Kicking off Emergency Preparedness week with First Responders Day

This week marks Emergency Preparedness (May 4-10). As a kick off to the week, Halton Region’s CAO, Jane MacCaskill and I joined with Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Paramedic Services, and the Regional Fire Chief to recognize the inaugural First Responders Day on May 1.

The Province of Ontario designated May 1 as First Responders Day to celebrate the sacrifices and hard work of First Responders who have devoted their lives to public service. At the event, Jane and I thanked our emergency services for their ongoing commitment to community safety and for keeping Halton Region the safest community in Canada. We also shared messages of how residents can make a difference too with the three ‘P’s to safety: Prevent, Protect, Prepare. 

Emergency Preparedness Week is about this third ‘P’. It is a national awareness initiative that encourages residents to take steps to be prepared for a range of emergencies. Getting you and your family is actually very easy. It only takes three simple steps:

  1. Know the risks.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Get a kit. 

Take the time to get to know the risks of possible emergency situations. For example, what would you do if there was an extended power or water failure? When you know the risks, you will be able to take the next step of making a plan.

Making a plan is important so you and your family know what to do in an emergency.. For example, think about how you might stay safe within your home or where you would go if you needed to evacuate. 

Finally, get a kit. Assembling or buying a kit ensures that you and your family will be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.Make sure everyone knows where the kit is, and that it includes a number of items such as a first-aid kit, a flashlight, extra batteries, etc. You can find a kit checklist on our website. You’ll also find more information about the other two steps. 

Emergency preparedness is important for everyone. While we encourage all residents to take the three steps, we, at Halton Region, also take our commitment to being prepared for any scenario seriously. We have many plans in place to ensure we are ready for any emergency that may impact our region: from weather-related hazards (like the recent ice storm) to health outbreaks like SARS or H1N1. We work closely and collaboratively with our local partners to ensure we have the right plans in place, and we regularly test our plans to ensure we are ready to respond effectively in an emergency. 

So, during Emergency Preparedness Week, please take the time to learn how to prepare yourself, your family, and your community for any situation. Visit our website for all of the information and resources you need: www.halton.ca/beprepared

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.”

 

Q1 Accomplishments 2014

Fiscal Responsibility

Moody’s Investors Services Reaffirms AAA Credit Rating for Halton Region
In February, Moody’s Investors Services assigned an AAA credit rating to Halton Region in recognition of the Region’s strong financial position and prudent budgetary practices. In its annual review, Moody’s attached a “stable outlook” to this rating, indicating its confidence in Halton’s ability to maintain this standing in the future.

Attracting & Retaining Jobs

Women Entrepreneurs in Halton Invited to ‘Learn, Connect and Grow’
On March 5, in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Halton Region Small Business Centre partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment to host a business event for over 60 Women Entrepreneurs and small business owners at the OE Banquet Hall & Conference Centre in Oakville.  

Economic Development Strategy on Track
On March 26, Regional Council approved the Progress Achieved under Halton Region’s Economic Development Strategic Implementation Plan 2012-2021as well as the 2013 Economic Review. The review highlights both the significant real estate and business investment in Halton in 2013 and the tremendous growth in non-residential development over the past several years.

Physician Recruitment Initiative 2013 Reports Year-End Results
On March 26 Regional Council approved the 2013 year-end report for the Physician Recruitment Initiative which saw the recruitment of 22 new family physicians to Halton.

Promoting Tourism

Halton Food Tourism Summit
On March 6, Halton Region held the Halton Food Tourism Summit at the Halton Region Museum. This session, part of the Region’s Agritourism Action Plan, provided educational and networking opportunities for local farmers and restaurateurs interested in taking advantage of the rapidly growing local food movement. Topics included Food Tourism 101, Food Tourism Best Practices and Strategies for local food sourcing.

Emergency Preparedness

Station Expansion
On March 11, construction started on the new northwest Oakville paramedic station located at Bronte Rd. and Pine Glen Rd. The new station will help paramedics respond to calls in the area more quickly, improving patient outcomes and saving lives. The new station is scheduled to open in early 2015. 

Customer Service 

SQM North American Call Centre Industry 2013 Award
This past January, Service Quality Measurement Group (SQM) recognized Access Halton as a Service Quality Award of Excellence Winner for 2013. Halton Region received the SQM North American Call Centre Industry 2013 Award for highest customer service in government. This award is based on first call resolution (FCR), the measure of how many calls are required to resolve an issue, answer a question or get a requested service. Halton Region measures call centre customer satisfaction annually. 

Accessibility Update
During the first quarter, Halton Region continued to remove barriers to people with disabilities and meet provincial accessibility standards. Halton worked with the Local Municipalities to arrange joint training for Regional and Local Municipal staff on new accessible built environment standards and accessibility changes in the Ontario Building Code. The Accessibility at Halton Region booklet was completed to supplement the accessibility training module launched in 2013. 

