Meed Ward's first State of the City Address - all 6,703 words.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 30th, 2019



The Burlington Gazette has published the State of the City Address verbatim for the past nine years.
The full address given by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is set out below.

8:00 am, Wednesday January 30th, 2019
Burlington Convention Centre

John Goodwin, Chair of the Board of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, welcomed a sell-out crowd of 500 attendees, thanked notable guests including two local MPPs and the Mayor of Oakville, thanked sponsors, and introduced Antoine Shiu from Cogeco to introduce Mayor Meed Ward.

Antoine Shiu then spoke, referencing the Mayor’s experience and service as a civic leader, her passion for listening to constituents, and keeping the people of Burlington informed about what’s going on at City Hall. “I’d like to invite our mayor up to the stage to tell you more about city council’s vision for our city and the plans they have for making it all happen.”

Mayor’s Remarks:

Well good morning everybody, how is everyone this morning? I think introductions are a little like cooking. You know the saying that it always tastes better when somebody else cooks for you, and I love to cook but even I feel that way sometimes. Introductions are always better when someone else gives it to you so thank you so much, I appreciate that, they always sound better that way.

I really do want to thank all of you for being here and making this a sell-out event. This is absolutely incredible, and it really shows how interested you are – not just in me – but in our city and what happens to it and in ensuring a good future for our city. So I want to take a moment to just thank all of you for braving the weather – we’re Canadians though right – and coming out and spending about 3 hours with me while I give…no just kidding…about a half hour I think is what they gave me which is a true gift for me, I get five minutes at council, so I’m going to take advantage of every minute.

I do feel very lucky to be standing here before you as your Mayor. I pinch myself every morning when I wake up that it’s really true. And I know it’s true because of the butterflies in my stomach. So let’s carry on.

It is truly an honour to be here, and it’s one I take very seriously, but it’s also one that puts a smile on my face every morning, so thank you for that privilege.

I do want to acknowledge a few people here today, and you heard some of the sponsors, so I won’t go through them again, but I do want to thank all of the sponsors for making today happen. We couldn’t do it without you. I’d especially like to thank the Chamber for hosting, and also for what you do in the community all the rest of the year to promote business and retain business and make sure there’s a networking opportunity for all of us here. Thank you to Keith our retiring head of the Chamber, you leave very big shoes, and I think if we’ve learned anything it’s that your diet of only meat has gotten you a long way. And a special thanks to John Goodwin as well for MC’ing and for everything that you’ve done over the year during your tenure.

I also want to do a special thanks to Bell because of today being Let’s Talk. It’s so important for us to continue the conversation around mental health. Every single one of us knows somebody who has been affected by mental health issues, whether that’s a family member, a friend, a spouse, an employee, it’s so important for us to make it safe for us to talk about those challenges just as we would talk about our physical health. So make sure you tweet and do the hashtag, there is money that’s being raised, and this is not just an Ontario or a Canadian movement now, this is a global movement, and they’re targeting to raise $100M for mental health so I think that deserves a round of applause too.

I will be introducing my council colleagues shortly, but I have something special in mind for them (they know what it is). And it’s great to see the other elected officials here. Thank you for spending some time, I know how busy you are as well.

I want to thank our city manager (interim city manager) Tim Commisso, who is here. Thank you for being here. We have a lot of city staff joining us today and I do want to thank each and every one of you for being here. There are 1580 city staff in the City of Burlington and we know on council, and I certainly know, I couldn’t serve the community without the help of front line city staff, so I do want to thank all of you for what you do every day, and also for being here and taking an interest.

We have a number of agencies, boards, committees that are represented here today. I want to thank you for all of the great work that you do in our community. Again, we couldn’t do what we do in Burlington and serve our people without your help.

I also want to thank our media sponsor, in the back, thank you for broadcasting this to the folks who couldn’t join us today. This will also be on Facebook Live, right now, so folks can join in. we will have that posted online for anyone who couldn’t come this morning, and my remarks will be on my website later today as well. So just make sure you get my good side.

