Facebook Live From My Home

Going live from my home

I’m humbled by the interest and the thoughtful questions asked by our residents on how we are working to improve our city.  That was the case last night during my Facebook Live.

If you missed it or don’t have a Facebook account,  you can watch the recap at your convenience.

Thank you for joining the conversation, and I will have the list of questions and answers that were discussed on my blog very soon.

 

Facebook Live Q&A – Part 2

For your convenience, I decided to separate the Facebook Live Q & A into two sections.  The previous post focused on snow clearing, mobility hubs, traffic, transit and cycling.

This post will host questions regarding affordable housing, property tax, Meridian quarry, hydro wires over Burlington beach, electric vehicles, outdoor hockey rinks and my family’s Christmas traditions.Some answers have been expanded to include additional information.

If you missed my Facebook Live on Tuesday evening, you can watch it by going to my Facebook Page.

How do we plan on assisting older adults to remain in their downtown neighbourhoods? Is there a potential plan for co-housing?

One of the things I started was the Mayor’s Seniors’ Housing Task Force. We continue to have discussions on how to improve and promote processes to encourage more secondary dwelling suites in the city. Also, there are discussions in the community that would look at involving the not-for-profit sector to help facilitate seniors’ housing in the community for those who can’t afford the current prices in Burlington.

What are your plans for bringing affordable housing?

In our Mobility Hub plans, we have an opportunity to put in special community improvement plans that would encourage rental housing once we get some definition around the mobility hubs, the official plan designations, the area-specific plans and what the zoning bylaw will say.

We have received development applications for Georgian Court, which is in the Surrey Lane and Warwick Court area. Currently, there are 280, 2-3 bedroom condo units on the property. The application is for 1,450 rental units on that site. To be an inclusive city, we need to have more rental housing.

I don’t have a definitive thought on this project yet.  There is a lot to consider, and our staff is taking a look at the proposal in great detail because there are some issues to address before we determine anything.

What can you or will do to reduce our property tax?

It is unrealistic to think that property taxes can be reduced as that would result in a reduction in services. The reality is that we have a city that needs to be funded properly.  We need to have inflationary type increases maintain our services and our infrastructure. The proposed operating budget for 2018 has a 4.19% increase which includes increases in funding for: the base operations of the city; Provincially legislated employment standards impact; Transit Sustainability; Arbitrated Fire Settlement; capital infrastructure renewal and a new business case of Sports field Maintenance Enhancements.

Overall, when we factor in the Education Tax and the Region of Halton increase, our overall increase in property taxes for 2018 will be in the range of 2.49%.

 As a Tyandaga resident, I am very concerned about the health and environmental impact of the proposed clear cutting of 35 acres in a residential area for a shale quarry.  Will you endorse a request for review for the permanent protection of this green space?

This has been an active file in my office since the beginning of 2016.  This is not a simple issue.

I’ve had many meetings and discussions about the quarry with the Minister of Natural Resources, MPP Eleanor McMahon, Meridian, residents and I’ve attended the two Meridian information public meetings.

I believe we need more information than what we have now. The information shared so far by Meridian is insufficient, and clearly does not address the area residents’ concerns. We will continue to put pressure on the province and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to confirm their regulation process and give us some definition and input on how they will accept a site plan East cell that Meridian will be expanding in to.

I also met with Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner, who gave a presentation to the Tyandaga Residents back on November 16th.  I couldn’t attend the community meeting due to a previous commitment but met with Gord to see and hear the presentation he prepared.  His suggestion is for the residents to file a review with the Environmental Commissioner under the Environmental Bill of Rights. This is a legitimate avenue that I am respectful and supportive of.

What kind of things do you and your family like to do over Christmas time?  Any fun family traditions?

I’m married to Cheryl.  She has 4 daughters, and I have 3 daughters. Christmas is a very important time for our family to get together. We typically get together on Christmas Eve.  My wife has a tradition of buying all the girls new pajamas; they all try them on and gather around for a nice group photo. We have five grandchildren including one granddaughter who now will be part of that tradition.

One of the special times for me is on Boxing Day. I’m a graduate of Nelson High School, and at noon on the 26th my childhood buddies and I get together to play touch football.  This is something I look forward to every year.

What are your thoughts on Burlington being chosen to have a Cannabis store?

The decision to place a retail outlet in Burlington is one made by the provincial government. The city will work as closely as possible with our provincial counterparts to ensure we have input into the location. It is the city’s expectation that the province will follow the city’s zoning bylaw. The City of Burlington has information at www.burlington.ca/cannabis to provide links to helpful information, including to the provincial and federal information.

Can we get some outdoor hockey rinks?

Yes! The city has a program that will guide you on ways to develop an outdoor hockey rink. The city will help facilitate and provide you with some equipment to put it together.  They won’t construct the rink for you, but they will guide you through it.  Here is the Neighbourhood Rink Application

 Will the hydro wires along the beach be removed within the next 10 years?

That is the plan!

Halton Region is investing about $50m over the next 20-25 years to:

  • Move the hydro towers to the other side of the skyway bridge.
  • Buy some homes along the beach way. We’ve already acquired 12 out of 27 homes, and we expect to acquire more in the New Year.  They were all willing sellers; no one is being forced out.
  • Improve the Burlington Beachway Park and make it an attractive natural area that attracts people from the broader region.

Can you elaborate on Burlington’s plan to introduce vehicles to the grid (V2G) and distributed energy resources (DER) with mobile electric self-driving vehicle infrastructure – EV Charge Infrastructure?

I have great belief that electric vehicles are a great way for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Burlington has approved the installation of 20 recharging stations over the next five years at our public parking lots in downtown. I think we should do more to encourage and accommodate electric vehicles and we will do more over time.

After the floods of 2014, what did the city do to make sure this is minimized in the future if we get that type of downpour again?

The City of Burlington and the Region of Halton have committed approximately $130M to address stormwater issues as well as wastewater issues.  The money is to optimize the wastewater sewer system throughout the region.

There is Enhanced Basement Flood Prevention Subsidy Program that offers financial support for residents who are making the improvements to their home.  Information on available subsidies can be found here.

The City of Burlington in partnering with Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo launched The Home Flood Protection Program.  It offers residents a complete 50 point visual assessment of potential sources of water entry into the home for $125.  Burlington was the pilot city for this program, and due to its success, it’s now being rolled out in communities all over Canada.

After the storm, Burlington City Council committed another $20M to the stormwater infrastructure within the city.  We need to build bigger bridges with wider openings, so the water doesn’t get trapped behind the bridges. We’re also looking at all the creeks to make sure that there is no debris build-up that blocks the flow of the water.

Building Relationships With a New Federal Government

Photo by Ottawa Tourism

Photo from Ottawa Tourism

 

Yesterday’s federal election saw a changing in the guard, with a Liberal Party majority led by Justin Trudeau.

I would like to congratulate Mr. Trudeau on his party’s historic victory. I also want to offer my congratulations to Burlington MP elect Karina Gould and Oakville North-Burlington MP elect Pam Damoff. I look forward to meeting with you both at the earliest opportunity to discuss how we can work together to foster a vibrant and prosperous Burlington.

I also look forward to continuing to work with Milton MP Lisa Raitt, who I had the chance to get to know during my first term as mayor. Congratulations on your re-election, Lisa.

Mike Wallace, who was defeated in a close race, also deserves our sincere appreciation for his many years in public service. Mike has served Burlington with distinction as a city and regional councillor, as well as our MP since 2006. Thank you for your commitment to our city, Mike. I know that you will continue your commitment to Burlington in a different way going forward.

I also want to recognize every candidate who ran in Burlington and the surrounding ridings. It is a significant undertaking to run for political office, especially at the federal level. I know firsthand the commitment it takes to knock on doors and prepare for all-candidates’ meetings. You have done your communities a service by putting your name, and importantly, your ideas, forward for a better city and country.

Looking forward, there are important discussions that need to be had between municipalities and the new Liberal federal government. As Chair of the Large Urban Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, I look forward to serving as a spokesperson on a number of key issues affecting our communities.

Some of the many topics I, as Mayor of Burlington, will be looking to make progress in partnership with Mr. Trudeau and his government include:

  • Infrastructure and transportation: Long-term, sustainable, predictable and reliable federal funding that flows year in and year out and will allow us to eliminate our infrastructure deficit within a generation. While municipalities are very appreciative of federal gas tax funding, we need additional meaningful and predictable federal funding that will assist municipalities in addressing infrastructure and transportation needs, lessening pressure on municipal taxpayers.
  • Economy: All leaders at all levels of government want our economy to be strong and growing with the highest possible employment and productivity. We will be looking for financial investment in an advanced manufacturing hub in Burlington, bringing jobs to our city and bolstering the local economy. During the election, Stephen Harper announced a re-elected Conservative government would create a new advanced manufacturing hub in Burlington. We respectfully request the Liberal government be receptive to investigating an investment in this initiative.
  • Social Housing: We are seeking a commitment of federal funding for social housing. This is a significant issue that needs that needs to be addressed. Investments in housing are also effective at stimulating economic growth and employment.
  • Climate change: We would like to see Canada become a leader by taking action on climate change and reducing our carbon footprint. As a City, we have developed a Community Energy Plan, among a list of other environmentally-sustainable initiatives. We are also looking to the new government to help protect our communities from the challenges of climate change and grow the economy by making significant new investments in green infrastructure.

I am also buoyed by the voter turnout in yesterday’s federal election. More than 68 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Canada, which was the highest turnout since the 1993 federal election. According to Elections Canada, the voter turnout in Burlington was 73 per cent and 69 per cent in Oakville North-Burlington. Democracy functions best when we take the time to become engaged, especially during elections.

What issues are priorities to you? Please connect with me at mayor@burlington.ca to share your ideas on joint municipal-federal initiatives you would like to see our governments foster. I look forward to hearing from you.

An open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne

Appeared in the Burlington Post, June 18, 2014 and is available online.

Congratulations on your election win. While your victory was hard fought, the real work lies ahead.

Ontario is at a critical juncture: our economy and prosperity continues to be challenged by globalization and automation resulting in job loss in many sectors. Given our size, location and historic position as Canada’s economic engine, Ontario must be a catalyst for a strong and vibrant Canadian economy. With your new majority mandate, you now have the opportunity to bring all orders of government together to address the issues that affect all of us.

I believe there are five issues that are vital to inspiring progress and change. Continue reading

Are You Ready to Vote in the June 12 Provincial Election?

June 7, 2014

Ontario is at a critical juncture: our economic and job growth have been challenged. Because of our size and location, the reality is Ontario can be the “difference maker” in making the Canadian, if not the North American economy strong and vibrant, or merely a follower.

The June 12th election ofOntario Election 2014fers an opportunity for renewed discussion, ideas, and, far more importantly, action. We need a true leader to bring together the Federal Government, other provinces, and municipalities to resolve issues that matter to and affect real Ontarians every day. Continue reading