Staying safe while enjoying summer

Summer is great time to get outdoors and explore our beautiful region. Whether it’s going for a dip at the beach, hiking one of Halton’s many trails, having people over for a barbeque or enjoying a picnic at a local park, it’s important to remember that making smart choices helps keep you safe. Below are some tips and information to keep in mind while you enjoy all that Halton has to offer this summer!

Beach safety

We are fortunate to have several recreational beaches located throughout the region. Beginning in June, our Health Department staff sample Halton’s beach water to determine if the water is safe for swimming and water activities. The beach water quality results are updated weekly at halton.ca/beach and you can check to see if it’s safe to go swimming before heading to the beach.

Air quality and heat safety

You can help protect yourself from the health impacts of extreme heat and poor air quality by getting environmental alerts delivered to your inbox. This is especially important for people with health concerns such as asthma, families who have children in outdoor summer camps or people who work outside. Sign up to receive alerts at halton.ca/airquality.

As we get closer to summer and higher temperatures, it’s important to drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks from activities and use sun protection. Also remember to visit family members, friends and neighbours at risk from extreme heat to make sure they are staying cool and hydrated. To learn more, visit halton.ca/heat.

Food safety

Summer means firing up the grill and barbecuing. Make sure your food is safe by following these four tips:

  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Cook
  • Chill

After a day of visiting our local farms or farmers’ markets, remember to properly wash and store your fresh fruits and vegetables. To learn more, visit halton.ca/foodsafety.

Mosquito safety

Halton Region staff work hard to help protect our communities from mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus (WNV). The Halton Region Health Department monitors and helps control the mosquito population to reduce the risk of West Nile virus in the region. Residents can also protect themselves by:

  • wearing insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin;
  • avoiding being outdoors at dusk and dawn;
  • covering up: wearing light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs; and
  • removing areas of standing water from your home

Practice tick safety when travelling

While the risk of tick-borne diseases in Halton is low, it’s important that residents are aware of how to protect themselves. If you will be around wooded, brushy or tall grass areas, or traveling to areas identified at risk for Lyme disease, you should be especially cautious and know how to avoid tick bites. Halton residents can also submit ticks found on themselves or family members for identification and testing through the submit-a-tick program.

By working together, we can help keep our community safe and healthy, and ensure that Halton continues to be a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. Wishing you all a fun summer in Halton!

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”.

Earth Day 2017: Enjoy and protect the region’s natural environment

Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day – an annual global event that reminds us to celebrate and protect the natural environment today and every day.  The theme of this year’s event is “EarthPLAY: Connect to your nature!” and I encourage residents to do just that. Get outside, explore the natural beauty of our region and most importantly – have fun!

If you are looking to get active and celebrate Earth Day, you can visit any one of Halton’s three Regional Waterfront Parks along Lake Ontario, cycle through the trails at Kelso, Mountsberg or Hilton Falls, or explore Halton’s over 700 hectares of rich and diverse Regional forests.

Celebrate Earth Day in your local community

Residents can also take part in local community events to celebrate Earth Day:

Burlington
Halton Hills
  • 22-Minute Makeover – Friday, April 21
  • Community Clean-Up Day – Saturday, April 22
  • Halton Hills Earth Day Event – Saturday, April 29
  • Earth Day & Sustainability Fair – Saturday, April 29
Oakville
  • 26th Annual Earth Week Clean Up –  Saturday, April 22
Milton
  • Nassagaweya Rural Road Clean-up Day – Saturday, May 6
  • Good Neighbours Community Day – Saturday, May 6

Working together to plan for a green, sustainable future

As the region continues to grow, our Regional Official Plan – our guide for land-use planning and decision making – ensures we are protecting the environment through healthy, sustainable investments in our community.

We are also committed to making it easy for residents to be environmental stewards. Below are some suggestions on how you can support your community:

  • Residents can help to divert waste from the landfill by participating in Halton’s Green Cart and Blue Box programs, and using the Halton Waste Management Site for the safe and proper disposal of household waste.
  • Residents and businesses can help protect drinking water sources through responsible use and proper disposal of hazardous chemicals such as fuels, solvents, pesticides and fertilizers. Halton is also implementing Source Protection Plans, aimed at reducing risks associated with potential contamination and overuse of our municipal drinking water sources. If you are unsure about how to properly dispose of waste, use our online Put Waste in its Place Tool to find out how easy it can be.
  • Landowners with forest resources are encouraged to apply for the Region’s Woodlands Stewardship Program which provides financial assistance for preparing a forest management plan, purchasing and planting nursery stock and employing tree marking services.
  • Residents can consider alternative modes of transportation, such as carpooling. Smart Commute Halton’s online tool helps residents find carpool partners within their organizations or along their commuting route to save time, money and protect the environment.
  • Halton Region also continues to implement the Active Transportation Master Plan to provide safer and more accessible transportation choices, while reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and contributing to our sustainable future.

