Construction springs into action across Halton

In my last post, I talked about some key waste diversion initiatives taking place across the region as we make the transition from winter to spring.  As you start to enjoy more outdoor activities with your friends and family this spring, you can also expect to see increased construction activity across many of our municipalities.  As part of our Strategic Action Plan 2015 – 2018, Halton is committed to planning healthy, complete communities by investing in Regional assets, infrastructure and facilities, and many of our projects are already underway.

The Region is investing $2.9 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years.  In 2015 alone, Halton has dedicated $194 million to water and wastewater projects throughout the region.  Another $120 million is being invested in transportation, waste management and planning, as part of our Approved 2015 Budget and Business Plan.

Here are just a few of the construction projects happening in Halton Region this spring:

Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), City of Burlington

  • Expansion and upgrade of the Skyway WWTP began in 2011 to improve the water quality in Hamilton Harbour and meet the wastewater treatment capacity needs for the urban population in the City of Burlington.  The project is in its final stages this spring and is expected to be completed by the summer.

Steeles Avenue, Town of Halton Hills

  • Reconstruction and widening of Steeles Avenue (Regional Road 8) to four lanes from Eighth Line North to just west of Winston Churchill Boulevard began in the summer of 2014. Additional construction will begin in the fall of 2015, widening the road from Fifth Line South to Trafalgar Road.  Completion of these major road improvement projects, including upgraded traffic signals and street lighting along the corridor, will result in improved road safety for residents and commuters travelling through Halton Hills.

Britannia Road (Regional Road 6), Town of Milton

  • Construction began on the water and wastewater mains on Britannia Road in Milton at the beginning of March and will be completed at the end of 2015.  This expansion of water and wastewater systems on Britannia will extend from Tremaine Road (Regional Road 22) to 400 metres east of Regional Road 25 and will serve new development in the Milton area.

Mid Halton Wastewater Treatment Plant (MHWWTP), Town of Oakville

  • Construction began on the MHWWTP last summer.  In support of the expansion and upgrade of the plant, construction is beginning on a new deep outfall (treated wastewater) tunnel this spring.  The Mid Halton expansion and tunneling projects will not only accommodate population growth in Halton but are designed to have a positive impact on water quality at the Lake Ontario shoreline.

All of these projects represent part of the Region’s vision and mission to plan for communities where urban sprawl is minimized, where infrastructure is maximized, where natural heritage is protected and natural spaces and farmland are preserved. The overall goal is to enhance the quality of life for all people of Halton, and ensure Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

For more information about regional construction projects, please visit halton.ca/construction 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 @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Four great ways to keep in touch with Halton Region

Halton Region strives to deliver high quality customer service to meet the needs of the community. “Connecting People and Services” is one of our priorities in the Strategic Action Plan 2015-2018, and as we work to finalize this document, I would like to highlight four great ways for residents to access Regional information and services.

Online

Our website, halton.ca, is a great first place for residents to find timely Regional information and updates. The site is continuously updated with new information, documents and resources for residents. In addition, the home page features alerts to inform residents of severe weather, service disruptions and emergencies, providing important information in a timely manner.

Halton.ca also provides residents with the opportunity to register for many Regional programs and events, and to sign up for email updates for everything from Regional programs, to waste collection reminders, to cold and heat alerts. Meanwhile, incoming emails to accesshalton@halton.ca are received by the Access Halton call centre, and all inquiries receive a response before the end of the next business day.

Social Media

In the summer of 2014, the Region launched three new social media channels to provide timely information.

  • Follow us on Twitter; there you will find timely updates on evolving issues, advice on emerging topics and useful reminders. Access Halton staff monitor the feed and respond to questions directed at our handle, @RegionofHalton.
  • Like us on Facebook; where we profile upcoming Regional events and post important information related to regional services and topics.
  • Visits us on LinkedIn; where we connect residents with business-oriented events and programs, from high-level economic development to small business supports.

Dial 311

  • Our award-winning call centre, Access Halton, is your single point of entry for all government services. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and even on holidays, all incoming calls are answered by a knowledgeable customer service representative capable of directly addressing a concern or connecting you with someone who can.
  • 311 is a three digit telephone number residents of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville can use to access Halton government services.
  • Representatives have access to a wide range of information on Regional programs, select provincial services, community partnerships and more.  In addition representatives have access to interpreters who speak more than 170 languages.

