The following is the full text of the Tuesday, December 4, 2018, inaugural address of Timmins Mayor George Pirie.

Good evening! I would like to welcome everyone here in the chamber tonight and thank Justice Martin Lambert for performing the ceremony and Sean Lee for the invocation. I would also like to acknowledge past Mayors Tom Laughren and Vic Power.

Additionally I would like to thank Tom Luke for another outstanding job.

I would like to thank Mayor Black and the outgoing members of council for their years of service to the citizens and leadership within the city. Again I would like to acknowledge specifically Mike Doody for a life time of community service.

To the new members and re-elected members of council, welcome.  We have come to know each better over the last month and I am excited to begin this journey together.

To the family members here and supporters of the elected councillors both here and at the Senator, thank you for the generosity of your time and efforts on behalf of our success. We would not be here without your contributions of time and toil.

To the administration of the city here and at the Senator thank you for your efforts. We will continue to work together as a team dedicated to continuous improvement, continuous improvement to our way of thinking, continuous improvement in the way we solve problems with everyone working together, administration, council and the leadership within the city to address the issues we face. Committed to being the best we can be to serve the citizens of the City of Timmins. Respect and trust are paramount. Reasonable people should be able to disagree reasonably and then get on with the business at hand.

We have some immediate issues we have to deal with. We know we have a homelessness problem, some would say crisis in the city.  Within that issue is the need to put in place a warming shelter to provide a safe environment for those most at risk.

To that end I will be calling for the formation of a task force mandated to provide a solution at the earliest possible date. I am confident we have the leadership within this community. I witnessed evidence of this leadership at a recent luncheon hosted by Goldcorp where ten agencies dedicated to serving the community doing truly outstanding work and performing essential services were present. Behind those present stood hundreds of volunteers. I know we have strong corporate sponsorship and a dedicated community. Truly we are still the city with a heart of gold. I am convinced, on the basis of the quality of the individuals at that luncheon that we can get this done!

We need to have the difficult conversations on all issues and be courageous enough to make tough decisions.  The world is changing all around us and we have to adapt. Communities that bury their head in the sand are doomed to mediocracy and will slowly crumble from the inside out. We cannot be one of them. Timmins is not alone in this changing world. Every other municipality of our size is facing the same social issues we see on our streets. To that end we have to begin the conversation with the social services agencies to find a solution to these issues here in Timmins. Status quo is not an option.

We have talked often about our aging infrastructure, problems with the Porcupine sewage treatment system, debt threat, declining population, levels of taxation, and the voters have spoken. They want action! They want solutions! They want and deserve a council that will examine the status quo and make the necessary changes to our way of doing business to chart a new course to ensure our future for generations to come. We need to do a better job of providing information to our citizens.  Service Timmins is a start and we will continually improve our communications. We will undertake a complete examination of where and how to improve in this area engaging our citizens in this initiative.  It is a critical area and one that will define how we move forward into the third decade of this century. A core value has to be that everything we do is in the best interest of our citizens and taxpayers.

But our future really starts by beginning to look at our past. When I stand or sit here in front of you in this chamber and throughout city hall I see all around me the images of a proud frontier town carved out of the wilderness, built by incredible individuals with an unlimited supply of fortitude and belief in their future and the future of the Porcupine Camp. The richness of this camp is only really understood when you realise these deposits were developed and financed when gold was $20 per ounce. This is our heritage! My relatives were among those phenomenal individuals who were here in the early days of the Porcupine Camp.

What these images do not show however, is any evidence of what and who was here prior to the discovery of the gold.  There is no recognition of the indigenous population that lived here for thousand years moving north and south and east and west between the tributaries of the mighty river systems that empty into James Bay.  This is where we need a paradigm shift in our thinking if we are really going to achieve all that is possible to us here.  Our future depends on this.

At a recent event welcoming the Nan students to Timmins, to begin to acknowledge this past I offered the usual warm Timmins welcome but then also said Thank You, Thank You for hosting Timmins in your traditional territories. We are nowhere near the edge of our possibilities and our potential but if we are to attain it we must do it in partnership with our Indigenous peoples. There is a larger vison to be a part of and it is the vision of reconciliation. We must educate, engage and enlist our children and ourselves in this process.  We have a unique opportunity here in Timmins because of our geographic location slightly north of the height of land and in the southern region of the James Bay lowlands in the heart of the traditional territories of the Indigenous peoples of this land. Together we can build a model of governance with the other municipalities in the region and the Indigenous communities that will sitting together, addressing our mutual issues side by side,  have the rest of Ontario and Canada coming here to ask how did you get this done.  For far too long the issues in our part of Ontario have been in the too tough pile for the Provincial and Federal governments.  With this type of thinking and these types of initiatives we move from being part of the problem to part of the solution. In everything we do we must move to this thinking, in this direction, being part of the solution, presenting solutions. We are perfectly positioned to start this process here in Timmins.

