For the past 2-months, I have listened at your door steps, participated in numerous all-candidates meetings, twittered and dialogued with neigbours and residents from all corners of our great Town. Although I have worn out a pair of good leather shoes, I have enjoyed this campaign opportunity to learn of your concerns and engage in honest constructive dialogue. I am now ready to put your ideas to work ... and hopefully continue with the Winning Record we started 4 years ago.
Yes, the Town of Markham has changed ... but in good ways. Our residents are engaged in their community and want only what is best for their families and their community. The very concerns that I had ... and still have, when I first entered public life in 1985.
Do we have challenges ahead? Of course, but with the new Council team, we will work hard everyday and find winning solutions. You can rest assured that our work ethic will never be found lacking ... and our core belief that
every resident regardless of colour, religion, gender, culture or political beliefs ... will always be treated equally. I am proud of our cultural diversity.
To every candidate ... whether you were successful or not, please accept our collective thanks. It is not easy to be a political candidate. In fact, it is darn hard. But democratic elections remain for good reason, the envy the world over.
To the new Council members, enjoy a few days of rest. Soon, we will meet and start the hard work of leading the GTA . Markham is and will continue to be the best community to live and work.
Our Town office doors are open to every resident. Please do not stop engaging the staff and elected individuals. We work for you. Thank you again. I am humbled by your continued support.
Frank Scarpitti, Mayor
It is fitting that this inaugural is being held here at Centre stage at the Markham Theatre … tonight is our “opening night” and it is the largest inaugural celebration in our history.
Markham reflects a proud heritage combined with our rich and diverse and growing community. We are the destination of choice of premier Canadian businesses … the destination of choice for those who wish to raise their families in a progressive, open and safe environment. Markham has no equal in the Greater Toronto Area … in fact, anywhere!
Did this just happen by accident … NO it did not! On the contrary … community-minded men and women … like those sitting on this stage … have provided the leadership over the years to guide Markham to the position we proudly occupy today. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.
It was no accident that in 2009 … and 2010 Markham was the only municipality in the Greater Toronto Area to achieve a 0 % tax increase.
This was the result of Council’s hard work, their dedication to task, and their ability to function as a team … that made us No. 1. To each of them, please join with me to offer our collective thanks … they deserve it.
Can we continue to raise the bar … continue to deliver results that other municipalities can only dream of … ladies and gentlemen … with this new team … with the foundation that the previous Council has provided … the answer is a resounding YES.
It is remarkable looking back that during such a short period of time, we initiated a strategic plan … aptly titled Building Markham’s Future Together … that committed to deliver no less than 5 key initiatives … and with your hard work, we accomplished them all. In brief they were:
1. An Integrated Leisure Master Plan … which provided a long term holistic approach to parks, recreational, cultural and library needs of our community;
2. A Made In Markham Growth Plan ... that addressed the provincial government’s directive to accommodate growth in Markham … but responded in a way to protect our existing neighborhoods while creating new sustainable communities;
3. Markham’s 2020 Economic Blueprint … was designed to build on our hi-tech and life science cluster while attracting new commercial sectors … such as financial services and digital new media;
4. A Diversity Action Plan … Everyone Welcome is strategy lays out the steps that we need to achieve an even more inclusive Markham;
5. GreenPrint – Markham’s Community Sustainability Plan … a community driven long term strategy that addresses environmental, health, economic vitality, social well being and cultural vibrancy to keep Markham in the forefront of places to live.
So where do we go from here?
Yes, we can boast that we indeed had a Winning Record during the last Council term.
However, that was yesterday.
The residents of Markham need us now to focus forward … to set a new high water mark in providing outstanding services while being ever mindful of their hard earned tax dollars.
Just like an Olympic athlete who trains to run faster, to jump higher, to throw farther, the men and women who have won your votes know only too well that records are meant to be broken. So tonight is the start of a new term … the start of a new agenda … and if you will allow me … as Mayor … I am asking for your undivided commitment and hard work … so that we can stand as proudly as did the past Council …when our achievements are being measured 4-years from now.
If the words A Winning Record defined the last four years, perhaps the new Council will adopt the new strategy … Building On A Winning Record.
Let’s move the bar up … let’s build on the two previous 0 % tax increases … let’s adopt the position that raising taxes should be the option of last resort.
