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Looking back — and ahead — after two years at the helm

By: Community Submission

 | Nov 30, 2012 - 1:59 PM |
Two years ago, I swore an oath of office to work on behalf of voters of Greater Sudbury to keep taxes low, to grow our city’s economy and tax base and to be open, transparent and accountable as mayor.

Not long after, we gathered as a city council to discuss our priorities and commitments and to take a look at where we want to see Greater Sudbury today and in the future.

We came from those meetings with the understanding that we want to work together to see our city move forward … to create jobs and investment opportunities so our young people don’t move away, to diversify tourism and enhance our infrastructure, and to improve our image as a strong, confident and vibrant community.

In a democracy, unanimity is rare and change is a constant and necessary ingredient for growth. In this spirit, this council came to together and agreed on a list of 17 action items under five headings – Infrastructure, Growth and Jobs, Image, Tourism and Healthy Communities.

Having reached the midpoint of our four-year term, I invite taxpayers to view the record of success of city council and let us know what is expected in the next two years. Let’s take a quick look at our accomplishments so far.

Infrastructure


My office has taken the lead on a lot of behind-the-scenes work to further the city’s long-term priority of Maley Drive. We will be meeting with representatives from the provincial government in the very near future in an effort to push this project over the finish line.

We are also moving ahead with an industrial lands strategy to ensure the needs of businesses are being met now and in the future.

As well, in March, council approved a 10-year master plan for water and wastewater renewal and, by the end of 2013, we will have completed a 10-year financial plan to renew the city’s roads and also a long-awaited arena renewal strategy.

And just last month, city council approved a $62-million strategy to deal with the effluent from the city’s 10 sewage treatment plants … a project this city has wrestled with for several years.

Growth and Jobs


Greater Sudbury’s economy is being driven by the $6.3 billion in confirmed or planned investments in mining, and also by research and innovation in mining sales and service sector, in environmental rehabilitation, in health care and in education.

The city is a partner in many of these ventures. For example, at no cost to taxpayers, the city is providing Vale with plans and building inspectors to expedite the $2-billion Clean AER project, which, at its peak, will employ 1,300 people in our community.

Of course, Cliffs Natural Resources is the latest world-class mining company to knock on Greater Sudbury’s door and I’m proud to have led a team including many levels of government pushing to make Sudbury the company’s preferred choice. Next year, Cliffs will continue its feasibility study for a $1.8-billion ferrochrome smelter that could bring 450 long-term stable jobs to the city.

In fact, several economic forecasts have made clear Greater Sudbury is ideally positioned for a period of sustained growth. One of the principal challenges will be finding skilled workers to fill the jobs being created. I have taken an active interest in working with community partners to attract and retain the workers necessary to fuel this growth.

Image


It’s remarkable how many times in the last two years I’ve heard how lucky we are to call Greater Sudbury home. A sprawling, modern city with 330 lakes in a park-like setting certainly is the envy of many.

Unfortunately, the sentiment almost always comes from visitors to the city. It’s easy to take for granted how privileged we are to live in such a healthy, diverse and prosperous city.

When Laurentian Architecture opens in downtown Sudbury next fall, it will add to the growing culture of design, creativity and innovation in our city.

At Tom Davies Square, we are working to improve communications and marketing to better tell the Greater Sudbury story. Over the summer, the city completely redesigned the tourism section of our website.

And, a month ago, with little fanfare, the City of Greater Sudbury launched a whole new website. It features the same excellent content, but is more accessible, attractive and easier to navigate.

Our role is to sell this city to potential investors, but just as importantly to potential new residents. Over time, that will become a community-wide project I am confident the city will lead.

Tourism


The unexpected announcement that the province will partner with the private sector to build new casinos in several Ontario communities may be the catalyst we need to develop a multi-use convention and hotel complex in Greater Sudbury. Stay tuned.

The city has also put together a funding proposal to install more seating at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre in Bell Park and for a Rock of Fame downtown.

Just as importantly, the city is working with a number of partners, such as the Art Gallery of Sudbury, Place des Arts and the Sudbury and District Motorsports Association, about exciting new facilities in our city.

Healthy Community


The city has partnered with Rainbow Routes to build several new trail links, including several new pieces of the Junction Creek Waterway Trail and rebuilding and extending the Lily Creek Boardwalk, all components of sustainable mobility.

As well, the city’s award-winning Feel Free to Feel Fit program, which offers free swimming at city pools, is expanding to include Healthy Community Maps to provide a direct link to active living and healthy lifestyle choices.

And recently, the city launched an Emergency Response Volunteer Registry to harness the community’s vast expertise in times of crisis.

In all, work has begun on all 17 priorities and significant progress made on most of them. To this list, we can add several projects that weren’t even on the city’s radar two years ago, such as Market Square renewal and the new Northern Ontario Film Studios.

As a council, we acted quickly to seize these emerging opportunities and we will continue to do so as talk now turns to a new casino in the city and a potential new downtown arena.

Just as important, we’ve done all of this while holding tax increases at or below inflation and applying an attrition policy which has resulted in the reduction of five full-time permanent city employees.

This truly is an exciting and pivotal time for our community, and I’m proud of our city’s record of achievement and our direction.

Is there more to do? Of course there is. Continually setting the bar higher is precisely what the residents of Greater Sudbury expect from all elected and public officials.

We set an ambitious agenda this term. We are living up to the promises of that agenda and my pledge — our pledge — is to continue to work to fulfil the promises we made to Greater Sudburians two years ago.

As we see these projects and ideas come to life, we can be proud of the work we have done. Together we can ensure that Greater Sudbury continues to evolve into a world-class city in which to live, work and play.

Marianne Matichuk is the Mayor of the City of Greater Sudbury. To view the Strategic Priorities, go to www.greatersudbury.ca and search for key words Strategic Plan 2012-2014. 

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