Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Well maybe not frightful, but over the weekend we were reminded that winter is on its way with the light dusting of snow we received.

I think with that its a good time to remind residents of Milton about the Town’s snow removal policies.

Here is the link to the Town of Milton’s page that will give you all the information you’ll need with the upcoming winter season.  This will be the time of year myself, along with other council colleagues, will be getting the most calls and emails throughout the year.  When will our street be plowed?  How long after the snow starts will plowing begin? Why are some streets done first and mine last?

This should help you answer these and many more questions you might have.  Stay tuned to my Twitter feed as during these storms I will be posting updates provided to us from our staff as to when things will begin when the real snow hits us.

One of the main issues I’ll highlight here is allowing the plow.  I know its hard for many of us with busy lives, picking up kids, heading to hockey, going out shopping and getting back and forth to work daily but we have to keep in mind parking on our streets.  When the big snow comes its imperative that we do our best to keep our cars off the street and allow for the snow plows to go through.  Many unfavourable situations can be avoided by allowing the snow plows access to the street to keep them on time and our roads as clear as possible.

The Town will announce via the website and social media instances where parking considerations will be suspended so that we can keep the plows moving through the night.  Again, follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with those announcements.

Winter storms are not fun and we all want to ensure people can get in and out of their homes and have all the streets plowed as quickly as possible so if we keep some of the rules in mind, this will happen.

If you have any other questions, please let me know mike.cluett@milton.ca 

End of Daylight Savings Time This Weekend

The Town of Milton and the Milton Fire Department would like to remind you of some important information regarding the end of daylight savings time this weekend.


October 28, 2015

End of Daylight Savings Time prompts reminder to test smoke alarms and change batteries

This year, Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 1st, and the Milton Fire Department is recommending that residents install new batteries in their smoke alarms when they change back their clocks.

“In order for smoke alarms to do their job and save lives, they need to have working batteries,” explained Fire Chief Brian Ellsworth. “Once a year, old batteries should be replaced with new batteries. It is the law to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home, so what better opportunity to think about fire safety than during the extra hour we gain back this weekend.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms provide an early warning in order to survive a fire or CO poisoning incident. The law requires residents to have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. For added protection, it is recommended to also install smoke alarms inside all bedrooms and CO alarms adjacent to utility rooms and sleeping areas.

Tampering with or removing the batteries from your smoke alarms is against the law. Failure to comply with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements can result in a ticket for $235 or a fine of up to $50,000.

“The Milton Fire Department also recommends reviewing your personal and family’s emergency plan this fall,” added Chief Ellsworth. “Knowing how to respond when a smoke alarm sounds will help you and your loved ones survive an emergency situation.”

For more information on fire safety, visit www.miltonfire.ca or call 905-878-9251.

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For further information, please contact:

Brian Ellsworth, Fire Chief

905-878-7252, ext. 2807

Dave Pratt, Deputy Fire Chief

905-878-7252, ext. 2809

Changes Coming To Milton’s Election Sign Bylaw?

Here is a link to a story by Rachael Williams from the Milton Canadian Champion about the ever present sign mess that has happened over the last few election campaigns.


Election signs have been a part of democracy for as long as I can remember. As a child I remembered my father waiting to hear from all the candidates before he decided to choose which sign would be placed on our lawn for the duration of the campaign.

As the article states, there seems to be a movement to ban them from public roadways and only being able to be placed on private property.

While the site of endless signs adorn our roadways and lawns, I feel that trying to ban them is a knee jerk reaction that will end up putting a muzzle on democracy.

As someone who has had many signs with his name on them for the last 3 municipal election campaigns, I can tell you they do serve a purpose. They are there to communicate to the public who is running in their area and for what position.

Election signs increase the name recognition of those running and for someone like me who previously has held no public office, they go a long way.

Sadly over the last few campaigns in Milton (provincial, municipal and now federal) the sign teams for the candidates have taken liberty on where they place them.

We can go back to the municipal campaign of 2014 in Milton where we had over 60 candidates vying for many positions. Signs were placed along the roadways, intersections and side streets like it was going out of style. During that campaign, myself and other candidates were asked why do we need so many of them.

