Last nights council meeting had it all. Expectations were running high by some members of council that it could either be a very short meeting or a very long meeting.
I had reported before that council salaries would be discussed at this meeting but apparently it went through on consent items and didn’t even make a blip on the radar.
Ward 3 councillor Cindy Lunau had a notice of motion to include a quick presentation by Halton Healthcare Services to Milton Town Council to give them an update on Milton District Hospital and its possible expansion.
John Oliver from Halton Healthcare made a presentation outlining the fact that expansion of the Milton DH is essential and must happen. The provincial government has put a freeze on capital projects and will be reviewing them for the 2011 budget. He made it very clear that Milton needs to be on the radar and get approval fast. Even if they were given the green light today, it would be at least 2-5 years before anything will happen.
Regional Councillor Colin Best was frustrated with the process, as all councillors are, and with the fact the provincial government KNOWS Milton is growing but is doing nothing to help out. We are being mandated to grow our population and size but yet have a hospital that is well under the required size for our community. Mayor Krantz also shared in that frustration as well.
Mr. Oliver also outlined his pleasure with the community as a whole that came out as a result of the Friends of Milton Hospital campaign when over 35,000 people signed a petition to raise awareness with the provincial government that we need something done and soon.
He said that more work is needed and the community and council need to get behind this full force.
Councillor Lunau also put forward a notice of motion for staff to review possible ways for Milton Town Council to fund expansion, as if it were to happen, the local level of government would be required to put money forward. Council’s idea is to start saving soon for that eventuality.
The problem council faces is where do you start? And how much do we save for? John Oliver couldn’t give us a number, although pressed by Councillor Paul Scherer a few times, as legally he could not give a number. Council was advised to review other area municipalities and what their costs were as a starting point.
These possible funding options include, but are not limited to:
Increase of Development Charges; Special Tax Levy on Milton taxpayers to go to a dedicated hospital expansion fund only to be used for that purpose; Combination of the two. Another possibility is using the GTA funding poll that has been collected from Milton taxpayers to support Toronto (don’t get us started on that) and now is no longer needed as another source of funding.
Needless to say, this will be something that will require community support like we havent seen before. Last year, 35,000 people came to the table and to go forward we will need more!
There were some other discussions last night about parking on Queen Street, which is not allowed. Councillor Greg Nelson failed in his attempt to put forward a motion to reopen the discussion to allow parking on either one side or both. But after a very convincing presentation by the Milton Fire Chief, which included pictures of the street with one emergency vehicle and how it would impede traffic and cause a safety issue, it was voted down and parking on Queen Street will not be allowed.
And of course, the highly anticipated motion from Ward One Councillor Rick Day was ruled out of order. Im not going to get into it here, but if you wanted to read what he was going to talk about, here is a link to his proposed notice of motion.
I also experimented with live Tweets from the council meeting last night. Judging from some of your emails and comments to those posts, it was pretty successful. I will try for future meetings to post updates via Twitter, which of course you can keep track by going to www.twitter.com/mike_cluettor follow here on the home of the Mike Cluett.
As always I welcome your emails and comments so keep them coming. Until then, I’ll see you at the doors.