Hello again Ward 2,
It has been a really enlightening month with a lot to report on for this update.
We finalized the budget which will see a modest 2.2% increase (less than the provincial inflation rate) while enhancing many services. A number of our comparator municipalities had larger hikes while needing to cut services during their budget processes.
Budget options were very well presented by staff and I want to take a moment here to thank them. It is no easy task with 5 new members of council to run a number of training sessions concurrent with the undertaking that is the budget and grant processes.
I would also like to thank all the veteran council members for helping us newer folks with guidance on processes and the history of a number of items. Thanks as well to the previous council for their work to get us to a place where we could make a number of enhancements while keeping the hike lower than it has been in recent years.
I think this budget presented a number of challenges as we were also so fresh from an election where we heard a number of desires and can’t fulfill them all in less than 100 days since the election. But there is a lot to be proud of and look forward to.
Here are budget some highlights:
- Public transit in the form of an eHailing program which will act as a less expensive alternative to the current cab-only options for people needing transit.
- Funding to build our own Community Health Hub to increase access to health and medical services for members of our community.
- A dedicated Park Planner to help with the 15+ parks currently being slated to be created in our county in the near/medium term.
- A new Environmental Officer position which will be responsible for reviewing and assessing environmental issues and impacts within the County of Brant as well as a number of other activities related to enhancing our tree canopy, natural heritage and water resources.
- Enhancements to improve our local library system and our local museums and historical societies.
- A number of initiatives around economic development including some new staff positions and a filming and way-finding strategy for the county.
Some Paris Specifics:
- Roof, slide and staff enhancements for the Paris Pool.
- Sidewalk upgrades.
- Major work order accepted to redo Market St. from Capron to Silver.
- Funding for a traffic calming strategy to reduce speeding and dangerous driving in the county utilizing a 3E approach which combines enforcement, education and engineering.
- New lighting for the Green Lane Sports Field.
- Repairs to the wall at the commons area in Downtown Paris.
- Funding for design work for the Syl Apps Recreation Centre and new library space.
- Half a million for Paris flood protection work.
- A new water fountain at Lions Park in Paris
As you can see through your own review of the budget here that there is a balance between new projects people have been asking for to improve quality of life, safety funding, economic development, arts/culture/heritage/recreation and the core services people in our community already rely on.
Pride Week for Brant in 2019
Also this month council passed my motion (seconded by Coun. Gatward) to celebrate Pride Week in 2019 for the first time and will be hosting a flag raising ceremony on June 10th. The vote was unanimous and spurred on by a letter from regional LGBTQ+ advocacy and organizing groups. I was happy to make the motion as participation in Pride was something I spoke about during the campaign that I strongly believe is helpful for communities and long overdue for us here in Brant. Happy early Pride, Brant!
I used to enjoy winter…until I got elected 😉
I did several audits of snow removal during the month to try and make sure that I saw for myself the areas where anyone had complaints. I also spent some time with Roads Dept staff in Ward 2 learning more about the complexity and enormity of the work they do while also seeing what we might be able to do strategically to make some improvements for next winter – especially around sidewalk clearing in our more pedestrian areas. I am hoping to support new equipment to help with this in the next budget and myself and Coun. Howes have requested a meeting with Roads in the next season to debrief this season, examine trouble spots and strategize about how we can improve clearing, salting/sanding, the minimum maintenance standards, communications and even ticketing to help us all move around more safely and conveniently.
It is no easy task. We have slightly more roads than the city of Brantford, spread out over a large geographic area with about 1/3 the tax base and population to support road clearing. In addition there were major increases in the cost of salt and insurance recently that has taken a bite out of that budget. In addition to that we have some roads which have to take priority due to the amount of traffic they get and the potential for loss of life if we do not which makes a number of streets in our area low on the list due to them being small and low traffic. People want to live here in part because of those areas but they can’t be serviced to the same level as our major traffic areas. Very tough during a month like this where we experienced multiple inclement weather days, multi-hour snowfalls and more.
Our road maintenance team works incredibly hard and I want to thank them for battling through a tough month and see how we can help them in future seasons. I have been researching what other rural municipalities have been doing to improve on this issue and look forward to bringing forward some ideas during this term of council.
If you are having any issues with snow clearing or garbage and recycling pick up please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a complaint about a dangerous sidewalk that is not in front of a county property email email@example.com and they will inspect the issue. If they find it to be a safety concern they will normally provide a 24 hour warning and if the issue is not resolved they may charge the property owner a fine as well as the cost for a private contractor to clear the sidewalk.
We also have an app called Recycle Coach to help folks with notifications about garbage and recycling pick up and schedules and you can learn more about it here: https://www.brant.ca/en/resident-services/garbage-and-recycling.aspx
Here is a letter I sent to the Provincial Government regarding my concerns about proposed changes to the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan: https://www.facebook.com/143720766592/posts/10156209893366593?sfns=mo
What’s coming up:
The four Paris-area councillors are just finalizing details for our first Public Forum which we are hoping to hold in April and we will announce as soon as possible.
A highlight of some of the activities attended beyond regular council meetings and budget meetings:
– 4 road condition audits of Ward 2 including one with Roads Department staff.
– Association of Municipalities of Ontario Municipal Collaborative Forum on Waste Diversion.
– St. George Community Improvement Plan Open House.
– Meeting with Paris Presbyterian Church officials.
– Kiwanis Paris-Brant Teddy Bear Clinic at the Paris Dental Centre.
– Frosty Fest.
– Frozen Day at Bethel Community Hall.
– Grand Opening of Sojourn Church on Scott Ave.
– Brant-Brantford announcement of the successful bid for the 2021 Ontario 55+ Winter Games.
– Conestoga College Video Interview re: successful motion to have Brant take part in Pride Week for the first time.
– Public Meeting for the Updated Draft of the Drinking Water Source Protection Plan
– County of Brant 3rd Annual Rec Expo.
– Keynote Speaker at Millennial Network Group Development Night at LAN Planet.
– Paris Museum and Historical Society AGM – volunteered as election officer for their annual meeting.
– Retirement Celebration for Brant-Brantford Paramedic Deputy Chief Randy Papple after 40 years of service.
– Better Growth In Brant education seminar about the proposed changes to the Greater Golden Horseshoe growth plan.