Before a packed room of over 400 members of the Brampton Board of Trade, Mayor Linda Jeffrey delivered her State of the City address.
Touting a number of achievements made recently by the business community, Jeffrey talked about the “resiliency” of the city, its people, and its businesses.
“Resilient cities are those that can survive, adapt and thrive. Resilience is what helps us adapt and transform in the face of these challenges. Over the past three years our city has shown remarkable resilience.”
As proof of this, Jeffrey provided examples, including Brampton’s recent cooperation with Toronto Global, an organization representing municipalities in the region, to bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.
The Mayor, bucking some opinion here at home that economic development trips should not be a priority, discussed her recent visits to health-related companies in New York and New Jersey, to promote Brampton as a place to do business.
“It’s time Brampton started acting like the big city it is. Cities like Markham, Vaughan and Mississauga have planned for and attracted job creators much more effectively than we have.”
Citing unsettling discoveries made by internal inquiries made at City Hall into the city’s financial health and procurement practices, the Mayor suggested more could be done.
“Over the last year our CAO has hired some new internal auditors and they have tabled some reports I found shocking. They highlighted the fact that regular policy reviews were not taking place.”
A recent review by the Ombudsman of Ontario found no evidence of wrongdoing, but he did identify several ways Brampton could improve its practices, including a recommendation that the City should establish an independent, permanent auditor general to help re-establish confidence in the City and ensure accountably and transparently.
“Unfortunately, Council chose not to implement this advice.” Jeffrey said.
In her speech, the Mayor also addressed her relationship with other elected officials, telling of an interaction with a resident who claimed to have read some statements on social media that say she doesn’t work with Councillors.
“That’s just a false narrative. As Mayor, I have a responsibility first and foremost to you, the people who elected me.” She said, as applause within the room broke out. “I will not be a rubber stamp just to get along. I was elected to serve as Mayor with a mandate to do things differently and every now and then I may ruffle some people’s feathers when I don’t agree with them – they need to just get over it.”
Jeffrey also touched upon the highly anticipated announcement of a new university in Brampton, brought forward by way of a partnership between Ryerson University and Sheridan College.
“Our university will be a game changer.” Jeffrey said, using her popular phrase. “It will be a catalyst for significant investments and initiatives to transform creative and commercial space, to inspire a generation of residents, and provide the high skilled jobs of tomorrow.”
Acknowledging Brampton’s rapid pace of growth and the issues it has created in our hospitals, Jeffrey said that she continues to advocate for more hours at Peel Memorial Hospital, and an immediate commencement of the building of Phase 2 of that facility, as well as the need for a third hospital in the city’s west end.
Jeffrey discussed some of Brampton’s recent transit achievements, citing an article by TVO that detailed Brampton’s thriving local transit system, which has seen an increase in ridership of over 19% in the last year.
And finally, Jeffrey outlined recent moves at the Regional Police Services Board to hire 37 additional police officers to address the public’s concerns around safety in Brampton, which has seen a recent uptick in violent crimes, including gun violence and home robberies.
“When bad things happen to us as a city, I want us to be an even better and stronger city than we were before. Resilience is learning from adversity and how you bounce back. That’s what makes Brampton special.”
The Brampton Board of Trade hosts the Mayor’s annual address for leaders of the Brampton business community. In addition to Mayor Jeffrey, today’s event included keynotes by Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University and Heather Strati, Partner at Deloitte Private and the new Chair of the Brampton Board of Trade.
For more information on the Brampton Board of Trade, visit their website.