GUEST SPEAKER,  Brian McMullan, Mayor of St Catharines

Dan Toppari introduced Mayor McMullen:

Mayor McMullan was born in Hamilton and raised in the Niagara region. He has a degree from Brock University, and is the vice-president of Hanna Paper Recycling.  He is the former chairman of the Recycling Council of Ontario, and worked to establish Ontario's blue box program.

Mayor McMullen served on St. Catharines City Council from 1988 to 1997, representing the Grantham ward.  He was elected to the Niagara Regional Council in 2000, and during that time co-chaired the region's Smart Growth Smarter Niagara Steering Committee.

Mayor McMullen was elected Mayor of St Catharines in 2006 by a significant margin and on November 29, 2009 announced his intentions to see re-election in 2010.

Mayor McMullen's remarks were very informative and outlined the many initiatives that are currently underway that will continue to make the City of St. Catharines a city of choice. 

Thank you for the kind introduction.
I am pleased to be here with you this afternoon to share with you, the members of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines South, a review of the accomplishments of 2009 and what is ahead for our city in 2010.
Let me first begin by commending your efforts to make St. Catharines a better place to live. You are an exemplary organization and have contributed so much to worthy causes in our community. I want to express my sincerest gratitude to you all for your leadership and service.
It is a great honour and privilege to be your Mayor.
Every day over the last three years, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be the mayor of the greatest city - a beautiful city, full of warm, caring people - located in the best country in the world.
It is also a city that, despite the challenges of the global economic downturn, had good fortune in 2009 and has incredible opportunity at its doorstep for 2010.
St. Catharines will see an unprecedented level of investment from 2009 and through 2010 - some $1.3 billion in investment - not including the investment being made by the provincial government to upgrade the QEW.
It is an incredible, almost incomprehensible number.
St. Catharines has never seen this level of investment at any other time in our history.
Some critics will argue that a large portion of this amount is public money from the various levels of government, and not private money.
There are some significant private sector projects including $245 million investment by General Motors Canada in its St. Catharines Glendale powertrain facility, $43.7 million investment by Smart Centres to reclaim the former Ferranti Packard site and the $70 million Port Place Development in Port Dalhousie.

But there are some major public sector projects - the new hospital being the largest at $759 million - that make up this number.
And there are projects, such as the Performing Arts Centre, that will require contributions from the City and our property tax payers.
But where the critics are wrong is to suggest that this somehow does not represent a true investment in our city.
I agree that governments don't create jobs - Private investment and businesses creates jobs.
But governments - including city council - have a responsibility to their communities to create an environment that will attract private business and with it new jobs.
And that's exactly what we are doing in St. Catharines.
Investing in our downtown will attract private interest, while supporting things like nGen - the Niagara Interactive Media Generator and our broader economic development efforts will attract new businesses to the Garden City.
And the investments in our community facilities - items like the new aquatics centre - will make the city an attractive place for employees and entice them to locate here.
St. Catharines council understands that all government money comes from taxpayers - from your hard earned money.
We respect that.
Which is why, when Council decides to spend City money or asks for funding from the federal or provincial governments, it is for projects we believe will benefit St. Catharines now and in the future.
Projects that will make St. Catharines a place where people want to live, work and play. 

It is part of a co-ordinated strategy to strengthen and diversify St. Catharines' economy, so that it may withstand further economic downturns.
It's called having vision.
And for the first time in a very long time people are looking at St. Catharines as an innovator, as an up-and-coming community, as a city focused on the future.
There is a new optimism and excitement among our citizens.
Historically, St. Catharines has been a leader - from the first Welland Canal to the establishment of the milling and automotive industries.
Some may say we lost our way.
The path laid out for St. Catharines by this council, together with our senior management team and our City staff will help us reclaim our title as an innovator.
As will the projects and initiatives underway and on the horizon for 2010.
Construction of the new hospital complex in West St. Catharines, continues to make progress following the groundbreaking last April.

