Collaboration and action: The Halton Drug Strategy Community Forum

On October 8, Halton Region hosted the Halton Drug Strategy Community Forum to begin the process of developing a comprehensive, community-driven drug strategy. Over 150 participants from more than 30 sectors brought their expertise and passion to the day to identify top priorities for Halton, and discuss possible solutions to address the issue of substance use in our region.drug strategy

The process started approximately a year ago after I attended a meeting hosted by MPP Kevin Flynn,which brought together concerned citizens and service providers to talk about the Province’s Mental Health report and discuss how to address substance use at the local level. At that meeting  there was key interest in working with  key partners in our region to coordinate a results driven “made in Halton” strategy.

Shortly thereafter, a steering committee formed with representation from Halton Region, four key stakeholders (Mississauga Halton LHIN, POSSE Project, Adapt Halton, Halton Regional Police Service), and two individuals with lived experience. The committee began the process discussing initial ideas for a Halton strategy and soon started planning a community forum.drug strategy2

The day was a tremendous success. In addition to the facilitated strategic planning portion, which encompassed the majority of the day, there were also presentations about:

  • the programs and services available in Halton and collaborative efforts already taking place
  • recent local statistics related to substance use
  • results from the Halton Substance Use Programs and Services Survey
  • lessons learned from the manager for the Wellington-Guelph Drug Strategy based on their experience of implementing their strategy

But it was the four diverse personal stories interspersed throughout the day that reminded everyone in the room why a drug strategy is important. The stories ranged from personal struggles with addiction and mental health to a parent’s perspective of losing a child to an accidental overdose. Each story was powerful and provided inspiration to this collaborative process.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the forum. The passion and dedication of the individuals and the organizations represented prove once again that Halton Region is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. We are leaders in providing a high quality of life to our residents, and with the expert agencies and community members who came together today, I am confident the result will be a meaningful community based and driven drug strategy that will build on the great work already taking place across Halton Region.drug strategy3

Presentations, photos and more information from the forum can be found at www.halton.ca/drugstrategy. A summary of the day’s events will also be posted in the near future.

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 Halton Region’s local business community

On August 7, I had the pleasure of joining with Oakville Regional Councillor Alan Johnston and Milton Regional Councillor Colin Best in attending the Annual Joint Chambers of Commerce Business After 5 networking event at the Halton Regional Centre in Oakville. Organized by Halton Region’s four Chambers of Commerce together with Halton Region’s Small Business Centre, the event brings together chamber members and guests for networking with members of other Halton Chambers of Commerce.114

This well attended networking event is combined with a Business Showcase that serves as a mini-tradeshow.  Local companies, including some former Small Business Centre clients and this year’s Summer Company participants, have the opportunity to showcase their products and services and share stories with other members of the small business community.

There is always an incredible buzz in the room and a genuine feeling of goodwill.  It is one of my favourite networking events.  Where else could you chat with the heads of all four Chambers of Commerce, have a free caricature drawn while you wait, sample roasted chickpeas, and consult with a business coach for 5 cents?

I am incredibly proud of Halton Region’s local business community.  It is thriving and diverse, thanks to the efforts of the Chambers, our Local and Regional Councils and the individuals who work so hard each day to bring their new ideas to market.145

More and more small business are opening here in Halton, joining larger businesses such as Siemens, Toronto Premium Outlets, Lowes Canada and Gyptech Technologies. They are locating here because of our quality of life, our solid infrastructure and because of the very talented people who live and work in this community.

American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Meetings such as the annual Chamber event help ensure we continue to come together, stay together and enjoy success together.175

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.”

Investing in our community

One of the great things I get to experience daily as Regional Chair is the opportunity to meet people in Halton who are making important contributions to the lives of others in the community.  We have a vibrant non-profit sector with thousands of volunteers who provide community programs and services to people of all ages in Halton.  Each year Halton Region invests over $700,000 through the Halton Region Community Investment Fund to support community based programs and projects that provide community health and social services.

The investment fund makes it possible for these programs/projects to expand their service, enhance their equipment or even try something new (pilot projects).  I have been able to visit some of the programs we have funded and I am always impressed by the dedication of the volunteers and staff working in the various programs.  On July 10, Regional Council approved the 2013 allocations for the investment fund.  We have provided one-year grants to 16 programs/projects and have approved second year funding (as part of the 2012 multi-year funding) for another eight programs.  The total amount awarded for one-year and multi-year funding in 2013 is $761,594.

Funding this year is supporting innovative initiatives including a mentoring program to support children of newcomers; a financial counselling program to help people with low income who are being treated for cancer; and renovations to five affordable housing units to make them accessible.  For a full listing of the programs/projects being funded this year visit www.halton.ca/investmentfund.

Halton Region’s Community Investment Fund is an action item in the Citizen’s Priorities – Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan.  To see two of the programs we fund in action, please watch my video blog about the investment fund.  For more information about the Halton Region Community Investment Fund dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/investmentfund.

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.

Halton Region is prepared for emergencies: New initiative provides another way to inform residents

Halton Region works closely with our emergency partners to be ready to respond to emergency situations. We take our responsibility very seriously and are committed to ensuring that we are ready to respond to any emergency situation and are able to reach as many people as possible.

eCNS

Since 2008, we have used our Community Emergency Notification Service (CENS) to phone and deliver a message to affected households in the Region in the event of an emergency. We continue to improve CENS so that Halton Region remains a disaster resilient community.

