Mayor Joe: The first 100 days
St. Thomas continues to Grow and Thrive
Population increases – New Businesses start up – Existing Businesses expand and hire – Life gets better
Mayor and Council get sworn in and get to work!
St. Thomas’s new council is a fantastic mix of experienced members with two former Mayors in Steve Peters and Jeff Kohler (Steve’s experience at the Provincial level as a Minister and the Speaker of the Legislature adds bonus skills to our group)
Gary Clarke, Lori Baldwin-Sands, Mark Tinlin, Linda Stevenson and Joan Rymal who are all former St. Thomas councillors that bring special strengths to our decision making. They bring life skills that add to the betterment of our city. Because we are the newbies on Council, Jim Herbert and I are asking lots of questions and finding our way. What a team to help St. Thomas thrive!
I want to say thank you to Mayor Heather Jackson and the team she led for leaving St. Thomas in such great shape. I and the People of St. Thomas are grateful.
I have spent most of the first 100 days getting to know the extremely effective people that work on the City of St. Thomas Team. I have been touring work sites as well as wandering City Hall making new friends daily.
Visiting our Local Manufactures to hear their vision for a growing St. Thomas has been a priority. There will be many more visits to come.
The Cities Budget was one of the first Council responsibilities. Our Management team made this process easier and thorough by presenting a very transparent process for council to deliberate on and approve. This Council, ( much earlier than most of our neighbouring communities), finished with a modest 1.8% increase and much thought was given to capital projects like the Elm Street reconstruction. Our Council is also very aware of crucial budget decisions coming from the Province of Ontario that are likely to impact us here in St. Thomas.
I have found our city is on a strong footing but we must be constantly planning our growth.
I have also discovered some areas of priority and I will be writing specific blogs on these topics in the weeks to come:
CO-OPERATION and COMMUNICATION: with our neighbouring communities; The County of Elgin, London and the Province of Ontario.
Housing: We have an extreme housing shortage in St. Thomas. Council and I must work to increase the supply of all types of housing including family homes, market value rental, affordable and assisted housing, seniors housing, renovated homes and downtown renovations, granny flats and perhaps even tiny houses. Nothing is off the table.
Transit: We must improve our transit system. We are already studying this area and reviewing what has been successful in other communities. Transit improvement also includes reviewing regional transportation including to London.
Mental Health Issues: What can our city do to assist some of our most vulnerable? The answer is different and improved police programs which includes housing, counselling and more.
Employment Issues: We need to match our available workforce with the growing needs of our job providers.
Volunteerism and Community Involvement: We must grow our already strong community activism to include all generations.
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