Protecting Our Natural Environment

As a biologist who spent over 30 years in the field and in business devising strategies to protect wildlife, I am very concerned about the future of our environment.  Given Midland’s location and abundance of significant natural resources, protecting our environment must have a high priority.  We see evidence all around that we need to continue and redouble our efforts soon to deal with potential degradation of our waters, shorelines, wetlands and other ecological features that make Midland unique .

Whether we realize it or not yet, changes happening in the Great Lakes will eventually reach our community.  The lake’s natural defences against toxic algae blooms, invasive species and shrinking ice cover appears to be weakening. For example, ice coverage on the Great Lakes has declined an average of 71 per cent over the past 40 years, according to the American Meteorological Society.  That’s caused increased evaporation and more frequent and intense storms that batter shorelines and fish habitat.  We note from interactions with the Beausoleil First Nation community on Christian Island that fish stocks have declined dramatically there and across Georgian Bay threatening many indigenous livelihoods. These and other related changes could have a direct impact on Midland’s prosperity.

While senior levels of government are struggling to develop policies, for example imposing a national carbon tax, local actions and decisions by municipalities have the most direct effect on the local problems.  Already, there is considerable content in the official plan aimed at reducing the Town’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment, e.g. active transportation and intensification targets for housing.

Since 2013, Midland’s corporate fleet has reduced emission of greenhouse gases significantly.  The Town’s plan to replace sewers under King Street (the big dig) will eliminate discharge of sewage into the bay during major storms.  The development of Midland Bay Landing including exclusive public waterfront access to an upgraded shoreline will transform a contaminated industrial site to parkland integrated with commercial and residential development.  At its meeting on 24 September 2018, Council agreed to participate in the Partners for Climate Protection program and its commitment to achieving the milestones set out in the five-milestone framework.  These are only a few examples showing how the Town can and will continue to include environmental considerations in planning and operations.  But there is much more to do.

As we grow, and the provincial government imposes new environmental regulations, The Town will need to develop new policies and reassess all its plans to include adequate measures to protect the environment.  These changes must balance environmental concerns with the rights of property owners and financial costs to the Town.

Throughout this complex process, as your Mayor I will commit to full public consultations with all residents and stakeholders to ensure we do the right thing for all citizens (current and future) and for the environment.

Some Sources for further reading

Narwhal  October 10, 2018

https://thenarwhal.ca/out-in-the-great-lakes-an-alarm-is-sounding/

Town of Midland Council Agenda24 September 2018 (see segment on Sustainable Severn Sound)

http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/MPSB/Meeting%20Agendas/2018/2018-10-15_MPSB_Meeting_Agenda-Combined.pdf#search=agenda%2024%20September%202018

Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (Policy 4.2.10.2)

http://placestogrow.ca/images/pdfs/ggh2017/en/growth%20plan%20%282017%29.pdf

Ontario’s Community GHG Reduction PlanDecember 2017

http://www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2018/013-2083.pdf

Ontario’s Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020 (CCAP) 2016

https://www.ontario.ca/page/climate-change-action-plan

Fostering Job Opportunities and Economic Development

As I have said many times during the campaign, I want Midland to be a prosperous community providing value for taxes, good jobs and a sound economy, where our children grow up, get good jobs and choose to stay.

I am a 5th generation Midlander.  The Midland I grew up in was a prosperous place with a vibrant Downtown, lots of high paying jobs, and a great place to live. Midland was the economic engine of North Simcoe when I left for University. Two of my brothers found good jobs in Midland. People then had a choice to stay and work or pursue their dreams elsewhere.

Yet, about 20 years ago, the Town entered a period of decline- industries left, our young people left and never returned, taxes and costs of the Town spiraled upwards and several downtown businesses were shuttered.

With Gord McKay as Mayor the Council began a turnaround.  As a Councillor, I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past four years.  We got taxes and service costs under control and began to attract new housing and businesses to Midland.  Now we are in a financially sound position and can shift our focus to the things that make Midland a great place to live, work and raise a family.

