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Retiring city manager gives emotional, parting speech & advice to council

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and city council paid tribute on Wednesday to city manager Joe Pennachetti who is retiring at the end of November.

“During your 13 years of dedicated and loyal service, you’ve made a significant contribution to the growth and success of this great city,” Ford said, who acknowledged their trials and tribulations. “Joe, we thank you for a job not well done, phenomenally well done.”

The mayor said “Joe P” as he was fondly called will be remembered for his dedicated guidance of the city for the past six years as its city manager with a responsibility for 37,000 staff and 2.7 million residents.

“You played an important role, an extremely important role in shaping Toronto into a world class city it is today,” Ford said.

Pennachetti was hired in 2002 during amalgamation by then mayor Mel Lastman as the city’s chief financial officer and deputy city manager before he was promoted to city manager in 2008 by then mayor David Miller.

In a speech that was at times emotional (he cried when thanking his wife of 35 years and at the end of the tribute), Pennachetti took to the podium once last time on Wednesday in the council chambers to offer some sage advice as councillors prepare to hit the campaign trail.

“I urge you before going on the campaign trail to take time to review the accomplishments over the past 12 years and the new strategic actions of the next term of council,” he said.

He believes that the governments of the amalgamated City of Toronto were working but that for these urban centres to succeed in the 21st century, “we must prepare to do more.”

He urged council “to always keep in our minds in terms of governance the context of the GTA, the GTHA and the Golden Horseshoe.”

He also said the city’s key transit and housing funding issues must be addressed as soon as possible.

Toronto has planned strategies for transportation and service plans to meet its growth challenges, he said, but it cannot be met “without continued financial support from provincial and federal governments.”

He added, “We must convince the provincial and federal governments to take back responsibility for financing social housing.”

Pennachetti’s last day with the city is Nov. 28. CFO John Livey will be the acting city manager until a replacement is found.