Champion Editorial Comments on 3 Bag Limit

Unloading baggage

We fully support Halton Region’s plan to reduce the bi-weekly number of garbage bags residents will be able to place curbside before a user-pay system kicks in.

Next spring (April 1, 2013), residents will be provided with complimentary bag tags to affix to any garbage bags beyond their three-bag limit (currently residents enjoy a six-bag limit) they place at the curb on their regularly-scheduled waste collection day.

Five months later, on September 9, 2013, after having had ample opportunity to monitor and adjust their waste habits, residents will be asked to pay $2 for each tag they affix to garbage bags beyond the three-bag minimum.

There will be some exemptions granted, to those living in townhouses with common collection pile areas, those with diaper/medical condition-related waste as well as a two-week exemption for everyone immediately following the December holiday period.

While some municipalities have similar limits to free waste collection — Durham’s bi-weekly limit is three bags and Peel’s weekly limit is two bags — other municipalities — like Wellington (Guelph) — charge residents for every bag collected on garbage day.

We believe the Region’s tag concept is an incentive for Halton residents to be less wasteful and more thoughtful when deciding what should and shouldn’t get thrown out. The goal is to reduce the amount of Halton waste ending up in the landfill and, by doing so, extending the number of years before the landfill will be full. Regional staff say a three-bag limit could extend the landfill by as much as four years, creating an overall savings of $15 million.

Halton has been a leader in waste diversion among GTA municipalities with a rate of 57 per cent. That success is due, in part, to 85 per cent of homes already placing three garbage bags or less to the curb.

Only five per cent of Halton homes don’t participate in the Blue Box program each week, while 70 per cent of residents have been regular users of GreenCart since its Halton launch in mid-2008.

In order to help Halton homeowners reduce their waste, the Region is also planning to expand its Blue Box program to include mixed plastics like clear clamshells and yogurt and pudding cups, empty steel paint cans and cardboard spiral cans, which are commonly used for products such as refrigerated dough, frozen juices, chips, nuts and other snacks, powdered drink mixes and baby formula, shortening and powdered cleansers.

With this boost to the Blue Box program will come a larger 22-gallon container to hold the additional recyclable items.

Hopefully these initiatives will convince more of us to divert our waste and maintain Halton’s place among the greenest communities in the GTA.

Blue Bins With Lids? Could be coming soon.

Coming up at tomorrow’s Region of Halton Planning & Public Works meeting will be a report on the Blue Box Litter Containment Study.  As some might remember this past spring, there were a number of days that were very windy not only in ward 6 but everywhere in the town of Milton.

During these windy days of spring, a number of people came home daily to piles of recycled waste all over lawns, in parks and along the sides of many roads.  It almost came to be expected that whatever day your garbage was to be collected, the wind would blow it away.

I never really saw it as much of a problem since the Blue Box program began many moons ago, but this time it felt different.  Every week the number of email’s I received would increase.  “Why is the garbage all over the place?” “What is the town going to do with all the flying garbage?”

Garbage collection in Milton is handled by the Region of Halton and after a few windy weeks, it was brought up at Regional Council and hence this report was prepared.

From the report the recommendation is as follows:

RECOMMENDATION

1. THAT Council approve the 22 gallon Blue Box as the new standard Blue Box in Halton Region as outlined in Report No. PW-65-12 re: “Blue Box Litter Containment Study”.
 2. THAT Council authorize staff to issue a Request for Proposal for the manufacture and supply of a 22 gallon Blue Box with an affixed lid.

The report outlines a number of different options in order to handle the flying recycling debris problem that Milton has faced over since this past spring, including lids on the blue boxes, accepting recycled materials in clear plastic bags, or going to the “new standard” 22 gallon blue box.

Obviously there will be additional costs to the Region to order, produce and deliver these new 22 gallon Blue Boxes which will be subsidized by taxpayers.

Is this something you feel is needed at this point?  Can the Region provide better communications / instruction to homeowners to better pack their blue boxes in order to avoid this flying debris problem we’re just now facing?

To give you an idea, here’s the financial impact from the report:

FINANCIAL/PROGRAM IMPLICATIONS

Based on the annual average number of Blue Boxes distributed each year, the cost increase as a result of implementing the 22 gallon Blue Box as the new standard is an estimated $28,600 per year.

