DURHAM - It was a fight between two communities, with millions of dollars on the line.
Pickering and Ajax were at battle in 2018 over the location of a casino. With the casino comes money, and lots of it, from being the community host. Since the slots opened in Ajax in 2006, the town has received about $80 million in revenue.
Actually, the two municipalities have been bickering over the casino since 2015, when Pickering announced the Durham Live proposal at Church and Bayly streets.
The issue came to a head this year when it was announced in April that the Pickering site had been chosen for a new casino.
That decision didn't sit well with Ajax officials and they spent the next several months fighting to keep Casino Ajax alive. In the end, they were somewhat successful, but a new larger casino is opening Pickering.
That makes the issue the Newsmaker of the Year in Ajax and Pickering.
The issue began when the provincial government decided to revamp the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation. Rather than the government operating casinos and slots, it would turn it over to the private sector.
Pickering, Ajax and Whitby were put into one zone, C3, and the rule was there could only be one gaming operation in each zone.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said councillors Kevin Ashe and David Pickles “brought Steve Apostolopoulos of Triple Properties to my office and pitched me on the idea of a casino. I wasn't interested in a standalone box in a field. It didn't do anything for me, and outside of potential gaming revenues, it didn't add much value to the greater community.”
He made the comments at an Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade Mayors' Breakfast in April.
On April 3, it was announced by Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Business Partners, the partnership selected to operate casinos in the Greater Toronto Area, that Durham Live in Pickering was chosen.
The announcement, obviously, pleased Pickering officials.
“This is something that's taken a long time to come to fruition and we're pleased the decision has been made. We're looking forward to working with Durham Live going forward,” Ryan said.
The announcement was received differently by Ajax politicians, who vowed to fight on.
Mayor Steve Parish said, “We are not satisfied with any of these things and we will fight all of these matters as long and as hard as necessary.”
Ajax noted there would be significant traffic congestion on Bayly and through the nearby Pickering Village. Also, the Pickering proposal calls for a partial interchange at Church and Highway 401. That interchange isn't in any provincial plans and is vehemently opposed by Ajax.
Ajax had taken the Pickering proposal to the Ontario Municipal Board, but the board ruled against Ajax. The Town then turned to the courts, appealing the ruling in divisional court. In June, the courts ruled against Ajax.
“Throughout the region, Durham Live has generated an unprecedented level of excitement in regards to the anticipated job creation and wealth of entertainment options,” Ryan said. “It's finally time to move forward.”
With the courts ruling against Ajax, the town turned to the newly-elected Progressive Conservative government to help.
“We are calling on (premier-designate Doug) Ford and MPP-elect Rod Phillips to halt the (Durham Live) development in order to honour their commitment to review the contentious casino deal and the award to Great Canadian Gaming,” the town stated in a news release.
Apostolopoulos, managing partner of Triple Group of Companies, said the court ruling was good news for Durham and the province.
“We're very happy about the decision from the divisional court that upheld the very thoughtful ruling from the OMB on our case,” Apostolopoulos said. “And we're excited to be moving forward. It's unfortunate the Town of Ajax has spent the taxpayers money fighting this.”
Ironically, in September, the OMB ruled Casino Ajax could expand to have up to 3,700 gaming positions, up from the current 800 positions.
Parish said the September ruling meant while the planning approvals were in place, “it's still not a gambling approval. It gives us the green light for our site to exist. The jury is still out on what the government will do for a gaming site,” Parish added.
On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the provincial government came through for Ajax. In a ceremony at Casino Ajax and Ajax Downs, the quarter-horse racing facility that depends on the slots, Phillips announced the site would remain open, but would be capped at 500 slots, down form the present 800.
Also, there would be no expansion at the Ajax site.
On Oct. 9, Phillips said, “I'm very pleased to announce an agreement in principle to keep the slots here in Ajax. It's great news and critical revenue for the town.”
