Nearly 200 residents, guests, and Burlington Chamber of Commerce members attended Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s annual luncheon on Friday afternoon.
Meed Ward and keynote speaker Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, spoke about affordable housing, the economic recovery from COVID, immigration and investing in manufacturing.
“We have all the ingredients here in Canada, and in Ontario, to be a leader on the world stage,” Meed Ward said. “And we are in some areas, but there is so much more of an opportunity, and if we come together we can seize it.”
Meed Ward only spoke for about 10 minutes before Rossi took the stage for approximately 30 minutes.
In previous roles, Rossi was CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada, former national director of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, and ran for mayor of Toronto in 2010 – as well as MPP in 2011.
“I love that different perspectives are brought together, and people can speak with one another about best practices, what works for them and what doesn’t, so we can understand the opportunities in front of us,” Rossi said.
Rossi also spoke about how policy decisions need to be made faster, and how COVID debt may be a bigger issue than some realize.
“Because of COVID, governments had to load up on debt, and they’re not simply going to be able to spend their way out of things,” Rossi said. “The single most important thing they can do is speed up decision-making, time is literally money.”
Rossi added that balancing the need to reduce greenhouse gases, protect the environment, and keep the environment livable in a timely manner is taking longer than it should.
“Once it goes through one process, it shouldn’t have to go through another four,” he says.
At the top of the event, Meed Ward touched on the news that Burlington was named the most livable city in Ontario by The Globe & Mail, and the fifth most livable in Canada. She also poked fun at neighbouring Oakville, which was listed as the 29th most livable city in Canada.
She also touched on the budget that was just passed earlier this week.
“I didn’t expect any applause for that,” Meed Ward said. “But I will say that we are not the lowest of municipalities around us, but we are also not the highest. It’s a difficult time in our country in terms of balancing priorities, investing in the future, and we can’t starve the services that our businesses and communities rely on just to keep costs down.”
During the event, guests were treated to a squash soup, chicken and roasted potatoes, and dessert.