Explore Halton this summer!

Halton Region is a great place to live and also a great place to visit. The summer season offers both residents and visitors a wide variety of things to see and do including cycling, rock climbing, shopping, arts and culture, farmers markets, concerts and festivals and so much more!

There is always something great happening in Halton. Our region boasts beautiful vistas and landscapes with easy access to Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment. Our communities have small town charm, but offer big city shopping and dining experiences. Residents and guests can also visit our unique festivals and events for the whole family throughout the year. For complete listings and calendars of festivals and events taking place this the summer season, I encourage you to visit each of our local municipalities to find out what is going on throughout Halton.

For those who are looking for a little adventure, Halton has a rich and diverse landscape with many outdoor attractions and natural and man-made activities for the whole family. Halton is the home of cycling in Ontario, from biking along the waterfront to riding our vast network of trails and rural routes – there is something for all levels of cyclist. For young families and recreational cyclists, we have safe multi-use paths and a number of dedicated on-road bicycle lanes. For more committed cyclists, we offer beautiful views along challenging routes on the Niagara Escarpment. You can also check out the new Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, which will be used this July and August for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. To learn more about cycling in Halton or to view a copy of the Halton Region Cycling Map, visit halton.ca/cycling.

Summertime is also a great time to take full advantage of all the fresh produce our local farmers have to offer. Simply Local – Your Guide to Halton Farms is an excellent resource for mapping out your tour of farmers and farmer’s markets throughout the region. Many farms offer various goods for sale as well as special events and activities to keep the entire family entertained. Buying local is good for our economy, good for the environment and good for your health. For more information, visit halton.ca/simplylocal.

This summer, why not invite a friend or family member to Halton and share your favourite spot? For more fun activity ideas, visit halton.ca/tourism.

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 Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “the Carr Report”.

Discover Halton’s agricultural heritage with exciting fall events

One of the greatest things about living in Halton Region is that you get to experience our rich agriculture heritage either near or right outside your door. We are fortunate to live in a community where we have easy access to the freshest, quality ingredients grown by our local farmers and are surrounded by beautiful and lush scenery that makes it all possible.

With fall just around the corner, there’s no better way to experience the best our rural communities have to offer than to attend this year’s events celebrating Halton’s agriculture. Events include local Fall Fairs, Harvest Halton and the Halton Pumpkin Trail where you can meet local farmers and sample/buy their products; take part in fun activities for all ages such as tractor pulls, barrel racing, face painting, dancing and music; or sit back and enjoy the changing fall colours. There’s a lot to do this fall season, so I invite you to join me and discover more about Halton’s agriculture heritage.

Fall Fairs

A favourite tradition of Halton residents for over a century, this year’s Fall Fairs offer a variety of new exhibits, events and attractions for the entire family to enjoy. Activities include truck and tractor pulls, horse shows, demolition derbies, crafts, rides and live performances by local artists. Check with your local fair to see what they are offering:

I’d like to recognize and thank the three committees – Georgetown Agricultural SocietyActon Agricultural Society and the Halton Agricultural Society – who have worked very hard to organize the Fall Fairs to make them a success. The events planned by these committees bring us together as a community and celebrate an important part of our heritage.

Harvest Halton

A unique event you won’t want to miss this fall is Harvest Halton, a farm to chef experience taking place at Country Heritage Park in Milton on October 5.  Halton Region is home to an active and vibrant farming community and this annual event celebrates the great pride we take in our local food.  At this year’s event some of the Region’s farmers team up with award-winning chefs and restaurants to bring residents and visitors an amazing culinary experience.  Bring the entire family to Harvest Halton and take the opportunity to sample unique farm fresh dishes.

Pumpkin Trail

This fall you can also explore the Halton Pumpkin Trail, a self-guided map that connects residents and visitors to local events and products from mid-September to October 31.  The map guides you to where you can find pumpkin-themed activities, farms to sample and buy products, and restaurants to savour local cuisines. It’s a great way to find hidden (or not so hidden) gems within our great region with friends and family.