Derry Road was a great example of over doing the signs. A majority of the 60 candidates were running in wards 1,6,7 & 8 and driving or walking along Derry was a challenge with literally hundreds of signs. It was a mess to say the least. It didn’t get better as the campaign wore on.

It got so bad that Councillor Zeeshan Hamid and I actually removed many of our signs along that and other routes because it was getting way too cluttered. The signs defeated the purpose of name recognition and it turned into sign wars.

Some candidates signs were targeted, removed, slashed or simply destroyed which added to an even further mess. Many candidates took liberty with the rules and began to place them on the “town portion” of people’s lawns without the home owners consent.

If you were a home owner with a corner lot, signs were placed strategically so that there was a presumption of support from the home owner, leaving them with the question “Can I take these down?”

I along with many councillors have received phone calls and emails to inquire as to what can be done seeing how signs are a municipal responsibility it is up to us to make changes to that bylaw.

For me, an outright ban isn’t the answer and it seems that’s the direction were headed. Recently Halton Region passed a bylaw banning election signs on regional roads like Derry, Steeles, and James Snow Parkway. Mind you, the previous council passed this bylaw one meeting before the new council was sworn in. At that point the outgoing regional council unanimously approved it.

If this bylaw had waited one more meeting, as I was a newly elected member of Halton Regional council, it wouldn’t have been unanimous.

Do we need a better sign bylaw for election signs? I think so. An outright ban? Nope.

Here are some of my ideas for a new sign bylaw:

* minimum distance between signs be 500 m at the least – What benefit is there to seeing a candidates name 20 times as you drive along Bronte St along every light pole.

* sign friendly zones – We have some intersections where there is enough room to have space for signs where each candidate is limited to one sign in these zones.

* stronger penalties for violations for candidates – Sadly the onus is on our town staff to collect the signs that violate the bylaw. These are resources we shouldn’t have to use if the candidates teams simply read and understood the rules. Will there be some errors? Quite likely. But we are running into situations where signs get removed, candidates teams are informed as to why and then a day later, the sign returns in the same spot. Penalties for this need to be increased.

* clarification of the “town portion” of the roadway – People in residential areas shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by having signs placed on their property without their consent because the sign is on the town portion.

* signs placed in the area you’re running in – The last municipal election is a perfect example of this. Many of the candidates had signs in wards they weren’t running in. We had candidates running in wards 2,3,4 & 5 and who had signs in ward 1 & 6. I had numerous calls from people asking why I was running against Clr Colin Best because his opponent had signs in my area. This leads to confusion for voters and inevitably can lead to them not bothering to vote. Your signs should go in the area you are running in and nowhere else.

These are just some of the recommendations I would bring forward in an updated bylaw for election signs.

As a past & future candidate I ask of my colleagues to do their best to help stop this mess that’s happening. It’s your name on those signs and now people are getting upset. Don’t let them be upset at you.

Don’t just leave the signs to the sign team and forget about them and just to let you know, I have never had someone come to me and say “I voted for you because you had the most signs out there”

If we ban them, we’re also making it difficult for future candidates to run for election and in turn giving incumbents more power to keep their positions. We should always be doing what we can to help democracy when we can. And this is coming from someone who would benefit from a sign ban.

Campaigns need to step up. If you can put them up, you can keep them fixed and then take them down. Don’t expect town staff to collect them for you or expect a hefty bill.

We all love our town and we want to keep it clean. Walk the talk and make sure signs are placed legally and with some common sense in mind.

Let’s hope we remember this as we inevitably will enter into yet another discussion of banning signs. Let’s work together to make some common sense rules that will benefit everyone and keep democracy alive.

Next Step In Regional Representation Review

Halton Region MapDuring the last election campaign I spoke to many residents in Milton about the importance of “Fairness For Milton.” You can read those ideas here.

Recently the Region passed a notice of motion to ask Halton municipalities (Milton, Oakville, Burlington & Halton Hills) to provide a report on their support for changes to the make up of regional council.

Right now the make up is as follows:

Oakville (7)

Burlington (7)

Halton Hills (3)

Milton (3)

The additional member is the Regional Chair Gary Carr and he is elected across Halton.

This coming Monday, Milton Town Council will be discussing a staff report ES 15-15 to review our ideas and options to bring to Halton Region.

