Celebrating 75 years of protecting our Regional forests

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Halton Regional Forests.  To commemorate this milestone, Halton Region has recently acquired 37 hectares of new forest land, marking the first addition to the Regional Forest in almost 50 years.  Between 1939 and 1965, Halton secured more than 665 hectares (1,643 acres) of land, ranging from 12 hectares to more than 166 hectares in size, in 14 separate forest tracts.  The new forest lands contain a provincially significant wetland (approximately 14 hectares) and a woodlot (approximately 23 hectares) bringing the total size of Halton’s Regional Forests to 702 hectares.

Our Regional forests are an important reminder of the critical role natural areas play in the Halton landscape. It is essential that we preserve these unique natural systems which are home to a wide array of plants and animals including a number of rare and endangered species.

Halton Region has recently adopted a Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests and is the first regional municipality in Ontario to do so.  The Biodiversity Strategy will protect and increase biological diversity in the Regional forests, while preserving and enhancing the Regional Natural Heritage System. This strategy will guide conservation of the Regional forests over the next 10 years and help protect them for future generations. The strategy contains seven key biodiversity initiatives to help maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the forests including:

  • Implementing strategic control measures for priority invasive species in Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Expanding the scope of restoration and enhancement activities beyond tree and shrub planting;
  • Implementing programs to monitor the biodiversity of Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Promoting Regional Forest Tracts as Living Laboratories;
  • Engaging the public in enjoying, characterizing and enhancing biodiversity resources in the Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Engaging in public awareness and educational activities to promote biodiversity; and,
  • Continuing to implement good forestry practices in Regional Forest Tracts in accordance with the Forest Management Plan.

Regional Council considers sustainability in all that we do and is committed to the protection and preservation of Halton’s natural heritage. Working together, we can help preserve our vibrant communities and the natural environment that make Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. If you would like to learn more about our Regional Forests or our Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests, please visit halton.ca/forests.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Halton Region and City of Burlington partner with Canadian Red Cross to support rain storm clean-up efforts

Please consider donating to the United Way of Burlington & Greater Hamilton to help support the recovery and clean-up efforts of many Burlington households affected by flooding.

Visit the City of Burlington Community Bulletin Board to share information about donating items and services to Burlington residents who were impacted by the flood.

Halton Region and the City of Burlington are partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to provide additional assessment and clean–up efforts throughout the Burlington areas impacted by the August 4 heavy rain storm.

Red Cross staff are now going door-to-door visiting homeowners and providing information about clean-up measures including information on Halton’s flooding financial support. All Red Cross staff carry formal identification and wear red vests so they are easily identifiable in the community.

Burlington residents who have been impacted by flooding and have not already reported it to Halton Region are encouraged to dial 311 or fill out the online flooding report form at Halton.ca/flood. Regional staff will assess the flooding and advise what future actions are required. If the flooding was a result of a sanitary sewer back-up residents may qualify for financial assistance in the amount of $1000.

Halton Region has added additional waste collection trucks in Burlington to assist residents throughout the weekdays with their garbage and bulk waste removal including an additional 15-20 trucks that will be added this Saturday, August 16.  Residents are asked to place their waste material at the curb as soon as possible and leave it there until collection has taken place. All garbage bag and bulk waste limits have been waived for Burlington residents impacted by the storm, however, Regional waste collection guidelines still apply for weight restrictions and acceptable materials.

There are a number of community organizations working tirelessly to support residents impacted by the storm including: the City of Burlington, the Burlington Fire Department, Halton Regional Police Service, the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton, the Canadian Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse.  I thank the many staff and volunteers from near and far for their ongoing efforts to assist the Burlington community.  I also want to thank the many Halton business organizations who are rising to the occasion through providing generous volunteer support and donations.  By working together we can ensure that all impacted residents receive the support they require during these difficult times.

For more information about the flood response, waste collection and financial assistance, please visit www.halton.ca/flood or dial 311.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Summer Company 2014: Helping Halton’s young entrepreneurs thrive

Entrepreneurship plays an integral role in innovation, job creation and economic growth. With small businesses contributing an increasing amount to Halton’s strong economy, Regional Council is committed to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs as they establish themselves and expand. One way that we support entrepreneurship in the Region is through our youth entrepreneurship programs including Summer Company.

