Uni­fi­ca­tion of com­mu­nity our col­lec­tive mis­sion

The Hamilton Spectator - - Comment - FRED EISEN­BERGER Fred Eisen­berger is the mayor of Hamilton.

As we be­gin our new term of coun­cil, my hope is that we can make our col­lec­tive mis­sion to be the uni­fi­ca­tion of our com­mu­nity.

Hamilton is com­prised of many com­mu­ni­ties, each of which have a strong his­tory and her­itage that we will con­tinue to pre­serve and hon­our. We share the pride of each of our com­mu­ni­ties and will con­tinue to do so. How­ever, by the same to­ken, we must work to­gether as one city — the great City of Hamilton

The projects that we un­der­take are for the greater good of our com­mu­nity as a whole. If we build a recre­ation cen­tre in Glan­brook, or a splash pad on the Moun­tain, we do so know­ing that res­i­dents of other parts of Hamilton will likely never make use of them, but we sup­port these projects on their mer­its be­cause the lo­cal peo­ple de­serve them.

We pay for li­braries in Wa­ter­down or in Dun­das. We pay for a theatre in An­caster and schools on the Moun­tain and Stoney Creek. Why do we do so? Be­cause it is the right thing to do and be­cause it builds com­mu­nity.

It is how you build a great city.

At the same time, when it comes to a large city-build­ing pro­ject, we must look be­yond the im­me­di­ate com­mu­nity to the good of the com­mu­nity as a whole.

LRT is a com­po­nent of our coun­cil-ap­proved 10-year trans­porta­tion mas­ter plan. It was part of my elec­tion plat­form and the elec­tion re­sult has pro­vided me a strong man­date to move for­ward. I was ap­pre­cia­tive of Premier Doug Ford’s pub­lic ac­knowl­edge­ment of this last week, and I look for­ward to work­ing with him to ad­vance the pro­ject.

There has been much said about LRT and, no doubt, much more to come. One thing I will high­light in re­la­tion to LRT is that our econ­omy is chang­ing.

A re­cent re­port by the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada found that Hamilton has one of the hottest economies in Canada. We had the third-fasted-grow­ing econ­omy na­tion­wide. But, the same re­port pre­dicts a cool­ing of eco­nomic growth. An­other re­port found that eight in 10 economists are pre­dict­ing a re­ces­sion as early as 2020.

A great ad­van­tage of the Hamilton LRT pro­ject is that it is an al­ready-ap­proved pro­ject. Shov­els are sched­uled to break ground in late 2019. In 2020, if a re­ces­sion were to oc­cur, the LRT pro­ject will be well un­der­way. It will mean thou­sands of con­struc­tion jobs with those peo­ple shop­ping, buy­ing gro­ceries, buy­ing ap­pli­ances, buy­ing cars and trucks and sup­port­ing lo­cal busi­nesses.

The LRT pro­ject will in­ject mil­lions of dol­lars into our lo­cal econ­omy and is a way to buf­fer us from a re­ces­sion. It is a way to re­ces­sion-proof our com­mu­nity.

In the com­ing coun­cil term, I will con­tinue to look be­yond the bor­ders of our mu­nic­i­pal­ity to partner with neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. I will be work­ing closely with our neigh­bours in Burling­ton and Ni­a­gara Re­gion, both of whom sup­ported our bid for the new Ama­zon head­quar­ters.

We con­tinue to work with Burling­ton on our car­bon re­duc­tion plan, just as we cleaned up the har­bour to­gether through the Bay Area Restora­tion Coun­cil. We have worked with Ni­a­gara on the ex­ten­sion of GO ser­vice and on trade mis­sions.

I will be reach­ing out to Brant County, Brant­ford, Cam­bridge and Haldimand County to find com­mon­al­i­ties on which we can work to­gether. To­gether we will work with the new On­tario Gov­ern­ment to high­light our pri­or­i­ties.

Dur­ing the re­cent mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, I sensed an over­whelm­ing de­sire for a pos­i­tive tone to our civic dis­course. The pub­lic is tir­ing of neg­a­tive rhetoric from its elected of­fi­cials. We need look no fur­ther than south of the border to see ev­i­dence of this.

Let’s ful­fil this de­sire for pos­i­tiv­ity within the walls of city hall. Let’s raise the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion. Let’s be more en­gaged with our pub­lic and among our­selves. Let’s agree that when we dif­fer, we do so cour­te­ously, and never in anger. Let’s main­tain ci­vil­ity in the pub­lic di­a­logue and dis­cus­sion.

We made strides to­ward this in the past term of coun­cil. Let’s re­dou­ble our ef­forts and do even more in the com­ing term.

