Mayor Mitch Panciuk was Rotary's guest speaker on January 6th, taking us through a "look back at 2021" and a "look forward to 2022".  Introduced by Past President Tim McKinney, Mayor Panciuk first of all thanked the members of the Rotary Club of Belleville for their long tradition of "service above self" and continuing their work in the community.
The year 2021 proved to be a test, adapting and surviving through COVID, a test of community resolve and commitment, pivoting and adapting.  We tried to follow the three "C's" -- cool, calm and collected.  In 2021, two new councillors joined City Council -- Tyler Allsopp and Carol Feeney at about the same time that MacLean's Magazine named the City of Belleville as #4 Best Community to Live In across Canada!  Wow!  Council focused on outdoor recreation with the Hillcrest park area where the Children's Safety Village is slated to be relocated as well as the future lawn bowling site.  A playground and pickle ball area, spray pad and basketball courts will be included as well.  Let It Grow initiative was started to protect pollinators also known as "pardon the weeds" campaign.  The Quinte Sports and Wellness Center has actively held a vaccination clinic, conducting 2,500 vaccinations a day, the highest capacity area in Ontario.  The Downtown Business Association welcomed Luisa Sorrentino, Executive Director to focus on a better offering of services to the community.  The Ontario Business Improvement Association presented Belleville with an award in 2021 for marketing and rebranding!  The Pop-Ups returned to West Zwick's Park and had their best year with some enhancements to take place in 2022.  The Egerton Boyce Bike Lane, connecting the City to Loyalist College with the trail extension off of Avondale Road, named after Councillor Egerton Boyce who served for 15 years in the City.  The City welcomed Fire Chief Monique Belair in 2021, a leader in transformation, off to a great start.  The Catherine Street pedestrian bridge, to be named the Ben Corke Bridge, received federal government approval and the first arch arrived in December 2021 with work continuing through 2022.  The Bayshore Trail named after former Mayor Shirley Langer will extend from Herchimer east to Farley, a 1.5 km loop with the summer of 2022 as the official opening.  An exclusive franchise IHop will open at the former 10 Acre Truck Stop, now owned by K2.  The Roundabout at Farnham and Maitland was named after Jackie Denyes, a 15 year Councillor in close proximity to the new Dog Park named after the Late Pat Culhane. After many years of planning, the Belleville Police Service opened on Sidney Street in October 2020 with a grand opening ceremony of former Chiefs and Mayors as well as staff members, retired and active.  An outdoor event took place in September 2021 to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a respectful opportunity to reflect on history and move forward.  And the list goes on.  The Mayor encouraged folks to visit the parks and newly installed plaques where much history is recorded.
The year 2022 looking forward will be as busy with an $87 million Capital budget approved to work on parks and roads.  Council is optimistically working on a 4th 401 interchange called Belleville East Arterial Route (BEAR).  Construction on the former and new fairgounds will show much activity, but not at taxpayers' expense.  The sale of land will offset the new costs.  The opening of the new Humane Society on Wallbridge-Loyalist Road will happen in 2022 along with some other provincial announcements and a few more surprises!.  The future is bright and Council's focus is to make improvements to the quality of life, creating better prospects for our future, to build responsibly and make continual progress to serve the community.
Rotarian and Councillor Carol Feeney thanked Mayor Panciuk for his virtual tour of 2021, looking forward to 2022.