Stunts failed

As I mentioned last post, the Green Party of Canada has been doing its best to get “into the picture” and be relevant to Canadians.

A few months back, Elizabeth May and Stephane Dion came up with a “deal” that she would run against Peter MacKay and the Liberal party would run no one against her to help her win in Nova Scotia. Whether that works or not is a different story. Personally I think she’ll fail.

Just recently, a former Liberal (booted out of Dions supposedly “democratic” caucus) joined the Green Party to make history and be the first official Green Party MP in the House of Commons.

These stunts were pulled off with the intention of getting Elizabeth May in the leaders debate in the present Federal election campaign. Thats all it was…a couple of stunts to “raise awareness”.

Problem is, it didnt work. The broadcasters in charge of the leaders debate said, no Green Party. Supposedly 3 of the 4 party leaders said “HELL NO” to Elizabeth May. NDP Leader Jack Layton, said nothing. Bloq…same thing. Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper was a bit more direct than others by saying that given the “deal” between May and Dion, the Green Party is just another version of the Liberal Party…and shouldnt be included in the leaders debate.

Id much rather have a discussion about the environment without all the BS and the tree huggery that goes on. Instead Elizabeth May has turned the GP of Canada into a joke, deal making party instead of the option it should be for Canadians.

The Green Party is missing something. Its missing a leader that can sell environmental issues to business. No one wants to be preached to. No one wants to be told what to do. Thats what the current leadership of the Greens does.

The message the GP of Canada has is important and needs to be heard. But it doesnt have to come at the expense of tricks and smoke n mirrors. If people would sit down and read what the GP of Canada has to offer they’d read that there are more to the GP than environment. Theres tax issues that need to be discussed. Incentives for businesses to help them move towards a better policy.

Jim Harris started this upward swing towards legitimacy. Too bad the party took a step back with Elizabeth May. As a business person, if you say something that makes sense, both environmentally and fiscally, Im going to listen. Elizabeth May, however good her intentions, fails miserablely.

Talk about future tax increases

A number of friends have sent me an email to let me know a letter to the Milton Canadian Champion editorial department was printed in this Friday’s paper. Thanks to everyone who noticed.

The letter is pretty much word for word what my last posting talked about and I’ve received a number of emails from people all over the town supporting my thoughts. What seems to get me the most is that there doesnt seem to be a sense of urgency on council to say “hey…this is wrong. We need to fix this now!”

There hasn’t been many voices on council talking about this. After this story was printed I had expected to read a few responses from councillors around the table with their views on the potential increase. Nothing.

Another week passes…still nothing. Why is the question? Why wouldn’t these individuals, trusted by the votes of Milton residents for a four year period NOT want to say something? Why isn’t there any outrage or a showing of concern at the impact this potential (and some would say inevitable) tax increase on people in Milton.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that things aren’t going swimmingly for our economy, and those of our neighbours to the south the United States. Gas is at all time highs and bouncing up and down on a weekly basis, putting incredible pressure on our budgets. The cost of food is increasing for many items in the store which lead to a further tightening of the belts. It just seems no one cares. Its all going to work itself out and the council will accept whatever town staff dishes out.

Some councillors in the past like Paul Schere and Colin Best (among some others) have been very vocal about what council is doing with the budgets, spending and other programs. Where are the voices now?

Is this catastrophic? Will this lead us down into the depths of dispair? Not likely. From an email I received last week, I was told I was being a bit too melodramatic with the potential impact of high municipal tax increases. Not so, because the Town is just one portion of the tax bill.

Town Council seems to forget there are 2 other levels of municipal government that have been sharpening their pencils to take more money out of the ONE taxpayer. The Region of Halton is also projecting a tax INCREASE and school boards (both public and separate) are getting ready to do the same.

We are only one taxpayer. There are numerous levels of government lining up to take what they feel they need to do the business of the “people”. Governments at all levels tax, tax and tax, but they fail to remember its just one taxpayer.

