Hobbs “Now it is just time to get to work”

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THUNDER BAY – I would like to first recognize our past Mayor Lynn Peterson for her dedication, hard work and efforts in making a positive difference to our city. We did not always see eye to eye but we both agreed that moving Thunder Bay forward is the priority and we all owe her a debt of gratitude. To Frank Pullia and Robert Tuchenhagen, our sincere thanks for your service to Thunder Bay. I know we will be able to utilize the talents of all of you as we chart Thunder Bay’s future

For all of the returning members of Council, you have once again earned the trust of the electorate which speaks highly of your efforts. To Paul Pugh, I think we both are realizing the challenges facing us and to Ken Boshcoff, welcome back to a place you know so well.

My thanks must also go to the City Clerk for overseeing both the 2010 election and the in-depth orientation we have received.

When I see some of the history on these walls it is easy to become intimidated. Saul Laskin the first Mayor of a new city forged a legacy of dedication while other Mayors and council members worked tirelessly to make Thunder Bay a better place.

Today we are facing many challenges however the people around this table have the ability but more importantly the resolve to do what is necessary to solve them.

After forty-four years of living in this city I am still amazed over the treasure we call home. Our geography is second to none, its beauty a part of who we are.

However in some ways we are still searching for that path that will lead us to success. The next four years will be spent building a future that keeps our children here, a future inclusive of young and old, rich and poor, the able and the physically challenged. Each person who lives in this city deserves nothing but our best in ensuring they are included in our efforts.

Economic development is as important a challenge as any. There have been areas of success while others have fallen somewhat short. We must learn from each of those endeavours and ensure that every step we take is a building block to our future success. We must also harness the vast level of talent that exists here and this must include engaging the youth of our community.

Every decision we make will have a far greater impact on those born in recent decades than most of us here today. We need to hear their concerns and give voice to their dreams.

Our future should be built for the next generation, for those children who right now are still attending our elementary and high schools. They must always be at the forefront when plans are formulated, decisions are made and dollars are spent. It is said that if you want to see what a child sees, you need to look at the world from their level. If we want to know what the youth of Thunder Bay want, we need to ask them, listen to them and empower them.

Some have suggested that I need to stop referring to my policing career but I hope one final indulgence will be okay. You see it was that career that gave me a unique insight into some of the challenges still facing us.

I believe that eliminating poverty in our community is a must. In four years we should be able to say we have raised the bar. Seeing a child without food is unacceptable. We can debate some of the reasons for that another day but our city should not tolerate hungry children. We simply cannot fail.

I am hopeful that we as a community can develop a poverty reduction strategy with quantitative goals to measure our performance.

Seeing many aboriginal people still fighting for equality or to be welcomed within every part of our society is something that in 2010 should no longer exist. We have made some progress but not enough.

We need to recognize and appreciate that our closest neighbour is Fort William First Nation, and it is on their traditional land that this city was built. Thunder Bay is also a historic Métis settlement so we must remember the contributions that Métis people have made and continue to make in our community.

I have spoken with Grand Chief Stan Beardy from Nishnawbe Aski Nation and he knows that his people are not only our guests; they are our friends, our family and our partners in building a new regional economy. When we work, live, play maamawe: all together, we create an inclusive and welcoming community.

We also know that people feel overtaxed and it is a challenge we must recognize. Creating a city that provides efficient affordable services while finding new and innovative ways to deliver them is possible if everyone, management and union, Council and Administration work together to make it happen. As Mayor, I look forward to working closely with the City Manager and our Administrative Team starting with the new strategic plan that we kicked off last Monday night.

It is easy to say we must attract new industry but we simply have to do it if we are to alleviate the tax burden on our businesses and property owners. The potential for the mining sector including The Ring of Fire, new exciting jobs in health care and at our local Bombardier plant are incredible examples of efforts to help us transition our economy from one that depended on natural resources to one that is diversified and better positioned to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

But we must continue to support, reinvent, and grow our traditional resource based economy which if achieved can only add to those successes and create a future that a decade ago was only a dream. Our goals should always be high. Even if we are too fall a little short, it still may lead to an unprecedented level of success.

I would be remiss if I did not touch on the topic of community safety. I know it was an issue that was important to so many of our citizens and let me be clear; it is always acceptable to have differences of opinion.

What should not be acceptable to anyone is to simply shrug our shoulders and accept the status quo. All local stakeholders and each one of us must band together and take back our streets.

Our city council is tasked with providing a safe and positive environment for business to grow and prosper. We cannot ignore our role. We must set concrete measureable goals to reduce crime. We need to show criminals that they are not wanted here while letting the rest of the world know that Thunder Bay is a safe and inviting city for business. Four years from now our community will be safer or I will consider this a failure.

A dear friend of mine has a saying: GIVE someone everything they want, and it will never be enough. The moral is simply that no one can ever be truly satisfied if they did not have to work to achieve their success. That is the challenge facing us today.

To roll up our sleeves and do what is necessary to engage those who live here and ensure we all do our part to build the future we have all dreamed of. The thirteen of us cannot do it alone nor should the people of Thunder Bay expect it. We need each and every one of us to do their part if we are to meet the challenges of the next four years.

Almost 50 years ago, John Kennedy challenged a nation with his words ask not what your country can do for you, but ask instead what you can do for your country.

Do we have it within ourselves to take those words and use them in the coming decade? I have no doubt we can. Together Thunder Bay can and will lead the way not only in Northwestern Ontario but perhaps even the country.

The talent certainly exists. Now it is just time to get to work. Thank you and God Bless.

Mayor Keith Hobbs

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