Mayor Daryl Bennett delivered his Three Year Report Thursday (October 24th). The report, an analysis of City Council’s performance over the first three years of its four year term, highlighted 80 key accomplishments in areas such as financial management, economic developmen and social services. Said Mayor Bennett, “As I see it, we have put our financial house in order. We have invested in both current needs and future obligations. We have approved modest tax increases in accordance with the ability of the community to pay. We have looked out over a longer horizon and charted a course for our future.”
Do you agree? Well you're invited to interact live with Mayor Bennett on his Three Year Report following the speech of his broadcast on TV Cogeco at 8 PM on Tuesday, October 29. People are encouraged to call in that night to speak with Mayor Bennett; tweet him with their comments using hashtag #Year3—our Neil Morton will be live in the TV Cogeco studio that night to monitor questions over social media and ask the Mayor; or upload video/question now to Facebook.com/TVCPTBO.
Here's the speech he delivered in its entirety...
Notes For Remarks
Mayor Bennett’s Three Year Report
October 24, 2013 12 Noon
Best Western Hotel
Let me begin with a word of thanks to the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
For the opportunity to speak with you today.
The Chamber has graciously helped with arrangements for this meeting...
As have TV Cogeco and the Best Western Plus Otonabee Inn...
And I am grateful to all of them.
We created this meeting not only to permit me to report to City
Councillors and the public...
But to set something of a template
That might hopefully become an annual event in the life of our community
in the years ahead.
Speaking of our City Councillors, allow me to introduce them to you now.
Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the election of the current
Peterborough City Council.
Having completed the first three years of our four year term,
My purpose today is to report to the community on our progress and
As we head into an election year.
I am proud to say that this reporting
Has become something of a defining characteristic of this Council.
I issued my first report on our work as a Council 40 days into the
Then again on the anniversary of the first six months in office...
And again on the completion of our first year.
This was followed last year by the midterm report...
Which looked at our progress in terms of the 45 campaign proposals
I put forward during the 2010 mayoralty campaign.
I prepare these reports
Because I believe that government should be as transparent as possible,
And because it is important to me
That the Councillors and I be fully accountable to our electors,
And to the entire community.
So ... how have we done over the first three years?
I know that this is a subjective judgement,
And that your opinion is ultimately more important than mine.
In assessing our performance, I have looked at two things:
First, the main issues and themes that emerged during the 2010 election
Including the proposals I made during that same campaign...
And second, the thousands of comments I hear...
And all Councillors hear...
From people from all walks of life ... who ... over the past three
Have taken an active interest in their City and their future.
Let’s begin with our financial state of affairs.
Because of my background in business,
I know that people had high expectations
That Council would put the City’s financial house in solid working
And I believe that we have done exactly that.
Standard & Poor’s credit rating for the City of Peterborough is
This is very good news, and a financial status about which we can be
In terms of residential property tax increases,
We have been deliberate in holding them to modest levels,
In order to help keep costs down for Peterborough families.
We have recognized the limits of the ability to pay within our
And we have acted accordingly.
For our industrial and commercial property classes,
We are continuing an 8-year program that balances tax rates in a
And we will continue to do so.
As financial managers, we have made a conscious choice to invest in our
long term future.
For those with eyes only on the next horizon or the next election,
It is tempting to ignore the long term capital investments necessary to
support future generations.
We have not done that.
Instead, we have taken stock of our infrastructure deficiencies
And invested in a wide variety of important improvements.
We have an obligation not just to run a City, but to build and maintain
a City as well.
And we have done exactly that.
Last year, there were 240 projects in the capital budget,
Representing an investment of almost $63 Million.
The City is also living well within its means.
We have all heard stories of municipalities in financial trouble as a
result of debt...
Even to the point of bankruptcy.
Measured against provincial standards, the City is using less than half
of its debt capacity.
In fact, even with a debt limit we have set for ourselves...
We are still using only 75 per cent of that capacity.
Our financial house is in very good order,
And it will continue to be so.
Finally, as Councillors, we walked the financial walk ourselves...
Freezing our salaries and then limiting our annual pay increases
To the Consumer Price Index or the lowest CUPE settlement...
Whichever is less.
