Reasonable. Informed. Logical. Innovative. 

What You've Said 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hear from many of you. We have productive discussions and I always learn best by listening to you.  Based on your concerns, here are the main points that comprise my approach to the big issues:   

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Growth and Development:  

  • What You Said: "Engage more closely with the province and region on growth policies. If fast growth is mandated to us, there should be more significant support. We don't want unchecked growth at the expense of our community and environment". 

  • What I Did: TL;DR: We are thoroughly reviewing and deciding how Milton will grow to accommodate 1.1 million residents and 500,000 jobs by 2051. This requires balancing environmental and social impacts and lots of public consultation.  The Growth Concept Plan that best serves Milton must be advocated for. The Milton Official Plan is currently undergoing a very overdue update, with the extensive public consultation process directed by this Council. 

  • This past term, Council has engaged the Province and held our Provincial ministries accountable for the support they owe to us. There have been big decisions on growth. Our Official Plan is absurdly overdue for an update, and an update is currently underway, visit wemakemilton.com. A recent big decision item came before council when it was time to decide how we want to grow. This is encapsulated in what you might have heard as the "Growth Plan Concepts".  The Province requires us to plan growth 20 years into the future. Since Halton Region is required by the province to accommodate 1.1 million people and 500,000 jobs by 2051, the obvious question is "where?". The Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing makes the final decision, but municipalities are afforded the opportunity to create our own growth plan. If the Ministry likes the plan, it gets approved. If the Ministry does not like it, they foist their own plan on us. The Town of Milton currently has an existing "urban boundary" outside of which new development is limited. There are two schools of thought on how we can accommodate all those people and jobs: 1: keep the urban boundary as it is and fill in the existing town with the structures for housing and employment, or 2: make the current urban boundary bigger, meaning undeveloped lands will be converted. I understand that containing those numbers of people and jobs within the existing urban boundary would be "uncomfortable",  to say the least. Our staff and consultants, and a majority of council, supported the expansion option. At the meeting where council voted to support that option, I opposed, solely on the basis that some very important questions I had about the environmental impacts of expansion were not answered to a reasonable standard, in my opinion. I just needed more information. Nonetheless, the majority of Council favoured the expansion concept (#2, above), and that was presented to the Region for the ultimate vote. Surprisingly to me, the Region voted to reject the plan chosen by Milton Council and instead chose a plan with limited expansion that does not appear to meet the provincial requirements. We will now wait to see what the Ministry decides to do with the plan it is presented with. Whatever plan we end up with, my council colleagues and I will keep the vision of our residents and the best interests of the entire town at the forefront of our decision-making and will advocate to the Region and Province for those interests. 

Preserving Heritage and Neighbourhood  Harmony

  • What You Said: "Develop clear by-laws that prevent over-intensification and "monster" homes in character areas, but allow homeowners flexibility to make reasonable modifications to their property. Ensure that residents can peacefully enjoy their homes in calm, safe neighbourhoods".  

  • What I Did: TL;DR I support the Mature Neighburhoods Character Study as a focus this term. I seconded a motion to regulate short-term rentals in residential neighbourhoods. 

  • The Council-endorsed Mature Neighbourhood Character Study ("MNCS") was a direct response to the complaints and concerns residents brought forward about the new construction in their neighbourhoods. I fully support and participated in the MNCS and the reasonable restrictions it imposes on the building of "McMansions" and "Monster Homes" that would degrade the historic character of these neighbourhoods. With neighbourhood harmony on the mind,  Councillor Best and I brought forward a motion to regulate short-term rentals (i.e. AirBnB, Verbo, etc.). Many residents were being disrupted by parties and ruckus in their neighbourhoods, happening at short-term rental houses. This new regulation will provided needed oversight and reasonable limitations on short-term rentals including an additional bylaw officer to handle enforcement. 

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Traffic and Road Safety

  • What You Said: "As things get busier, traffic becomes more dense, faster, and more disruptive. We need to stay a step ahead of irresponsible drivers who speed through our residential neighbourhoods and school zones. These drivers endanger the safety of residents, young and old." 

  • What I Did: TL;DR I worked with Council and staff to produce and endorse the Traffic Calming Pilot Study. I have been in constant contact with Halton Regional Police to enforce speeding and reckless driving laws. 

