Region of Halton Is Prepared. Are YOU?

The following is a video from Halton Region Chair Gary Carr with some information on how to be prepared in case of an emergency.  Its a great video that includes video highlites of our recent session at the Region where we did a mock emergency test with your elected officials in charge.  THANKFULLY we’re not.

Milton Hospital Expansion Approved!

Its been a busy day for a number of reasons. I was at the announcement today along with several of our town councillors, MPP Ted Chudleigh, Liberal candidates Indiria Naidoo Harris, Friends of Milton Hospital, doctors and nurses, and staff and volunteers. Quite emotional. I had to leave because we had a medical emergency with our cat Chester. He was in a fight on the weekend and developed a massive infection which burst today and my son called in a panic. (Chesters had his surgery and is doing ok, we’ll be picking him up soon)

I put together a few thoughts, and once things settle down at home, I’ll post more…and probably add more people to thank so I dont leave anyone out.

EDIT:  As Colin Best reminded me on the Hawthorne Villager I forgot someone important.  Regional Chair Gary Carr has also played a very strong role in getting meetings scheduled with cabinet ministers during the recent AMO Conference in London and also bringing up Milton’s needs at every possible opportunity.  Thank you Gary!!!

Here is the video from today courtesy of Brian Best (thanks for the vid…it was a historic day in Milton and I’m glad it was captured)

Today was a great day for Milton with the announcement of the hospital expansion earlier today. Many thanks to a LOT of people.

To the doctors and nurses and volunteers and staff of Milton Hospital…thank you. You were the ones under the gun over the last several years and despite everything seemingly against you, you have ALL done an amazing job.

The tears of joy I witnessed from the staff at MDH said it all.

To John Oliver and Alan Halls THANK YOU for your leadership and persistence in this matter. Everyone at Halton Healthcare Services has been a strong advocate for Milton and our needs and you have lead the charge.

To Friends of Milton Hospital, THANK YOU. Over 36,000 signatures were collected and presented to the government to let them know, THIS was the issue in town.

To my fellow council members, THANK YOU. Everytime we had the ear of a provincial minister of govt, we brought the Milton Hospital expansion to their attention. Theres a reason why Minister Deb Matthews mentioned our persistence.

To my colleagues on the Grow Milton Hospital campaign, THANK YOU! We helped in keeping the pressure up and we saw the end result in mind. Todays announcement was a result of a lot of people and the residents of Milton…THANK YOU.

There is also MPP Ted Chudleigh to thank for his years of work on this with the provincial government. John Oliver made mention in his speech of Ted’s efforts on raising awareness over the last several years, and while colourful at times, his passion for Halton residents in Milton was unwaivering. THANK YOU Ted!

Now the hard work begins. We WILL do this together and with everyones support from all sides … the job will get done.

What would you ask them?

Next week will be my first AMO (Associations of Municipalities of Ontario)Conference.  Its going to be held in London this year and goes from Sunday August 21st to Wednesday the 24th.

The conference is designed for municipal leaders from all over the province to meet and discuss issues and share knowledge and resources to help come up with solutions to problems.  There’s going to be roughly 1600 politicians running around London (sounds scary doesn’t it 🙂 ) for those days and I’m personally looking forward to a number of events that will be happening over the course of the conference.

Most importantly to me is some of the meetings that have been scheduled with provincial representatives by Regional Chair Gary Carr and ministers in the Province of Ontario.  I along with other Milton & Halton councillors will be attending these meetings.  This will provide us with an opportunity to speak directly with those ministers, mainly the Minister of Health Deb Matthews and Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli.  If those names sound familiar, you must have been reading my blog on a regular basis. 

These ministers are two of the key decision makers when it comes to getting a green light for the Milton Hospital expansion.  There have been meetings in the past, of course with no firm date or timeframe given to us, but hopefully we can “twist their arms” slightly in getting something done.  It is no secret in Milton that the expansion of the Milton District Hospital is “THE” issue in town.  

Week after week, organization after organization holds events in support of MDHF and the importance of supporting our local hospital.  Thousands of dollars has been raised for the foundation and even more will come with future events.

Regional Councillor Colin Best wrote a letter to the ministers via the Milton Canadian Champion recently outlining our concerns once again with the lack of detail in their latest “capital project projections”

If there is one issue that everyone in Milton can unite behind its the hospital.  We as elected officials in Milton have to keep up the pressure.  Its been well documented on my site about the efforts of the  Friends of Milton Hospital a few years ago and most recently the Grow Milton Hospital campaign and the numbers of signatures that have been collected and delivered to the Province of Ontario letting our voices be heard that we need that expansion to start now.