Your Councillors will not accept a wage increase that is greater than
the increase given to its staff.
And that is as it should be.
Let me raise the question of vision.
It’s a word that carries big meaning
And is important for every organization.
Right from the beginning of the term,
Most City Councillors sensed a measure of uncertainty in the community
About where the City was headed.
And while cities are always a work in progress,
And always will be...
The continuing course of our transition away from an industrial economic
Was raising more questions than it was answering.
As a community, we were not clear on a collective vision...
And we were unsure about the roadmap that could direct us all in a
It’s been said that if you don’t know where you are going,
Any road will get you there.
So we set out to do some important planning.
I include here,
The development of a new Peterborough Official Plan.
The approval of a new Housing and Homelessness Plan.
The approval of a new Sustainable Peterborough Plan.
The approval of a new Municipal Cultural Plan.
The approval of a new Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
The approval of a new Public Transit Operations Review.
The approval of a new Waste Management Master Plan.
The approval of a new Flood Reduction Master Plan.
The approval of a new Urban Forest Strategic Plan.
The approval of a new Morrow Park Master Plan.
And the development of a Climate Change Action Plan.
This is not a shopping list.
And I hope it won’t be seen that way.
It is, I think, tangible proof of our ability to look forward...
To consult with people ... to listen to expert advice ... and to chart a
new course for the future...
In which our constituents can find both affirmation and acceptance.
Let me turn to the way we conduct the people’s business.
I know this is not at the top of everyone’s list of accomplishments,
But we hear about it all the time.
Your Council functions without acrimony or outburst.
We choose decorum over discourtesy.
We value all that is collegial and cooperative.
We disagree, yes ... but we do so in ways that respect differing points
All of which are welcome at our table.
That success, I believe, is the result of a determined focus on
Councillor needs and services.
In the first year of the term, we put in place a modified version of
So that Councillors would have a more meaningful say in the early stages
of setting the annual budget.
And it has worked.
We have updated our Procedure Bylaw
And established new Councillor Portfolios for seniors, economic
development and multicultural diversity.
We have been innovative in serving Councillors with new services, new
And a new measure of autonomy in the use of their own discretionary
We delegated a number of responsibilities to staff
So that Councillors could increasingly focus on the big picture.
Our purpose with all of these changes was to modernize the role of
And strengthen their capacities as corporate managers.
And it has worked.
Most importantly, we have instituted a new customer-driven culture
across the organization,
Supported by mandatory staff training sessions,
And based on the simple but stirring idea
That the people of the City are our customers,
And that we are in business to serve them.
Economic development is on everyone’s radar.
And we are no exception.
Three Councillors ... myself included ... have assumed Portfolio
responsibilities for economic development.
We have now initiated hundreds of meetings with current employers and
Many of whom have never been approached by the City...
So we could speak with them about the future they see for themselves,
their employees and their families...
And how we can help them get there.
So how have we done?
Well, we put in place the largest public works project in the City’s
And a key factor in our future economic success...
That being the expansion and upgrading of the Peterborough Airport...
Including the new Airport Terminal Building...
Improvements to the roadways, runways, aprons, and hangars...
The new Seneca College School of Aviation and Flight Technology...
And the development of a new aviation business community.
We approved the largest residential subdivision in the City’s history,
And we created guidelines to permit new subdivisions embodying the
principles of the new urbanism.
We approved the redevelopment of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital site
in East City,
Which is now underway.
We continue to invest in the downtown,
Where we have waived development charges in certain areas...
Reduced parking requirements...
And invested millions of dollars in capital improvements.
We put in place two new Community Improvement Plans that offer
substantial financial incentives
Such as grants,
And the reducing and waiving of property tax increases, fees and
In order to stimulate new private sector investment and renewal in the
And to encourage the development of affordable housing across the City.
We created a new and results-based contractual relationship with
Peterborough Economic Development,
Where the focus is now squarely on employment retention and attraction.
Through the City of Peterborough Holdings, Inc.
We undertook new hydro generation business arrangements with Trent
University for the management of the Stanley Adamson Powerhouse...
And we are investing in upgraded hydro facilities at the London Street
We supported the new Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre at Fleming
And we declared ourselves a potential host for a new casino.