The annual purchase of 2,000 Blue Boxes with an affixed lid is estimated to be $30,000.

As a result, a total of $58,600 will be incorporated into the 2013 Budget and Business Plan for consideration.

Let me know what you think in the comments or email me mike@mikecluett.ca – on Twitter www.twitter.com/mike_cluettor Facebook!

 

AMO Update – Post Ottawa

Over the next couple of days, I will get a more detailed accounting of what Milton councillors did on our 3 day conference in Ottawa.  I promise 🙂

For those that don’t know, myself along with a number of Milton Councillors attended the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference in Ottawa.  This gives local elected officials an opportunity to meet, discuss ideas that are important to their constituents, attend workshops and seminars as well as network with provincial government officials as well.

Last year a number of councillors went to the conference in London Ontario to meet with the infrastructure minister as well as the provincial health minister to stress the importance of the expansion of Milton District Hospital.  At that point we were armed with over 6,000 plus fresh signatures from the Grow Milton Hospital campaign as well as the previous Friends of Milton Hospital’s 35,000 plus signed cards from residents to let them know the number one issue in our town was the hospital.

You’ll remember that shortly after that (and a looming provincial election in the coming weeks MIGHT have had a LITTLE something to do with the announcement /end sarcasm) we received word that the expansion was going to move forward.

This year there were a number of issues that face Milton as we continue to grow in leaps and bounds.  Unofficially our population ticker is over the 100,000 mark and headed even higher.  There is a lack of schools being committed in Milton, which is one of the main reasons that our Halton District School Board Trustee Donna Danielli attended the conference for this meeting.

We were originallytrying to meet with the Education Minister Laurel Broten, but given the high pressure of the teachers negotiations, she was nowhere to be found in Ottawa (same as the finance minister oddly enough 🙂 ) but we ended up with Deputy Education Minister instead.

The deputy minister knew of Milton’s needs well before we got there as we are one of many municipalities that are facing these school shortages.  Donna was our “point person” during this meeting as she faces these issues on a daily basis, hearing from residents about when new schools will be ready, why there are 30 portables in each location and when will it stop.  Milton council members don’t have jurisdiction in this at all.  I got emails from folks telling me that we shouldn’t be bothering since we have no control.

Its true.  We dont have an official say in this and our presence there was mainly symbolic.  But it did make a point to every minister we met that Milton meant business.  If you follow the news at all, you know there is a lot going on right now with the education ministry and the “negotiations” with school boards and teachers, which was probably the reason she didnt make it to the AMO conference.  I am confident that we will be hearing some good news soon regarding some of our much needed schools in Milton, after everything else is being dealt with.  So stay tuned for that news.

That wasn’t the only meeting myself and the other councillors attended in the 3 days.  There were a number of meetings with government ministers to discuss items like slot revenues, the horse racing industry and MPAC issues we are having. 

As outlined by Kim Arnott in the Milton Canadian Champion recently, we could be possibly facing an issue of property tax increases here in Milton and other areas due to MPAC being delayed in their reassessment of homes.  Here’s the article.

Assessment issues could impact Milton property taxes

A “hair-raising” property tax increase could be in the works for Milton as a result of assessment issues that are beyond the Town’s control.  A combination of delayed assessment updates and resolved assessment appeals could result in a property tax impact of as much as $2 million, or a six to seven per cent increase on local property taxes.When combined with education and regional taxes, the result could be an increase of two to three per cent on the combined tax bill that’s mailed to local residents.  

“It’s making the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” said Councillor Mike Cluett. “This is very important.”A report delivered to council last night by Milton treasurer Linda Leeds outlined the challenges for the coming year.  The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), the provincial body responsible for assessing properties and assigning values for taxation purposes, will be conducting a province-wide reassessment next year.

Prior to the completion of that reassessment, an attempt is currently underway to resolve outstanding assessment appeals from prior years, with a focus on commercial and industrial properties.  However, that means that assessors are involved in hearings and not available to undertake assessments of new properties so they can be added to municipal tax rolls.

