New and exciting businesses help make Halton a great place to live and do business

According to Halton’s most recent economic update, the region’s unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2014 (July-September) was 4.1 per cent – that is one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of North America. That’s great news and an indication that Halton Region’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy is right on track.

An important part of that strategy is bringing exciting, innovative and diverse businesses to our region. Last summer was proof that Halton truly is a great place to do business and below are some of the highlights:

  • iFly Toronto opened its new indoor skydiving facility in Oakville (Winston Churchill & QEW) – the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area;
  • The Government of Canada announced a $3.3 million investment in Communications and Power Industries Canada Inc. (CPI Canada) in Halton Hills;
  • Burger King and Tim Horton’s (based out of Oakville) announced their planned merger (which will form the world’s third-largest fast-food company) and corporate headquarters is expected to be in Canada;
  • A $30 million redevelopment of the RioCan Oakville Place that will include the first Pusateri’s Fine Foods in the West GTA and is expected to create approximately 150 jobs when it opens at the end of the year;
  • The Town of Milton transferred 150 acres of land, valued at around $50 million, to Wilfrid Laurier University, endorsing Laurier’s plan to build a new university campus in Milton; and
  • The Town of Oakville received a 2014 Google eTown Award, which recognizes the digital savviness of a community’s businesses.

Halton remains a hotspot for commercial and residential construction. Commercial retail and office construction increased 89 per cent, from almost $44 million to nearly $83 million, and the residential sector invested over $189 million, for a 22 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Not only are Halton businesses investing here, community organizations invested almost $30 million to ensure Halton remains a great place to live with the new Islamic Centre of Oakville investing $10 million; the addition to the Acton Arena investing $10 million; and renovations at the Hockey Training Academy in Oakville investing $6.3 million.

Whether it’s industrial, commercial or residential investment, Halton’s strong economy is thriving. Welcome to all the new businesses joining the Halton community and helping to grow our regional economy!

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.”

Economic Update at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an Oakville Chamber of Commerce event to provide an update on the State of the Region. I am always honoured to be given the opportunity to speak with residents and business leaders, and to share the many successes and opportunities that are before us.

When I meet with business leaders, they often tell me they choose to locate their businesses in Halton because of our high quality of life. Employees are a business’ most valuable asset, and Halton is the place their employees want to live. To that end, Regional Council and staff continue to focus our efforts to achieve many impressive results, including:

  • A triple-A credit rating for over 20 consecutive years;
  • An average tax increase of zero per cent for seven years in a row, which is one of the best records in Canada;
  • Being named the safest regional municipality in Canada for four years in a row;
  • Many accolades for our waste management programs and diverting 60 per cent of our waste from the landfill; and
  • A 98% resident satisfaction rating with services provided by the Region, which is a significant 22% higher than the average across Ontario.

I also had the opportunity to share Halton’s response to some of the challenges that face us as we progress. Regional Council continues to concentrate significant effort to advocate to other levels of government on behalf of residents.

In 2007, Regional Council endorsed the Fairness for Halton campaign. The campaign advocated to the Provincial government to address an $8.6 billion dollar shortfall in services and infrastructure funding to support Provincially-mandated growth in Halton. This campaign continues to be an important pillar of Regional Council. Existing property taxpayers should not bear the burden of new growth. Growth must pay for itself. And other levels of government need to pay for their mandated services, instead of shifting the burden to the property tax roll. The Province responded by eliminating GTA pooling, saving Halton taxpayers $124 million dollars, and allowing us to reinvest this money in important and timely infrastructure projects, and the social services needed in a growing community.

Council also continues to work with the community and advocate to the Province against a proposed Provincial Niagara-GTA Corridor highway, a highway that would cut through the Niagara Escarpment. Halton Region successfully advocated to the Province against the Niagara-GTA Corridor highway, and on July 26, 2011 the Minister of Transportation confirmed that the Niagara to GTA corridor will not proceed as planned. But the efforts have not stopped. I recently met with the Minister of Transportation to ensure that Halton’s strong opposition to this highway remains top of mind.