I am proposing that we set up an “At your Service” task force to ensure that services are indeed accessible, appropriate and respond to the needs of all residents … at a very high level.
We need to launch the Markham portal, “Access Markham” so many of our services can be accessed 24/7 online … we need to consider having our staff available at times convenient to our residents … when you’re available we’re available … we can no longer do business the same way as we always have before. We cannot be limited by old methodologies and outdated business models…it’s not enough to turn the page we have to write a new book.
Our Council will have an enormous responsibility in planning the future communities in Markham. These new neighbourhoods will welcome families and allow them to pursue a healthy and vibrant lifestyle that is synonymous with Markham.
We will also see the beginnings of new types of urban built form in Markham. Langstaff, is a state of the art, world class, transit dependent community located at Yonge and 407.
Designed by a renowned architect and urban planner Peter Calthorpe, the Langstaff plan is one of the most exciting in Canada.
Markham Centre is now beginning to take shape as the most sustainable downtown in North America. While there’s excitement in Markham, we need to focus on creating a premier destination.
With each passing day, the need for the Yonge subway extension to Highway 7 becomes more critical. Markham Council has always taken the position – Subway now. Now, we must get the shovel in the ground.
Now that the infrastructure is in place to accommodate more GO trains, we need the additional funding to provide more frequent two way service between our community and union station.
Our Council takes great pride in representing the most culturally diverse community in Canada. We have all witnessed both the economic prosperity and the cultural enrichment that diversity has brought to Markham.
Markham Council will establish a Committee with the objective of introducing a new premier Town wide celebration building the bridges between the cultures of our Community.
With Markham’s greenprint, our Community Sustainability Plan near final adoption by Council, Markham has set in motion the building blocks to be one of the most liveable and sustainable urban communities in North America.
Last term, our Trees for Tomorrow program set out to plant more trees in four years then the previous decade. This meant a goal of 75,000 new trees. This term our goal will be a minimum of 90,000. We must continue the work in making Markham a greener and better place to live and work.
Markham will move forward with its vision for the Rouge Park. A key objective of our vision is to create a major conservation area that will allow for picnicking, outdoor activities and community events while at the same time maintaining a balance between agricultural and natural environment.
As wonderful as Markham is, one of our greatest challenges as our community evolves will be to enhance the many opportunities that define the quality of life.
Council recently purchased 100 acres for the creation of a major sports park. One of the top priorities will be the planning, design and construction of the initial phase. Our work will also begin in earnest for the 2015 Pan Am games, to date Markham has been awarded the 50m Pool which will host the waterpolo championships.
We will also move forward on the planning and design for a new community centre in the Southeast part of Markham. This area has the largest number of kids per household. In the end we are not just building a community centre but strengthening the foundation of a better community.
Markham has endorsed the Cycling, Pathways and Trails Master Plans. This initiative is a top priority which is strongly supported by this community. We will move forward with an aggressive implementation plan during this Term of Council.
This will allow our residents of all ages to enjoy and experience the open spaces, natural environment, and points of interests available in the community.
In closing, I would like to extend my thanks to the Markham staff for their professionalism and commitment. Without you, Council could never hope to achieve our goals and objectives.
Please join with me ladies and gentlemen in expressing our appreciation. They are amongst the finest public servants anywhere.
Let me state without reservation, the residents of Markham deserve the best staff and at all times. They deserve men and women who are continually thinking of solutions that will better respond to your needs. If you can continue to offer this level of service, Council and residents will be well served.
To all residents, I ask for your continued engagement to help us reach our goals. To the service clubs, religious institutions, sports groups, business leaders, youth, seniors, charities and volunteers of all stripes, you are the lifeline of our communities. Please continue to help Council Build on our Winning Record.
I am pleased to say that in the next few months you will see more tangible evidence of that Winning Record. Thanks to the Federal/Provincial/Municipal Infrastructure program, we will be re-opening a renovated and expanded Thornhill Community Centre and library. We will open a full-size artificial turf soccer field with a dome next to St.Robert Catholic High School, four new indoor tennis courts at the Angus Glen Community Centre. And my personal favourite, one I fought to keep on the list, the largest outdoor artificial skating rink in the GTA right here at the Markham Civic Centre.
Once again congratulations to all Members of Council and thank all of you for being a part of this very special celebration.