The most vital cities in the world enable their communities with leading-edge technology that engages, informs and empowers. I am proud to Chair Markham’s Information Communications Technology Committee as our vision for achieving this is built on a commitment to modern infrastructure, smart communities, and technological innovation. We are beginning a journey – defining what a ‘Smart City’ means to the residents, businesses and City of Markham corporately. The journey to become not just a smart city but a leading intelligent community will stall without the political leadership and a commitment by residents and business to play an active and engaged role in this journey. To make change happen, we need to create a truly compelling vision – but that vision needs to be a collective one of what we, as residents of Markham, define as Smart Markham. Building on being the ‘high tech’ Capital of Canada, we are now exploring what it means to be a ‘smart city’ technologically, what the ‘internet of everything’ means to everyday residents and business in our city and how we can develop a world class communications infrastructure to support economic development and increase our competitive advantage.
- Hosted the Smart Markham forum in April and with the Digital Strategy we are currently undertaking, we will realize Markham's potential as a city where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement, and innovation for all.
- I have been working towards making our city more technologically efficient, saving residents and business money and time. In 2013, we unveiled ACCESS Markham allowing people to download an application to their smartphone for various Markham services.
- As a member of the LED Task Force, we unveiled new LED light standards with sensors which will tell us when the light is no longer working, saving time and money by not having to send crews out to look for burned out bulbs.
I will ensure that the Task Force’s work does not stop here. Ideas that I will bring forth could potentially be sensors in our roads which tell give information about the amount of snowfall or ice build-up to better dispatch winter clearing. Also, thinking of the internet as utility able to provide an entire range of services. The time has come and we must capitalize on this opportunity.
What would I do?
- We should make Markham the easiest place to start a new business in Canada.
- Expand the relationship of VentureLab to provide for partnership opportunities between entrepreneurial start-ups and Markham. Technology start-ups in particular, can foster a new way of thinking and approach to delivering municipal services.
- Technology start-ups can bring new thinking to city services. Partnering with start-ups can help to build on being Canada’s high-tech capital.
- The agreements we sign with countries around the world must be more than ‘photo ops’. We need to promote Markham’s economy more effectively and foster real economic development relationships regionally, nationally and internationally.
Cities cannot approve or reject cell tower applications. Each one that is proposed causes great angst in the community, especially when industry representatives state that one of the optimal locations is adjacent to neighbourhood parks. What is most frustrating to residents is that two critically important concerns to homeowners – property values and health – are explicitly stated by Industry Canada as non-issues in terms of any Appeal. As your councillor, I will continue to preserve our communities by limited the amount of cell towers being built. I have been proud of my record on minimizing the amount of cell towers within our community.
What have I done?
- Successfully fought against 3 cell tower applications, including 1 in the Green Lane and Bayview Avenue area.
- I have been working with Markham staff on amending the city’s Telecommunications Tower Policy.
- Hosted a Town Hall in Thornhill on what should be included in Markham’s new policy as well as discussing new rules announced by the Federal government.
- Met with senior industry representatives and spoke at the 2013 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference on the agreement they reached with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association.
What I would do
- As a ‘Smart City’ we have to look beyond the individual tower application and instead craft a comprehensive master agreement and collaborate with the providers.
- We must be firm in protecting sensitive areas or zones around neighbourhood parks, schools and heritage areas, for instance.
- We also must push the industry to promote the use of the newest technologies, such as smart or micro cells, rather than installing new towers and/or reconfiguring existing utility poles to fulfill multiple purposes – light standard, traffic signal, tower antennae.