It’s been quite a year: Thank you, Abbotsford

A year full of new and exciting experiences

November 15 marked one full year since the 2014 civic election, and December 1 was the one-year anniversary of this Council’s swearing in.

This past year has been full of many highlights and new experiences for me. I have enjoyed serving you as mayor and seeing the changes that are happening in both the City of Abbotsford and City Hall.

Some of my many highlights from 2015:

Vision – I am honoured to work with a team of committed City Councillors who are unified in the vision of building Abbotsford as the Hub of the Fraser Valley.

Service – I have been watching and hearing how City staff go the extra mile to provide great service. There is a significant cultural shift within City Hall and we are moving towards a can-do, how-can-we-help, customer-oriented service model where our staff seeks to find solutions to issues. Significant process improvements, including the bylaw update, help facilitate a higher level of customer service.

Meaningful, realistic, responsible – The City created a meaningful five-year financial plan that is realistic and responsible with tax payers’ money.

Initiative – The Business walks helped us connect with 150 existing businesses and hear firsthand what challenges/opportunities they face and if the City can help them achieve their goals. This strategy (among others) contributed to the City receiving an “Open for Business Award” from the provincial government that (A) recognized the new initiatives we made to support our local businesses and (B) provided us with $10,000 to reinvest in programs that enhance our business community. After a number of years of stagnant growth in almost all sectors, we are seeing businesses wanting to relocate to Abbotsford from Metro Vancouver.

Teamwork – The Abbotsforward Team, responsible for creating our new Official Community Plan (OCP), has been out in the community engaging residents to develop key ideas that will shape our city in the future. We are now in the last phase of consultation regarding Abbotsford’s OCP—more than 4,000 individuals have given us their view of what Abbotsford should look like when we reach a population of 200,000. I encourage you to find out more about Abbotsforward here.

Learning – Visiting elementary schools, learning about the Sumas Prairie irrigation system, flying by helicopter up to Dickson Lake (Norrish Creek) to learn about our watershed, and meeting the many community groups and excellent businesses in our community.

Looking ahead to 2016:

The Agriculture Land Review has commenced and will occupy a significant amount of Council time. As well, we will continue to advocate for the three major infrastructure projects that were almost finalized before the federal election:

  • Hwy. 1 expansion to six lanes (three in each direction), four-lane expansion of Mt. Lehman from Simpson to the Airport (YXX);
  • Widening of Sumas Way from Hwy. 1 to the U.S. border plus two overpasses; and
  • A $2-million IT-system upgrade, which will result in a significant improvement in productivity so we can do more with the same number of people. Some of our IT systems are five upgrades behind.

In addition, Abbotsford City Council will rethink transit with an end goal to better serve our transit users.

In the New Year, I will continue to following through on my campaign pledges:

Transparent and open government that serves the public, rather than acts as its master;

Forward thinking to grow a vibrant economy and complete community that is both livable and desirable for generations to come;

Fiscal responsibility, with a keen eye on making sure that all our citizens – including our most vulnerable – are served.

We never know what surprises we might encounter in the New Year, but I look forward to the new challenges and every opportunity to learn…

Thank you, Abbotsford!

Mayor Henry Braun