Finally I want to thank my husband, Pete Ward, who is here, and I won’t point him out ‘cause he likes it better that way, but I am so grateful for his support. We celebrated 25 years of marriage the day after the election, so I told folks… I spent over a quarter of my life with this wonderful man, and three children a daughter who’s 20 and boy and girl twins who are 18. I wouldn’t be standing on this stage without his support. He believed in me before I believed in myself, and that’s special. So thank you.

And finally, I want to thank the people and the business in Burlington that make our city great. The strongest part of our city is you, all of the people here, all of the people out there, that live here, that work here, that invest in our community to make it the wonderful place that it is, so thank you so much for everything you do, all year, and for many years.

So, I have three things that I’d like to share with you today. I do want to take some time to introduce you to our new council. I want to talk about the priorities; the things that we heard during the election from our citizens, and I want to talk about the vision that we have as a council and that I have as your Mayor, for the next four years but to set the future for Burlington in a way that reflects the citizen vision for our community.

I also want to share a few things about what we’ve accomplished so far. We’ve been on the job…I think about two months. We’ve done a lot, already, so we’ll talk about some of those things.

And as I talk, you’re going to hear about 3 broad themes:

Partnerships, change and openness.

So, let’s get started.

First, I want to talk about partnerships, and this will be not only a theme of my remarks today but a theme of my term for the next four years. Essentially it means that none of us does anything alone. Whenever we achieve great things it’s because we have partnerships with people coming alongside us working together for the same good. You know you’ve probably heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I’d like to adapt that a little bit to our city and say that it takes a village to build a great community. Every voice matters.

I want to start by introducing you to the other folks around the table in council who will help me, and help us, achieve our vision for the future, and that’s your council colleagues. So as I call their names I’m just going to ask them to stand, and stay standing, until everyone is recognized…and I think everyone is here today.

So, in Ward 1 we have our newly elected councillor Kelvin Galbraith
In Ward 2, our newly elected councillor Lisa Kearns
In Ward 3, our newly elected councillor Rory Nisan
In Ward 4, newly elected councillor Shawna Stolte
In Ward 5, our veteran returning councillor Paul Sharman, now serving his third consecutive term
In Ward 6, our newly elected councillor Angelo Bentivegna

This is your new team.

I want to say a couple of words about our council, because this is one of the most diverse councils the city has ever had. First of all we have the most women on council the city has ever seen. 3 of us. 3 out of 7. And the first female mayor in 40 years. That’s a whole generation. And I mention that because recently I was at a high school – I do a lot of speaking at public schools and high schools – and a young woman came up to me after I spoke and she said “I’m going to be the next Prime Minister” and I said “Yes you are, yes you are, dream big!” and the importance – it’s so important for people to see themselves reflected in their decision makers and that’s what that does for those young men and women when they see a diverse council that looks like them.

And our council is starting to look like and reflect the people in our community. So just a little ‘fun facts’ about our council, and maybe after if you have some time to network you can try to figure out which one is which when I tell you some of these things.

• The average age has gone down by about 15 years; I used to be the youngest on council but there are now 4 younger than me
• We have two folks who are grandparents, we have two with high school or university aged children, we have two with kids in public school, including one with a brand-new baby, and one young’un who is still living the fine life with his girlfriend and no kids! I’ll let you figure out who that is too.
• We have three who are immigrants to this country, who were born outside of Canada.

That’s diversity. And you want to see not only diversity in our opinions reflected in council but you want to see diversity reflected in council itself. And I think we’ve done that. We’ll you’ve done that, in the last election you asked for change, you got it. So thank you.

Before I go any further, I do want to let them talk to you a little bit about their priorities for the next four years because we do this as a team and as a partnership. And there’s a little fun in there for your too so…roll the video.


Aren’t they awesome!? That’s the first time I’ve seen this actually. We had a great time, my staff and I, and the staff at the City, putting that together and we had just as much fun I think coming up with those last questions and I can assure you, we’re not drinking Kopi coffee this morning, so you don’t have to worry about that. But I would like to point out that on your table is a brochure that has all the contact information of every member of council and a little bit of bio about them, so I would encourage everybody to take one home…we want you to stay in touch…and as you can see we’re a fun group. We have a lot of fun while we are also doing the very important work of looking after the city on your behalf.

So let’s talk about our priorities for the next four years, and what we’ve done together already.