You can find a link to that staff report here (its 15 pages long, but still an excellent read)  Milton staff report highlights a number of different options, including one to move to weighted voting where each municipality has a number of votes based on its population.  I’ll discuss more in a later blog.

Once this is approved by Milton Town Council, the report will be forwarded to Halton Region staff and await the other municipalities reports.  If 3 of 4 Halton municipalities agree that changes are needed, the process moves forward.

There is a time frame needed in order to make these changes before the next election.  If nothing is done or agreed to by Halton Regional council by 2017, it would be impossible to make the changes before October 2018 which is the next municipal election.

Have a look at the report and let me know what you think.

Good News Bad News Day for Milton

If you’ve been following the news recently, yesterday was a bit of a roller coaster for Milton.

downloadEarlier in the day we found out that CN, despite its assertions to the contrary, must apply to the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) for approval of their proposed intermodal in Milton.

What does this mean? It means that it isn’t going to be smooth sailing as they thought it would be.  In the grand scheme of things it means it’s another hurdle CN must climb before anything is approved.

You can read about the decision here (Inside Halton/Milton Canadian Champion – Rachael Williams)  Further to that, there is a decision pending to see if CN has to complete a full environmental assessment with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) as part of their plans.  If this is ordered by the CEAA, CN will have yet another hurdle to overcome before anything happens with the intermodal facility.

Is it good news for Milton? Yes it is.  It goes with what Halton Region municipalities have been asking for since day one.  Follow the process any other developer would have to follow in Milton.  Is it perfect? Not at all, but it shows CN that they simply can not make assumptions and they do indeed need to follow a process.

There’s the “good news” for Milton.  Now, to the bad.

mevAfter close to 8 years of planning by the Town of Milton, Halton Region and Laurier University, the Province of Ontario made a decision for a new location of a university campus.  It wasn’t Milton.

The Province announced yesterday that the City of Markham (the municipality that tried for an NHL arena without a franchise) was the winner and approved a new York University / Seneca College campus beating out 12 others including Milton – which was considered a favourite – and Barrie.

You can read about this decision here (Inside Halton/Milton Canadian Champion – Rachael Williams)  Dr Max Blouw, who is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurier University, stated that they will indeed re-submit the proposal to the Province of Ontario in 2016.  The small sliver of a silver lining is that all is not done with new university campuses in Ontario.  They did say that in spring 2016 there will be another bid process opened up and the Milton Education Village has another shot.

I spoke of roadblocks earlier and this is one for Laurier University and the Town of Milton’s plans for the Education Village – located at Tremaine Road from Derry Road to Britannia Road – and potential economic development along with much needed job opportunities for Milton.  The Education Village, along with the Derry Green Corporate Business Park, is one of the keys to job growth and success in the Town of Milton.

In a press release by the Town of Milton (see here) we have committed to forge ahead with these plans and continue our advocacy with the Province to approve this campus.  Laurier University along with Dr Max Blouw willl press on and resubmit their proposal in the spring of 2016.

The question remains is this.  Why not Milton? Milton being the fastest growing municipality in Canada, is a prime location in the GTA for a university campus.  It has the full support of all parties involved including the Town, Halton Region and Laurier University along with their future partners.  The land is ready, available and serviceable.  There is also a facility in place that will be part of the campus up and running – a little thing called the Mattamy National Centre for Cycling which is now being prepared for the Pan AM Games in roughly 50 days.

All the pieces are in place, yet brushed aside by the Province.  These questions will hopefully be answered over the course of time and between now and the next proposal date, I will continue to advocate to the Province of Ontario, our MPP and anyone else who will listen, that the Milton Education Village / Laurier University campus should be approved as quickly as possible.

Jobs, economic growth and not to mention the Province of Ontario’s long time promise of post secondary spaces are keys to success.  Maybe the Province thought that a few token announcement of a couple of additional GO Trains and a quick payment of ice storm funds would suffice for Milton.  Not in my opinion.

Its time the Province of Ontario sees this.  With Milton growing as fast as it is, at the behest of the Province itself, with close to 400,000 residents expected by 2041, the provincial government must recognize that this is a priority area and the right decisions need to be made at the first opportunity, not as an afterthought.