Healthy changes for the New Year

Holiday resolutions can be maintained by making small, incremental changes

2017 is here and for many of us we are looking for ways to maintain or improve our health. The start of a new year is often the time when people decide to make changes that can have a positive impact on their health. Physical activity is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy, and it is easy to incorporate into your daily routine, if you take small steps.

If you are just starting out, think about the small changes you can make to improve your health. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Walking is one of the best ways to build physical activity into your day. Halton has a beautiful landscape, from the escarpment in the North to Lake Ontario in the south, with many conservation areas and walkable communities in between. Take some time to get outside, enjoy the fresh winter air and walk for your health.
  • Increase the amount of time you spend moving each day. At home and at work, take regular walking and exercise breaks.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, both at work and in the community, to build more physical activity into your day.
  • For families, there are many fun activities you can do together to help keep everyone get and stay healthy. From walking, skating and skiing outdoors to swimming and playing sports indoors at your local community centre – the options are endless!

To meet your weekly requirements for vigorous physical activity—a minimum of 2.5 hours a week—set goals that incorporate active living into your daily routine. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, stress and anxiety. These are great reasons to get started today!

Halton’s website has a many great resources to help people of all ages stay healthy and physically active. To learn more, visit halton.ca/healthyliving. By making small investments in our wellbeing, we can better enjoy everything that makes 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”.

Here’s to a clean and green 2017

Happy New Year from Halton Region!  As we enter a new year, it is an opportunity to make positive changes in our daily lives, including how we impact the natural environment.

Protecting and enhancing Halton’s natural environment is one of our highest priorities. Halton Region is preserving the natural environment by investing in green initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint to keep it beautiful today and for generations to come.

We all have a role to play in making Halton cleaner and greener. As you tidy up after the holidays and start the New Year, here are a few things to remember:

  • Put bundled cardboard boxes, aluminum cans, foils and trays, dairy and juice cartons and disposable plastic containers in the Blue Box;
  • Put items such as turkey bones, baked good, paper plates, cups and napkins in the Green Cart;
  • Put items such as gift wrap, bows, plastic utensils, plastic wrap and bags in the garbage;
  • Keep items out of the landfill and help local charities’ fundraising efforts by donating items in good condition to a reuse centre in Halton; and,
  • Christmas trees (free of decorations, stands and plastic bags) will be collected the week of January 9 and week of January 16. Please put your tree at the curb on your regular collection day.

Every household and business in the community can make a difference – together, we can achieve Halton Region’s goal of a 62 per cent waste diversion rate by 2018.

What we do today matters for tomorrow. Together, we are preserving Halton’s future to keep 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”.

Happy Holidays!

Family having fun in winterOn behalf of Regional Council and staff, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and wonderful holiday season!  The holidays give us a chance to reconnect with family and friends, participate in festive traditions and create memories for years to come

Over the holidays, all our essential and 24-hour Regional services will remain available. If you require assistance from Halton Region during this time, please visit halton.ca or dial 311.

thinkstockphotos-621597666-halton-ca

Some public facilities will be closed from 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 23 until 8:30 a.m. on Monday, January 2. For more information about holiday hours at our public facilities, visit halton.ca/closures.

If you are staying in town for the holidays, there are so many great things to see and do in Halton. Family-friendly events and activities take place throughout the winter season in Halton’s local municipalities—Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville—and at Conservation Halton parks. Click on the links to find out more details.

It is my wish that your holidays are filled with peace, joy and good company. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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”.

2017 Budget delivers investments and value for taxpayer dollars

Investments in state of good repair infrastructure, Paramedic Services and new Long-Term Water Meter Strategy among highlights

On December 14, 2016, Regional Council approved the 2017 Budget and Business Plan, maintaining service levels in the community while making strategic investments and keeping the tax rate increase for Regional services within the rate of inflation.

