Main Street Expansion To Be “Disruptive”

From Christina Commisso at the Milton Canadian Champion

Main St. to close for construction. Motorists are advised to expect delays and lane restrictions as construction on the Main Street underpass begins. Graham Paine/Canadian Champion

Milton drivers may be in for some traffic delays as the first two of five planned Main Street weekend closures get underway next month.

Monday town council approved the closures to accommodate construction work for the $49 million Main Street underpass.

Main Street East between Ontario Street and about 10 metres east of the CPR tracks will shut down at midnight Saturday, May 5 and reopen at 5 a.m. Monday, May 7 as construction crews remove the existing tracks and install temporary ones.

The intersection will close again the following weekend from midnight Saturday, May 12 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 14.

Three future road closures are anticipated for the underpass — which is Milton’s costliest infrastructure project — two in summer 2013 and one in 2014.

Engineering Director Paul Cripps said all closures will occur on weekends for the least impact on traffic, especially for those making their way to and from the Milton GO Station.

Detour routes north of the tracks are planned for Wilson Drive and Woodward Avenue and south of the tracks drivers will be redirected along Childs Drive and Lauier Avenue.

“This project will be very disruptive to Miltonians for some time,” said Mayor Gord Krantz. “But there’s never a good time to close a road like that. When it’s all finished people will ask, ‘Why didn’t you do it 100 years ago?’ They’re probably right, but there was no money to do it.”

Long-term lane restrictions on Main Street East began earlier this month with one lane in each direction and a shared turning lane between the Milton Mall entrance and Wilson Drive.

Construction is ongoing on the temporary mall parking lot at the Nipissing yard and temporary streetlights have been installed at the mall entrance and Wilson Drive.

The underpass is expected to be complete by fall 2015.

The Thompson Road underpass was officially opened in October 2008 following three years of construction and $28 million — which at the time was the Town’s most expensive capital project.


Halton Regional Council Raises Development Charges for Retail

After an almost marathon regional council meeting last week, Halton Region Council voted to increase the development charges for the next few years.  As you will read in this article, the DC bylaw is updated every 5 years to have development pay for the much needed services the region provides including among other things infrastructure, water etc.

As soon as the link to the meeting is up on the Region of Halton website ( I will post a link so you can watch the debate.

From Christina Commisso, Milton Canadian Champion

DC hike for retail development

Retail development will soon cost more after regional council approved a hike in development charges (DCs) Wednesday.

Beginning September, developers building spaces for clothing stores, restaurants or grocers will pay $24.98 per square-foot for Greenfield development and $22.01 per square-foot with Halton’s built boundary in DCs, which represents a 52 and 76 per cent increase over current charges, respectively.

During the DC update process, which began last September, retail developers have spoken against the increase. A Lowe’s that’s been underway in Burlington since 2007 is looking at about another $2 million in DCs, for a total of $3.85 million, without any changes in the scope of the development as a result of the increase. After speaking to council about the issue on several occasions, regional staff said the home improvement warehouse could potentially pay their DCs before the increase is implemented in September.

Non-retail development, such as office and industrial spaces will see a 25 per cent decrease in DCs while charges for homes will see a slight increase. Developers will pay more than $36, 000 in DCs for a single family home built in a Greenfield field area, which is about 13 per cent higher than what’s currently paid while the fee for houses in the built boundary will increase slightly by three per cent to about $27,000.

Changes in Halton’s DC bylaw, which is updated every five years, include a non-retail to retail conversion fee for any space that’s more than 3,000 square-feet. Also, the new bylaw states high-density development requires a minimum of 130 units per net hectare — up from the current 100-unit minimum — or a four or more storey building.

Regional Councillors Debate Development Charges

Here is an interesting article from Christina Commisso from the Champion.

Councillors debate DC issue

Corporate welfare or a tax grab?

Regional council was divided yesterday on the issue of charging business owners a development charge (DC) to convert their space from a non-retail to a retail use.

The issue was a sticking point for business improvement associations that said the hefty fee, which would amount to tens of thousands of dollars, would hurt small, family-run businesses in Halton’s downtowns.