A key focal point is economic and community development that brings increased employment opportunities.  As Mayor I will support local initiatives that drive job creation: supporting existing and attracting new businesses, supporting entrepreneurs, developing a skilled talent pool and providing relevant education and training.

There are some very positive initiatives already underway on which to build momentum.

Supporting Business

As Mayor, I will continue to support the work of the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe  (EDCNS). EDCNS was established in 2014, with the four municipalities of Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay coming together for economic development.  Since inception EDCNS has helped local industry to fill in excess of 130 highly paid technical and supporting jobs and spread the word about the economic advantages of locating a business in North Simcoe.  Today EDCNS is engaged with local industry in recruiting for an additional 200 highly paid technical positions.

I will look for ways to add to incentives provided by the Town for business growth including:

  • Investing in infrastructure, e.g. downtown revitalization and the Big Dig
  • Fostering a culture of “more red carpet, less red tape
  • Streamlining planning and approval processes
  • Supporting the SWIFT project to bring fibre optic connectivity to all of Midland in anticipation of the ‘new digital economy’
  • Progressing on the Midland Bay Landing project to create new commercial and residential space

Education and Training

As Mayor, I will promote local dialogue to address a disconnect between local education and the skills required for high paying local jobs.  Two particular areas for greater lifelong learning opportunities come to mind:

  • Cool is Blue- the realization that many of the better paying jobs being created call for qualified trades people, a shortage in our area
  • STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) – the understanding that in our changing world our young people need to learn skills in these areas.

We are making progress but by promoting greater discussion and collaboration among education providers and business we can improve the talent pool in Midland.

The Simcoe County District School Board is investing in its technological education programs to ensure students have access to industry-standard equipment, and current, relevant course content.

I will encourage the Board and Georgian Bay District Secondary School to talk with local industry and organizations such as EDCNS to ensure that programs and facilities are attuned to local employment opportunities.

Georgian College’s Robbert Hartog Midland campus provides apprenticeship and skilled trades training in over 150 trades.  On 4 September this year 200 new students walked into Robbert Hartog.  Nine months from now most will have full-time work.

I will encourage Georgian College to work more closely with and Georgian Bay Secondary School and local industry to increase the flow of students into skilled trades through programs such as The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).  This is a School to Work program that opens the door for students to explore and work as apprentices in local companies starting in Grade 11 or Grade 12 through the Cooperative Education program.  Parents especially have a significant role to play in looking beyond University to the skill trades for their children’s future.

The Midland Public Library, as part of its lifelong learning mission, is building a Maker Place to include 3D printers, a green room and digital media lab, vinyl cutters, laser cutters and a flexible open space for a variety of creative activities including pottery making.  The Maker Place is part of the library’s broad approach to making STEM an enjoyable experience for young people from preschoolers to high school graduates as well as adults and seniors.

As Mayor, I will support the Library’s initiative and encourage it to consult and collaborate with local industries which might provide advice on relevant skill requirements, mentoring and expanded access to special equipment.

Resources

The Mirror

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/8948064-midland-mayor-gordon-mckay-says-the-town-has-regained-prosperity/

Economic Development Council of North Simcoe

https://www.edcns.ca/living-here/jobs/

https://www.edcns.ca/wp-content/uploads/Data-Report-North-Simcoe-2018.pdf

Georgian Bay District Secondary School

http://gbd.scdsb.on.ca/

Georgian College

https://www.edcns.ca/georgian-colleges-midland-campus-welcomes-200-new-trades-students/

Community Reach-YMCA

https://communityreach.cioc.ca/record/MID1254?PrintMd=on&UseCICVwTmp

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program

https://oyap.com/en/about_oyap/what_is_oyap/

Midland Public Library

http://www.midlandlibrary.com/adult_programs/makers-of-midland/

Midland Bay Landing: The Future is Now

We have a wonderful opportunity to develop the Town’s waterfront into a focal point for residents and visitors to Midland. Maximizing the attributes of this beautiful Georgian Bay location we can create a mixed-use neighbourhood with parks and open space, enhanced access to the water, and the residential, recreational, cultural, institutional and commercial uses that will make this project an economic driver for the Town both in the near future and for years to come.