And a great sense of humour, which as you can imagine is pretty helpful to have when you’re doing

And the first theme that I want to talk about is change. On October 22nd, you, the people of Burlington, voted for change. 5 brand new council members, a new mayor, and one returning. You wanted to see, and you want to see, your vision for our city reflected in the decisions that we make on your behalf.

So what does that look like?

I’d like to talk about our top priorities, and the great thing is that if you look at the platform of all of brochures of the folks that did get elected, and I have, it’s very similar. There’s a lot of alignment. So that is great, it allows us to hit the ground running.

Previous council had adopted a 25-year strategic plan, we know that we need a 4-year action plan to start taking steps in that direction. So, right away, as soon as we were elected, this group got together in December, with our staff, and started talking about ‘what’s our work plan for the next four years’? They’re very keen, by the way, this group. They don’t waste any time.

So we hope to have something to show you in March about what our action items for the next four years are going to be to start moving in the direction of our vision for the city.

I want to talk about some highlights, of those things.

The first thing we’re going to do, is we’re going to change the conversation that we have around growth and development and intensification in the city. We are going to talk about and ensure that we have reasonable growth, not overdevelopment.

Overdevelopment strains our limited infrastructure, and ultimately causes taxes to go up, because growth doesn’t pay for itself. It pays for about 80% of all the costs related to a growing population, whether that’s residential growth or employment growth.

And I don’t know if folks have been paying attention to some of the budget discussions of other communities, but Milton, our fastest growing city in Halton, the fastest growing for a time in our country, their first budget proposal this year came out at a 9% increase. That’s what growth does, if you don’t control it and pace it well.

Growth in the wrong place and the wrong amount causes congestion and leads to new costs for unplanned infrastructure, and this isn’t good for residents or businesses.

In many respects, the election was a referendum on development, making sure we have the right amount of development in the right place. Our community members resoundingly said the new Grow Bold plan did not reflect your vision for the community downtown and elsewhere.

And I can tell you, we are listening.

So, here’s what’s happened so far:

First, the day after we were all sworn in, Halton Region, which is the approving authority for our Official Plan, pushed pause on their approval because they found some areas that needed to be changed, including employment land conversions, uses permitted within agricultural areas, Natural Heritage Systems, and transportation matters. But the effect of Halton Region pushing pause is that it allows our council to make any additional changes that we wish to make, and it pushes pause on this plan indefinitely.

Now we’re not going to take an indefinite amount of time to review the plan.

We are already moving forward.

Next week I’m presenting a motion to our planning and development committee related to the Official Plan, and it does a couple of things, in light of what we heard from the community.

First, we’re going to review height and density in the new plan, and we will be making changes there that will reflect what we heard from the community and during the election. It directs our staff not use the new unapproved Grow Bold plan in assessing new development. That’s important, because our current Official Plan is the only one that is in legal force and effect. We need to be using that plan to assess new development. And the existing plan was updated in 2008, and it includes all of our growth population forecasts that have been assigned to us by the province. So we’re in good shape. We’re up to date, and we can move forward with the right amount of growth in the right place. So…getting the right development in the right place is a priority.

Second, we know we need to know deal with traffic and transportation and congestion. I was recently in Toronto in a room of 16 mayors from the GTHA, Greater Toronto Hamilton Area. John Tory called us together to talk about what we can do on those areas of shared concern that don’t have municipal boundaries. Transit doesn’t stop at municipal borders; you don’t stop at municipal borders. So we need to work together on that.

Affordable housing as well as climate change.

So what are we doing so far on transportation and transit.

Our staff are already looking at a pilot for synchronized traffic lights and I’m not going to tell you what road yet – we’re still working out the bugs – but I think you’re going to know which road as soon as that is up and running and we’ll have this conversation again. Suffice it to say, it is a busy corridor. So that’s good news.

Transit. We have heard from the community, the importance of transit. Not only for our employees and our business corridors, but also for our residential community. So in this budget, coming up, we have three new buses and six new drivers to expand our service, and we also have another driver and handivan proposed for those that need accessible transit.

This is going to allow us to look at increased frequency and different routes that get people where they need to go in a timely manner.

