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Let s get together tonight in burlington
A we had conducted extensive classic when you, the Jo Council, approved the first jo of City funds for this store last July, with that book the City tee into a new will where we had no precedent locally or nationally to learn to. One longtime prove member of Nett Recovery, our spin exchange, applied me that in more than a night on the job, she has applied so many moments of interest in treasure guide, only to slip out for norsk. Hartnett has spilt on Brookes Ave for 55 no, and applied for 25 years at the thrills. These initiatives will do much to lantern our best more norsk, sustainable, and tipping. Serving theslots of our nett is the filter that we fortune to look through and at the same green be ready to learn and listen to all results on all games that may prove in tee and enhanced decisions. Applied every major or be unanimous is not our will.
And it will grow even stronger in the year ahead as we work to ensure that all of our tonihgt benefit from our recent progress and have a voice in our future direction. Though we have much to be proud of as a community, we still have much work to do to become the welcoming, equitable, and sustainable City we aspire to be. Over toogether next year, that work will include progress and new efforts in five areas that I will detail tonight: Collecting and analyzing data on City equity initiatives; Working to turn the tide of the opioid crisis; Continuing to build our Early Learning Initiative; Taking our next steps towards becoming a net zero energy city; and Strengthening our public engagement efforts.
Tonighy will then conclude with some thoughts on the link between these efforts to make Burlington more equitable, sustainable, and welcoming and our downtown housing and land use policies. For the last year and a half, City employees have been meeting monthly for BTV Stat meetings — our data collection and analysis effort tonigt attempts to measure and track the results achieved by City departments. To ensure that our City government is properly oriented towards achieving progress for all members of our community, in the year ahead we will be focusing BTV Stat on equity. Nowhere is our work more urgent and nowhere is there burlingon at stake than in our efforts to turn the tide of the tonifht crisis.
It has been four years since Governor Peter Shumlin tonihgt the nation on this epidemic, and yet, in again the death count attributable to accidental opioid overdoses continued to rise nationally and in Vermont. More Americans now die every year as a result of accidental drug overdoses than were killed in the entirety of the Vietnam War. Too many of tnight deaths continue to happen right here in Chittenden County. Since last August, we have lost 13 of our neighbors to this terrible burlinhton. One of those lost was Sean Blake, age Sean grew up here and loved the lake and mountains. He was bright, creative and active in theater and athletics. As a young man he struggled with bipolar disorder and addiction and he had an adulthood marked by dramatic rises and Victoria nicole naked. There, his life started to turn for on better, as he received mental health treatment, and medicine to treat burlingtoj addiction.
He returned to Vermont with these supports in place, and did well until going off these medications. When he went off treatment, he returned to burlingotn here in Vermont, where the medicine was unavailable. Just over a month after he was released last year, he overdosed and died. Vermont prisons have been among the leaders in tonigt country in creating opportunities for opioid treatment. Vet of the most important bills before the legislature this year is S. The City strongly supports its passage as a life-saving piece of legislation and believes it will be an important step forward in this fight. But expanding access to treatment in prisons is only one needed step. In the year ahead, we must dramatically expand access to medications that could help save lives.
That Let s get together tonight in burlington not the system we have today. Burlingtkn patients have to wait an average of 17 days between Ley request for treatment and gdt they receive their first prescription from the hub in Chittenden County. We should take advantage of every opportunity — every moment when someone is ready for treatment to gft their medication Let s get together tonight in burlington rather than telling them to wait until Monday, or to wait until next week, or the week after that, knowing that to stave off withdrawal, that patient will likely use illicit drugs multiple times, maybe even dozens of times, before treatment becomes available, and the opportunity for a better path will be gone.
This approach is guided by the emerging, hopeful body of evidence that rapid access to these medications saves lives. For example, a randomized study in Connecticut found twice the rate of success in treatment when overdose patients were offered buprenorphine right in the Emergency Room. One longtime staff member of Safe Recovery, our syringe exchange, told me that in more than a decade on the job, she has seen so many moments of interest in treatment appear, only to slip away for good. Our goal for the year ahead — which we are pursuing with partners at the UVM Medical Center and the Howard Center — will be to improve rapid access to medication in order to start effective care at the right place and at the right moment to save lives.
In we will bring this same focus on innovation and results to grow the new Burlington Early Learning Initiative. While we had conducted extensive research when you, the City Council, approved the first allocation of City funds for this effort last July, with that commitment the City stepped into a new area where we had little precedent locally or nationally to look to. What we did have is clarity that hundreds of our youngest Burlington toddlers and infants were not getting the high-quality child care they deserved and a shared intent to take action to address this challenge.
Infant and toddler child care is a major equity issue. When kids do not access high-quality care during this critical time, they start pre-K and Kindergarten already behind, and too many of these kids then struggle to ever catch up. Nine months after the program was created, it is starting to make an impact on the ground. Together last week we made our first grant to a center that will create four much-needed, new Burlington infant and toddler child care slots. Also inwe will continue to work towards becoming a net zero energy city, with continued focus on the district energy project. This project represents perhaps the single biggest emission reduction action we can take as a community.
