The Mayor's Address to the People of Moose Jaw: 2018
Traditionally, at the beginning of every new year, the Mayor gives his/her address on the state of the city. Usually it highlights the highs of the previous year while focusing also on plans to make the city better in the upcoming one.
Here it is, in its entirety, un-edited and UN-abridged. Fraser Tolmie's address to the citizens of Moose Jaw.
Let 2018 be a year of renewed hope, success and faith in who we are!
Moose Jaw is a better place and has a better future because of who we are! What we witnessed our people achieve during this past year has validated my conviction that Moose Jaw’s potential, has, and always will be, in its people.
In the year we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday, the list of achievements by our community surpass what I have noted below.
The year started off by the nationally televised Rogers Hometown Hockey being held in downtown Moose Jaw. The globally televised Miss Universe contest showcased Moose Jaw when Sierra Bearchell was shortlisted as one of the top ten finalists. The 2017 Special Olympic Provincial Summer games were held in Moose Jaw for the first time in over 40 years. Moose Jaw was featured as a destination in the Amazing Race. Superstore featured a commercial with Mac the Moose (the largest Moose in the world) and Canadian Olympic Sprinter Andre DeGrasse. The community collectively won the nationally televised Country Music Television One Horse Town competition through a nation-wide Facebook competition beating out 26 other cities from across Canada. Our water was named the best in the west at the annual Western Water Conference, and the online travel company Expedia rated our downtown #3 in their list of coolest downtowns in all of Canada.
What does it take to overcome? What does it take to be a winner? What does it take to make the world we live in better? Courage! Courage to overcome, courage to face the challenges of the day, and courage to challenge what has been the status quo. Courage is a choice. Moose Jaw has a choice, not about what kind of a city we were 30 years ago, but what kind of a city we will be for the next 30 years. Wise people look at the past, and ask, “How does it influence tomorrow?” In 1911 Moose Jaw was the Railway Center of Saskatchewan and Robin Hood Mills was the largest in Western Canada. Moose Jaw was the first city in Canada to go all diesel or gas with its bus fleet, and for the longest time Moose Jaw was considered to be the Band Capital of North America.
Moose Jaw’s history is filled with a spirit of determination and optimism. What were the dreams of those who went before us and what were their hopes for Moose Jaw’s future? This past year was filled with great accomplishments but that cannot and will not be the pinnacle of our City’s success.
Do we have lessons from this past year that can be learned from? As difficult as it may be to admit, the answer is yes! We have to challenge ourselves. We need to step out of our comfort zones so progress can be made. We need to go from being critical and focusing solely on criticism to being constructive. We need to go from making things personal to taking issues to a professional level so our community can benefit as a whole. We will strive to improve on the challenges we faced, and to make them lessons learned.
Those lessons extend to improving how we communicate with our residents. Local media and social media are constantly evolving, providing us with multiple platforms from which we can deliver critical, and beneficial information. Those platforms, coupled with a commitment from the City, have resulted in the City of Moose Jaw being able to communicate more with residents now, than at any other time in our history.
That means there is more work to do and more improvements to be made on communications this year. It is incumbent upon our elected officials and City administration to recognize and fulfill our respective roles in the communications process.
The communication gap is also closing between the City of Moose Jaw and the other levels of Government. Moose Jaw has a fundamental role to play in the future success of the Province of Saskatchewan. The world relies on Saskatchewan and the Moose Jaw area as a place of natural resources and agriculture abundance. We are a global trading partner and we have a role to play as a regional leader.
Water is a key to our success. It is a fundamental resource that is needed for this city to sustain itself and grow. We can lead the conversation regarding water security, taking this region from going from drought to flood cycles, to a strong, reliable agriculture, value-added business economy in the future.
We are making a strong case to the Province that Moose Jaw is the right place to invest despite the challenges of the Provincial Budget that directly impacted Moose Jaw by removing funding equal to a 16% tax increase. The city made tough decisions under these challenges and increased funding towards capital projects ten times what it was three years ago without having the 16% Provincial download.
This level of investment activity is also attracting the attention of investors who are now taking a serious look at investing in Moose Jaw. Businesses outside of city limits are taking notice.
The new Town ‘N Country mall owners are looking to bring that property back to life, and the Civic Centre Plaza is nearing its final phase of construction while at the same time local businesses are looking to grow and expand. They are recognizing Moose Jaw’s competitive advantage. We want our business sector - including Moose Jaw’s downtown district – to be as vibrant and as productive as they can be.
The spirit of determination and optimism is still alive and well in the city of Moose Jaw. It is a better place because of the people who choose to live, work and raise their families here. Let 2018 be a year of renewed hope, success and faith in who we are!