“State of the Town” Address by Oakville’s Mayor to Local Business Community

Town Economic Update with Mayor Rob Burton April 26 2017 Questions with Answers!
“State of the Town” Address by Oakville’s Mayor to Local Business Community
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Nolan A Machan

Nolan A Machan

Nolan Machan is the Publisher of OakvilleNews.Org and has over 41 years of local Oakville knowledge. He is committed to providing Oakville residents with the most up-to-date information about our great town.

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On Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Mayor Rob Burton provided Oakville’s business community with a “State of the Town” address at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. This is a yearly event, and due to interest it was moved to the Oakville Conference Centre where 375 people attended. The event was split between the mayor’s address and a Q&A period.

After the Mayor’s address he sat down for a question and answer session where he had to negotiate a few difficult questions which included:

  1. Does he intend to run as mayor – he did not provide an answer
  2. Will the town be able to keep it’s budget increases tied to inflation – his answer was yes and
  3. How will the town protect against uncontrolled growth – he indicated that “Liveable Oakville” Plan was created for that purpose.
International Union of Operating Engineers: Michelle Dawson, Kyle Schutte, Joe Redshaw, Ron Hillis and Lloyd Nokaza

International Union of Operating Engineers: Michelle Dawson, Kyle Schutte, Joe Redshaw, Ron Hillis and Lloyd Nokaza; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

Here is a copy of Mayor Burton’s Speech:

Thank you for your interest in our town’s booming economy. Our sponsors for this event, CN, Cogeco, and Ford Canada deserve our thanks. Special thanks go to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Oakville appreciates the work you do to support our businesses. Please welcome Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette and Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. We attend each other’s speeches. We want everyone able to see our neighbourly spirit of cooperation.

The five heads of councils of Halton feel we share a mutual stewardship as leaders of the municipal government of Halton Region. And by the way Mayor Krantz just celebrated his 80th birthday. He has now served longer than Hazel McCallion. That’s some staying power, your Worship!

Cogeco Sponsors for the Oakville Town Economic Update with Mayor Rob Burton April 26 2017

Cogeco Sponsors for the Oakville Town Economic Update with Mayor Rob Burton April 26 2017; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

The economy is booming across Ontario. The economy is on a roll in Halton and Oakville. So, this Economic Update has a lot to share. First, let’s deal with three economic fundamentals at the Town.

  1. Oakville’s town finances are remain the healthiest in Ontario.
  2. Oakville’s unemployment rate remains below the Provincial average.
  3. In 2016, Oakville once again set and met the job creation target of 1000 new jobs.

We have also found great success promoting Oakville around the world. For five years, we’ve been building new relationships in China, to help Oakville businesses enter the world’s fastest-growing economy. Now, I’m pleased to announce that I will be asking Council to add India to our global business development agenda. I’m grateful to Harji Bajwa – a longtime Oakville resident and businessman, for his guidance with this opening to India.

Oakville has an edge in the global market thanks to many years of worldwide recognition through broadcasts of the RBC Canadian Open from our celebrated Glen Abbey Golf Course. This put our town on the world map. It also brings an estimated $25 million boost to our economy. I want to acknowledge what a business success has been created by Golf Canada’s partnership with ClubLink since 1999. Now, Oakville’s relationship with Golf Canada predates 1999 and this is the Open’s 29th year here.

Not only are Oakville businesses creating job, they’re creating highly-skilled jobs in knowledge-based sectors. Our biggest ongoing success story is Ford Canada. This year, Ford has announced it is investing more than $100 million in research and engineering in Oakville. Thank you, Ford, for your confidence in Oakville. We also became the home of Loraxian’s global headquarters this year, attracted by our famous livability.

Now we have three exciting economic announcements: First, the International Union of Operating Engineers has authorized me to 2announce that they are going to expand by 50% their conference centre at their offices on Speers Road. They will become the largest such hall in the Halton Region. Our Hospital Gala will finally have a hall big enough to conduct its vital fund raising event back here in Oakville again.