Work on the Midland Bay Landing project needs to move ahead with a renewed sense of optimism and energy. Three aspects are top of mind for me:

  • Guaranteeing complete public access to the entire waterfront.
  • Compliance with the Waterfront Master Plan, and in particular the commitment for 33% of the land to be maintained as parks and open space.
  • Ensuring the Town applies the oversight/controls at its disposal, including altering the shareholder agreement if necessary, acceptance of the annual business plan, and planning/zoning approvals.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.jpeg

Background

In June 2013, Council unanimously approved the Unimin Waterfront Lands Master Plan to guide the future redevelopment of this significant site.​  The Master Plan was developed over the course of six months and included extensive public participation through public meetings, social media, and written comments. The overall goal: position Midland as a unique waterfront community that engages local residents and attracts tourists year-round. The Plan includes a land use framework based on 33% of the property being set aside for parks and open space. Two other categories were identified: Downtown compatible, higher density mixed use with institutional/commercial/retail and residential; and Lower scale mixed use with predominantly residential components. 

Efforts by the Town to begin the development process made it clear that we needed some expert help and so the Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation was created with the Town as the sole shareholder. In April, 2018, Council passed a resolution allowing the recruitment of candidates for the Board of Directors and finalizing the Shareholder Direction and Operating Agreement. After an extensive interviewing and vetting process, five successful candidates were chosen, and approved at the September 24, 2018 Council meeting. 

Achievements to Date

In the time since the Town purchased the property in July, 2014 for $3.4 million, the value of the land has appreciated substantially. In addition:

  • Midland Bay Landing has been incorporated into Midland’s Official Plan which will be the guiding document for all development in the Town.
  • The Town has developed a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) which contemplates financial incentives for future development of the site.
  • Council authorized the completion of a number of background technical studies: Shoreline Engineering Study, Geotechnical Study, Risk Assessment/Environmental Conditions Study and a Topographical Survey report.

mbl base.jpeg

More About the MBLDC

The purpose of the MBLDC is to create a supportive environment for long term economic and community growth and to foster municipal innovation to help make Midland an attractive place to invest and do business. The Town and the MBLDC will work together to ensure a consistent and coordinated overall economic development strategy for the MBL site to support the long-term economic and community development of the Town.

Other important points include:

  • The MBLDC’s board of directors shall always include the Town’s Mayor, and one additional Member of Council.
  • The Town has the sole authority to establish and amend the composition of the Board.
  • The Shareholder Agreement specifically states: (a) public access to the entire waterfront will be an integral part of the development; (b) the waterfront multi-modal trail and “boardwalk” features will be an essential part of the development; (c) the amphitheater and plaza features will be considered as highly desired elements.
  • The MBLDC board will be expected to develop and report annually on items such as: (a) Development and creation of partnerships to aid and support new growth and the prospect of expansion projects related to the MBL site; (b) Investment attraction towards the MBL site (i.e. new buildings, jobs, expanded services, land sales, new company relocations, etc.); (c) New business development with respect to the MBL site; (i.e. business openings, new and expanded services, partnership/JV agreements signed, building applications); (d) Additional assessment growth with respect to or associated with the MBL site; and (e) Adherence to The Unimin Waterfront Lands Master Plan. 

Additional Information

The links below take you to the full documents referenced above:

Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation:

http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/MBL%20Page/Shareholder%20Direction%20and%20Operating%20Agreement%20-%20DRAFT%20v8%20-%20circulated%20to%20Council%20-%20May%207,%202018.pdf

Waterfront Development Master Plan

http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/plan/Unimin%20Waterfront%20lands%20Master%20Plan.pdf

 

Reinventing Town Hall

The Town is poised to develop its economy and attract new residents.  This will only happen if Town Hall can deliver better, more responsive services that meet growing needs and attract younger people and businesses needed to sustain long-term growth in Midland.

We are not just talking about cost cutting and efficiencies.  We need to invest time, effort and savings from improved practices to develop a high-performance organization at Town Hall including staff and Council; an organization that provides prompt, competent, customer friendly service; a reinvented Town Hall.