Every year, Halton Region works with the Ontario Government to provide support to student entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 29 to help them start and run their own business through the Summer Company program. Successful applicants receive hands-on business training and mentoring and can receive up to $3,000 in funding to help them get their business off the ground. Programs like Summer Company provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with the necessary training, mentorship and support that can help put them in a position to succeed.

The goal of the Summer Company program is to support students interested in entrepreneurship as a possible career goal by helping them launch a summer business.  This year’s participants are extremely talented and were selected from a group of applicants throughout the Halton area.  The 2014 summer companies include:

  • Trevor Clost, Hockequip, Burlington
  • Luke Corbeth, Corby Car Cleaners, Oakville
  • Paul DeMarco, DeMarco Business Services, Oakville
  • Cory Hudson, Ambient Audio Canada, Oakville
  • Yara Kashlan, A Ray Creative Publishing, Burlington
  • David Kong, Eco-Space, Oakville
  • Tom Lethbridge, Cutting Edge Language, Burlington
  • Jason Lum, JXL Apparel, Oakville
  • Cameron Mulligan, First Waves Swim School, Oakville
  • Thomas Neely, The Boys of Summer Landscape & Lawn Care, Georgetown
  • Dragos Rotaru, Orchard Audio & Design, Oakville
  • Anna Starkova, Blue Hat Caricatures, Oakville

While Summer Company is coordinated locally through the Halton Region Small Business Centre, we rely on community volunteer business advisors to help provide extra support and to mentor the students. I would like to thank all of our volunteers for taking the time to help this year’s group of students. Our 2014 mentors include:

  • Tom Cochrane, Retired Businessman with Oakville Business Advisory Group, Oakville
  • Liz Kush, Senior Account Manager, Royal Bank of Canada, Burlington
  • Ivana Pejakovic, Empowerment coach for Women/Director of R&D, Bruno LoGreco Inc., Oakville
  • Steve Sprenger, Senior Manager, BDO Canada, Burlington
  • Phil Von Massow, Owner of CPL Group, Oakville

The Region’s strong economy relies on people with a resilient entrepreneurial spirit. We are committed to developing and supporting our local small businesses and those who are considering becoming an entrepreneur. Whether you’re thinking about opening a business, formulating your business plan, expanding an established small business or looking for youth entrepreneurship programs, the Halton Region Small Business Centre is here to help.

For more information about the Halton Region Small Business Centre please visit www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca or dial 311. You can also follow the Halton Region Small Business Centre on Twitter at @HaltonEcDev, on Facebook and on WordPress.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Keeping you on the move with safe and efficient Regional roads

To keep Halton moving, Halton Region is investing $1.2 billion in its regional roads capital program over the next 10 years and I’m happy to say that this investment in our transportation infrastructure is working. A review of Greater Toronto Area corridors shows Halton Region as having the least congested corridors compared to other regional municipalities, reinforcing how our infrastructure is in the right place at the right time and meeting the needs of our community.

The 2013 Halton Region Transportation Services Progress Report, recently received by Regional Council, outlines what our Transportation division is working on today and in the future. It outlines current and future environmental assessment projects, new and ongoing design and construction projects, ongoing maintenance programs and proactive safety measures all designed to keep Halton roads moving safely and efficiently.

To meet the needs of a growing population, Halton Region has continued to deliver a roads capital improvement program which invests, on average, more than $120 million every year towards ongoing or new construction projects. In 2013, Halton committed $289 million to Regional roads, an increase from $50 million in 2006.

While the Region is committed to investing in its transportation infrastructure, Halton is also committed to programs that encourage residents and businesses to take advantage of transportation alternatives and not rely solely on single occupant vehicles.

In 2013, Smart Commute Halton included 20 Halton businesses with more than 15,000 employees actively involved in the program and 56 registered carpools. Last year, Smart Commute Halton designated workplaces managed to eliminate 483,920 km of road travel, prevented 105,073 kg of greenhouse gas emissions and saved almost $312,295 in commuter savings. If you have a business in Halton and are interested in joining the program, visit our website or dial 311 for more information on this free program.

Halton Region has also undertaken an Active Transportation Master Plan that will provide a strategy for infrastructure, as well as initiatives and programs to promote people-powered travel throughout the Region. In 2013, approximately 11 km of paved shoulders and 13 km of wider curb lanes were built to support active transportation.