This is particularly problematic for rapidly-developing municipalities like Milton. The assessment and addition of new properties throughout the year — known as supplementary assessments — allows the Town to begin collecting taxes from those properties.  A delay in adding new properties to the municipal tax rolls means the Town needs to finance the expansion of services to accommodate new residents and business while it waits for the cash to come in.

In the 2012 budget, taxes from supplementary assessments were anticipated to be $2 million. However, so far this year MPAC has assessed only 116 of more than 800 new residential properties, for a total of only $77,413 in property taxes.

Staff is particularly concerned with the possibility that new commercial and industrial properties – which typically carry large tax bills – may not be assessed in a timely fashion.  The attempt to rapidly resolve outstanding assessment appeals could also impact on the town’s finances.

When property owners appeal their assessments, they are required to pay the full assessment until a decision is made on the appeal. If an appeal is successful, the Town issues a refund for taxes paid.   

As the 2012 budget was established prior to the announcement of the plan to try and resolve outstanding appeals, only $230,000 was budgeted for refunds arising from successful appeals.  However, with 94 individual non-residential properties in Milton combining for 591 appeals (some dating back to 2001), the town could easily be on the hook for refunds that far surpass the budgeted amount.While the town has no direct control over MPAC, councillors did pass a resolution to ask MPAC to undertake the necessary supplementary assessments, and resolved to bring the issue to the attention of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

One of the seminar/workshops that AMO had this week was an update from MPAC by Chair of the Board Dan Mathieson and Antoni Wisniowski, the new CAO and the status of a number of things, and whats to come.  Needless to say it didn’t have a lot of answers to questions during the presentations, but they did do a Q&A with attendees afterwards.  As you would expect, Regional Councillor Colin Best was right up there for the questions and highlighted many of our concerns raised in that motion Milton council passed.

From what we were told at the conference, the slides and possibly video of some of these sessions might be available so if and when it does, I will post here on my site.

I will get into more detail soon regarding the different sessions myself and members of council did attend.  We were there en masse and we tried to spread ourselves out to maximize our numbers but there was still some overlap in some of the sessions.

If you have any questions or want some specific information on sessions I attended on behalf of the Town of Milton, either post a  comment or send me an email Mike@MikeCluett.ca

Discover Milton Chats with Mike Cluett

October 2012 marks the half-way point for the term of Milton’s Town Council.  Discover Milton (D.M.) recently had a chance to chat with Ward 6 Councillor Mike Cluett about how life is going for him in his first term. We covered a variety of topics about Milton and even learned a thing or two we didn’t already know about him.

Cluett is a Brampton native, and married with two kids.  His family moved to Milton in 2003, and he has always been involved on various committees before running for office in the October 2010 election.  He is a first term councillor representing ward six, one of the newly created wards.  Ward 6 has boundaries of Thompson Rd (West), Fourth Line (East), Derry Rd (North), and Britannia Rd (South).

D.M.:  What’s been your biggest personal challenge since you’ve been elected?

M.C.:  “The biggest challenge so far since being elected is doing my best to maintain a good work-life balance.  The position of councillor is part time and many of us have full time jobs/businesses and it’s difficult to keep the balance with everything that’s going on.  The key is having a very supportive family, which I am very lucky to have.”

D.M:  What’s been your biggest political challenge?

M.C.:  “Communication with the residents in my ward & in the Town of Milton has been the biggest challenge.  During election campaigns I find that people get engaged in the process and are aware of issues.  Unfortunately in between election campaigns it becomes more difficult to engage residents in discussions regarding tax increases, government spending, and what services to increase/decrease.  I have been working hard utilizing social media (Twitter/Facebook) to try to engage residents in these discussions and get them involved in the process.  I have always believed that you shouldn’t just see your elected officials during election time.  It’s what’s done in between the campaign that matters.”

Meeting Milton residents is Cluett’s favourite part of the job.  “It’s great to meet new people all the time who are just as passionate about Milton as I am.” Cluett meets a lot of people at community events including the recent Cruisen on a Hot Summer Night.

His least favourite part of the job is when residents come to him with a problem and he can’t do anything about it.  “Sometimes it’s the responsibility of another level of government,” he said.  Besides attending events, Cluett takes time to regularly canvass his ward.  He recalls one resident handing him a jar of garlic pickles following a conversation on traffic calming and cell phone towers.

