I would like to again thank Halton residents for allowing me to lead Regional Council into a third term. I am excited about this third term of office and working with you on setting and achieving regional priorities over the next four years.
At Wednesday’s inaugural meeting of the 2014-2018 Halton Regional Council, we welcomed three new Council Members—Regional Councillors Mike Cluett (Milton), Dave Gittings (Oakville) and Sean O’Meara (Oakville). Congratulations to all of my colleagues on Regional Council. I also want to thank those who are not returning for their service: Keith Bird, Oakville, 35 years on Regional Council; Allan Johnston, Oakville, 8 years on Regional Council; and Brian Penman, Milton, 10 months on Regional Council. We all appreciate your dedication to our Region.
We now begin the journey of fulfilling the mandate that you have elected us to achieve. I invite you to watch a recorded version of the inaugural meeting.
As I said in my inaugural address, we have the best record of helping residents. I am extremely proud of the accomplishments we have made over the past two terms of Council. To name just a few, we have:
- spent more than $2 billion investment to improve our water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure (2011-2016);
- rolled out of a 10-year Economic Development Strategy;
- created 894 new assisted housing units since 2007; and
- extended the landfill’s life to 2044, saving taxpayers $15 million.
Residents consistently tell us how much they like living in Halton, with 99 per cent rating the overall quality of life here as very high. With our AAA credit rating and zero per cent average tax increase for Regional services over the last eight years, Halton really is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. Halton was also recognized as the safest regional municipality in Canada – a tremendous achievement!
Public engagement has and will continue to be a key to our success. We are now working to develop Halton’s new Strategic Action Plan 2015-2018 and will be reaching out to the community to help us complete the plan. Working together with staff, we have defined our new priorities for the coming session. These include:
- Connecting People and Services;
- Planning Healthy, Complete Communities;
- Governing for the Future;
- Growing the Regional Economy;
- Protecting the Natural Environment; and
- Adapting to Climate Change.
To help us develop a Strategic Action Plan around these priorities, we will be hosting a Community Leaders Lunch on January 8 and will seek input from a Citizens’ Reference Panel.
Halton residents have been invited—through a random selection process—to participate on the Citizens’ Reference Panel and provide their feedback for the new Strategic Action Plan. A consultation paper has been drafted to provide a starting point for panelists and is posted online at Halton.ca/actionplan. I invite you to review the document and provide your comments.
I truly believe we are the best today and we want to be the best tomorrow. We have a lot to be proud of and I am very optimistic about the next four years. I’m looking forward to working together with my colleagues on Council as we continue our combined efforts to ensure that Halton remains a great place to live by being resident focused, well planned, and safe and healthy.