Inaugural Address by Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Inaugural Meeting of the 2022-2026 Council of Markham

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 7:00 PM 
Hilton Toronto / Markham Suites

Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Welcome honoured guests, Members of Council… ladies and gentlemen…

No matter what we do in life, quite often our own personal journey weaves together with those most closest to us. So a big thank you to my wife Nancy who has played a big part of my 34-year political journey and has been a great support not only to me but our family. To Alessandra, Michael and Daniel. As a father you make me proud. Your strengths and humour continue to inspire me.

When it comes to inspiration my parents provided me enough to last me a lifetime. I salute my late parents – Lucia and Antonio Scarpitti and Nancy’s late parents – Alcinda and Antonio Rodrigues.

Our families continue to have the utmost love and respect for them and we always treasure the impact they had on our lives. They came to this country as immigrants, they overcame challenges, and somehow they not only fulfilled their dreams, they made ours possible.

My political journey is sustained by so many, first and foremost my brother Paul who gave more than any brother could ever ask for. And I never really had to ask.

My campaign manager, Del Silvestri, a master organizer, who is relentless in his pursuit of two very simple things: perfection and no excuses.  I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Art Moad and his wife Meek who have supported me in every campaign right from the start. While they had to sit this one out, their work ethic was the benchmark for everything we did. Thanks of course to the hundreds of volunteers who gave their time in each campaign.

Thank you Markham for providing me with the privilege of continuing to serve as your Mayor.

Before I speak about moving forward, I want to touch on the events of the last two and half years and their profound impacts on our community.

Our world was turned upside down in the beginning of 2020, brought on by a global pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed our world and in the early days, our community came together to support one another.

We rallied behind first responders and health care workers, collected personal protective equipment and masked-up.

Thank you to our community, our doctors, nurses, support staff, Markham staff, residents and businesses and everyone who answered the call.

Our community rolled up their sleeves, adhered to public health protocols and we had amongst the lowest case counts per capita in York Region and the GTA.

That resolve happened despite the isolation and disconnection from our family and friends in the midst of uncertainty.

More than half of this last term of council was overshadowed by the pandemic.

We persevered and stayed the course as an organization and accomplished most of the goals set out in our strategic plan.

We innovated daily, pivoted our programs and continued to deliver the exceptional services residents and businesses have come to expect.

There were disruptions we could not overcome; closures of our facilities, an end to our much-loved recreation, culture and seniors’ programs, all in an effort to keep people safe.

In the midst of those realities, we introduced virtual programs and Mayor’s Meet-Up town halls, hosted business seminars, provided support to hundreds of small businesses through streamlining permit processes and access to digital support programs.

We provided the most comprehensive tax relief program in the province for our families and businesses.

While most of us were focused on weathering the storm, there is no doubt families were changed forever and businesses struggled or did not recover.

224 Markham residents passed away from Covid-19. Many more were hospitalized.

I’d like to have a moment of silence now to honour and remember the Markham residents who were lost during the pandemic.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

To those who experienced loss, our thoughts continue to be with you.

As we move forward as a Council, there is already much to celebrate.

We’ve had the lowest 17-year average property tax increase in the GTA and have the lowest tax rate in almost every category: industrial, commercial, multi-residential, and second by a thin margin, for residential.

We remain one of the most sustainable and forward-thinking municipalities with one of the largest rooftop solar systems, new municipal electric vehicle charging stations, award-winning textile and Styrofoam recycling programs, geo-thermal pilot community, an expanding district energy system and a power-house hybrid program.

As Canada’s most diverse community, our goal is to ensure everyone feels welcomed.

Our Diversity Action Plan and Eliminating Anti-Black Racism Plan supports our goal to be an even more inclusive community.

We are taking bold steps to fulfill our municipal commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as deepen our meaningful partnership with Eabametoong First Nation.

Big advancements have been made on two transformational city-building projects.

Construction is underway for York University Markham Campus, opening in 2024.

