Mayor's Inaugural Address

At the Monday December 5, 2011 Inaugural Council meeting, Mayor Ashton delivered his inaugural address as follows:

Good evening Citizens of Penticton, Councillors and Staff, Family and Friends

Personal thanks were made to past Councillors Dan Albas and Mike Pearce.

Congratulations to Councillors Helena Konanz and Wesley Hopkin and all returning members of Council (Litke, Jakubeit, Sentes, and Vassilaki).

With the re-election of the majority of Council and the addition of two very community minded individuals, this Council can continue to make a difference in the governance of this wonderful City.

All political election rhetoric aside, the former Council made a substantial and constructive difference in the operation of the City. There were tough decisions to be made. The Council listened to the Citizens and those decisions were made with the best interests of the whole Community.

With the changes that took place, especially in City Hall and with Annette Antoniak as our City Manager and the great team of all the City employees that have rallied around her a very decisive, transparent and accountable difference has been shown to you in how staff and Council conduct the operation on your City. These changes were very tough on Staff, especially those that lost their positions and you have my word I will be doing as much as possible to address the morale issues and I ask Council to do the same. Change is difficult especially substantial change and to go forward for the best interest of the Community we need to work together!

One thing we did not do very well at the City, both Staff and Council, is to communicate with you in a consistent easy to obtain, easy to read format. But that is going to hopefully change. Included in the proposed budget for 2012 is a monthly news and City activity summary that will be included in every utility invoice. Also enhanced use of Social media sites is becoming more prevalent and we need to be using this medium more effectively and in conjunction with our wonderful new City website.

And speaking of communication, there are those in the community that during the decision process regarding a correctional facility who were not in favor, and they proposed that there are alternative options for the City to consider making Penticton more prosperous. Well my door and mind are always open as I am sure Council's is. I hope you will make the same effort expended available to the Community and Council to help bring your ideas to fruition. I extend to you my pledge of assistance and support for this Community to be able to make a difference but it has to be kept in mind that we have two sources of income to draw from. Our revenue and taxation and we all know what everyone thinks about the latter.

Council will continue to work harder, spend smarter, and to govern more effectively. Every department, every staff member, every Councillor and especially the Mayor will continue to be held accountable for how we spend and utilize your tax dollars.

Departmental innovation and efficiency to address expenditures and revenue will not be optional. We are going to continue to work more productively and successes and dedication will be rewarded!

Reporting on the City's financial status will continue to be brought forward quarterly and presented to you in an understandable format. The fourth quarter results will be made available as quickly as possible so you will know precisely what this Council has to work with at the start of its mandate.

A complete review of the Committee structure will be taking place with Council and input from previous Committee members and Staff will be sought to judge the effectiveness of each committee and we will look at how recommendations are brought forward and implemented by Council.

I would like to maintain, and I hope Council agrees, the following two Advisory Overview Boards, which have proven very successful and to add a new one:

1). Fiscal Review Board; and

2). Development Services Overview.

NEW: 3). Community and Business Development

· Opportunities for development of new business;

· Oversight of the South Okanagan Events Centre, Convention Centre, and the Okanagan and Skaha Lake revitalization

These Advisory Boards will be composed of Professionals from the Community, an appropriate City Staff member, Councillor, and volunteers with related experience and interest.

Once again, your concerns and issues will be heard and addressed to the best of our ability, collectively and as soon as possible from both Staff and Council.

We will continue to seek cooperative opportunities and better communication with the Federal, Provincial, Regional and Penticton Indian Band Governments and we need to establish much better and regular communication with the School Board where additional opportunities should be explored.

We are not immune to what is happening in the world today and we need to continue to be cognizant of the current financial status of many of the citizens of Penticton and the ongoing employment issues this City faces. You can be assured that this Council and the Staff will continue to do everything possible and as quickly as possible within our means to help people get back to work. The employers in construction, industrial and all other areas of gainful employment must be able to proceed without unwarranted City process delays.

There has been change in how we seek to fill the hotels, hotels, convention and event centres and businesses with tourists and customers. We need to give the new entity a chance. We have to take personality differences out of the process. We need to make the transition seamless and the decisions that need to be made by various businesses and organizations must be made for the benefit of the whole Community. There are too many location choices for vacation and conference expenditures today for us to be successful again; we have to work together. We must continue our efforts to ensure a safer, more sustainable and environmentally friendlier community.

· A community where quality of life is front and centre;

· A community that has a social conscience for those less fortunate;

· A community that promotes its cultural diversity;

· A community where our streets are safe and where our homes have the protection they deserve;

· A community where our children can gain a complete education; and

· A community where they can live, work, own a home and raise a family.

Our Cities future is in your hands! Help make the difference, get involved!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Council, your Staff, your City and we will listen and we will do our best in these turbulent economic times to be successful in our endeavors for all the citizens of Penticton.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome your Councillors.