Women entrepreneurs ‘making it happen’ in Halton

Annually on March 8, International Women’s Day is recognized and celebrated around the world.  The day calls for greater equality for women and celebrates the great achievements and perseverance of inspiring women everywhere.

On Wednesday, March 11, Halton Region’s Small Business Centre, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, will host their annual business event for women entrepreneurs.  Adopting the official theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, this year’s networking event is called Make It Happen, encouraging the advancement and recognition of women.

Attendees will get the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and listen to two inspiring keynote speakers:

  • Carol Schulte is a professional speaker, trainer, coach and creator of the Spark your G.E.N.I.U.S.™ Group Coaching Program.   She has lead workshops across the globe teaching women to take action and inspire positive change.
  • Kate Jones of Kate Jones & Associates is an award-winning facilitator, entrepreneur and author.  She has led thousands of people through her workshops over the past 12 years and offers a practical learning experience with tools you can use professionally and personally.

The Make It Happen event will also include two “local spotlight” success stories: Heather Roberts and Breanne Gibson, Owners of The Granddaughters Inc. and Souad Shamson, Owner of Plan Ahead Events.  All of these young women received guidance and support through the Halton Region Small Business Centre.

Entrepreneurship plays such an integral role in innovation, job creation and economic growth in Halton Region. With small businesses contributing an increasing amount to Halton’s strong economy, Regional Council is committed to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs as they work to establish themselves and expand.

To register or learn more about the Make It Happen event, dial 311 or visit halton.ca/businesswomen.  For more information about programs and services offered through the Halton Region Small Business Centre, visit www.haltonsmallbusiness.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. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Preventing homelessness in Halton

Halton Regional Council works hard on behalf of its residents and this work has paid off with the Region having one of the lowest unemployment rates and the highest quality of life in all of Canada. With this success comes an important responsibility to help people that need support in our community.

In the recently approved 2015 Regional budget, Regional Council included $4.3 million to help prevent homelessness throughout the region under the province’s Community Homeless Prevention Initiative (CHPI). Our primary plan for this funding is to assist people who may be at risk of losing their current housing by helping with last month’s rent deposits, utility and rent arrears, as well as assisting with moving and storage costs. The Housing Stability Fund is one of a number of tools the Region uses to keep Halton residents housed by avoiding evictions – a key policy priority of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy (CHS).

By committing funding to these important programs, we’ll be helping people build a brighter future for themselves, their families and our community:

  • Over $800,000 will go towards homelessness prevention, supporting those at-risk of losing their current housing;
  • $1.4 million to Halton’s Emergency Shelter programs, run in partnership with the Salvation Army;
  • $1.5 million to the Housing with Related Supports program which provides supportive housing for Halton residents with physical and mental disabilities, as well as the frail elderly; and
  • $125,000 to the Halton Housing Help Service to assist residents at risk of homelessness find and retain affordable housing as well as overcome some traditional housing barriers

If you or someone you know is struggling with the cost of housing, I encourage you to look into our Regional housing services online or dial 311.

Working together we can support all members of our community and continue to be a great place to live today, tomorrow and in the future.

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. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Come home to Halton this winter!

Looking for some fun family activities within a reasonable driving distance?

Halton Region offers residents and visitors plenty of exciting events and adventures.  Entertain your friends and family right in your own backyard with some unique and lively winter activities surrounded in some of the country’s most breathtaking natural scenery. Halton is an excellent destination for your winter “staycation”!

Here are just some of the great winter activities, adventures and events coming up in Halton this winter:

Burlington

Burlington Performing Arts Centre
440 Locust Street, Burlington
Check out their website for a variety of arts, entertainment and events.

Joseph Brant Museum
1240 North Shore Boulevard East, Burlington
LEGO Creation Camp, March 16 – 20

Mount Nemo Conservation Area
5317 Guelph Line, Burlington
Hiking at one the best cliff-edge ecosystems in the province.

Owl

A diverse wildlife population awaits you in Halton Region.

