Time to make some bold (well, boldish) predictions for Burlington.
Here’s my TOP-4 list of WHO and WHAT to watch locally in 2015….
#1 – MANAGING A BUMPY ROAD
Council remains constant, but other leadership positions remain in constant flux.
You’ve needed a program to keep track of many top jobs at City Hall.
For example: since 2010, there’s been 3 City Managers (as shown below – can you identify more than one?) plus 1 to follow, and 2 Chiefs of Staff plus 1 to follow! Ouch.
Of all the people in Burlington to watch in 2015, my pick is the next City Manager. That person will play a pivotal role in what happens, and how things move forward at City Hall during this critical time in our city’s history.
In addition to other qualities he/she brings to the corridors of power there, let’s hope he/she works productively with Council – and stays for at least one or two terms of Council, especially with a new Strategic Plan coming soon.
Watch for other new staff appointments, terminations/retirements and resignations.
#2 – ROUND 2 WITH WARD 2 COUNCILLOR
While Mayor Rick Goldring should be the centre of attention on Council, Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will increasingly steal that spotlight.
Meed Ward has always been an excellent communicator, and she’s also a seasoned politician now. She’ll keep stirring Council’s pot vigorously and regularly, especially when her Ward constituents want something (and perhaps to attract more voters for an already much-anticipated mayoral bid in 2018).
However, the main event causing sparks at City Hall will probably continue to be friction between her and Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven (and others tag-teaming with him).
Catch all the action in person, tune in TVCogeco or check out the City’s webcasts. Body language says so much.
Unlike the relative calm of previous Goldring years, and unless Meed Ward can become less adversarial and more mayoral in nature, 2015 seems likely to be filled with more divisive public posturings and positionings.
For the sake of Burlington and Council, I sure hope that prediction is proven wrong.
#3 – SINGING THE BLUES, OR SEEING RED
After 70+ consecutive years as a Tory stronghold, we elected a Liberal MPP in 2014!
Who could have predicted that for Burlington?
In truth, a lot of people – particularly those who noticed local Liberal candidates nudging closer and closer to victory in recent elections.
Having said that, will voters elect a Liberal MP in 2015? Will our city catch the wave of a new kind of Trudeaumania with a young local candidate, Karina Gould, full of new energy and big ambition (with meetings in local pubs and other community hubs)?
Nope. Not this time anyway.
MP Mike Wallace is savvy, organized and determined.
Burlington is changing, as reflected by the 2014 provincial election. However, that sudden and surprising change seems to have helped the entire Council get re-elected in the ensuing 2014 municipal election. Voters chose stability and experience.
And that will also be a factor for likeable Mike in the 2015 federal election.
#4 – PIER-LESS
For my final choice, I could have predicted Burlington surging with unprecedented pride and support for the new Joseph Brant Hospital – or even said the Burlington Gazette will continue to be exposed as Pepper Parr’s pulpit for his personal political preferences (I might have said it, just not easily or without spitting!).
Either would have been an easy choice. Too easy.
Instead, I’ve gone with the ill-fated and much-lambasted Pier.
Yes, it went millions and millions of dollars over budget as a legacy/vanity piece (with little function or purpose, beyond being a tourist attraction and pleasant walk), and turned up the volume on public engagement (a positive outcome). Those days are over.
Here’s my boldest prediction: no one will say a disparaging word in public about the Pier in 2015.
Of course, there may be some revelation about the final legal costs. People might still refer to it as a tragic historical footnote of incredible political hubris and, just maybe, someone will mention the high maintainance costs going forward. But that’s it.
Silence will signal Burlington has learned some lessons, and turned the page.
This should help all of us start to write new chapters for our community, by focussing better on what really matters now:
*** aging infrastructure (which involves many inter-connected concerns)
*** aging population (with the related issues of health care, poverty and affordability)
*** worrisome intensification trends (primarily by the waterfront, and the impact on the character of older neighbourhoods)
*** lacklustre economic development (a now-revamped BEDC should make rumblings in 2015, and get tangible returns on that investment in 2016)
Okay, there you have it for 2015.
New City Manager. Councillor Meed Ward. MP Mike Wallace. The Pier.
Who or what is on your TOP-4 list?
p.s. Since I’ve raised a few opinions here related to political parties, and in order to offer full disclosure, please see the second half of the following post about my own partisan leanings….https://brianheagle.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/yesterday/