He noted during the recent provincial election, Doug Ford promised that if elected, he was “committed to finding a solution,” Phillips said. “I promised to fight for Ajax Downs. We're reversing the decision of the previous government.”
At the inaugural council meeting in early December, Ryan said Durham Live would open next year.
In addition to the casino, the plan also calls for a five-star hotel, a convention centre, water park, office buildings and a film studio.
PICKERING - If a politician is to be believed, the three Regional Councillors in Pickering are expecting the next four years to be eventful for the City of Pickering.
Kevin Ashe (Ward 1), Bill McLean (Ward 2) and David Pickles (Ward 3) note the new term, which begins on Monday, Dec. 3, should set the direction of Pickering for years to come.
“The next four years for the City of Pickering, we'll find out how we'll grow over the next 50 to 100 years,” McLean said.
“The city centre is a new proposal with condos, a hotel and performing arts centre. It's coming quickly. It's not pie in the sky,” McLean said. “It will change us, I think, in a positive way.”
Pickles said, “Directing growth in the right way and right place and making new developments work for all residents including getting Durham Live up and running.”
Durham Live is the hotly anticipated casino, hotel and convention centre development at Church and Bayly streets. Construction has begun and the aim is to have it open in 2020.
Ashe said revenue from the casino, as Pickering is a host community, would help the City grow.
“With revenues from Durham Live happening in 2020 we should be able to catch up on capital needs,” he noted.
McLean said another initiative is development of the City's innovative corridor along Hwy. 407.
“It's really exciting news for me and the City,” he added.
Kubota Canada is building an 80,000 square foot headquarters along with one million square feet of manufacturing space, he noted.
That development will attract suppliers to set up shop in the corridor, McLean stated.
Two office towers are going up, along with a hotel and convention centre, he said.
“Several huge international companies want to relocate to Pickering,” McLean stated. “Talks are underway. There will be high-paying jobs.”
Attracting businesses will help take some of the burden off residential taxpayers, he noted.
“That's good news and why I'm looking forward to the next four years,” McLean said.
For Ashe, keeping taxes low is a priority.
“Taxes remain the largest concern of resident. We must operate like a family budget and live within our means. I would expect increases to be limited to inflation,” he said.
Pickles said, “I think most residents look forward to continued good services, like safe roads, sidewalks, parks and garbage pick-up. So keeping the city running smoothly is job one. Challenges are managing investment and growth, businesses and residential.”
“Huge change” is in order at the Region, McLean said. In addition to a large turnover of councillors, the Region is going back to having four standing committees - works, finance and administration, health and social services, and planning and economic development.
“It will be interesting to see how it jells in there. Everybody has projects and there's only so much money,” he said.
He wants to serve on the works committee, which is the committee he had been on before the switch to a committee of the whole approach was taken.
“I simply feel lot of infrastructure will be will be a real challenge at the Region. I've been on works, where experience counts and how to maneuver on this,” McLean said.
Pickles said at the Region, “Improvements to transportation, such as roads and transit will be huge. As well the official plan review, although not front burner for most residents, it will set the stage for growth in the future.”
He was chairman of the health and social services committee in the last term.
“I hope to be returned to health and social services as I found it very important to the health of our community. It is also over half the regional budget. I am not seeking the chair of that committee again as I think it's time to have someone else have that great experience,” Pickles stated. “What may be interesting at the Region is about half the council is new and it's a steep learning curve.”
For Ashe, “Making water and sewer rates affordable, making transit an option for people, keeping tax increase to rate of inflation” are keys at the Region.
He served on the finance and administration committee and he's hoping to continue with that. He also served for a time on the Durham Regional Police Services Board and he wants to continue there also.
The new Regional Council will be sworn-in on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
As the first major commercial and employment centre east of Toronto, Pickering city centre is undergoing a significant transformation to solidify its presence as the economic gateway to Durham Region.