As the cost of everything continues to go up, and confidence in the economy for the short and long term begin to wane…tax increases are going to be a further kick in the shins to people in Halton, Milton and across Canada.

It seems to be an exercise in futility but everyone needs to do what they can to let Milton Town Council know that more needs to be done. Tax increases are inevitable and I have never said there shouldnt be an increase. Common sense would say that government should live within its means as every other household has to. If a family cant afford something, it has to wait. Simple as that. Priorities have to be made and maintained. That simply isnt being done here.

There are a number of areas in the last few budgets that could have been put off until later so they can re-build reserves higher and save for the future. Milton needs more fire fighters. Thats a fact not in dispute. But the Town has to look at their priorities and see if it fits. If not, we wait. Hard pills to swallow but a fact is a fact. You cant do everything right away. It simply wont work.

Did we need almost $3 million dollars spent on brand new buses when the other ones were doing just fine? Again, Im not against a public transit system. Many of the readers of my blog know that as this town grows we NEED a reliable transit system for the future that needs to be properly maintained and kept an eye on. Once its in place, its a slippery slope to more money out the window. The last couple of budgets have proven that with the expenditures on these buses. Could they have waited? Perhaps. Maybe not. Perception of this is that Council merely rubber stamped it so they could expediate the 2 day budget process in December.

There needs to be more leadership on council. Some voices to say, this isnt right and we need to look at things more closely. If it means extending the budget approval process an extra day or go into the long hours of the evening debating line by line…then so be it. Thats what people elect their representatives to do, no matter what level of government.

Never ending story

SLOW DOWNIt’s another long weekend in Milton. Schools are all out and kids are running around their homes as we speak trying to find something to keep them busy. I know Anthony is ready to do something … and fast. That’s why I love the summer. He loves it too, like driving his bike to the park and playing basketball and soccer with his friends too. As a parent of a very energetic 7 year old boy, I worry about his safety, like other parents do, even more around this time of year.

It was just only a few short weeks ago when young lives were extinguished over a weekend because of speeding, careless driving and other road issues. Lets hope and pray that this Canada Day weekend wont have the same tragic results for other families.

I was taking a few moments to go to one of my favourite sites www.hawthornevillager.com to look at some of the posts in its highly successful forum. In case you haven’t visited it, hundreds of people who live in Milton post there daily, comments about the town, and other general items. One of the pastimes on the forum is to raise issues like speeding in our neighbourhoods.

We all see it happen on a regular basis and some just don’t know what to do about it. I live off Yates Drive east of Thompson road and I experience the speeders almost daily. I know there are also a number of different intersections and streets in town that suffer from the same problem.

I’ve written here many times about the intersection of Yates Drive and March Crossing being the location of 3 collisions in less than a year and how many of the residents in the area asking for either a 4 way stop or something that will encourage people to slow down. Those requests have been answered by letters from the town staff saying traffic counts are too low and stop signs aren’t speed controls and the list goes on.

Reading one of the topics on the Hawthorne Villager recently, proves to me the problems haven’t been addressed or solved in the two years since this new council took office. I have talked with many people in our area and other areas of town and they have all complained about the inaction of our council representatives. The town seems to be more interested in telling us that they are doing an “outstanding job” than actually DOING an outstanding job.

Whats being done about this isn’t working. The more we seem to “ask” others to be more considerate, the more its being ignored. I mean, other peoples lives are more important and if they deem themselves to be above others, they are going to continue.

To the folks who fly up Yates (both sides) rushing from dropping their kids off to school feel that it will save them time to get where THEY are going, they’ll continue to drive at speeds topping 70km/h (yes unofficial spot checks prove this). Its all about the “ME” instead of the “US” that it should be.

And from personal experience talking to a lot of people during the election a couple of years ago, these same people I see driving down the streets at excessive speeds, a LOT of them told me road safety was one of their important issues. They know who they are…I wont name names.

The town refuses to consider lowering the speed limits in residential areas because it will frustrate drivers and make them speed more (HUH? Ive never got that logic) The town refuses to consider stop signs in high traffic intersections because unnecessary stop signs frustrate drivers and will lead to more abuse.