  • Speeding and unsafe driving may be the most common complaint I and my Council colleagues receive. While we have to understand that roads are for vehicular traffic and we cannot stop vehicles from travelling on our roadways and streets, we CAN expect motorists to respect our neighbourhoods  and obey the law! The Highway Traffic Act is enforced by Halton Regional Police Services, and I have personally been in contact with officers to ensure there is police presence at the most troubling spots, but, police cannot be everywhere always. I have included our Traffic Services staff and Bylaw staff whenever relevant, and they work with police to stay ahead of reckless motorists, but it is an ongoing battle. As traffic has increased, Council responded by directing staff to undertake a Traffic Calming Pilot Study, including reducing speeds in high pedestrian areas (like downtown Main Street) from 50 km/h to 40, installing speed cameras in school zones, and implementing new Community Safety Zones where fines are increased. Additional crosswalks (like at Bronte and Heslop), driver speed feedback boards, and better visibility at intersections (particularly in our rural areas) have all been part of the strategy to keep a step ahead of careless drivers.

Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship

  • What You Said: "Everyone must do their part to ensure we preserve the health of our physical and natural environment. Municipalities can lead by example and ensure they have policies and practices that apply a "green" lens to all decisions."

  • What I Did: TL;DR  I brought forward the successful 2019 motion to declare a Climate Emergency and action steps to mitigate emissions. I have presented a successful motion to ban harmful single-use plastics from Town facilities. I strive to keep the environment as a factor in Council decision-making. 

  • I consider environmental responsibility to be an area I have taken significant leadership on. In 2019, I brought forward a motion to declare a Climate Emergency and pronounce community action steps to address climate change.  This was a call to action and innovation. The Town of Milton has been committed to applying a green lens to planning and operations and our staff have been working hard to identify areas where we can cut further emissions and “increase our green”. Council has approved our Climate Plan, and Milton has become a member of the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) (which membership requires our commitment to five milestones, one of which is an emission target goal of a 20% reduction in corporate emissions over a 10 year period and a 6% reduction in community emissions). Building on the momentum of the Climate Emergency declaration, in May 2021 I brought forward a motion directing staff to produce a report on the feasibility of reducing/deleting harmful single-use plastics at Town facilities; e.g. single-use water bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic bags – things that we use for mere minutes, but end up in our oceans for decades, contaminating our drinking water with micro-plastics and harming wildlife. It’s a meaningful step in the right direction towards a healthier home for all of us. 

Sus

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Transit  

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  • What You Said: "Review methods that similar municipalities have successfully implemented in their transit programs, and analyze them with Milton's unique needs.  Keep an open mind about hybrid solutions that use smart technology ("Uber-style") and ride-sharing.  Work with Halton Region and neighbouring  municipalities to create inter-municipal transit. ​Review routes and add where there is proven need. All world-class municipalities have reliable and accessible transit!"

  • What I Did:  TL; DR I've had numerous meetings with transit staff and stakeholders, advocated for all-day two-way GO Service, seconded Councillor Ali's motion for inter-municipal bus pilot, and supported innovation and moderization of our transit. 

  • I have met numerous times throughout the term with our transit staff, and stakeholders such as employers, schools, and residents. Council and staff continue to advocate for what you ask, including a plan for two-way, all-day GO service with the Province. I seconded a successful motion that approved a pilot project for an inter-municipality bus from Milton to Halton Hills (the "Steeles Bus pilot") with an accompanying cost-sharing agreement. We piloted Milton OnDemand Transit, which is a flexible, shared-ride service that provides transit without following a fixed route or schedule, booked via a mobile app. Council also endorsed a review of the Transit Master Plan and services to evaluate how transit can be modernized and improved. Plans for new transit faculties and equipment have been reviewed to ensure modern and clean services to our riders. 

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Jobs and Innovation 

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  • What You Said: "We need to make Milton appealing to quality employers by offering affordable places to live and adequate transit for their employees.  ​Let's complete the Milton Education Village Laurier-Conestoga Campus plan (the "MEV") which will support this goal. Council and staff must cultivate a close relationship with the Downtown Milton Business Improvement Area (DMBIA) and the Chamber of Commerce to engage with local businesses. A good relationship with these hard-working groups shows potential employers that we are unified in our desire and ability to foster business development."

  • What I Did: TL; DR  I've become a director on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and DMBIA to help advocate for businesses and our downtown. I have endorsed the MEV completion and met with MEV leaders to provide community input in the project.  

  • The MEV has enjoyed great progress during this past council term, despite an initial setback with funding in 2018. I have attended a number of sessions with Laurier and Conestoga, in a group-setting and one-on-one, to provide resident input to the project. I became a Director of the Boards of the Milton Chamber of Commerce and DMBIA in 2018 to ensure I am at the table with them and share in their challenges and advocacy. Throughout COVID, I and my council colleagues endorsed new programs, such as the expanded patio program for restaurants, to support our local businesses through a very rough patch that continues to be felt, and in spring 2022, Councillor Best and I asked council to request a reduction of inter-provincial trade barriers for food producers from the federal government, after hearing from a local producer about the impact on their business. 

