Q2 Accomplishments 2014

Fiscal Responsibility

Tax Policy Report approved
On April 16, Regional Council approved Halton Region’s Tax Policy Report which details the Region’s final 2014 tax rates based on the 2014 Budget and Business Plan, approved by Halton Regional Council on December 11, 2013.

Public Engagement 

Citizens’ Report 2013 released
On April 2, Halton Region released the Citizens’ Report 2013 which highlights accomplishments related to key actions and initiatives in the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan.

Customer Service

Region marks 40 year anniversary
The County of Halton was dissolved and the Regional Municipality of Halton was established on January 1, 1974. Halton Region marked the anniversary and celebrated 40 years of customer service excellence with the launch of a new Twitter account, @RegionofHalton. Additionally, to recognize the contributions of Halton’s namesake, Major William Halton, to the development of the Region and the province, the new North Oakville Transportation Corridor between Bronte Road (Regional Road 25) and Ninth Line, will be named William Halton Parkway. Construction on the new corridor will begin this year. 

Be an Employer of Choice

Halton Region appointed two new commissioners
On April 16, Regional Council approved the appointment of two new commissioners to fill positions recently vacated following the retirements of the Region’s Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Works.

James A. Harnum was appointed as Commissioner of Public Works, effective Tuesday, May 20, 2014 and Dr. Hamidah K. Meghani was appointed as Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health, effective Monday, July 14, 2014. 

Advocacy

Pre-election advocacy campaign informed voters
In advance of the June provincial election, Halton Region prepared a questionnaire for the candidates from the ridings of Burlington, Halton, Oakville and Wellington-Halton Hills. The questionnaire provided candidates with an opportunity to explain to voters how they would advocate for Halton and how their party would resolve the challenges facing Halton Region. Responses were posted at Halton.ca/OntarioElection2014.

Economic Development

Halton Region endorsed Sheridan College’s plan to become a university
In June, Halton Regional Council voted in favour of Sheridan College’s plan to expand postsecondary education options. Halton Region endorsed Sheridan’s plan to pursue university status because it will improve access to local postsecondary education, ensure a strong labour force to meet the needs of local employers and attract talent to Halton.

Starter Company announced
Halton Region announced the launch of a new program called Starter Company, perfect for those aged 18 to 29 who have always wanted to be entrepreneurs. The program is offered by Halton Region in partnership with the Ontario Government and provides training, mentorship, business skills development and grants of up to $5,000 to help eligible individuals start a new business, expand a business or purchase a business.

Physician Recruitment Week a success
Every year, Halton Region and local hospitals celebrate the efforts of Halton’s physicians and recognize their contributions to our community with Physician Appreciation Week, which took place this year from April 28 to May 2. Now in its 11th year, Physician Appreciation Week in Halton was originally established in 2003 by the Halton Physician Recruitment program. Attracting new physicians to establish medical practices in Halton continues to be a priority in Halton’s Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan. Halton Region’s Physician Recruitment program has helped bring more than 200 new family doctors to Halton since 2003.

Waste Management

Winter Ice Storm Yard Waste Collection Program
Halton Region implemented a special bulk brush collection service in designated service areas from March 31 to May 30, followed by a call-in service throughout June for roadside brush collection in non-serviced areas in response to the December 2013 major winter ice storm. The Region worked closely with the Local Municipalities to ensure that storm debris was collected in an effective and efficient manner. In addition, the Region continued to waive the tipping fee for yard waste at the Halton Waste Management Site to the end of June so that Halton residents and contractors could drop off brush debris or chipped materials at no charge.

Special Waste Drop-off Days held in Burlington, Halton Hills and Oakville
Halton Region held Special Waste Drop-off Days this spring in Burlington, Halton Hills and Oakville. Approximately 2,800 residents attended the events designed to provide Halton residents with a convenient opportunity to safely recycle and dispose of items like electronics and household hazardous waste, which should not be placed in the garbage.