Ensuring value for taxpayer dollars and protecting Halton’s strong long-term financial position are the focus as we prepare our annual budget. Our goal at Halton Region is to deliver a budget that will keep taxes at or below the rate of inflation while maintaining our AAA credit rating and financial sustainability.

The budget, our financial plan for 2017, outlines the implementation of key priorities in the Halton Region Strategic Action Plan 2015-2018 and includes strategic investments in essential areas such as state of good repair for infrastructure, affordable and assisted housing, Paramedic Services and the Halton Region Community Investment Fund.

Additional investments are also included to support the implementation a Long-term Water Meter Strategy and the next stages of implementation in various Regional Waterfront Master Plans. These investments will all contribute to preserving the high quality of life in Halton. The 2017 Budget includes a 1.9 per cent increase in property taxes for Regional services and programs, and a 5.1 per cent increase in the water and wastewater rate.

Highlights in the 2017 Budget include:

  • increased funding for Paramedic Service resources for the new East Milton station as part of the Paramedic Services Master Plan implementation;
  • funding to implement new governance arrangements with the Oakville Seniors Citizen’s Residence;
  • increased funding for non-profit organizations in Halton through the Halton Region Community Investment Fund;
  • additional funding for the Waterfront Master Plans implementation;
  • increased funding to provide housing subsidies for survivors of domestic violence, help prevent homelessness, and provide more assisted housing stock and rental assistance in Halton Region;
  • adjustments to rate revenue and structure to ensure financial sustainability for investments and to promote fairness in revenue collection and water conservation; and
  • funding for a Long-term Water Meter Strategy to accelerate water meter replacement to ensure more accurate water bills and to develop a strategy to support radio frequency reading technology in the future.

Investing for today and tomorrow is an important part of our financial success at Halton. Our forward-looking budgetary practices and sound financial management help us keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

The 2017 Budget and Business Plan can be viewed online at halton.ca/budget.

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

Tips to keep you safe this holiday season

The holiday season is well underway and many people are travelling to friends and families and enjoying holiday parties and activities. No matter what you have planned, there are some simple tips you can follow to keep you and your family healthy this December.

Drive safely

  • Be prepared for winter weather. Always carry and an emergency kit in your car and drive according to the conditions on the road.
  • Consider switching to winter tires – they perform much better than all-season tires on snow and icy pavements.
  • Call a cab or arrange for a designated driver—if you are drinking at a holiday party, make sure you can get home safely and don’t drink and drive.
  • If you see someone you suspect may be impaired, call 911.

Visit halton.ca/beprepared to learn more about emergency car kits and halton.ca/drivesafe for safe driving tips.

Remember the four food safety tips

Preparing and handling food safely is key to preventing foodborne illness. Follow these tips so to ensure any holiday meals you prepare and serve are safe to eat.

  • Clean – Always wash your hands, utensils and cooking surfaces with soap and hot water before you handle food, repeatedly while you prepare it, and again when you have finished.
  • Separate – Keep certain foods, like meats and their juices, separated from other foods during storage and preparation and use separate cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables.
  • Cook – Prepare foods quickly, cook them thoroughly, and serve them immediately. Don’t let foods linger at temperatures where bacteria can grow. The danger zone is between 4°C (39°F) and 60°C (140°F).
  • Chill – Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours..

If you are a guest at a dinner or party, ensure what you eat is properly heated or chilled. If you are dining out, check out our Dinewise information to find the latest inspection reports for restaurants in Halton. For more details on the four safety tips visit halton.ca/foodsafety.

Wash your hands regularly to prevent colds and get immunized against the flu

  • Holiday time is the perfect time for the spread of colds and flu.
  • With more people gathered together indoors (or at malls in crowded conditions), it is more likely you will encounter germs that can make you sick.
  • Wash your hands to prevent colds and other illnesses.
  • If you are sick, wait until your symptoms have gone away before visiting loved ones in retirement homes or long-term care homes. Older adults are at greater risk of complications from illnesses such as the flu.
  • Get the flu vaccine to protect yourself and others.

