Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey returned from a 9-day trade mission to the United Arab Emirates in time to deliver her annual State of the City address to a Brampton Board of Trade audience today.
It was a big vision speech inspired from what the Mayor saw and heard during her tip to Dubai. That city’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has set a vision to go paperless by 2020, have 25% of all “trips” be driverless by 2030, and use 3D printing technology for 25% of their building projects.
Doug Bryden from Citizens For a Better Brampton (CFBB) attended the event and shared with us prior to the speech that he was hoping to see “leadership from the Mayor in terms of her relationships with council. The upheaval, lack of compromise, lack of working together to promote this city and its vision is really holding us back, and I wish she would recognize that is a responsibility that she has as the leader.”
During her address, the Mayor emphasized that foreign investment in Brampton and attracting jobs is reliant on “fiscal order and stability.” She added that it “has taken time to restore confidence in the City’s finances.” When referencing improvements to the city’s financial ratings, the Mayor made a point of criticizing previous city staff saying that “the former bureaucratic leadership of the city was under the delusion that our city was a model of good governance and fiscal prudence.” In her first two years, the Mayor stated that the city added 800 new businesses and 7,000 new jobs.
Referring to the city as a “bedroom community”, the mayor says that we can “transform it into a hub of innovation and jobs, but only if we disrupt the status quo and think bigger.”
For the most part, the Mayor touted the progress and opportunities ahead for the city. Referring to the city as a “bedroom community”, she says that we can “transform it into a hub of innovation and jobs, but only if we disrupt the status quo and think bigger.” Her plan is to intensify economic development opportunities around Brampton’s three GO stations, claiming that “we have the ability to connect 13,000 companies, attract 3,000 start-ups, and create over 40,000 new jobs by connecting knowledge workers and creative talent with reliable all day two way GO rail.”
The list of projects and initiatives mentioned include:
- Redwood Properties/Preston Homes residential development for 45 Railroad Street
- Atlas Healthcare development proposed at 241 Queen Street East
- Cumberland Developments at 145/147 Queen Street East (in front of the Peel Memorial Site)
- Riverwalk – the city’s vision to create a resilient landscape by addressing the challenges of future climate change scenarios and eliminating flood risks from the Etobicoke Creek
- RioCan will be seeking Council approval to develop a master plan at the Shoppers World Brampton site.
To accomplish the city’s economic development goals, staff are being assigned to one of four sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Human Health and Sciences, Food and Beverage Processing and Innovation and Technology. A newly created role is being created to support work across the sectors and be a conduit to municipal services for the business community.
A concern for the Mayor is the “brain-drain” in the city. The Mayor says that in her plan “the university is the single greatest incubator and catalyst for more jobs, development and investment in our city.” She quoted research that says even a mid-sized university can result in thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in economic activity. Residents will have to wait for details as the location for the city’s university hasn’t been selected yet, nor has a university partner been identified. Deputy Premier Deb Matthews spoke at a Brampton Board of Trade event in January and implied that the government would be open to International partners as part of the proposal process that the city is undertaking.
We spoke with Doug Byrden immediately after the speech and he commented that he is encouraged with what he heard, “there clearly is a lot going on. I guess I wanted to hear her speak out more about communication with the people. To deliver us a sense of excitement to where we can go. She appears to have covered the base, now I think that’s all really really good. Now we need the action for major expenditures to be made by other levels of government to get this infrastructure. She talked about Riverwalk, that’s been on the books for quite a while. She didn’t talk about the floodplain, and that has clearly held us back. And I had hoped that maybe there would be more of a emphasis on selling Brampton and its needs to both the provincial and federal government. She needs to be high profile.”
Prior to her trip to UAE, the Mayor conducted her annual interview with Brampton Focus host Michael A. Charbon.
Interact directly with residents on the Mayor’s State of the City. Submit your comments and questions on the Brampton Focus Facebook Group.