Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua: Health Care, Infrastructure and Taxpayer Dollars
Q: Is being mayor of Vaughan everything you expected after 22 years in federal politics?
A: Actually it’s a lot more, it’s more exciting than I thought it would be. The issues are issues that touch people in a very real way every day, whether they are related to seniors, recreation, or dealing with transit and traffic, and economic development. I think the most exciting part about politics today is the evolution of cities – they are becoming the magnets for investment, creating jobs, providing the quality of life and standard of living for the people – it’s been a very fascinating experience. I’m really happy that I came back to the city of Vaughan to take on this role because this is a city where many things are happening. We have a new subway coming up, we have the future development of a downtown core, we’re going to see many exciting things occur in the area of culture, sports, the arts, and it speaks to a dynamic process that is taking place in this city that will make it truly a world-class city.
Q: I know that many residents, including yourself, have at one point or another voiced concerns over a cost overrun of building Vaughan City Hall – do you have an update for taxpayers?
A: Well, the reason why I called for an audit is because there’s a cost overrun, but there are two issues here: there’s the governance issue, which is the audit, and then there’s the actual structure which is an architectural marvel. It’s an award-winning building. People from all over the world will come to see this building. I have no doubts about it and we are so confident and we are so proud of this building that I’m implementing an idea, which of course comes from my days in Ottawa, where we are actually going to promote tours of City Hall, that’s how much I believe in this City Hall. As for other issues related to the cost overruns, we want to obviously get to the bottom of it because we do have a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Vaughan who justly deserve answers to their questions. Because at the end of the day, one of the things that I bring to this position is a great belief in the respect of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars – that’s extremely important.
Q: What are your thoughts on the controversy that arose over the federal government’s $10 million donation for a new hospital in Vaughan, specifically towards the Vaughan Health Campus of Care?
A: There’s only one story, the story is that the city of Vaughan needs a hospital. I’m not a political leader that gets distracted by noise and static. I’m very focused and my focus is that the residents need and deserve a hospital. If people, for whatever reason, political or otherwise, want to be distracted by this type of dialogue, so be it. I’m certainly not being distracted by it. I appreciate the $10 billion that came in for a life science cluster from the federal government; we’re certainly not going to return that money, I think the life sciences cluster makes sense from a strategic point of view. I obviously praise the citizens of Vaughan for taking the leadership role with the purchase of the land, but I also want the provincial government to understand its responsibility very clearly – that is that they need to come up with $1.3 to $1.5 billion, so that the residents of Vaughan can in fact have a hospital. That is the issue, not the noise, the noise is not the issue, the noise and the articles, that’s not going to build a hospital, what’s going to build a hospital is the political will to make it happen and we, as residents of the city of Vaughan, will continue to engage in fundraising and we’ll continue to work together with York Central Hospital to make sure that we do build this hospital. Am I distracted by the noise? Not at all. Do I think that this type of noise is healthy for the process? Absolutely not.
Q: You’ve been a big proponent of infrastructure and finding solutions for traffic in Vaughan, what changes can residents look forward to?
A: In this particular issue, you have to work with major organizations like Metrolinx, York Region and all levels of government. Of course, with the downtown core, we’re going to have a transit system there that’s going to be world-class with the subway but also other means of transportations, other, I should say, avenues to alleviate some of the traffic. Now we have to also be very frank with the citizens of Vaughan; we need to understand that we are now a city, we are no longer a small town, we’re a city where intensification is going to occur, but intensification is also going to draw the best transit system to it, and there has to be an excitement, there is a buzz about the city, and what I sense is that with intensification – when you have a downtown core and you have 30,000 people living in it and working and playing, and raising families and attending functions, at our performing arts centre – there’s going to be a new vibrancy to the city.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MAYOR MAURIZIO BEVILACQUA — April 15, 2011
7:30 A.M. Review of media and city agenda items, including transit, economic development, infrastructure and budget review.
8:30 A.M. Review of upcoming events, schedule and briefing.
Discussion topics include: City of Vaughan Volunteer Recognition Awards Ceremony, CBC interview: “Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, International Relations – China,” 7th Annual Spring Dance Fundraiser for Autism, and much more.
9 A.M. Meeting with city manager Clayton Harris to discuss emerging issues.
10 A.M. – 12:45 P.M. Committee of the Whole Special Council Meeting.
1:45 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. 20-Minute Makeover at St. Catherine of Siena CES celebrating Earth Week.
3 P.M. – 4 P.M. Meeting with City Administration, signing of cheques, letter review, phone calls.
4 P.M. – 5 P.M. Interview with City Life Magazine.
5 P.M. – 5:45 P.M. Meeting re: Mayor’s Gala.
6:30 P.M. Rainbow Creek Bocce Club Annual Dinner.
8 P.M. 5th Annual Gala in support of Prader-Willi syndrome.