Budget 2016 Approved

One of the most important tasks for Burlington City Council is approving the city’s capital and operating budgets.

Budgeting is about planning and meaningful investment. I believe we must provide quality services while maintaining property taxes at a reasonable and affordable rate.

The capital budget was approved by council in December. This week, council approved the 2016 operating budget.

When combined with Halton Region and the boards of education, the overall property tax increase is two per cent or $17.10 for each $100,000 of residential urban assessment. The city’s portion included a 3.14 per cent increase.

Why is there an increase?

The 2016 operating budget focuses on providing services, maintaining our assets and investing in business cases to increase service levels through a competitive property tax increase.

The goal is to achieve a balance between minimizing tax increases while maintaining and increasing service levels where appropriate.

How did we arrive at a 3.14 per cent increase?

The city’s base budget is presented with a 1.28 per cent increase, as compared to the three-year rolling average of the Toronto Consumer Price Index (1.86 per cent).

Due to the prior policy decision to increase (+1.44 per cent) the dedicated infrastructure levy and tax supported debt charges for items like road repair and storm water management, the increase comes to 2.72 per cent.

City business cases (+0.29 per cent) bring the increase to 3.01 per cent. Local boards and committee business cases (+0.13 per cent) result in the city tax impact of 3.14 per cent.

I know a reasonable tax increase is a priority to our residents. While some would prefer a smaller increase, I believe the overall tax increase of two per cent is reasonable with strategic investments in services that are essential to keeping our city up and running, as well as fostering Burlington as one of the best communities in Canada in which to live and work.

Based on prudent advice from city staff, the 2016 operating budget features appropriate investment of your hard-earned dollars.

Connect with me by phone: 905-335-7607, email: mayor@burlington.ca, Twitter: @RickGoldring and Facebook: Rick Goldring.

Inspire Burlington

Seats are available at the free Inspire Burlington event on Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m., Royal Botanical Gardens Auditorium, 680 Plains Rd. W.

The keynote speaker is renowned city planner Brent Toderian, who will talk about why cities should grow up through infill rather than out through sprawl. Email mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 to reserve your seat.

This column appears in the January 29th edition of the Burlington Post.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

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With the arrival of the holiday season, I am reminded of everything we have to be grateful for in Burlington.

We live in a city that is rich in environmental beauty, from the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario. These areas offer an opportunity to connect with and appreciate nature.

Burlington is also a city that brings people together. This season, residents can skate at Rotary Centennial Pond, visit the spectacle at the Burlington Festival of Lights or enjoy a walk along one of our trails. These are times to come together with friends, old and new, and celebrate the season.

We are an inclusive city, where diversity is embraced and celebrated. We can also be proud of being a safe community. Thank you to those who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve.

Among our many assets are our residents, who with caring and compassion, give back to Burlington.

I encourage you to take a moment during the busyness of the season to reflect on what you are thankful for – your family, your health, your neighbours and your community.

I also ask you to assist, if you can, those who may need a helping hand. There are many organizations across our city that help individuals and families of all ages and backgrounds not only during the holiday season, but year round.

On behalf of City Council, as well as the Goldring family, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season.

 

 

Syria Action Burlington

Mayor Rick Goldring addresses the crowd at the public meeting for Syrian refugee support on Tuesday night.

Mayor Rick Goldring addresses the crowd at the public meeting for Syrian refugee support on Tuesday night.

The City of Burlington hosted a public meeting called Syria Action Burlington on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

This was a community event focused on finding ways to connect the many offers of help the city has received with the numerous churches, faith groups, school groups and others working to not only bring Syrian refugees to Canada, but successfully integrate them into our community.

The outpouring of support materialized into more than 250 people filling Mainway Recreation Centre. The tone of the evening was caring and compassionate – two of the key qualities for which the people in our community are known. Continue reading

Ontario and Quebec Municipalities Ready to Take on Climate Change

Mayor Rick Goldring in Ottawa for the signing of the Climate Change Action Covenant between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Union of Municipalities of Quebec.

Mayor Rick Goldring in Ottawa for the signing of the Climate Change Action Covenant between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Union of Municipalities of Quebec.

