2020 is going to be an extraordinary and busy year! There are a number of exciting and complex projects that will get underway. The biggest and boldest project is what is currently referred to as Library Square. This will see us transforming the downtown core by adding a stunning multi-purpose facility and performance hall to 22 Church Street and creating a vibrant Town Square between the Church Street School and the Aurora Public Library. The project also involves some exciting improvements to the Library and will create a thriving arts and culture hub in the heart of downtown. We expect to break ground on the site in the spring of 2020.
Another key project that will continue into 2020 is our Electoral System Review. I have made no secret of the fact that I am an advocate of moving from the current at-large system to a ward-based system. Aurora is currently one of the few remaining at-large systems in Ontario and I firmly believe that having our community elect Councillors to represent specific geographic areas is a better model. A ward system will provide better representation for our residents and improve the accountability for elected officials. I am confident that a ward system will lead to less politics and improved decision-making processes that will benefit the whole Town.
In 2020 the Town will also begin the process of reviewing our Official Plan. As I have stated, I believe that our Official Plan is an essential roadmap for our community and it must be adhered to. Our Official Plan is critical to ensuring we grow in a way that maintains our small-town charm. The review process will involve extensive community engagement which has begun already. The project will continue in 2020 and I hope it’s something our residents get involved in so they can have their say into how they think Aurora should grow.
Another focus for me in the new year will be around major office development. I look forward to working through our Economic Development Board to bring more commercial offices to Aurora. Our residents want to work in the same community where they live and I intend on making sure Aurora is as desirable as possible for the business community to come here and grow here. In 2019 we took a positive step forward when I brought forward a motion to Council to exempt development charges for major office developments. Staff will be bringing back a bylaw to support this motion in the new year and I am confident it will be an excellent tool for us in attracting industrial, commercial and institutional development.
2019 has also seen Aurora expand its presence in education as Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) opened its doors. Having both St. Andrew’s College and the CFWI in our Town has brought an international awareness to Aurora and in 2020 I, along with Council, will work to grow Aurora’s educational presence in Ontario.
Also at the Regional level we will see Regional Council begin our own Governance review (now that the Provincial Regional Review is complete)…In this new year, I will be looking at bringing some big ideas and bold changes to our Regional Governance model that will create a more efficient and effective Regional Government.
These are just a few of things that will be happening in 2020. It promises to be a year full of big – but exciting – changes. I look forward to working in partnership with staff and our community as we continue to get things done.