We also need to have a discussion about how we serve our low rider areas. In the past, and some of you who are frequent transit riders will know, we have a few meandering routes that go through neighborhoods. We get complaints from folks about those, the riders that are on those routes don’t get where they need to go quickly, and sometimes at certain times of the day, buses are less than full. So, we need to still provide service in those low rider areas, and I’m happy to say that our transit director is very keen to look at different alternatives – there’s a whole range of different things we could be doing, from Dial-A-Ride, working with local cab companies – a lot of other municipalities are already moving into that territory. In fact, we used to have a Dial-A-Ride service in Burlington so sometimes what’s old is new again.

We also need to look at the regional level of government on shared transit services or at least shared lines. There is no reason why somebody who’s taking a handivan from Burlington to Oakville Trafalgar hospital should have to transfer their handivan and wait between those transfers. You don’t stop at the borders, and our transit and transportation systems can’t stop at the borders either.

So addressing transit and transportation is a priority for this council.

Next priority, and this is again our change theme, but its dealing with the biggest change facing us right now: climate change and unpredictable and severe weather.

Flooding is the biggest risk to municipalities from an insurance standpoint, and from a human safety standpoint so we need to change our conversation about trees and greenspace and water and creeks. They are critical green infrastructure and we have to treat them that way.

Our tree canopy, right now, is about 17%, and its sliding backwards. That’s due to disease, and development, and to aging trees. A healthy tree canopy is roughly 40-50% coverage. But we know we’re not going to get there in the next 4 years. This is why having a 24-year vision, but action items that you deliver on in the next 4 years, is so important.

So last night there was a meeting to talk to folks about the new Roseland Tree Bylaw, and that bylaw will be launching March 1st, in Roseland, but we really need to roll that out across the city. We need to focus on how we not only add to our tree canopy, but one of the best ways to increase your tree canopy is to protect the trees that are already here.

And so the bylaw will help us keep track of what’s being removed, to avoid removal on private property, and to replant where approval is necessary.

But we need to do more than use the rule of law. We also need to provide incentives for people to plant trees. And that’s where our partners are extremely important. So we have already in the city worked with Burlington Hydro, with Enbridge Gas, who are here with us this morning, with BurlingtonGreen and other associations to plant trees. Conservation Halton is another organization that we need to partner with. All of us working together – it will require that consolidated effort to build our tree canopy from where it is now to where it needs to be for a healthy city.

We also have, tomorrow night, Gil Penalosa of 8-80 cities to talk to us about urban parks. And if you know Gil Penalosa you know that his philosophy is that if you create a city where people from 8 years old to 80 years old can thrive, then you’ve built a good city. And that’s our goal too.

So adding to our tree canopy and protecting from flood risk and do more to invest in and add to our urban park structure.

Hand in hand with protecting our urban greenspace, is protecting our rural greenspace.

More than half of Burlington’s land mass is rural agricultural

We are unique in Halton for that.

We need these areas for farming. We have a thriving agricultural economy and the potential to grow that in our community. And our farmers give us the food that we can eat on a day like today. There are businesses that we need to protect. And we know that we need to be constantly vigilant to protect against incursions and the desire to develop in those lands. We’ve seen that very recently with this provincial government where during the election there was a commitment made or a pledge made to open the greenbelt and backed off. Then recently in Bill 66, that would have allowed municipalities to pass what was called “Open For Business” bylaws to build into the greenbelt for employment land and they recently backed off of that. You helped do that. But it just shows us, twice in the last couple of months, our greenbelt has been potentially under threat. And so this council has taken a very strong position. Two nights ago at council, unanimous approval for a motion I brought forward to put our line in the sand between the urban and the rural boundary and say this council is committed in perpetuity to protecting our greenbelt from any development, protecting our clean water, protecting our waterfront and our creeks and I want to thank them for doing that and for showing that leadership and being vigilant to protect not only our urban greenspace but our rural greenspace. So thank you.

I will say, we are open for business and we don’t need to sacrifice our greenbelt to be open for business. We don’t need to sacrifice the health of our community to be open for business.

And we do need to do right by all our businesses here in Burlington. We need to focus on business retention and business attraction and a key priority for this council will be business attraction and retention. We have two business people sitting on our council who I turn to for advice on these matters.

So let’s talk about ‘open for business’ – the theme of openness and partnerships.

