After a year at the helm, Mayor Bruce Ban-man evaluated his inaugural term and focused on the city's future in step with the business community when speaking at the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.
Banman used the annual mayor's lunch to express his admiration of Abbotsford's business community and emphasize that the sector was invaluable in driving not only the local economy but also the city's quality of life.
"I have visited your farms, I have visited your stores, your construction yards, and your companies.
"I've seen the pride you feel when you showcase your products and when you succeed in the market," said Banman.
Banman highlighted some of the city's top priorities going into the future, including creating a strong economy, sustainable infrastructure, a good transportation system and safe communities that support a diverse, inclusive and healthy population and an educated work force.
Despite economic challenges, Banman said he was optimistic about Abbotsford's future.
Banman stressed the need to continue to develop a diversified economy while still recognizing the agriculture and aerospace sectors as some of Abbotsford's largest economic drivers.
There are numerous signs that the business community is thriving, with new construction projects, including the new Sandman Inn and High Street Shopping Centre being constructed in the Mount Lehman interchange area at a combined total of more than $110 million.
However, the mayor conceded that the most persistent challenge in his first year in office has been attempting to resolve taxpayers' dollars being spent on Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre operations and the Heat hockey team.
"In the future, we cannot continue to allocate taxpayer dollars toward endeavours that do not serve our community as a whole," said Banman, adding the city couldn't do it alone and challenged the business community to help turn the situation around.
"This single most proactive thing you can do to help this community right now is to invite your customers, your business associates, your friends and family to attend a fabulous night of hockey . . . By bringing success to our team, we bring success to our city."
Allan Asaph, executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, said the business community will likely rise to the challenge, adding the Chamber's annual mayor's lunch is a good way for city hall to report on past activities and update members on initiatives as they affect the business community.
"The Abbotsford Chamber enjoys a good working relationship with the city," said Asaph.
"We don't always agree on every issue, but we do try to collaborate to ensure we make the city aware of the concerns and input from local business."