I invite you to take part in local Earth Day events, explore the great outdoors and be an environmental steward every day of the year. By working together we can protect our natural environment for future generations and continue making Halton a great place to live, work and play.

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 adapting to a changing climate

Halton Region and communities across the country are experiencing more severe weather and environmental impacts, in large part due to climate change. Halton Region is committed to ensuring we are all ready to adapt to new weather patterns and are all doing our part to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate.

Halton Region has specific corporate goals and actions to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a sustainable and liveable region for all. We ensure all corporate operations – from our facilities and fleet of vehicles to our Green Procurement Policy – aim to reduce energy consumption.

We are committed to making it easy for residents to reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to a changing climate. Here are some examples:

  • A good example of this is our commitment to implementing the Active Transportation Master Plan, the Smart Commute program and important partnerships with Metrolinx and Local Municipalities. These plans and partnerships don’t just plan for and provide alternative forms of transportation to keep our roads moving, but they also contribute to limiting air pollution in our community.
  • Halton works closely with the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change to monitor the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), so we can provide the community with local and timely air quality updates so they can take necessary steps to protect themselves and others. To sign up for air quality alerts, visit halton.ca/airquality.
  • We are also helping residents to protect their homes and neighbourhoods from flooding. In recent years, Halton and communities across the country have seen heavier amounts and more frequent rainfall, resulting in basement flooding in some areas. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of Halton’s Enhanced Basement Flooding Prevention Subsidy Program which makes it easier and more affordable for residents to take the necessary steps, such as downspout disconnection, sump pump installation and other improvements to reduce the risk of basement flooding. To learn more about this program and other ways you can prepare for severe wet weather, visit halton.ca/basementflooding.

As our climate changes, we are ready to respond. Halton Region is committed to protecting the health and safety of all residents from the effects of a changing and often unpredictable climate. We will continue to make the necessary investments – in our infrastructure, health programs and resident support programs – to ensure Halton continues to be 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”.

Rain barrel sales help residents conserve water

rainbarrelHalton is committed to providing residents and visitors with safe, high-quality drinking water to enjoy and use. We encourage people to ReThink Water through efforts to protect our natural environment and make water conservation a part of their everyday lives. As part of region-wide water conservation efforts, starting Saturday, May 7, we will once again be offering rain barrels for sale at events throughout Halton.

Using rain barrels diverts water from your home’s downspout and catches it for use on gardens and potted plants. Using the water from one full rain barrel saves 240L of water, which is more than the average Halton resident uses in one day.

Rain barrels are available for purchase either in person at the truckload sales events or online directly at any time.

Sale dates and locations:

  • Saturday, May 7, 2016
    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Robert C. Austin Operations Centre
    11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown
  • Saturday, May 14, 2016
    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Mapleview Mall (lower parking lot by The Bay)
    900 Maple Avenue, Burlington
  • Saturday, June 4, 2016
    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Milton GO Train Station parking lot
    780 Main Street East (west of Thompson Road), Milton
  • Saturday, June 11, 2016
    9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Halton Regional Centre (Parking lots A, B and C. Enter off North Service Road)
    1151 Bronte Road, Oakville

A few reminders:

  • Barrels are $45 each, including tax.
  • Walk-up customers at truckload sales are limited to one barrel per household, cash only. (No limit if purchasing online.)
  • Proof of Halton residence will be required.

To learn more about Halton’s water services and programs, rain barrel sales program and tips on water conservation, please visit halton.ca/water. By working together we can make a difference and ensure Halton remains a great and sustainable 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”.

Help preserve Halton this Earth day!