What has our council recently done? Well we took the very difficult step – but the right one, in my view – of allowing cannabis retail stores in Burlington. That’s a business. There are about 10-15 employees that will be employed at every one of those stores. And it was a tough one. There are different views in the community, maybe, I’m sure in this room, but this council decided to say that we will open our doors to legal businesses in this country to allow them to operate. And that helps to eliminate the black market for that product.

And we have an incredible opportunity to be open for all our businesses. We have over 500 acres of vacant employment land in Burlington that is ready for you. Ready for business investment. And most of it is along the highway corridor, so well-positioned to transportation. But that also poses a challenge, because we need the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario approvals for a lot of that land, and those approvals are often slow in coming. It used to take weeks to get responses back from the MTO; now it takes months. It also takes a long time to get responses back from the Ministry of the Environment. In once case, in a development in my ward on the Brownfield site, where we want to see revitalization, we want to see remediation, they were slowed down almost two years on their project. So I can tell you that as the government goes looking for efficiencies as part of the regional review, which is always a good thing to do, I will be bringing a message forward to them that we’re willing to work with them, but we also need the province to work with us. We need them to speed up their approval process and we need them to be efficient too.

Next week will be meeting with Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn, some of you may know both of those names, they were here in Burlington for a time, so I’m very happy to see them – very well-respected folks. And that’s the message I’ll be telling them. I’ll be saying to them, when it comes to us wanting to be open for business, wanting to be efficient and effective in our government, we’re doing fine. Don’t fix what’s not broken. And approach us with a handshake not a hatchet. We don’t want arbitrary cuts that don’t need to happen. In fact Burlington council is the most efficient council anywhere in the GTA. We are a 7-member council for 184,000 people. That is the smallest council of any municipality of our size, and it’s the smallest across the board in the GTA.

That means a lot of work for these folks. One of the first jobs as mayor was to assign council members to standing committees, boards and associations. 63 assignments for the 7 of us. So they do great work. We’re very efficient. But we do need help from other levels of government to speed up business.

Businesses are expected to operate at the speed of a Tweet. That’s the world that we live in. And I know that feels to have to be that quick or to be expected to be that quick because sometimes folks expect our elected officials to have to do our business as the speed of tweet. And although we have a leader to the south who thinks they can run a whole country by Twitter, that’s not how it works.

We need to be agile, but we also need to take the time to get it right.

We need to do what we can in Burlington to fast-track business approvals and permits, and to make sure we’re not only open for business and helping the folks that are here to expand, but attracting new businesses.

And to that end, I’m thrilled to announce today, the creation of the Mayor’s State of the City Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force. And the goal of the task force is to bring businesses together to talk about what’s working, what’s not working, where do you need our help, so that we can eliminate the obstacles to doing business. That’s the red tape part.

But we also need to roll out the red carpet and make sure we are actively seeking businesses to locate here in Burlington. And we have competition from everyone in this GTA corridor, and if we don’t get out in front and start attracting businesses, they will go to some other community. So I’m very pleased to announce that Kelvin Galbraith, our Ward 1 counsellor who you met earlier, has agreed to be my co-chair on this committee. I’m so grateful for his support. He’s a businessman in Aldershot, runs the Fitness Firm, and has sat on the Aldershot BIA as chair for many years, so brings that perspective and we’ve already been discussing some of the challenges that he’s heard from the business community and ways that we can speed up that process. So in coming weeks, we will be announcing a broad public engagement process, but we’ll also be selecting folks for a stakeholder group to give us advice.

This is about a very focused task. We want to bring people together, and by the summer, have this group give council, and the province where appropriate, advice on what we can do better. So if any of you are interested in being a part of that please get in touch. You’ve got my business card on your table please take it, you’ve got Kelvin’s contact information as well.

So I need your help. I need your help to make sure that we’re open for business and make sure that we’re attracting the businesses that we want to be locating here.

A couple of final thoughts on some of the priorities we heard from you during the election.

I want to talk t you about community, and our community centres. One of the things that we heard throughout the campaign is that because we’re a growing population, we have our community centres in many cases bursting at the seams, particularly our senior centres. We have a lot of growing seniors. And we need new facilities. We know that sports fields are at a premium for our young families. We know that we need programming for young folks for the teenage years, and we need to look at how we make sure that young people feel welcome here in Burlington as well.