Public Engagement for a Shared Vision

A comprehensive Service Delivery Review was conducted by staff and Council with public input in 2017. It identified several problems with our services and recommendations for reinventing Town Hall to provide excellent service.  It begins with much broader public engagement to find out what residents want now, and a shared vision of what we need to respond to changing needs in the future. As Mayor I will implement our Public Engagement Strategy, recently passed by Council, to ensure that Council and staff engage residents of all ages in community decisions, that their concerns are heard and thoroughly considered.

Complaint Management

During the campaign I heard many complaints that the Town’s response is very slow and cumbersome to requests for services, e.g., repair of burnt out streetlights can take months.  Complaints are currently handled by a personal contact, paper, emails, telephone calls, or the website but are not tracked systematically. This uses too much staff time and results in dissatisfied residents and frustrated staff members.  Many of our processes, such as applications for permits and approvals for development plans are complicated and viewed as unnecessary red tape.  This discourages investment and improvement to our Town and gets in the way of economic development.

To fix this, I will work with staff to develop a Citizen Complaint Management and Tracking System that will guarantee: levels of service, e.g. 1 business day response time, prioritization of work and online tracking and reporting of completion.

We will speed up and streamline planning processes by integrating technologies and redeveloping our website to reduce duplication and handle applications online.  You will also be able to pay taxes and other fees online if you wish.

Two-way Communications

During the campaign I heard repeatedly that when you call or go to Town Hall it is almost impossible to reach someone who can help you.  I will insist that we streamline the telephone system so that residents can immediately reach a live person who can adequately serve them.   If you come to Town Hall, there will be one-stop shopping counter service to handle your concerns and kiosks for payment of taxes, etc.

Every citizen should have a role in building our community.  I want all residents to know about and have a voice in what is going on at Town Hall.  We will develop Public Engagement and Communications strategies to improve internal and external communications between Council, staff and the public.  In addition to the revamped website where you can actually find useful information easily, I will encourage and participate in the use of online weekly newsletters, website blogs and social media to listen to and lead public opinion.  I will institute a series of monthly Coffee with the Mayor sessions to complement open houses, call-in shows and online forums with Council designed to meet informally with concerned citizens.

Integrated Planning and Organization for the Long Term

The Service Delivery Review pointed out that at Town Hall, there is no integrated approach to planning. We need to reinvent Town Hall to focus on customer friendly, integrated service delivery to customers, not reporting lines and departmental silos.  We need to manage and update our facilities and technologies, so staff have the right tools to deliver excellent, cost-effective service.

To accomplish this reinvention of Town Hall, as mayor I will support:

  • An organizational review focused on greater operational integration, customer-focused service delivery and improved productivity
  • An integrated planning and budget process based on long-term needs
  • A long-term Asset Management Plan to include not just structures such as buildings, roads, or sewers, but also broadband networks and integrated enabling technologies
  • Appropriate investment in staff training and enabling technologies so staff can work smarter and accomplish more at lower cost

Our Town Hall

I want Town Hall and its virtual extension to be a place where you, the citizens feel welcome, informed and satisfied with service.  A place where our staff feel valued, supported and competent to provide high value services for the Town.  I will do all that I can over the next four years to make this happen.

BACKGROUND

Midland Service Delivery Review Report 2018

https://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/MD-17-01%20SERVICE%20DELIVERY%20REVIEW%20REPORT%20FINAL_20171211.pdf#search=Service%20Delivery%20Review

News article in the Mirror 2018-09-03

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/8870505-town-of-midland-to-put-greater-emphasis-on-public-engagement/

Midland Strategic Planning Priorities 2016

https://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/Council%20Strategic%20Plan%20-%20Revised%20Feb%201,%202016%20final.pdf#search=public%20engagement%20strategy

Midland Asset Management Plan

https://www.midland.ca/PublishingImages/Pages/Financial%20Documents/Asset%20Management%20Plan.pdf#search=asset%20management

Community Safety is Everybody’s Business

Over the past few years public safety has emerged as a real concern in Midland.  Like most urban areas, small towns to large cities, Midland is experiencing an increase of incidents, particularly downtown, driven by several factors including poverty, homelessness and drugs.  The impact is also spreading to other parts of our community.