For example, a 2,500 square-foot office, which paid DCs when it was built, that’s converted to a retail use would face a $24,000 DC.

The Region has said generally retail operations generate more traffic and wear and tear on the roads in justifying the charge.

In its 2012 development charges update, the Region agreed to wave the fee for businesses under 3,000 square-feet in the interest of economic development. However, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton called the move “corporate welfare” and asked that all businesses, regardless of size, pay the fee.

His motion was supported by most of Oakville’s councillors and Regional Chair Gary Carr, but failed after being widely criticized by the majority of Halton’s 21-member council.

“This is not welfare. Honestly, if you vote for this amendment you’re stealing money from people. Let’s find out who the thieves are,” said Halton Hills Councillor Jane Fogal. “This (conversion) amount is small to Halton Region but big for the mom and pop operations.”

Added Burlington Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, “Let’s see who is in favour of a tax grab and who is against economic development and small business owners, who are residents and taxpayers as well.”

Not all were convinced that the fee for small businesses should be waved.

“Retail, when it’s converted from an industrial or office use, it creates more demand and use of our transportation infrastructure. There is a cost, it’s not free,” said Oakville Councillor Tom Adams. “We’re talking about money that will come out of the taxpayers pocket eventually for the benefit of two or three developers. That’s the exact definition of corporate welfare.”

Fogal asked if businesses who convert from a retail operation to non-retail would receive some sort of refund on the development charges previously paid, however staff said that move would create uncertainty in terms of regional revenue.

The conversion fee was part of Halton’s 2012 development charges update, which was passed by council.

Currently non-residential DCs — office space, retail and industrial — are grouped together. The updated DCs, which come into effect September, separates retail and non-retail business into two separate categories with retail DCs increasing by 52 per cent and the non-retail charge decreasing by 25 per cent for Greenfield development. 

Cell Tower Information Session

I had the opportunity to attend the public open house held by Altus Group this past Thursday to discuss the proposal for a new cell tower located at the New Life Church at Thompson Road & Clark Blvd.

The room was packed with a number of people overflowing into the hallway and near the entrance of the Milton Leisure Centre.  Many of them were carrying signs of protest and getting signatures on a petition to have it stopped.  Emotions were running high as the residents in the area made their views known to the representatives from Altus Group that they were not happy with the location of the cell tower.

I have made many posts about this on my website and I do thank residents for voiceing their concerns.  From the information I have now, this report will be completed and sent to the Town of Milton for review and their input.  As far as I know, this report will be available to council mid May for information and councillors will be able to comment.  I have mentioned in the past that the Town of Milton does not have a yay or nay say on this tower.  The decision will be made by Industry Canada in the coming weeks.  I do know that Halton MP Lisa Raitt wasnt available to attend the meeting herself, but a representative from her office did make the meeting and spoke at length with concerned residents.

I will keep everyone updated as the process continues.

Here is an article from the Milton Canadian Champion on the meeting Thursday night by Christina Commisso.

Residents express anger at cell tower meeting – Petition circulating to stop 100-foot cross tower in southeast Milton

Lisa-Lynn Vas holds up a sign Thursday evening at the Milton Leisure Centre during an open house hosted by Bell Mobility on the proposed erection of a cell phone tower in the shape of a cross.

Tensions ran high during last night’s meeting on a proposed 100-foot cell phone tower that could grace the landscape outside Milton’s New Life Church.

Residents could be heard chanting “stop the cell tower” and anger was evident in the voices of meeting goers as they spoke to representatives of Bell Mobility, the company behind the tower.

“You can’t stand in there for more than 15 minutes,” said Manny Gulati, referring to the tight space.

Gulati along with a team of residents have been knocking on doors and circulating a petition in hopes of preventing the erection of the tower. They’ve collected more than 500 signatures in two weeks.

Gulati said many of the households he has visited were unaware the cross-shaped tower was being considered on the Thompson Road and Louis St. Laurent-area church property. Once aware of the proposal, Gulati estimated about 80 per cent of individuals are against it. “It’s slowly exposing your body to radiation 24/7. Yes, Health Canada says it’s safe, but their research is still ongoing.”

His feelings were echoed by Ammar Al-Dojaily, who lives down the street from the proposed tower site.