The city has announced a partnership with the Pickering Town Centre, Cushman & Wakefield and CAPREIT to redevelop the city centre lands located on the east side of the mall, immediately south of the esplanade. Anchored by an empty Sears department store ...
`A number of residents unfortunately experienced delays in voting on the last night of the seven day voting period. The voting time was extended by two hours to allow all to vote. Below is a related statement from the city clerk.' - David Pickles
Pickering City Clerk's Official Statement on the Municipal Election
Pickering, ON, October 23, 2018 - The following is an official statement from Debbie Shields, City Clerk, City of Pickering.
"The City of Pickering's voting period for the 2018 Municipal Elections commenced on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 10:00 am. Last night, on the final day of the voting period, the City's election service provider, Dominion Voting Systems, experienced a bandwidth problem at approximately 6:00 pm, which resulted in a 90-minute delay, affecting 51 Ontario municipalities, including Pickering. To compensate for the delay, the City extended the voting period for an additional two hours and closed voting at 10:00 pm."
"Voter turnout was 29 per cent, which is within a 3 to 5 per cent range of the two previous elections. Please note that at no time was the integrity of the system at risk of compromise, or in any way insecure. As such, I am fully confident in our election results."
Please see Dominion Voting Systems' statement regarding yesterday's Internet Voting Service Slowdown here. Any media queries for Dominion Voting Systems should be directed to Kay Stimson, Vice President of Government Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1.866.654.8683 ext. 9293.
PICKERING - For the first time, Pickering residents will not be heading to the polls as they normally have in the past.
Instead, they're casting their votes online or over the phone for the 2018 municipal election.
Voting period began on Oct. 15 and will run until election day on Oct. 22.
Residents can cast their votes for councillors, mayor, school board trustees and regional chair until 8 p.m. that day.
Voting can take place on a mobile device, computer, telephone, cellphone, iPad, or laptop. But for those unable to vote online or over the phone, there are alternate options available.
“Introducing telephone and online voting options makes the voting process more convenient and accessible for our residents,” said Tony Prevedel, chief administrative officer for the City of Pickering. “We hope that the simplicity and flexibility will encourage more residents to take action and vote.”
Pickering has been considering online voting for a number of years, but chose to see how it worked out with the other municipalities that decided to try this new route.
“We let the brave ones go first and it seemed like the right way to move,” said city clerk Debbie Shields.
Council passed plans for online voting in March 2017.
Internet voting provides voters with flexibility and convenience, reduces wait times at voting locations, delivers quick and accurate results, allows students and vacationers to vote from anywhere and provides voters with accessibility needs greater independence when casting their ballot.
“Now they can vote anywhere, any time,” said Shields.
“It increases their privacy for voting at home. On top of that it presents a very green option because we're not (printing) 70,000 paper ballots to throw out on the end.”
And those who are uncomfortable with voting on their own, or do not have access to the internet or a phone, can head to one of the voter assistance centres Pickering has set up throughout the voting period.
“We have six of them throughout the city and you can vote in any of them,” Shields said. “It's not like you have to be in your ward.”
Residents should have received a voter information letter in the mail in September containing all of the information required to cast their vote.
Although the use of internet/telephone voting reduces costs as compared to traditional paper ballot voting, maintaining the polling locations on election day will offset most of those cost savings, according to a staff report from 2017. But savings are expected to be realized after several election cycles, when internet/telephone voting is expected to become more commonplace, and polling locations can be eliminated. The last municipal election cost the city around $200,000 and the 2018 election, even with online voting in place, is expected to cost around the same.
“There will be cost savings,” Shields said. “You won't see them right away.”
Voter fraud is a concern for some voters since people are voting in the privacy of their own home and not at polls, but Shields stresses it is against the law to vote on someone else's behalf.
“So yes, it can happen, but it is illegal,” she said.
She said voters have to enter their ID and pin numbers, as well as their birth year in order to vote.
“I don't see it as a big issue because of that third security test,” Shields said.