Lower the speed limits, raise the fines. Hit people in the pocketbook because it seems logic and reason doesnt work with many of the offenders. Ive noticed on Yates a slight improvement in the speed levels…there are always people who will ignore the rules and do what they want.

If you get tagged for a $200 fine for speeding on a residential street,will you think twice before flooring it to save a few seconds at a light? I know I would.

I would hope that logic and reason wins in these cases, as we all live in these homes, and we all either have kids or know someone who has kids and we want them to be safe…but in the same breath, they fly down streets at excessive speeds putting people at risk.

Last election I mentioned that town council has lost its focus on certain issues like growth, taxation and community safety. Its sad to say that nothing seems to have changed. We can email the councillors as much as we want…I know of several people on our street and others who have sent Brian and Rick an email or phone call only to have silence be their only answer.

What frustrates drivers is the actions of a few impacting everyone else. I don’t know about you but id rather piss off someone who’s driving 80 down my street if it helps those who obey the laws be less frustrated.

Happy Canada Day everyone! Safe travels!Canada Flag

Is Milton doing an "Outstanding Job"?

In the May 9th edition of the Milton Canadian Champion, town CAO Mario Belvedere said the town of Milton was doing an “outstanding job” managing growth and roads over the past several years.

Town doing ‘outstanding job’: CAO

Town of Milton CAO Mario Belvedere tells council growth has been managed well overall

Melanie Hennessey, Published on May 09, 2008

While things may not be perfect when it comes to the timing of development and infrastructure in Milton, Town staff says that overall it’s doing a good job in managing growth.

This was one of the key messages staff delivered on Monday afternoon at an information workshop for council on growth management.

CAO Mario Belvedere told council he feels that generally the Town has done an outstanding job in managing growth.

He acknowledged there might be “hiccups” when it comes to things like the timing of road construction.

“But other than that we’ve done a pretty darn good job,” he said.

Town Director of Planning and Development Mel Iovio shared similar sentiments.

He said the planning, development phasing and financial agreements the Town has struck with developers have generally resulted in a controlled and logical growth pattern.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” he remarked.

He noted the fast rate of growth has caused some inconvenience, but on the plus side it’s resulted in communities being completed much faster.

Town Director of Engineering Services Paul Cripps pointed out that some roads projects are being fast-tracked through the Accelerated Transportation Capital Program, such as the widening of Derry Road from Tremaine Road to Bronte Street.

The work wasn’t slated to get underway until next year, but the timeline has now been moved up so that construction will start this spring and wrap up in the fall.

“We want to continue working with the development community to accelerate as many roads projects as we can,” he said.

He went on to outline other Town and Region road works scheduled to take place from now until 2021. Within the next few years, those projects include:

2008 — construction of James Snow Parkway from Steeles Avenue to Boston Church Road

2008 — reconstruction of Thompson Road from Derry Road to Main Street

2010 — construction of a road underpass on Main Street at the CPR tracks

2010 — widening Regional Road 25 from two lanes to four between Derry and Britannia roads

Cripps explained the timing of the projects coincides with when the “capacity crunch” will come along for those roads.

The downside of this, he said, is the pressure the Town receives from residents who are pushing for roads to be up to par before the development boom.

But Cripps said there’s also an advantage. With the new roads coming on board after the majority of developers’ heavy construction traffic has come and gone, residents will “get a brand new road with a maximum life expectancy.”

Ward 3 Councillor Cindy Lunau asked staff to keep in mind the road upgrades that are also required in the rural area. “We need to reserve a certain portion of our budget each year to maintain the quality of life in the rural area.”

Cripps said staff is mindful of the needs in rural Milton.

The workshop also included presentations from each of the Town’s senior staff members on the responsibilities and roles of their departments when it comes to planning for growth. For example, the Corporate Services department handles development charges and the financial agreements made with developers, Engineering Services looks after transportation issues and Community Services plans for facilities like arenas.