We finally secured funding from the federal and provincial governments for the Yonge North Subway Extension and are nearing the start of construction for the largest mass transit project in Markham’s history, including 5 stations.

And while great progress has been made, the reality of global uncertainty will impact our decisions here at the City of Markham.

However, one thing that I can assure residents and businesses is that we will continue to be fiscally responsible – It’s Markham’s DNA.

We will remain focused on keeping property taxes low and keeping our costs down.

I will ask Council to consider a property tax rebate program for low-income seniors, acknowledging that funding this program from property taxes has its limits.

Municipalities and senior levels of government need to do more to ensure seniors can stay in their homes as long as possible.

Four years ago, I spoke to the urgent need to address housing availability and affordability challenges.

Since then, we’ve hosted an Affordable Housing Summit and Council endorsed our action plan “Housing Choices: Markham’s Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy.”

Priorities include inclusionary zoning and incentives for affordable housing.

But our job has only just begun.

We built 6,000 new housing units in the last term, that’s about 1,500 units per year.

The Province introduced legislation that aims to fast track the building of more housing in Ontario.

The Province has targeted 44,000 new residential units to be built in Markham over the next 10 years.

That more than doubles the pace of our construction for new homes.

I have pushed for more dialogue and a partnership between municipalities and the Province of Ontario to achieve more housing supply.

If the pace of home construction needs to double, then so does the pace of funding from senior levels of government for more rapid transit, schools and hospitals.

Locally, we need to increase our network of community amenities, parks, trails and active transportation.

Growth needs to pay for growth and one thing is for sure, we need a practical financial framework to deliver complete communities. That’s what we do best

Even with current funding models, our community will have to come together to financially support two new initiatives: an expansion of Markham Stouffville Hospital and the building of a residential hospice.

As Honourary Patron of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Capital Campaign, I will continue to lend my support and leadership, and commit to doing the same for a residential hospice.

Our recent public-private partnership successfully delivered 6 new indoor tennis courts, more than doubling our current capacity.

We will continue to pursue partnerships to expand recreation facilities, both indoor and outdoor, consistent with our Integrated Leisure Master Plan.

We are making significant investments in revitalizing Main Street Unionville and Victoria Square Boulevard, similar to the transformation we implemented on Main Street Markham.

We understand the importance of place.

We’ll move forward to create a new vision for the Bayview/John precinct in Thornhill.

I successfully advocated for additional funding to accelerate improvements to the regional road network and here in Markham, we will be advancing mid-block collectors, these bridges over the 404 will further relieve congestion.

We all have reignited our connection to outdoor public spaces.

We will turn our attention to animating our outdoor parks and public spaces with formal programs and opportunities to showcase local talent.

Four years ago we initiated the Markham Centre Trail System and I am pleased to announce that we will be opening the entire stretch from Warden to east of Birchmount before the end of the year!

Another section, south of the Rouge River, from Warden and Enterprise Boulevard to Verdale Crossing will be complete by 2024.

We will realize our dream of a civic square in Markham Centre, a place where the community will celebrate together like we did this past Canada Day.

To protect our older neighbourhoods from the ongoing threat of flooding, we will complete the flood mitigation, sewer improvement program in Thornhill and turn our attention to the Don Mills Channel and Markham Village.

We will continue our Fire and Emergency Services modernization plan.

Fire and Emergency Services, this important and life-saving service, makes up 25% of our City’s operating budget.

I have pushed for developing a modernized approach to fire service while keeping our community safe.

Some of our early successes include an agreement with Barrie Fire and Emergency Services to provide dispatch and 9-1-1 call service and positions us well for Next Generation 9-1-1.

The outcomes are clear, fire crews are now on scene 60-90 seconds faster resulting in quicker intervention and increased lifesaving opportunities.

We have opened an innovative fire training centre that reuses shipping containers, providing full flexibility, multiple configurations and training scenarios, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional fire training centre.

