Congratulations to all… All who put their names on a ballot for office. All who volunteered on the campaigns. All who voted. All who participated in the most fundamentally important process there is, a democratic election.
This was a remarkable election on many levels. We have a remarkably more diverse Council in the City of Peterborough. We have a remarkably more efficient voting system, though not without a few hiccups. And I
believe we have witnessed a remarkable shift in thinking. I’ve seen the word “progressive” tossed around during the campaign. I’m not sure that captures what was obviously an unsettled mood among municipal voters. But one thing is clear, Diane Therrien understood the mood, and was able to tap into it with her “Expect More” message, resulting in a remarkable landslide victory.
Diane Therrien also campaigned on three fundamentals – Jobs, Taxes and Infrastructure, which nicely sets the table for the next four years, because when it comes down to it, this fresh new Council still has a City to run, and a balancing act to perform.
Daryl Bennett and the two Councils that he led over the last 8 years also had to strike a balance, and both Daryl and the returning and retiring Councillors need to be commended for their work. It’s been said that every decision you make as a municipal councillor makes someone angry. Much has been made of the multiple 6-5 votes that occurred in the last four years, and perhaps therein lies some of the explanation for the unrest. Indeed, Council has been criticized on many occasions for “not listening to the people”. This sentiment was particularly ugly during the divisive debate on the sale of PDI. But I will never forget Councillor Henry Clark’s eloquent response to being accused of not listening to the people. To loosely quote Henry – “on the contrary I am listening to the people… the people who want us to sell PDI, and the people who don’t want us to sell it. I’m listening to the arguments of my fellow Counsellors. I’m listening to the reports of the consultants and staff, and I’m listening to my own heart as I weigh all of this input and make my decision. This is what I was elected to do.”
This will not change in the next four years. There will be many divisive issues. Council will not always agree. But one thing is clear, each and every elected official, City and County will listen to their constituents, read the reports, weigh the options and decide on the future of Peterborough City and County.
And toward the future is where we must turn our focus. Let’s work on tomorrow, not yesterday.
For the Chamber, nothing changes. We try to cultivate a high level of mutual respect between the
business community we represent and our elected leaders. Our positions on various issues are based on the positions of our members. We focus on policies that encourage a strong business
community, and we communicate these policies to both City and County Councils. Our election
platform, called “Building a Community Outside the Ordinary” had three foundational pillars:
Strengthening Peterborough’s Competitiveness, Economic Growth and Job Creation
Building Whole Communities
Our new leaders will have to deal with many issues, many pressures, and will face many big decisions, but opportunity abounds. The completion of the 407, the potential for VIA Rail service, Cleantech Commons at Trent, the Airport, and many more, will all create an opportunity for Councils to create the conditions for sustainable growth. We wish them well.