Agriculture is an essential industry in the Region and is a major reason why people enjoy living in and visiting Halton. These fall events connect us to the people and the products that drive this industry and they remind us of the importance of preserving and supporting it.  To learn more about Halton’s agricultural industry, attractions and events please visit halton.ca/simplylocal.

We also have another important event in the region this fall – Epic Tour Halton. This annual cycling event, happening September 7, tests an individual’s long distance endurance by choosing one of six distances to ride – 170km, 140kms, 110kms, 80kms, 50kms, or 10kms – all beginning and ending at Kelso Conservation Area. Last year’s inaugural event attracted 3,000 cyclists to Halton Region and we anticipate this year’s event will be even more successful. For more information, visit the event’s website at PwC Epic Tour Halton.

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.” See you out at the events this fall!

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. 


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. 


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.”

Helping agri-tourism grow in Halton

Recently Halton Region hosted its first Food Tourism Summit where Halton chefs, restaurateurs and farmers networked, while learning strategies to help them benefit from the rapidly growing local food movement.

I was happy to meet so many of our farmers and chefs and to see their excitement about building relationships with each other and the Region. While Halton’s committed to supporting our vibrant communities, including Halton’s growing agri-tourism sector, we can’t do it alone and partnerships like the ones fostered at this event are critical to our combined success.

Working together, we can make Halton Region a destination of choice for new investment, small businesses and tourism, while also supporting and preserving our vibrant agricultural community. To help accomplish this, Halton is currently implementing the Agri-tourism Action Plan that Regional Council approved last fall. It has the dual purpose of supporting our agricultural sector and attracting more visitors to Halton through agricultural and food tourism development.

A key component of the Agri-tourism Action Plan is culinary tourism which has a significant potential to motivate and attract visitors. By combining local food and drink with travel, culinary tourism offers both locals and tourists alike an authentic taste of our Region.

Not only is putting more locally sourced foods on restaurant tables a key ingredient to providing a positive experience for visitors and growing the culinary tourism industry in Halton, it also contributes to a sustainable local economy. I look forward to continuing our work together to help farmers and small businesses create the best on-farm and off-farm experiences for residents and visitors. For more details on what to see and do in Halton, and how you can support our local businesses, visit Halton.ca/tourism.

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.”

Celebrate the season!

Searching for a new festive season tradition? This December, discover Halton! From outdoor adventures to special events at our museums, theatres and other community organizations, fine dining, shopping and much more, Halton is the perfect community for your winter “staycation”.

Taking the time to explore your own community has plenty of benefits. You have the chance to discover hidden treasures in your own backyard, at your own pace, without the stress of booking hotels, plane tickets, packing and everything else that goes along with travel vacations.  Vacationing at home is more cost effective and since it doesn’t involve air travel, is environmentally friendly.

Here is just a small sample of what awaits you in Halton this holiday season.

In Burlington

  • Celebrate winter at RBG with Holiday Traditions, RBG’s annual holiday season event featuring Canada’s best all-botanical model train installation. Every weekend, enjoy musical entertainment, local school and adult choirs, and light and model train displays. While you are there, take the kids to visit with a traditional Santa. This event runs until January 5, 2014.blog


  • Take in a live performance. The Burlington Performing Arts Centre has many shows to choose from, including the Nutcracker, John McDermott, and even the Ed Sullivan Show, to name just a few.  Or if you are looking for a free activity the whole family can enjoy, head over to Spencer Smith Park for a skate.

In Halton Hills

  • Avoid border crossing delays — plan a shopping trip to Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills. You’ll find an exciting collection of 85 outlet stores with new offers daily.blog2
  • Enjoy winter at the Acton Winter Carnival, the last weekend in January, 2014.  This annual event features horse & carriage rides, ice skating, outdoor curling, ice sculpting, bingo and much more.