2015 Scout Tree Planting event

On April 22, six million Canadians will participate in recognizing one of the world’s largest environmental events: Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day event focuses on growing the global forest. Halton Region is committed to protecting and enhancing our rich, natural environment and is currently involved in a number of projects that support forest and tree growth in Halton, such as:



  • The Annual Scout Tree Planting Event, hosted by Halton Region on April 30. It is part of the Region’s ongoing tree planting and maintenance program at the Halton Waste Management Site (HWMS). Over the last 15 years, this initiative has supported the planting of over 5000 native trees.
  • The Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan, which will begin implementation later this year. The Master Plan includes plans to restore the sensitive beach and dune area located within the park with native trees, shrubs and other plants.
  • The Biodiversity Strategy for Regional Forests, which is a 10-year strategy that guides the Region’s many sustainability initiatives by managing the preservation of our rich and diverse landscape.

Resident wishing to take part in local Earth Day events can attend the many community events that have been planned by our local municipalities and environmental groups throughout Halton. These events include:

I am pleased to join residents and community partners in their tireless efforts to preserve the natural environment for future generations. What we do today, matters for tomorrow. Together we are preserving Halton’s future as 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”.

Protecting yourself against heat and smog this summer

With the summer months just ahead of us we can expect higher temperatures and increased humidity and smog.  In order to protect yourself, your family and help those in our community, residents can sign up to receive heat and smog alerts from the Halton Region Health Department. These alerts help you plan your outdoor activities so you can enjoy a safe and fun summer in Halton.

A heat warning is issued when:

  • the temperature is expected to reach 31°C and overnight temperatures are above 20°C for two days, or
  • the humidex value is expected to reach at least 40°C for two days.

Alternatively, an extreme heat warning is issued when:

  • the temperature is expected to be at least 31°C and overnight temperatures are above 20°C for at least three days, or
  • there is a humidex of at least 40°C for at least three days.

During these heat and smog warnings, it’s important to drink plenty of water, take frequent activity breaks and use sun protection. While you’re protecting yourself and your family from preventable heat illnesses, it’s also important to visit your neighbours to make sure they’re cool and hydrated, especially if they are elderly, don’t have air conditioning or are at high-risk for a heat illness.

High heat and humidity are often accompanied by smog. Poor outdoor air quality poses a risk to our health in Halton Region and in many other communities across southern Ontario. Halton Region has various programs in place to help improve our air quality and the Halton Region Health Department regularly posts information on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) so that you can stay informed and make decisions about how to protect your health from these environmental impacts.

Everyone knows that Halton is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire, and part of what makes it so great here is the sense of community.  By staying informed, we can protect ourselves and our families, help those in our community and enjoy all Halton has to offer this summer.

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.”

Celebrating 75 years of protecting our Regional forests

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Halton Regional Forests.  To commemorate this milestone, Halton Region has recently acquired 37 hectares of new forest land, marking the first addition to the Regional Forest in almost 50 years.  Between 1939 and 1965, Halton secured more than 665 hectares (1,643 acres) of land, ranging from 12 hectares to more than 166 hectares in size, in 14 separate forest tracts.  The new forest lands contain a provincially significant wetland (approximately 14 hectares) and a woodlot (approximately 23 hectares) bringing the total size of Halton’s Regional Forests to 702 hectares.

Our Regional forests are an important reminder of the critical role natural areas play in the Halton landscape. It is essential that we preserve these unique natural systems which are home to a wide array of plants and animals including a number of rare and endangered species.

Halton Region has recently adopted a Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests and is the first regional municipality in Ontario to do so.  The Biodiversity Strategy will protect and increase biological diversity in the Regional forests, while preserving and enhancing the Regional Natural Heritage System. This strategy will guide conservation of the Regional forests over the next 10 years and help protect them for future generations. The strategy contains seven key biodiversity initiatives to help maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the forests including:

  • Implementing strategic control measures for priority invasive species in Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Expanding the scope of restoration and enhancement activities beyond tree and shrub planting;
  • Implementing programs to monitor the biodiversity of Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Promoting Regional Forest Tracts as Living Laboratories;
  • Engaging the public in enjoying, characterizing and enhancing biodiversity resources in the Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Engaging in public awareness and educational activities to promote biodiversity; and,
  • Continuing to implement good forestry practices in Regional Forest Tracts in accordance with the Forest Management Plan.

Regional Council considers sustainability in all that we do and is committed to the protection and preservation of Halton’s natural heritage. Working together, we can help preserve our vibrant communities and the natural environment that make Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. If you would like to learn more about our Regional Forests or our Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests, please visit halton.ca/forests.

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.”