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

Yates Drive and March Crossing

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Just the mere mention of that intersection causes many residents in the area to roll their eyes.

Why? We have seen many near misses of vehicles driving down Yates from Thompson Road with cars coming out of March Crossing. This weekend was no different.

Lets go back in time to this past summer around the dinner hour. Local residents were brought out of their homes with the sounds of screeching tires, loud thumps and a big bang. What had happened was a car traveling north on Yates Drive towards Bennett Blvd. at what witnesses describe as “over the speed limit”, narrowly missing a vehicle coming out on March Crossing into the intersection. This car swerved to miss that car, lost control and jumped the curb on the opposite side of the road and smash into a house. Luckily there was no one hurt, the car sustained some damage and the bay window of the home was damaged.

For those of us who live in the area know, kids are walking up and down the sidewalk heading to their friends homes or to the local parks and thank God no one was there was this happened.

Now, we go back to this past Saturday and the almost exact situation happened again. A car traveling up Yates Drive from Thompson Road heading towards Bennett Blvd. driving up the street, narrowly misses a car coming out from March Crossing, loses control and jumps the curb on the opposite side and hits the same house in almost the identical spot.

Enough is enough. Im not one person who favours putting stop signs at every intersection or reducing speed when there is no justification. Something has to change before any other home or God forbid, someone is injured or killed.

The speed limit on Yates Drive is 50km/hr. During last falls election campaign, I spoke with many people about community safety and what we as citizens can do to make our streets safer. Many of you favoured reducing the speed limit on streets. Is that enough?

Would a 40km/hr speed limit saved this home owner from yet another insurance claim and time away from their lives to repair the damage to their home that someone else caused? Maybe.

If the speed limit was reduced it might be cause for the driver to make sure they slow down. Who really knows.

Would a stop sign have done the trick? Again, who knows. If drivers know there is a stop sign approaching at that intersection, would they reduce their speed before they come to March Crossing?

Possibly. Only if people open their eyes and realize our residential and town roads are not speedways.

It’s frustrating to live in an area such as this with such amazing neighbours and people living in the subdivision to have to deal with this. The only thing we have left is to turn to the town of Milton and see what can be done.

For years now, residents have complained about speeding on our streets. To the town’s credit they have done some studies about excess speed on Yates Drive and have concluded it doesnt warrant a stop sign at this particular intersection.

My message, that I plan on delivering with the help of the local residents, is simply this.

Reduce the speed to 40km/h and / or put a 4 way stop at this intersection. By doing nothing, is simply condoning this behaviour and endorsing what has already happened.

The safety of the people in the area, their homes and our children are more important than worrying about if people will be inconvenienced by an additional stop sign.

Whats more important to you?

Is the Green Cart program enough

 

The Region of Halton recently announced that it was going forward with a Green Cart Program to help reduce the amount of waste that heads to our landfill site. In case people are unaware of where that landfill site is, take a trip down 25 (Bronte Road) south of Derry and you will soon see it.

There was quite the discussion during the last municipal election on what should be done with the landfill, which is quickly approaching capacity. With the hundreds and hundreds of new homes being built in the area there will be a further demand on that landfill and its up to us as residents to do our part.

The Region of Halton currently has the Blue Box program in place. You are to put glass, plastics etc in one box and in the other we place the acceptable paper products, boxes, etc. As of April 2008 it was announced that residents will be able to put all products into one box instead of separating it, given the improvement in the separation technology available.

During that campaign a debate raged on about the EFW (Energy From Waste) proposal that was put before Regional Council and the pros and cons involved. In essence, an incinerator would be built at the landfill and the waste would then be burned using clean technology to produce energy that would be used in the region of Halton and beyond. Coupled with this proposal there was the much maligned Pristine Power Plant issue that seemed to dominate the last half of the campaign.

Recently Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr along with council announced that it was putting the EFW option aside permanently and focusing only on the existing programs and the Green Cart.

Does it go far enough?

With our landfill approaching capacity quickly (some analysts have said that within 25 years Halton will be required to have another landfill or another option in place for our garbage) will simply placing household food scraps and other materials in our Green Box do the job? With the landfill approaching capacity by 2023 according to Halton Region analysis, we need to take sufficient action now. The addition of the Green Cart program will add 7 years to the life of the landfill where the EFW facility would solve our problems for close to 50 years from now.

The EFW program, according to the proposal and the experts would have added at least another 100 years to the life of the Halton landfill. Does the Green Cart program go far enough?

At first glance it would seem that unless I’m mistaken and someone can hopefully provide me with more information, that it would have little affect on the amount of garbage at the landfill. The Region of Halton, and residents in general, need to come up with a longer range plan to solve the landfill issue.

Of course costs will be a major factor in making this decision. Who pays for it, how will we pay for it, etc. But the main question remains, what will it cost if nothing gets done? What if we wait until the landfill is near capacity and decisions have to be made then? The cost to taxpayers will pale in comparison and who knows the effect on our environment.

The amount of available land is decreasing with every new resident that we welcome to the area. What other options are there available to increase the life of our landfill?

It seems that the easier political issue would be to scrap the EFW and go with the easier to sell Green Cart Program. Tough decision are going to have to be made NOW and not 25 years from now when our landfill is overflowing and the residents will be screaming for answers.

Lets look at all the options … now, before its too late. Food scraps and other items just wont cut it.