Maintaining a strong financial position for a bright future

I am proud to share that once again, S&P Global Ratings affirmed its highest credit rating for Halton Region! The AAA rating came with high praise for our financial management practices, and the agency’s research update described a stable outlook for our future.

MidHalton ConstructionOur top credit rating allows Halton and its Local Municipalities to finance major projects at the lowest possible long-term costs by providing continued access to the best capital financing rates available. This means it helps us keep taxes low and maximize investments in Halton’s future while minimizing the cost for taxpayers.

Halton’s credit rating is assessed by two international agencies, each issuing opinions annually: Moody’s Investors Service, whose highest rating is “Aaa”, and S&P Global Ratings, whose highest rating is “AAA”. Consistently earning the highest ratings from both agencies places us at the top end of Canadian municipalities, and has become increasingly rare for jurisdictions around the world.

The agencies assign their ratings based on financial performance, exposure to risks, and quality of financial planning and reporting. For Halton, S&P Global Ratings’ decision was based on:

  • our strong, diverse and growing economy with excellent access to GTA markets;
  • our strong financial management practices, prudent policies, robust budgets and transparent annual reports;
  • our strong, stable budget performance and low debt; and
  • our exceptional access to liquid funds from internal and external sources.

Our top credit rating is the foundation of our strong financial position, which is supported by an ongoing three-part cycle that includes planning and reporting as well as performance. At the July 12 meeting of Regional Council, we approved the 2018 Budget Directions Report, which will help ensure next year’s budget keeps tax increases at or below the rate of inflation while preserving our top credit rating. Meanwhile, the upcoming 2016 Annual Financial Report will provide an in-depth analysis of Halton’s finances and help inform the next credit opinion from Moody’s Investors Service in January. Each part of this process is connected to ensure transparency and accountability for residents.

We are proud to have achieved a top credit rating for 29 years, and this distinction is the direct result of our diligent planning and transparent reporting. By maintaining a top credit rating and strong long-term financial position, we can continue to make investments that help keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

I encourage you to learn more about fiscal responsibility at Halton—to view our award-winning financial plans, policies and reports that demonstrate how we succeed by putting residents first, visit halton.ca/finances.

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”.

Simply fresh. Simply fun. Simply local.

Halton Region is home to a thriving agricultural industry. One of the great things about living in a community with a strong and diverse agricultural sector is the ability to travel a short distance to buy fresh, local produce. Halton Region is proud to support this vibrant industry by working with community partners to ensure farming land and practices are sustainable and are here to enjoy for generations to come.

The Simply Local program is a great example of how Halton supports local agri-businesses, many that are family-owned. Simply Local also encourages healthy eating and helps connect Halton residents with local farms.

Plan your agri-venture using our Simply Local map.

Halton’s Simply Local interactive map makes it easy for you to discover Halton’s local farms, farmers’ markets and agri-businesses. This summer, explore Halton’s thriving agricultural industry and visit:

I encourage you to show your support for our agricultural community and local economy by buying, eating and visiting local. Check out halton.ca/simplylocal and start exploring today! Halton’s vibrant and diverse agricultural sector is just one of the many reasons why Halton is 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”.

Celebrating Canada 150 and Ontario 150

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada and Ontario, and over the summer months every community in Halton will come alive in celebration of these milestones.

Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville will each hold many events and activities for everyone to enjoy, including unique art exhibitions, special events, commemorative tree plantings and gardens, recreational activities, festivals and more. You can also enjoy local culture by shopping and dining in bustling downtown areas, visiting outdoor markets and farms offering local food or exploring Halton’s beautiful conservation areas and waterfront parks. However you choose to celebrate, the Canada 150 festivities will bring us together and showcase our Canadian pride.

Like every Canada Day, this anniversary highlights the strong community that we Canadians cherish and continue to build together. It honours those who came before us, from the people who settled this land to those who bravely fought to defend our rights and freedoms. Moving from our foundational values of peace, order and good government to the celebratory themes of diversity, inclusion, reconciliation, youth and the natural environment, Canada 150 is as much about our bright future as it is about our past.

In the words of Canadian paralympian and activist Rick Hansen, “Canada is a country built on dreams… If you combine the richness of the country with the spirit of the people, our potential as a nation is unlimited”. These words ring true for all Canadians, and the years ahead for our community will be defined by the limitless potential of our home and native land. We are proud to celebrate the countless opportunities Canada provides to us all.

I hope to see many of you at the events taking place this summer. To learn what is happening in your community, visit halton.ca/Canada150.

On behalf of Regional Council, I wish you a wonderful Canada and Ontario 150. By coming together to celebrate our country, we live the Canadian values that help make 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”.

Keeping Halton ready to respond with exercise “Power Down”

Every year, Halton Region hosts an emergency exercise that simulates a major crisis in our community. The simulations test how we would respond and provide valuable insight to help us further improve our emergency plans.

This year’s exercise, called “Power Down”, saw a fictional power outage spread across the province during a major heat wave in late June, potentially impacting public health in Halton.