Voting results are expected to come in quickly as a result of the new voting method. While there could be some holdups at the voter assistance centres, once everyone has voted, results are expected to only take minutes.
“If we are able to shut the voting process down by 8 (p.m.), then at 8:15 p.m. we'll have those results,” Shields said.
Shields recommends voters take advantage of the voting window leading up to Oct. 22.
“What we're telling most people is go and vote early or attempt to do your voting early because if there are any issues we'll have plenty of time to assist them and correct them,” she said.
For voter assistance centre locations and more information call the election help line at 905-420-4688 or visit pickering.ca/election. Those attending a voter assistance centre are asked to bring the ID and voter information letter. If they haven't received a letter with their information, they should call the help line.
PICKERING - After years of not having a proper downtown, Pickering is taking a new path to get one with a plan to embark on a private/public partnership.
“We have never had a downtown,” Mayor Dave Ryan said at a special council meeting on Oct. 1.
He noted Pickering lost Pickering Village to Ajax, arguably the city's closest thing to a downtown, in the 1970s.
But at the special meeting, councillors passed the design and implementation strategy of the city centre vision.
The City of Pickering wants to see a range of housing options, city facilities, walkability - and even an expansion onto the Pickering Town Centre's property - to create a vibrant downtown.
“For me, this is a real exciting moment,” said Ward 1 city Coun. Maurice Brenner, who was part of discussions with private landowners to create this new partnership on the request of the mayor.
n 2017, the concept of a Grande Esplanade Project was first introduced to council. The initial concept envisioned an arts centre, a seniors and youth centre, and the central library expansion being planned within the City of Pickering lands south of the Pickering Civic Complex. In the 2018 budget, council approved $26.5 million for a seniors and youth centre.
But the recent closing of Sears at the Pickering Town Centre, as well as the relocation of the movie theatres to the west side of the mall, has created a new opportunity for downtown development. Staff have had preliminary discussions with OPB Realty Inc., the owner of Pickering Town Centre, regarding the redevelopment of the east side of the property to establish a variety of compatible residential and non-residential uses that would fit within the context of the city's vision for intensification within the city centre.
“The Pickering Town Centre is extremely motivated to develop the east portion of their land west of City Hall,” said Pickering chief administrative officer Tony Prevedel.
The city is specifically interested in creating a public square, relocating the central library to the east side of the mall, and developing an arts centre and a seniors and youth Centre on the Pickering Town Centre property.
“With this proposal, we've going to have a walkable residential community,” Prevedel said.
He said the city is interested in an area with housing and a dynamic commercial node, as well as state-of-the art municipal facilities and a central public plaza joining it all.
“We hope that that will be the heart of the city, a welcoming destination for all ages and cultures,” he said.
Staff have also been in contact with Capreit, owner of residential properties directly south of the civic complex, which is considering redeveloping its lands to integrate with this overall vision.
City staff will stress the importance of developing a mix of housing and home ownership opportunities to serve a broad and diverse spectrum of residents. Staff will also advocate for the integration of smart and technologically innovative features into the project.-
Brenner said the city has a firm commitment that the downtown will have a range of housing forms, including rental housing.
“It's about ensuring (that) all persons have choices and options in housing,” he said.
Mayor Ryan said Durham West Arts Centre will be a part of this process and emphasized “we recognized the need for people in the downtown.”
He said the city doesn't want a downtown that's busy during the day but is empty at night.
“That's a recipe for a lot of nasty things happening in the area and that's what we're not about and that's not what we're going to do,” he said.
Voting begins in less than one week. A few key things to remember ...
PICKERING - Three of the five candidates who attended a debate on Oct. 3 live in the ward they are running in, it was revealed that evening.
