular in the short term. Getting re-elected should not be our goal. Serving the 180,000 residents of our community is the lens that we need to look through and at the same time be ready to hear and listen to all views on all issues that may result in revised and enhanced decisions.”

“In our decision making,” the Mayor continued, “we must embrace differences in view points and opinions. Having every major decision be unanimous is not our goal. Having thoughtful, informed, forthright, and respectful dialogue is our objective, not just among ourselves, but also with city staff and the community.”

“While we have done great work together, we have much more ahead of us and the community has heightened expectations for us to realize.” The Mayor did get that one right.

My Vision for Burlington

Goldring said: “In the last 4 years and during the election campaign, I have connected and had dialogue with 1000s of residents. Residents made positive comments and some suggestions for improvement. What I heard and I believe we all heard is that our residents love living in Burlington and are proud of their community.”

“My vision for Burlington builds on our past achievements and on where we need to be: a community that is healthy, sustainable, prosperous, safe, inclusive, caring and fun, and has a strong sense of who it is; balancing the vibrancy and amenities of a modern 21st century city with a distinctly rural character that is nestled in majestic and natural splendor is a big part of who we are.”

It is indeed a very big part of who we are – but we are more than our geography and the Mayor did get it when he said, “this balance is manifested in a true, ‘community’ feel, which is best represented by our waterfront, where young and old celebrate large scale, world class festivals, intimate community events, or through a simple stroll, jog, bicycle ride, roller blade, or reflection.”

Mayor Rick Goldring explaining to Kilbride area residents what was being done and the time frames the repair crews were working to in their community.

Mayor Rick Goldring explaining to Kilbride area residents during the ice storm last year what was being done and the time frames the repair crews were working to in their community.

He was also right on when he said “the reality is that Burlington is, in fact, at a critical juncture: we cannot stand still because we have to balance our revenues with the services and infrastructure that residents need us to provide and deliver. We cannot burden ourselves, our children, and future Burlingtonians. The challenge in front of all of us is what we prioritize, how we innovate and design, and what we deliver.”
That was the hint that there are changes coming to tax rates and the level of service we are going to be getting from city hall. Expect some new taxes as well.

The Mayor told his audience that” in the brief time I have with you this evening, I will give you a flavour of the challenges ahead of us. The heavy lifting is to come and we need the involvement of the community.”

Reviewing the words on paper after the Mayor completed the vision portion of his address I felt I was looking at one of those Where’s Waldo puzzles but couldn’t find what I thought was going to be there. I couldn’t find any vision.

Vibrant Neighbourhoods

After decades of unprecedented growth in traditional green field communities like the Orchard and Alton, we have virtually no more room for such development.” Has the Mayor forgotten that Eagle Height is still there, the Evergreen project on Tremaine Road is still there and the city is thinking about converting a lot of employment land to residential. There is a challenge on development – we didn’t hear any ideas as to how this council will address those challenges.

“Councils both current and past” said the Mayor “have been resolute in protecting the 50% of Burlington that is rural and agricultural. The area north of the Dundas/407 corridor with the Mount Nemo plateau, the Bruce Trail, Lowville Park and the unique hamlets of Lowville and Kilbride makes Burlington unique and contributes to the quality of life of the whole city. This area with the tremendous amount green space and woodlots is truly the “lungs” of Burlington.  If the rural north is the lungs then downtown is the “heart” and soul of Burlington.

True

“I meet people on a regular basis” said the Mayor “who have moved to our downtown from other areas of Burlington or Canada. They love it. Why – because you can walk everywhere. Shops, services, restaurants, the waterfront, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Joseph Brant Museum all contribute to downtown being one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in Canada.”

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Councillor Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring. When members of council were introduced during the Inaugural Meed Ward got the loudest and most sustained applause. The two will face off in 2018

“We need to apply the same thinking in establishing walkable, compact and amenity rich neighbourhoods in other areas of Burlington. The desire to live in more amenity rich – transit supported neighbourhoods has increased dramatically.”

I wasn’t able to make the connection between being able to walk to most things and how that made Burlington a vibrant city.

“I have been talking about this for the last 4 years” said the Mayor and “ I have realized for the vast majority of people in Burlington there is a disconnection and a lack of understanding about why we are in this position and the benefits of a more urban environment. The context needs to be communicated and we need to engage our residents in this discussion so we can receive input resulting in development that is appropriate for Burlington.”

There will continue to be a disconnect and a lack of understanding; the same seven people who led us for the last four years are going to lead us for the next four years – how will anything different be done?

“We will also be investing in maintaining and improving infrastructure such as roads and technology that can move people and goods more efficiently, while also including bike lanes and enhanced public transportation, to promote healthy living, less traffic, a cleaner environment, and cater to the diverse needs of our community.”

Most of the data in the recently released Vital Signs report suggest just the opposite. We do not use transit; we want to drive our cars and there isn’t going to be a bike lane on Lakeshore Road because council voted against that during the last term.

Prosperity

“As a result of slowing residential growth and residential build out” said the Mayor, “we must strike a new balance between corporate and residential tax revenues by attracting new businesses. This is especially important given our rapidly aging population, which is higher than most neighbouring communities.