Iovio detailed the numerous items on the Planning and Development department’s plate for the coming years, including plans for the Derry Green Business Park, the next phase of residential development and the Milton Education Village, which will hopefully see Wilfrid Laurier University come to Milton.

Melanie Hennessey can be reached at mhennessey@miltoncanadianchampion.com

***

While I will disagree with some people who say the towns done a horrible job managing growth, outstanding isn’t a word I’d be using. That article made the town and its council sound very arrogant. Bad choice of words. It almost ranks up there with Mayor Gord Krantz telling the Champion during an interview that Milton didn’t have a traffic congestion problem right under a picture of Thompson Road (before all the work started) backed up from Main Street to Derry Road.

I think it isn’t up to the town to decide if they are doing a great job as only time will tell that tale for certain.

This article brought up a number of responses in the Letters to the Editor. Hmmm, next time a slice of humility before speaking with the press, shall we? It’s making those of us, like the author of this blog, who know everything look bad.

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Let us decide if Town is doing the ‘wonderful’ job CAO claims

Published on May 16, 2008

In last Friday’s Champion, the front-page headline read ‘Town doing outstanding job: CAO.’

I think it would be a good idea if town council and members of regional council took a look around Milton before they decide how “wonderful” things are.

If they really want to know how things are going, they should have a town hall meeting and invite townspeople to speak about this subject — without limiting how people can voice their opinions and views.

AGOSTINO GALIOTO, MILTON

Comment on management of growth tough to swallow

Published on May 16, 2008

As a 22-year resident and taxpayer of Milton, it pained me to read the verbal diarrhea that emanated from the lips of our illustrious Town of Milton CAO, Mario Belvedere, at a recent town council meeting.

He stated that the Town is doing an “outstanding” job and that growth has been managed well overall. Not surprisingly, the statement was supported by his minions in the planning and engineering departments, who make me ask — outstanding compared to what?

The term outstanding is used to describe things that are exceptional, terrific, wonderful, stupendous, dazzling, marvelous, excellent, great or superior, not abysmal, myopic, unresolved, unsettled or incomplete.

Attempts to downplay the glaringly-visible deficiencies that plague Milton are disappointing to say the least, as statements suggesting there might be “hiccups” when it comes to things like the timing of road construction can only lead one to believe there have been and will continue to be numerous glitches, interruptions and setbacks. In my opinion, this has been characteristic of the progress of the roadwork and other infrastructure-related projects to date in Milton.

Now one may ask, how was the City of Mississauga able to implement access roadways into and out of subdivisions — equipped with proper turn lanes, fully-functioning street lights and pedestrian crossing systems — prior to new subdivisions being completed? Might it have something to do with the fact that the City of Mississauga actually controlled the manner and pace in which growth was implemented?

This logic seems to have evaded the grasp of the current director of engineering services, whose portfolio includes both transportation and community services plans for recreational facilities such as arenas.

In terms of roadways, commuters traveling east on Derry Road are now treated to a traffic backlog stretching all the way from Trafalgar Road down to Trudeau Drive.

Sixth Line south of Britannia Road is another source of commuter frustration, as drivers are greeted with an absence of turn lanes and traffic lights. Town Engineering Services Director Paul Cripps’ reply to this is that “staff is mindful of the needs in rural Milton.” Okay, prove it.

Meanwhile, Milton District Hospital is a mess that speaks to the collective inaction by the four levels of government within our area to ensure it’s able to adequately service the health-care needs of Miltonians. It’s abundantly clear that it isn’t.

I’m thankful my children were born between 1988 and 1992 when the hospital was able to adequately manage the patient load, and the emergency room was treating emergencies.

What has the Town of Milton’s executive and administration done in conjunction with the Region of Halton, provincial and federal levels of government to ensure the provincial minister of health, premier of Ontario and federal minister of health are aware of our hospital’s needs? And what has the Town done to secure the requisite funding to resolve the hospital’s need for expansion?

C.J. MCCARROLL, MILTON

***

OUCH. Maybe the Town needs a little help getting ready the next time it decides to pat itself on the back.