In anticipation of the subway and future residential development, we’re establishing a new fire station on Dudley Avenue with a different innovative approach.

We are introducing a new auxiliary vehicle equipped with the DRAGO, a first in North America for any Fire Service.

The DRAGO shoots mist over 200 feet with a width of 50 feet wide. It only requires two firefighters versus the standard four. And those firefighters will have an increased level of safety with this technology.

These combined initiatives will save property taxpayers millions of dollars.

Economic recovery and future prosperity places jobs and attracting investment high our priority list.

Our new innovation district, the Markham Innovation Exchange, also known as the MiX, consists of 1,900 acres. It’s an engine for innovation that can drive Canada’s economy.

It will be a place for inventing, commercializing and manufacturing the next generation of technologies.

Markham’s success has been our ability to attract highly-skilled talent; talent comes when they see opportunities.

The MiX, will be the door to those opportunities.

We want to ensure Markham’s continued leadership in Canada’s innovation sector.

We will develop a new economic development strategy.

Our world is changing and our strategy needs to change with it.

Let’s recognize…Markham is More!

Let’s celebrate what’s remarkable about Markham.

We have a vibrant diversity that has enriched our arts and cultural experience.

And has given us exceptional international cuisine.

We have first class facilities – Pan Am Centre, Varley Art Gallery and the Markham Museum.

We have beautiful heritage main streets.

We have outstanding trails and natural areas.

We have all the right ingredients…to create a showcase that can bring the world to our doorstep.

I strongly believe we are on the right path to meet the challenges and opportunities that will be before us in the coming years.

I have every confidence in our Council and staff, working together with our community, to achieve our goals and realize our dreams.

We will be pushing forward…together! 

We will do it in the spirit of the African Proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I would just add one caveat; we have to get going!

As Mayor and in this moment, I want to thank each and everyone of you. I continue to be inspired by your contributions that Markham the amazing community we all enjoy.

Thank you!

Business

Inaugural Address by Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Inaugural Meeting of the 2022-2026 Council of Markham

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 7:00 PM 
Hilton Toronto / Markham Suites

Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Welcome honoured guests, Members of Council… ladies and gentlemen…

No matter what we do in life, quite often our own personal journey weaves together with those most closest to us. So a big thank you to my wife Nancy who has played a big part of my 34-year political journey and has been a great support not only to me but our family. To Alessandra, Michael and Daniel. As a father you make me proud. Your strengths and humour continue to inspire me.

When it comes to inspiration my parents provided me enough to last me a lifetime. I salute my late parents – Lucia and Antonio Scarpitti and Nancy’s late parents – Alcinda and Antonio Rodrigues.

Our families continue to have the utmost love and respect for them and we always treasure the impact they had on our lives. They came to this country as immigrants, they overcame challenges, and somehow they not only fulfilled their dreams, they made ours possible.

My political journey is sustained by so many, first and foremost my brother Paul who gave more than any brother could ever ask for. And I never really had to ask.

My campaign manager, Del Silvestri, a master organizer, who is relentless in his pursuit of two very simple things: perfection and no excuses.  I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Art Moad and his wife Meek who have supported me in every campaign right from the start. While they had to sit this one out, their work ethic was the benchmark for everything we did. Thanks of course to the hundreds of volunteers who gave their time in each campaign.

Thank you Markham for providing me with the privilege of continuing to serve as your Mayor.

Before I speak about moving forward, I want to touch on the events of the last two and half years and their profound impacts on our community.

Our world was turned upside down in the beginning of 2020, brought on by a global pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed our world and in the early days, our community came together to support one another.

We rallied behind first responders and health care workers, collected personal protective equipment and masked-up.

Thank you to our community, our doctors, nurses, support staff, Markham staff, residents and businesses and everyone who answered the call.

Our community rolled up their sleeves, adhered to public health protocols and we had amongst the lowest case counts per capita in York Region and the GTA.

