As the first half of this year comes to an end and Council begins the summer break, I wanted to bring you up-to-date on a number of projects and plans, as much has happened in the last several months.
While staff has been working to transform the organization and set the City up for continued long-term success (see City Hall Operations below), Council and Staff are also dealing with some important community issues.
Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital
On July 16, Council approved the Contribution Agreement with the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital for the City’s provincially required local share contribution of $60 million for the hospital redevelopment. This was not an easy process but I am very satisfied with the structure of the agreement. The key points to note:
- The City’s contribution has been delayed from the original funding requirements that were announced last August. Originally, the City was required to contribute $22.5 million prior to project finalization. The revised payment schedule allows the City to make a larger cash contribution, and therefore reduce the potential debt load to the City in order to provide this local contribution. The interest savings are in the millions of dollars.
- The taxpayer contribution will be to fund specific hospital equipment. The taxpayer will know exactly where the dollars are going.
- The agreement is structured to deal with any change in Provincial Government or direction by the Minister of Health and Long Term Care
such as project delays.
This agreement was passed unanimously by Council and has been approved by the hospital Board of Governors. The hospital anticipates breaking ground in January 2013 for the new parking facility and administration building which will house the Halton McMaster Family Medicine Centre. Please read the press release from July 17; more information on the planned Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital redevelopment project is also available online.
Interim Transit Service Plan
In my last column in the Burlington Post I provided comments on Burlington Transit and the revised Transit Master Plan. As stated in that article, the participants, users, management and Council were unable to develop a strategy which was acceptable to all. I invited feedback from the community in that article and received many comments including that we should “think outside the box with more creative solutions”, “plan for the future and not just present circumstances”, include “more convenient routes and schedules, including increasing weekends and holiday hours”, create more “direct and express routes with people hubs for transfer”, and finally “build it and they will come”. All of the feedback provided was very helpful in this process and was shared with staff.
At the Community Services Committee on July 11, Staff presented an Interim Transit Plan which specifies some modification of routes. This plan was approved with amendments at Council on July 16. The plan reduces service in some areas of the City where usage is low and increases route coverage where there is demand for more service. More information about route changes is available online.
I would like to stress this is an “interim” plan and we will continue to work towards understanding the level of service wanted and needed by both our citizens and local employers. Over the long-term we will have more compact communities and more traffic, and public transit will become an even more important part of the infrastructure and service needs for the city. We will continue to review transit and further integrate our transit plan into our Official Plan. To this end, I brought forward a motion for staff to provide Council with possible transit improvements if an increase in budget of $500,000 was approved. This will be considered during the 2013 budget deliberation process.
Working with the City of Hamilton
We have established a sub-committee with the City of Hamilton to address a number of issues of mutual concern. Specifically, we are discussing:
- Randle Reef. Randle Reef is one of the most contaminated sites in North America. We are encouraged by the federal government’s commitment to get this environmental clean-up underway. We are anticipating a report to Committee in the fall.
- Economic Development. We are looking at opportunities to improve coordination of Economic Development opportunities for the regional area, including a more focused approach to working with senior levels of government.
Councillor Craven is Co-Chair of this sub-committee and I believe we are headed in the right direction by working with our neighbour in Hamilton on these issues.
Niagara to GTA Highway Update
The City of Burlington and the Region of Halton have been adamant in opposition to any plans to build a new highway across the Niagara escarpment. The community has been equally active through the STOP Escarpment Highway Coalition.
The Region is currently appealing amendments made by the province in the Regional Official Plan Amendment 38 (ROPA 38) in regards to the possible highway corridor.
The Region recently received an update from the province on the status of the Environmental Assessment Project currently underway for this highway. This project is assessing possible routes for increased transportation capacity between Toronto and Niagara. An updated map reflecting some of the new thinking can be viewed here.
The community has had specific commitments from political leaders that a highway would not proceed through the escarpment. It became apparent through the presentation from the province that this message has never moved beyond the political leadership to the staff working on the project.
The Environmental Assessment still includes a possible route across the escarpment to the dismay and disappointment of all. Equally concerning were the answers from the project team regarding direction from political leaders. Essentially, political promises were made and no action was taken to implement these commitments.
I will be working with Chair Carr, Councillor John Taylor and the coalition to address this situation.
Strategic Plan Initiatives
The business of the City continues and many of the key initiatives in our Strategic Plan are underway:
- The Downtown Task Group is working to update the vision for our downtown. An interim report will come to committee in the fall, followed by a Public Consultation process, with a final report expected in winter 2013.
- The Community Energy Plan has started with key stakeholders meeting in June.
- The Community Engagement Charter development is underway with an advisory group in place. Council was updated in July on the progress being made.
- The Beachway Master Plan review is underway as we look at how we are going to move forward with this tremendous waterfront asset in our community. A Design Workshop was held in June to work with the community on possible options and considerations.
- The Official Plan review is underway with many areas of focus. Key outcomes will be how we view and develop our neighbourhoods, how we integrate long-term public transit and transportation planning into community planning, how we better allow for workplace access and how we create a healthy environment for future generations.
