THUNDER BAY – On October 25th 2010, Thunder Bay voters went to the polls. Voters elected a new Mayor, and two new City Councillors, Ken Boshcoff and Paul Pugh, and re-elected the majority of Council.
As Thunder Bay marks the anniversary of that election, NetNewsledger.com has asked each member of Council what accomplishments each of the city leaders are most proud of over their first year in office.
Here are the answers received from members of Thunder Bay City Council:
Mayor Keith Hobbs: For me it has been building strong relationships with our Aboriginal neighbors, bringing in a decent budget, and spending an extra 2 million on infrastructure.
Also the Strategic Plan and how it has something for all segments of our population is something to be proud of accomplishing.
Councillor at Large Larry Hebert: Getting the budget done and the Strat plan finished along with the City Survey as I was the member of Council who pushed to move the survey date up so we could get feedback for our strategic plan deliberations are our best overall accomplishments.
I am also thrilled about the Mary J. L. Black Library completion as I represent Council on that Board. Use of that branch is up over 200% since it opened with the community embracing it for many different events. Ironically the Library Board meeting planned for that Branch had to be moved back to Waverly because a community group had booked it.
Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo: I am proud of city’s new strategic plan.
Opening the new Mary J. L. Black Library, the hiring of a new Chief and Deputy Chief of Police, the budget. and the day-to day-operation of the city. And most of all working with my constituents.
Of course let us not forget the wonderful film that Paul Morralee did. (100 Days of City Hall)
Current River Councillor Andrew Foulds: First and foremost I believe the city’s strategic plan is an impressive document. Through a substantial public consultation process which included the 2011 citizen’s survey, open houses, Internet submissions and the feedback from no fewer than 36 community boards, groups and committees this document speaks to the broad concerns of the community. For me it speaks to Justice: economic justice, environmental justice and social justice.
Economic Justice – I am proud of the strategic investments the city has made to diversify our economy – harnessing the potential of the knowledge based economy but I am particularly proud to have moved the motion to support the creation of a mining division in the CEDC to make sure we build on our traditional resource based jobs. The beauty of the mining sector is that there are many labour intensive job opportunities as well as knowledge based jobs – we must take advantage of both.
Environment Justice – I am very proud that the strategic plan addresses the infrastructure deficit that exists in this city(this is not just roads but parks and recreational facilities too) but also understands that all development must be sustainable and responsible. It must take into account urban design guidelines that address multiples modes of transportation, water management and the complete street model( greening)It is paramount that we understand the complexity of development and that we leave a strong and healthy infrastructure for our children.
Social Justice- Other city’s should be jealous of the community services we have in Thunder Bay – these services build a healthy and productive society and improve our quality of life. However, a real measure of a society is how we take care of those who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately we have many vulnerable populations. I am very proud that we acknowledged that poverty is an issue in this community and recognized the importance of having a poverty reduction strategy. Poverty affects everyone. Addictions, mental health, general health, chronic unemployment, systemic racism and other circumstances are just a few of the reasons someone may be a victim of poverty. All people have rights and deserve dignity. Over the last year I was particularly proud standing up and fighting for the rights of youth and as a member of the newly created Youth Advisory committee, I look forward to working with youth in developing a brighter future for them. Another highlight was the council’s participation in the first-ever joint council meeting between City Council and the Fort William Band council – being there you felt like you were a part of something special.
Lastly, I will be extremely proud – perhaps most proud if we support the Alcohol management capital investment for Shelter House tomorrow night at Council. This will go a long way in providing services in a more effectively way (police, EMS, and emergency room) to all citizens but perhaps more importantly provide some dignity to some of our most vulnerable citizens. In my opinion dignity matters.
Red River Ward Councillor Brian McKinnon: My most satisfactory achievements (as a council) has been our encouragement to businesses and entrepreneurs to both continue to do business in Thunder Bay and to expand their businesses here. Through the CEDC and other agencies of the City, we have done a very good job in trying to expand our commercial and industrial base in the City.
This is evidenced in the expansion of the research enterprises happening in both large and small organizations, the new establishment of Global Sticks, the expansion of commercial and retail space in our City, and the record setting year for building permits being issued.
This is all a reflection of a positive feeling of growth in the City.
Councillor at Large Ken Boshcoff: The fact that the community is united behind the concept of a Multi-Plex is historic, optimistic and very positive.
Rebecca Johnson: When I look back on this first year of a new term of City Council I feel very positive. This year Council agreed to a process that included the community in its decision making. We went to the citizens to talk about the Event Centre, the budget, the Fire Strategic Plan, but most important on the Strategic Plan. It seems that I have been asking to have community input in this area for several years and to know that we have involved so many and varied areas is crucially important as we move forward for the next decade. Also to think that we have a strategic plan that goes beyond the four years of this current Council is really breaking new ground and quite exciting. Reminds me of the “Fast Forward” days when we really talked to the residents, listened to them and took their thoughts and made them realities.
Another area that resonates for me is the acceptance by City Council of the Age-Friendly initiative, which makes our City of Thunder Bay recognized at the international level as a community working on a plan of action for seniors.
We accepted the Drug Strategy which is identified as one of the leading strategies across the country. We are working on a poverty strategy as well as a youth strategy. I can see that the City should serve in the facilitation of these community initiatives but that the community will find the solutions working together. When you look at the various strategies you can see that they are interlinked and with the City taking the lead to serve in the coordinating role we will move forward to find answers to the many challenges facing us regarding anti-racism, substance use, crime and poverty. Issues that need to be resolved and ones that the community must work on together. It has taken several years for this to happen but the synergy of the individuals in coordinating roles and those in leadership positions will make this happen. I truly think we are stepping out of our comfort zone and taking on these major issues head on.
The Cultural Plan was approved after working on for two years. This will provide the catalyst to enhance our art, heritage and culture.
Our long range financial planning has taken on specific initiatives to address our debt and infra-structure needs. We are one of only a few municipalities who are looking long term at finances.
On a lighter note, I am proud of the fact that we opened our third off-leash dog park in the Westfort Area. When I look back three years ago we didn’t have one off-leash park and now to open the third makes me feel really good overall as I took on this issue without any financial backing or a committee to work with. Now we have an Advisory Committee, money in the budget and a fourth park planned for 2012. That is real progress.
Other members of City Council were asked their views, repeatedly, but did not answer.