In his 2021 State of the City Address, City of Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown spoke about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in bringing the city together to overcome the challenges of the past year.
The address was delivered during an online virtual event with Members of Council, City Staff, and Brampton’s business community in attendance, including representatives from Dynacare, CN Rail, Rogers Communications, TD Bank, Amazon, and Sheridan College.
In his remarks, Mayor Brown spoke of the role of the community coming together to help Brampton get through the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the William Osler Health System.
“They are our healthcare heroes.” Brown declared. “Osler has led the province in COVID testing and has treated hundreds of patients. As you know, Brampton’s health care system has been overcrowded and underfunded for too long and the hallway medicine crisis has been compounded by the pandemic.”
In his remarks, Brown also referenced the financial challenges experienced by the City of Brampton, citing the need to eliminate the collection of transit fares to ensure the safety of the bus operators, and property tax deferrals which allowed residents to manage their household expenses, all of which strained the City’s finances.
“Initially, the pandemic was like getting body checked from a financial perspective,” he said, adding that as fares were re-introduced along with stringent safety measures, the outlook improved considerably. “By the end of the year we were on a pretty solid footing.”
Council worked to advocate for the Federal and Provincial governments to provide assistance to municipalities which are not allowed to run deficits. The resulting Safe Restart Agreement provided a life injection to affected cities like Brampton. “As we close the books on 2020 we didn’t have any noticeable financial losses; we almost broke even.” said Brown.
The Mayor spoke about the need for Brampton to accelerate important infrastructure projects as a way of stimulating the local economy.
“The good news is that there has been a lot of talk about economic recovery and stimulus projects and I think there are going to be some opportunities for projects in Brampton to get potential funding,” Brown said. Noting large strategic priorities like the Riverwalk project, bus rapid transit plans for Queen Street, as well as light rail transit extension along Main Street and other transit initiatives, Mayor Brown is confident the city is positioned to benefit from future infrastructure spending.
When asked about his top three priorities going forward, the Mayor responded, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Brown referenced a number of projects led by the City of Brampton to build an innovation economy, citing the Innovation District in Downtown Brampton which includes the new Rogers Cybersecurity school, Brampton U and the effort to bring a full university to Brampton, and B-Hive which is planned as an innovation hub for supporting start-ups.
“Everything relates back to creating employment, and the more employment you create in the community, it gives you the ability to invest in the programs that you cherish—the environmental programs, the recreation; Having a healthy tax base, having companies that are investing, hiring and growing.”
Citing former Premier Bill Davis, Brown referenced the Premier’s belief that investing in education that allows people to be ready for the jobs that will be in future demand was key to the City of Brampton’s economic development plans.
“We’ve really put a lens to that,” said Brown. “Brampton is really doubling down on technology and innovation and jobs of the future and we are doing everything that we can to incubate their success in our city.”
Did you like this article? Sign up here to follow this site.