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Regulating Destructive Corporate Projects 

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  • What You Said: "Responsible corporate projects bring jobs and economic stimulation, but corporations cannot be permitted to ride roughshod over the interests of residents, our local laws and regulations, or our  natural environment, (Reid Reservoir Quarry and CN Intermodal proposals, in particular). ​We should oppose projects that have not taken the implications to residents and the environment into account in their proposals." 

  • What I Did: TL; DR. I continue to oppose the Campbellville Quarry as proposed and have worked with community groups to bring forward several motions to address the community's concerns. I oppose the CN hub as proposed and have advocated to our federal partners for the community's interests. I remain engaged with our community, staff, and legal teams. 

  •  I oppose the Reid Reservoir Quarry application and the CN Intermodal project as currently proposed. There are more appropriate locations for these projects elsewhere. I attended the Environmental Assessment Panel Hearing on CN in 2019. The result was not a total loss, but not a total win for Milton, either. I and my council colleagues have met with our municipal legal teams to keep up to date on the progression of the CN challenge through the courts. When residents brought to our attention that there was activity on the proposed CN site, we ensured CN was again reminded that the Town had not approved any development on the lands. The Reid Reservoir Quarry has consumed a great deal of my attention since 2018. There have been numerous meetings with residents, provincial representatives, Town and Regional staff and our legal advisors. I have brought forward several motions to address the quarry, and each one has reiterated the concern and urgency of the situation, keeping it a "front burner" topic at the council table. In 2020, the Provincial government took the unusual step of requiring the quarry company's application to be inclusive of an Environmental Assessment (EA) (as of the time of publication, the EA has not yet been commenced by the quarry company). In spring 2022, I asked our staff to request a meeting with the new Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to explain our opposition and concern about the proposed quarry. I've also recently asked our Planning Services staff to launch a land review of rural areas to identify other potential "ticking time-bombs"  where similar applications from aggregate companies could be likely.

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Rural Interests

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  • What You Said: "Rural areas, and their issues, are unique. Rural residents know better than anyone else what it is they need and they need someone to listen and act.  We need to ensure that our rural areas receive appropriate federal funding to improve internet reliability and speed.  ​Rural economies (farming, horse industry, etc.) face struggles. Rural residents often feel neglected. Policies must consider the impacts on them. "

  • What I Did:  I have become a member of the Nassagaweya Community Consultation Committee and Campbellville Community Association to understand the challenges of rural residents, from internet to fire prevention. I continue to engage in opportunities for education. 

  • have spent lots of time with rural residents, to understand their concerns and ideas, including my family members who reside in Milton Heights and on Twiss Road. I became a member of the Nassagaweya Community Consultation Committee and have attended workshops hosted by the Halton Agricultural Association, Campbellville Community Association, and Mohawk Woodbine Park, covering topics like rural fire education, farming, land use planning, agro-tourism, and so much more. I have met and advocated to our provincial and federal governments to get moving on the lack of high-speed internet (in July 2022, the federal government announced a $750K investment into rural internet solutions). Our rural areas are a treasure that we are privileged to have, and their preservation and support are integral to the fabric of our community. 

Taxes

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  • What You Said: "Life is so expensive right now, and families need a break. Groceries, gas, housing, and electricity in Milton are all increasing in price without a corresponding increase to wages. Municipalities must take this burden into account when deliberating their budgets and setting property tax increases."

  • What I Did:  TL; DR Taxes will always increase. I believe that reasonable increases are appropriate, so long as taxpayers are respected and revenues are maximized

  • I won't lie to you: it is the nature of taxes to increase. The trick is to make any increases of minimal impact to residents while still maintaining a pleasant and safe community.  Most people are reasonable and understand that we must all contribute financially in order to have adequate services (emergency, maintenance, recreation) BUT they want to see their tax dollars maximized and respected. In keeping with the philosophy of "you get what you pay for" I supported several reasonable property tax increases across all budgets while advocating for efficiencies and services to residents . I won't apologize for believing that Milton is worth paying for, and that there is no better place to invest than here in our town where we raise our families. Of course, whenever we can mitigate cost to taxpayers by seeking provincial and federal grants, or offset growth costs by requiring contributions from developers, we capitalize on those opportunities!

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​ A note on my positions:  

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I will not make promises unless I am sure that I can keep them. I will not over-commit or over-promise. Therefore, I can only promise to continually interact with my valued constituents to ensure that their requests and questions are dealt with in a thorough and timely way.

I can promise, as your elected representative, to fully read and research all reports and advocate on your behalf in a professional manner, commanding the respect of our proficient staff members and fellow elected representatives.

If there is a specific topic that you do not see here, and  that you would like to know my opinion on, please contact me. Many of you already have! 

Milton Matters