I am in Halifax, preparing to head home to Mississauga, where I was invited to speak and participate during the 67th Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s (IPAC) National Annual Conference.  IPAC is an association of public servants, academics and other individuals committed to contributing to important policy debates about public administration.

The theme of this year’s conference is: Governing in the now: Initiate. Integrate. Innovate. I was asked to discuss in-depth the tremendous work the City of Mississauga is undertaking to build a modern world-class city.

As part of my presentation, I participated in a one-on-one panel discussion with Denise Amyot, President and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada. In particular, I spoke on three areas of policy interests: innovation, diversity, and regionally-integrated transit.

In terms of innovation I shared how earlier this year, the City of Mississauga launched an open data portal. We now publicly publish data in easy, accessible formats, similar to what other jurisdictions do. City data sets can be very valuable because they contain useful information that can be used for research, software, applications and website development or for new business opportunities.

We already have a Mississauga Road Apps. To help ignite new opportunities, in 2016 the City of Mississauga will hold its first ever Hackathon – an opportunity to bring together like minded individuals who will troll through a wealth of data with the singular goal of developing new innovative applications to better serve residents.

With respect to diversity, I was proud to discuss how Mississauga is leading the way with the new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC). In fact, DIAC was the first piece of policy I announced during my campaign for mayor, and the first order of business I brought forward after being sworn in.

I reiterated how this is not a symbolic committee. It is meant to do real work and to focus Council decisions through the lens of diversity, with a goal to ensure all residents feel included.

As our City’s demographics change, it is critically important that we adapt and ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our citizens.  It is my hope that over the next three and a half years that we can affect change and ensure our City is leading the way when it comes to embracing diversity and that all residents feel included and heard.

We have also asked four stakeholders to join this citizen-member committee. These individuals are experts in diversity and inclusion and have a great deal of experience working in this area. They will provide their feedback and expert opinion and help us to shape the direction and decisions of this committee.

My thoughts about building regionally-integrated transit was a bigger discussion about the need for cities to collaborate with other governments, all with the goal of delivering results for residents.

In order for any Ontario municipality and mayor to move their agenda forward, we have to work and collaborate with other levels of government. The Hurontario-Main light rail transit (LRT) is an example of governments working together.

The provincial government announced $1.6 billion in funding to build Mississauga’s largest infrastructure project. Mississauga already funded $15.4 million toward planning studies; an environmental assessment; and preliminary design work. Our 2015-2024 capital plan includes a total of $25 million to get shovels in the ground and work underway. Again, this is an important example of governments working together.

Although, my time in Halifax has been short, I always welcome the opportunity to meet new people and share with them all the exciting and important things happening in Mississauga. As Canada’s sixth largest city, we continue to be at the leading edge of innovative community-building initiatives.