Mayor's Message - May 7, 2017

Posted on Monday May 08, 2017

Good Morning, Bonjour

Well it is remaining to be a wet spring.  While we have not had the flooding that some of our neighbouring communities are experiencing we do have some deep ditches and areas of moving water that need a cautious approach, please let your little ones know to be careful around any areas where water may be.

I had a week planned that never quite rolled out as anticipated. I was scheduled to attend the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities for three days but only ended attending for one.  The day I did attend was most worthwhile and the speakers were most informative. Three of the speakers really caught my attention in terms of planning our communities and getting the funding to do so.  Former BC Premier Mike Harcourt walked us through the growth of Vancouver and the forward thinking, bold step taking and planning it took to do so.  The Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) President Lynn Dollin spoke of the costly repair/replacement of infrastructure facing our municipalities and as well the service level expectations of our residents.   Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro spoke as well and walked us through the new Provincial budget, which is a balanced Budget that focuses on health care and education, followed by childcare and social services.  The Province’s infrastructure investment plan does show additional money for items such as municipal infrastructure (but does not say how much municipal governments should expect).   I should note that AMO estimates that municipal governments need about $60 billion over the next decade to keep pace with our infrastructure/asset needs.

After listening to all three speakers and turning my mind to the cost drivers for towns such as ours it was obvious to me that we still need other logical improvements to help us manage other costs that are problematic, items such as common sense limits on municipal liability that drive our insurance rates through the roof or a new method that does not see wage increases settled through interest arbitration applied in one City merely becoming the new low water mark to be met by all other towns and cities.

One slide that caught my attention showed that in 1961 the service/infrastructure costs were reasonably spread and funded across all three levels of government

 

 

Federal

Provincial

Local

1961

31%

31%

38%

2005

10%

22%

67%

 

Today , municipalities receive 9 cents of every tax dollar collected while the Province keeps 44 cents and federally they keep 47 cents.  In essence municipalities are forced to live off less than a dime and yet are accountable to deliver 67% of the services and assets.  As we are all well aware property taxes are high and increasing. How high should they go, AMO says we need to increase taxes 8.5% per year, every year for the next ten years just to keep pace.  I don’t see that happening.

I think my message to all parties in the upcoming provincial election is that Ontario's commitment to partnership needs to include a commitment to ensure that both orders of government are making ends meet and that basic public services are properly funded and affordable.  Simply put Ontario's municipal governments are looking for a long term plan, a partnership and progress. To me change is needed and the answer I believe lies within how the HST is shared. A one percent share of the HST comes in around 2.5 to 3 billion dollars, spreading this amount across 444 municipalities, on an annual basis, would be a game changer in terms of our ability to repair roads, fill pot holes, provide transit or fund builds such as our main street.  To me, in light of a balanced Provincial budget now is the time to have the HST sharing conversation.  Ok, end of soap box!

What else is happening, well we have the North Simcoe Treasure Day(s) happening on May 13 and 14. On Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14, the Towns of Midland, Penetanguishene and the Township of Tay will be holding a North Simcoe Treasure Day.  Residents who wish to participate may place unwanted household items at the curbside starting at 8:00 a.m. on that day. Items will be available to anyone that wishes to pick them up free of charge. Households participating in the event must ensure their material is removed from the curbside by 5:00 p.m. on the Sunday.

On Wednesday May 25th, Penetanguishene and surrounding communities will celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day (RAKD). What is RAKD? If you’ve ever head of kindness spreading more kindness, the Rotary Club of Penetanguishene will be paying it forward to the community as they host a free BBQ lunch and guess what? You’re all invited!!  Lunch will be served in the parking lot of the Penetang Foodland between 12:00 and 1:30 and entertainment supplied by Brian Cusson.  All that the Rotary Club asks is that you "pay it forward by spreading kindness anyway you wish!  Our Rotary members believe that kindness is the key to making the world a better place and the BBQ is the Club's act of kindness in the hope that this will inspire others to perform an act of kindness in return, whether it be donating blood, raking leaves for a neighbour or as simple as holding a door open for a stranger”.  Be sure to spread the word!

Sunday May 28th Hike for Hospice Palliative Care 2017 at the Rotary Champlain Wendat Waterfront Park in Penetanguishene. Registration and luncheon at the Curling Club from 12:30-1:30 p.m. followed by a 5km hike. If you would like more details on the hike visit www.hospicehuronia.ca.

Saturday June 10th it is the Annual Butter Tart Festival in Midland.

Tuesday June 20th Our Health: Hunger Games, from the Freedom of Foodies to the Destruction of Eating Disorders at the Midland Cultural Centre. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Program begins at 7:30 p.m. Free with registration at www.midlandculturalcentre.com. Moderator for the evening is Dr. Keith Rose.

My week to be

Sunday

The Innisfil Community Volunteer Celebration and Volunteer Awards to recognize the dedication of the community volunteers. The celebration will take place at the Community Centre in Stroud-Innisfil.  In the afternoon I will be celebrating Allan Brown’s 90th Birthday!

Monday

In the morning Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau and the Towns CAO, Jeff Lees and I meet for a weekly breakfast update.

I have a Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus Economic Development Sub-Committee Working Meeting.

I attend an agenda review at 10:00 a.m. for County Council and at 11:15 I attend Town Council and Committee of the Whole agenda review.

Other meetings for the day include a weekly event and media update and at 3:30 p.m. I take part in a discussion on the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport.

Tuesday

County Council and Committee of the Whole meet at 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

At noon I will be at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport for the launch of the next phase of the Southern Ontario Airport Initiative.

I have a team meeting at 2:00 p.m. and wrap up my day with a prep meeting for the Warden’s newsletter.

Penetanguishene Trails Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. at the Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre. 

Wednesday

At 10:30 a.m. I will be at École Secondaire Le Caron to present a cheque from March MUDness to the students.

Afterwards I will be travelling to Barrie for the Red Cross Volunteer Gala

In the evening, Town Council and Committee of the Whole meet at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.

Livestream Council here: http://www.penetanguishene.ca/en/townhall/test-council-page.asp

View Council and Committee of the Whole here: http://www.penetanguishene.ca/en/calendar/council/Default.aspx

Thursday

I grab a meeting with Kim Fedderson, Dean of Lakehead University.

Friday

I meet with SWIFT for a board meeting from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

The 2nd Annual Tay Township Fundraising event for the Wye Marsh is being held at the Oakwood Community Centre in Victoria Harbour starting at 5:00 p.m. Enjoy two types of lasagna, chicken, a variety of salads, garlic bread, fruit and fixings prepared by ELM Catering!  Some special guests from the Wye Marsh, of the feathered variety, will also be there!

If anyone is interested in attending tickets are available online, at Wye Marsh or at Tay Township Municipal Office on Park Street.

Well that is all for this Sunday, stay dry and do enjoy your day,

Mayor Gerry