During the campaign, I have spoken about this issue with many of you at your door and in meetings across town.  Experiences and perceptions vary.  There are many different ideas about how to solve these problems and who is responsible. Some are within the scope of the Town but many are structural and require resources or change in programs or laws controlled by senior levels of government.  The recent report of the Community Safety Task Force outlines a list of short-term and long-term solutions to be considered by the new Council.

Sustainable and effective solutions will require action not by Council acting alone, but in collaboration with community partners in law enforcement, social and mental health services and shelter providers.  For example:

  • Under the new Police Act municipalities are required to create a community-wide Safety Plan which is then executed by the Community Safety Board (Police Services Board). Already, the OPP are looking to implement their Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST) program in Midland in the near future.  It will put mental health resources in play along with enforcement.
  • The Midland Public Library is making changes to its facility to enhance security for staff and patrons. During the past summer it employed a full-time social worker and trained staff to respond to a variety of safety related concerns.  It is open to all who respect its code of conduct and offers social programs such as addiction support year-round.
  • The Situation Table, comprised of several agencies meets weekly to assess critical cases an ensures resources are allocated to addresses case specific issues.
  • The Street Outreach Program administered by the Salvation Army continues to be a cornerstone for successful interventions on the street without having to involve enforcement action yet getting folks the resources they need. A truly inspiring effort by Denis Laurin!

These are just four of the many ways we can mobilize community resources.

As mayor I will lead Council and staff to select and implement the most effective short-term recommendations of the Downtown Public Safety Task Force.  Key elements will include:

  • Promoting increased collaboration and communication amongst a broader stakeholder group
  • Education programs delivered across the community to raise awareness of the issues in the downtown
  • Financial support to increase social programming, additional street outreach and enhanced shelters and operations
  • Improving infrastructure (e.g., lighting, signalized intersections, pedestrian crosswalks …)

In the longer term I will work with senior governments to secure funds and with local partners to develop enabling policies and programs that address underlying structural issues such as:

  • Affordable housing
  • Food security
  • Mental health outreach

As Mayor McKay said recently in the Mirror, “We have a lot of work to do in our society…but we can work together.  We can all live together in this town.”

Other sources

The Mirror, 1 October 2018 “Task force submits lengthy list of recommendations to improve Midland’s downtown” available at https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/8929769-task-force-submits-lengthy-list-of-recommendations-to-improve-midland-s-downtown/

Ontario Statutes

www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/18p03a

www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90p15

Midland Community Safety Task Force Report (as part of Council Agenda 2018-09-24)

http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/AgendaCOUNCILSeptember%2024.pdf

 

 

King Street Infrastructure Improvement – Coping with the “Big Dig”

There is no question that the current single sewer pipes running under King Street are inadequate to handle combined sewage and storm runoff water. No one wants the discharge of sewage into the bay, even in extremely heavy rain situations. Council has committed to improving this critical infrastructure asset, but still to be decided is the scope of the project, how it will interface with the Downtown Master Plan, and when will the project happen. These are complex issues with big dollar amounts attached, so proceeding carefully with lots of consultation is essential.

Regardless of the scope of the project, it will involve tearing up King Street to replace existing pipes. As we’ve seen in our neighbouring town, this can be a very disruptive undertaking. So what can be done to reduce the disruption and negative consequences for downtown businesses, our residents and visitors?

As Mayor, there are two main things I will do:

  1. Ensure that there is extensive consultation, particularly with downtown merchants and businesses well before the project begins, and ensure that their concerns and ideas are thoroughly considered as the contract documents for the project are developed. We should strongly consider delaying the in ground work until 2020. 
  1. Set up a Downtown Development Coordinating Committee, as recommended in the Downtown Master Plan, to begin work on a project to use the two laneways running behind King Street as a means of access to stores and businesses during the construction work. This “Love Your Laneways” project will result in improvements to the lanes themselves as well as enhancements to the rear entrances to businesses, making this an attractive and safe area for people and encouraging them to continue to come downtown to use the stores and businesses along King Street.