“More importantly, these businesses can provide employment opportunities to Burlingtonians who want thriving, challenging, and rewarding career options, but want to work close to home to spend more time with their families or to simply achieve a life balance. Reduced commuting times can also mitigate financial and environmental challenges.”

Noble sentiments – except that the Vital Signs report used data from the Regional government that pointed to the fact that there are now more people working in retail than in manufacturing. No one moved to Burlington to work as a sales clerk in a store or a waiter in a restaurant.

“I also want to encourage and foster entrepreneurship. Such companies create a stunning 80% of new jobs in Canada and create business clusters, which, in turn, attract young people and families.”

“Entrepreneurship” said the Mayor also creates a culture of innovation and creativity that not only fuels those enterprises, but can also cultivate a mindset that can help find better ways for us to live, work, serve each other, collaborate, and govern.”

Excellence in Government

“The Drummond report that was published two years ago commissioned by the Ontario Government discusses the importance of living within our means in an environment of slower growth. The concept of doing more with less will continue and is particularly applicable to Burlington. The transition to Service Based Budgeting for the 2015 fiscal year is not a panacea or cure for all that ails us. However, it does provide us with a framework that will assist in effectively prioritizing, designing, evaluating and funding programs and services that meet the evolving needs of our residents.”

det

It didn’t take the Mayor long to realize that the photo ops were the easiest way to create a profile and there was seldom any risk involved.

“As an organization we need to and we will continue to embrace the concept and practice of continuous improvement. As individuals, as a team and as a city, there is always room for improvement.”

“Let’s not allow the fact that we are already a very desirable city to live, work, play, raise a family and retire contribute to any complacency.”

“The City of Burlington does not operate isolation. There are many partners that we need to continue to work with in addressing our complex challenges and opportunities including Halton Region, other cities, the province and the federal government.”

“We are fortunate in Burlington to have a spirit of cooperation and collaboration with other orders of government in large part because of the efforts of Gary, Eleanor, Indira and Mike Wallace who are all committed to be bold and innovative in advocating for Burlington.”

This city has to give MP McMahon and keynote speaker Ron Foxcroft a truckload of credit for getting the province to change their mind when they originally said no to the request for financial support for the flood victims.

“The intense storm on August 4 that was unique to Burlington and resulted in flooding to 3500 homes, and the Ice Storm last December, are local evidence confirming the fact that we have to be prepared for warmer, wilder and wetter weather that is extremely unpredictable.”

“On August 4, certain parts of Burlington received as much rainfall in less than a day that was equal to an average July and August combined. Just across the border in Buffalo and western New York, in an area that is used to receiving significant snowfall annually, received the equivalent of one year’s average snowfall, not in the winter months of January or February but in a few days in mid-November. In 9 out of the last 11 years, the insurance industry has paid out more in homeowner claims than they collect in premiums. Currently, Canada is the only G8 country that does not have overland flood insurance for homeowners in the market place.”

“Being a more resilient city should be the goal for every municipality. I assure all of us that Burlington will be a leader, working with the other orders of government, in addressing climate change adaptation.”

It has been evident for some time that Mayor Goldring wants to work with other levels of government; he is in the process of positioning himself on different boards and committees to expand Burlington’s voice. Time will tell if Rick Goldring will prove to be an effective voice should he get where he wants to do.

The Mayor does deserve credit for the initial actions he took once he had a clear understanding as to just how much flood damage had been done. He placed two critical phone calls and got the response he needed. He called Collen Mulholland , president of the Burlington Community Foundation and asked if that organization would take on the task of managing the fund raising drive and then to oversee the distribution of funds that would be raised.

Burlington's MAyor thinks through what he does and chooses to err on the side of caution.  Polite and as straight as they come - he will seek direction when he feels he needs it.  On his sponsorship he needs and should expect some comment from his council members.

Burlington’s Mayor thinks through what he does and usually chooses to err on the side of caution.

The Mayor then called Ron Foxcroft and asked him if he would lead the fund raising drive. Those two calls were leadership at its best – doing the right thing at the right time. We need to see more of this from the Mayor.
My vision” said the Mayor, “ is to make this city ours. Not yours and not mine but ours. We will do this by working closely with residents to make a city that works for all of us and a city that we continue to be proud to live in.”

“We will need your help to shape the Burlington of the future; we have the opportunity to continue to build and redesign our City to meet the needs of today and the changes needed for tomorrow. There are many opportunities through the Official Plan review process. In concert with the Strategic Plan, this document is the blue print for our City going forward.”

“Even during the best of times, there are always challenges to address that are formidable and daunting. But we are emboldened with confidence given our national recognition as being one of the very best cities to live in Canada. The talents, passion, and leadership of everyone in this room and across our entire community will continue to make Burlington a great city where opportunities abound for everyone.”

“Let us all work together and, over the next four years, make real progress and a real difference for the Burlington of today and tomorrow.”

And with that the audience headed for the bar where the soft drinks were free and you could eat all the cupcakes you wanted.

There was a better table of food at the 2010 Inauguration.

Burlington Teen tour band at inaugual

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