Testing Halton’s response

Once the exercise began, we activated our Emergency Response Plan and opened the Regional Emergency Operations Centre. Staff responded by following emergency response processes to coordinate resources, including:

  • opening generator-powered emergency response centres and activating the generators at our Long-Term Care homes;
  • mobilizing first responders to ensure community safety;
  • reaching out to vulnerable residents in our assisted housing units; and
  • communicating about food and water safety during the service disruption.

power-down1Exercise “Power Down” focused on decision-making processes, communications, situational awareness and action planning. After the simulation, we assessed how well our procedures and protocols preserved our essential services both during and after the emergency.

Halton’s annual exercise supports our ongoing work with local partners to minimize the risks, coordinate response efforts and reduce the impact of emergencies. I would like to thank everyone who participated, including representatives from Paramedic Services, Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Hills Fire Department, Oakville Fire Department and Oakville Hydro, as well as the emergency management staff from the Town of Oakville, City of Hamilton and Peel Region who assisted with its execution and evaluation.

Preparing your home and family

We work to prepare and protect Halton residents from emergencies, but emergency preparedness is a joint responsibility. There are three easy steps you can take to prepare:

  • Know the risks
    Familiarize yourself with the hazards or risks in your area and take any necessary precautions.
  • Make a plan
    Ensure your household knows what to do before, during and after an emergency, from evacuation to communication.
  • Get a kit
    Assemble or buy an emergency kit to stay self-sufficient in your home for 72 hours.

Staying safe and self-sufficient in an emergency allows our first responders to focus on those in immediate need, increasing the resilience of our entire community. I encourage everyone to plan today so they are protected tomorrow—to learn more, visit halton.ca/beprepared.

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”.

Halton is your destination for active, summer fun

Throughout the year, and especially during the summer months, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Halton’s many vibrant communities. Whether I’m in Acton, Burlington, Georgetown, Milton or Oakville, a common trend emerges in my conversations with Halton residents – how happy you are to live in a region that offers so many options for a healthy, active lifestyle.HaltonSummerFun

Like many of you, I recognize how vital healthy, active communities are contributing to a high quality of life. As a former professional athlete and active living enthusiast, easy and sustainable alternative transportation options for residents are always top of mind.

A great example of the work Halton is doing to keep our community healthy, active and safe is the ongoing implementation of the Active Transportation Master Plan. So far, we have built approximately 190 kilometres of on-road exclusive bikes lanes and paved shoulders along Regional roads for you to safely bike, roll or stroll to enjoy summer activities across Halton.

Plan a fun and active day in Halton this summer

Take advantage of Halton’s active transportation network and natural landscapes, which are perfect for summer activities with family and friends. Here are some ideas:

No matter what activities you are interested in, we have it here in Halton. I encourage everyone to enjoy an active lifestyle by taking advantage of the many bike lanes, multi-use paths and trails that make Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. To learn more about all that Halton has to offer or to plan a fun summer day, please visit halton.ca/tourism.

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”.

Seeking input on Halton’s Community Safety & Well-Being Plan

Halton Region, Halton Regional Police Service and the Halton Regional Police Services Board want to hear from you!

According to Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index, Halton is ranked as one of the safest regional municipalities in Canada. Halton Region and the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) are continually working with our community partners on key issues such as community safety to ensure we are doing all we can to keep Halton safe. However, there is always more that we can do to support safety and well-being in our communities.

Halton Region and the HRPS recently partnered to develop a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWB) for Halton. The goal of the plan is to strengthen collaboration amongst ourselves and our community partners to support individuals who may be vulnerable in our community and to build safe and healthy communities.

Community safety and well-being planning is about proactively responding to issues in our communities in areas like mental health, neighbourhood safety, addictions, housing and homelessness, and social isolation so that those in need of help receive the right response at the right time (before there is a crisis).

The draft Plan is now ready for review. Halton residents, service providers, community agencies, businesses and others with an interest in community safety and well-being issues are invited to attend public consultations that will take place in Halton municipalities in June and July to learn about the plan and provide their input. Those interested can also provide feedback by completing a survey at halton.ca/safetyandwell-being.

Public consultation sessions on Community Safety & Well-Being in Halton: A Plan for Collaboration and Action will be held at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, June 20, 9 to 11 a.m., Burlington Lions Club (Lions Hall),  471 Pearl Street, Burlington
  • Tuesday, June 20, 6 to 8 p.m., Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre (Black Box Theatre), 2302 Bridge Road, Oakville
  • Tuesday, June 27, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Gellert Community Centre (Kinsmen Hall B), 10241 8 Line, Georgetown
  • Wednesday, July 12, 6 to 8 p.m., Milton Sports Centre (Optimist Room), 605 Santa Maria Boulevard, Milton

You can register at halton.ca/safetyandwell-being to attend any of these sessions.

Halton Region is committed to improving access to services for residents by working closely with our community partners on key issues including mental health, access to nutritious food, supports for families, older adults and newcomers and community safety. Together, we make 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”.