Recently, I visited the construction site of the hospital and it will truly be a magnificent facility. The complex will not only ensure the best quality care for our residents, but will also play a role in attracting new physicians and researchers.
The same is true for the Niagara Health and Biosciences Research Complex of Brock University.
This $111 million development will enable the commercialization of valuable research while also providing opportunities for businesses in the areas of health, wellness and pharmaceuticals.
The City expects significant business spin-offs from the synergy of having both a state-of-the-art hospital and bioscience centre in close proximity.
To prepare for this St. Catharines Council has created an innovation zone in west St. Catharines that will target new industry including research and development, green technology, design, institutional and pharmaceutical uses. 
In addition, Council continues to focus on the cultural sector to bolster investment from knowledge-based businesses.
In May of last year, the City received word the federal and provincial governments would contribute a total of $36 million toward the construction of a downtown performing arts centre.
In April, Minister Jim Bradley, announced $26.1 million in Funding to Brock University's Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.  Needless to say, we are ever so grateful for Minister Bradley's unwavering support of this project.
Built in conjunction with a new location for Brock University's Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, this project is important because it will be the cornerstone for downtown redevelopment.
Supported by a new Carlisle Street garage, which recently began construction, and the conversion to two-way traffic, the new centre will attract people, knowledge-based business and investment.

Another project expected to attract investment in our city's downtown core is the expansion of nGen - the Niagara Interactive Media Generator.
In June, the City welcomed the grand opening of the business incubator's new facility "the Generator at One." nGen's new $3 million federally funded facility provides start-up and existing digital interactive media businesses with access to cutting-edge technology and support services.
This state-of-the-art facility presents an incredible opportunity to advance the development of our already thriving digital interactive media industry.
One issue that remains to be resolved is the issue of the Niagara Regional Police Headquarters.
St. Catharines City Council still continues to believe the best and most cost effective location for the NRP is downtown.
While negotiations have begun of a Niagara Falls site, we remain hopeful that regional councillors will reconsider the downtown location as the most considerate of taxpayers' money.
2010 also brings the start of construction on the long-awaited aquatics centre.
Following the decision last year to add two additional lanes to the pool, I believe we will have a facility that will best meet the needs of the vast majority of users in St. Catharines.
The new facility will be a gathering place where citizens of every age can pursue a healthy lifestyle and also enrich their learning experiences through the co-location of the new Grantham Library Branch.
Construction began this spring with completion expected in the fall of 2011.
In May of this year construction began on another recreation project.
An artificial turf field is being built at the Seymour Hannah sports complex after last summer's announcement that the provincial and federal governments will provide $1 million each for the project.
While not our largest project, the sports field is a historic project in that it represents the first time in our history that the federal government has funded a recreation facility in the City of St. Catharines.
This fact speaks volumes about the positive working relationship St. Catharines has with both our federal member of Parliament Rick Dykstra and our member of provincial parliament, Jim Bradley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
We all know that by working together, regardless of our level of government or political stripe, we can achieve more for  St. Catharines by working together.
These positive relationships, I believe, also lead to the extension of GO bus service to Niagara and the summer GO Train service.
All levels of government, including the City, heard the call of St. Catharines residents for the need to bring GO Transit to Niagara.
After an extremely successful pilot last summer where 40,000 riders took advantage of the Niagara to Toronto service, studies are now underway to evaluate a permanent GO Transit rail link to Niagara.
This would be a great addition for St. Catharines - especially if it were in place before the 2015 Pan Am Games, where St. Catharines will host the rowing events.
The expansion of GO Transit will dovetail with the City's ongoing efforts to promote sustainable forms of transportation.
City council also continues to work to live up to the Garden City name.
We have teamed up with Crime Stoppers to collect tips to catch those responsible for graffiti and tagging in our community.
The City is continuing our partnership with Mainstream to remove graffiti from city and utility fixtures and is working to expand the partnership to involve Canada Post.
City Hall has implemented a Green Task Force to look at ways the Corporation can reduce its carbon foot print.
City Council is also working to ensure the approval of Schickluna - a run-of-river hydro electric generation project located on Twelve Mile Creek and owned by the St. Catharines Hydro Generation.
This project will produce green, renewable energy and will generate revenue for the City for many years to come.
City Council has also offered its support of Horizon's plan to use commercial rooftops to locate solar panels to generate green energy.
This afternoon, I have given you a brief overview of a number of initiatives that our citizens have told us are important.
City council has also heard from our citizens, that while they support our efforts to boost St. Catharines economy and improve our infrastructure, they also want us to remain mindful of the pressures on property taxpayers. 
Council appreciates the support of our citizens and will make every effort to  hold the line on spending this year so that we may keep property taxes as low as possible, while maintaining the services our residents have come to expect. 
The future does indeed look very bright for St. Catharines. 
We are on the verge of a major transformation of our community - not just our downtown. 
And this is only the beginning, I believe the best is yet to come.
Thank you for your time this afternoon and for allowing me to share St. Catharines' accomplishments and our vision for the future.