Royal Botanical Gardens
680 Plains Road West, Burlington
See Frogs: A Chorus of Colours until April 12 or the Orchid Society Annual Show from February 28 to March 1.

Skating in the Park
1400 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
Enjoy skating lakeside on the Rotary Centennial Pond in Spencer Smith Park until March 30, 2015.

Halton Hills

Terra Cotta Conservation Area
14452 Winston Churchill Blvd., Halton Hills
Try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or skating on the pond in 485 acres of unique natural environment.

Winter Hiking

Bring the family to Halton Region for a winter adventure.

Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and one of southern Ontario’s most prominent natural features.  It offers nature enthusiasts a variety of winter activities including hiking and cross country skiing.   The Escarpment also includes the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest footpath and is a popular destination for photographers.

Outdoor rinks
Several natural ice rinks in Halton Hills are maintained by Town of Halton Hills staff and various neighbourhood groups throughout the winter.

Milton

Crawford Lake Conservation Area
3115 Conservation Road, Milton
Cross-country skiing, hiking and Moonlight Snowshoe Hikes are just a few of the great winter activities available at Crawford Lake.  Visit a reconstructed Iroquoian Village, learn how maple syrup was discovered and see a sweet water demonstration during Sweet Water Season, from February 28 – April 5, 2015.

Glen Eden
5234 Kelso Road, Milton
Glen Eden offers skiing, a fully-equipped terrain park for snowboarders, snow tubing and lessons for all ages and skill-levels.

Winter Tubing

Tubing at Glen Eden is fun for the entire family!

Halton Region Museum
5181 Kelso Road, Milton
Come and see Flights of Folly: Learning from the Passenger Pigeon.  Exhibit open until March 31, 2015.

Hilton Falls Conservation Area
4985 Campbellville Road, Milton
Go bird watching, cross-country skiing, hiking or visit the 10 metre frozen waterfall in Hilton Falls’ unique 645-hectare landscape.

Mattamy National Cycling Centre – Milton Velodrome
2015 Pan Am Boulevard, Milton
Go to the brand new Milton Velodrome for a unique biking experience during the March break and get a preview of track cycling at this summer’s Pan Am Games.

Mountsberg Conservation Area
2259 Milburough Line, Campbellville
Go to Mountsberg for bird watching, cross-country skiing, hiking and snowshoeing.  Visit the Raptor Centre to see over two dozen birds of prey.

Snowshoeing

Enjoy snowshoeing at Mountsberg Conservation Area.

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
7200 Appleby Line, Milton
A favourite area for local residents, Rattlesnake Point offers cross-country skiing, hiking and year-round camping.

Oakville

Maple Syrup Festival at Bronte Creek
Bronte Creek Provincial Park, 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville
Enjoy a guided tour of the Maple Lane, learn how to tap maple trees, make maple syrup and maple sugar. Hop on a wagon that will take you to a heated pancake house where you can enjoy fresh, hot pancakes with pure maple syrup and sausages.  The Maple Syrup Festival runs from March 7 – 29, 2015.

Bronte Creek’s Outdoor Skating Rink
Bronte Creek Provincial Park, 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville
Enjoy day or night ice skating at Bronte until end of February.

RBC Skate in the Square
Towne Square, 146 Lakeshore Road East, Oakville
Take the family for a skate in Oakville’s downtown Towne Square, open until February 28, 2015.

Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
130 Navy Street, Oakville
Check out their website for a variety of events: comedy, dance, film, music, theatre and more.

Whether you want to relax, rejuvenate or reflect, Halton Region offers countless seasonal opportunities for residents.  Take the time to discover the beauty of your community and avoid the stresses of long-distance travel.  Come home to Halton this winter!

For more to see and do in the region, visit Halton.ca/tourism.  Our Things to See & Do in Halton Region page offers quick links to our local municipal tourism partners or you can visit the websites for each of our municipalities: Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville.

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. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Ensuring you can live in Halton, no matter what your age or stage

Having a safe place to live, no matter what your age or stage in life, is a key factor in our health, happiness, employment and overall sense of belonging to a community. With the mandate for Halton to grow to 780,000 by 2031, there is also a need to ensure that a mix of housing is available and affordable for all income levels.