In Halton, we have more important infrastructure needs, and Council and staff continue to focus our attention on these needs through our Building a Better Halton infrastructure plan. Council realizes that quality infrastructure is vitally important to quality of life. That is why Halton Region will invest more than $1 billion in water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure across the Region over the next five years, with $615 million of that going to improving the Regional transportation network. Additionally, Regional Council also approved the acceleration of certain planned road improvements by up to eight years in order to reduce traffic congestion on regional roads within Halton.

So, have our efforts to maintain and improve upon an already high quality of life been successful? Business leaders indicate that they have, coining Halton as a hotspot for business. More and more businesses, like Target, Siemens, Lowes Canada and UPS are choosing to call Halton home. Combined, the four companies will bring more than 2000 jobs to the Region.

Noted inventor and businessman Thomas Edison once said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.” Although we have had many successes, Regional Council takes to heart the fact that we can always improve upon an already wonderful quality of life, and continue to make Halton an even better place to live, work, raise a family and retire, and an ideal location for business investment.

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 Real Estate Forum a success

On Thursday, November 8, I joined more than 200 industrial, commercial developers and real estate brokers from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), regional and local municipal elected officials and staff for the fourth annual Halton Real Estate Forum.  Held at the Teatro Conference and Event Centre in Milton, the Forum provided an opportunity for participants to hear an update on the industrial and commercial real estate market in Halton and the GTA.

The Forum was presented by Halton Region Economic Development in partnership withReal Estate Forum 1 the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) and the economic development offices of the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville.

FCT (First Canadian Title) was a Gold Sponsor of the event, Bentall Kennedy a Silver Sponsor and RIM (Research in Motion) a Technology Sponsor.

Halton Region has experienced strong population and business growth over the past several years. Our Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan provides direction for future economic development so we can ensure business growth continues.  The well-attended Forum was successful in further building awareness of Halton as a location of choice for business investment and reinforced the Region’s many strengths.  In fact, a key message voiced by the speakers was that Halton is indeed a location of choice – a great place to live and work and definitely on the radar screen for forward thinking businesses.

In his opening remarks, Halton’s Economic Development Director, John Davidson, touched on the Halton Region Economic Development Strategy for 2012-2021, provided an overview of trends in the commercial and industrial real estate market in Halton and announced the launch of the Region’s new Halton Data Centre.

Keynote speaker Sheila Botting, Partner & National Leader, Deloitte Real Estate, talkedReal Estate Forum 2 about demographics, productivity and how the real estate game is changing, noting that “Commercial real estate can be a catalyst for growth in our economy.”

Office panelists John Arnoldi (Colliers International), Dave Carreiro (First Gulf Corporation) and Chris Holtved (Pauls Properties Corp.) along with Wayne Walton (Sun Life Financial), Ken Nevar (Cooper Construction) and John McCall (Oxford Properties Group) all said that Halton is a big part of their respective businesses, agreeing that land availability is higher and operating costs and taxes are lower than other areas.

Here are just a few of the comments made by the panelists:Real Estate Forum 3

“Halton is at the stage of its development where it has hit escape velocity…Like tenants want to be near like tenants – we are seeing that with financial and professional services companies such as Siemens, Canadian Tire Financial Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, all choosing Halton.” Chris Holtved

“Halton is a hotspot for business investment.” John Arnoldi

“Halton is also uniquely positioned to attract large industrial development by virtual of its location near major transportation corridors and the availability of serviced industrial land as evidenced by the recent Target and First Gulf/Sun Life Financial developments.” Ken Nevar

As I listened to Ms. Botting and our other speakers, I was reminded of the words of Franz Kafka, the renowned Czech-born writer, who once wrote, “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.”  The opportunities here in Halton are endless. More and more companies are finding new ways to capitalize on Halton’s many advantages to bring innovative products and services to market. Halton Region truly is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

To learn more about Economic Development in Halton Region, dial 311, 905-825-6000, toll free 1-866-442-5866, TTY 905-827-9833 or visit www.halton.ca/business. You can find Halton Small Business on Facebook and on Twitter @HaltonEcDev, as well as Halton Tourism on Facebook and on Twitter.