That resolve happened despite the isolation and disconnection from our family and friends in the midst of uncertainty.

More than half of this last term of council was overshadowed by the pandemic.

We persevered and stayed the course as an organization and accomplished most of the goals set out in our strategic plan.

We innovated daily, pivoted our programs and continued to deliver the exceptional services residents and businesses have come to expect.

There were disruptions we could not overcome; closures of our facilities, an end to our much-loved recreation, culture and seniors’ programs, all in an effort to keep people safe.

In the midst of those realities, we introduced virtual programs and Mayor’s Meet-Up town halls, hosted business seminars, provided support to hundreds of small businesses through streamlining permit processes and access to digital support programs.

We provided the most comprehensive tax relief program in the province for our families and businesses.

While most of us were focused on weathering the storm, there is no doubt families were changed forever and businesses struggled or did not recover.

224 Markham residents passed away from Covid-19. Many more were hospitalized.

I’d like to have a moment of silence now to honour and remember the Markham residents who were lost during the pandemic.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

To those who experienced loss, our thoughts continue to be with you.

As we move forward as a Council, there is already much to celebrate.

We’ve had the lowest 17-year average property tax increase in the GTA and have the lowest tax rate in almost every category: industrial, commercial, multi-residential, and second by a thin margin, for residential.

We remain one of the most sustainable and forward-thinking municipalities with one of the largest rooftop solar systems, new municipal electric vehicle charging stations, award-winning textile and Styrofoam recycling programs, geo-thermal pilot community, an expanding district energy system and a power-house hybrid program.

As Canada’s most diverse community, our goal is to ensure everyone feels welcomed.

Our Diversity Action Plan and Eliminating Anti-Black Racism Plan supports our goal to be an even more inclusive community.

We are taking bold steps to fulfill our municipal commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as deepen our meaningful partnership with Eabametoong First Nation.

Big advancements have been made on two transformational city-building projects.

Construction is underway for York University Markham Campus, opening in 2024.

We finally secured funding from the federal and provincial governments for the Yonge North Subway Extension and are nearing the start of construction for the largest mass transit project in Markham’s history, including 5 stations.

And while great progress has been made, the reality of global uncertainty will impact our decisions here at the City of Markham.

However, one thing that I can assure residents and businesses is that we will continue to be fiscally responsible – It’s Markham’s DNA.

We will remain focused on keeping property taxes low and keeping our costs down.

I will ask Council to consider a property tax rebate program for low-income seniors, acknowledging that funding this program from property taxes has its limits.

Municipalities and senior levels of government need to do more to ensure seniors can stay in their homes as long as possible.

Four years ago, I spoke to the urgent need to address housing availability and affordability challenges.

Since then, we’ve hosted an Affordable Housing Summit and Council endorsed our action plan “Housing Choices: Markham’s Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy.”

Priorities include inclusionary zoning and incentives for affordable housing.

But our job has only just begun.

We built 6,000 new housing units in the last term, that’s about 1,500 units per year.

The Province introduced legislation that aims to fast track the building of more housing in Ontario.

The Province has targeted 44,000 new residential units to be built in Markham over the next 10 years.

That more than doubles the pace of our construction for new homes.

I have pushed for more dialogue and a partnership between municipalities and the Province of Ontario to achieve more housing supply.

If the pace of home construction needs to double, then so does the pace of funding from senior levels of government for more rapid transit, schools and hospitals.

Locally, we need to increase our network of community amenities, parks, trails and active transportation.

Growth needs to pay for growth and one thing is for sure, we need a practical financial framework to deliver complete communities. That’s what we do best

Even with current funding models, our community will have to come together to financially support two new initiatives: an expansion of Markham Stouffville Hospital and the building of a residential hospice.

As Honourary Patron of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Capital Campaign, I will continue to lend my support and leadership, and commit to doing the same for a residential hospice.