In order to support this growth, Comprehensive Housing Strategy (CHS) Update 2014-2024 was developed to build a healthy and inclusive Halton community with a range of housing options to meet the needs of all incomes and stages of life.

With one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest standards of living, Halton Region is committed to being a leader in ensuring our communities’ needs are met and ensuring that people who need support in our community can get it. We currently invest $26 million every year to provide assisted housing options for low income residents and since 2008, we’ve created close to 1,000 new government-assisted housing opportunities.

This summer, the Governments of Canada and Ontario announced an extension to the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) agreement. This is great news, especially since Halton Region was allocated over $2.2 million for the program’s first year. In December, we received a letter from the Province communicating additional IAH funding of $18.6M through to 2020.

This year, we’ll be investing most of this funding to enhance the new Halton In-situ Program (HIP) which helps people who are currently on the waitlist for government-assisted housing. This program provides immediate and ongoing funding to supplement the rent where they currently live, helping people remain in their community. Halton residents that receive HIP assistance are then removed from the Halton Access to Community Housing (HATCH) waitlist.

We will also use the Region’s own funding and leverage funding made available from senior levels of government to create new housing opportunities.

Working with our government partners and remaining committed to people across the region, no matter what their age or stage in life, will ensure Halton is a great place to live today, tomorrow and in the future.

Recharge with Family Fun in Halton

Family Day is Monday, February 16, 2015, and it is not only an opportunity to spend time with family and recharge, it’s also a great chance to get out and enjoy many of the unique indoor and outdoor opportunities we have in Halton. Whether skiing, skating, tobogganing or visiting one of our community and cultural centres, there are a lot of exciting Family Day activities available for all ages in Halton.

Check out some of the fun and active activities planned this Family Day:

City of Burlington

Family Skate

  • Appleby Ice Centre, 1201 Appleby Line, Burlington
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

RBC Free Skate

  • Appleby Ice Centre, 1201 Appleby Line, Burlington
  • 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Family Day Bash

  •  Burlington Soccer Dome, 5270 Fairview Street, Burlington
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Frogs: A Chorus of Colours Exhibition

  • Royal Botanical Gardens, RBG Centre, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington
  • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Town of Halton Hills

Free Family Fun at locations across Halton Hills

  • Various Town of Halton Hills Facilities. Visit haltonhills.ca for additional details and activity schedules.

Town of Milton

Town of Milton Family Day Activities

  • Take part in free swimming, skating, sports, fitness and more at Town facilities starting at 9:00 am. Additional programs are running at regular admission rates. See the full schedule of events.

Mattamy National Cycling Centre Community Opening Celebration

  • Pan Am Blvd, Milton
  • Tour the facility, see track cycling demos, try family fitness classes and workout in the Fitness Centre, participate in family-friendly sports in the gym and visit the walking/jogging/training track. The first 1,000 visitors get a free water bottle!
  • 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Town of Oakville

Town of Oakville’s Make Your Move Family Day

  • Interactive, integrated and informative events at libraries, community centres, sports complexes, museums, and cultural centres. Check out the extensive schedule of events across Oakville here.

RBC Skate in the Square

  • Towne Square, 146 Lakeshore Road East, Oakville
  • 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Discover why Halton is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.  I wish you all a safe and happy Family Day!

As always, if you have any Region 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 Region issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Third annual Agricultural Forum celebrates innovation

Agriculture Forum Speakers

(From left to right): Michael Brownbridge, Research Director from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Charles Benoit, co-founder of the Toronto Distillery Company, Kevin Stemmer, co-owner of Stemmler Meats and Cheese based out of Heidelberg and Alex Barlow, Business Development Executive with Mentor Works (Cambridge).

On Thursday, January 29, Halton hosted the Third Agricultural Forum at Country Heritage Park in Milton. This annual event provides the Region with a great opportunity to connect directly with the local farming community and engage in open dialogue about important and emerging issues.