Through proactive programs such as Drive SAFE, traffic signal optimization studies and intersection and speed reviews, Halton Region will make sure our transportation infrastructure and programs meet the needs of our community, while protecting the environment, today and in the future.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Have a day to remember in Halton!

Whether it’s rock climbing, shopping, taking in dinner and a show, watching a horse race or enjoying the thrill of an indoor sky diving experience, there are so many reasons Halton Region is a great place to live and visit.

Halton boasts beautiful vistas and landscapes with easy access to Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment. Our communities have small town charm, but offer big city shopping and dining. Whether you’re looking for farm fresh fun, cultural experiences, shopping orhiking, you’ll find something for everyone.

With so much to experience in Halton, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Our new tourism map, now available at tourism destinations around Halton, makes it easy to quickly see Halton destinations, attractions and activities. We can also help with our online event listing which showcases some of the highlights going on across the Region. Whether you’re a foodie wanting to enjoy some culinary delights, a family wanting some fun quality time or a weekend warrior looking for a new adventure, there’s sure to be something out of the ordinary waiting for you in Halton.

Our landscape plays a critical role in so many of the things to see and do in Halton. Whether it’s hiking Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, splashing at a beach, rock climbing or fishing, it can be easy to forget how impressive Halton’s landscape actually is. I recently saw a video created for the upcoming Epic Tour Halton, a cycling event that brings thousands of recreational cyclists to Halton, and it reminded me of how beautiful our natural environment is and why Halton Regional Council works so hard to protect it for future generations.

With the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World’s Biosphere Reserve to the north and 25 kilometres of frontage on beautiful Lake Ontario, Halton is home to stunning landscapes that attract people from near and far.

From outdoor adventures to special events at our museums, theatres and other community organizations, fine dining, shopping and much more, Halton is the perfect community to explore. This summer, explore Halton and enjoy everything we have to offer, right in your own backyard. Visit halton.ca/tourism to learn more or dial 311 to request a copy of the tourism map.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook.

Q2 Accomplishments 2014

Fiscal Responsibility

Tax Policy Report approved
On April 16, Regional Council approved Halton Region’s Tax Policy Report which details the Region’s final 2014 tax rates based on the 2014 Budget and Business Plan, approved by Halton Regional Council on December 11, 2013.

Public Engagement 

Citizens’ Report 2013 released
On April 2, Halton Region released the Citizens’ Report 2013 which highlights accomplishments related to key actions and initiatives in the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan.

Customer Service

Region marks 40 year anniversary
The County of Halton was dissolved and the Regional Municipality of Halton was established on January 1, 1974. Halton Region marked the anniversary and celebrated 40 years of customer service excellence with the launch of a new Twitter account, @RegionofHalton. Additionally, to recognize the contributions of Halton’s namesake, Major William Halton, to the development of the Region and the province, the new North Oakville Transportation Corridor between Bronte Road (Regional Road 25) and Ninth Line, will be named William Halton Parkway. Construction on the new corridor will begin this year. 

Be an Employer of Choice

Halton Region appointed two new commissioners
On April 16, Regional Council approved the appointment of two new commissioners to fill positions recently vacated following the retirements of the Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Works.

James A. Harnum was appointed as Commissioner of Public Works, effective Tuesday, May 20, 2014 and Dr. Hamidah K. Meghani was appointed as Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health, effective Monday, July 14, 2014. 

Advocacy

Pre-election advocacy campaign informed voters
In advance of the June provincial election, Halton Region prepared a questionnaire for the candidates from the ridings of Burlington, Halton, Oakville and Wellington-Halton Hills. The questionnaire provided candidates with an opportunity to explain to voters how they would advocate for Halton and how their party would resolve the challenges facing Halton Region. Responses were posted at Halton.ca/OntarioElection2014.

Economic Development

Halton Region endorsed Sheridan College’s plan to become a university
In June, Halton Regional Council voted in favour of Sheridan College’s plan to expand postsecondary education options. Halton Region endorsed Sheridan’s plan to pursue university status because it will improve access to local postsecondary education, ensure a strong labour force to meet the needs of local employers and attract talent to Halton.

Starter Company announced
Halton Region announced the launch of a new program called Starter Company, perfect for those aged 18 to 29 who have always wanted to be entrepreneurs. The program is offered by Halton Region in partnership with the Ontario Government and provides training, mentorship, business skills development and grants of up to $5,000 to help eligible individuals start a new business, expand a business or purchase a business.

