Highpoint Drive Service Ontario to Close?

Last month the Champion had a story about the province’s decision to close 9 Service Ontario offices due to “cost effectiveness and operational logistics” as of the end of October.  Among them was one at Highpoint Drive and 25 highway north of highway 401.

It set off a big fuss on social media sites.  The two Service Ontario sites don’t offer the same services, and Milton is becoming a big population centre.  Why not have both open?  And with the potential closure of the Highpoint drive location, local land registry records would be moved out of the area. How logical is that?  Or if you’re going to close them, close both and reopen a larger location closer to the population growth.

Halton M.P.P. Indira Naidoo-Harris heard the arguments, and the government has decided to review the decision.  The location is now handing out flyers that look like this.

Service Ontariopic  It states Harris “expects the government will engage in a public consultation process.  Until then, residents are welcome to contact the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.”  If this office is closed the following services will no longer be available in Halton:

  • Land Registry
  • Hunting and Fishing
  • Small Business Registration
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Employment standards
  • Publications
  • Ministry of Revenue intake

If you’d like to have your voice heard, the phone number for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services  is: 1-844-286-8404.

Halton M.P.P. Indira Naidoo-Harris’ Contact information is:

Office address:  450 Bronte St, Suite 115 Milton Ontario.

Phone Number: 905-878-1729

email: inaidoo-harris.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

 

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More People= more representation

Milton Council voted to shrink council by two members at its June meeting. The motion passed 6-5 to reduce council’s size from 11 two nine, while adding 2 Regional councillors.

The decision came out of a report by Dr. Robert Williams which presented a variety of scenarios including elimination of the Municipal Councillor where councillors would be voted on town-wide, and an appointment process.  There were some places here to use a “ranked ballot” tool recently approved by the province, which might have been interesting to see the outcome in that case.

I don’t like this idea.  Milton has been repeatedly declared the fastest-growing municipality in the country.  It’s expected to reach 230,000 by 2031, and 400,000 a decade later.  With the influx of population it’s a no-brainer to expand council.   The only justification for cutting council should be if the population dropped, or growth significantly slowed.

Part two of this process is boundary review.  This decision to cut impacts this process as well because suddenly the decision isn’t only whether to add wards, but which ones to combine/ cut.  The boundary review should’ve come first asking the question of whether it makes any sense to consider cutting municipal council.

Milton’s been extremely well-represented as it comes to Regional Councillors since the 2014 elections.  Both know a little bit about everything municipal, and Regional levels of government and can explain how they connect.  They’ve set the bar extremely high for any potential successors, and colleagues from Milton.  Their knowledge comes with experience.  Cutting council creates a higher learning curve for those seeking the office of regional councillor.  And it might be an unfair expectation.

Fewer councillors mean a higher workload and less accountability.  Councillors who are openly communicative, and easy to reach might become less so because of the higher numbers of constituents. Is this something we really want?  I say no.  I like being able to ask my councillor why they voted a certain way, or get help with a street light, or with a parking ticket.

The new council would cost $80,000 less  than it currently does.  Saving money is always popular with voters; I’m a huge fan of it.  The potential might not be there for long-term savings.  You have 9 people doing the work of 11.  4 of them go to Regional as well dealing with Halton issues as well.  Eventually they’ll ask for a raise.  And then we’ll be outraged over that.

I’m a big fan of saving money, but sometimes democracy should trump it, and this is one of them.  Higher population should equal more representation not less.

For more information click here for the Champion’s coverage.  And visit this link to read the report.

Update:  At a July 25 meeting,  Councillor Colin Best presented a motion to reopen the issue so the public could speak.  Several members of the public were in attendance, and prepared to do so.  The motion was turned down.

I understand people don’t necessarily care about politics, and that’s their right.  But with this decision council has taken that right away.  This is the kind of thing people will remember while casting their ballots.

Circle of Women Who Care: Milton United Way

It’s an idea from the United Way of Milton.  Gather a group of smart, successful,  compassionate women in a room and talk about the organization, and its member agencies, and collect a few donations.  Last night’s meeting focused on Community Living North Halton, and STRIDE.  We heard the stories behind the organizations.

Community Living North Halton supports mentally disabled children, youth, and adults.  We heard William’s story.  William works at the Lunchbox Café, and goes to Social Fridays, a program funded by the United Way.  He, and his friends get to hang out doing crafts, watching movies, having fun.  It develops social skills, and gives his parents a break.

STRIDE (Supported Training and Rehabilitation in Diverse Environments), helps people with ‘lived experience’ readjust to the work force if they’ve been off for a long time. Angela is one of the coaches, and she spoke about the people she’s helped from all walks of life from construction workers to lawyers.

Those are 2 of 29 agencies. It was more than just hearing these stories that stuck with me.  It was a comment by United Way CEO Kate Holmes that really made an impact.  She emphasized that people who used these agencies were just like us.  They were smart, successful, compassionate.  But for whatever reason whether it was divorce, or mental illness they fell on hard times.

And that got me thinking about fear and stigma.  A lot of people are afraid to admit they need help.  And once they do, they’re afraid to say “I’m one of the people who needs food for life,” or “I needed  STRIDE to help me find a job.”  There seems to be such a stigma associated with needing these services.  It’s as if when people do, they’re looked down on as freeloaders or they’re seen as weak for admitting they need help.

As the old saying goes; appearances can be deceiving.  What looks like a great life from the outside can be riddled with problems.  The person with the fabulous house, and fancy car may be using a food bank because their spouse lost a job.

We should be building a culture where saying “I need help” is becomes a good thing.  Where instead of turning away from someone in need, we can encourage them to do what’s necessary. There’s a universality in it; that any one of us can need help at any given time. In order to do that we have to support the United Way’s efforts.

To learn more head to their website.  The next session for the Circle of Women who Care is September 22, at Bergsma’s.  They’re on Facebook, and the page includes a link to the event.