I’m proud of what we ac­com­plished to­gether last term. We have a great op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue the mo­men­tum and work to­gether to ac­com­plish even more — to­gether. This new coun­cil is a fan­tas­tic mix of re­turn­ing vet­er­ans and new coun­cil­lors rep­re­sent­ing new blood. We have more women than ever be­fore: seven out of 15 ward coun­cil­lors.

The first or­der of busi­ness for the new coun­cil will be fill­ing more than 200 cit­i­zen po­si­tions of agen­cies, boards and com­mit­tees. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to get in­volved in your com­mu­nity.

We will al­most im­me­di­ately plunge into bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions. But the good news is we are not start­ing from scratch.

We have in­sti­tuted a multi-year bud­get dur­ing the 2018 bud­get process which sets strat­egy, di­rec­tion and pri­or­i­ties for a four-year pe­riod from 2018 to 2021. This aligns with our 2016 to 2025 Strate­gic Plan.

The multi-year bud­get pro­vides a fore­cast of the prop­erty tax rev­enues and user rev­enues from wa­ter, waste­water and storm re­quired to meet ex­pected ser­vice lev­els.

Coun­cil will work hard to en­sure a bal­ance be­tween bud­get in­creases (for both prop­erty taxes and user rates) and ser­vice de­liv­ery.

Some of the chal­lenges we face in­clude in­fra­struc­ture and the fi­nanc­ing costs to main­tain it. We are in good fi­nan­cial shape to deal with this.

In Novem­ber, Stan­dard and Poor’s Global Rat­ings af­firmed the City’s Credit Rat­ing at ‘AA+’ with a sta­ble outlook. This rat­ing re­flects coun­cil’s and staff’s strong fis­cal per­for­mance from man­age­ment of re­serves, debt lev­els and risk, and bud­getary re­straint due to our sen­si­tiv­ity to the bur­den on the res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

If there is one thing that keeps me awake at night, it is poverty and home­less­ness, and the fact that many in our com­mu­nity are not shar­ing in the pros­per­ity of our com­mu­nity. We will con­tinue to im­ple­ment our $50-mil­lion anti-poverty af­ford­able hous­ing plan. We are con­cerned about en­sur­ing that there is suf­fi­cient af­ford­able hous­ing, be­cause ev­ery­one de­serves a roof over their head.

We need to en­sure that all sec­tors of our econ­omy are strong, from agri­cul­ture and agri-food, to the tech sec­tor, to steel.

Steel is still un­der pres­sure as a re­sult of un­just tar­iffs and we will con­tinue to work with our partners in Canada and the U.S. to end them.

Hamilton is blessed with hard-work­ing, pro­fes­sional city staff. Ev­ery­thing we do is only pos­si­ble be­cause of these great peo­ple. From front-line staff to parks work­ers, from HSR drivers to our se­nior lead­er­ship team, our com­mu­nity truly ben­e­fits from hav­ing won­der­ful staff.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to ev­ery­one who — win or lose — put their name on the bal­lot. I wish to ex­tend my per­sonal thanks to the vot­ers and the peo­ple of our com­mu­nity for their con­tin­ued sup­port.

I look for­ward to work­ing with coun­cil in se­lect­ing the new city man­ager who will work with us in the new phase of our city’s his­tory.

Hamilton is also blessed with some won­der­ful, pro­gres­sive, ma­jor in­sti­tu­tions. Our “an­chor in­sti­tu­tions” — Mo­hawk, McMaster, Hamilton Health Sci­ences, St. Joseph’s Health­care, Hamilton Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, and our cham­bers of com­merce, to name a few. All of them pro­vide won­der­ful lead­er­ship and I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with them all.

There is much work to be done, but it is happy work, be­cause we are do­ing it for the bet­ter­ment of our peo­ple and our com­mu­nity.

Our com­mu­nity, from Dun­das to Stoney Creek and Bin­brook, from Wa­ter­down and Flam­bor­ough to An­caster, from Beasley and West­dale to Cen­tremount, Wi­nona and Ma­cassa, is fis­cally strong, pros­per­ous, out­ward look­ing and pro­gres­sive.

We’re a uni­fied Hamilton. And we will con­tinue to re­main uni­fied through our col­lec­tive com­mu­nity as­pi­ra­tion and our city’s motto: To­gether As­pire — To­gether Achieve — all to­ward be­ing the best place to raise a child and age suc­cess­fully.

GARY YOKOYAMA THE HAMILTON SPEC­TA­TOR

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisen­berger gives his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress to the new Hamilton city coun­cil this past Mon­day.

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