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.”

Regional Accomplishments: October – December 2011

Every day, Halton Region works to provide residents and businesses with valuable programs and services. From affordable housing and public health; to business development and emergency management; from waste collection to water/wastewater treatment, we are committed to delivering our programs and services in a cost-effective and easily accessible manner.I am pleased to share with you some of Halton Region’s major accomplishments for the 4th quarter of 2011.If you have any concerns or comments, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca.
 

Fiscal Responsibility

  • Approved 2012 budget with a zero per cent tax increase
    On December 14, Halton Regional Council approved the Region’s 2012 Budget and Business Plan, delivering a zero per cent tax rate increase for Regional programs and services. In the past six years, Halton Region has one of the best records in all of Canada for keeping taxes low. The approval of the 2012 budget marks the third consecutive year the Region has not increased taxes for its services, while maintaining service levels in a growing community. Regional services account for approximately 25 per cent of the residential property tax bill received by Halton residents.

Attracting and Retaining Jobs

  • The Economic Development Strategy 2012-2021 Implementation Plan
    The Economic Development Strategy 2012-2021 Implementation Planwas approved by Regional Council on December 14th. The Implementation Plan will guide Halton Region Economic Development, in concert with its local municipal partners to fulfil the Region’s vision for economic development by 2021.
  • Halton Region’s Small Business Centre reaches 1000 followers
    Over 1,000 people are now following the Centre on Twitter and connecting with each other for small business news, tips, expert advice, and information about the Centre’s services, resources, and events.
  • Entrepreneurship Week
    Halton Region’s Small Business Centre and HalTech, Halton’s regional innovation centre, combined for a successful inaugural Entrepreneurship Week, November 15-17 at Sheridan College in Oakville. More than 200 registrants participated in learning sessions and enjoyed networking opportunities.
  • Release of the Development Charges Background Study
    Halton Region released a Development Charges Background Study for Water, Wastewater, Roads & General Services Development Charges pdf 4.5 MB on November 30. The Background Study has been prepared in accordance with the Development Charges Act, 1997 and, together with the proposed By-laws, is being made available to the public prior to a public meeting scheduled for February.

Promoting Tourism

  • Social media
    Halton Tourism announced the winner of the fall photo contest on its Facebook page and reached 442 twitter followers.
  • Halton Region Museum hosted successful fall events
    Halton Region Museum hosted a number of events in fall 2011. In addition to its successful Jazz at the Museum concert series, the Museum brought back its popular Hearthside event, an evening of entertainment, great music and superb food. Held in honour of the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration, the well-attended event featured a new caterer, talented Juno nominated entertainment and a younger trio and served to showcase the Museum.

Be an Employer of Choice

  • Halton named one of the GTA’s Top Employers for 2012
    Halton Region was named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers for 2012. The annual Greater Toronto’s Top Employers competition recognizes employers that lead their sectors in areas such as health, financial and family benefits; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement.

Safe Communities

  • Halton announced as safest regional municipality in Canada
    For the fourth year in a row, Maclean’s Magazine has named Halton Region the Safest Place to live in the Great Toronto Area and the Safest Regional Municipality in Canada. Maclean’s bases its ranking on aggregate results of the 2010 annual crime data from Statistics Canada’s for Municipal police services serving the nation’s 100 largest populations and the Crime Severity Index (CSI) scores.

