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.

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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”.

Halton is a great place to live

Halton is a great place to live and Regional Council is committed to making fiscally, responsible decisions that ensure we provide high quality services that contribute to your quality of life, making it an ideal place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Last December, Regional Council approved the 2014 Budget and Business Plan and for the fourth time in eight years (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2014), we were able to reduce property taxes on Regional programs and services while maintaining and enhancing service levels. Over the past eight years, we have either reduced or frozen taxes. This is one of the best records in all of Canada. Once again this year, we have achieved a AAA credit rating.  This is the highest credit rating that can be achieved and it is acknowledgment of Halton’s strong financial position. Our AAA credit rating and reduced taxes demonstrates that we have been managing your tax dollars efficiently and effectively. 

Regional Council is committed to policies that ensure Halton is resident focused, well planned and safe and healthy. Value to you as a taxpayer is a critical component of decision making at Council.  We are fiscally responsible with the Regional budget and have been planning our infrastructure needs (roads, waste management, water/wastewater treatment) so that strategic investments now ensure we meet infrastructure needs in the future with minimal impact to you as a taxpayer. We are also focused on services that contribute to a safe and healthy community so that you can continue to enjoy a high quality of life in Halton.

As a regional government, we continue to build on our record of customer service excellence. In January, our Access Halton group was recognized by the Service Quality Measurement Group (SQM) as a Service Quality Award of Excellence Winner for 2013. Halton received a Highest Customer Service (government) award and survey results indicated 92 per cent of callers were satisfied overall with their call centre experience. These results are a great achievement given that in 2013, Access Halton managed 304,354 calls and 9,282 emails.

Great things are happening in Halton. To learn more, I invite you to take a look at my video blog, The State of the Region, at www.youtube.com/haltonchair.

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 Region celebrates Customer Service Week

Access to Halton Region’s programs and services is only a click or call away.  Visit www.halton.ca/311 or dial 311and speak to a customer service representative in our award winning call centre to receive Halton Government Services in more than 170 languages, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Last year, Access Halton staff responded to over 334,000 inquiries in person, by phone and via the internet.  The most popular inquiries include scheduling metal and appliance collection, applying for financial assistance, inquiring about our new, larger Blue Boxes or scheduling a visit with the Travel Health Clinic.  

This year we have introduced many new online tools to help you Find, Pay, Register, Report or Request information from Halton Region and the local municipalities.  Through our website you can sign up for weekly waste collection reminders, request garbage tags, report Blue Box not collected, register for cold alerts, sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter, The Carr Report and much more.

A recent customer satisfaction survey found that 92% of customers were very satisfied with their Access Halton experience.  Delivering excellent customer service to residents helps ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. 311_logo_colour

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.”

Access Halton at 1151 Bronte Road or Dial 311

Many residents are familiar with Halton’s 311 service – a single window of direct access to Halton Government Services.  But, did you know that you can stop by the front lobby of the Halton Region Centre between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday (1151 Bronte Road in Oakville) and get in-person access to a wide variety of services?

Whether you’re looking to pick up one of the new, larger, Blue Boxes, drop off used batteries, CFL light bulbs or cell phones or pick up an application for assisted housing or a Canadian passport, our staff are available to help.

The Government Service Centre at 1151 Bronte Road in Oakville is operated by the same Access Halton staff who provide 311 telephone assistance 24-7-365.  The Government Service Centre provides “in person” access to a wide variety of Regional, Local, Provincial and Federal government services.

In 2012, there were almost 31,000 visits from residents to our Government Services Centre. Some of the more popular requests include tourism information, parks and recreation information and Blue Boxes.  

Halton Region has partnerships with the Local Municipalities and Service Ontario to provide information and services. Frequently requested Provincial information includes:

  • Change of address
  • Marriage license application
  • Request for marriage certificate
  • Health card application
  • International driving permit
  • Birth certificate
  • Acceptance of Ministry of Labour Documents
  • Acceptance of Landlord Tenant Board Documents

The most frequent Federal information requested is:

  • Canada Child Benefit
  • Marital status change
  • Canada Pension Plan information
  • Social Insurance Number information
  • Citizenship inquiries
  • Passport application

Customer Service is one of the priorities of the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan and making it easy for residents to Access Halton is our goal.  311 services are available in more than 170 languages and through TTY.

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 Chinese New Year

Gung Hay Fat Choy! I would like offer my best wishes to Halton residents celebrating Chinese New Year on February 10, 2013.

In Chinese culture, Chinese New Year is the most important traditional holiday. It is a special time where families and friends gather together to celebrate. Festivities include traditional meals, music, gift exchange and fireworks. Traditionally, people clean their homes to clear out any bad fortune and make way for incoming good fortune. Doors and windows are decorated with red couplets and children are given red envelopes with money inside. The colour red is significant as it represents happiness and good fortune.

The Halton community is composed of people from various cultural backgrounds and traditions. We welcome, value and celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of all residents. We are proud of our own traditions and customs and we value the heritage of our friends and neighbours. People who choose to make Halton Region their home increase our diversity and make us the community we are today.

Halton Region actively supports inclusion when delivering programs and services. We work hard to ensure that all residents have access to Regional programs and services, regardless of their background, abilities or circumstances. 311 services are offered in over 170 languages to connect residents to Local Municipal and Regional government services, Halton Regional Police Services and Halton School Boards.

I am proud of the many community services and organizations within Halton that encourage newcomers to engage and connect with the larger community, to build friendships and support systems while still preserving their heritage and culture.

As we reflect on the past year and look forward to the future, let us celebrate our similarities and share in each other’s experiences. By doing so, we are sure to make 2013 a prosperous 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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Holiday Closure – 311 services available

On behalf of Regional Council and staff, I would like to wish all Halton residents a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season.

Halton Region’s administrative offices are closed for the holidays and will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

All essential services will remain available during this time. Essential services include water and wastewater services, waste collection, low income emergencies, public health emergencies and Regional road issues. If you require assistance with a Regional service during the holidays, please dial 311.

You may also dial 311 to access Halton Government Services including Local Municipal Services, Halton School Boards, and non-emergency Police issues. 311 provides multilingual assistance in more than 170 languages.

Alternatively, 311 services are also available online at Halton.ca/311. 311 online offers access to a variety of government services throughout Halton Region. Through 311 online you can pay a parking ticket, find a Regional or municipal service, report a collision or missed waste collection and so much more.

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.”