Spring Compost Giveaway
In May, approximately 3,500 residents attended Halton’s annual Spring Compost Giveaway at the Halton Waste Management Site. During the event, residents picked up processed compost to use in their garden and landscaping projects. Halton residents also generously donated 4,340 kg of non-perishable food items and contributed $7,720 for local Halton food banks. 

Scout tree planting event
In May, Halton Region partnered with Conservation Halton and Halton Area Scouts to host the annual Trees for Watershed Health planting event at the Halton Waste Management Site.  The event was a big success with over 300 volunteers planting 3,000 trees at the site. 

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Water

Rain barrel sales events
Halton Region held its sixth annual rain barrel truckload sales events as part of Halton’s Water Efficiency and Conservation Program. Approximately 2,225 rain barrels were sold over the four events. The use of rain barrels helps to reduce outdoor water use.

Outdoor Water Use Program launched
Halton Region launched the annual Outdoor Water Use Program in June. The program is designed to help reduce peak demand associated with summer water use when water consumption often doubles. 

Infrastructure

Well upgrades completed

  • The Region completed a comprehensive upgrade of the Fourth Line Well Field in Acton to ensure that wells continue to meet all provincial water quality standards and to provide water for future growth within Acton.  
  • Upgrades were completed at the Lindsay Court Well Field to include a standby well and to ensure that the wells continue to meet all provincial water quality standards.  The upgrades will ensure that Georgetown’s water supply remains reliable and safe for the long term.  

Planning Sustainable Communities 

Completion of the Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) 38 Guidelines
In June, Halton’s Inter-Municipal Liaison Committee endorsed the Regional Official Plan Guidelines. The 17 guidelines, developed through an extensive public consultation process, will assist municipalities and the public with policy implementation of the Region’s Official Plan. 

Annual update on employment activity in Halton
Council received the 2013 Employment Survey Results report in June. The report highlights key findings on employment activity and land use patterns resulting from the 2013 comprehensive door-to-door survey of businesses in Halton Region. 

Annual update on housing trends in Halton
Council received the Halton Region – 2013 State of Housing Report. The report provides an update on housing trends to assist in monitoring the success of the Region’s housing and growth management policies. The report highlights that the Region’s Official Plan targets related to density and affordability for new housing units in Halton were both exceeded in 2013. 

Defining and Preserving Natural Heritage 

75th Anniversary of Halton Regional Forests:  A Biodiversity Strategy and Property Acquisition
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Halton Regional Forests.  To commemorate this event, on June 18, Regional Council approved a Biodiversity Strategy for the Regional Forests, as well as the purchase of a 37 hectare property. This is the first expansion to the Regional Forest in nearly 50 years.  Biodiversity is key to maintaining the function and integrity of the Regional Natural Heritage System. The Biodiversity Strategy will guide conservation and enhancement of the Halton Regional Forests over the next 10 years. 

Halton Region Museum Master Plan
On June 18, 2014, Regional Council approved the Halton Region Museum Master Plan which details a long-term plan and vision to transform the Halton Region Museum into the Halton Heritage Centre (HHC). The Master Plan outlines a new and innovative model for the delivery of regional heritage services in which the Museum will not only continue to care for the Region’s own collection but will provide professional services in exhibit planning and design, public program development and artifact conservation. The details and strategy for implementing the Halton Heritage Centre will be determined during the Region’s next term of Council.

New exhibit launched at the Halton Region Museum
A new exhibit, Flights of Folly: Learning from the Passenger Pigeon, was launched at the Halton Region Museum Visitor Centre on June 11, 2014. Flights of Folly acknowledges the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon by offering an interactive and educational experience that explores issues surrounding extinction and de-extinction and present-day species at risk. 

Corporate Sustainability 

Corporate Sustainability Action Plan on track
Implementation of the Corporate Sustainability Action Plan is on track, as reduction of the Region’s ecological footprint for internal operations continues. Recent accomplishments include the Region receiving the E3 Bronze Fleet Rating, recognition as the Smart Commute Halton Employer of the Year and recognition from Oakville Hydro Corporation for completed energy retrofit projects. 