Transportation

  • Tremaine Road widening, Derry Road to Main Street, Milton, includes roundabout
    Thank you to all the drivers who use Tremaine Road, between Derry Road and Main Street, for your patience during the construction over the last two years. This $16 million project (including federal and provincial funding) included widening Tremaine Road to four lanes between Derry Road and Main Street, installing new watermains, building Halton’s first Regional roundabout, creating dedicated on-road cycling lanes, adding multi-use paths on the east side of the road and more. For more details on how to safely drive the roundabout, visit www.halton.ca/goround.
  • Derry Road repaving from Walkers Line to Tremaine Road including intersection improvements at Walkers Line and Derry Road
    This quarter also saw the repaving on Derry Roadbetween Walkers Line and Tremaine Road. Not only will this give a smoother ride to drivers, but the intersection at Walkers Line and Derry Road has been improved.
  • 16 Mile Creek North Bridge (Dundas Street from Proudfoot Trail to Neyagawa Boulevard)
    Drivers using Dundas Street in Oakville will have noticed construction between Proudfoot Trail and Neyagawa Boulevard. This infrastructure project hit a milestone this quarter when the new north bridge crossing the 16 Mile Creek opened to traffic in October. When the project is finished later this year, Dundas Street will be six lanes with bicycle paths and sidewalks on both sides of the two new bridges.
  • Transportation Master Plan
    On Wednesday, October 5, Regional Council approved Halton’s most recent Transportation Master Plan, The Road to Change, which plans the Regional transportation system up to the year 2031. The master plan examines transportation infrastructure, identifies new road corridors and ways to provide for cycling and walking, promotes travel demand management programs (such as carpooling) and accommodates enhanced municipal and inter-regional (GO) transit services. For more details on The Road to Change – Halton’s Transportation Master Plan 2031, please visit www.halton.ca/htmp

Infrastructure

  • Water and Wastewater Master Plan
    On October 5, 2011 Regional Council approved the Sustainable Halton Water and Wastewater Master Plan. This plan ensures that Halton will continue to provide a safe and uninterrupted water supply for all Halton residents and businesses that receive Regional water, as well as ensuring that wastewater is treated efficiently and effectively.

Waste Management

  • Solid Waste Management Strategy
    On November 16, Regional Council approved Halton’s new Solid Waste Management Strategy which will guide Regional waste diversion programs towards the goal of achieving a 65 per cent waste diversion rate by the year 2016. To learn more about each of the new initiatives included in the 2012 to 2016 Solid Waste Management Strategy visit www.halton.ca/wastestrategy.

Planning Sustainable Communities

  • Approval of ROPA 38
    On November 25, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing external link issued a Notice of Decision to approve ROPA 38 (Sustainable Halton) with modifications to align the Region’s Official Plan with the Province’s Growth Plan, Greenbelt Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.

Affordable and Assisted Housing

  • Completion of two new HCHC seniors buildings – Martin House Residence in Milton and Aldershot Village in Burlington
    The construction of two new Halton Community Housing Corporation (HCHC) seniors’ housing developments was completed at the end of 2011. Martin House Seniors Residence  pdf 203 MB, located at 189 Ontario Street South in Milton, provides Halton with 80 new units for seniors, including eight units for persons with disabilities. Aldershot Village Residence pdf 144 MB, located at 540 Plains Road East in Burlington, offers 65 new affordable housing units and is home to the Burlington Public Library’s new Aldershot Branch.