Physician Recruitment Week a success
Every year, Halton Region and local hospitals celebrate the efforts of Halton’s physicians and recognize their contributions to our community with Physician Appreciation Week, which took place this year from April 28 to May 2. Now in its 11th year, Physician Appreciation Week in Halton was originally established in 2003 by the Halton Physician Recruitment program. Attracting new physicians to establish medical practices in Halton continues to be a priority in Halton’s Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan. Halton Region’s Physician Recruitment program has helped bring more than 200 new family doctors to Halton since 2003.

Waste Management

Winter Ice Storm Yard Waste Collection Program
Halton Region implemented a special bulk brush collection service in designated service areas from March 31 to May 30, followed by a call-in service throughout June for roadside brush collection in non-serviced areas in response to the December 2013 major winter ice storm. The Region worked closely with the Local Municipalities to ensure that storm debris was collected in an effective and efficient manner. In addition, the Region continued to waive the tipping fee for yard waste at the Halton Waste Management Site to the end of June so that Halton residents and contractors could drop off brush debris or chipped materials at no charge.

Special Waste Drop-off Days held in Burlington, Halton Hills and Oakville
Halton Region held Special Waste Drop-off Days this spring in Burlington, Halton Hills and Oakville. Approximately 2,800 residents attended the events designed to provide Halton residents with a convenient opportunity to safely recycle and dispose of items like electronics and household hazardous waste, which should not be placed in the garbage.

Spring Compost Giveaway
In May, approximately 3,500 residents attended Halton’s annual Spring Compost Giveaway at the Halton Waste Management Site. During the event, residents picked up processed compost to use in their garden and landscaping projects. Halton residents also generously donated 4,340 kg of non-perishable food items and contributed $7,720 for local Halton food banks. 

Scout tree planting event
In May, Halton Region partnered with Conservation Halton and Halton Area Scouts to host the annual Trees for Watershed Health planting event at the Halton Waste Management Site.  The event was a big success with over 300 volunteers planting 3,000 trees at the site. 

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Water

Rain barrel sales events
Halton Region held its sixth annual rain barrel truckload sales events as part of Halton’s Water Efficiency and Conservation Program. Approximately 2,225 rain barrels were sold over the four events. The use of rain barrels helps to reduce outdoor water use.

Outdoor Water Use Program launched
Halton Region launched the annual Outdoor Water Use Program in June. The program is designed to help reduce peak demand associated with summer water use when water consumption often doubles. 

Infrastructure

Well upgrades completed

  • The Region completed a comprehensive upgrade of the Fourth Line Well Field in Acton to ensure that wells continue to meet all provincial water quality standards and to provide water for future growth within Acton.  
  • Upgrades were completed at the Lindsay Court Well Field to include a standby well and to ensure that the wells continue to meet all provincial water quality standards.  The upgrades will ensure that Georgetown’s water supply remains reliable and safe for the long term.  

Planning Sustainable Communities 

Completion of the Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) 38 Guidelines
In June, Halton’s Inter-Municipal Liaison Committee endorsed the Regional Official Plan Guidelines. The 17 guidelines, developed through an extensive public consultation process, will assist municipalities and the public with policy implementation of the Region’s Official Plan. 

Annual update on employment activity in Halton
Council received the 2013 Employment Survey Results report in June. The report highlights key findings on employment activity and land use patterns resulting from the 2013 comprehensive door-to-door survey of businesses in Halton Region. 

Annual update on housing trends in Halton
Council received the Halton Region – 2013 State of Housing Report. The report provides an update on housing trends to assist in monitoring the success of the Region’s housing and growth management policies. The report highlights that the Region’s Official Plan targets related to density and affordability for new housing units in Halton were both exceeded in 2013. 

Defining and Preserving Natural Heritage 

75th Anniversary of Halton Regional Forests:  A Biodiversity Strategy and Property Acquisition
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Halton Regional Forests.  To commemorate this event, on June 18, Regional Council approved a Biodiversity Strategy for the Regional Forests, as well as the purchase of a 37 hectare property. This is the first expansion to the Regional Forest in nearly 50 years.  Biodiversity is key to maintaining the function and integrity of the Regional Natural Heritage System. The Biodiversity Strategy will guide conservation and enhancement of the Halton Regional Forests over the next 10 years. 

