Inaugural Address from Regional Chair Karen Redman

Karen Redman
Dec 05, 2018

This Council takes office inheriting a stable and thriving organization, with professional and committed staff. The Region of Waterloo has a legacy of leadership that has demonstrated vision locally, influence provincially and leadership on the national and international stage.

I would like to acknowledge the contributions of previous councils collectively and individually who have contributed to this legacy. Former Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig and former Regional Councillor for Waterloo Jane Mitchell for their hard work on behalf of our community

Much of the success of this Region can be attributed to the leadership of Ken Seiling. For over four decades, Ken has influenced local decisions using his strong and steady style. He is an understated statesman. A person who embodies fundamental decency. Ken was drawn to public life to make this community better for his children and grandchildren.

I wholeheartedly share that motivation.

During the recent election, while door knocking I met an eleven year old girl in a ballet tutu and her mother. I explained that I was running for election as Chair of Waterloo Region and asked the girl if she knew what the Region did for her and her family. She replied ‘no”.  I explained that the Region does a lot of important things that impact the kind of community we all live in.  I ran through a list of services.  The mother added “don’t forget garbage collection and recycling.  They talk about the environment all the time at school”. The daughter shared her enthusiasm for the three r’s and being good stewards of the environment.  I told her the best way to ensure that her values helped shape this community was to actively support things that matter to her.

Who knows, maybe she will be the next Tova Davidson  who will head of Sustainable Waterloo Region or Mary Jane Patterson and run Residential Energy Efficiency Program or…maybe she will run for office when she was old enough. I hope she takes me up on it… it is incumbent on each of us to pave the way for those who follow us.  The leaders of tomorrow.

I truly believe that public office is a gift – not to be taken lightly nor for granted. I value the gift that has been bestowed upon me – as a gift of trust.

To my friends and neighbours who supported me. To the residents who attended local debates, shared their ideas and stories, recognized the importance of local government and found time to vote – Thank-you.

To my family:

My amazing husband Warren.

My sister Jane Longo.

Bev Middlemass and Merv Redman and Mary Kuntz

Our children and their partners:

Laura Redman Henning and her husband Rich Henning.

Abby Redman Campbell and husband Doug Campbell.

Joseph Redman and Becky Theiss.

James Redman and his wife Melany.

And for the first time, the next generation…our grandchildren Oliver, Spencer, Rudy, Harper and Molly.

Many of my friends have been supporters throughout this journey:

Kim Huson, who is a longtime friend, colleague from Parliamentary days, Tim Rickert

Brenden Sherratt and Tim Mollison

The ever present Warren and Martha Stauch, and Leslie and Mike Dyon.

In my years of service to the public I have learned many things. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that no one person or level of government can succeed alone.

Let's be clear - Waterloo Region is one of the engines driving this province and this country forward. Investment in our communities yields dividends well beyond our borders. We depend on funding tools from senior levels of government to invest in infrastructure renewal and growth-related expansion. The long-term financial stability of the region depends upon these investments.

It irks me when I hear the Provincial Finance Minister refer to municipal partners as ‘transfer payment agencies,’ and use terms like ‘driving greater efficiencies’. We are partners at the table seeking opportunities for continued growth, diversity and prosperity. Investing in Waterloo Region makes good economic sense and there are key areas where investment from the provincial and federal levels is critical.

Our community needs a transportation solution that serves the entire region. Our federal and provincial funding partners need to recognize these priorities and fund them as a key element in the ongoing success of story of Waterloo region, Ontario and Canada.

We must come together to complete our ambitious public transit agenda, implement our Active Transportation Plan for all forms of transportation; move forward with Stage 2 LRT to Cambridge.

We must come together to establish a fast, reliable rail connection to Toronto – all-day, two-way GO service is essential as a tool to grow our local tech sector.

We must come together to nurture and protect our vibrant arts sector, our unique rural heritage, our cultural diversity, and our innovative agricultural industry.

We must to come together to help our friends, family members and neighbours whose lives have been devastated by opioids and addiction. We will continue to move forward with a ‘made in Waterloo Region’ solution that brings the best of who we are as a community to respond to this crisis.

We must come together to help our most vulnerable citizens find safe and affordable housing, food and a secure income. I am proud of the commitment we have made to end chronic homelessness and support wellness across our communities. With innovation, technology and determination, we can ensure Waterloo Region is a place that everyone is proud to call home.

Our strength is in our diversity, inclusive of new Canadians, our indigenous population and LGBTQ2.

We must come together to make this community the best place in Canada for children and youth.

Last June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Waterloo Region was 1 of 5 finalists in the big city category (the only one in Ontario) selected to compete in the next level of the Smart Cities Challenge. 

The prize: $50 million grant to implement that initiative.

The challenge: leveraging technology and data to overcome a community challenge.

The goal: becoming the best community in Canada for child and youth well being.

Our Region and area municipalities recognize that our youth experience challenges relating to early childhood development, sense of belonging and mental health more so than other communities of comparable sizes across the country.

Our Smart Cities challenge proposal seeks to address this important community need:

In partnership with UNICEF, our community is bringing youth and children together with our tech, social service and educational sectors moving towards our goal of becoming the best community in Canada for the well being of children and youth.

We are forging new relationships between the tech sector and social services.

Providing a common language for them to collaborate

Involving youth in a significant way for planning

Reaching to all corners of the Region; urban/rural

There exists a unique scalability of small town, mid-size urban setting or large city within our Region.

As we move forward, every initiative and decision at this table - whether it be amalgamation, service delivery, or long range infrastructure plans, we need to address some very simple questions: Does it provide better service? Does it attract talent and investment? Does it position the Region to withstand economic shocks? Does it honour this community of communities?

The notion of barn raising was made famous by our former Governor General David Johnston. In his recent book, he provides a fitting way to sum up my wishes for Waterloo Region for this term of Council:

“Neighbours who help each other with no expectation of immediate return build more trusting communities.

I recognize that we have each received a gift of trust from the people of Waterloo Region: the gift of public office. Along with all of Council, I accept this gift of trust with humility and a promise to use it with wisdom over the next four years. We must come together to provide leadership as a council and as neighbours - and we must continue to raise more barns.

I look forward to working closely with all of you over the next four years and I have every confidence that we are equal to the task before us.   

SMTP Error: Could not authenticate.