“The problem is no one can say this is safe technology,” he said. “We are not against the technology, we appreciate it, we all use it. But I’m sure there’s an industrial area that could be used, this is not the only location.”

Andrea Anderson has two children who attend the daycare located at New Life. She said if the cell tower moves forward, she will consider pulling her kids out of the program. “If you look at the proximity of the playground, (the tower) is right there. They can probably reach out and touch it or something.”

Area-resident Aaron Sanderson said he wouldn’t think twice about selling his home if the tower is erected.

“Why would I want to expose my children to that,” he said of the radiofrequency (RF) energy given off by the tower. “I have three little kids and there’s some research that shows up to a 43 per cent increase in the chance of cancer. I don’t know if I believe that, but I also don’t know if it’s insignificant and does nothing. So why would I want to take that chance?”

Bell Mobility representatives at the meeting told the Champion they wouldn’t speak on the record with the media.

A Health Canada report distributed by Bell Mobility at the meeting states the International Agency for Research on Cancer said RF energy might be a risk factor for cancer, however more research is needed to clarify the possible link. Health Canada recommends limiting the length of cell phone calls, using hand-free devices and replacing calls with text messages to minimize RF exposure.

The report states, “Precautions to limit exposure to RF energy from cell phone towers are unnecessary because exposure levels are typically well below those specified in health-based exposure standards.”

Residents at the meeting distributed their own material — a study from Brazil that suggests mortality rates from neoplasia (the growth of abnormal cells) increased the closer residents lived to a cell phone base station.

Halton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bob Nosal has disputed the study, stating there’s no convincing evidence weak radiofrequency signals from base stations cause adverse health effects.

Wendy Perkins, who has petitioned against more than one cell tower in Oakville, said smart decisions need to be made when it comes to cell towers.

“The public in Canada is waking up to this issue and saying we can do this smart, we can do this safe and we can do this economically, so why aren’t we? We have never recognized the dangers here.”

Through her experience, Perkins said once in a while with enough public outcry these towers are stopped. “But most of the time after years of protesting and banging your head against the wall, you give up.”

Gulati said he’s confident the tower at New Life can be stopped. “The reaction is here. Everyone is against it and the politicians should take note of that. People around Milton who live far away from the tower are standing against it. They know if we let it happen here, it will happen everywhere.”

A protest against the cell phone tower is planning for this Sunday outside New Life Church.

Milton Hospital Expansion Safe From Provincial Budget Cuts

Ontario budget won’t affect MDH

Christina Commisso, Milton Canadian Champion

Group say they’ll keep advocating for the MDH expansion until it’s complete. GRAHAM PAINE/Metroland Media Group

The Milton hospital expansion is still a go.

Following media reports last week that new hospital projects announced prior to the provincial election would be put on the chopping block in today’s budget, members of the Friends of Milton Hospital team were relieved to learn that the Milton District Hospital (MDH) expansion is safe and sound.

Speaking to the Champion from Queen’s Park, Councillor Mike Cluett said MDH isn’t one of the four hospital projects that have been cancelled in Ontario’s 2012 budget.

“Halton Healthcare Services is working on a plan for the expansion and has never stopped with the planning from what we’ve heard,” said Cluett.

He said after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan delivered his budget speech, a thumbs up from Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh signaled the much needed local expansion was on track.

Cluett attended the budget presentation with fellow Friends of Milton Hospital member Samantha Attew.

“We were ready with pitch forks,” said Attew, who said she was elated to learn the plan to triple MDH is moving ahead.

“I look forward to putting this thing in the ground,” she said from Queen’s Park. “You cannot play with health care. It’s something every Canadian is entitled to. It’s not a political thing.”

She continued, “I’m proud to be part of Milton and proud of Ted (Chudleigh).”

Cluett said the Friends of Milton Hospital will continue to advocate for the expansion until construction is complete — which was previously estimated for 2015 or 2016. “I give credit to the people of Milton for speaking their mind and letting the government know that we’re not backing down.”

Last night, Milton council unanimously passed a motion that reaffirmed the Town’s support for MDH and their willingness to help with the 10 per cent local contribution needed for the construction.