In person

Halton Regional Centre, located at 1151 Bronte Road in Oakville, is home to Council Chambers and a Government Service Centre. The front desk is operated by the same Access Halton staff providing telephone assistance via 311, and social media inquiries, connecting you with the same high quality services.

Thousands of people visit Halton Regional Centre each year to collect a Blue Box or GreenCart, seek assistance with subsidy applications, meet with Regional staff, attend Regional events, get small business advice, receive scheduled immunizations and much more. Our doors are open to residents from Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and you will always be greeted with a smile.

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

Spring cleaning – working with Halton residents to improve waste diversion

Spring is one of my favourite seasons. As temperatures slowly begin to rise, and the snow melts away, it’s a great time of the year to get outside with family and friends to enjoy the beautiful landscapes that make Halton such a great place to live. The warmer weather also provides us with a great opportunity to do some annual cleaning as we prepare for the summer season.

Halton is committed to working with residents to make the Region a more sustainable place to live. That’s why every spring the Halton Waste Management Site provides additional waste services and hosts a variety of events to make it easier for residents to practice the 3Rs.

Here is a list of upcoming waste initiatives that can help you with your big clean this spring:

Yard waste collection – Monday, March 30
Yard waste collection will begin the week of March 30, and will run every other week on the same day as your garbage until December 11.  Please use paper yard waste bags or reusable, rigid containers (no lid).  To order a yard waste label at no charge for your reusable container, visit halton.ca/wastetools or dial 311.

Special Waste Drop-off Day - Saturday, April 25 (8 a.m. to 2p.m.).
Halton Region will be hosting a Special Waste Drop-Off Day at the Robert C. Austin Operations Centre, 11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown. These days are in place to make the recycling of household hazardous waste and electronic waste more convenient to residents. Please note, this event is for Halton residents only and no commercial wastes are accepted. For a list of acceptable household hazardous waste and electronic waste items, please visit our website or dial 311.

Compost Giveaway – May 4 – May 9 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Residents can pick-up free compost (seven bag limit) created from Halton’s yard waste composting program at the Halton Waste Management Site. Remember to bring your own shovel (residents must shovel and bag their own compost), and your own container (garbage bags, yard waste bags, reusable containers, or pick-up bed trailer). For more information, visit halton.ca/compost or dial 311.

Special Waste Drop-off Day – Saturday, May 30 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Halton Region will be hosting a Special Waste Drop-Off Day at the Burlington Closed Landfill, 291 North Service Road, Burlington. Please note, this event is for Halton residents only and no commercial wastes are accepted. For a list of acceptable household hazardous waste and electronic waste items, please visit our website or dial 311.

For more information about the Halton Waste Management Site and all of our spring waste events, please visit halton.ca/waste 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 @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Supporting Agritourism in Halton at the upcoming 2015 Halton Region Food Tourism Summit

On Thursday, March 26, 2015, Halton Region will host the second annual Halton Region Food Tourism Summit – Steps to Sustainability at Country Heritage Park in Milton. This event brings together local chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and tourism professionals and provides them with an opportunity to network and learn about important and emerging issues in the fields of agriculture, food and tourism.

Halton is committed to making the Region a destination of choice for new investment, small businesses and tourism. We are also committed to supporting and preserving our vibrant agricultural community.  Agriculture and tourism are both big contributors to Halton’s local economy which is why the Region has developed an Agritourism Action Plan. The Action Plan was undertaken with the dual purpose of supporting Halton’s agricultural sector and attracting more visitors to the region through agriculture and food tourism development.

Events like the Food Tourism Summit continue to help develop key relationships between the farming and culinary communities so that we can put more locally-sourced foods on restaurant tables.  This event will also provide participants with an opportunity to learn from industry professionals about innovative sustainable practices and industry initiatives that have helped their businesses thrive.