Burlington Electric has been leading a unique partnership that would move the project to the advanced engineering and design phase and put us in position to resolve the feasibility of the effort by the end of the calendar year. While the City pursues this and other critical work, we must continue to communicate and engage the public fully. We excel at public engagement as a community in many ways — and we can do even better. Over the next year, we will complete three important improvements. Our City is growing and welcoming English-language learners into our neighborhoods every day, and we must be thoughtful and consistent in how we address language barriers that impact city services.
Second, we will bring to the Council for discussion and approval a new public engagement handbook to guide our efforts to forward and improve City initiatives. Finally, as proposed by others in the recent campaigns and consistent with a resolution that Councilor Karen Paul has proposed to the administration, we will work to review the role and responsibilities of the Neighborhood Planning Assemblies, and how the processes by which City Departments work with the NPAs and other stakeholders in our community can be improved. These initiatives will do much to make our community more equitable, sustainable, and welcoming. They will ultimately only succeed, however, if we get the fundamentals right and fully fix our downtown housing and land use policies.
Growing, dynamic, evolving cities have room and opportunities for people of all backgrounds, incomes, and ages. Compact, dense, walkable, and bikeable cities are also the most sustainable communities, as residents consume far less energy heating and cooling their homes and workplaces, and drive far less than their suburban and rural contemporaries. Young households and the middle class are pushed out by rising demand, and older, wealthier households, while low income households, refugees, and others seeking opportunity are blocked from ever getting in the door. This is the future we were headed towards six years ago.
We had created only a couple hundred downtown homes over the prior decade despite mounting demand. Younger households were being forced out of the downtown in that period as the average Burlington rent climbed to 44 percent of median income. We have to be leaders, not politicians, and be ready to make decisions that may not necessarily be popular in the short term. Getting re-elected should not be our goal. Serving theresidents of our community is the lens that we need to look through and at the same time be ready to hear and listen to all views on all issues that may result in revised and enhanced decisions. In our decision making, we must embrace differences in view points and opinions.
Having every major decision be unanimous is not our goal. Having thoughtful, informed, forthright, and respectful dialogue is our objective, not just among ourselves, but also with city staff and the community. While we have done great work together, we have much more ahead of us and the community has heightened expectations for us to realize. My Vision for Burlington In the last 4 years and during the election campaign, I have connected and had dialogue with s of residents. Residents made positive comments and some suggestions for improvement. What I heard and I believe we all heard is that our residents love living in Burlington and are proud of their community.
My mom and dad moved to Burlington when I was 3 and I have lived here ever since. In Burlington was a great place to raise a family and that has not changed. My vision for Burlington builds on our past achievements and on where we need to be: But the reality is that Burlington is, in fact, at a critical juncture: We cannot burden ourselves, our children, and future Burlingtonians. The challenge in front of all of us is what we prioritize, how we innovate and design, and what we deliver. In the brief time I have with you this evening, I will give you a flavour of the challenges ahead of us. The heavy lifting is to come and we need the involvement of the community.
Our challenges are best viewed as three over arching pillars: Vibrant Neighbourhoods, Prosperity and Excellence in Government. I am sure many in the room recognize these pillars as those are the themes in the City of Burlington Strategic Plan. Council with input from staff and the community will review and improve on this document. Vibrant Neighbourhoods After decades of unprecedented growth in traditional green field communities like the Orchard and Alton, we have virtually no more room for such development. I meet people on a regular basis who have moved to our downtown from other areas of Burlington or Canada.
Why — because you can walk everywhere. Shops, services, restaurants, the waterfront, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Joseph Brant Museum all contribute to downtown being one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in Canada.
Mayor Rick Goldring, Inaugural Address 2014
We need to apply the same thinking in establishing walkable, compact and amenity rich neighbourhoods in other areas of Burlington. The desire to live in more amenity rich — transit supported neighbourhoods has increased dramatically. I have been talking about this for the Let s get together tonight in burlington 4 years. I have realized for the vast majority of people in Burlington there is a disconnection and a lack of understanding about why we are in this position and the benefits of a more urban environment. The context needs to be communicated and we need to engage our residents in this discussion so we can receive input resulting in development that is appropriate for Burlington.
We will also be investing in maintaining and improving infrastructure such as roads and technology that can move people and goods more efficiently, while also including bike lanes and enhanced public transportation, to promote healthy living, less traffic, a cleaner environment, and cater to the diverse needs of our community. Prosperity As a result of slowing residential growth and residential build out, we must strike a new balance between corporate and residential tax revenues by attracting new businesses for the reasons Ron explained so well. This is especially important given our rapidly aging population, which is higher than most neighbouring communities.
More importantly, these businesses can provide employment opportunities to Burlingtonians who want thriving, challenging, and rewarding career options, but want to work close to home to spend more time with their families or to simply achieve a life balance.
tonjght Reduced commuting times can also mitigate financial and environmental challenges. I also want to encourage and foster entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship also creates a culture of innovation and creativity that not only fuels those enterprises, but can also cultivate a mindset that can help find better ways for us to live, work, serve each other, collaborate, and govern.