“They were awesome, and I’ll be sure to go back there door-knocking again soon too,” he said.

D.M.:  How would you evaluate the Council’s progress so far?

M.C.:  “The voters will decide how well we are progressing at election time. I think this council is doing an OK job but in reference to tax levels, communications, and focus I would rank us as “needs improvement.”  We can always do better.”

Cluett feels Council’s biggest challenge is to balance the town’s needs against the continued growth and keeping voters informed on various projects due to start before the end of this term.

“There are a lot of road projects that will be started before the end of next term such as the Main Street expansion, Derry Road underpass, Tremaine Road widening as well Steeles expansion.” Cluett continued adding the key to it all would be to keep the voters informed.

The future could see him with a new position with Milton Council following the next municipal election. He has recently announced his intention to run for Regional Council wards 1,6,7,8.

“Milton has only 3 councillors at the Region and each representative there needs to be focused, knowledgeable and a strong communicator,” he said.  He made the decision after speaking with voters and hearing their frustration. 

“There are many things happening now that will have an effect on the quality of life in Milton, and we can’t afford to take chances on who represents us.”

D.M.:  How do you feel social networking (Twitter, Facebook) helps politicians?

M.C.:  “It helps connect you to the voters. It’s become such an integral part of our life, when something happens many people jump online, or check Facebook & Twitter for information.  The important part of social media is to engage people in conversations. Anyone can use it to spout off campaign platforms or messages of the day.  It’s key to have direct interaction with people through conversation and if used properly can help increase voter turnout.”

Turnout for the 2010 municipal election was approximately 32.6%.

D.M.:  Where did the nickname “The Mouth of Milton “come from?  How did Ann’s megaphone come about?

M.C.:  “I have been privileged to know the Tiger Jeet Singh family and Troy Newton (Troy’s Diner) and to help out as much as I can with their charity causes like Tigerfest and Troy’s Toy Drive.  We were sitting in the diner one day when someone suggested I get a megaphone for the event (even though many would say I don’t need one) where Troy blurted out “The Mouth of Milton” in reference to “The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart” in the old days of wrestling.  In promoting last year’s Milton Tiger fest, I even recorded a video pro wrestling style as the Mouth of Milton.  The name just stuck.”

Cluett even had a megaphone painted like a mouth by local artist Ann Kornuta.  The name is oddly fitting, as Cluett is a former Disc Jockey (D.J.), and emcee for dances and weddings.

Councillor Mike Cluett can be reached via his email address: mike@mikecluett.ca on Facebook, or on Twitter as @Mike_Cluett and through his website www.mikecluett.ca

Boyne Survey Moves Forward

With the approval of the Boyne Survey financial agreements, we are moving closer to adding another estimated 50,000 new people to the town of Milton.  I have some concerns about the estimated total however.  Municipalities have been burned in the past underestimating the number of people projected for each area, which can lead to under servicing of the area, not just by the town or region, but by the province of Ontario as well.

We don’t have to look very far in the Greater Milton Area (GMA) to see problems that the Region of Peel had to endure over the past several years.  There is a new reality to home ownership in many parts of Canada and Halton isn’t immune to this…multiple families per home. 

With the prices of homes on the rise, the cost of home ownership is also increasing.  There are families who have difficulty paying day to day bills in our economy with both parents working.  It is apparent that this new reality of home ownership will mean more people living in areas than planned for.  This can affect many services including water and waste as well as provincial services like education.

Its important to keep in mind our estimations going forward when site plans are submitted to council for review and approval.  When our reports state that 50,000 new residents will move into the Boyne Survey when its all said and done, I worry that it might be a lot more.  I would be more comfortable planning for a higher total in the range of 60-70,000 so that we can over estimate instead of under estimate when it comes to servicing of the new survey.

More on this to come, but here’s the story by Julia Le from the Milton Canadian Champion.

Council approves agreement to develop Boyne Survey

 

The Town of Milton is one step closer to developing 2,300 acres area of land bounded by Louis St. Laurent Avenue to the north, James Snow Parkway to the east, Britannia Road to the south and Tremaine Road to the west.