Advocacy

Advocating for a Strong Halton
On March 26, Regional Council approved recommendations provided through the report “Advocating for a Strong Halton Update”, to support Council in their ongoing advocacy work. Halton Region continues to Advocate for a Strong Haltonon issues that are important to Halton residents. The support of both levels of government in the form of long-term predictable funding is essential to maintaining the quality of life in Halton. 

Infrastructure

2014 Civil Engineering Infrastructure Project of the Year Award
This spring, Halton Region received the 2014 Civil Engineering Infrastructure Project of the Year Award, presented by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (Halton-Hamilton Engineering Week). The award was presented for outstanding work on the Halton Zone 3 Interconnecting Watermain project (Burlington and Oakville). 

2014 Project of the Year Award
On March 1, Halton Region received the 2014 Project of the Year Award in the Civil Large Project Category for the North Oakville East Wastewater Pumping Station. The award was presented by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers at the Hamilton/Halton Engineering Awards Ceremony.

Planning Sustainable Communities

Partial Approval of Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) 38
On February 4, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) issued a decision partially approving ROPA 38 to bring it into conformity with the provincial Growth Plan. 

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Water

Drinking Water Quality Management Review Completed

This spring, the 2013 Drinking Water Quality Management Review was completed for Halton’s water systems. This review reconfirmed that the Region’s water systems are well managed to ensure safe drinking water services for all residents.

100% Compliance Rating for Halton’s Drinking Water Systems
Eleven annual Ministry of the Environment inspections were completed for Halton’s drinking water systems for the 2013 cycle. The findings revealed zero instances of regulatory non-compliance and 100% compliance rating for each of the 11 inspections.

Waste Management

Winter Ice Storm Emergency Yard Waste Collection Program
From January 1 to February 7, Halton Region implemented an emergency yard waste collection program 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. 

The Region deployed a variety of resources to manage the storm generated yard waste, including retaining contractors to provide forestry-type equipment to chip and shred brush at the curb, adding waste collection vehicles to manually collect brush from the curbs and boulevards, assisting the Local Municipalities to set up temporary transfer sites where residents and contractors could drop off brush materials at no charge, and waiving the tipping fee for yard waste at the Halton Waste Management Site so that Halton residents and contractors could drop off brush debris or chipped materials at no charge. 

Defining and Preserving Natural Heritage 

Halton Museum Foundation Celebrated Black History with Two One-Woman Shows
On March 5 and 6, over 1,300 Halton students attended the Halton Region Museum’s presentation of the Spirit of Harriet Tubman and Things my Fore-Sisters Saw. The shows were held in celebration of Black History month and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

Children and Youth Development 

New Online Oral Health Education Guides (OHEG) Available to Teachers
In February, a new online oral health teaching tool for educators was launched. Developed in collaboration with consultants from both Halton school boards, the Oral Health Education Guides connect oral health education directly to the Ontario Curriculum. 

New Support to Children with Mental Health Concerns
As of this spring, Mental Health Liaison Nurses are providing early identification and support to children with mental health concerns from kindergarten age to grade eight. Families can access this service through their child’s school or by calling 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, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Emergency Preparedness

“Plan for the worst and hope for the best” may be a cliché but it does have some merit.

Working to meet the priorities of the Citizens’ Action Plan, Halton Region has comprehensive, detailed plans in place to respond to many emergency situations, which include coordination with community partners such as each Local Municipality, local fire services and Halton Regional Police. We also regularly put our plans to the test to ensure we are ready to respond effectively. These efforts are all part of our commitment to enhance the safety of all residents in Halton.

Late last year we also launched an enhanced Community Notification Service (eCNS) using a database that includes contact information for more than 95 per cent of Halton residents and businesses with traditional land line telephone service. Halton is one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to this enhanced data for use in its community notification efforts.

We can’t always prevent or stop an emergency, but we can all be prepared by knowing the risks, having a plan and getting an emergency kit. For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program and to download or order Halton’s Personal Emergency Preparedness Guide, visit www.halton.ca/beprepared or dial 311. You can also follow @BPreparedHalton on Twitter for incident updates and preparedness tips.

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.”

Exercise “Howling Wind” proved a successful test of Halton’s emergency response

In Halton, our emergency response partners, the Halton Regional Police Service, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton and the Town of Oakville, work together to plan for and manage emergencies.

On November 19, 2013, I joined Halton Regional staff and Town of Halton Hills staff and officials as well as emergency services staff in Exercise “Howling Wind,” conducted as part of Halton Region’s Emergency Management Program.EOC_2013-11-19_165_rev

As the name suggests, as a group we were responding to a simulated community emergency – a large, damaging hurricane that resulted in a power black-out and flooding across the Region.

