Keeping Halton moving by investing in infrastructure

To meet the needs of a growing population, Halton Region has continued to deliver a roads capital improvement program which invests, on average, more than $120 million every year towards ongoing or new construction projects. In 2013, Halton committed $289 million to Regional roads, an increase from $50 million in 2006. Not only is investing in infrastructure important to our residents, it also attracts businesses to our region which helps keep our economy strong.

Join me at Halton’s first Regional, dual-lane roundabout on Tremaine Road in Milton as I discuss the importance of investing in our transportation infrastructure.

By continuing to plan for today and tomorrow, Halton Region will make sure our transportation infrastructure meets the needs of our community, while protecting the environment, today and in the future. I’m proud that our investment is helping keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Building a Better Halton: Construction season underway

Summer is fast approaching and Halton Region has started to work on a variety of construction projects as part of our continued commitment to well planned, built and maintained infrastructure. As Halton Region continues to grow it is important to maintain existing infrastructure and build new infrastructure that is required to meet the needs of the community today and in the future.

Residents have told us that infrastructure planning and construction are key priorities for the Region and that high quality infrastructure is one of the many reasons why Halton is such a great place to live. Due to smart financial planning, Halton has been able to invest in our infrastructure while keeping taxes low, with eight consecutive years of a tax freeze. The Region’s 2013 Budget included more than $3 billion for the 10-year Capital Program primarily for roads, water and wastewater infrastructure.

Part of the Region’s commitment to infrastructure is keeping residents informed about construction activities. Our Building a Better Halton communications program is designed to help residents and business owners get the notifications they need about upcoming Regional construction projects and identify any potential impacts to them. The program includes road signs, direct mailings, newspaper advertisements, online information and e-newsletters for areas where multiple projects are occurring and/or planned.

For more information about current construction projects, alerts for road closures and lane restrictions, and links to your local municipality’s construction information, please visit www.halton.ca/construction.

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.”

Halton Region Citizens’ Report 2013

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

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

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

Fiscal Responsibility

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

Transportation and Infrastructure

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

Economic Development

Affordable and Assisted Housing

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

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

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

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

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

 

 

Farewell to Mitch Zamojc, Commissioner of Public Works

Halton Region’s Commissioner of Public Works, Mitch Zamojc, is retiring after nearly six years of service to Halton residents.

Commissioner Zamojc joined Halton Region as the Commissioner of Public Works in 2008 after serving the public for more than 28 years including 12 years as Commissioner at the Region of Peel.

Under his leadership, numerous infrastructure plans and strategies for the future have been completed, as well as a number of big projects—everything from bridges, large diameter water mains and water storage tanks to wastewater plant upgrades—and the largest investment in roads Halton Region has ever made.

During Commissioner Zamojc’s tenure:

  • Master Plans for waste, transportation, water and wastewater have been updated to ensure requirements are clearly identified to meet Halton’s needs in the future.
  • Several major capital works projects have also been completed including the Sixteen Mile Creek Bridge on Dundas Street in Oakville, a second water feed to Milton, a new elevated water storage tank in Halton Hills, as well as upgrades to the Oakville Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • A number of innovative initiatives were implemented including the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for water and wastewater services and a customer service initiative through social media for Waste Management.  Commissioner Zamojc also led staff in achieving Halton’s solid waste diversion target of 60 per cent.

Commissioner Zamojc has been a valued member of the Region’s Management Committee and a real champion for both innovation and exemplary customer service. On behalf of Regional Council, staff and Halton residents, I would like to thank Commissioner Zamojc for his commitment to Halton Region.

The recruitment process to replace Commissioner Zamojc is underway. His last day at Halton Region will be April 11, 2014.

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.”

 

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.”