On November 7, Westmounters are going to the polls to elect our next municipal administration. I, along with councillors Shamie, Peart and Gallery, have been acclaimed, and we thank you for your confidence in our continued leadership.
Contested elections are taking place in districts 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8. Running for office takes both courage and a “thick skin,” and I wish to thank all candidates for putting their names forward and for their commitment to our community. At the same time, I urge all residents of these districts to take the time to meet the candidates, read their platforms and, most importantly, to vote. Voter turn-out in municipal elections tends to be lower than in federal and provincial ones. This is not only disappointing but also surprising since decisions made at city hall have a direct impact on the daily lives of Westmounters. City councillors oversee investments in our aging infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, sewers, water networks, hydro), our parks and our city buildings, such as Victoria Hall and the library. We are responsible, for example, for keeping our streets safe, our sports and recreation programs, snow clearing and garbage collection. By taking part in the democratic process and voting, you are ensuring that your voice is heard.
As your mayor, I also wish to share my priorities for my next mandate with you. The past two years have been incredibly challenging, and I wish to thank our staff for their professionalism and support, and Westmounters for their community spirit throughout the pandemic.
Record capital works
While some of our major projects were sidetracked, we nonetheless invested a record amount ($27 million) in infrastructure. In looking ahead, we will need to maintain a comparable level of investment as we address the aging state of our water network, roads and sidewalks and buildings. We will be presenting our 2022 budget to council shortly after the election, and it will include a significant infrastructure investment.
We are also aware that COVID-19 changed how Westmounters experienced their city. We estimate that on a typical day in the summer, there were four times as many people in our larger parks than in pre-pandemic times. As a result of spending more time at home, we now view our streets and public spaces differently, and we gained a new appreciation for our local commercial sectors. We need to build on this foundation, and create an even stronger sense of community.
I expect that relations with the agglomeration of Montreal will be challenging, but I will continue to work with the leadership of the demerged cities in order to secure a more equitable agreement with the City of Montreal.
In my experience, the best city councillors are those who believe in this community and its potential for improvement. They value our heritage, and bring passion and leadership skills to the council along with a vision for the City as a whole. As the election campaign heads into the home stretch, I encourage you to reach out to your local candidates, raise your issues of concern and to ask them their views on the significant challenges we face as a community.And most importantly, please vote, either on election day, November 7, 2021 or at the advance polls on October 31 and November 1, 2021.
Christina M. Smith
Mayor of Westmount