Is the town making the right decision by looking at changing the ward boundries in Milton?
By the sounds of this letter to the Champion last week, they might be jumping the gun. Milton resident Robert Harris states that the Town of Milton should wait until the Region of Halton completes its “Sustainable Halton” plan before making changes to how the town is divided up. Here’s the letter…
Doing review of town’s ward boundaries now is premature
Hats off to Councillor Colin Best, who stated the obvious at a recent town council meeting about waiting for the Sustainable Halton plan as the template to follow before realigning ward boundaries in Milton.
He has shown that he can envision town growth and at the same time save taxpayers money — a sum of $40,000.
The optics around this ward boundary review recommended by council don’t look good at this time. Some would look at it as an attempt by some councillors to possibly ensure another term in office by surgically removing urban growth within their wards.
It could be initially viewed as an effect to ensure representation for rural Milton, but the consultant’s report will probably recommend a reduction in councillors in these sparsely-populated wards, favouring representation for urban areas.
Rural Milton stands to come up shorter in representation as a result of this poorly-timed initiative.
Best’s view to wait until the 2014 election to realign ward boundaries is prudent and falls in line with regional council’s decision.
The Region has stated that there’s to be no change in the number of councillors representing Milton until the 2014 election.
I say wait, Milton council, and save the taxpayers some money. This will prevent the possible hassle of a future Ontario Municipal Board hearing over proposed ward boundaries that will require changes again after another four years of growth.
ROBERT HARRIS, GOWLANDS CRESCENT
In case you missed it, the Town of Milton recently commissioned a study to review the ward boundaries for the next municipal election in 2010. Currently, the town has 4 wards with two councillors serving for each ward. For much of the new area south of Derry, we live in whats called ward one.
Before the “big pipe” was built and the throngs of new homes were constructed here, ward one was mainly a rural ward much like ward 3. Seeing ow the majority of the growth has happened here, theres a population spike in our ward and what looks like an unfair balance in the way we are represented on council.
Councillor Brian Penman at the April 28th meeting of council stated that it was difficult to answer the calls and emails from the growing number of residents in ward one. It is this logic which brings us to the changing of the boundaries in Milton.
Yes it does need to be done. Right now ward one has the largest population of all the wards and continues to grow with every new family that takes possession of their new homes. The population will continue to grow over the next couple of years and if I plan on running again in 2010 for town council, it will essentially be double the size of 2006 election. (I need the exercise anyways)
Milton, we have a problem. The Region of Halton has yet to make formal its “Sustainable Halton” initiative which will make clearer what new developments are going to be approved and when. While it might seem that Milton has reached its peak in development and population, there is still lots of land to build homes and businesses in the coming years. The Town of Milton has just entered into talks for the Wilfred Laurier University education park, which would bring thousands of new residents to town to continue their studies.
The land surrounding the hospital is to be developed for commercial and residential use, not to mention HOPEFULLY the province gets off its duff, and makes changes to ensure the expansion of Milton’s hospital (thats another rant) and many more subdivisions to come.
Regional Councillor Colin Best made mention of this very fact at that meeting and urged council to hold off until the Region has finalized its plans.
With all this new development to come, it could change the population of the now Ward one area by upwards of 40,000. Then at that time, changes would have to be made again.
So whats the hurry then? Why doesn’t it make sense to Milton council to hold off on the ward changes and wait for the Region in 2014 and then make the much needed adjustments to the wards? Good questions.
This doesn’t even touch the cost of the program yet. The Town staff has budgeted $40,000 to pay for the study to be done. Dr. Robert Williams, who is a political science professor is also doing a similar study for the city of Kitchener and is expected to make his ideas known soon. I do have a problem with the cost of this study and where the money was to be coming from.
The Town of Milton gets a per centage of the revenues from the Mohawk Racetrack just north in Milton. Its a great deal that was signed awhile back to ensure the racetrack gives back to the town. These revenues are to go to programs like the Milton Community Fund that helps organizations and events in town with raising money to help better our community. Proceeds from the racetrack revenues are NOT to go to operating expenses but towards programs like this and possibly capital programs to help the town grow.
It would be like you turn to your spouse and ask them to go to the corner store to buy a lottery ticket so you can afford to buy milk and bread for your family. Its just wrong.
The money to commission this report was going to come from that fund…which is wrong. Town staff does the odd thing right but this idea, whoever it was, is just plain stupid. Before the motion was passed by council, they made an amendment to have the cost of the study come from the Capital Works reserve fund.
So, given the fact that once the Region finalizes the SH plan, we as a town will have to do this all over again. Lets save $40,000 from our reserve funds and wait. The councillors can tough it out for another few years to give the residents the representation they need and once completed, we can get it right.
It doesnt seem that council is thinking that way. So, $40,000 is tossed away on a study that can wait and those funds can go to something else the town needs. The Town of Milton seems to like spending money.
Don’t get me started on how the Town of Milton is spending its away into financial problems…again, another post for another day. Seeing how time is limited with the new addition to the family, I have to pace myself in my rants to avoid bursts in blood pressure.
The topic was also brought up casually during the discussions of the April 28th meeting that they might want to look at making the Milton town council a full time position instead of what it currently is, a part time job.
While nothing was brought forward formally regarding the change in job description, the seed has now been planted to talk about it.