Canby Mayor Brian Hodson returned to the podium for his once-annual State of the City speech Thursday evening — the first time he had delivered such a speech in more than two years.
It’s hard to imagine a more eventful 24 months that could have transpired, and simply summarizing the good, the bad and the ugly was the first challenge facing Hodson at the event.
“We have dealt with fires, ice storms, and of course, an ever-changing virus,” Hodson said. “We have had elections that brought in new leadership at a national, state, county and city level.”
Through it all, the Canby community has been tested in myriad ways and has often — though not always — chosen the path of offering a hand rather than making a fist.
“Mask or not to mask,” Hodson said of conflicts that have, at times, seemed ever-present in the streets of Canby and on social media. “Vaccination or not to vaccinate. Neighbors helping neighbors fight fires, move animals, running supplies, volunteering at the fairgrounds. Opening their homes to those without power.
“Lending of generators, heaters, and other light sources. Helping neighbors clear downed trees and limbs. Supporting the line crews that worked hours on end to restore power. That is the Canby that I love to be a part of and that you love to be a part of.”
As in past years before the pandemic, the city partnered with the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce to present the State of City as a joint event also showcasing more than a dozen local businesses.
Few areas of society were more directly or deeply impacted by Covid-19 than the small business community — and yet, they, too, demonstrated resilience and camaraderie that helped them persevere, and even grow, in the midst of many challenges.
“In our challenges come learnings,” Hodson said. “In our struggles come successes. During the past year-plus, we have had learnings and successes as a city to be proud of.”
Hodson highlighted the explosion of industrial development in Canby over the past two years, including the new distribution and production facilities of Stanton Furniture and Caruso Produce, the expansion of Dragonberry Produce that is currently underway and Amazon’s planned 517,000-square-foot sortation facility on South Township Road.
The increased truck and employee traffic such developments inevitably bring also heightens the need for the planned Walnut Road extension, which will provide an outlet for northbound vehicles leaving the industrial park.
Hodson said that from the latest session of the Oregon Legislature came some good news — for this project, anyway: the state has agreed to allocate $2.96 million toward the project. The mayor credited new State Representative James Hieb and Senator Bill Kennemer with securing the funds for Canby.
Downtown, Hodson applauded the arrivals of Siren’s Song, King’s Farm to Table and Art-O-Maddic, as well as the forthcoming Canby Beer Library that will soon be taking shape in the former city library building on North Holly Street.
On the urban renewal front, the city recently took advantage of historically low interest rates and refinanced its remaining URA debt, resulting in a savings of over $6 million for the remaining life of the district.
The Urban Renewal Agency is currently considering its options on how to best make use of the savings — which could include additional projects or closing the district early.
In the past year, Canby has celebrated the return of many major city-sponsored events, including the Big Night Out Street Dance, downtown trick-or-treating, Light Up the Night at Wait Park and the First Thursday Night Market.
That trend will continue this summer, Hodson revealed, confirming the return of the Canby Independence Day Celebration and Fourth of July fireworks show — which drew cheers from the crowd at the Antonia Ballroom above the Backstop Bar & Grill.
More applause came when Hodson said that Canby remains ranked in the top 10 of the safest cities in Oregon, despite increased calls. The mayor lauded new Police Chief Jorge Tro and his officers for their proactive work investigating thefts and for hosting the successful Grill and Chill community event at CPD.
He also spotlighted Canby Police Sergeant Mike Smith, who was recently honored as Clackamas County’s Crisis Negotiator of the Year.
“Public safety continues to be a focus of mine and that of the council,” Hodson said. “We have continued to fund our police to keep our city safe.”
Numerous challenges remain for the city and its leaders to navigate, he admitted, among them the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, staff and workforce shortages, the ongoing recovery from the devastating February 2021 ice storm and a rise in mental health-related calls.
Add to that list housing and transportation needs, complications associated with industrial park development, questions surrounding parks and recreation and increased demand for water, power and sewage common to a growing community.
“These successes are from a period of challenges,” Hodson said. “A time of checking and adjusting to the times. We have much to plan for in the coming years that will require very tough decisions by the city council and the citizens of Canby.”
“The ‘Canby Way’ has meant different things to different people over the years. To me ‘The Canby Way’ is the community that does not divide, it’s the one that comes together in times of need to help a neighbor. Let’s be that Canby all the time.”
Hodson concluded with an impromptu question-and-answer session with the audience. To hear the complete State of the City address, tune into this bonus episode of the Now Hear This: Canby podcast.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!