The Downtown Development Coordinating Committee will provide an opportunity for representatives of Council, Town staff, business owners and other stakeholders to consider all the ramifications of the “Big Dig”. I am recommending we place the laneway improvements high on the agenda so we can begin working on this practical way of alleviating the major access issue during the construction project.

Existing Laneway.jpeg

Regarding the laneways, there are a number of relevant points to be considered:

  • Improving the laneways will not only help to mitigate the negative effects of the infrastructure improvement project, but will also complement the longer term downtown rejuvenation as outlined in the Downtown Master Plan.
  • Aspects of the Downtown Master Plan that are specifically relevant include: improvement of general appearance of the downtown; lighting of the two laneways to make them “safer and more welcoming at night”; one of the Twenty Key Initiatives – “encourage repairs and renovations through a contributing grant program”; Facade improvement – front and rear entrances.
  • There is also an opportunity to improve stormwater management in this area by installing permeable surfaces and other “green” technologies/elements; funding is possible through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for projects like this.
  • We can ensure that the contract documents for the construction work include regular communication with the Town, downtown businesses and the public, and include a requirement for the contractor to be “people friendly”, assisting business owners/staff and people using the downtown area wherever possible to navigate the construction area safely.

lanewaysasbikeways.jpeg

We’ve all heard the expression, “short term pain for long term gain.” I’m confident that the gains represented by this project will be long lasting and of great benefit to the Town. I have specific, realistic plans to ease the unavoidable short term pain.

More information on the Downtown Master Plan, infrastructure improvements and various laneway projects can be found at the links below:

Reach out to Us ….. A New Way of listening!

Communication from the Town about events, information sessions or meetings usually takes the form of a notice on the Town website or social media and, an advertisement in the Midland Mirror.  Some notices are dry and full of legalese, others are more interesting and informative. What is clear talking to residents at their doorsteps is that we are failing to reach a broad audience on many of the issues that impact the town and its residents.

At the August Council meeting, R. Fee, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, submitted report CL-2018-32, proposing a Community Engagement Strategy.  Mr. Fee recommended that “Council endorse the principles contained in the Community Engagement Strategy which supports one key pillar of Council’s Strategic Planning Priorities; Develop Partnerships, Promoting Collaboration & Alignment.”

Council authorized the Administration to acquire a Community Engagement Tool as part of the 2019 Capital Budget, and that Administration be requested to continue to roll out the application of this policy when addressing community based projects and initiatives.

Two opportunities stood out for me.  The first, ‘Mondays with Council’ is a 30- minute call-in show on Rogers TV with the members of Council, on one Monday every month.  It allows elected representatives to engage in one-on-one conversation and discuss what will be going on in the month-ahead.

Second is Coffee time with Council where Council encourages residents to stop by and meet informally with the Mayor and Councillors.  This will occur on a quarterly basis.   A rotation schedule of the Council Members over the course of the year will ensure that all Council Members have a chance to participate.   It will be wide-open to the public to attend and take part in; provide face time with Council to discuss concerns, stories, or issues.

Another welcome aspect of the Community Engagement Strategy is a new and improved website with a design based on services rather than corporate structure.  It will be much more readily searchable and provide self-service options (e.g. Parking tickets, property taxes, dog tags).resident Input.jpeg

Principles

I fully support the principles below taken from Mr. Fee’s Community Engagement Strategy:

“Engaging the community is reflected in the Town’s Vision Statement which proposed to establish an “inclusive” community. In order for this to have a positive effect, it is essential that there be consistency in the application of the engagement plan. To that end, we have identified seven principles to be adopted as part of our community engagement plan, using MIDLAND as an acronym to help instill these principles further.

Meaningful – ensure that all community engagements activities/events are meaningful and purposeful and demonstrate that the Town and Council have regard for current and future-well-being of participants.

Inclusive – Community means everyone – The Town will ensure that we are an inclusive community by inviting a broad range of participants from all backgrounds, abilities and socio-economic circumstances.

Diverse – In order to generate the maximum effect of our community engagement, we will offer a diverse number of initiatives/actions for participants to communicate with us.

