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Inaugural Address

Thank you to all for being here tonight. First of all there are many people I need to thank and at the risk of missing anyone, I still think there are some who need to be singled out.

First, to my family, thank you for your help and encouragement. My wife Cristabel who did everything she could to support me and allow me to chase and accomplish my dream. Thank you dear for all your prayers!

My children Cassandra, Benjamin and Margaret who spent time going door to door with me and supported me with the unconditional love parents hope to always receive from their children. You worked so hard for your Dad; thank you!

To my friends, even the ones who questioned my sanity when I embarked on this journey. Thank you for keeping me in check.

To my opponents, thank you for questioning, probing, making me think and do reality checks on my ideas.

And most of all to the voters of Woodstock who have put their faith in me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will try every day to ensure your faith in me is well placed.

I knocked on the majority of doors in the friendly city and I listened! I listened and I learned! The biggest thing I learned was that the citizens of Woodstock do not want to be ignored! They do not want to be patronized. They may not agree with everything we do but they want to know about what we are doing. They want open! They want transparent! They want honesty from everyone they elected to represent them. We cannot afford to let them down.

I talked about a number of issues during my campaign. I talked transit, I talked taxes, I talked recreation. The people of Woodstock talked back. They told me what they needed and what they wanted. We have to realize the difference between needs and wants. As a Council we have to fund needs. If we are fiscally responsible we may be able to afford some wants. Again, we have to listen!

If we cannot do something now, we need to explain clearly why we cannot. This may not sit well with some but at least we are being up front. There are some who will do nothing but complain, which is their right and there are some who will do nothing but complain. We cannot allow them to sidetrack us from our vision.

Our job is not the day to day running of the City. We have the finest people available to do that. Our responsibility is to set policy and direction based on information we receive from staff and others. This is a democracy in action!

I have some visions that I shared during the campaign but I am one vote on Council. Yes, I get to sit in the chair at the front of the room but I am one vote. I cannot impose my will on the rest of Council; we have to work together.

We have a wide range of life experiences from Councillor's Shapton, Poetter and Acchione that we can draw on. We also have the experience of being on Council courtesy of Councillor's Tait and Talbot. We also have Councillor Lauder who is returning. Those of us who are rookies to the rules and protocols will be leaning on you to guide us through. We will also be asking for your input if you see us trying to reinvent the wheel. You bring the institutional knowledge and historical perspective that is so important to a body like us.

We have a Master Transit Plan that is being worked on. Yesterday at City Hall we heard from citizens regarding transit. We are far from finished. We need to hear from people who could possibly use the bus. We need to know what we need to do to get them to ride the bus. Hearing from the current riders and the drivers is important but if we are going to create a user friendly system we have to hear from people who either cannot or will not use the system although they wish they could. Is the start and finish times for our transit system the problem? If it is, we need to find a solution to that. That approach, one of problem solving is what people want from their council.

The sale of Woodstock Hydro was probably the biggest issue in the campaign. There are many in this city who do not want to see Woodstock Hydro fall into foreign hands and if any of the signals being sent out by the Province are to be believed they are looking at opening up Hydro One to foreign investment.

We have a group in the city that is fighting to deal at the Ontario Energy Board. We need to determine together as a Council if there is an opportunity for us as a Council to assist. It may be that it would be so prohibitively expensive to break the deal that it makes no economic sense either in the short or long term. That has to become part of our thought process.

But there is something we can do that make environmental and fiscal sense. I raised the idea during the campaign of converting Woodstock's street lights to LED's. They save money and last longer. While the city owns Woodstock Hydro, we receive dividend cheques, so in a sense, some of the money we paid in Hydro for street lights came back to us. If Woodstock Hydro is sold no money we spend on Hydro for street lights will come back to us. We have to start acting like consumers, saving every dollar we can both short and long term. I believe this is the kind of fiscal management the voters want and expect from us.

We have a building across the street from City Hall that would fit nicely in the most derelict area of many big cities. It is boarded up and the green paint on the plywood is nice but there are broken windows. It sends a signal of decay downtown. People don't want to come downtown because they say they are afraid. Decaying boarded up buildings lend themselves to that myth.

The old Reg. Hall building is a couple of blocks away from our Art Gallery. My daughters have taken art classes there. Can we work with Gallery personnel and get artwork painted on the plywood, an inexpensive solution until the building is rejuvenated.

Can we work with the BIA and landlords so vacant buildings downtown that are covered with yesterday's news or brown paper can be cleaned up? Steps like this will make the downtown more welcoming and a friendlier downtown means more people, more shoppers which is good for business.

Woodstock should again be the City Beautiful!

I heard from many groups about recreation facilities in the city, and the lack of some. Many basketballers and pickleballers are disappointed with a lack of facilities.

We need to listen!

The basketball court at Victoria Park is the perfect example of an inexpensive multi-use facility. People can play basketball, road hockey, roller blade and many activities. Our neighbours to the west in Ingersoll have a new outdoor arena. They are working with the local optimist club and will build and ice surface on the infield of a ball diamond. The lights on the diamond will be on timers so the rink can be used until 9 every night. We need more of that here.

We need more involvement from community groups that can partner with the city. We may be able to offer more choices to the people of Woodstock and we may find alternate funding options from the private sector and fundraising efforts of interested parties.

We must always remember we are the stewards of others. We are spending their money. It is not ours. We must be responsible. Some of these initiatives will take time to do well!

I want a Council that works together. I want a Council that disagrees, that questions, that probes and thinks. And then, I want to be part of a Council that will come up with the decision that is best for the City. It is nothing less than what the voters deserve.

As your Council I invite you, the people of Woodstock to become engaged, share your concerns, provide input, share knowledge and actively participate. I ask you to become involved with community groups and organizations that help others in our community.

Greater things are yet to come and greater things are yet to be done in this City.

May the good Lord guide us all.

Thank you.

Contact Us

© 2017 City of Woodstock P.O. Box 1539, 500 Dundas Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 0A7

 

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