Message from Marianne Meed Ward appears in Economic Report Inside the Globe and Mail
Through a partnership with the City of Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, our Burlington Chamber of Commerce and local BIAs, we have mounted an effective and coordinated response to support our businesses through COVID-19.
The Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington supports were formed to actively partner with our business community to help them through the recovery and rebuilding stage in a post-pandemic world. They have done an outstanding job through business grants, distribution of free rapid COVID-19 tests, and digital support initiatives. Free parking and transit were offered by the City and penalties on interest payments were waived.
City Council also approved a grant program worth $245,000 to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supports to business to help them make changes to their spaces to keep their staff and customers safe. The fund was administered in partnership with Burlington Economic Development.
We continue to implement action items gleaned from the 2019 Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force that I co-chaired with my colleague Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith. Consultations with our business community led to 22 Council-approved recommendations to remove red tape and make the process of relocating or expanding here in Burlington easier and more efficient. A City webpage was launched to track the implementation and completion of each recommendation, available at Burlington.ca/RTRC. Council is also updated on the progress monthly.
In our 2021 City of Burlington budget, Council approved $1.5 million for new positions in planning and we are looking at additional investments to keep up with the volume of work.
Additionally, in October 2020, Council supported the establishment of the Burlington Lands Partnership (BLP), a new organizational structure that will oversee the strategic lands management function of the City. The BLP represents a transitional approach that allows for the expansion of organization capacity and a build-up of expertise. This will in turn enable further consideration by Council of a formalized municipal development corporation (MDC) in line with other municipalities in Ontario and utilizing the powers allowed under the Municipal Act related to municipal corporations.
Our goal with the BLP is to enable the City of Burlington’s focus on strategic lands related to several key priorities, including maximizing business development opportunities that support economic growth and job creation, deliver increased affordable housing and implement city building projects and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all citizens.
Burlington continues to be open for business.
Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor