Welcoming the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to Halton

From September 13 to 16, Halton Region will host the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board Meeting.

FCM is the national voice of municipal governments, improving the quality of life in Canada by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal government. Its members work with the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and other federal leaders to represent the priorities of almost 2,000 Canadian municipalities. In doing so, they highlight the need to align federal and local priorities based on the principle that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.

This week’s Board Meeting in Halton will assemble FCM’s Board of Directors, comprised of nearly 100 elected municipal officials from across the country. It provides a valuable opportunity for us to join other municipalities in highlighting priority issues facing our community and others like it, advocating on behalf of all Canadians for policies that will positively impact millions of residents.

Halton is strongly represented on the national stage—Regional Councillor Clark Somerville of Halton Hills was elected President of FCM in June, and has been a strong representative of Halton in FCM for several years. I am confident that his leadership, strategic perspectives and collaborative approach will greatly contribute to this meeting’s success. A strong Halton helps build a strong Canada, and the FCM Board Meeting will ensure that the voices of all Canadians are heard.

Our work with FCM is just one way that Regional Council and staff advocate on your behalf to help maintain a high quality of life for all people of Halton, today and into the future. The Region continues to advocate to the Provincial and Federal governments for long-term, predictable funding and legislative amendments on issues facing the region through our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign. To learn more, please visit halton.ca/advocacy.

As we welcome the FCM delegates arriving in Halton, I would like to thank them for their service and dedication to Canadian communities. By working together with our friends and neighbours nationwide to achieve our common goals, we help keep our country 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”.

Asking Halton’s provincial candidates to be our partners in Advocating for a Strong Halton

Halton Region is a resident focused, well planned, safe and healthy community. Residents enjoy a high quality of life, a perfect mix of urban and rural communities, and beautiful natural surroundings, including the scenic Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario shoreline.

Halton’s high quality of life, strong financial position and AAA credit rating – combined with the right mix of low taxes, competitive business costs, proximity to market and talent availability – support both welcoming neighbourhoods and a vibrant business community.

Regional Council is committed to working in partnership with other levels of government, Halton taxpayers and our community partners to ensure that our future remains strong and stable.

Our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign defines Halton’s advocacy issues. We developed the campaign to highlight and provide information to residents and our provincial and federal governments about the challenges and critical issues related to Halton’s future such as infrastructure, costs associated with growth, housing, public health and provincial cost sharing agreements.

In advance of the June 12th provincial election, we invited candidates from the Burlington, Halton, Oakville and Wellington-Halton Hills ridings to complete a questionnaire explaining how they will advocate for Halton and how their party will resolve the challenges ahead. Their responses are posted at Halton.ca/OntarioElection2014.

As Regional Council, we need to know where candidates stand and we need to know they will voice Halton’s concerns at Queen’s Park.

I hope you will also take these responses into consideration when researching election candidates and when casting your vote in the upcoming provincial election.

Working together we can continue to 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.”

Advocating for a Strong Halton

Halton Region is a vibrant and growing community. My Regional Council colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that Halton remains strong and stable in the future.

Our advocacy work with other levels of government helps raise awareness and advance Halton’s positions on key issues important to Halton residents. Our efforts respond to issues identified in Halton’s Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan, polling data and align with Halton’s program delivery and overall communications campaigns.

Current advocacy efforts include meetings with Ministers, MPs and MPPs, election readiness surveys and municipal association participation. Our participation in Association of Municipalities of Ontario initiatives and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’Advocacy Days has provided us with many opportunities to initiate discussions with other levels of government about issues that impact Halton residents.

Our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign outlines and defines Halton’s advocacy issues and assists Regional Council in our advocacy efforts. It also serves as a resource for residents.

Halton’s current advocacy issues include:

  • Protecting Halton’s taxpayers from the financial impacts of growth and the costs associated with conforming to Provincial legislation (including changes to the Development Charges Act)
  • Meeting Halton’s community infrastructure needs of today and tomorrow
  • Ensuring that Provincial funding for cost shared programs keeps pace with growth
  • Addressing Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CCAC) issues and offloading delays
  • Partnering with all levels of government to create real and affordable housing solutions

Halton Region is advocating for support from all levels of government in the form of long-term, predictable funding and legislative changes in order to ensure that Halton’s taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of growth.

I invite you to visit http://www.halton.ca/advocacy and learn more about the Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign. By working together we can ensure that Halton remains 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.”

The Importance of Adequately Funded Cost Sharing Agreements and Action on Offload Delays

Provincial funding is not keeping pace with the growth happening in our community. This is an ongoing challenge for Halton Region and we continue to experience funding shortfalls in our cost shared programs with the Provincial Government in the areas of public health and Paramedic Services.

Funding Shortfalls for Public Health and Paramedic Services

In 2013 the Province funded only 61 per cent of the total cost of cost shared programs versus the expected 75 per cent.  For programs that are supposed to be 100 per cent funded by the Province, we are only receiving 70 per cent.  As a result, Halton taxpayers are now funding a Provincial shortfall of $6.9 million annually for public health programs.   For Paramedic Services the funding received is 44 per cent of the total costs versus the expected amount of 50 per cent of the total cost.  This amounts to an additional $1.8 million annually that Halton taxpayers must fund for the shortfall.  Combined with the funding shortfall for public health, the total is $8.7 million which is equivalent to a four per cent tax increase for Halton taxpayers.  Funding is not keeping pace with growth yet the Province continues to mandate service delivery targets for public health standards and response times for Paramedic Services.  We are advocating to the Provincial Government for a commitment to deliver long-term, sustainable funding at the expected (agreed-upon) levels of cost sharing for public health programs and Paramedic Services.

Hospital Offload Delays and Response Times Impacted by the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC)

Halton Region continues to raise the issue of hospital offload delays with the Provincial Government.  Local hospital capacity has not kept pace with growth  What this means to you as a resident, is that we have periods of time when limited ambulances are available for response in Halton due to the backlog of patient transfers at our hospitals.  This is of critical importance and must be addressed to meet the needs of our community.

The Central Ambulance Communications Centre manages and dispatches 911 calls to all Paramedic Services in Ontario.  This is a Provincial service that requires enhancements to its operations to ensure Halton Region is able to deliver responsive and timely paramedic services to our residents.  Our response times are impacted by the timeliness of call dispatches from the CACC and this in turn impacts our response times in the community.

Halton Region is advocating on your behalf to the Provincial Government for immediate action to address these issues. Learn more about our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign.

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.”

Meeting Halton’s Infrastructure Needs Today and Tomorrow

Planned, predictable provincial funding for schools, hospitals and our transportation network is required to ensure we can meet the growth requirements set out in the Provincial Places to Grow Plan. Long term investments from other levels of government are required to ensure funding is in place for required infrastructure. We have new schools that open only to require portables a year or two later; hospitals with capacity issues; and transportation networks that are congested slowing the movement of people and goods.  If we are going to meet the needs that will be required with a population of 780,000 by 2031, we are going to have to do better.

Transportation continues to be the number one issue of importance to Halton residents.  At Halton Region we have been planning ahead and making strategic investments so that our Regional road network can meet the needs of today and tomorrow.  Halton’s capital budget for Regional roads to ease congestion and improve safety has increased from $50 million in 2006 to $289 million in 2013. This is the biggest investment in roads ever for Halton Region.  We are investing billions of dollars to upgrade wastewater and water plants and to improve our road network.  We have a plan in place and now call upon other levels of government to commit to how they will support us to ensure the proper infrastructure is in place to support the growth they require.

Metrolinx has indicated that improvements to GO service for Milton, Georgetown and the Lakeshore GO line identified in the Metrolinx Plan, The Big Move, will be delayed.  The delay to these improvements will only further exacerbate our transportation issues in Halton.  Improvements to Highway 401 through Halton are also required to reduce congestion and improve productivity for businesses throughout the Greater Toronto Area as the highway’s capacity has not kept pace with growth.  These are all issues that Halton Region continues to advocate for on your behalf to the Provincial Government.

Halton Region has created a series of position papers that highlight our advocacy efforts on behalf of Halton residents.  Learn more about our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign.  You can also view my recent video blog, Investing in Infrastructure to Ensure a High Quality of Life for Today and Tomorrow, to learn more about the planning and investments we are making to address infrastructure needs in Halton.

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.”

Protecting Taxpayers from the Financial Impacts of Growth

Ensuring that growth pays for itself is imperative to the future vitality of Halton Region and is of critical importance to Regional Council.  The Provincial Places to Grow Act mandates that Halton Region’s population grows to 780,000 by the year 2031.  While this may seem a long way off, we need to be planning ahead to determine how we will pay for and build the infrastructure required to support this growth. It is the position of Regional Council that growth pays for itself. Regional Council is committed to protecting Halton taxpayers from the financial impacts associated with growth.

The Growth Plan has imposed significant financial challenges on Halton Region. When combined with the additional funding required for state-of-good-repair needs for existing infrastructure, the Growth Plan creates an unprecedented financial burden to Halton Region. Without the necessary tools, funding and legislative commitments, we cannot accommodate the growth mandated by the Provincial Government.  We are asking the Provincial Government for changes to the Development Charges Act that support the recovery and collection of growth related costs to ensure Halton’s taxpayers do not bear the financial impacts of growth.

In November 2013, Regional Council approved the 2012 Allocation Program.  This program finalized an agreement with local developers to invest $961 million for infrastructure required to support future development in Milton and North Oakville.  The success of this agreement demonstrates that Regional Council is taking action to ensure that “growth pays for growth”.

Halton is a great place to live and we want to ensure that Halton’s future remains strong and stable.  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.

In January, Moody’s Investor Services reaffirmed our 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 demonstrate that we have been managing your tax dollars efficiently and effectively.

Halton Region is advocating for support from all levels of government to ensure Halton’s taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of growth and that the services needed are in place.  We have created a series of position papers that highlight our advocacy efforts on your behalf.  Learn more about our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign. You can also view my recent video blog on the Budget to learn more about how Halton Region is managing your tax dollars.

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.”

Advocating for a Strong Halton

Ensuring a strong future for Halton is a priority for Regional Council.  The Provincial Places to Grow Act mandates Halton Region’s population grow to 780,000 residents by the year 2031. To facilitate this growth and maintain the high quality of life that is currently enjoyed in Halton, without burdening taxpayers with the cost of growth, there are a number of critical commitments required from the Provincial and Federal Governments. 

Advocating for a Strong Halton is a series of documents that highlight Council’s positions on a number of key challenges facing the Region.

The key challenges identified in the advocacy documents include:

tax breakdown

Municipalities only receive 11 per cent of every tax dollar paid and with this small amount we provide high quality, cost effective programs and services that touch the lives of residents every day.  Council is committed to protecting the Region’s taxpayers from the financial impacts of growth and ensuring that the quality services our residents need, are in place.

Halton enjoys a prosperous and growing business community that helps drive the Province’s economic engine and it is Council’s position that a Strong Halton will help to build a strong Ontario.

Without the necessary tools, funding and legislative commitments, we cannot accommodate the growth mandated by the Provincial Government.  Regional Council is committed to ensuring that growth pays for itself and that Halton remains 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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”