Residents will notice the impact of our decision to increase our spending on road infrastructure this summer. In the 2012 budget Council took proactive measures and increased the capital budget funding for roads renewal in order to do repairs and replacement at the most appropriate time, thereby reducing future costs. When road improvements are done at the appropriate time, thissaves approximately $3.00 for every $1.00 invested.This enables staff tofocuson timely rehabilitation and to do more “shave and pave” resurfacing at the optimum time.In 2012, Council has provided an additional $1.2 million towards the “shave and pave” program resulting in approximately 13 additional lane kilometers of pure repaving. We have also established a rural surface treatment program addressing all the surface treated roads once every five years.We are achieving on average approximately 27 lane kilometers per year.
Below is a summary of the total lane kilometers rehabilitated since 2009, including the projected number to be completed in 2012. These figures include all renewal-type work including resurfacing (shave and pave), minor reconstruction and total reconstruction. They do not include road widening projects or the rural surface treatment program. With more than a 50% increase in road improvement activity I expect that residents will be aware of improving conditions.
2009 = 36.4 lane kilometers
2010 = 40.6 lane kilometers
2011 = 35.8 lane kilometers
2012 = 60.1 lane kilometers (projected)
A list of the streets to be resurfaced under the “shave and pave” program in 2012 is shown below:
||NORTH SHORE BLVD
||WINTERBERRY (S) DR
||WINTERBERRY DR (N)
||NORTH SHORE BLVD
|GOLDEN EAGLE DR
||DEER RUN AVE
||UPPER MIDDLE RD
||GLEN AFTON DR
||GLEN AFTON DR
|WHITE CEDAR TRAIL
|WHITE PINES DR
|WHITE PINES DR
||KERNS RD (N)
||KERNS RD (S)
|GLEN AFTON DR
||284 GLEN AFTON DR
City Hall Operations
Across the organization a renewed focus on customer service, measurement and getting things done is well underway. Council and Staff are working to transform your local government.
- Within City Hall, our operating groups have been re-aligned to better match our strategic objectives: Vibrant Neighbourhoods, Prosperity and Excellence in Government. Some management changes have taken place to further support this re-alignment. I also anticipate some re-alignment with our standing committees in the fall to reflect these changes.
- Significant work has been done to introduce a businesslike approach to the delivery of services. Management has introduced “turning the curve” performance measurement. Departments are working to improve their service measurement and reporting with a focus on outcomes. Our City Manager has also worked with the DeGroote School of Business to begin a more robust and focused management training and development program to help us implement positive changes.
- We are developing a Business Case Model to go with the enhanced performance reporting. A senior manager in Parks and Recreation, Cindy Mercanti has been promoted into a special role to work on the introduction of business case development for various service initiatives.
- Staff has delivered the 2012 Draft Framework for the Long Term Financial Plan. Council and staff are very focused on addressing our long term need to fund infrastructure, the hospital and the service needs of the community while maintaining a more conservative and predictable tax level.
- Staff has been assigned to begin the E-Government Project. This is a very important project which is focused on significantly improving access to web-based services for the community, such as applying for permits. Goals of the e-government strategy are to provide public access to information 24/7, improve customer services, as well as a significant improvement in the quality and speed with which we can make information available to the public and vice-versa.
- Staff is completing agreements with several key partners including the Board of Directors of both the Seniors Centre and the Performing Arts Centre. Staff is also pursuing opportunities to work with Service Ontario to provide centralized service access to Burlington.
From the Mayor’s Office
I have been working with the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) to address some of the fundamental issues that we face as municipalities in Ontario including:
- Working towards a better negotiating structure with our major unions.
- Looking at more appropriate methods to fund long-term infrastructure for municipalities which own and maintain over 65% of the infrastructure in Canada.
- Looking at how municipalities can have more direct input into local economic development and immigration. Ontario has fallen behind many provinces in Canada in GDP growth and we have to reverse this to maintain our standard of living.
The Urban Mayors are formalizing strategies to address these issues and anticipate bringing recommendations to federal and provincial government leaders in the fall.
Tickets are on sale now for The Mayor’s Cabaret, a fundraising event for The Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Taking place on September 29, the event features entertainment by a variety of local artists, with special guests Lighthouse. The Arrogant Worms will provide comedic emceeing duties and the show will surely be a sell-out. Along with the show itself, tickets include a pre-show cocktail reception and a post-show sweets reception, and live and silent auctions. Tickets are available at the The Centre box office: 905-681-6000.
Our first Inspire Burlington for the fall takes place on October 17, 2012 at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre when I will host guest speaker Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals. Dr. Samir will present “With Respect to Old Age: Why New Thinking is Needed for Older Adults”.
On November 20, 2012, also at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Senator Art Eggleton will join us for a conversation on inequality and poverty.
Your feedback is important. It helps me do my job as Mayor and I appreciate hearing different perspectives on community issues. I want to hear from you about how we are doing as a city and on council.
I am also updating my website and blog. Watch for more information, new content, more video blogs and enhanced feedback opportunities. Your feedback is critical and I hope that a new blog format will help make that two-way communication more convenient and engaging.
It has been a busy few months and there are many positive changes and developments in the city. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about anything in this progress report, or other issues, I am always happy to discuss. Please email me at email@example.com or call the office at 905-335-7607. I am also connected on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook/RickGoldring.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office should you have any concerns or comments. Have a wonderful summer.