Remembering Oakville Councillor Max Khan

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I am very sorry to learn of the passing of Max Khan. He was an articulate, passionate, caring and dynamic leader who will be missed.

Ward 6 Oakville Town Councillor Max Khan.

Ward 6 Oakville Town Councillor Max Khan.

Max was elected to his third term on Oakville Town Council in 2014. He served the residents of Oakville as the Ward 6 Town Councillor. He also anticipated running as the federal Liberal candidate for the riding of Oakville North-Burlington.

One of the most vivid memories I have of Max was a speech he gave in Burlington on December 6 at a memorial for the women who were killed and wounded in the Montreal Massacre 25 years ago. He was inspiring.

My thoughts and prayers go to Max’s family, friends, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and Oakville Town Council.

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March 2015 Progress Report

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If you would like my monthly newsletter to appear in your email inbox, please contact me at mayor@burlington.ca to be added to the electronic mailing list.

Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in March, as well as agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

Upcoming Meetings

Development & Infrastructure Committee: Monday, March 30 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Community & Corporate Services Committee: Tuesday, March 31 at 1 p.m. and reconvening at 6:30 p.m. if required

Committee of the Whole: Thursday, April 2 at 1 p.m.

Burlington City Council: Monday, April 20 at 6:30 pm.

2015 Budget Approved Budget 2015 banner[1]

Last month, city council approved the 2015 operating budget, which saw a 3.64 per cent increase in the city’s portion of property taxes.

When combined with Halton Region and the boards of education, the overall property tax increase is 2.06 per cent or $18.08 for each $100,000 of residential urban assessment. Continue reading

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Transit in Burlington: Reflections upon completing the transit challenge

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B-nSQq4W8AEN9zN[1]Last month, Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST) issued a challenge to members of Burlington city council. The transit advocacy group asked us to take the bus for any five days over the course of a month, with a deadline of March 28.

This past weekend, I completed my challenge and wanted to share my perspective.

First and foremost, my experience taking the bus was positive.

The buses, overall, were on time and clean. Our drivers, who have a reputation for being among the friendliest in the GTA, met expectations. Riders were friendly and there were between 3-10 people on each bus I travelled on during the various days and times.

The walk to the bus stop from my house was about five minutes. As the challenge was in February and March, it gave me the opportunity to take the bus in the coldest part of this winter.

The downtown stop was a close walk to City Hall. Both the stop near my home and downtown had bus shelters, which helped during the colder days.

I took the bus on weekday mornings, weekday evenings, as well as on Saturday and Sunday, to get a good idea of the different levels of service and run times. I did not let transit staff know what dates and times I would be riding the bus so as to get a real experience, with the exception of the media day we held the first week where we invited reporters and photographers to ride the bus with myself.

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I spoke with a number of transit users on the bus who were also happy with the service. They said the buses are generally on time, with great drivers.

Another positive outcome of this challenge was the community interaction and engagement about our transit system.

Through my rides on the bus, media coverage and my social media accounts, I interacted with hundreds of residents about transit.

People approached me everywhere from the coffee shop to the grocery store to talk to me about my experience through the transit challenge.

There were mostly positive comments, as well as constructive criticism. It was good to hear a variety of opinions.

I understand there are residents calling for improvements to our transit system. As with many municipalities, riders are looking for reliable, affordable and convenient service.

I hear your concerns and we are working on solutions. However, change cannot happen overnight, and we need to do our homework.

We need to ensure we have the necessary data on ridership and routes before we make any major changes.

A big development is expected this fall with the implementation of a transit intelligent transportation system.

This system will give riders electronic access to real time bus information.

Handi-Van riders will experience some significant improvements with real time bus arrival texts, improved booking technology and trip planning tools.

Importantly, it will provide Burlington Transit with electronic reporting on such aspects as on-time performance, boardings and ridership. This gives us hard data when determining transit improvements.

Public engagement is also ongoing for the Transportation Master Plan.

This municipal strategy co-ordinates transportation networks and services with anticipated community growth. A final report will be ready for December 2015.

We are doing our homework and I am committed to improving our service.

A welcome impact of an efficient transit system is reduced traffic congestion, but I recognize this will also require a shift among our residents to try alternative modes of transportation.

I continue to struggle with the reality of getting people to park their cars and get onto the bus.CAYSjCnUgAEKiAP[1]

I believe the cost of our transit service is too high to make this a meaningful alternative to people that own cars.

The vast majority of people who drive cars to a Burlington destination can park for free except in downtown Burlington. However, in downtown you can park for free on Saturdays and Sundays.

It costs approximately $132 per month to park per month in the downtown and since December is free, you only have to pay that for 11 months, whereas an adult transit pass is currently $95 per month.

The difference in cost is not big enough to get drivers to switch to taking the bus.

It is also an expensive mode of transportation for some of our lower income residents.

I recently took a vacation to Texas, where I used public transit in San Antonio and Austin.

It cost $1.25 per ride or $2.50 for an all day pass.

In the United States, the federal government provides transit operating funding, which we do not have in Canada. Therefore, our fares cannot be as low, but one idea that came from my trip is that Burlington Transit should offer an all day pass.

Among other ideas for improving transit that I heard from riders during my trips on the bus was the need to have schedules on the bus stops, as this helps promote transit.

I also heard we need a good transit app that people can download to their smart phone – that will come this fall with the transit intelligent system.

People have asked if I will continue to ride the bus now that I completed the challenge.

I believe I will when my schedule warrants. I’m often in meetings across the city on a daily basis, with little time between for travel, but on days I’m only at city hall, I will hop on and let Burlington Transit do the driving.

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I will be sharing my experience and ideas with transit staff. I encourage you to connect with me about this challenge and any other ideas you would like me to share with our transit department by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

 

 

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Be part of Insight Burlington

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In recognition and celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Insight Burlington panel, I would like to thank our participants and encourage more people to join.

This is a secure, interactive online space for you to share your insight with the City of Burlington and others in the community.

As a member of Insight Burlington, you will have the opportunity to share your opinions, ideas and thoughts on a variety of topics affecting Burlington.

This is another way for you to be involved in the decision-making process at the city.

To learn more about Insight Burlington, please visit www.insightburlington.com.

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Become engaged in Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2018

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I am asking you to become involved in the future of Burlington by engaging in the process of updating our strategic plan for 2015-2018.

The strategic plan sets priorities for the future and builds on past successes. Citizens often ask me the best time to get involved in city planning. The strategic plan update, along with our Official Plan review, which are both currently underway, are two such opportunities.

There will be many ways to get provide input for the strategic plan in the coming months.

Currently, there is an online survey through Insight Burlington. The survey will be available until midnight on March 9.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete this survey and share your views about our city.

For more information on the strategic plan and the upcoming ways to get involved, visit www.burlington.ca/strategicplan.

If you would like to receive email updates from the city on the strategic plan, please email strategicplan@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7600, ext. 7378.

We are stronger when we work together.

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