Region takes it’s A team to municipal conference to twist arms and plead for improvements as well as any spare cash the province might have.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 21, 2015


The Region’s A team headed for Niagara Falls and met with provincial ministers and their aids to explain the problems they are having with the provincially mandated growth targets set out in the Provincial Places to Grow Act.

Regional Chair Carr tasting honey on a farm tour - better use of his time than getting his pciture taken at a traffic intersection.  Must have been a slow day at the office.

Regional Chair Carr tasting honey on a farm tour.  Few realize just how big and diverse the Region actually is – the Chair covers all of it.

Chair, Gary Carr and members of Regional and Local Councils were at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) annual conference to discuss the critical issues facing the Region.

“We continue to emphasize to Provincial leaders the pressing need to find solutions to ensure the Region can meet provincial growth targets,” said Gary Carr, Halton’s Regional Chair. “Halton is mandated to grow to 780,000 by the year 2031, which means the Region needs long-term funding and legislative tools to ensure that taxpayers are not responsible for the financial impacts of growth.”

Region - predicted growth

The population growth is very aggressive. Much of it took place in Milton – Burlington is going to have to absorb a significant portion of the 278,000 people we have to take in.

The Region currently uses the figure 500,000 when it talks about the size of the population it serves to grow by an additional 280,000 people in 16 years is aggressive to say the least.

What Burlington needs to know is how many of that more than a quarter of a million people are we going to have to take make room for and where in the city will they live?

Region - where the revenue comes from

This is where the Region gets its money: Where will the revenue growth come from – user fess, property taxes and development charges – they are all part of your wallet.

What are we going to have to provide in terms of services and how do we upgrade the transit service we have to move people around the city because there is no room for additional road capacity.

Chair Carr, Regional along with the mayors of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville and a number of Regional and local Councillors met with several Provincial leaders:

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ted McMeekin, to discuss the need to create affordable housing solutions and conformity with Provincial growth legislation;

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris, to discuss funding for public health programs, ambulance off-loading delays, enhancements to the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) and community mental health services;

Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, to discuss the need for long-term funding to support new schools;

Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, to discuss Halton’s community infrastructure needs including GO train service in the Town of Milton and Town of Halton Hills;

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and Burlington MPP, Eleanor McMahon, to discuss Conservation Authority funding and aggregate resources legislation;

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi, to discuss the upcoming review of the Police Services Act;

Attorney General, Madeleine Meilleur, to discuss Halton’s immediate need for a new courthouse in the Town of Milton; and

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, to discuss waste management legislation and adapting and responding to climate change.

Region - average tax bill all 3 levels

Municipal leaders argue that they deliver most of the services that citizens want yet get the smallest amount from taxpayers. They want a bigger slice of the pie – or better yet – a bigger pie.

Several of the meetings related to near critical needs; the Court House in Milton is a mess; long term care is heading for crisis if something isn’t done and affordable housing needs very serious attention.

Transportation and transit are going to gobble up millions and the damage from the August 2014 storm is but a sign of things to come. No one knows yet just how much it is going to cost to upgrade and in some places perhaps have to rebuild the waste and storm water system we have in place.

Halton is fortunate in that it has a Regional chair with experience at Queen’s Park and the resources within his own administration to advocate with strength and authority.

The Region continues to advocate to both the Provincial and Federal governments as part of the Region’s Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign.

The Region wants changes to the Development Charges Act, there is draft legislation now being debated at Queen’s Park. The province wants development charges that support the recovery and collection of growth related costs to ensure that Halton’s taxpayers do not bear the financial impacts of growth.

What those development charges do however is increase the cost of new housing which for Burlington are high as it is.

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