The tables have turned; Brampton’s engaged in ways it hasn’t been for years. This was evident on Saturday January 10th at the city’s New Year’s levee, where lineups to meet city & regional councillors and the mayor were 100 people deep, stretching across the entire atrium of City Hall. There was a renewed excitement resonating from the crowd, as its energy was consistent from the first handshake to the last selfie as this year’s ‘meet & greet’ went 40 minutes into overtime.
Most surprising was the disappointment voiced by citizens who missed it, either because they found out too late, or thought a levee was a new tax being charged. For the first time in a long time, people are wanting to be at the table with their mayor and councilors, celebrating being Bramptonians.
The spirit of true leadership shows in the behaviour of the people. A leader is not defined like the pied piper – play a merry tune and you will follow. Good leadership comes from one’s ability to empower, like the captain of a ship or football team.
Not only is Brampton at the table, we are table hopping, laying our cards on various provincial and inter-city tables, and not hiding our hand. What Linda Jeffrey promised in her eight months of campaigning, Mayor Jeffrey has delivered in her first 8 weeks in office. From slashing her salary, then opening the books, Brampton has now joined Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph in their demand for all day GO train service to and from Toronto Union, something these cities want badly and Brampton needs desperately.
Anyone who has stood in a 50-plus lineup to board the bus from Toronto Union to Brampton thinking, “Oh please, oh please, let me get on this bus, even if I’m standing.” knows what a priority this train line has. On January 13th, Kitchener issued a press release saying that Brampton is now at the table, as Mayor Jeffrey has joined the consortium advocating two-way all day GO train service.
Some would claim that a north/south LRT with neighbouring Mississauga is important. But since there are reports of this project being unfunded and it is not yet determined whether such a project is worthy of the province putting $1.6 billion on the table, it is safe to say that Mayor Jeffrey is playing with a full deck and is holding Bramptonians’ vested interest at hand.
According to the Kitchener City Council website, “…our economic potential is limited by inadequate transportation infrastructure beyond the Greater Toronto Area. Waterloo Region and Toronto are two of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world, divided by a wall of congestion on the 401 highway. Yet these cities are no further apart than Silicon Valley’s anchor cities, San Jose and San Francisco. The key different between these globally-significant startup clusters is Silicon Valley is supported by two-way commuter rail service. The Toronto to Waterloo Region corridor – the innovation supercluster – is not.”
I’d put my money on the table where Mayor Jeffrey is betting. As the neglected middle child of Peel, Brampton is also the middle link with a serious kink in Ontario’s Silicon Valley of the North. With Brampton having the largest under-30 population in not only all of Ontario but all of Canada, it is easy to see Mayor Jeffrey’s thinking – to hitch our wagon onto the Silicon Express and start growing, economically speaking.
This new action from the Mayor’s office is refreshing, as you can sense the Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph mayors’ enthusiasm and appreciation for Jeffrey’s impeccable timing in this matter. Though Mayor Jeffrey is still clearing the table of controversy remaining from her predecessor, it is evident that when she sits at the table she doesn’t just set it for herself.
I think we will soon be counting the number of times we find Mayor Jeffrey with her proposals on the table, rather than finding her under it. Bramptonians, grab a chair and pull up to the Mayor’s table – no reservations needed!