State of the City 2024: Building A Sustainable and Collaborative Future

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The Brandon Chamber of Commerce hosted a pivotal State of the City address by Mayor Jeff Fawcett today, where the City’s vision for a sustainable future was articulated with vigor and optimism. As Brandon celebrates its 142nd anniversary this year, the commitment to continue the legacy of our forebears by investing in the City’s future was reaffirmed. 

 Addressing Infrastructure Challenges with Innovative Solutions 

The City’s leadership acknowledged the challenges faced by residents due to potholes and the deteriorating condition of 26th Street. In response, immediate action was taken this spring to improve road conditions. The reconstruction of 26th Street is not seen as a mere repair project, but as an opportunity to enhance the City’s services. Public engagement sessions have been instrumental in shaping solutions that cater to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. 

Balancing Fiscal Responsibilities with Community Services 

The address also touched upon the sensitive issue of increased property tax rates. The City’s leadership expressed understanding of the community’s concerns and emphasized the importance of these taxes in funding essential services and infrastructure. The introduction of a four-year budget serves as a strategic planning tool and a means to foster collaboration with provincial and federal governments. 

Investing in Water Security and Infrastructure 

The City of Brandon has a long-standing history of providing safe and clean water since 1893. With the city’s growth, the Water Treatment Facility has undergone several expansions to meet increasing demands. At present, the Water Treatment Facility Upgrade Project is in progress. The first phase was operational in the fall of 2022, and the next phase will be tendered later this year, aiming to complete this expansion by 2029. These upgrades would not have been possible without funding partners including the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund as well as the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.  In addition, the recent investment of nearly $43 million from the Canada Infrastructure Bank is set to bring significant savings and developments, including the Water Treatment Facility Upgrade and Expansion Project and the Southwest Brandon Wastewater Servicing Project. This investment will also support the creation of up to 2,300 new housing units. 

Brandon Transit: Connecting Our Community 

Brandon Transit has achieved a remarkable milestone in 2023, surpassing 1 million rides and approaching pre-pandemic ridership levels. These numbers are not mere statistics; they represent the heartbeat of our community. Our buses are more than vehicles; they are vital links that connect neighborhoods, workplaces, and hearts. In support of public transportation, the Brandon City Council has expedited the acquisition of a new bus earlier than expected. This addition, along with four other buses slated for purchase this year, underscores our commitment to efficient transit routes. Furthermore, the arrival of new Brandon Access Transit buses will replace older models, ensuring safe and accessible transportation for all. 

Parks and Recreation: Enhancing Quality of Life 

Our Parks and Recreation department continues to be a beacon of community well-being. We have expanded our programming and events, offering over 60 diverse programs. From green spaces to recreational facilities, we remain dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for every resident. Our parks are not just places for leisure; they are spaces where memories are made, friendships are forged, and health is nurtured.  

Maple Leaf Foods Sports Complex: A Hub of Activity 

The Maple Leaf Foods Sports Complex, situated at the intersection of First Street and Veterans Way, promises to be a vibrant hub for sports enthusiasts. Among its features are a FIFA-standard soccer field, additional soccer fields, a cricket pitch, a welcoming clubhouse, and kilometers of pathways. As stewards of property tax funds, we are committed to delivering high-quality events and programs. We also explore innovative funding sources, including the sale of naming rights. Our successful partnerships to date with Maple Leaf Foods, Heritage Co-op, Assiniboine Community College, and McCain Foods exemplify our collaborative spirit. 

Strengthening Emergency Services and Community Engagement 

Last year, we secured additional funding from Manitoba Shared Health for a third primary ambulance and fifteen primary care paramedics. These resources bolster the services provided by Brandon Fire & Emergency Services and the Brandon Police Service Detention Unit. Our Brandon Community Cadets, launched in July 2023, have become an invaluable asset. Their dedication has garnered praise from various sectors, including our police force, downtown businesses, and residents who consider downtown Brandon their home or refuge. 

The Bright Future Ahead 

As we look to the future, envision a city where knowledge, skills, and personal growth are accessible to all. Our taxes, when invested wisely, pave roads, fund infrastructure, and support economic development.  

Assiniboine Community College and Brandon University stand as pillars of knowledge, shaping not only young minds, but also our collective prosperity. ACC’s Prairie Innovation Centre and BU’s upgrades to the Brodie Science Building and medical campus exemplify our commitment to progress.  

Mayor Fawcett closed his 2024 State of the City speech by encouraging us to embrace sustainability and collaboration. “Our aging infrastructure demands attention, and we can no longer turn a blind eye. As Adam Grant wisely said, “It’s more important to be good ancestors than dutiful descendants.” Let us focus on making our children proud by improving conditions for their future. Together, we will build a Brandon that stands strong for generations to come.”