Promoting Healthy Living 

Health Department hosts successful Workplace Health Networking Meeting
On June 17, the Health Department hosted a Workplace Health Networking Meeting entitled “How Much Are You Sitting? Move More at Work, Sit Less!” Over 60 workplace representatives heard keynote speaker Dr. Travis Saunders discuss “Is Sitting Killing Us?” He shared the latest research evidence and effective approaches workplaces can implement to encourage physical activity at work.   

April 8 Smoking Cessation Best Practice Workshop
On April 8, the Health Department participated in the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario’s Nursing Best Practice Smoking Cessation Initiative by hosting a Smoking Cessation Best Practice Champion Workshop. Forty-eight health care professionals learned simple intervention techniques to dramatically reduce rates of smoking, in addition to connecting with Canada-wide champions and learning about best practice tools and resources. 

Family Health Information Line receives 99 per cent satisfaction rating
A recent evaluation of the Family Health Information Line showed a 99 per cent satisfaction rating from Halton residents who access the line to connect directly with a public health nurse for information and resources.  

Air Quality 

Halton Region climate change picture books recognized with three awards
In June, Health Department staff were recognized with three awards for the ‘Owls for Climate Change’ children’s picture book series, including a 2014 Gold Quill Award of Excellence (from the International Association of Business Communicators – IABC), a 2014 Conservation Halton Award, and a 2014 Apex Award for Publication Excellence. To view or purchase the books, visit: www.halton.ca/owlbooks.   

Children and Youth Development 

Promoting safety with two community car seat safety spot checks
As part of Halton Region’s commitment to community safety, Regional staff, Halton Regional Police Services, Milton and Halton Hills Fire Departments and Cooperators Insurance jointly supported two car seat safety spot check clinics in Acton (April) and Burlington (May). In total, 266 seats were seen at the quick check with 117 requiring a full inspection due to installation errors. 

Over 100 trained in effective youth engagement
Aligned with a release of a new guideline for working with youth by the Our Kids Network, Health Department staff delivered training related to how to engage youth in health and social services to over 100 staff and community partners. 

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.”

Halton Region Citizens’ Report 2013

Halton Regional Council is committed to ensuring that you are informed about our priorities and the management of your tax dollars. Our Citizens’ Report 2013 provides a progress report on both.Citizen Report 2

I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the past year. According to our most recent survey, Halton residents rate the overall quality of life in Halton very high at 99%, which is above the national average. Satisfaction with Halton Regional services is also very high, with 97% of Halton residents satisfied with the job that the Region is doing.

The very high satisfaction rating further supports the achievements of the Action Plan priority areas. Here are just a few highlights from this year’s report:

Fiscal Responsibility

  • Maintained a strong, sustainable financial position, including an AAA credit rating while minimizing impacts on you the taxpayer. In fact, on average, we have had a 0% tax increase over the past eight years.

Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Increased investment in regional roads of $289 million and approved a Development Financing Plan that ensures growth pays for itself. Planning for and investing in our infrastructure is critical to ensure we can meet the needs of our growing community now and in the future, with minimal impact to taxpayers.

Economic Development

Affordable and Assisted Housing

  • 894 new affordable/assisted housing units built since 2007. Launched the Halton Housing Help service providing online, telephone and in-person support for people searching for affordable housing. In partnership with our federal and provincial partners, we updated the Comprehensive Housing Strategy, Halton’s 10 year roadmap for delivering affordable and assisted housing.

Municipalities receive only 11 per cent of every tax dollar. With this small amount, we provide cost effective and high quality programs and services that touch your life daily. Through our Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign, we work with the provincial and federal governments to ensure that they are our funding partners in delivering the programs and services that Halton residents have identified as a priority. You can find more information at www.halton.ca/advocacy.

In 2014, we continue to work to ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

To review the 2013 Citizens’ Report as well as a list of our 2014 key actions, visit www.halton.ca/actionplan.

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 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.”

Advocating for Halton residents (video)

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.”