That’s the newest benefit to our hospital from IUOE. It was the all-trades, no-strike promise by the IUOE’s Business Manager, Mike Gallagher, that gave us on Council the confidence to make the donation that made our new hospital possible. Thank you, again, Mike.

Second, there’s big news from another labour group that also had something, something huge, to do with the success of our new hospital – because they financed it through their pension fund. The Labourers International Union of North America have authorized me to announce that they have decided to build a second office building on North Service Road, beside their first building.

And, third, I’m also pleased to announce the largest new company to make Oakville their home since Siemens chose Oakville for their Canadian headquarters in 2013. Aviva, along with their nearly 800 employees, will be opening a new office building in Oakville, too. Aviva is Canada’s fastest-growing insurance provider. In fact, Aviva’s executives are with us here. Please join me in welcoming Aviva to Oakville.

Considering all this success, it may not surprise you that the Financial Times’ biennial “Cities of the Future” report recently praised Oakville as among the most business-friendly communities in North and South America.

My experience in founding YTV and making it a success taught me that innovation is at the heart of any successful business. As mayor, I have found that innovation is also at the heart of successfully meeting the challenges of local government.

Oakville Chamber of Commerce Chair; Caroline Hughes &Mayor Rob Burton

Oakville Chamber of Commerce Chair; Caroline Hughes & Oakville Mayor Rob Burton; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

When I became Mayor, it was with the vision of making Oakville the most livable town in Canada. We’ve done that by focusing on three key priorities:

  1. controlling growth, debt, and taxes protecting green-space and heritage,
  2. protecting green-space and heritage improving our infrastructure, facilities and services, and
  3. improving our infrastructure, facilities, and services controlling growth, debt and taxes.

Council believes that livability is essential to Oakville’s economic success. So we have looked for innovative ways to achieve those goals:

  1. We’ve created thousands of acres of protected environmental green-space systems and expanded our urban forest to over two million trees.
  2. We’ve drastically improved Oakville’s road maintenance and repair program to improve the way we move goods, services – and residents.
  3. We’ve added more than 80 per cent to our total square feet of community facilities, and;
  4. We made the make-or-break investment of $130 million dollars to help build Oakville’s new, state-of-the-art hospital.

Critically, we did all that while keeping annual property tax increases at or below inflation, and cutting tax-paid debt by 75 per cent. As a result, Oakville boasts the best fiscal health of Ontario’s municipalities.

All of those achievements are good for Oakville’s livability and good for Oakville’s economy. We were able to accomplish them by relying on sound business principles of priority-setting and innovation.

We started by promoting more efficiency in our budgeting. We adopted the gold standard in corporate fiscal management: performance-based program budgeting. “PB2” manages programs by outcomes for value and efficiency.

Then we made it a priority to diversify our revenue sources. We developed new non-tax revenue sources to take pressure off property taxes.

We tasked Oakville Hydro to develop new revenues for the town through energy renewables and services. Our Hydro Board of business leaders and talented management achieved this goal in gratifying fashion. Their successes so far are carrying the cost of our brand new, state-of-the-art hospital.
The Board and its Chair, Marie Oswald, and Oakville Hydro & Enterprises CEO Rob Lister and staff deserve our thanks.

Now, Council is moving forward with another innovation for non-tax revenues. It used to be we would just sell off surplus municipal land like the old public works site on Trafalgar at Glenashton. There are at least two problems with this approach.

Whoever bought town surplus land could pick a fight requiring trips to the Ontario Municipal Board. And they could rake in big profits using the land in a way that might harm our town’s livability. A Municipal Development Corporation will allow us to achieve a far better return for the taxpayers than a simple sale of the land could bring.