Ward 3 municipal election candidates attended a debate organized by the Claremont and District Community Association at the Dr. Nelson F. Tomlinson Community Centre and answered questions from the organizer, as well as questions from the floor. Attendees included former councillor Peter Rodrigues and incumbent David Pickles for the Ward 3 regional councillor position. Three candidates seeking the job of Ward 3 city councillor, incumbent Shaheen Butt (who was appointed to the position after Rick Johnson died) and newcomers Damian Williams and Nadia Peerzada were also there.
The other Ward 3 city council candidates Ali Naqvi and Javed Akhtar were not in attendance.
One member in the audience asked each candidate if they live in Ward 3, and if they don't, why they decided to run there.
Peerzada lives in Ward 1 but lived in Ward 3 for many years. She said she raised her family there and has a strong connection to it.
Pickles has lived in Ward 3 for 30 years, but noted it is not uncommon for people to run in a ward outside of where they live, and added it is legal to do so.
Butt lives in Ward 2 but said he grew up on a farm and has a real passion for this specific area of Pickering.
Williams has lived in Ward 3 for 12 years and said he is well aware of the issues, especially surrounding traffic and accidents at Rosebank Road and Finch Avenue.
“I can speak to them from personal experience,” he said.
Rodrigues has lived in the ward for 16 years but also noted it's not uncommon for a candidate to run in a ward in which they do not live.
All candidates stated their opposition to an airport. They were also asked for their thoughts on large scale development in the small hamlet of Claremont. A group of residents are opposed to a Geranium Homes proposal that could see a housing development on the Oak Ridges Moraine based on a grandfather clause. It's going before the Ontario Municipal Board for a decision.
Peerzada said she's an environmental advocate and vowed to protect the environment.
Pickles noted his long track record to protect the greenbelt, and an attempt last term to save hundreds of acres of it. He said “I think slow and steady growth to a maximum might be a good thing for the hamlet,” but noted the decision on the Geranium proposal is up to the OMB.
Butt said it's important to engage with residents, see what they want, and what type of development they want to see.
“I'd like to preserve what they have and I think that's important,” he said.
Williams said it's extremely alarming there is a possibility that the area could be built on. He said residents don't want the hustle and bustle, which is why they are living in a place like Claremont, rather than Toronto.
“I will be fighting to preserve that as well,” he said.
Rodrigues noted he's been working hard over the years to protect the federal lands intended for a potential airport, as well as the Carruthers Creek Headwaters.
“I know what residents want here,” he said.
He said he's joined the group of people fighting this potential development at the OMB.
Candidates were asked how they will address a big concern in the community, that taxes are too high.
Butt said council acknowledges taxes are too high, but noted it is working to attract business in order to take the burden off of the residential tax base.
“We have a structure in place that we want to attract jobs,” he said.
Pickles said historically Pickering has been low-density, which usually means higher property taxes. However, now Pickering is looking at nonproperty tax revenue, by attracting business to the downtown and employment lands.
“It's not just a vision or a plan, it's an action taking place and it's having results,” he said.
Peerzada noted Claremont has big houses, meaning people are paying higher taxes, but not getting the same services that many people in the south part of Pickering receive.
“I will make sure we spend the budget wisely,” she said.
Rodrigues noted jobs are most important, but questions why Pickering keeps approving the development of houses. He said Pickering needs “to spend money more wisely” and “get the best value for money spent.”
Williams said he's not going to make empty promises.
“We have taxes here so we can grow,” he said.
He acknowledged Pickering's taxes are the highest of the municipalities he's lived in, and said council must make sure that the money goes toward good services.
The debate was rather tame, but Pickles took an opportunity in his opening statement to shoot down rumours that Pickering council has been spending excessive amounts of taxpayer dollars on alcohol. He said he spent “zero dollars on alcohol in the last two years, zero on meals.”
Pickering, ON, Thursday, September 20, 2018 - The City is encouraging residents to watch out for their Voter Information Letter in the mail.
The voting period for the upcoming municipal election is from Monday, October 15 at 10 am to Monday, October 22 at 8 pm.