Unofficially the Town of Milton is over 90,000 in population with 100,000 in our sights.  The hospital continues to be under intense pressure to be able to deliver the health care services that Milton needs.  Beds are in short number, the nurses and doctors are doing their best but without the facilities needed to serve a growing population, it runs the risk of a disaster happening.

I’m hoping at this meeting, myself along with other Milton and Halton councillors can convince these provincial ministers (it IS a provincial election year mind you) to get off the fence and approve the expansion of Milton’s hospital.   There will also be opportunities to speak with the provincial party leaders as well during this conference (Dalton Mcguinty, Tim Hudak, Andrea Horvath) and rest assure I will be “badgering” them as well over the course of the four days.

If you have any comments or questions you would like me to pass on to the Health Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, please email me mike@mikecluett.ca and I will ask them directly when we meet with them.

Halton Region to Vote on 1.3 % Tax Increase Today

From Kim Arnott at the Oakville Beaver 

Halton Region to vote on 1.3 per cent tax increase

While Halton’s police officers will receive a 3.1 per cent salary increase this year, the remainder of the region’s staff could see their pay increases limited to 2.25 per cent.The region’s budget committee set the upward limit on union settlements and non-union pay-for-performance increases on Monday, as it finalized a 2011 budget recommendation that features a 1.3 per cent tax increase.

“I think that the public is looking for us to show some leadership and keep in line with the private sector,” said Halton Hills councillor Jane Fogal.

Fogal introduced the motion after the defeat of a similar motion from Burlington councillor Jack Dennison that would have seen pay increases capped at 1.9 per cent.

Dennison argued that the lower cap was reasonable because the region is a desirable place to work, and past arbitration decisions have often awarded pay increases in that range.

While the vote on capping pay increases took place publicly, councillors went into closed session for about 45 minutes beforehand to discuss the salary issue.

Although Burlington councillor John Taylor questioned the need to discuss the issue privately, Halton region CAO Pat Moyle urged the move into closed session, noting that the region will soon begin negotiating collective agreements with seven employee groups.

The decision to adopt the cap on salary increases resulted in a 0.2 per cent tax decrease on all regional services except policing. While the average taxpayer will have to fork over about $20 more this year, that extra money will pay for additional policing costs.

Earlier in the budget process, councillors questioned $2.4 million in wage and benefit increases that helped drive up the Halton police budget by 6.9 per cent this year. Although the region has the responsibility for collecting taxes for policing, it has no say in the police budget, which is approved independently by the police services board.

The most recent collective bargaining agreement with police spread out a 9.2 per cent wage increase over three years.

However, regional chair Gary Carr says he is pleased with the budget and proud of what he describes as “without a doubt, the best record on taxes across the country.”

Pointing to four years of near tax freezes at the regional level, Carr credits the philosophy of ensuring growth pays for itself through development charges. He says that has allowed the region to almost triple the amount of money it spends on transportation projects without passing along costs to taxpayers.

However, the region has also been helped by the phase-out of GTA pooling to contribute to Toronto’s social services costs. For 2011, the savings for Halton amounted to $5.8 million.

And while this year’s tax hit might be light, residents will see water and wastewater rates – paid through local hydro companies – increase by 4.1 per cent in 2011. For the average household, the increase means homeowners will pay $798 a year, up from $767 last year.

The budget will be considered by the full regional council on Wednesday (today).

URGENT NOTICE FOR PEOPLE IN CLARK / BENNETT AREA

158PM UPDATE

As at 1300 hours, Union Gas advises that approximately 400 homes have service restored. They hope to have the remainder completed this afternoon.
 
 
 

815AM UPDATE

Just received a call from Hawthorne Village PS and school classes are on for today despite the fire damage and Union Gas workers across the street. 

745AM UPDATE

It looks like half the homes have been brought back online throughout the night by Union Gas workers.  Many of you have emailed me around 2 or 3 AM saying that they were there…wow thats amazing.  Union Gas stated this morning they are looking at getting everyone back up by later on this morning.  If someone can stay home today as they go around or if you can have a neighbour with your key it could speed things up.  If not, they will leave a contact number and as soon as you get home … call and they will have someone out very soon.

Again, I will try to find out how we can help this family out because I along with other people have been blown away by the tweets, emails and phone calls of concern and support fo this family, especially at this time of year.  I was just on air with Scott Fox from Z1035 Morning Show (click HERE for the interview)and HE’S been called as well by hundreds of people on how they can help out.  THIS is why Milton is the best place in the world!  Updates will be coming soon.