To learn more about flu, visit halton.ca/flu.

Enjoy a healthy and happy holiday season! 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 @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Halton celebrates the grand opening of the Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant

Halton Region is committed to the health and safety of our residents by investing in quality infrastructure. The expansion and upgrade of the Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant will enable us to continue to further enhance the protection of the natural environment.

6In celebration of the grand opening of the plant, MP Karina Gould and MPP Eleanor McMahon joined us on November 7 to tour the state-of-the-art tertiary building and to see the plant upgrades in person.

At a cost of almost $160 million, the Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion is the largest capital project undertaken to date by Halton Region. Funding for this project was provided by all three levels of government – the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and Halton Region – as part of the Green Infrastructure Fund.

2Regional Council was instrumental in advocating the funding for this project, which resulted in the single largest investment in municipal infrastructure by the federal and provincial governments in Halton Region’s almost 40-year history. We are very excited to say that plant upgrades and expansions are now complete.

The Skyway expansion will:

  • expand the capacity of the plant, allowing the Region to safely treat higher volumes of wastewater from the City of Burlington and the west side of Oakville;
  • improve  the water quality in Hamilton Harbour; and
  • manage increased water flows during storms and extreme weather.

9Although the Skyway Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion has been Halton’s largest capital project to date, we are maintaining, upgrading and expanding the wastewater collection and treatment system across Halton Region, as part of the Building a Better Halton initiative.

High quality infrastructure projects, including the Skyway Plant expansion, are one of the reasons Halton is such 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”.

New investments in Halton will increase housing opportunities

Delivering new, affordable and assisted housing opportunities is one of Regional Council’s strategic priorities, and this commitment is an essential part of building healthy and inclusive communities in Halton.

In recent weeks I have attended two events that highlighted the important issue of affordable housing in Halton. On October 28, I joined the Honourable Kevin Flynn (MPP Oakville), the Honourable ) Eleanor McMahon (MPP Burlington) and the Honourable Indira Naidoo-Harris (MPP Halton) as they announced that Halton will receive over $10 million in provincial funding through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI).

CHPI funding is used to support various initiatives in Halton including:

  •  the Emergency Shelter program;
  • the Housing with Related Supports program (formerly the Domiciliary Hostel program which supports 152 beds);
  • our Housing Stability Fund which keeps Halton residents housed by providing first/last month’s rent, utility assistance and moving/storage costs;  and,
  • our Halton Housing Help service, which helps residents obtain housing in Halton Region’s private market place and supports landlords to provide affordable housing opportunities.

Regional Council has also enhanced CHPI funding with an additional $550,000 in 2016-17 to assist our efforts to create more affordable housing options and supports in our community.

On November 1, I joined Halton Community Housing Corporation (HCHC) board members and staff as they celebrated 15 years of service to the community. HCHC plays an important role providing property and tenant management services including life enrichment activities to families and older adults living in 32 Regionally-owned, assisted housing communities.

The Region invests $35.9 million annually in our social infrastructure through Halton’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy (2014-2024) which provides affordable and assisted housing options for eligible residents. Between 2008 and the end of 2016, the Region will have established at least 1,323 new affordable or assisted housing opportunities in our community.

We also recently implemented an Assisted Housing Framework (AHF) to acquire ownership of housing units to increase the Region’s stock and ensure a long-term supply of affordable rental housing.  We have acquired 74 condominium units across Halton Region that will be used for assisted housing purposes; the first units will be ready for occupancy early in 2017.

I want to thank the Ontario Government for providing enhancements to the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative which boosts our efforts to provide important housing support and opportunities to Halton residents.

Housing is a joint responsibility that must be delivered with a long-term commitment from all levels of government. By working together to increase assisted and affordable housing opportunities in the community, we are making Halton a great place to live, 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”.