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Brava Retirement

The day started, as most days do, taking my son and his friends to high school so that they can begin their day.  I like to tell you some of the more mundane things in the day, so that you have an idea of how elected officials balance our public and private lives.

My first meeting is with the Brant Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators, a group that started a number of years ago to assist in sharing experience and knowledge  for the coordination and recruitment of volunteers.

I had been asked to come and speak, but in light of recent budget decisions, I asked the coordinators if we could have more of a conversational meeting.   We had moved forward with a proposal for a Volunteer Centre that was received by Council, but because of the funding proposal it was referred to the Estimates process.

We had originally proposed that the funding for a three year seed program come from the casino revenue, but when the money was allocated to the completion of the Gretzky Centre, the opportunity to draw on these funds was eliminated. The item was therefore, withdrawn from the Estimates process.

There remains a real need to redevelop a culture of volunteerism in Brantford, as the volunteer base is aging and new recruits are becoming fewer and fewer. Many programs in Brantford function because of the role of volunteers, and many of these programs are at risk because they can't attract the necessary volunteer skills or knowledge.

Our discussion moved to suggestions regarding how we can generate some interest, and offer a coordinated approach to drawing in new volunteers; and I agreed to return to the December meeting to facilitate a more in-depth discussion.

I return to City Hall after that meeting to address a series of Notices of Motion that I have to complete and approve so that they can be included in Council packages which is to go out later that day (Thursday).  It is important to share the wording of Notices of Motion and Resolutions with Council members with enough time so that they can properly review and be prepared to debate the items.

The Notices of Motion include three related to post-secondary partnerships and negotiations; two in support of an earlier Notice of Motion (now a resolution) regarding discussions with Six Nations, and a broader consultation within Brantford about our Six Nations partnerships; and the last Notice of Motion is about creating a Staff Appreciation Day initiative on behalf of Council.

I have had a number of requests by members of Council to meet to discuss their initiatives and to gather information related to projects they are working on. I always have my door open to all members of Council and I encourage anyone to contact me when they need support, or are looking for a new set of eyes for a problem they may have encountered. With ten years of experience in the Mayor's Office, I have seen many things and I am always willing to share my experience and knowledge.

I have a stack of paperwork to review -- constituent concerns, questions and comments -- as well as numerous requests to attend events that need to be scheduled, and that require a response.  When I am unable to make an event, the Acting Mayor can step in, so we must coordinate our schedules.  I feel that it is important to share a variety of events and meeting opportunities with the Acting Mayors, so that they can be engaged in representing Council and the Mayor's Office.

Estimates begins at 4:30 and I have to find some time to review my notes and prepare for this meeting.

The meeting is attended by staff and a large number of Laurier Brantford journalism students who have been charged with attending a City Council meeting and writing a story as an assignment.  The previous evening, at the Dangerous Play Taskforce meeting, we had almost 20 students in attendance and they created a media scrum with the participants immediately following.

The operations portion of the Estimates process is being debated, and with all but the in-camera items and a series of one-time funding requests, the operations portion will be completed early the following week.  We will then prepare for the start of the capital budget.

The Estimates meeting is only two hours as some Members of Council are attending the retirement from the bench of Justice Kenneth Lenz. The event is attended by many Justices from across the Province as well as many other representatives from the government.

It is a unique opportunity to speak on behalf of the community at a retirement of a Judge, because their role in our community cannot be ignored.  They are key to the administration of justice in our community, and as such, hold positions of respect and prestige. Ken Lenz has served our community with honour for more than 20 years and I was honoured to speak words of thanks and praise on behalf of the citizens of Brantford.

As a last word, the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign started this past Saturday, and I, along with Dave Levac and Phil McColeman, were in attendance to speak words of support and to be among the first to contribute to the annual Christmas campaign.

Please remember to give when you see the Salvation Army kettles, donate to the Food Bank, or to Christmas Baskets.  There are people in our community, through no fault of their own, who cannot offer the same spirit of the Holidays and need our help. Remember this is the season of giving.