New this municipal election, the City has introduced internet and telephone voting, meaning that eligible voters can vote from a computer, phone, tablet or laptop, provided they have access to internet, or a touch tone phone.
The Voter Information Letter identifies the voter's ward and school support, along with important information about how to access online or telephone voting options.
Those who do not receive a letter by October 1, or who receive a letter with incorrect information, should contact the Elections Help Line at 905.420.4688.
Voter Assistance Centres will be available to eligible electors who require assistance with the voting process, who may not have access to internet or a touch tone phone, or who need to be added to the Voters' List. Voter Assistance Centre addresses, dates and times of operation will be posted on the City's website and in the Pickering News Advertiser a week before the Voting Period starts.
To view a complete list of registered candidates, or for additional information on the election, visit pickering.ca/elections, email email@example.com or call the Election Help Line at 905.420.4688.
Please watch the video below to hear my brief comments to residents, city staff and Council colleagues at our last regularly scheduled meeting of this term of Pickering Council on September 17, 2018. The comments were made following the Mayor's comments under Other Business on the Council agenda.
More good news!
As noted in my previous post, the section of sidewalk below Lane Street will be replaced with a concrete sidewalk.
Showing on the included map below, the poor condition of the paved sidewalk north of Lane Street to Bundy will be repaved to provide for better safety, access and maintenance. This work will occur before end of October.
Councillor Butt and I have been working to have this done following responses to our newsletters and other comments we received residents. This year we will see a significant improvement to the Old Brock Sidewalks.
As previously noted in our newsletter to Claremont residents, the sidewalk on The East side of Old Brock Road from Joesph Street North to Lane Street will be reconstructed to a full concrete sidewalk for this length. This is noted on the map below.
In the recent Photo Councillor Butt and I discuss the upcoming work with Old Brock Road resident Garry. The work will begin late September or early October. Further info will be provided to affected residents. Additional information on the sidewalk north of Lane Street is also coming.
As per my and Councillor Butt's earlier newsletter the re-paving of Livingston is underway and we were on hand to watch the progress. The finished road will be a great improvement. With the completion of the Hamlet drainage study we can prioritize work on other roads. Barber is likely next.
After a few years of work on this, I am pleased to note that the hard surfacing of Westney Road phase one, will begin shortly. See the Notice of Construction for details.
This will create a better and safer driving surface into Northeast Pickering for residents.
I am happyi, along with Councillor Butt's support, to deliver on this commitment.
Please have patience during construction the outcome will be worth it. Cheers.
The Town of Ajax has been taking its fight to keep its casino to court, and the community is paying for it in more ways than one.
Ajax has not only lost its latest case to try to save the slots at Ajax Downs - it is now covering the legal fees for the City of Pickering and Durham Live. The town has agreed to pay Pickering $30,000 and give $27,000 to Durham Live, totalling $57,000.
In June, Ontario's Divisional Court dismissed Ajax's application for leave to appeal the Ontario Municipal Board's decision to give Durham Live the green light. The proposed complex is set to be anchored by a resort casino.
“This appeal was required to protect the Ajax community from significant traffic impacts and other matters associated with the new Durham Live Mega - Casino Resort,” reads a statement from Rachael Wraith with the Town of Ajax communications team.
“[The city] regarded it as probable ... that Ajax's challenge would be unsuccessful,” said Pickering's solicitor and director of corporate services, Paul Bigioni. “The cost consequences of that ... are unfortunate.”
Ajax lawyer Jeffrey Robles says a payout like this one is common in many corporate cases. “The rules provide for the successful party to be entitled to an award for costs from the unsuccessful litigant,” he said.
Files obtained from the Town of Ajax state that the total cost of the leave to appeal process is $98,600 and that to pursue this case, Ajax went over its 2018 legal - fees budget by more than $20,000.
Many Ajax residents Global News spoke with say they are frustrated that their tax dollars are going toward this case.
