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Vaughan advances city-building agenda in Israel

Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and Members of Council conclude successful trade mission

TEL AVIV, Israel , Nov. 30, 2019 /CNW/ - "As we look toward the immediate days, weeks and months ahead, I am committed to building on the success of the City of Vaughan's 2019 trade mission to Israel ," said Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua , who led the delegation that included Local and Regional Councillor Linda Jackson, Ward 4 Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, Ward 5 Councillor Alan Shefman and City staff. The mission was a partnership in collaboration with the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and Brian Shifman , its President and CEO.

Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, Members of Council and representatives from the Healthcare Centre Precinct MOU feasibility study with Dr. Rafael Bayer at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. (CNW Group/City of Vaughan)

Mayor Bevilacqua, Members of Council and members of the delegation took part in a series of meetings with leading Israeli government, business and academic officials. A meeting took place with Dr. Rafael Bayer , an experienced, accomplished and trusted leader with the world-class Rambam Medical Center – one of the largest medical centres in Israel , located in the city of Haifa . Dr. Bayer discussed his country's extensive efforts to bring together startups and academic institutions to create medical breakthroughs and enhance front-line health services. The presentation was followed by a study tour of the Rambam Medical Center and The Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital, located on the same site. The delegation saw first-hand the cutting-edge technologies that are improving patient care.

Also taking part in the mission, including the presentation and study tour at Rambam Hospital, were thought leaders from the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct project representing York University , Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB. On Oct. 2 , Mayor Bevilacqua signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with these organizations to identify opportunities to maximize the best use of lands surrounding the site of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital through a feasibility study. The goal of this collaboration is for the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct to leverage resources to bring healthcare, innovation and jobs to the community. The tour of Rambam Hospital provided an important opportunity for these partners to learn of proven best practices.

The City's delegation also advanced its intergovernmental relations efforts through separate meetings with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum , Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Deputy Mayor Chen Arieli and Haifa Deputy Mayor David Etzioni . Mayor Bevilacqua and Members of Council also met with representatives from Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative – a project led by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office. The delegation further met with representatives from Canada's Embassy in Israel , including Stanley Gomes , Counsellor and Senior Trade Commissioner.

Discussions included strengthening foreign-direct investment in Vaughan by showcasing the economic development opportunities in and around the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) – the city's emerging downtown core. Mayor Bevilacqua engaged his counterparts about the work the City is doing to press ahead as a Smart City leader, namely becoming the first Canadian municipality to join US Ignite – an international non-profit organization that promotes the development of data-driven solutions, services and new applications. The delegation met with researchers at Tel Aviv University , the country's largest post-secondary institution, to discuss the future of Smart City technology and its role in developing autonomous vehicles to improve urban transportation.

The City's intergovernmental, economic and cultural development initiatives resulted in Mayor Bevilacqua and Ramla Mayor Michael Vidal signing an MOU that commits the two municipalities to develop a comprehensive four-year action plan that advances cultural opportunities. The MOU calls for the establishment of a new, robust and accountable framework to ensure this action plan has clearly stated goals and objectives.

Mayor Bevilacqua and Members of Council went to Yad Vashem – Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The delegation also visited the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Stations of the Cross – among some of the holiest sites in the world. Improving interfaith dialogue was top-of-mind during a meeting with Emir Muhammad Sharif Odeh , head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of the Kababir neighbourhood in Haifa . Vaughan is proudly home to the Baitul Islam Mosque, a national and international place of worship.

The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce conducted a roundtable discussion and series of business-to-business meetings with the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce and Israeli-based businesses, including Zencity, an artificial intelligence company that focuses on improving city services. The dialogue primarily focused on Israel's support for startup companies. These discussions coincided with the City's Activate!Vaughan innovation challenge – a series of events where entrepreneurs and startups were invited to pitch their emerging ideas for a chance to earn a $5,000 provincial grant – which took place on Nov. 28 at the VMC.

Other mission highlights included meeting with representatives of the Israel Innovation Authority, The Center for Israeli Innovation and a plant tour of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Mayor Bevilacqua and Members of Council also met with Avi Samuels , Chairman of the Shalva National Center Industries Inc. This is an inspiring organization that actively seeks to care for and empower members of the special needs community and their families.

In planning the 2019 Israel trade mission, the City's Economic and Cultural Development department worked closely with the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce, the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto , the Canadian Embassy of Canada to Israel , the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Government of Israel's Economic and Trade Mission to Canada , and other leaders in Vaughan's Israeli diaspora. The mission ran from Friday, Nov. 22 to Saturday, Nov. 30 . A staff report about the mission will be brought forward to Vaughan Council in the new year.

"The 2019 Israel trade mission was an opportunity to meet with government and business leaders, study innovative best practices in important industries including health technology and advance Vaughan's promising city-building agenda. Our delegation included important community partners who are working with us to undertake transformational initiatives like the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct, which will be anchored by Canada's first smart hospital. I wish to reiterate my genuine affection, appreciation and admiration for the Israeli and Jewish communities. During our solemn visit to Yad Vashem, I once again reflected on the unthinkable atrocities committed during the Holocaust and was reminded and inspired by the strength, resiliency and sense of mission embodied by the Jewish people. Today, Israel is an inclusive and dynamic country with a promising future. Communities from around the world look to it as the startup nation. As Mayor of Vaughan, I am proud that our city is home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel and that our citizens continue to be positively influenced by the social, cultural and economic contributions of the Jewish people."
- Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua


  • The City's 2019 Israel trade mission is consistent with Vaughan's Economic Prosperity, Investment and Social Capital strategic priority, as outlined in the Council-approved 2018-2022 Term of Council Service Excellence Strategic Plan.
  • A post-mission debrief meeting has been organized by the City's Economic and Cultural Development department for the week of Dec. 1 with the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and all partners involved in the trade mission.
  • Vaughan continues to be enriched by its active, engaged and thriving Jewish and Israeli communities. This population represents more than a quarter of the entire Jewish and Israeli population – and the highest percentage of Hebrew speakers – in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area.
  • Jewish Heritage Month is recognized in Vaughan as part of the Economic and Cultural Development department's Heritage Month program.
  • Since 1993, Vaughan has maintained an international partnership with the Israeli City of Ramla.


  • 2019 City of Vaughan Israel trade mission lure book
  • Mayor Bevilacqua leads trade mission to Israel news release
  • Vaughan and Ramla renew global partnership statement
  • Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct MOU feasibility study news release
  • Vaughan advances Smart City agenda news release
  • Mayor Bevilacqua welcomes Galit Baram , Consul General of Israel in Toronto , news release
  • Activate!Vaughan webpage
  • Vaughan Chamber of Commerce website

ABOUT VAUGHAN: The City of Vaughan is one of Canada's fastest growing cities with a population of more than 335,000. Incorporated in 1991, Vaughan includes the communities of Concord , Kleinburg , Maple , Thornhill and Woodbridge . This culturally diverse municipality is located in the heart of York Region and the Greater Toronto Area .

SOURCE City of Vaughan

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