This year’s event includes a great lineup of topics and speakers including:

  • From farm gate to chefs’ plate – A business to business model for rural Ontario
    • Linda Reader, Community Economic Development & Marketing Consultant, Grey County Chef’s Forum
    • Cindy Phillips, Rob Roy Market Garden, Feversham, ON
  • The Mustard Seed Co-op – Cultivating a stronger local and sustainable food system
    • Damian Wills , Local Food Manager, The Mustard Seed Co-op
  • Speakers’ Panel – How your business can benefit from high profile local events in 2015
    • Michael Merrall, Founder, PwC EpicTour Halton – Canada’s largest GranFondo-style cycling event & festival
    • Maria Fortunato, Executive Director –  Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association
    • Jim Mylet, Senior Manager of Procurement, Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games

This event is free of charge. For registration and event details, please visit halton.ca/foodtourism or dial 311.

Not only is putting more locally sourced foods on restaurant tables a key ingredient to growing the culinary tourism industry in Halton, it also contributes to a sustainable local economy.  I look forward to continuing our work together to help farmers and small businesses create the best on-farm and off-farm experiences that help make Halton such a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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.”

Supporting Halton’s Job Market through Employment Halton

According to Halton’s most recent economic update, the region’s unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2014 (July-September) was 4.1 per cent – that is one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of North America. That’s great news and an indication that Halton Region’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy is right on track.

Halton’s commitment to both attracting and retaining jobs, while helping job seekers find work and employers find employees is also demonstrated through the success of our Employment Halton offices.

The two Employment Halton offices in Oakville and Milton offer a comprehensive range of programs and services to more than 8,000 job seekers and 200 employers every year. Employment Halton also provides extensive services to employers in Halton to support their efforts to recruit staff with annual averages of more than 250 direct placement matches.

As a service provider for Employment Ontario, Halton Region is part of a network of providers who are committed to providing accessible, customer focused and integrated services.  Employment Ontario programs include resource centre services, one-on-one job search support, training incentives for employers, apprenticeship opportunities and programs such as Second Career which provides financial assistance to participants as they retrain for a new career.

Our employment resource centre, free online job posting board, and several job fairs, the first on April 14 in Burlington, all help job seekers and employers enhance their professional presence in Halton, keeping Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

If you are looking for a job, interested in a new career or are an employer in Halton who wants to learn more about what we can do for you, visit halton.ca/employmenthalton or dial 311.

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

Making Halton more accessible for all

Ensuring all residents have equal access to government programs, services and public spaces is part of building a strong community. As part of our commitment to being Resident Focused, Halton is working to meet the accessibility needs of residents throughout the Region.  We have accomplished a number of milestones in pursuit of this goal.

In 2012, Regional Council approved the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, which acts as our roadmap for meeting the objectives and accessibility requirements established by the Province of Ontario. It contains a number of actions created with the support of the Halton Region Accessibility Advisory Committee, a group that continues to be a key partner as we move forward. The Committee offers valuable advice and insight regarding the identification and removal of barriers to people with disabilities.

Between 2012 and 2014, the Region undertook a number of steps toward removing barriers and improving access to information, including:

  • Actively instructing residents on how to receive accessibility supports at Regional meetings and events;
  • Training staff on accessibility requirements, responding to requests for accommodation and providing accessible customer service;
  • Providing information to residents on what to do if they require Regional information in alternate formats; and
  • Working with Halton’s Local Municipalities to provide learning opportunities for staff responsible for implementing accessibility requirements relating to the design of public spaces.

Halton has started working toward meeting accessibility standards for public spaces.   Last year, Transportation Services began applying requirements that relate to accessible pedestrian signals, curb ramps and depressed curbs.  When combined with Halton’s Active Transportation Master Plan, these improvements will help make our roads and walkways more accessible for everyone as our community grows.

Halton Region will continue to promote accessibility as part of our commitment to connecting people and services. The Region will continue to report annually on its progress and will update the Accessibility Plan with new actions to meet accessibility requirements.

We will also move towards more accessible content on our website to ensure compliance with accessibility requirements.

I thank all the residents who have provided feedback on our accessibility initiatives so far, and encourage everyone to continue to support accessibility throughout our region. Together, we can help keep Halton a welcoming, accessible place for all.

To learn more about our efforts to improve accessibility at Halton, please dial 311 or visit Halton.ca/accessibility.

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.”

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.”