“I think that should be something that they need to pay out instead of something that is done by us,” Paula Clark said.
“If they lost, they should pay out of their own pockets,” said Conner Kaljuvee.
But, Shaun Collier, the regional councillor for Wards 1 and 2, says it was worth putting up a fight for the town's casino.
“We had to defend that asset,” Collier said. “What we're talking about is a $7-million-a-year asset to the town in revenue in the Ajax Downs, and we have to protect that.”
PICKERING - Work is expected to begin in the next month to convert Westney Road in Pickering from Seventh Concession to Eighth Concession from gravel to hard surface.
At the last meeting before summer break, council approved tender for the project to Road NEI Construction Corp., in the amount of $1,171,469.87 (HST included).
The total gross project cost of $1,661,995 (HST included), including the tender amount and other associated costs, and the total net project cost of $1,496,678 (net of the HST rebate) was also approved.
The next section, Eighth Concession to Ninth Concession, will be hard surfaced next year, said Ward 3 Regional Coun. David Pickles.
“This creates a new safer spine through northeast Pickering for residents to get to their homes and makes this road easier and less expensive to maintain,” he said in an email.
The councillor got the ball rolling on this in 2014, with his motion to develop a plan to hard surface main roads in north Pickering. The resulting plan was approved by Pickering council in 2016, and planning and design prioritized Westney Road.
PICKERING - Pickering council voted in favour of a merger between Veridian Corporation and Whitby Hydro Energy Corporation at Monday's meeting.
Pickering is one of five municipal shareholders that needed to approve the merger so it can move forward through the regulatory process. The others are Clarington, Ajax, Belleville and Whitby. All approved the merger on June 25 or before.
“The City of Pickering is both pleased and confident to support the Veridian-Whitby Hydro merger,” said Mayor Dave Ryan, who also sits on the Veridian board of directors. “This is a long-term investment, which will benefit our residents and businesses for years to come. In addition, Pickering will realize higher annual dividends that can be reinvested back into key priority areas for our community.”
Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles, also a Veridian board member, said he and others have been working toward a merger to help Veridian curb electrician distribution costs to its customers and increase revenues to the city.
“It's a win-win for the residents and taxpayers of the five municipalities, and Veridian and Whitby Hydro customers. Electricity distribution rates will remain stable and Pickering as a major share holder will see an increase in revenue from the merger utility to help offset property tax increases,” he said.
The new combined company will continue to be 100 per cent municipally-owned and Pickering will have a 27.88-per cent ownership interest in the merged company.
Customers will benefit from the greater rate stability a merger offers, along with protection from potential future rate increases. Distribution rates are expected to be, on average, approximately 3.8 per cent less than they otherwise would have been under Veridian and Whitby Hydro alone. Customers can also expect access to greater resources during major outage events and around-the-clock control room capabilities across the entire service area.
The merger offers shareholders stronger, more sustainable cash flow in interest and dividends and is expected to produce about $90 million in savings over the next 17 years. Municipal shareholders will receive increased dividends, which can help mitigate tax increases and can be reinvested back into their respective communities.
The new, yet-unnamed, combined energy company would service more than 162,000 residential and business customers and be the fourth largest municipally-owned electric utility in Ontario.
Please help us build your future Library!
We need your insight! Pickering Public Library is currently creating a strategic plan and as part of that we are conducting a community survey. We want to hear from you, whether or not you currently use the library. What we learn from this survey will help us to meet your wants, needs, and goals for the future. If you're interested in taking part follow the link below to get started.
PICKERING - The City of Pickering has hired a consultant to gain feedback from the public regarding an area of Pickering that includes a potential airport.
At the May meeting, council passed a staff recommendation that Proof Inc. be hired to undertake a public engagement initiative on the economic and employment impact within the Highway 407 corridor. The $150,000 cost will be funded by the Development Charges Administration Studies Reserve Fund and from the Seaton Application Fee Reserve.