As Chair of the Climate Change Task Force of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, it is an honour and privilege to be in Ottawa today for the historic signing of the Climate Change Action Covenant between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Union of Municipalities of Quebec.

Climate change is a global problem that needs solutions at the local level. As we look for leaders in the charge towards environmental sustainability, I believe this leadership lies in the municipalities of Ontario and Quebec.

Municipalities have long been climate change champions. We support public transit, waste diversion, efficient municipal buildings and renewable energy measures, among other green infrastructure.

The City of Burlington is committed to the environment through initiatives like our Community Energy Plan, sustainable development, and support of responsible intensification to foster walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods.

Today’s signing solidifies our willingness to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our provincial and federal counterparts to take action on climate change.

Leading today’s signing are Gary McNamara, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and Suzanne Roy, President of the Union of Quebec Municipalities.

“This historic agreement signals that AMO and UQM are going to combine our efforts as we look for solutions to the climate change problem,” said McNamara. “We want to signal that municipalities in Canada’s most populous provinces are willing partners in the fight against climate change.”

“The UQM is proud to sign a long-term partnership to promote the essential role of municipalities in the fight against climate change. We only have one planet, and as the level of government closest to the people, it is essential that municipalities act locally for the well-being of future generations,” said Roy.

Improving Storm Resilience for Residential Dwellings and Public Infrastructure

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Mayor Rick Goldring’s Nov. 20 workshop on improved storm resilience for residential dwellings and public infrastructure included case studies from other municipalities and their responses to severe storm incidents. The panel featured Allan Magi, Executive Director, Capital Works, City of Burlington; Martin Powell, Comissioner, Transportation & Works Department, City of Mississauga; David Kellershohn, Manager, Water Infrastructure Management, City of Toronto, and moderator Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure, City of Burlington.

It has been almost a year and a half since approximately 191 millimetres of rain fell on parts of Burlington in a matter of hours, causing significant flooding and damage in parts of the city.

As many of you recall, roads, highways and more than 3,000 homes were flooded.

While the City of Burlington and Halton Region have moved forward on infrastructure investment plans to lower our flood risk, we have also been continuing the dialogue with the insurance industry and other levels of government on overland flood insurance.

Overland flood insurance was not available in Canada until it was introduced in Alberta earlier this year. This meant there were many residents who suffered financially in the aftermath of the 2014 Burlington flood.

On November 20, I convened a workshop focused on improved storm resilience for residential dwellings and public infrastructure, which featured perspectives from local government and the insurance industry.

The meeting brought together approximately 50 people, from elected officials and staff from municipalities across Ontario to representatives of the insurance industry.

There were several important takeaways from that meeting:

  • There is a need to continue the dialogue, through workshops like the one held here in Burlington, as well as regular and frequent year-round contact, about effective overland flood insurance. Both municipalities and insurance companies are here to serve the best interests of our residents.
  • Addressing the infrastructure gap that affects communities across Canada in a timely manner is essential. However, municipalities do not have the financial resources to do this alone. We are looking to the provincial and federal government to serve as partners.
  • There is great potential for both the insurance industry and municipalities to inform homeowners about what they can do to mitigate the risks of overland flooding.
  • According to Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), some insurers are now providing residential overland flood coverage in parts of Canada, and within the next 12-18 months it is expected to become available through a number of different companies representing 40 per cent or more of the market.

I will continue to work with our government partners and the insurance industry on overland flooding. There is a lot of work left to do, but the latest meeting shows there is great potential in connecting with residents and the insurance industry to put our residents’ best interests forward.

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The Nov. 20 workshop also featured a discussion on insurance and overland flooding among a panel of Rob Wesseling, Co-operators; Lapo Calamai, Insurance Bureau of Canada and Mazdak Moini, Aviva Canada, with moderator Mayor Rick Goldring.

Please connect with me by phone at 905-335-7607, email at mayor@burlington.ca, on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook at Mayor Rick Goldring. Subscribe to my monthly digital newsletter by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

This column will appear in the November 27 edition of the Burlington Post.