In Milton

  • Try a new winter adventure! Participate in the Season of First Frost at Crawfordblog3 Lake. Rent some snowshoes and explore the trails. Join experienced guides hikes and tours of the Iroquoian village. Runs until February 9, 2014, weekends and holidays.

 In Oakville

  • Looking for a refreshing start to the New Year? Take the plunge into the icy cold waters of Lake Ontario at the Courage Polar Bear Dip at Coronation Park in Oakville. This fund raising event helps provide clean water in developing countries. January 1, 2014.blog4
  • Experience an Authentic Homestead Christmas at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.  This event runs until Monday, December 23, 2013.

Enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends.  Rediscover your community. Halton offers countless opportunities – truly something for everyone. For more to see and do in Halton, visit the Region’s tourism portal, Discovering Halton. Find Halton Tourism on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter @HaltonTourism or Pinterest at pinterest.com/haltontourism.

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.”

Chair’s Corner: Q3 Accomplishments

Fiscal Responsibility

AAA credit rating reaffirmed

On July 25, Standard and Poor’s affirmed its highest credit rating, AAA for Halton. This marks the 23rd consecutive year that Halton has maintained the highest rating of AAA.  Standard and Poor’s has also attached a stable outlook to this rating indicating its confidence that Halton will continue to demonstrate strong budgetary performance.

Budget directions meeting in July
On July 10, Regional Council set 2014 budget directions, supporting a tax increase at or below 1.5%. Regional staff are working to prepare the 2014 Budget and Business Plan, which will be discussed at the budget review committee on December 9 and will go to Regional Council on December 11 for final approval.

Attracting & Retaining Jobs

Successful Summer Company program

Eleven Halton students participated in Summer Company, a provincially funded program which helps students aged 15 to 29 start and grow their own businesses. Summer Company provides participants with up to $3,000 and hands-on coaching and mentoring to start and operate their own business. Halton Region’s Small Business Centre coordinates the program in Halton for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and delivers it with the help of volunteer business advisors from the community.

Promoting Tourism

Summer Wonderful Photo Contest

Halton Tourism held a summer wonderful photo contest celebrating summer which received approximately 50 entries.  A selection of entries was posted on Halton Tourism’s social media channels, Pinterest and Facebook, helping to promote the many beautiful attractions here in Halton Region.

Continue reading…

Fall Fairs in Halton

With the fall season in full-swing I recently had the pleasure of attending some of the Fall Fairs in Halton.  The Georgetown, Acton, and Milton Fall Fairs have become a favourite tradition of Halton residents for the past century, with Acton celebrating its 100th year and Georgetown and Milton’s impressive 167 and 160 years, respectively.

I would like to recognize and thank the three organizing committees (Georgetown Agricultural Society, Acton Agricultural Society and the Halton Agricultural Society) for continuing to host these events for our community. Fall fair1

The Fall Fairs provide a great opportunity to unite and educate the residents in the area by showcasing the rich history of our agricultural industry as well as the diversity and innovation of Halton’s farms.  Agriculture is an important industry in Halton and one of the priorities of Halton’s Citizens’ Priorities Action Plan.  Events like the Fall Fairs and the Farm Tour bring important attention to agriculture in the Region and help spotlight the successes and partnerships of our agricultural community.  Watch the video below to learn more about Agriculture in Halton.

I hope you had an opportunity to attend one of the fairs and to visit Halton Region’s booth.  This year our Fall Fair ambassadors were promoting information on Harvest Halton – the Farm to Chef Experience, The Pumpkin Trail,  our expanded recycling and waste program, air quality, well water testing and more.  New to our booth this year was a display highlighting our Growing Good Food Ideas video series.  If you missed us you can visit www.halton.ca or dial 311 or to request a brochure and learn more.

Agriculture is such an important part of Halton’s community and the Fall Fairs do a great job of showcasing why Halton is such a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.  To learn more about agriculture in Halton, visit www.halton.ca/simplylocal.

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.”