Since taking office on December 1, 2018, your new City Council has made many important decisions to bring about positive change for transportation, to enable better economic growth across the eastern Ontario region, improve public engagement and transparency in decision-making, support better service for people creating housing, and protect our local environment.
I am pleased to take this opportunity to share an update on some of the key milestones to date, and on what’s to come. We have a lot more work to do and I am honoured to have the continued support of Council and the community to build toward success. In the next six months, we will launch an Environmental Advisory Committee, begin a process for a Public Engagement Charter, take steps toward an Urban Greenbelt Project, get the Louis St. Urban Square project underway, and many other initiatives that will impact our lives on a day-to-day level.
As your Mayor, I have been truly honoured to be invited to so many amazing community events and meetings over the past six months. Your invitations to participate in community events help to ensure that I am available and accessible to all and that we are working collaboratively to ensure a healthier and more vibrant future for Peterborough.
- New Council, New Leadership
- Transparency and Public Engagement at City Hall
- Improved Parking
- Official Plan Review
- Protecting Our Local Environment
- Housing Affordability
- Transportation and Fixing the Roads
- Council Retreat, regional leadership for economic growth
Following the October 22 election, I organized a Council retreat with my new and returning council colleagues where we discussed and identified our collective priorities. This was the first Council retreat held in many years, and it’s an important tradition that I hope will continue. We came away from the meeting in agreement that infrastructure, employment, environment, and housing are key areas that need to be addressed during this term of Council.
I’ve also put Peterborough back on the regional map by attending the Eastern Ontario Mayors Caucus and the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council where I was elected Co-Chair. The Easter Ontario Regional Network represents and advocates for the interests of Eastern Ontario, including infrastructure, broadband and cellular access, housing and workforce development. I’m very pleased that this May, EORN secured $71 million in provincial funding toward improving broadband and cellular access across eastern Ontario, which will support our local economy.
- Expanded Citizen Appointments, public meetings and online survey to gather input on budget, forming an Indigenous Relations Committee
It is vital that the community participates in decision-making processes and that’s why, as your new Mayor, one of my first actions was to expand the number of public positions on city committees. I’m thrilled that we received a record-setting number of applications for Citizen Appointments to Committees and Boards - nearly 100 for just over 20 positions! You can find out more information about the application process here and please consider applying next year!
For the first time ever, Council took action to meet with residents across the entire city and conduct an online survey to gather early input on next year’s budget. Finance Committee Chair Coun. Dean Pappas partnered with councillors to hold several Ward Meetings throughout April and May in all five wards. As Mayor, I was very happy to attend these meetings and get to speak with many residents about what’s important to them for the budget. And, hundreds of residents responded to an online survey to give their input too! You are encouraged to speak at Council as part of the next step, when Council considers setting the guidelines for the budget, on Monday, June 24, 2019.
I am very proud and honoured to be working with community members and organizations on starting an Indigenous Relations Committee for Peterborough/Nogojiwanong. And I’m proud that our new Council has adopted a long overdue Code of Conduct.
Looking ahead I am keen to start the process of forming a Community Engagement Charter to better involve residents in the decisions that affect them.
- Parking App
The City has launched a smartphone Parking App to increase convenience for users, and support businesses downtown by making it easier to pay for and extend parking. Check out the HotSpot Parking App and ditch the clutter and hassle of paying with coins!
Completing the ongoing Official Plan review is a priority for me and our new Council. Over the past two years, a lot of excellent and exciting progress was made, including a 4-day design charette at Peterborough Square last June with stakeholders and the community.
- New Environmental Advisory Committee, stormwater management, sustainable living
A new Environmental Advisory Committee is being formed so that knowledgeable citizens can provide input and oversight. In May, Council approved the Terms of Reference and applications are open until 4:30 p.m. on June 14, and must include a resume and cover letter.
Council continues to invest in stormwater management. This is a priority for our community due to the age of our infrastructure and the numerous waterways that surround our city, and as we’ve seen neighbouring communities pummelled by flooding this spring.
I’m pleased that we are also taking steps to allow backyard chickens in Peterborough. Backyard chickens contribute to local and sustainable ways of living, enhance children’s connections with nature and the food we eat, and ensure urban living still gives residents to the ability and choice to use their land to support themselves.
Looking ahead I am keen to take steps toward forming an Urban Greenbelt Project to enhance neighbourhood trail connections and healthy biodiversity - the assets that make Peterborough the best community in Ontario.
- Brock Mission, designated point-of-contact for development service, support for densification, eliminating parking requirements
Housing affordability is fundamental. That’s why our new Council unanimously approved funds for a redesign to make sure a new Brock Mission men’s shelter gets built as soon as possible. The Brock Mission men’s shelter is a project I advocated for during the last term on Council and I am pleased our new Council was able to agree on funding this as an urgent priority.
City Hall staff now includes a new designated point-of-contact representative to support housing developers and other permit applicants to get better service and results. More certainty in the process and faster service will make it easier for new housing projects and renovations to get underway.
And in April, Council approved funds to help with residential intensification and affordable housing in East City, part of our ongoing commitment to provide affordable housing that our community desperately needs.
- Chemong Rd. and Charlotte St., East Side Transportation Study
With the election occurring in the fall, our Council faced a tight turn-around for finalizing the 2019-2020 Budget. The City’s budget planning started under the previous Council last summer, and by the time we took our seats in December, the budget was nearly complete.
Even so, I’m proud the 2019-2020 budget delivers immediate action on transportation and mobility by updating the Charlotte Street re-design to include cycling lanes so that vehicles can move unimpeded along this main corridor and keep cyclists of all ages safe from injury or death. We have also prioritized the long-overdue Chemong Road re-development and intersection improvements from Reid Street to north of Sunset Blvd.
An East Side Transportation Study will soon be completed to support growth in Ashburnham Ward. We know that transportation needs are becoming urgent in East City and we must prepare for the new Ashborough Village housing development, the new Canoe Museum, and the need for safe and secure canal crossings. To alleviate the pressure points at Maria, McFarlane, and Hunter Street, Council is taking action to realign Ashburnham Drive to connect to Parkhill Road.
Council has also taken action to get a new Transportation Master Plan completed by 2021. I want to see a new transportation plan that will deliver modern, affordable, safe, and sustainable transportation solutions for a new generation with new challenges, like worsening impacts from more frequent extreme weather and freeze-thaw events that destroy asphalt.
Our city is growing, and while we welcome investment and development, we need to ensure we are doing it in a smart and sustainable way – not just environmentally, but economically and socially.