Children and Youth Development

  • Innovation funding
    Halton’s Our Kids Network/Early Years Committee received Innovation Funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services external link for the development of a new Service Navigation System model. The new system will allow Halton to move forward with the Best Start Child and Family System (BSCFS) designed to support families during a child’s early years
  • Our Kids Network Report Card
    Halton Our Kids Network external link released A Vision for Children in Halton, Report Card 2011. The third report card since 2004, A Vision for Children in Halton 2011 is a powerful tool and more information can be found online external link pdf 5.69 MB.
  • Halton Our Kids highlighted in Ontario’s Chief MOH Annual report
    On December 1, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, released her 2010 Annual Report, Health, Not Health Care external link– Changing the Conversation. The report cited Halton Our Kids Network (OKN) as an example of an Ontario municipality crossing government and sectoral lines to create healthy public policy. Halton Region’s Health and Social and Community Services Departments are key partners in OKN.
  • New intake/information line accessed by dialing 311
    Based on the research from two focus group surveys conducted in 2010, the Health Department created a new intake/information line staffed by public health nurses to increase access to comprehensive health and parenting information. This new intake/information line went live on December 5. Public health nurses provide comprehensive, best-practice advice, information, support, and counselling on a variety of topics. They also assist with linkages and referrals to Halton Region programs, classes, services and other community resources. The line also benefits health care professionals, school staff, childcare professionals, and staff from community agencies.
  • Halton Baby Friendly Initiative common messages document to become provincial resource
    In November, the Health Department signed an agreement with the Province to adapt the department’s “Key Common Messages Supporting the BFI (Baby Friendly Initiative)” working document into a provincial resource. The document has been widely used in the Halton community to provide consistent messages for health care providers. Health Nexus, Best Start Resource Centre external link and the Ontario Breastfeeding Committee external linkrecognized it as a valuable tool for other organizations working towards BFI accreditation and maintenance. This recent agreement means that the Halton document will be adapted by a committee of academics, hospital and community experts and become a provincial resource.
  • Community of Aldershot focuses on mental health
    In October the Aldershot community hosted a youth event called the Big Chill. The day was organized by the “Partnering Aldershot Safety Team” to promote mental health and increase awareness of community resources.

Seniors

  • Successful bid for provincial funding to support community seniors’ fall prevention
    Halton Region Health Department staff provided key leadership in a successful bid for provincial funding of seniors’ fall prevention research. The research project, “Engaging Community-Based Organizations in Fall Prevention for Older Adults: Moving from Research to Action,” received $100,000 to better inform public health and the community to prevent falls in older adults.

Protecting Public Health

  • Health indicators reports
    Monitoring the health of Halton citizens is a key priority for Regional Council and the Halton Region Health Department (HRHD). Using data from a variety of sources including the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System, Canadian Community Health Survey, Our Kids Halton Youth Survey and sources such as vital statistics births and deaths, and hospital discharges, HRHD regularly develops Health Indicator Reports on various health issues such as tobacco use or body mass index (i.e., weight). Each report includes demographic comparisons by age, sex, and municipality, as well as trends over time related to that health issue and helps to inform HRHD programs and services. In the fall, several new and updated reports were posted on the Region’s website.
  • Fall 2011 paramedic continuing medical education training
    All paramedic staff completed an eight-hour continuing medical education session in November. Continuing education is delivered throughout the year to ensure Halton paramedics are proficient with current standards, and to educate paramedics on new protocols, medication and equipment.
  • Emergency Services tiered response agreement completed
    In the early 1990s, a tiered response guideline was established amongst the three emergency services—EMS, police and fire services. The agreement outlined when the various emergency service agencies would be dispatched to emergency incidents that require more than once agency to respond to assist the primary emergency service. Halton’s EMS, police and fire services have been working under this guideline since 2000 when Halton Region assumed responsibility for EMS. One of Regional Council’s key actions identified in the 2011-2014 Action Plan was to create an updated tiered response agreement with the three emergency services. The new agreement was completed in fall 2011 by a working group of Deputy Chiefs from each agency, and was implemented early January 2012.  

