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Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua, PC Mayor, City of Vaughan
The community of Vaughan is wholesome, clean, innovative, admired, expanding and resourceful to say the least, and we would have never gotten here without the leadership of our Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. He is a well-known and respected community leader recognized for his consensus building abilities and expertise in the areas of social, economic and fiscal policy. So it would only be fit and such an honor to feature him in the first of many influential and significant members of our community.
So sit down, grab a coffee and let’s get to know the Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua, PC – Mayor, City of Vaughan.
1. What role do you have in the community of Vaughan?
My title is Mayor of the City of Vaughan, but I believe my role is to be a public servant to my community. I am a ‘servant leader’ driven by a deep desire to do the best I can to motivate and inspire people to achieve their full potential. As a mayor you need to align all of your actions to a clearly defined set of values, principles and beliefs rooted in humility and courage. For me, being mayor is not a job, it is a vocation. You answer the call of public service – a calling which gives you the opportunity to serve. It is a privilege I respect and cherish. I am very grateful to the citizens who have given me a strong vote of confidence to lead and serve them. Being Mayor comes with responsibilities but also many opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the community. The idea is not to impose but rather gain support for your ideas and agenda. At the end, everyone has to feel part of it and feel that they have made a contribution. You don’t build a city on your own, you build it by working together.
2. Could you describe one of your typical workdays?
A typical day for me starts early in the morning. By 7:30 a.m. I read through daily media clips and city agenda items dealing with transit, economic development, safety, growth planning, infrastructure and the budget. I meet with my staff on a daily basis to review upcoming meetings, events, discuss scheduling and get briefed as required for the day. In addition to my role as Mayor of Vaughan, which requires my participation in Committee and Council meetings, I am a member of York Region Council as well as Chair of PowerStream Inc., for which meetings occur weekly.
I am also a member of several other boards and committees including Vice-Chair of York Region Rapid Transit, Mackenzie Health Foundation Campaign Cabinet, Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario and the York University Advisory Council for the Business Administration Certificate in the School of Continuing Studies, to name a few. I also have the privilege to participate in a number of community events throughout the city – new business openings, fundraising events for worthy causes and site visits to a number of organizations and facilities throughout the city.
On average, I participate in over 1,000 meetings and events every year. It is indeed a busy schedule, but it keeps me informed, involved and up-to-date with what’s happening in my city.
The Mayor welcomes participants of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of York Region program to his office, one of the recipient charities of the Mayor’s Gala and Golf events.
3. What are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
I believe that a strong spiritual grounding is very important to leading a city and it is something I work on every day. One needs to understand that when you represent over 300,000 people who speak 99 different languages, you must be able to embrace the diversity of opinions and bring out the best in people. You need a generous spirit in dealing with citizens as well as Council. You need to embrace their strengths as well as their weaknesses and not be judgemental.
By being motivated by hope and optimism, you channel positive energy into city building. This does not mean that one needs to be passive – it is quite the opposite. You need to always practice the art of ‘contemplative action’. Thoughts and reflections must always be followed by productive action. Results matter and I believe that the best results are the ones where everyone feels a true sense of partnership. As for my weakness…this can be addressed in the next question.
4. What is your favorite guilty pleasure you love to eat?
While I maintained a strictly vegan lifestyle for a number of years, and I still follow a meat-free diet, my guilty pleasure is definitely sweet treats. Bombe (Italian style doughnuts) are among my favorites and there are so many excellent bakeries around the City of Vaughan that produce delicious cakes and pastries.
5. What is your favorite place in Vaughan?
It is difficult for me to narrow my selection to just one favourite place. There are so many beautiful, interesting, picturesque and entertaining places in Vaughan. We have more than 1,000 hectares of developed park and open space land equipped with more than 58 km of trails that residents and visitors visit every day to experience breathtaking scenery and wildlife.
For people who prefer the indoors, there are places like Vaughan Mills, which has become a tourist attraction that welcomes 14 million people every year. For art lovers, we have the world renowned McMichael Canadian Art Collection located in the beautifully quaint Village of Kleinburg. Of course, for culinary enthusiasts, Vaughan’s diversity is fittingly represented in the vast number of ethnic restaurants located throughout this city. With so much to do and see in the City of Vaughan, I can attest that my favourite place is my home, which is Vaughan – all of it!
6. What would you like people to know about you?
I want people to know that I am the product of a hard-working, immigrant, middle-class family. I come from humble roots but always had noble ambitions to dedicate and devote my life to public service. From my father who ran a small trucking business and my mother who was a seamstress, I learned the values of hard work, discipline and perseverance.
My parents are great role models, possessing integrity, character and living a life rooted in hope and optimism. In that sense I am very blessed and truly rich. I got my first experience in public life as president of student council at York University which prepared me for the career that was to follow. I was first elected to the House of Commons on November 21, 1988 at the relatively young age of 28. I was the youngest MP for that session of Parliament. I was re- elected in 1990, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008.
I held the positions of Minister of State for Finance, Minister for Science, Research and Development as well as Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee of Finance. I served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour as well as Minister of Human Resources Development. As a result of my experience, I came to this job as a Mayor with much confidence and belief that we could do better as a city. I am also a big fan of soccer and a former player. I played in the National Soccer League (NSL) and was captain of the Toronto Jets when we won the NSL championship.
My love of soccer continues and I am pleased and excited that we were able to secure the City of Vaughan’s very first professional sports team, TFCII, which plays out of their new home field at the Ontario Soccer Centre. I have season tickets and I encourage everyone to get out and watch a game with their family this summer. Lastly, I also want people to know that I am a big believer and a strong advocate for something I call the spirit of generosity. To me, this means doing what we can, as individuals and as a city to share our blessings widely, particularly for people facing challenges.
As Mayor, I get the opportunity to hold two annual fundraising events, the Mayor’s Gala and the Golf Tournament. Through the generous support of our kind and compassionate community, together we have been able to raise over $5 million to support more than 100 not-for-profit and community groups that play a vital role in our community and beyond. I believe that giving back is the ultimate expression of love and compassion and that we all share a responsibility to do so – not just for the well-being of ourselves, but our collective well-being.
Mayor Bevilacqua with his parents Filomena and Azeglio Bevilacqua