Key Issue #1 – Taxation
It is imperative that Milton be managed in a fiscally responsible, customer-service oriented and forward-looking manner.
Municipal taxes have been increasing at twice the rate of inflation for more than a decade, with this past year setting a high-water mark at 5 percent, which is not sustainable. Milton is eroding its considerable tax advantage over other GTA municipalities and is making a once affordable community unaffordable for young families and senior citizens. Supported by the majority of Council, I led efforts to hold municipal taxes at 0% for ten straight years. I don’t believe taxes should increase beyond the rate of inflation, if at all, whenever appropriate.
The Town of Milton has adequate sources of revenue with which to fund its programs and services to Miltonians without raising property taxes beyond the rate of inflation. The Canada-based Fraser Institute, one of the top independent research firms in the world, reviews the myths and realities of municipal taxation in southern Ontario. John Challinor has been a member of the Institute for more than 30 years. You can read more about how Ontarians face growing property tax burden in many municipalities here.
Key Issue #2 – Growth and Planning
It is critical that Milton’s growth be managed properly.
Unfortunately, Milton is unprepared for the future in terms of the next stage of long-term planning and municipal service delivery because of a lack of foresight. The forward-looking leadership, creativity and sustainability associated with the Destiny Milton and Destiny Milton II plans developed by Milton Council in the mid-1990s and early 2000s are noticeably lacking in current plans being considered by the municipality. And, the Town needs to press the Province of Ontario and the Region of Halton much harder than it has on the need to invest in our community in a timely fashion, particularly as it pertains to new road construction, most notably Britannia Road and Highway 401. Twelve years ago, the problem was Derry Road. Today it’s Britannia Road. It appears that the Region has learned very little from its past growth and planning mistakes.
The Town of Milton has adequate planning policies in place to host affordable residential housing in its neighbourhoods as well as attract job-creating industries in its industrial parks. Better coordination with developers and other levels of government is required, specifically around supportive infrastructure, like arterial roads, interchanges and health, recreational and social services facilities. The Canada-based Fraser Institute, one of the top independent research firms in the world, reviews the challenges associated with municipal planning in Ontario. John Challinor has been a member of the Institute for more than 30 years. You can read the full report form the Fraser Institute here.
Key Issue #3 – Service Delivery
It is vital that all Town of Milton services are affordable, excellent and relevant.
While a number of municipal services are delivered well in our community, could any be delivered better and more economically – and how do they mesh with the long-term plans for the community? Are there services we should be delivering that we aren’t? Are there services we shouldn’t be delivering any more but still do?
Key Issue #4 – The Public Good
It is an absolute that Milton Council and Town staff conduct themselves ethically.
In the 161-year history of the Town of Milton, there are only a handful of occasions where individual members of Council found themselves in criminal, ethical or legal conflict. Unfortunately, there have been three such instances in the last ten years, which is unacceptable. While all senior Town staff and most members of Council have conducted themselves above reproach, that has not been the case for all members of Council. An enhanced Code of Conduct is required for Council and senior staff, which would be signed annually.
Key Issue #5 – Community
It is important that no-one is left behind as Milton grows.
That means that Miltonians living in established urban and rural parts of the community must continue to have access to the most up-to-date amenities, Ideally, the only way a visitor to our community should be able to differentiate old from the new would be by the size of the trees and the design of the homes. The roads, parks and other common municipal infrastructure and services should be of the same quality and of similar vintage.
Key Issue #6 – Local and GO Transit
It is key that Milton have an affordable and effective local transit system that is linked to a useful GO Transit system.
Milton has had an independently-operated local public transit system since 1972. It has been changed to better serve Milton as the community has grown, including the arrival of GO Transit in 1998. Where could it improve? How could it more affordably serve the community? Are there alternative service delivery options available that would make it better? Is GO Transit properly aligned with the needs of Milton as it grows?
Interested in learning more about how Milton Transit could potentially be better? Read the independent analysis here.
Interested in learning more about GO Train service in Milton? Read the independent analysis here.
Both articles by Greg Gormick, a longtime friend of John’s and Canada’s foremost authority on passenger and commercial rail matters, including public transit.
Key Issue #7 – Safer Roads
I recently asked Town staff to give consideration to establishing an ongoing public education program related to public safety on our roads, directed towards cyclists, drivers and pedestrians called “Safe Roads Milton.”
The communications program would include three sections – one each for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. Each section would include three to five safety tips, covering off the most common roadway misdemeanours for each group. It would be found on the Town’s web site as well as through its current inventory of advertising tools – digital signage, facility message boards, painted sign boards, online and printed publications, and electronic, online and print advertising programs and more.
Other Important Issues
CN Intermodal: I have been keenly aware of this matter since Day One when it first surfaced in our community. Nothing has changed. I still don’t support it. Read more details about the proposed Milton terminal here by Greg Gormick, a longtime friend of John’s and Canada’s foremost authority on passenger and commercial rail matters, including public transit.
The Environment: While already bound by tough provincial legislation, the Town must ensure it continues to manage its operations in an environmentally sustainable manner
Jobs: If we want to make Milton the best place in Canada to live, work and play, Milton Council has a responsibility to create a positive environment for the business community to create jobs. As Chairman of the Destiny Milton Economic Development Task Force and the Founding Chairman of the Milton Economic Development Advisory Committee in the early and mid-1990Is, I led the creation of a successful strategy to encourage commercial/industrial investment and jobs to Milton through an effective marketing plan to promote our Highway 401 Industrial Park, an outreach program to industries that would realistically consider Milton as their new headquarters and the hiring of a full-time economic development officer. If elected, I will review our current economic development programs to ensure we are effectively positioning Milton as a community that is a primary consideration for commercial/industrial development and jobs.
Pearson International Airport Flight Path: Milton needs to be more effectively engaged with airport senior management on this issue. We used to be. I will ensure we re-engage with the airport on this matter.
By-law Enforcement: Too often, the responsibility for enforcement appears to unfairly rest with neighbours, rather than with the Town’s by-law enforcement officers. I will encourage the Town to be more pro-active than reactive, in future.
Inter-governmental Relations: Milton needs to be more directly engaged with other levels of government with respect to helping to fund and manage its growth requirements. The other levels of government are not currently supporting Milton’s requirements as they agreed to in 1993. I will ensure we re-engage effectively with the other levels of government,
Milton’s Heritage: The Town and its heritage-minded citizens have had issues when it comes to retaining historically-relevant buildings, neighbourhoods and other key features from our past. I have led and have also been supportive of the establishment and use of reasonable protective policies. I will continue to encourage protection of the key historic elements of our community in the face of provincially-driven growth dictates.