We must continue to lever off our rich cultural mosaic and continue to weave the social fabric of our community. We know our cultural diversity with strong, Italian, Eastern European and Northern European elements makes us stronger.

Our francophone community is a large part of our cultural identity in Timmins and indeed makes us stronger and more vibrant.  The Franco Ontario community has always been an essential element in how we define our community and always will be.  We fly the Franco Ontario flag proudly at city hall.

I have said that we are nowhere near the edge of our possibilities and our potential.  We have unlimited potential in every segment of our economy. Our economic development will engage the best individuals in the city and region. We must develop the business plans and market the best initiatives globally. We need to think the unthinkable. We need to believe that we can do it here.

– We already have the proof that we can.  Our agriculture sector has the potential to provide huge upside. We are at the southern edge of the great clay belt that has the potential to feed the world as our soils are rich and technological advances and a longer growing season make it possible to grow a greater diversity of crops. I never would have imagined walking in a field of corn shoulder high outside of Matheson

– Our resource sector will be strong and vibrant. Our forests are healthy and sustainable but buying patterns in the retail sector have changed and people now shop out of a box. The lets make the cardboard here!

– Our mining sector will continue to prosper as there is no better place to explore from than a base in Timmins. There is no better place to locate your mills, refineries and smelters than here in Timmins. There is no better administrative center than here in Timmins from which to run your gold, base metal, battery metal, diamond or ferrochrome operations from.

-Our energy sector is unlimited with geothermal potential in our deep mines and frigid cold air in the upper levels. Why is this potentially important because the largest single cost in the cloud computing world that mines big data is air-conditioning. Is it possible to attract these companies to Timmins? Well I can only ask why not, Sudbury has a neutrino laboratory.

-We have an energy surplus in Ontario. We spill water over our dams because we cannot use the power. Imagine harnessing that power at a plant making hydrogen required for a hydrogen fuel cell. Again the highest single cost in making hydrogen is energy and we have it here.

– There are three natural gas pipelines across the north, two 30 inch lines and one 24 inch line, the 24 inch line is not being used. I recently attended an information session with a group, well financed proposing to off take natural gas from the compressor station in Raymor and build a 24 inch line to the Chicoutimi region. There they plan to build an LNG plant to provide Europe with natural gas and compete with the current supplies which come out of Russia.  The pipeline project would be a five billion dollar project. So we know we have an abundance of affordable power with which to attract industry.

-Our tourism industry will continue to thrive on the natural beauty of this magnificent land. We must work with the Environmental Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources to open and keep open the roads, bridges and trail that allow access to some of the most beautiful lakes and rivers in the Province.

-We will continue to grow our centres of excellence in education at our secondary and post-secondary institutions; College Boreal; Northern College and University de Hearst.
We will continue to grow our position as the centre of health care excellence for the region.

-We must maximize the economic potential of our airport.  To that end we will be forming a committee to look at the expanding our partnerships within that sector.  We must recognise the fact that we are only an hour north of Toronto by air and begin to capture all the economic benefits that means to the city.

 

Just as we look differently now than the pictures on the wall we will look different in the future.  As the mining activity winds down at the Hollinger we will work proactively with Goldcorp on their reclamation activities. I have a vision of which includes  recreating  the McIntyre Park and building an integrated park system from there through Gilles Lake Park, to the Hollinger Park and  rehabilitate the east side of HWY 655 to Ross. This would be a tremendous initiative and one I am sure every citizen of Timmins would celebrate!

What we do now in the next four years will lay the foundation for our future, a future where the world will come to us to ask us how we did that and most importantly how can we invest in your community.

We must engage all our citizens in the task of defining our future especially our youth and that is why we will form the Timmins Youth Advisory council.

I feel passionately we can do this.  Why? Because we already are, an example of which is the success Northern College is having in attracting international students. Kids from India, half way around the world are already choosing Timmins.

And yesterday I attended a meeting at Northern College with a delegation from China, who are here because Fred Gibbons and his team secured an agreement for students from China to attend school right here at our campus in Timmins. Again kids from half way around the world coming to Timmins!

So the world already believes in Timmins and every citizen of Timmins must as well. We can achieve all our potential if we always do the right thing, build teamwork and trust, and have a passion for growth and change.

It is our future to seize!