Lead the way – To maximize participation in our community engagement efforts, we need to lead the way by opening up the channels of communication and show our willingness to engage and be transparent.

Accessible – We will provide access to all forms of communication tools, but also ensure that our website and communication is accessible to all of the community from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) perspective.

Network – Community Engagement doesn’t end after an event. To strengthen the effectiveness of our efforts, we will need to continuously maintain the lines of communications and network with participants and stakeholders to ensure we are building these relationships.

Deliver – The success of our engagement efforts hinges on our ability to deliver timely communications. If we are going to open up the communication lines to the community for them to take part in decision-making events, then we must deliver decisions and strategies with sufficient timeframes to allow for meaningful discussions and events. “Inputs 2.jpeg

I am committed to the development of a communication strategy that provides the framework for engaging with the citizens, property owners and businesses within the Town of Midland to help meet their expectations, while also helping them to feel a sense of ownership about decisions being made on their behalf.

A timeline for implementation of specific initiatives can be found at item 11 (d) in the link below.

https://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/Agenda-%20COUNCIL-Aug%2027.pdf

A new look at Parks:  Have your say!

Many of you may not know that I went to university to become a biologist and spent my whole career, both in the field and in business, working with wildlife. Not surprisingly, I have a strong interest in parks and natural areas. These are essential components of a livable community.

Midland is home to 28 community parks covering 321 acres, as well as 18 km of paved and natural trails that offer peaceful and scenic views. These parks and trails allow all members of the community to enjoy a wide variety of activities. These well-maintained environments include urban forests, naturalized areas, and formal landscapes. There are many places to enjoy physical activities such as baseball diamonds, basketball courts, beach-volleyball courts, a skateboard park, soccer fields, disk golf, and playground equipment for younger children. Additionally, the parks offer many picnic areas and covered picnic shelters for friends and families to use at their leisure. Many of these parks and facilities are wheelchair accessible.

Parks and Trails Master Plan

Did you know Midland’s Operations Department let a tender in 2017 to undertake a Parks and Trails Master Plan?The Town retained consultant services for the completion of a needs assessment and master plan for the Town’s parks and trails. The master plan is to include a trail system designed to connect Town parks and open space areas with our neighbouring municipalities. The project includes a minimum of two (2) public informational meetings to receive comment and input to be considered for the Master Plan.   The first of these meetings was held in April 2018.

The objectives of the Plan are to develop a Parks and Trails Master Plan describing future parks needs, goals and maintenance requirements for individual existing parks, recommended improvements for currently undeveloped park lands and to develop a conceptual design for a Town-wide trail system connecting Town parks and neighbouring municipalities.Little Lake Beach

 

The process has involved a series of meetings with Town staff and the creation of  an inventory and individual needs & opportunity assessment for each of the parks.  The inventory and analysis were prepared based on visits to each site, to document site inventories, and physical and contextual analyses.   The results were displayed on panels that formed the subject of a public information session held in April of this year.

The inventory and panels can be found at:

http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/Parks%20and%20Trails%20Master%20Plan%20Slide%20Panels%20-%20Open%20House%20April%2012%202018.pdf#search=Parks%20and%20Trails%20Master%20Plan

The project also involved an online survey that is now closed. Next steps are the preparation of the draft Master Plan and presenting it for public input and comment at a second information session.

What is not clear is whether the Master Plan will encompass the nearly 55 acres of open space and woodlands being donated to the Town as part of the Season’s development.  The open space, woodlands and the southern shoreline of Little Lake will be open to all Midland residents.

As Mayor I will ensure that the Master Planning exercise continues and is well advertised to the Public.  I will ensure the results are incorporated into the Asset Management Inventory / Plan and funded appropriately.

If you are interested in more background information, this link takes you to the 2015 Parks and Recreation Guide https://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/guide%20to%20Midland%27s%20municipal%20parks%20and%20trails.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Housing ?

As mayor one of my top priorities will be to convene a ‘Mayor’s Taskforce on Affordable Housing’ to bring together developers, real estate industry representatives, social housing groups, County representatives and interested community members to ensure that we look at all the issues as we move this agenda forward.

