Inaugural Address 2022
Bonsoir, Ainii, good evening.
First thank you, everyone, for coming tonight! A special thank you to Elder Arthur Petahtegoose, the Shadaki drum group, the Honourable Justice Karen Lische, Gimaa Nootchtai, former mayors Jim Gordon, David Courtemanche, Marianne Matichuk, MPP Jamie West, many distinguished guests, and Councillors.
I would also like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe peoples of the Robinson Huron Treaty, traditionally shared by the people of the Atikamesksheng Anishnawbek, Wahnapitae First Nation and Sagamok Anishnabek, encompassed by the Robinson-Huron Treaty.
We honour and respect these Indigenous people as the ancestors and traditional stewards of the land upon which we stand today. May our relationships with the land teach us to live and work in good relationship with one another.
Tonight, we are sworn in as the seventh council of the City of Greater Sudbury!
As this is my first opportunity to speak on behalf of this council … let me begin with a simple, but grateful, “Thank You” to the voters of Greater Sudbury. It is an immense honour and responsibility for us to be able to sit here tonight.
To my fellow members of Council… in the weeks since we were all sent here by voters, I have had a chance to meet with each of you. I am genuinely impressed by the range of abilities, experience, energy and enthusiasm around this table.
I look forward to working with you individually and collectively as we work together to make Greater Sudbury the best place to live, work and play.
Tonight is our first official meeting. It is ceremonial of course, but I want to share my thoughts that will define the next four years of this Council.
By working together, this Council has the ability to address any challenges it and our City face head on, and seize the opportunities.
I will be reminding you of this approach throughout the next four years, and I hope you will too, if and when I stray off course.
To become one great city – a city that works for everyone – WE must work together. It is only by working together as a Council, with staff, community groups and citizens directly, that we can hope to move the constellation of communities that is Greater Sudbury forward together.
There are many challenges ahead of us, such as the global economic uncertainty, inflation, the labour shortages throughout every industry and region of Canada, housing, opioids, homelessness, reconciliation, and climate change.
As we all know, given Greater Sudbury’s immense territory, it has many capital infrastructure challenges from roads, leisure facilities, buildings… and this chamber is where we must acknowledge and confront those challenges directly.
I also want to point out that many local institutions will request and require our support, while other institutions, such as Health Sciences North and post-secondary institutions, will require our continued advocacy given the challenges that they also face.
We cannot afford to kick challenges down the road. And we cannot expect to succeed by trying to deal with challenges outside of this chamber.
We have – each and every one of us – been entrusted by voters to make hard decisions… and hard decisions come with consequences. We cannot – and will not – please everyone, all of the time.
But we have asked for, and we have been given, the responsibility to make those decisions, and we will take that responsibility seriously.
And it is important the Greater Sudburians who have entrusted us know that we will make these decisions with honesty, integrity and compassion … even if we do not always agree. Where challenges confront us, opportunities present themselves. We are Greater Sudburians after all.
Remember where we were 50 years ago. A devastated landscape, a precarious health and safety record, a cyclical resource-based economy.
And look where we are now. Regreening our landscape, rejuvenating our lakes, reducing air pollution by over 98 per cent… all because the community came together to address these issues.
There is nothing that we cannot do when we work together. From Kukagami Lake to Worthington, Wanup to Onaping Falls, and everywhere in between.
We must seize every possible opportunity to build our economy sustainably, and our tax base progressively. And we have so many opportunities!
Greater Sudbury is poised to be a leader in the electrification of the global economy. More power storage is required, thus the battery revolution is upon us. The world will need more and more of the critical minerals we produce right here in Greater Sudbury and Northern Ontario … and the world will demand that those minerals be produced sustainably.
This demand has already started and there are thousands of jobs unfilled in our city alone. It is imperative that in the next 20 years, we must grow our population to 200,000 people.
Why you ask? To ensure those economic opportunities happen here in our city. Gone are the days when the ore was extracted, processed, and shipped to another destination to add value, manufacture goods and commercialize.
We must give our children and grandchildren the option to live and work here. This is Greater Sudbury’s time to shine!
Also, by working with other levels of government and the private sector, we will have the opportunity to address the housing crisis, from affordable housing, senior housing, shelters and bungalows. If we are to retain our young and not so young people, and attract new residents, this is vitally important.
One last thing I would like to reiterate. Something I know we all heard a lot about during the campaign.
I believe a truly prosperous community is an equitable community.
Every Greater Sudburian – regardless of age, ability, income or identity – deserves to live a dignified life. The health and resilience of Greater Sudburians must be part of everything we do as a city.
If we want stronger communities with thriving businesses and healthy citizens, we need a community-wide commitment to address issues of poverty, homelessness, addictions, and mental health.
We have the tools and the expertise to deliver on these things … and I have every confidence this council has the determination to do them.
I am looking forward to working with every member of this council, with every staffer in this city, and citizens in every community to ensure our city is able to reach its enormous potential.
Thank you again to everyone for coming. I hope we can all enjoy ourselves responsibly tonight with friends and family. Because tomorrow … we get to work.