Vice President Cory MacKay, introduced our guest speaker Mayor Mitch Panciuk.  Mayor Panciuk was elected Mayor in the fall of 2018.  Mitch who moved to Belleville in 2001 is the owner of Boston Pizza Belleville and served as Councillor in 2014 and Mayor in 2018. 
Mitch is married to Alyssa and they have 3 daughters.  A strong supporter of the Rotary Club of Belleville, Mitch purchased RCB Covid-19 masks recently along with many other supports of Rotary over the years. Mayor Panciuk has served on many boards both on a municipal and charitable basis and has donated significantly of his time, talents and resources to many causes in the Quinte Area.
Mayor Panciuk talked about one of his first public speaking engagements after being elected Mayor was to the Rotary Club of Belleville in January of 2019.  He spoke to the last time he had joined us during the Mayors of the Week meeting on the 25th of January 2020 and looks forward to us being able to gather together in a format other than virtual. While he would speak to the outlook for the City of Belleville for 2021, he felt it was important to provide context by revisiting our recent history.  During the time of our club meeting for the presentation of our Mayors of the Week, the City of Belleville required an emergency shutdown of hydro and corresponding facilities due to the need for emergency repairs to hydro infrastructure and how this reflected a good test for what was to come as the Covid-19 Pandemic changed our lives commencing in mid March 2020.
In February of 2020, Mayor Panciuk along with other local officials undertook an emergency meeting about the repatriation of Canadian citizens from China to CFB Trenton due to Covid-19 and the awareness that provided to our local community about the potential for forthcoming challenges.  On the 17th of March, the Province of Ontario entered a province wide state of emergency.  The approach undertaken by the City staff, leadership were to follow the 3Cs.  Remain cool, calm and collected.  In partnership with other local municipalities it was desired to undertake the response via a regional approach and following the guidelines of the local health unit. Mayor Panciuk was very proud of the response from City staff and councillors in dealing with the Pandemic and results have been shown by a much lower infection rate than in many other areas of the province and have not been required to declare a local state of emergency and have been able to maintain more than minimum levels of service. There has not been any layoffs of permanent city staff and no tax increases to local rate payers during 2020.  The success of the efforts of the City around no tax increases, service level and other factors has been noted by the Premier himself who had in a recent conversation with the Mayor indicated that we were the only of the 440 municipalities in the Province who had not invoked an increase in property taxes in 2020. The City waived 340k in bag tax revenues and also continued to operate Belleville Transit throughout the Pandemic and did not charge fares again till September.  They facilitated this through the use of reserves to meet short term cash flow needs for the City and received more funds from the Province in response to Covid-19 than what was required and were able to replace the funds employed from the reserves.
The low infection rate through the first surge and the summer and early fall allowed the City to prepare for the forthcoming second surge. While the Pandemic affected many aspects of lives within the City of Belleville, ambitious capital projects continued and saw the completion of the Bell Blvd expansion, Avondale Rd and the completion of the new Belleville Police Services building.  As the previous building was named after long term GM of Belleville Utilities and long time Rotarian Neil Britton, Mayor Panciuk advised a room was being dedicated in the new BPS building as the Neil Britton Community Room and the Mayor is looking forward to the formal grand opening celebration when we are able to gather again as a community.
Mayor Panciuk spoke to the continued expansion of housing developments, such as Potters Creek, Avondale Rd and continued east end development.
The City did not decrease funding to Hastings County for social services support during 2020 and also are now employing the old BPS building on Dundas Street East as a warming center as required during cold winter nights.  
We enjoyed the 3rd highest hotel occupancy rate while also achieving one of the lowest Covid-19 infection rates in the Province.
While a return to normal is still very uncertain, the City is viewing a 37.5 million capital project budget for 2021 and also a review and update of the City Parks and Spaces Plan for the first time since 1974.  We will see the movement towards the creation of the new YMCA building and as well the new Outdoor Rink and additional facilities in partnership with the RCB and the Senators Foundation.  Mayor Panciuk advised that there will be recognition on municipal assets for former councillors Jack Miller, Jackie Denyes and Edgerton Boyce for their service to the City of Belleville.
As Mayor Panciuk was campaigning to be elected Mayor of the City of Belleville, he discussed the housing crisis that existed in our community, especially around affordable housing.  In April of 2019 a goal was established through the Housing Summit to create 1000 new affordable housing units in the City by the end of 2025.  The Plan was completed and approved in December 2020 with an incentive to enhance development of rental spaces.  By the end of 2020 700 units had been approved for building, so well ahead of goal but realization that much more than the envisioned 1000 will be required to make a dent in the shortage of affordable rental and housing units. 
Mayor Panciuk concluded by saying that he sees 2021 as a year of progress for the City and the ability of the City to effectively have dealt with the challenges of 2020 and the Pandemic have put the City on very strong footing to continue to grow and develop a prosperous Belleville.
Mayor Panciuk thanked the Rotary Club of Belleville for their support of our community and then fielded questions from the membership.
The Mayor was asked about Vaccine rollout and advised that was still be formulated by the Province and also when we might see vaccines available here and discussed the urgent need in many communities to stop significant virus infection rates and challenges upon health care workers and hospitals in many areas.
The Mayor was asked about the recent vacant councillor's position and how it was being handled by the City.  He spoke to the need for inclusivity for council and the need to reflect the community at large. He also explained that the Municipal Act does not provide guidance as to how vacancies are to be filled that occurred or that there is any difference between the councilor who receives the most votes and the councilor last with the fewest votes elected to council.  It is with this vagueness that it was felt that council should seek to insure that the council best reflects the diverse make up of our community and appropriate representation of diverse contingents within our community.  
Rotarian Cassandra Bonn thanked the Mayor for his very informative presentation and to thank City Council and staff for their work during the past 12 months.