So one of the opportunities coming up that may be available to us and I know there are some school board members here so thank you for joining us, there are 2 high schools that are slated to close. One has already closed, and one will close in 2020. This is an opportunity should the school board decide that is no longer needed for their purposes, for us as a city to acquire that and make that community-focused space. So that is something that I am committed to and I know council will be very interested to have those discussions.

I want to talk to you about respect. Respect on council, respect for our residents and our businesses, respect for our staff. Working in partnership and collaboration with civility. Embracing and supporting different viewpoints. We have tough challenges ahead and there are different perspectives in this community, in this room, probably even at my table. And we need to welcome and respect the broadest array of voices and make sure that everyone feels that their viewpoint is welcome, and that we will hear it, and that we will use that diverse opinion to make the best decisions that we can for this community.

I would say that is already on display by this council. And a classic example was our vote on cannabis. That was a 5-2 vote. And that was a difficult discussion, because there are varying views on that issue in this community. And I want to say that though I was glad that the vote went the way that it did, I was just as welcoming of the 2 members of council who did not vote to have cannabis retail stores because they reflected a view that is present in our community on that issue. And you need to see your views reflected in all of the votes that this council makes. And I can tell you after that vote there was no acrimony, there was no “get with the program”, I think I gave a couple of folks a hug after and said, “well done”. You represented your conscience and your views, and your residents’, and we got through a tough vote. I think that’s what you will see more of for the next four years.

Finally I want to talk about partnerships with other levels of government and with other mayors. I spoke about going to Toronto to talk with John Tory and the other mayors of the GTHA and in 2 weeks I’ll be meeting with the Large Urban Mayors Caucus (a name that we really need to change) to talk about shared issues of concern, and issues that cross our borders and boundaries.

The bottom line for you is that I will continue to be a strong voice representing the city at every single table. At the federal table, and we have an election coming up, we will be doing some advocacy as part of that, at the provincial table, at the municipal table, with my colleagues at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and our federal counterpart, the Federation of Municipalities of Canada.

None of us do this alone. And none of us have all the great ideas right in our community. We need to listen and hear from each other and I’m committed to doing that.

And we now have as of a couple of days ago, at council, we approved to make government relations a focus of our committee meetings going forward so that we can have an eye on what’s coming down the pipe from the federal and provincial level, and I can tell you every morning I wake up and wonder what football I’m going to have to catch today. We want to be ready. We want to be ready to position Burlington’s voice and Burlington’s needs at all of those tables. So this council made the decision to make that a focus of our discussions, so we will do that.

And finally I want to talk about being good stewards of your money. Three times in the last 8 years tax increases in Burlington have been over 4%. And one of the commitments that I made during the election is to get that down. We are currently heading into budget talks so please express your views, we have an online budget tool, we have a number of community meetings coming up. We want to hear from you about your priorities and where you think the opportunities are to make changes.

At the federal level when there’s a budget, the minister goes out and buys a new pair of shoes. And I’m always up for shoe shopping, but I decided to go a different way. You may have noticed I have a new hairdo today. A little shorter than it was. So I’ll leave you to read anything into that you like about the budget.

The current tax increase right now is pegged at 3.99% if we make no changes. I have made a commitment to do what I can to find enough savings, about $1.6M to get that under 3%. I’ve started those conversations with our staff, our boards and our agencies, and we can do it. And we will do it.

We also need to make it easier for our front-line staff to tell me and to tell council where they think the opportunities are for efficiencies and savings. You know your area best, and we want to hear from you.

In closing, we have a great team of people on city council. We have a great team of people in city hall who are willing to work with you. We have great employers in our community and community partners. And we need all of us working together to deliver on the priorities that we have come together to say we want to do as a community.

We do have important work ahead of us. And it won’t be easy. And I’ll tell you it won’t be fast. One of the things that people asked me the very first time I was elected in 2010 was what was the most surprising thing about being an elected official and you have to remember I come from journalism, where I was in newspapers so I would write my column one night, it was in the paper the next day, and the day after it was in recycling. It was very fast. Government doesn’t move that fast. That was frustrating. And sometimes there’s good reasons for that. Sometimes we have to take the time to get it right. And sometimes we also have to move quickly. And so balancing those two competing things is something we will continue to look at as a council.

