On the eve of her inauguration as mayor, Linda Jeffrey gave her first formal speech during her attendance at the Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT) meeting on November 27th. In her speech she highlighted her vision and goals for the city of Brampton. “Let’s make a commitment to each other to put the past behind us and move forward together. I know that you feel as I do that we have a shared desire, an interest and a passion to see the city of Brampton be stronger.”
To create a stronger Brampton is a twofold issue. On one hand, strength has a physical presence in the forms of economic prosperity and population size. On the other hand, strength has a mental presence in the forms of community heart and public trust in governance.
Public trust in governance is a forefront issue. When it comes to leadership and hierarchies, corruption works in a trickle-down sort of way. Corruption that occurs on lower tiers of a hierarchy is usually dealt with by alerting those on higher tiers that corruption is taking place. But when even the highest office is corrupt, those with selfish hearts on the lower tiers feel safe and justified in their methods and there is little that can be done to keep things safe and ethical. Jeffrey understands the importance of this issue, and has put it in top priority. “First and foremost is to restore public trust and confidence in the office of the mayor, in our council, and in our city officials. One of the first motions I will introduce will be to lower the Mayor’s salary. As well, I will be introducing a package of reforms to address the city’s finances. I recently spoke with the city’s interior commissioner and, together with council, we will be revisiting the code of conduct, the conflict of interest policy, and other accountability measures.”
When public trust is established, it becomes easier to work on the other three factors of city strength. Population size is an interesting factor for Brampton because we have an ever growing city, yet on a daily basis most of our population can be found on an exit lane. “Every day tens of thousands of Bramptonians commute out of our city to work, play and shop in neighbouring municipalities. Why? Because our neighbours have done a better job of investing in infrastructure that allows business and people to flourish. This daily exodus reinforces the stereotype that Brampton is a bedroom community. We can all agree that this is a characterization we need to dispel.” This is a key issue for Brampton’s strength as a city. Sure, we have a large population, but if our economy is weak then people have to find the jobs and entertainment they need elsewhere; and, if people have to travel elsewhere, there is little way to foster community heart. It’s a tandem issue. If we build up one factor it will benefit the others.
Jeffrey hopes to work on this tandem by building up Brampton’s economy. In her speech Jeffrey listed several ways she intends to foster our economy. The main one is to bring investors to Brampton. If you can bring businesses to Brampton, you bring the opportunity for jobs. More jobs mean less need to travel out of town just to put food on the table. Conversely, she understands the importance of developing intercity transit that helps people travel within the GTA. “A strong economy relies on a strong transportation network. Innovative communities around the world rely on connections between individuals to grow and succeed. Brampton needs to make smart investments in transportation and, unfortunately, we are late to the conversation with Metrolinx because planning is happening in the GTA as we speak. I intend to immediately engage senior levels of government on Brampton’s transit and transportation needs so that we have a seat at the table during those discussions. We need a game-changing regional transit and transportation plan that is responsible, strategic, and geared to supporting our economic growth.”
Jeffrey has also stated an interest in making Brampton an economic powerhouse in the field of life sciences. “Over the last two years Brampton has been fostering Ontario’s three newest and most state-of-the-art healthcare facilities. These facilities will put Brampton in the favourable position of being able to market our community as a leading destination in Ontario for healthcare services and research, both of which will attract white-collar jobs and professionals.” This idea will also be fostered at an educational level. “You and I are aware how much our city needs a university campus, ideally one that focuses on healthcare and life sciences research so that we can create a pipeline of local skilled labour for our healthcare sector. To that end, I am in the process of assembling a blue-ribbon panel chaired by former Ontario Premier Bill Davis to work closely with the provincial government with businesses and other post-secondary stakeholders to develop a real plan to achieve this goal.”
Mayor Jeffrey has revealed her hopes for Brampton’s future. Here at Enrich, we look forward to seeing the changes she and the new council will bring to City Hall. And, in the spirit of promoting a strong community heart, we ask all citizens of Brampton to come to City Hall meetings and see our new council. Hear their visions for Brampton and engage them in your thoughts on how you would like to see our city grow. To build a community takes teamwork, cooperation, and respect for one another. Let’s work with council to pave the way to a stronger Brampton.
by Laila Zarrabi Yan