Halton is a great place to live

Halton is a great place to live and Regional Council is committed to making fiscally, responsible decisions that ensure we provide high quality services that contribute to your quality of life, making it an ideal place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

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. Once again this year, we have achieved a 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 demonstrates that we have been managing your tax dollars efficiently and effectively. 

Regional Council is committed to policies that ensure Halton is resident focused, well planned and safe and healthy. Value to you as a taxpayer is a critical component of decision making at Council.  We are fiscally responsible with the Regional budget and have been planning our infrastructure needs (roads, waste management, water/wastewater treatment) so that strategic investments now ensure we meet infrastructure needs in the future with minimal impact to you as a taxpayer. We are also focused on services that contribute to a safe and healthy community so that you can continue to enjoy a high quality of life in Halton.

As a regional government, we continue to build on our record of customer service excellence. In January, our Access Halton group was recognized by the Service Quality Measurement Group (SQM) as a Service Quality Award of Excellence Winner for 2013. Halton received a Highest Customer Service (government) award and survey results indicated 92 per cent of callers were satisfied overall with their call centre experience. These results are a great achievement given that in 2013, Access Halton managed 304,354 calls and 9,282 emails.

Great things are happening in Halton. To learn more, I invite you to take a look at my video blog, The State of the Region, at www.youtube.com/haltonchair.

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.”

Talking about the progress on our Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan

I recently participated in a Cogeco show, Local Matters, where I had the opportunity to talk about the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan and highlight some of the great work that we are doing at Halton Region.  More information about Halton’s progress on the Action Plan can be found in the 2012 Report to the Citizens.

To watch Local Matters, click on the YouTube video below.

Local Matters

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.”

2013 Budget and Business Plan (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.”

Happy New Year!

Today, on this last day of 2012, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a few of the successes we’ve had here in Halton, and what we resolve to do in 2013.

Budget

Regional Council and staff have worked very hard throughout 2012 to provide the best programs and services possible, while bearing in mind the ultimate impact on the residents and taxpayers of Halton. We are very proud of the fact that we were again able to provide a zero per cent tax increase for 2013. This brings the seven-year average tax increase to zero per cent for Regional services. This is one of the best records in all of Canada.

In 2013, we will develop Halton’s next budget with the same level of respect for the taxpayer in mind. I expect Regional Council will maintain our position to deliver a budget that delivers any tax increase at or below the rate of inflation, while maintaining service levels in a growing community and compensating for provincial funding shortfalls.

Infrastructure

Residents consistently tell us that quality infrastructure is important to quality of life. In 2012, Halton Region delivered infrastructure improvements including improving roads through widening, resurfacing or new construction on James Snow Parkway, Steeles Avenue, Dundas Street, Winston Churchill Boulevard, and Regional Road 25, and the construction of new Sixteen Mile Creek bridge on Dundas Street in Oakville. Halton also continued to strengthen our water supply system through the commissioning of a new Georgetown water tower, building a new water booster pumping station in North Oakville, completing upgrades to water purifications plants in Burlington and Oakville, and construction of new wastewater pumping stations in North Oakville and Halton Hills.

The approved 2013 capital budget for roads, water and wastewater is $921 million. In 2013, Regional Council is committed to continuing to ensure Halton has the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.

Advocacy

Regional Council has a strong track record of advocating to other levels of government on behalf of Halton residents. In 2012, the two very important issues that come to mind are advocating to the provincial government to ensure that growth pays for itself, and advocating to protect our natural environment and farmlands from proposed provincial highways, including the GTA West corridor highway that would impact farm land in Halton Hills, and the Niagara to GTA highway that would cut through the Niagara escarpment in Burlington. In October, I joined the City of Burlington and the Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition to host a community meeting about the proposed NGTA highway. Following the community meeting, Mayor Goldring and I also met with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to express the community’s opposition and concerns regarding the proposed Provincial highway.

In 2013, Council will continue to ensure the voice of Halton residents is heard by other levels of government. We will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure Halton is treated fairly. We will continue to ask for predictable, stable funding for infrastructure and housing. We will continue to advocate that growth should pay for growth, and not burden current property taxpayers. And we will continue to advocate that our natural landscapes and farmland is maintained in the face of proposed Provincial highways. We will continue to work with all our MPPs and MPs and party leaders to help them understand the issues that are important to Halton residents.

Council’s and staff’s hard work on these important matters is a big part of the reason 98 per cent of residents indicated they are satisfied with services provided by the Region, which is a significant 22 per cent higher than the average across Ontario. By continuing to focus on our Citizens’ Priorities 2011-2014 Action Plan, we will ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire, in 2013 and beyond. Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family, for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!

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.”

Halton Region approves 2013 Budget with a zero per cent tax increase for Regional programs and services

Over the last few months, Halton staff and Regional Council have been working on our 2013 Budget and Business Plan. I am pleased to announce that on December 12 Council unanimously passed the budget, delivering a zero per cent tax increase for Regional programs and services.  This brings the seven-year average tax increase to zero per cent for Regional services, while maintaining service levels in a growing community and compensating for provincial funding shortfalls.

The 2013 budget delivers on our Citizens’ Priorities (2011-2014) Action Plan with several new initiatives including:

  • New waste diversion programs including a three bag garbage bag limit and expansion of the blue box program to include additional recyclable materials to increase our diversion rate toward 65% and to extend the life of the landfill site resulting in long-term savings of $15 million to future taxpayers.
  • $810,000 enhanced funding through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative to support Halton’s low income residents
  • Increased investment in the Region’s water and wastewater maintenance program ($3.1 million) and state-of-good-repair capital program ($8.7 million) to ensure the existing infrastructure is appropriately maintained to provide service to the residents of Halton.
  • New Assisted and Affordable Housing Units as identified in the Comprehensive Housing Strategy.
  • 10.4 paramedics to staff two 12-hour ambulances in the Region to ensure wait-times for ambulance services continue to meet standards.
  • An additional 100 child care fee subsidies for low income families and additional special needs services for 20 children.

If you’d like to find more information about Halton’s 2013 Budget, you can go to www.halton.ca/budget or dial 311.

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.”