On June 19, 2013, Halton Regional Council passed a motion to incorporate Bell Canada’s Enhanced Community Notification Service (eCNS) into the Region’s existing notification service. This new initiative will increase the reach of Halton Region’s CENS from 60 per cent of traditional land-line telephones within the Region to more than 95 per cent.

When the system is implemented in November 2013, the Region will be one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to Bell’s reverse 9-1-1 data and the first to use geospatial coordinates (latitude and longitude) for civic addresses in the 9-1-1 database for the purpose of emergency community notification. Access to this “geospatially enhanced” 9-1-1 information will allow Halton Region to accurately notify only those households impacted by an emergency event.

Bell’s eCNS will supply a greater range of telephone numbers and addresses, including unlisted and do not call numbers. However, wireless telephone numbers (cell phones), four party lines and nomadic Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services and devices for hearing-impaired users will not receive notification through eCNS. Residents who are using these other services in their homes will be notified through other communications from Halton Region.

The initiative is a joint effort between the Region, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, the Town of Oakville, Bell Canada and Telus Communications Company.

For more information about eCNS and Halton’s Emergency Management Program, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for emergency updates and preparedness tips.

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.”

Happy Canada Day!

Every year on July 1, Canadian citizens, permanent residents, new comers and visitors are invited to take part in celebrating our great nation with family and friends.

Canadian Flag

Over the years, Canada Day celebrations have taken on many forms: fireworks in the park, a simple backyard barbecue, a free concert or a street hockey game among neighbours. However we choose to celebrate, it is important to remember how fortunate we are to be in Canada; the true, north, strong and free.

The high quality of life we experience in Canada, and more specifically in Halton, is strongly due to the Region’s commitment to meeting items outlined in the Citizens’ Priorities 2011-2014 Action Plan such as: planning sustainable communities, protecting public health, delivering social services and increasing public engagement.

In focusing on the needs of Halton citizens, we are working together to build a community that truly represents the values of all residents.

For many people, Canada often represents different things: a new beginning, fresh opportunities, or home. Halton Region is a vibrant, attractive and diverse community made up of residents from around the world. Our diversity is a source of strength and pride, helping 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 or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Multiculturalism Day

In 2002, the Government of Canada designated June 27 as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. For Canada, Multiculturalism Day is about celebrating diversity, demonstrating our commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect as well as showing appreciation for the contributions of various multicultural communities to our society.

Here in Halton Region we have much to celebrate. We are a diverse community composed of people from various cultural backgrounds, traditions and religions. In Halton we welcome, respect, value and celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of all residents. People who choose Halton Region as their home enrich our community and make us the strong Region we are today.

Halton Region actively supports inclusion in our programs and services. We work diligently to ensure that all residents have access to Regional services, regardless of their background, circumstances or abilities. We also work with several community organizations to ensure that residents have access to the resources and supports they are looking for within our community.

I am proud of the many community partners and organizations in Halton, which encourage people to engage and connect with the larger community, to build friendships and support systems, while still preserving their heritage, faith and culture.

I will be attending several multicultural events and festivals throughout Halton again this year. These events are wonderful opportunities for residents to come together to learn about the various cultures and backgrounds that contribute to our diverse community. If you have the chance, I encourage you to attend one of these events. Take some time to get to know your neighbours, share in each other’s experiences and celebrate our similarities, as well as our differences. In doing so, a sense of community will thrive and you can find the place where you belong.

By celebrating our diversity and our multiculturalism, we are ensuring 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.”

Celebrating Clean Air Day with Ka-Pow to Powerjams

Protecting public health, emergency preparedness, environmental health and air quality are all Citizens’ Priorities in Halton Region’s 2011-2014 Action Plan.

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On June 5, Halton Region celebrated Canadian Environment Week (June 2 – June 8, 2013) and Clean Air Day (June 5) at Milton Public Library with the first public reading of Ka-Pow to Powerjams, a picture book for children aged four to eight.

The launch at Milton Public Library was attended by more than 50 young students and featured a book reading, a visit from some special guests from the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, a presentation on asthma triggers and an emergency preparedness display.

Ka-Pow to Powerjams is the third and final book in a three-book series about the implications of air quality and climate change on human health. It builds on the themes presented in A Farewell to Featherwagons and Wings and Thingamajigs, completing the Owls for Climate Change series by exploring emergency preparedness themes and the linkages between climate change, severe weather and energy conservation.

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Over the next few months, copies of the book will be provided to public libraries in Halton as well as child care centres, schools, community networks and partners. A complementary Storytelling Kit is available online.

As this story illustrates, simple actions can have an impact in making our community healthy, energy smart and disaster resilient. This week, why not walk or bike to your local library and borrow a copy of the book to share with your children or grandchildren. Related to emergency preparedness, consider assembling or purchasing a 72 hour Go-Kit to use during an evacuation of your home or community.

Visit www.halton.ca/owlbooks to read all three books online.  Books one and two are available in English, French, Cantonese, Polish, Punjabi and Spanish; translations of book three will be available online this summer.

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.”