1149PM UPDATE

Some gas services have been restored for homes in the affected area.  I was at the warming centre at EC Drury earlier this evening and spoke with the represetnatives at Union Gas.  The number of homes affected are approximately 500, instead of the originally reported 1200.  They are running into some delays due to water in the pipelines that has to be removed.

Ive asked them to send me updates as the process goes and I’ll do my best to update this site as it comes in.

I spoke with Regional Chair Gary Carr (who is at the warming station as we speak) and he updated me that the union gas worker who was injured suffered second degree burns to his face and is at Milton Hospital with family.  Everything looks good so far.

I also wanted to say big thanks to other Milton Councillors who came out to the warming station to lend a hand.  Regional Councillor Colin Best, Ward 2 Councillor Greg Nelson and Ward 8 Councillor Zeeshan Hamid.  We have a great team and this just proves it more.

AGAIN…there is a warming centre at EC Drury set up for people with no heat and they will put families up at the Best Western overnight so please, if you are at home and its cold especially with small children, head out to that area.  Union Gas is doing what they can to get people up and running and it might be by the early hours of the morning before all service is restored.

Stay tuned!

806PM UPDATE

Ive uploaded CHCH News coverage of todays events.  They were there on the scene and did extensive coverage of today’s fire and have an interview with the home owner as well.  Great Job CHCH News.

 

Regarding homes that are currently in the process of having their gas turned off, PLEASE NOTE that there is a warming centre at EC Drury School on Ontario Street.  It will get cold tonight and if youre by yourself, or dont think you can stay warm PLEASE go to the warming centre.  Better safe than sorry.

More updates to come.

737PM UPDATE

For some more information on today’s events go to MILTONSEARCH.COM and their coverage of the fire.  Between tweets of todays events, phone calls from obviously stressed out and scared residents in Ward 6, its been a busy day.  Many people have been asking how they can help this family out.  From what Ive been told by Councillor Colin Best is that the Red Cross has been called in and taking care of the immediate needs of the family.  I should have more information tomorrow on how you can help out.

From the last news release I’ve received Mayor Gord Krantz is still on the scene from about 630PM onwards reviewing the progress.  Thanks to everyone who tweeted, re-tweeted updates from myself and others on the scene and for your generous inquiries to help people out.  THIS is what makes Milton the best place in the world.

Say a prayer for the family involved and I will have some more information tomorrow.

721PM UPDATE

NEWS RELEASE

December 15, 2010

Structural fire contained in Milton’s Beaty neighbourhood 

On Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at approximately 2:30 p.m., a structural fire occurred at the intersection of Clark Avenue and Bennett Blvd in Milton. The fire is suspected to have been caused by damage to a natural gas line.

The fire has now been extinguished by the Milton Fire Department, and the area is safe for residents.

Three of nine interconnected townhomes at the intersection of Clark and Bennett have been affected by the fire. Approximately 10 to 20 homes in the area were evacuated.

Non-life threatening injuries were sustained by one Union Gas worker, who is currently in hospital.

As part of the repair process, natural gas service to approximately 500 customers in the area may be temporarily interrupted. The natural gas supply has been shut off to the affected residential area of Yates Blvd to the north, Thompson Road to the west, Clark Blvd to the south and Bennett and McDowell Avenues to the east.

Please note that Union Gas representatives will need to enter affected homes and businesses to safely turn on all natural gas appliances and equipment. Union Gas employees or their representatives showing proper identification will be going door-to-door to do this. If residents cannot be at home, please consider leaving a key and access instructions with a neighbour.

In the unlikely event that your home has no heat and you do not have friends or family nearby to visit, Halton Region has opened a warming centre in the auditorium of E.C. Drury High School at 215 Ontario Street South in Milton. The centre will be open as long as needed. Families are advised to bring books, activities, etc., to keep children entertained during their time at the centre. No pets will be allowed in the warming centre.

Please ensure at least one member of your household remains at home as Union Gas representatives need to turn on all natural gas appliances and equipment in affected homes in order to restore gas service.

For continued updates, contact 311 or visit www.milton.ca until the situation has been resolved. For Union Gas customer service, call 1-877-969-0999.

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For further information, please contact:         On Duty Staff Sergeant

                                                                        Halton Regional Police Service
905-825-4777 ext. 2400

                                                                        Andrea Stass

                                                                        Manager, Public Affairs and Media Relations

                                                                        Union Gas Limited

                                                                        519-365-1010