Burlington, our future

This column appeared in the Burlington Post on August 3, 2011 and is available online at http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion/columns/article/1051806–burlington-our-future

August 3, 2011

Council completed the draft for the strategic plan on July 20. I believe that this plan will be well received as it speaks to the needs and desires of the community. We received extensive input from the residents, the business community, non-profits and social organizations and this is reflected in the plan.

We will be sharing the strategic plan with the community at the end of the summer for more comment and feedback. The new plan is more focused, more specific, will be more measurable and most importantly can be achieved. Our city will continue to change. The strategic plan continues the process of defining Burlington’s future. I think of this as Burlington 3.0.  Innovation in technology, energy, transportation and communications will change how society works. As we grow we will see changes in our demographics, our neighbourhoods, increased public transit, and more opportunities to work in our own community. As part of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area our economy will grow and we will become a more diverse society with different needs.

Burlington 3.0 will also be far more sustainable. Sustainability is not about hugging trees. It is about managing our resources as stewards, it is about protecting and enhancing what we have, it is about establishing a culture around leaving our community a little bit better each generation and ensuring that hope and possibility is there for our children and their children.

To achieve this future we also have to look at City Hall. City Hall and much of the public sector is being judged differently by the community. Outstanding governance, transparency and a more adaptable government are needed as we move forward. Financial sustainability will require some decisions about our infrastructure, our services and the size and role of local government. We need meaningful conversations about these issues. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I am confident that we can move forward and address these challenges.

Three very important aspect of Burlington 3.0 are being decided on during the coming provincial election. The Niagara/GTA Highway concept holds the possibility of putting another highway through the heart of our rural area. We need to update our hospital. Joseph Brant lags behind in its level of service and Burlington experiences the longest wait times in Ontario by a significant margin. This is unacceptable. I also ask you to consider the impact of the Green Energy Act. To achieve sustainability in the future we need sustainable policy. I ask you to consider and reflect on these issues through the coming election.

I wish you all a happy and safe summer.