Mayor Bruce Banman reflected on his first year in office and spoke in optimistic tones about the city’s economic future during an address to the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The luncheon, held at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre, drew a full house.
“We have many reasons to be hopeful and optimistic,” Banman said. “But we can’t be complacent.”
The mayor identified ongoing taxpayer subsidies of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre as being “the single biggest challenge” he faces.
The AESC ran a deficit of $1.7 million last year, with an additional $1.76 million going to cover the Abbotsford Heat hockey team’s financial shortfall for 2011/12.
One of the most productive things the Chamber of Commerce members can do for the community right now is to invite friends, family and business associates to Heat games and entertainment acts at the arena, Banman said.
With Abbotsford projected to undergo major population growth over the next 25 years, he emphasized the importance of planning and vision, and spoke of the need to increase densification, and to provide “sustainable, flexible” transit systems in partnership with neighbouring municipalities.
Banman pointed to a series of major developments, including the Highstreet shopping centre project – the largest mall to be built in western Canada in the past 30 years – as signs of the city’s economic health.
Banman lauded citizens for reducing their water consumption by an “astonishing” 25 per cent this year, which has given city hall “breathing room” as it evaluates new options for water infrastructure.
Banman also noted Abbotsford’s partnership with Mission is back on track, and is seeking to establish what the “true needs” are in terms of water supply.