During a special meeting Monday night, councillors unanimously approved the Boyne financial agreement between the Town and the Boyne Landowners Group to develop the Boyne Survey Secondary Plan area.

It’s the third residential growth area located in the Milton urban expansion area. The other two growth areas are the Bristol and Sherwood surveys, which have been under construction for most of the past decade.

The Boyne Survey Secondary Plan area is planned to accommodate an additional 50,000 residents when fully developed. It’s intended to integrate with the existing urban area.

The report outlines the deal agreed upon by the Town’s negotiation team, which met with representatives of the Boyne Landowners Group over the past several months to iron out the details of the planning and financial requirements associated with developing the Boyne Survey.

The landowners group has agreed to pay a capital contribution on a per unit basis in addition to development charges when residential building permits are issued.

The contribution is expected to generate about $38 to $40 million, which will be used to finance infrastructure required to support the growth of the area. This in turn, will minimize the impact on property taxes and assist in keeping dept capacity within legislative and policy limits.

Town Treasurer Linda Leeds said the Boyne Landowners Group has also agreed to provide, at no cost to the Town, a total of 105 acres of parkland within the secondary plan area.  

“In addition, the landowners have agreed to acquire and transfer to the Town at no cost lands that are known as the CMHL (Central Milton Holdings) lands,” she said.

This additional 158.4 acres of parkland is located just outside the secondary plan area. The acquisition of the CMHL, located on the north side of Main Street, west of the CN Rail line and the 43.7 Ha (108 acres) of parkland known as the Jannock lands, is expected to be finalized now that council has approved the financial agreement. It will accommodate the community-scale facilities required to serve not only future residents of the Boyne Survey, but also the broader community.

“The CMHL lands are strategically located. They’ll be joining onto the Jannock lands that overall will create the largest urban park in Canada, which is a real legacy for this town council to be able to secure,” said Leeds.

Other agreements include the early dedication of lands so that the Town can construct roads and plan for the appropriate infrastructure in accordance with the Town’s capital program.

Council heard from delegate Glen Schnarr of the Boyne Landowners Group, who expressed his personal satisfaction with the agreement.

“In our minds since we conceived the notion of the off-site parkland dedication of the CMHL lands so close to the core of downtown Milton, at the end of the day personally I am very proud to be a part of that,” said Schnarr, president of land development consulting firm Glen Schnarr & Associates Inc. “I know that the landowners group feels it’s a monumental accomplishment and I believe through working with your staff what we have achieved if the agreement is approved this evening is a major moment in the history of Milton.”

Mayor Gord Krantz thanked the Town staff and the landowners for spending a considerable amount of hours pulling together the agreement.

He told The Milton Canadian Champion that growth should pay for itself and the town is well on track of making it happen.

Bill Mann, the Town’s director of planning and development, used the analogy of the agreement being the first domino in a set of dominoes ready to fall into place.

Now that the agreement has been approved by town council, he said secondary plan , with minor medications made, will go before them again in the fall. It will then be passed to Halton Region’s director of planning, the delegated authority to give final approval.

If all goes according to plan, the developers will then enter an agreement with the Region and be part of the Region’s infrastructure staging plan and allocation program. A part of this process will be the planning of subdivisions through the town. By 2014, the Town can expect to issue building permits for the expected 17,500 residential units to be built in the Boyne Survey area.

Mann said the Town is on the right track to building a balanced community within Milton.

“Non-residential growth is a direct result of residential growth,” he said, adding that big companies are looking for a local employment base that’s growing because of affordable housing.

Mann said the Town has been making a conscious effort at providing a full range of retail shops while maintaining the downtown core as the centre focus. With the anticipated addition of the CHML lands, Mann said residents can look forward to 1,200 acres of green space that connects to the Jannock lands, Kelso Conservation Area, Country Heritage Park and is a gateway to the Niagara Escarpment.

The town is in its third phase of residential and employment growth originally designated in the 1997 Official Plan. The plan anticipated Halton Region’s delivery in 2000 of ‘The Big Pipe’, carrying Lake Ontario water up from Oakville to Milton, and a population that would grow to about 165,000 people by 2021.