Halton Region Museum Master Plan
On June 18, 2014, Regional Council approved the Halton Region Museum Master Plan which details a long-term plan and vision to transform the Halton Region Museum into the Halton Heritage Centre (HHC). The Master Plan outlines a new and innovative model for the delivery of regional heritage services in which the Museum will not only continue to care for the Region’s own collection but will provide professional services in exhibit planning and design, public program development and artifact conservation. The details and strategy for implementing the Halton Heritage Centre will be determined during the Region’s next term of Council.

New exhibit launched at the Halton Region Museum
A new exhibit, Flights of Folly: Learning from the Passenger Pigeon, was launched at the Halton Region Museum Visitor Centre on June 11, 2014. Flights of Folly acknowledges the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon by offering an interactive and educational experience that explores issues surrounding extinction and de-extinction and present-day species at risk. 

Corporate Sustainability 

Corporate Sustainability Action Plan on track
Implementation of the Corporate Sustainability Action Plan is on track, as reduction of the Region’s ecological footprint for internal operations continues. Recent accomplishments include the Region receiving the E3 Bronze Fleet Rating, recognition as the Smart Commute Halton Employer of the Year and recognition from Oakville Hydro Corporation for completed energy retrofit projects. 

Promoting Healthy Living 

Health Department hosts successful Workplace Health Networking Meeting
On June 17, the Health Department hosted a Workplace Health Networking Meeting entitled “How Much Are You Sitting? Move More at Work, Sit Less!” Over 60 workplace representatives heard keynote speaker Dr. Travis Saunders discuss “Is Sitting Killing Us?” He shared the latest research evidence and effective approaches workplaces can implement to encourage physical activity at work.   

April 8 Smoking Cessation Best Practice Workshop
On April 8, the Health Department participated in the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario’s Nursing Best Practice Smoking Cessation Initiative by hosting a Smoking Cessation Best Practice Champion Workshop. Forty-eight health care professionals learned simple intervention techniques to dramatically reduce rates of smoking, in addition to connecting with Canada-wide champions and learning about best practice tools and resources. 

Family Health Information Line receives 99 per cent satisfaction rating
A recent evaluation of the Family Health Information Line showed a 99 per cent satisfaction rating from Halton residents who access the line to connect directly with a public health nurse for information and resources.  

Air Quality 

Halton Region climate change picture books recognized with three awards
In June, Health Department staff were recognized with three awards for the ‘Owls for Climate Change’ children’s picture book series, including a 2014 Gold Quill Award of Excellence (from the International Association of Business Communicators – IABC), a 2014 Conservation Halton Award, and a 2014 Apex Award for Publication Excellence. To view or purchase the books, visit: www.halton.ca/owlbooks.   

Children and Youth Development 

Promoting safety with two community car seat safety spot checks
As part of Halton Region’s commitment to community safety, Regional staff, Halton Regional Police Services, Milton and Halton Hills Fire Departments and Cooperators Insurance jointly supported two car seat safety spot check clinics in Acton (April) and Burlington (May). In total, 266 seats were seen at the quick check with 117 requiring a full inspection due to installation errors. 

Over 100 trained in effective youth engagement
Aligned with a release of a new guideline for working with youth by the Our Kids Network, Health Department staff delivered training related to how to engage youth in health and social services to over 100 staff and community partners. 

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

 

West Nile virus: Prevention is the key

Summer is finally here! As we enjoy the warm weather at one of Halton’s beaches, at the Bruce Trail, on vacation or in our backyards across Halton – it is important to take action to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and West Nile virus (WNV).

To help control the mosquito population and reduce the threat of West Nile virus, Halton Region treats areas of standing water with a larvacide to prevent the mosquito larva from maturing into hungry adult mosquitoes.

This is an important step in protecting Halton residents; however the most important steps we can take to prevent mosquito bites are simple and up to us.

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET.
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn.
  3. Cover up: wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that does not flow.

Did you know that the type of mosquito that carries WNV is found much more frequently in urban areas than rural or forested areas?  

If you notice any areas of standing water on public property that can’t be drained or removed, please report it to the Health Department and an assessment can be conducted to determine if larvaciding is necessary.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout Halton Region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes are examined and sent for WNV testing.

Visit our West Nile Virus surveillance webpage to see the locations of larvaciding as well as other tracking data.

For more information on WNV or to report standing water, dial 311 or call Halton Region at 1-866-442-5866, or email accesshalton@halton.ca.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook.