Friday, July 3, 2015

The Debate Starts Here

In early June, nearly 2,000 fellow Mayors and municipal leaders met from all across Canada,  from small municipalities to Canada’s largest cities, and made a united call for a federal leaders’ debate on the issues Canadians face in their day-to-day lives. Issues like how to create jobs, make housing more affordable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our communities safe. These issues are not just local issues, they are national issues.
They are national because they are common to cities and communities from coast to coast to coast. And they are national because the measure of a strong Canada lies in the strength of our hometowns.
That is why I am joining voices with other mayors and municipal leaders from across the country to call on the federal party leaders to hold a debate on how we can work better together as levels of government on common goals.
It is easy to see why the Federal Government needs to work with Municipalities and debate Municipal issues.  Municipalities receive 8 cents of the tax dollar and own over 60% of all the roads, bridges, water and waste water infrastructure in the Country. We need the Federal Government to partner with our communities to fund transit to reduce gridlock, work on affordable housing, community safety and infrastructure that will ultimately improve our quality of life.
We want to live and raise our families in vibrant and healthy communities. We care about our economy prospering and jobs being created. We believe everyone deserves to have a roof over their head. We want to protect our environment and believe that clean water should not be a challenge for any community in a country like ours. We value the safety of our neighbourhoods. And we know that, as a country, we can be leaders on the international stage and that we all benefit from connecting globally. These are goals that transcend jurisdiction and partisan differences and warrant debate on how we can achieve them.
This fall’s federal election will be hard fought. I would like to hear the federal party leaders share their vision for cities and communities. How, if Prime Minister, their government would partner with municipalities to create jobs and drive growth? Or address local, national and international challenges like increasing trade and investment and climate change? How will they work with us to make Halton Hills and all of Halton Region more livable, safer and greener?
Some of the party leaders have already agreed to a debate but we need to highlight why this is needed.  Visit and sign the petition. We need to be asking the candidates of all the parties where they stand on municipal issues.
Today’s communities are tomorrow’s Canada. The debate starts here; where our potential as a country lives, works, plays and dreams.
Councillor Clark Somerville
Halton Hills Regional Councillor

1st Vice President of the federation of Canadian Municipalities

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top 10 Reasons you must vote on Oct 27th.. All trade begins on Main Street

WOW that's a big statement!  But think about it, all trade no matter how big or small starts on Main Street or another way in our own local communities.  A widget made in Halton Hills and sold in Rosewood Ohio is all part of our community.
About 5 years ago Halton Hills passed a motion on pushing back on the By American provisions.  What happened to it?  Well over 100 other municipalities agreed and it went to FCM to be debated.  To make a long story short it passed and a motion started in Halton Hills was debated nationally, actually internationally and was partially resolved in the White House.  Imagine as a Councillor passing something and having it debated and discussed in the White House!  Still surprises me!
The Buy American provisions proposed then are coming back and once again municipalities are pushing back.  Led again by Halton Hills.  Recently the US has tried to insert Buy American provisions into federally funded infrastructure projects.
Why should municipalities push back?  Because the US is wrong!  Our economies are so intertwined a product may start int he US have some work done in Canada and travel back and forth across the border with sub components added.  Municipalities should push back as there are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake. We spend a fortune attracting new companies and ensuring our businesses have a good environment to work in.
But it also speaks to the importance of advocacy.  Of municipalities working and speaking to other orders of government on our needs wants and desires.
Our municipalities receive gas tax and GST rebates which help keep our taxes down and help us invest in our communities.
All of us locally want to build our communities and have a health community, safe roads, a good business environment and engaged citizens.  By working together we can make it happen.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Top 10 reasons to vote on Oct 27th Number 4 Government closest to the people

Why vote in your municipal elections?  I have been trying to highlight the importance of it over the last few posts and last few years.
Local government is called "the government closest to the people" and without a doubt it is.
I use this analogy when I present at the Grade 10 Civics classes
If the Federal government stopped working when would you notice?  Unless you are travelling cross border, or serve in the military it may be weeks before you notice.
If the provincial government stopped it may be weeks unless you needed to renew a drivers licence or health card.  of course with Service Ontario you could be in line that long and given 3 different answers to the same question.
But if the local government stopped you would notice almost immediately.  The water for your morning coffee and shower is provided by your local government.  As is the police, firefighters and paramedics that keep our communities safe.
Try driving on only provincial roads.  Well the 401 is good but once you exit it you are likely on Regional or town roads.
Our health departments working with the province provides inoculations for those travelling to foreign countries.  But also it leads the inspections to make sure our restaurants and pubs are safe, our servers trained and the water is tested.
All our parks, recreational facilities and roads are planned for by the local government.
How can you be part of it?  Contact the candidates, read their material and learn what is planned in your neighbourhood.
But it all starts with the simple act of voting.  it only takes about 5 minutes to do it.
Can you not spare 5 minutes to see how your tax dollars are spent?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Top 10 reasons to vote on Oct 27th Number 5 roads, transportation

Roads, we all hate to see them under construction and we hate that when their done the traffic increase.
Here is a secret about the road in front of your house.  It is not your road.  it belongs to everyone in the community and was paid for mainly by taxes.
Planning for roads, sidewalks, cross walks and any active transportation such as bike paths, or multi use paths starts years before they are constructed.  Sometimes it is because of property acquisitions or hydro lines need to be moved. Or it could be that a environmental assessment needs to be done to make sure no environmental harm happens from the road being done.
Whenever their is road construction their is inconvenience in some way.  Once the road is done the grateful residents who live near by can sometimes see increased speed and traffic due to the road work.
It is important that you as a taxpayer follow what roads are planned to be upgraded or improved in your neighbourhood.  Whenever road work is going to be done, a flyer is usually sent out to advise of it and some sort of public open house is held so you can provide input.  We usually try to coordinate the road work with the region so we don't have to rip up new roads for water or sewer works. Yes we hate it but sometimes it is unavoidable.
It is important as your tax dollars are going to work to rebuild roads.  We use federal gas taxes to assist in the work and are grateful for the gas tax fund and the money we receive from it.
Here is another secret about the province and the roads.  We get no money to rebuild roads unless it is a special one time grant.  those are as common now as unicorn sightings.
Halton Hills about 10 years ago started a pavement management plan for local roads.  it has been hugely successful and is helping us catch up.  We are a long way to go to do so and our Infrastructure deficit here in town is about 100 million dollars. The annual budget is about 30 million.
We have a long way to go and it is important that you work with your members of Council and staff to help make sure your priority roads area a priority.  How they plan to work with the Province, Metrolinx and the federal government on transit and transportation issues.
That all starts with a vote.  Call the candidates and ask where they stand on issues that matter to you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top 10 reasons you MUST vote on Oct 27th number 6 planning..

Now I am the first to admit that if you put a group of planners together in a room they may emerge all on the same page singing the same song.  Sometimes I have criticized them for not seeing the forest or the trees.

But planners play an important and vital role in our communities in deciding about changing use of a building, schools, firehalls, where new parks and recreation facilities should be located to new subdivisions and how they are designed.Sometimes we end up looking at plans that may not happen for 10 years.  Some are ones that will come to fruition in a year or 2.

The growth in our communities does just not happen by happenstance or willy nilly.  It is the result of many meetings, long discussions and public consultations.  Sometimes when we are looking at an area we will have a group of dedicated citizens sit on a committee to come up with plans and designs.

All of you planning decisions have a public process from Public Information sessions, to pen houses to full public meetings.  The information we gather from theses are vital for us as elected people to decide how our communities are going to look.  All of our meetings like these are advertised and notifications sent to people who live near by.

The best way you can be involved is by engaging your local elected official.  By working with them you can help shape the future of our town.  The best way to start that is to contact the candidates, talk to them and VOTE.
It all starts with a VOTE!  VOTE and make your voice be heard.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 10 reasons to vote.. number 7 school boards and trustees

Take out your tax bill.  Almost 1/3 of what you pay yearly is for our schools.  Whether a public or separate school supporter you are paying a lot of money to our education system.  That does not include the amounts (which are higher) paid for by industrial and commercial tax payers.  Nor does it include provincial grants they receive.

The Trustees elected play a vital role in the education and services that OUR Children receive during their school years.  From Senior Kindergarten to Grade 12 the education the services they receive you have a say over.

Our schools are full of passionate people who want to teach and we need to make sure the trustees give them the tools to do so.

In the past we have seen bad decisions by the school board over selling school sites, transportation issues  and other items.  But is it not important for you to meet your trustee?  Have a chance to talk to them and also for them to provide the liaison between the board and you.  They will work with the school parent councils on a regular basis.

It is important that no matter which system you support in Ontario that YOU as a voter learn about the candidates running for the school boards and what they stand for.  Do you not want to have your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews receiving the best possible education to position them in our ever changing world?
Remember Oct 27th is election day here in Ontario.  VOTE!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Top 10 List of why you MUST VOTE on Oct 27th Number 8 Recreation and health

Each year when your community allocates its budget, one of the largest items that is set aside is for recreation, health and active lifestyles.  Consider the parks, trails, bike paths, Senior Centres, pools and arenas, not to mention every other aspect of the social well being spectrum.  When you consider all these you can see that your local government has a interest in your well being, whether it is is health related or your social well being.

When we go to build new parks, or arenas or any other major recreation facility, we do not do it willy nilly.  It is after much consultation, consideration and planning.  Whether is a small neighbourhood park, a large community style park or an arena, we plan in advance as to where they will be located.
But recreation is more than parks.  It is also people.  Having services in our health, social services and recreation departments geared to people of all ages is a base competency of municipalities.

We provide daycare, seniors centres, learn to swim, day camps, adult day programs.  We also teach people active lifestyles with programs to learn to skate, swim, play tennis and the list goes on.

One of the reasons Municipalities do this is unlike the other orders of government, we can respond to the needs of your own community.  We can, based on what our community needs, plan programs that they want.
Halton Hills has a young community and the need for services geared for that will be needed for a while.  We have a high percentage of arena usage which predicated our need to build the arenas we are doing now.
We have an active seniors community and our commitment to their centres is evident by the recent expansion done in Acton and our finding a solution in Georgetown.
Our trail system has expanded greatly the last few years and are a very popular way for people to get exercise, socialize and remain active.
When the candidates come to your door ask about their views on recreation, health and social services we provide.