Our recent public-private partnership successfully delivered 6 new indoor tennis courts, more than doubling our current capacity.

We will continue to pursue partnerships to expand recreation facilities, both indoor and outdoor, consistent with our Integrated Leisure Master Plan.

We are making significant investments in revitalizing Main Street Unionville and Victoria Square Boulevard, similar to the transformation we implemented on Main Street Markham.

We understand the importance of place.

We’ll move forward to create a new vision for the Bayview/John precinct in Thornhill.

I successfully advocated for additional funding to accelerate improvements to the regional road network and here in Markham, we will be advancing mid-block collectors, these bridges over the 404 will further relieve congestion.

We all have reignited our connection to outdoor public spaces.

We will turn our attention to animating our outdoor parks and public spaces with formal programs and opportunities to showcase local talent.

Four years ago we initiated the Markham Centre Trail System and I am pleased to announce that we will be opening the entire stretch from Warden to east of Birchmount before the end of the year!

Another section, south of the Rouge River, from Warden and Enterprise Boulevard to Verdale Crossing will be complete by 2024.

We will realize our dream of a civic square in Markham Centre, a place where the community will celebrate together like we did this past Canada Day.

To protect our older neighbourhoods from the ongoing threat of flooding, we will complete the flood mitigation, sewer improvement program in Thornhill and turn our attention to the Don Mills Channel and Markham Village.

We will continue our Fire and Emergency Services modernization plan.

Fire and Emergency Services, this important and life-saving service, makes up 25% of our City’s operating budget.

I have pushed for developing a modernized approach to fire service while keeping our community safe.

Some of our early successes include an agreement with Barrie Fire and Emergency Services to provide dispatch and 9-1-1 call service and positions us well for Next Generation 9-1-1.

The outcomes are clear, fire crews are now on scene 60-90 seconds faster resulting in quicker intervention and increased lifesaving opportunities.

We have opened an innovative fire training centre that reuses shipping containers, providing full flexibility, multiple configurations and training scenarios, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional fire training centre.

In anticipation of the subway and future residential development, we’re establishing a new fire station on Dudley Avenue with a different innovative approach.

We are introducing a new auxiliary vehicle equipped with the DRAGO, a first in North America for any Fire Service.

The DRAGO shoots mist over 200 feet with a width of 50 feet wide. It only requires two firefighters versus the standard four. And those firefighters will have an increased level of safety with this technology.

These combined initiatives will save property taxpayers millions of dollars.

Economic recovery and future prosperity places jobs and attracting investment high our priority list.

Our new innovation district, the Markham Innovation Exchange, also known as the MiX, consists of 1,900 acres. It’s an engine for innovation that can drive Canada’s economy.

It will be a place for inventing, commercializing and manufacturing the next generation of technologies.

Markham’s success has been our ability to attract highly-skilled talent; talent comes when they see opportunities.

The MiX, will be the door to those opportunities.

We want to ensure Markham’s continued leadership in Canada’s innovation sector.

We will develop a new economic development strategy.

Our world is changing and our strategy needs to change with it.

Let’s recognize…Markham is More!

Let’s celebrate what’s remarkable about Markham.

We have a vibrant diversity that has enriched our arts and cultural experience.

And has given us exceptional international cuisine.

We have first class facilities – Pan Am Centre, Varley Art Gallery and the Markham Museum.

We have beautiful heritage main streets.

We have outstanding trails and natural areas.

We have all the right ingredients…to create a showcase that can bring the world to our doorstep.

I strongly believe we are on the right path to meet the challenges and opportunities that will be before us in the coming years.

I have every confidence in our Council and staff, working together with our community, to achieve our goals and realize our dreams.

We will be pushing forward…together! 

We will do it in the spirit of the African Proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I would just add one caveat; we have to get going!

As Mayor and in this moment, I want to thank each and everyone of you. I continue to be inspired by your contributions that Markham the amazing community we all enjoy.

Thank you!

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