Promoting Healthy Living

  • Healthy Weights Takes Action Community of Practice
    On November 22, 2011, the Halton Region Health Department launched the Healthy Weights: Halton Takes Action Community of Practice (CoP). CoP’s are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Twenty-one participants, from many sectors such as education, community-based organizations, NGOs, health and municipal/provincial governments, gathered for the event. The CoP is just one in a series of comprehensive efforts to address obesity in Halton.
  • Halton continues to support smokers in their quit attempts (STOP program)
    On December 13, 2011, 43 Halton residents participated in the STOP on the Road external link program. Each participant received counselling and a five-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy. Telephone follow-up will now be offered to participants by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. During the past quarter, Halton offered a variety of training opportunities to cessation practitioners. Two hundred practitioners attended sessions on best practices, motivational interviewing, cessation evaluation, and gender-specific approaches to cessation.
  • Safety Drives Us presents at national injury prevention conference
    Safety Drives Us (SDU) external link: Road Safety Initiatives for Newcomers in Halton” is a committee comprised of a unique partnership in Halton, Peel and Hamilton Regions between ethnic media, settlement agencies, children’s safety advocates, public health, police and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. On November 15, SDU presented at the Safe Kids Canada’s Injury Prevention conference in Vancouver. SDU initiatives include translation of child car seat pamphlets and videos into seven languages, training of settlement workers in car seat safety, car seat clinics for newcomer families and PSAs on multicultural radio programs, newspapers, and cable TV.

Air Quality

  • A Farewell to Featherwagons
    On December 22, 2011, Halton Region posted e-book translations on the Region’s website of the popular children’s picture book for children aged four to eight, A Farewell to Featherwagons. The book is now available in French, Spanish, Polish and Cantonese, reflecting the top four languages spoken most often at home in Halton, other than English. A Farewell to Featherwagons introduces children to air quality and climate change themes to inspire earth-friendly living at an early age. Since its launch in June, more than 2,500 copies have been distributed to libraries, schools and day care centres across Halton and there have been close to 2,000 visits to www.halton.ca/featherwagons.

North/South Business Community Workshops

I recently had the opportunity to participate in two Business Community Workshops for Halton Region’s new 10-year Economic Development Strategy.

The Strategy will help us determine where we stand today, where we would like to go tomorrow, and most importantly, how we are going to get there. It will act as a roadmap for our economic priorities and in the delivery of economic development services.

The Strategy is being completed in four phases over a 10-month period culminating in a Strategic Directions Report to be considered by Council in September and an Implementation Plan in November.

In Phase One, staff worked with consultants to prepare background material, including a number of Discussion (White) Papers. The two facilitated workshops I attended in April and May 2011 in Milton and Oakville were part of Phase Two.

Through the workshops we were able to engage Local and Regional government representatives, business leaders, and community stakeholders across Halton on the region’s economic priorities. We had a terrific turnout for both workshops and there was plenty of discussion on a variety of topics explored in the White Papers including:

  • The importance of employment lands
  • Challenges to business attraction and retention
  • Opportunities and actions for economic development

Photo of Gary Carr, Regional Chair

I was impressed with the quality of the discussion and the level of engagement of our community at both sessions.

As your Regional Government, we are committed to ensuring Halton has the appropriate infrastructure in place to ensure the region is attractive to new businesses, entrepreneurs and skilled workers. To that end, it is important that our property taxes remain competitive. We will work also with our local and senior government partners to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

However, we realize that most new employment in Halton will come from our existing businesses and entrepreneurs. That’s why these workshops and our other public consultations are so important. Staff is now working to combine what we’ve learned from the workshops with input from our research, along with the findings from our Investment Readiness and Competitiveness Study, into a formal Strategic Directions Report.

Photo of Gary Carr, Regional Chair

The end result will be a plan that identifies and prioritizes the strategic vision, goals and directions for Halton’s economic development to 2021. It’s an ambitious undertaking. Our aim is to promote and strengthen economic growth and prosperity. I know that with your help, we’ll be able to meet this goal.

We are blessed with beautiful natural heritage, well developed social and physical infrastructure, including excellent secondary and post secondary schools and a talented workforce all residing in one of Canada’s safest regions. Working together, we can ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, start a business, 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. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”