Our MDC will have the same public oversight and control by Council and just as good a board of qualified Oakville business people as Oakville Hydro has always had. There are provincial laws that require Councils to ensure full public awareness of land dispositions with or without an MDC.

The MDC and Oakville Enterprises will make possible the funding we need to carry the costs of our plan for an innovative world-class Downtown Cultural Hub. Our cultural hub will make our downtown the best downtown village community hub in Canada.

With the prospect of the MDC, I am announcing my personal commitment to achieving this goal in the next ten years, with the new downtown cultural hub facilities open and energizing our downtown no later than 2026.

Past Chair, Aby Alameddine, & Mayor Rob Burton

Past Chair Aby Alameddine, &  Oakville Mayor Rob Burton; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

The foundation of Oakville’s economy is our livability. We’re committed to keeping Oakville the safest, healthiest, most livable community we can. That’s where you – as business leaders – can help us as well. You have a stake in the continued health and safety of the community you do business in. You should be involved in that work.

For coming on ten years, we have been Canada’s safest community. This doesn’t mean we have no problems. It doesn’t mean we can’t work harder to make our community even safer and healthier. And now we have a draft plan to do that.

I’m pleased to announce our draft Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan is now public. The plan is the result of groundbreaking work by the Halton Police, the Halton Health and Social Services Commissions and many helping agencies. This is a plan to help break the cycle of crime, improve lives and – in doing so – give everyone a stake in our community’s success.

I want you to consider this your personal invitation to engage in the public consultation and review of this plan. If you share the idea that government should run like a business, here’s an opportunity for you to help inject your business experience into your local government.

Successful business leaders recognize the importance of economic inclusion and participation. They know why it’s bad for business when our economy leaves behind members of our society.

We are fortunate to have the business and community-building leadership we enjoy from residents like Ian and June Cockwell. Anyone who had made the contribution they and their foundation made to our new hospital might have felt they’d done their bit for Oakville.

Instead, June Cockwell turned up her efforts for Oakville and economic inclusion. She and her impressive colleagues are promoting four new concepts to enhance our community’s economic participation.
These four concepts are:

  1. Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs),
  2. social procurement,
  3. social enterprises, and
  4. the importance of becoming Living Wage Employers.

In response, we already have the purchasing departments of our local governments in Halton working with them to see if we can make use of CBAs, social enterprises, and social procurement possible.

Ford Sponsors: Taj Gill, Raquel Chu, Chamber of Commerce Chair, Caroline Hughes, Jaime Paton and Doug Mallet

Ford Sponsors: Taj Gill, Raquel Chu, Chamber of Commerce Chair, Caroline Hughes, Jaime Paton and Doug Mallet; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford

These programs offer solutions to the problems of job readiness and expanding our aging labour force. There are several labour shortages on the horizon. So, we want to encourage businesses to look at these programs, too.

Inspired by June Cockwell and her group, as well as the encouragement I’ve had from IUOE’s Mike Gallagher, I am pleased to announce I will ask Council to certify the Town as a Living Wage Employer. I hope all businesses will join us in that commitment.

These kinds of actions are good business and they are consistent with this community’s values. Our values are what make us a town, not a city. But when we stay true to our values, it doesn’t matter if people call us a town or a city. Dryden has a population of 7,000 but calls itself a city. Our population is nearly 195,000, and we will always call ourselves a town.

What makes us what we are, is how it feels when we say we’re glad to be home. Do we care about and connect with our neighbors? Do our kids feel safe on our streets? How does it make you feel when you tell people you’re from Oakville? That’s how you know if we are on the right path with ourselves, our town, and our economy. You can tell by the way it makes you feel. Thank you for your time and attention. It is great working with and for you. I hope you feel good about Oakville. I do!

Rev. Jeff Ward, Mayor Rob Burton, Linda Leatherdale and Doug Grecco

Rev. Jeff Ward, Mayor Rob Burton, Linda Leatherdale and Doug Grecco; Photo Credit: Janet Bedford



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