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An end of year wrap up of some recent happenings from council:

We have launched the process for our Official Plan Update.  This is a multi year process that addresses local needs and wants in regards to growth and also allows us to update the changing local priorities.

Official Plans contain the policy framework and long-term vision to guide land-use and development in the County and seeks to:

• Ensure that growth is balanced, managed and coordinated to meet the County’s current and future land needs.

• Make the public aware of the land use planning framework.

• Balances Provincial policy and conflicting land uses, and the

• Show Council’s commitment to the management of planned and future growth of the community.

Our last official plan was completed in 2012 and they must be updated every 10 years.  In the last 10 years we received a lot of changes due to growth in the County and more specifically the Paris area. 

A part of this will be to do a municipal comprehensive review which will include:

− Growth Management Strategy

− Phasing of Development

− Refinement of housing and employment forecasts.

− Intensification and density targets.

Also, a new Official Plan is an opportunity to review current policies and what can be refined. A policy review will be completed on Brant specific themes, such as:

• Affordable Housing and Housing Options

• Climate Change and Resiliency

• Complete Communities

• Rural Servicing and Future Infrastructure needs

• Agricultural Diversification

• Active Transportation

The Official Plan will include policies and harmonize with other County master plans, strategies and the Transportation Master Plan Update.  Additionally there will be many opportunities over the next 18 months for community consultation and input in person and online.

2020 Budget

We also recently passed our 2020 budget.  We once again came in with an the increase for homeowners at under the inflation rate while enhancing services.  The increase will be 1.99% for 2020.  This was done in part due to an increase in our tax assessment due to growth in the community and due to the fact that the County generally operates as a rather lean corporation in our comparator group.

I’m particularly happy that this budget will include new decontamination equipment for our volunteer firefighters to help them with their long-term health and safety, 2 new positions for our County Library System and that our new public transit system is budgeted for the full year while still keeping the tax increase at under the inflation rate.   

See attached a break down of the tax rate and the decision packages that we as a council voted for, against or deferred for this year.

eRide Soft Launch.

This one is close to my heart as something that I and many others invested a lot of volunteer time into getting started.  The soft launch of our new public transit system has shown a lot of success in terms of demand.  

 I am told that while we started with 6 drivers in that system we will be immediately moving to 8 drivers and then 12 in short order to keep up with demand and to help improve the reliability of the system for persons requiring accessible transit.

As with any new system there are definitely hiccups and that is why we did this as a soft launch with a prescribed overlap time between our previous subsidized accessible transit system and this one.  It is also why we will be tweaking the general public transit portion and the accessible transit portion to try and make the system more fitted to each stream of user.  Also, we will be launching some more communications around how the system works and any changes and enhancements that will be coming.

When we were advocating for this many years ago we were told many times that there would be no interest in a public transit system and that it was a waste of time.  That is clearly not the case but the interest in the system was beyond what we could have predicted.  This is great news in the long run but creates challenges as we launch and these are challenges I know we can address over time.

The addition of drivers and more resources to each user stream will help.  If you have more ideas and positive and negative experiences with the system please email me at marc.laferriere@brant.ca.  I read each one and discuss this regularly with our Community and Protective Services and Transportation staff.

A highlight of some of the activities I’ve attended this month beyond regular council meetings:

  • Meeting with OPP staff regarding enhanced traffic patrol options.
  • Community Safety and Well Being research proposal presentation.
  • Meeting with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Grand Erie.
  • Controlled Burn training exercise with County of Brant Fire Dept.
  • Labour Cares event on food security.
  • Paris Downtown BIA Analysis meeting.
  • Presentation to Connect2Skills on best practices for leaving social assistance programs for work opportunities.
  • 2 Committee of the whole Budget Presentation/Education Sessions.
  • Webinar on Modernization of Emergency Health and Paramedic Services.
  • 10th Annual Brantford/Brant Affordable Housing Forum.
  • 2020 OPP Annual Billing Webinar.
  • 2 additional meetings regarding affordable housing potentials in the County.
  • 2 meetings on climate policy options.
  • Ayr Santa Claus Parade
  • Meeting with Youth Activist
  • Grand Opening of the new Marriot Conference Centre
  • Youth meeting
  • Panelist for World Aids Day event at Laurier Brantford at the invite of County activists
  • Meeting with the Greenbelt Champions Group