Newmarket Mayor John Taylor spoke about partnerships and council accomplishments at the last mayor’s luncheon of the municipal term April 26.
The mayor spoke to dozens of business leaders at the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce event at the Old Town Hall, addressing housing affordability, the pandemic and efforts to partner with businesses and organizations to build up the community.
In speaking about the town approving the Shining Hill development on formerly protected land, Taylor said Newmarket does not want to be a place that finds reasons to reject chances.
“If we really want to be one of the best places to live in Canada, we want to be a community that says yes to opportunities,” Taylor said. “We got to make sure we got the public’s best interests always front and centre, but we want to be a community that finds ways to say yes.”
The annual event offers a platform for the mayor to discuss issues and what the town is working on. The speech focused on partnerships the town has made, such as with the Main Street Clock Tower hotel project, and with the chamber and Main Street BIA to aid businesses.
Taylor addressed working with public health and Southlake through the pandemic, arranging vaccination clinics and protocols.
“Did we get it all perfect? Probably not. Did we manage to keep our community safe, our economy moving, and try to find that balance? I think we did really well,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce president Chris Emanuel asked Taylor to address housing affordability. He said it is one of the biggest challenges for businesses as it hurts employee retention.
Taylor responded that it is a complex issue that no one level of government can solve, but everyone has to do something. He said the local level needs to provide a wide array of housing types, including rentals.
“Whether we like it or not, hope is not a plan,” he said. “We can't just hope that every young person is going able to afford their own home. It’s changing. It’s that simple."
Taylor added that the rental rate would likely increase from 20 to 40 per cent over the next 25 years in the region.
“I don’t know if we can keep up,” Taylor said of building rental housing “But we better try. As unexciting as that may sound to some people, it has to be done.”
Emmanuel spoke about the importance of local business partnerships. He added that everyone spending local can have a significant impact on the local economy.
“As we embark on whatever this new normal is and as things hopefully continue to improve, let’s think about that. Let’s think about those micro partnerships," Emmanuel said. “All the things we can do to have a ripple effect.”
Taylor — who has previously said he will run for office again — said there are many major projects to come within Newmarket, such as a new hospital, 15-minute GO service and the Mulock Park, which will take partnerships.
“That’s why I’m so excited to be moving forward with the next number of years with an amazing council, amazing community, amazing private sector partners, to really build one of the best places in Canada to live, to raise a family, to build a business, to work."