While economic development and job creation are areas
That are largely influenced by the policies and programs of senior
We strive to create the environment that attracts investment,
And this remains a primary focus of everything we do.
Government business is about people.
If it’s not, then it should be out of business.
In terms of social policy,
Your Council was successful ... even with a tightening of its financial
In maintaining all its social services in place.
Until this year.
In spite of our best efforts ... including the investment of our own
additional property tax dollars and determined lobbying at Queen’s
The provincial cuts to one program ... the Ontario Works Discretionary
Went into effect this year.
Notwithstanding that provincial decision,
We have continued to maintain a very extensive suite of social services,
Including financial assistance, housing, transportation and food
Children’s services ... employment services ... community dental
services ... and emergency shelter and assistance.
In terms of those in greatest need,
We created an after-hours emergency telephone line for food, shelter and
We funded the new Lighthouse Drop-in Centre to replace the former Our
And we put in place a new winter warming protocol
So that no person in need who seeks help will be put at risk.
I have said before that a community can be measured
By the way it looks after those who are least able to look after
And this is still the guidepost that marks our way.
And let’s be clear about our increasingly diverse community,
Where multicultural Canadians represent growth opportunities
In terms of population, employment and investment.
The City has created a new immigration portal.
We have supported the new Canadians Centre and the Workplace Integration
And we have recently sponsored a first ever meeting with multicultural
Which is intended to support the success and the expansion of that
sector over time.
For years now, we have heard the call for improved sports and
recreational facilities in the City,
Particularly through two innovative Summits put on by Sport Kawartha.
Based on a new approach to partnerships, we have made good progress in
answering that call...
With a new state-of-the-art, multipurpose, artificial turf field and
track at TASSS...
Which will allow for evening events and extended seasonal use...
With two new outstanding artificial sports fields at Fleming College
that are now nearing completion...
With our continued funding of the new Trent Community Sport and
And a good prospect for the development of a new baseball facility on
With the approval of the new Morrow Park Master Plan...
With the work underway to replace the Northcrest Arena...
With the opening of new splash pads at Nicholls Oval and Rogers Cove...
With the completion of the Millenium Trail from Millenium Park to
And with the rebuilding of the CPR footbridge and trail over the
We also heard from people that it was ... as many of them so eloquently
Time to get on with the job.
By that they meant turning the heat up on projects
That seemed to have more currency in the talking than the doing.
And so we did.
I include here the three sports fields I referred to earlier...
The completion of the improvements to the Hunter Street Bridge...
The opening of the renovated Market Hall...
The building of the new Fire Hall on Clonsilla Avenue...
The completion of Medical Drive on the Parkway corridor...
The development of new student housing on Water Street...
The renovations and accessibility improvements at City Hall...
And the upgrading of Lansdowne Street West ... a project that had been
on the books since 1991.
In carrying out this work, we have not abandoned our environmental
In fact, we have reinforced them...
With a new policy of installing solar panels on City buildings, where
With the highest rate of diversion of residential waste in the City’s
With the mining of methane gas for power generation at our waste
With the introduction of the City’s first Environment Day...
With the collection of more than 270,000 kilograms of electronic waste
With the installation of new street waste receptacles...
And with the expansion of our cycling lanes and trail system.
As you can imagine, the list of accomplishments goes on.
I could include the development of a new cell tower policy...
The licensing of rooming houses...
Automated stop announcements on City buses...
The first ever proclamation of International Women’s Day...
The agreement to purchase waterfront land at the Navy Club...
And the strengthening of the City’s no smoking bylaw...
Just to name a few.
The point is that we have listened to people and acted in their
As I see it, we have put our financial house in order.
We have invested in both current needs and future obligations.
We have approved modest tax increases in accordance with the ability of
the community to pay.
We have looked out over a longer horizon and charted a course for our
We have created a culture that values civility and cooperation ... and
is driven by the highest ideals of customer service.
We have completed the projects that needed completing.
And we have done so with a focus squarely on the two most fundamental
pillars of City building...
That is, the aggressive promotion of economic wealth...
And the fair and equitable distribution of that wealth.
I am grateful to all Councillors ... to City staff ... and to my own
For the work that they have done in advancing the interests of our
And for committing to a fourth year of the same.