And I’m so grateful to have all of you here today, and to have you in our community living or working here, or some of you doing both. And committing to making our city the best that it can be.

The road is not always going to be easy. But it will be worth it.

And I just want to leave you with a quote that has meant a lot to me that I came across in the last term of council, and had it made up as a poster and it hangs in my office. Many of you know I’m a dual citizen, I was born in the US, but I also was raised here in Ontario, so I consider myself culturally a Canadian. This quote I’ve looked to many times when the going got rough. When people were ready to criticize rather than help. So, I leave this with you because whatever you are doing in our community you will know the sting of criticism and you will know how much better it is when folks work with you to make it better. So I’m just going to read it for you. This was written about a hundred years ago and in very masculine language back then so I’ve tried to modify that to make it gender neutral. So here we go:

It is not the critic who counts; Not the person who points out how the strong one stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
Who strives valiantly; Who errs, Who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
But who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends themselves in a worthy cause; Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I will leave you with this video of what we hope to achieve in four years, on your behalf. Thank you so much for your attention and your time this morning.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 comments to Meed Ward’s first State of the City Address – all 6,703 words.

  • Richelle Papin

    In the last few years, diversity has come to mean race and ethnicity. Although there are other lenses to describe diverse, race and ethnicity often comes to mind when one talks about diversity. I didn’t attend the Mayor’s State of the City Address. I overheard two co-workers complaining about the Mayor’s poor use of the word “diverse” who had attended the Address. The colleagues were not persons of colour or ethnically diverse. They were concerned about the misuse of the word and I agree with them.

  • Fran - Tyandaga-Ward1

    and speaking of diversity and inclusion — where are the Indigenous and Métis represented? Why was there no land acknowledgement statement at such an important event?
    Truth and Reconciliation 101!

    Editor’s note: There was a land acknowledgement read out; no mispronunciations either.

  • Richelle Papin

    Sorry, Mayor Mead Ward. I hate to break it to you. What you have on Council is not diversity as we have come to know it. You have variations of the same thing. Seven members who are Caucasians in varying ages, sexes, marital status and family dimensions. Diversity includes ethnic diversity, racial diversity, religious diversity etc. Do you have any of those represented on your council? As the only visible minority, person of colour ever to serve as an elected official in the City of Burlington, I take exception to you calling a group of Caucasians a diverse group. Your Council is only a variation of every other Council that has served in the City of Burlington. Please don’t imply that it is any more than it really is. You have offended the visible minorities in the City of Burlington that supported you in the last election by not even understanding the meaning of diversity and incorrectly using it to describe what it is not. I too had an experience like yours at one of my schools when I was a trustee. I was explaining to a Grade 5 class the requirements for becoming a trustee and one requirement is that you must be a Canadian citizen. A 10 year old girl came up to me after my presentation and said, Trustee Papin, I am a Canadian citizen! She also saw her reflection in me as a visible minority. That will definitely not happen with your council, Madam Mayor. That is what diversity is all about.

    • Stephen White

      Diversity can be reflected in many different forms: diversity of age, background, education, experience, gender, opinion, ideas, etc. It is not strictly an issue of race or ethnicity.

      If you compare this Council with previous ones there are more women, higher levels of education, varying experience amongst members, and different skills and perspective. Is it perfectly representative or the city’s population? No, but it is better than it has been in the past, and that was the point the Mayor was trying to make.

    • D Walker

      Diversity reflects age and gender as much as it reflects race and visible minorities. Having three women on council and a woman as mayor is an important step that should not be dismissed so easily.

      I agree that racial diversity is important in elected representatives, but it’s not like Mayor Meed Ward was responsible for a lack of racial diversity in the elected officials. I’ll point out too that we often specify “racial diversity” because, as I said, “diversity” can apply to more than just race.

      I’m choosing to celebrate that women are better represented on City Council, along with a diversity of age groups (which itself is important to reflect changing demographics) and people who may be familiar with the process of immigrating to Canada. Compared to the previous City Council, this is an improvement that is worth noting.