Issue #1 – Taxation
With the exception of the 2021 operating budget, most of the budgets approved by Milton Council since 2019 have not strengthened the financial sustainability of the municipality. I have been amongst a minority of councillors who have consistently expressed concern about the current financial situation, making reasonable suggestions to alleviate fiscal concerns and constructively enunciating what the Town’s operational priorities should be. I brought motions to the table each year during budget discussions that recommended inflation level-only increases, and further, identified specifically how such a budget could be established. While the Town’s fiscal challenges are forecast to decline in the mid-term, the near-term will be a challenge as long as the majority of councillors continue to dismiss the financial impact on taxpayers. Failure to act responsibly in the near-term will impair the mid-term and long-term financial health of the Town of Milton. Annual budget increases should track favourably against the annual rate of inflation, which annualized, is running at 3:7% for 2023. If re-elected, I will be calling for a 3% maximum property tax increase when Milton Council next reviews the budget in January 2023.
Issue #2 – Long-term Planning & Growth
Like the pending Regional Municipality of Halton Official Plan, the Town’s next Official Plan will set the direction for residential and commercial growth locally to 2051 and beyond. The long-range planning scenario decided by the current Chairman and most members of Regional Council threatens the ability of Milton to protect its mature and historic neighbourhoods, fails to provide multiple housing alternatives for new Miltonians and prevents the municipality from helping to create the volume of employment opportunities that permit residents to work locally. I helped Council and staff to develop a proposal that meets Milton’s growth requirements. The next Council will need to work with the Government of Ontario to ensure Milton gets what its residents need when it comes to housing and employment — and that needs to be reflected in both the Region’s and the Town’s next Official Plans. I have the proven experience to bring all decision-makers to the table to create a solution that works best for Milton.
Issue #3 – Effective Municipal Services
The Service Delivery Review, which I promised during the 2018 municipal election I would request of Milton Council if elected, was approved shortly after I came to office. It has resulted in several hundred thousand dollars worth of savings in the short-term but, more importantly, will result in automated and improved service delivery to Milton taxpayers, most notably over the next four years through investments in training, technology and work processes.
Issue #4 – 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.
Issue #5 – Local Transit & 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?
During the last municipal election, John recommended that Milton Transit consider alternate service delivery options like taxies, Uber and Lyft. They would complement regular bus transit to improve service on a given route or they would be introduced in areas not served by buses to build the service to a point where buses could then be introduced to service those areas. In 2021, an alternate service delivery program began in Milton using small vans. Interested in learning more about how Milton Transit could potentially be better? Read the independent analysis here.
Interested in learning how GO Train service in Milton could be improved? Read the independent analysis here.
Both papers were authored by Greg Gormick, a longtime friend of John’s and one of Canada’s foremost authorities on passenger and commercial rail matters, including public transit.
Watch this space on October 1 for Greg’s next white paper defining what a best-in-class GO Train service should look like.
Issue #6 – Traffic & Safer Roads
Over the last few years, I have been working with some of your neighbours in Ward 2 on a number of initiatives to reduce speeding and make our roads safer.
For example, urban shoulders (white lines) along Childs Drive were introduced in 2020 and had the effect of narrowing the driving lanes and reducing the average speed (for most drivers). I worked with Town of Milton Engineering Department staff to introduce them on Woodward Avenue (between Ontario Street and Thompson Road) in 2021. They are scheduled to be introduced on Woodward Avenue (between Thompson Road and Maple Avenue) in 2022. I am also working with Town engineering staff to consider them for other major arterial roads in 2023. The lines help to identify on-street parking areas and provide informal bike lanes, as formal bike lanes cannot be introduced because the roadbed isn’t wide enough.
In 2020, working with Town of Milton Engineering Department staff, I was able to get approval for a pedestrian crossover (PXO) at Costigan Road and Laurier Avenue. I recently received approval to upgrade a school crossing on Woodward Avenue at Joyce Boulevard into a PXO. There are 25 PXOs in Milton and, if I am re-elected, I will be bringing forward a motion to Milton Council to have all of them properly evaluated for lighting next year at a estimated base cost of $250,000. There will be no impact on your property taxes, as I am requesting that the funds will come from capital reserves.
If a 40 km/h maximum speed pilot currently underway in another local neighbourhood is successful, reduced maximum speeds for residential streets across the community will also be introduced next year.
During the last municipal election, I 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.
Town staff are still considering such a program.
Finally, whenever you experience speeding, noisy or aggressive drivers on your street, please call, text or email me immediately. I will file a confidential traffic complaint with Halton Regional Police Services, who then typically step up patrols in the area within 24 hours or so.
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 matter is now in litigation.
The Environment: While already bound by tough provincial legislation, the Town must ensure it continues to manage its operations in an environmentally sustainable manner. So far, so good.
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. In 2022, Milton Council approved a new Economic Development Strategy.
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, encouraging a reasonable balance between old and new from the perspectives of height, scale, location and our key Niagara Escarpment vista. Supported by Milton Council, I successfully maintained Heritage Milton as an advisory committee when it was recommended by staff to be disbanded.