Happy Holidays from Halton Region!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a joyous Holiday Season!

On behalf of Regional Council and staff, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and a wonderful holiday season!

December is one of my favourite months. It’s the time of year to get together with family and friends, celebrate the season, give back to our community and be thankful for all we have.

If you are staying in town, there is so much to do around Halton. Take the opportunity to discover Halton and experience the things that make it such a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

Over the holidays, all essential services and Halton Region facilities will remain available, including water and wastewater services, waste collection, road operations, public health, paramedic services and social and community services. Some public facilities will be closed during the holidays. For more information about holiday hours at our public facilities, visit halton.ca/closures. If you require assistance with a Regional service during the holidays dial 311, visit halton.ca, or submit a service request at halton.ca/311.

May this season bring peace, prosperity and joy to you and your loved ones. From my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a 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.

West Nile virus: Prevention is the key

Summer is finally here! As we enjoy the warm weather at one of Halton’s beaches, at the Bruce Trail, on vacation or in our backyards across Halton – it is important to take action to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and West Nile virus (WNV).

To help control the mosquito population and reduce the threat of West Nile virus, Halton Region treats areas of standing water with a larvacide to prevent the mosquito larva from maturing into hungry adult mosquitoes.

This is an important step in protecting Halton residents; however the most important steps we can take to prevent mosquito bites are simple and up to us.

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET.
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn.
  3. Cover up: wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that does not flow.

Did you know that the type of mosquito that carries WNV is found much more frequently in urban areas than rural or forested areas?  

If you notice any areas of standing water on public property that can’t be drained or removed, please report it to the Health Department and an assessment can be conducted to determine if larvaciding is necessary.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout Halton Region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes are examined and sent for WNV testing.

Visit our West Nile Virus surveillance webpage to see the locations of larvaciding as well as other tracking data.

For more information on WNV or to report standing water, dial 311 or call Halton Region at 1-866-442-5866, or email accesshalton@halton.ca.

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.

A Heartfelt Thank You to “Dr. Bob” After 25 Years of Service to Halton Residents

This week, Halton Region will be saying goodbye to Dr. Bob Nosal, the Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health since 1991. After 25 years of service to Halton residents, Dr. Nosal is retiring.

Along with members of Regional Council, I recently had the opportunity to express my admiration and appreciation of Dr. Nosal for his many years of dedicated public service. The list of accomplishments he’s garnered throughout his distinguished career is long.

Since Dr. Nosal became Halton Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health he has:

  • led the Health Department through West Nile Virus in 2002, SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009;
  • been a leader in the areas of health promotion, public health surveillance, air quality and environmental protection;
  • managed the development of a top performing Paramedic Service and community-based mental health clinic;
  • led the Health Department with a vision of being community minded, understanding that the best possible health for Halton residents is most effectively achieved through collaboration; and
  • served on a number of regional and provincial committees addressing a wide array of public health issues and advocated to address mental health, substance misuse, and child and youth development in Halton, among many other issues.

In short, he has helped to make Halton Region’s Health Department a provincial leader in programming and service delivery, providing the top level of care for Halton residents.

I have known Dr. Nosal since the early 1990s when I was an MPP and have always been impressed with his professionalism and his dedication. I know many members of staff at Halton Region and Regional Council will miss his sound knowledge and judgment that has always served the residents of Halton well.

On behalf of Halton Region, thank you “Dr. Bob” for your commitment and dedication to the people of Halton! You deserve the very best in retirement. You have been a true leader and a big contributor to making 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.”

Family Day Activities

Family Day is a great opportunity to get outside, spend time together and enjoy the many opportunities we have in Halton to be active. The cold weather and mountains of snow we have this year can make it even more fun to go skiing, skating, or enjoy the scenery at one of our many parks or conservations areas. All you need is to make a few preparations first to ensure you’re ready for the day:

Winter Tips

  • Be sure to check the forecast and dress for the weather.
  • Wear layers of clothing and cover as much skin as possible.
  • Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen on sunny days.

Many of our healthy living community partners like Conservation Halton and Bronte Creek Provincial Park have Family Day Activities planned. Also, check out your local recreation department in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville for activities. Finally, have a look at our Family Fun in Halton brochure for ideas of ways to stay active during any season.

Enjoy our beautiful region and your Family Day!

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.”

A Safe and Healthy Community

Halton Region has been ranked one of the safest communities in Canada, five years in a row.  Programs such as Speedi and Road Watch contribute to this success.  A safe and healthy community is an important contributor to the high quality of life we enjoy in Halton.  Through Council commitment to programs and services that are resident focused, well planned and safe and healthy, we have achieved a 98 per cent satisfaction rating with Halton residents.  I am proud of this achievement and we will continue to strive to meet the needs of Halton residents.  Join me on a walk through Acton as I reflect on these achievements. To learn more about Halton Region’s programs and services, I encourage you to visit www.halton.ca or dial 311 to speak with Access 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.”

Preparing for the Flu Season

The kids are well into school routines, the pumpkins are ready, the Maple Leafs are off to another great start (7-3 as of this posting) and also like clock-work but much less fun…the flu season is coming.

In the same fashion as the Leafs have been hard at work preparing to improve on last year’s dramatic play-off exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Halton Region has been busy preparing for another round of influenza (flu) immunization clinics.

People of all ages can get the flu. It’s important to keep in mind that by protecting yourself from the virus, you are also protecting other people in your life who may be at risk of severe illness from the flu.

Halton’s Health Department reports the best way to protect against getting and spreading the flu is to get the annual influenza immunization (flu shot). There are many options which make it easier for you to get your flu shot.

Click here for a link to Ontario’s Flu Clinic Locator, which will give you the locations of all flu immunization clinics including pharmacies.

Halton Region is offering 28 flu immunization clinics throughout the Region. Physicians’ offices, walk-in clinics, many pharmacies and some workplaces offer the vaccine too. Be sure to call the walk-in clinic or pharmacy before you go.

Personal protective measures are also an effective way to prevent catching or spreading the flu and many other common illnesses. These include:

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water for a minimum of 15 seconds
  • Using an alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Staying home when you’re sick
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs, telephones, computers or remote controls

Here’s hoping to a healthy flu season and a successful Leafs’ season.

For more information on the flu, please dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/flu.

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.”

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.”