This year’s event was focused on innovation and was designed to provide information on some of the latest trends in agriculture, including new research, funding opportunities and the advantages of developing niche products. The event featured four guest speakers:

  • Michael Brownbridge, Research Director – Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
    Discussed some of the new research at Vineland, the importance of local food and the potential of developing non-traditional crops.
  • Charles Benoit, Co-founderToronto Distillery Company Spoke about making changes in an already established marketplace by using Ontario-grown organic grains and distilling them into whiskey.
  • Kevin Stemmler, Co-owner  – Stemmler Meats and Cheese Provided an overview of developing niche markets with a focus on  consumers with food allergies.
  • Alex Barlow, Business Development Executive – Mentor Works Presented government funding options for innovative projects in the agriculture and food sectors.

Halton Regional Council is committed to supporting our agricultural community. The protection of agriculture as a resource has been a consistent position of the Region since its inception to preserve farmland and enhance viability of the agricultural sector. Our farming and agricultural community continues to be a key piece of our economy, and one that Halton will continue to support through the development and delivery of the Comprehensive Rural Strategy, the Agri-tourism Action Plan, the work of the Halton Agricultural Advisory Committee (HAAC) and the support provided by Anna DeMarchi-Meyers, Halton’s Agricultural Liaison Officer.

The agriculture and farming industry has great potential for sustainable growth and through cooperative action at events like the forum, this sector will continue to be a key piece in making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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.”

Homeward Bound Halton: breaking down barriers to higher education

There is a famous African proverb that states “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Partners and participants at the launch of Homeward Bound Halton

Partners and participants at the launch of Homeward Bound Halton.

On January 21, I joined our community partners at Sheridan College to celebrate the launch of Homeward Bound Halton. This support program accepts five single-parent mothers per year facing economic hardship and provides them with an opportunity to pursue a college education without facing the financial barriers that can be associated with higher education. Homeward Bound Halton transforms the lives of its participants, helping these mothers build a brighter future for themselves and their children. In total, fifteen women will enter the program over the next three years.

ChairCarrHomewardBoundWEBHomeward Bound Halton is the result of a strong spirit of teamwork and collaboration that Halton Region has been proud to support throughout its development. Our Social & Community Services Department plays a key role in the initiative, providing affordable housing and childcare subsidies that ensure these mothers can focus on their education, their careers and their children.

The program brings community members together in support of a common goal. Partners include:

  • Home Suite Hope – leads and manages the programs, recruits community partners and qualifies applicants while providing ongoing support for participants;
  • Oakville Community Foundation – funds tuition, books, educational expenses and academic upgrading for the first cohort;
  • Sheridan College – provides technology, student support, internship placements and delivers world-class education to participants;
  • Oakville YMCA – offers swimming lessons, teen leadership programs and summer camp experiences for participants’ children;
  • ArtHouse – provides participants’ children between the ages of 7-11 with music, drama and visual arts programming; and
  • Halton Region – will provide housing and childcare subsidies to all 15 participants.

Halton Region recognizes the importance of education. And we believe that self-sufficiency is a matter of opportunity and support. That is why we have established more than 986 affordable housing units in our region since 2007, setting one of the best records in the province. This fuels our drive to provide   assistance for transportation, employment, child care, oral health and housing.

Programs like Homeward Bound Halton help those in need of support and break down barriers to higher education in Halton. Seventy-five per cent of our population over age 25 has some form of postsecondary education, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this advantage remains accessible to everyone.

I cannot overstate the positive effect that Homeward Bound Halton will have. It’s not only beneficial for them, but also for their children, who will gain an understanding of the importance of education.

Five initial opportunities will become thousands as Homeward Bound Halton grows, its ripple effect inspiring us all to think differently about education, poverty and opportunity.

We are fortunate to live in such a strong, inclusive community supported by community partners so eager to help improve our quality of life and the futures of our children. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child – it takes a school to train her parents, caregivers to watch over her, community and government supports to help her family succeed and ensure she has a safe and affordable place to call home.

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. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”