I will press senior levels of government for resources, partner with the private sector and create policy tools to provide affordable housing to meet the needs of various groups in the community.  Policytools include:

  • a municipal land acquisition / surplus policy that gives 1st priority to housing needs,
  • waiving parkland fees and development charges
  • deferring taxes
  • expedited planning approval processes

It is said we will face an affordable housing crisis as our population ages.   In fact we are facing an affordable housing crisis now that reaches far beyond our seniors population. Residents of all ages are finding it difficult to find affordable housing of any sort.  Rents in the past year have risen beyond the reach of many and owning a home is a distant dream.

Approximately 3000 homes to be built in Midland over the next 10 years are in various stages of planning approval.  Most of these will not meet the needs of a growing number of residents who have special needs or lack resources to own or rent a conventional home

  • Seniors who can no longer manage and are unable to find supportive facilities
  • Low income families (18.6% in Midland up from 11 % in 2006)
  • Disadvantaged people who need transitional housing
  • Homeless andyouth at risk

What can we do in Midland?

  • Create a municipal land acquisition / surplus policy that frees up land for affordable housing, e.g. Town properties no longer needed, e.g., former Ops Centre.
  • Defer property taxes, waive parkland fees and development charges for affordable housing
  • Create inclusionary zoning policies requiring future developments to include specific percentages of affordable homes, mixed income neighbourhoods
  • Introduce higher taxes on vacant land already approved for housing
  • Harness the expertise of the Midland Bay Service Corp. to lead the development of a spectrum of affordable housing
  • Seek out and encourage private sector developers to build specialized facilities, e.g., the Jarlette Seniors Complex planned for King St and include affordable housing as part of the mix in new communities

Simcoe County Announces Funding for Seniors Housing

We will go after funding from senior levels of government.  The federal government recognized the need and pledged $40 Billion would be spent over the next ten years, with $13.2 Billion going to affordable housing building and repairs. The province provides some policy tools that empower municipalities to develop taxation, planning and land management policies that can increase the supply of affordable housing, e.g., vacant land tax, inclusionary zoning, second units.

The County of Simcoe has approved $500,000 in annual funding towards the Age-Friendly Seniors Housing Grant program.  According to a release issued by the County on September 5th, the new program will support eligible applicants in creating age-friendly housing through renovations or new housing developments.   Grants will be awarded under three streams:  accessible housing design; housing that incorporates support services for older adults; and design for individuals suffering from dementia.

Applicants eligible for these grants include those completing housing projects located within Simcoe County (excluding the cities of Barrie and Orillia).  Applicants can be homeowners of principle residences or developers, who wish to include accessible, adaptable and inclusive design modifications for occupants aged 60 or over.  Grant amounts will be distributed based on the number of applications received and ability to meet funding criteria.

The deadline for 2018 application submissions is November 30th, 2018.  For further details, or to apply to the Age-Friendly Housing Seniors Grant program please visit  http://www.simcoe.ca/LongTermCare/Pages/Age-Friendly-Seniors-Housing-Grant-Program.aspx .

More affordable housing is essential if we are to make Midland a prosperous and livable community. I look forward to the opportunity of working with the new Town Council to ensure we move ahead towards this goal.

Resources on Affordable Housing:

30 on 30 Affordable Housing transition brief http://on360.ca/30-30/ontario-360-affordable-housing-transition-briefing/Simcoe Countyhttps://www.simcoe.ca/dpt/sh/apply-for-the-homeownership-program

https://www.simcoe.ca/iah

Ontario and affordable housing https://www.reminetwork.com/articles/ontario-municipalities-affordable-housing/

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/01/25/ontario-supports-developers-over-providing-affordable-housing.html

http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page125.aspx

http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=8590

Federal Government and Affordable housing https://fcm.ca/home/issues/affordable-housing.htm

Barrie got money to build affordable unitshttps://globalnews.ca/news/4172405/barrie-affordable-housing-rebates/

Simcoe County Positive Aging Strategy

https://www.simcoe.ca/LongTermCare/Documents/PositiveAgingStrategy2017_jan 18_low res.pdf