In our Emergency Operations Centres we were briefed on the situation and asked to respond to the scenario as we would during a real event, using our Emergency Response Plan and resources that would normally be required in a real situation, including radio communication and the Community Emergency Notification System (CENS), which provides the Region and emergency partners with the ability to phone homes and businesses in an impacted area in the event of an emergency.EOC_2013-11-19_140_media

This exercise helped us fulfill legislated requirements by the Province, provided staff training and helped improve our emergency response capabilities.  We gained some valuable insights that will allow us to be even better prepared in the case of a real emergency and continue as a leader in emergency preparedness.

Earlier this month, Halton Region launched an improved CENS service using an enhanced database that includes contact information for more than 95 per cent of Halton residents and businesses with traditional land line telephone service.  Halton is one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to this enhanced data for use in its CENS, one of many tools Halton and our Emergency Response partners use to notify residents in situations such as emergencies and public safety incidents. If you would like to learn more about CENS visit halton.ca/cens.

While we are working hard to keep residents safe, individuals also have an important role to play. Are you prepared?  Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility. Be prepared…learn the steps outlined in our Personal Emergency Preparedness Guides and our videos: Emergency Preparedness: An introduction to Personal Preparedness from Halton Region and Emergency Preparedness.

For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for emergency updates and preparedness tips. 

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.”

Be prepared for winter weather

On November 1, Halton Region rolled out an enhanced emergency notification service which gives us access to an improved database. We can now reach more than 95 per cent of Halton residents with traditional land line telephone service in emergency situations.  As one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to Bell Canada’s 9-1-1 data for use in emergency situations, Halton Region continues to be a leader in delivering community emergency notification services. 

We all need to be prepared, because emergencies can happen any time and any place. In Halton, our emergency response partners work together to plan for and manage emergencies.  Our goal is to ensure that residents are safe and that Halton is a disaster resilient community, ready to deal with any potential, imminent or actual emergency. 

While governments and partners at all levels work hard to keep residents safe, individuals also have an important role to play. Are you prepared?  Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility.

As winter approaches, we face the possibility of:

I encourage you to take time to learn more about emergency preparedness. This winter, be prepared…take the steps!

For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for emergency updates and preparedness tips. 

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 launches enhanced emergency notification service

The Community Emergency Notification Service (CENS) is one of many tools Haltonemerg pic Region and the Local Municipalities use to notify residents in emergency situations. To improve notification capabilities and reach as many residents as possible, beginning November 1, we will use Bell Canada’s Enhanced Community Notification Service, which will provide access to Bell’s 9-1-1 database. As one of the first Canadian municipalities to have access to this data for use in emergency situations, Halton Region continues to be a leader in delivering community emergency notification services.

This new initiative will increase the reach of Halton Region’s CENS from 60 per cent of traditional land-line telephones within the Region to more than 95 per cent.  Access to this enhanced information will allow Halton Region to pinpoint locations and accurately notify households impacted by an emergency event such as a flood, chemical spill or other emergency situation.

For more information about Halton’s Emergency Management Program, dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/beprepared. You can also follow Emergency Preparedness on Twitter for emergency updates and preparedness tips.

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.”

Celebration of Life

Last week I had the honour of attending Halton Region’s Celebration of Life awards ceremony.

The Celebration of Life is an event to profile the important life-saving work by Halton’s Paramedic Services, bystanders, and community partners. The event also gave survivorsHalton Paramedic Celebration of Life of medical emergencies a chance to formally meet and thank the paramedics who saved them.

The Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board were presented with community partner awards for their commitment to the health and safety of their students and staff when they installed defibrillators in all their schools. Along with the installation, they trained hundreds of staff and students how to use the defibrillators and how to do CPR.

Bystanders were also honoured for their bravery. Thrust into a crisis situation they acted with selflessness and courage and were commended for their actions.

DSC_4361In Halton Region, we have an exceptional team of paramedics who make a career out of caring for the health and safety of our community.

Halton Regional Council is committed to providing the necessary tools for not only a paramedic service that succeeds, but one that excels.

In the Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan, there are a number of high profile actions dedicated to paramedic services such as ensuring appropriate response times, opening a northwest Oakville station and continuing to work with the Central Ambulance Communications Centre to optimize the delivery of paramedical services.

Optimization of the delivery of paramedical services is key because as our population grows, so too does the demand for paramedic service.

For Regional Council, that means striking the right balance between meeting community safety needs and managing tax dollars effectively, something we have been able to do with expanding services while not increasing property taxes on Regional programs and services for the past seven years, one of the best records in Canada.

This is evident in the fact that last year Halton Region’s Paramedic Services responded to over 50,000 calls while still meeting our response time targets.

Halton’s paramedics, community partners and bystanders are part of what make Halton Region 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.”