This issue was a sore subject in late 2017. In November, a Pickering staff report included a “Pickering Airport Feasibility Study” costing $150,000 as a recommended development charge in the 2018 budget.
The report came a month after council chose to officially support an airport, pending the results of an aviation study - a change from its longtime stance against it. The new stance was included in a report on the city's bid to host Amazon's second headquarters.
Residents were quick to call out the city on this matter, questioning why development charges would cover a study on an airport that has not been approved by the federal government.
Pickering chief administrative officer Tony Prevedel explained it was simply a typo, and the money was for consultation purposes regarding the development of the Highway 407 corridor, which includes both the Pickering Innovation Corridor and the potential airport in Pickering.
A recent report to council explained that, in discussions with businesses in an effort to attract high-paying jobs to the Pickering Innovation Corridor, each potential business asked when an airport will be built in Pickering.
Staff had asked Proof Inc. for a proposal that would see the development of a comprehensive communications and community outreach strategy that would be grounded in hard data specific to Pickering. The goal of the engagement program is to gather detailed information from residents and businesses and provide them with the information they need to develop an informed opinion.
The City of Pickering's website says all Pickering residents will be invited to participate in the public engagement initiative.
PICKERING - Palmer Bridge in Pickering won't be completed any time soon.
On May 14 council passed additional funding to get the bridge rehabilitation project done, which now has a completion date of Oct. 21, nearly four months after what was originally scheduled.
The bridge is located on Valley Farm Road, just north of Finch Avenue.
After budget approval for the work in 2014, the City of Pickering hired AECOM Canada Ltd. to provide design, tender, construction administration and field inspection services for the project. Although scheduled to take 24 weeks, in 2017 the contractor, Bob Hendricksen Construction Ltd., said it would take 44 weeks to undertake the bridge construction since one lane had to remain open to traffic. The new completion date was June 1.
A staff report explained various conditions led to the need for AECOM to ask for the extension to Oct. 21 and funding increase. Delays are a result of the requirements for shoring design and difficulty with construction at the bridge abutments due to dewatering difficulties on the south side of the bridge.
“I'm still concerned with the length this project has taken,” said Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles, adding lengths should be taken to complete it before October.
Councillors approved the request for additional funding of $200,634, including HST, in order for AECOM to cover additional contract administration and field inspection to complete the project. These additional funds take the total revised net project cost to $542,029, after the HST rebate.
The project is fully funded by the York Region Southeast Collector Funding Agreement. A settlement in 2010 allowed York Region to go ahead with its twinning of the southeast collector trunk sanitary sewer, which brings 90 per cent of York's sewage to the water pollution control plant in Pickering for treatment. In turn, the city received a $10.3 million commitment to community enhancements. Unspent funds are available from other enhancement projects that were completed under budget, and these unspent funds will be used to cover the additional funding.
Pickles pointed out that although the city has overage, it's still money the city is spending.
Check out the Family Activities taking place during the month of May in Pickering
I usually start these updates with good news stories in Pickering, but this time I wanted to express my deepest sympathies to Councillor Kevin Ashe and his partner, Karen O'Brien, on the loss of Karen's son, Alex Monaghan. Alex took his own life at the age of 27 this past Easter weekend. He had been battling mental health issues.
In Karen's touching eulogy for her son, she said, “To any of [your] friends that may need someone to talk to please reach out. If we can save one soul for Alex, make one person feel a little better, Alex's death won't be in vain. Let's make a difference - listen - talk - take action.”
As the Chair of Health and Social Services for Durham Region, I have provided some information on suicide - the warning signs and risk factors, as well as resources for assistance. I encourage anyone who witnesses these warning signs - in yourself or others - to reach out.
Suicide: Warning Signs & Risk Factors
Many people who are at acute risk for suicide or suicide-related behaviour show warning signs; these individuals will most often:
Additional warning signs are below. These should alert the clinician that a mental health evaluation needs to be conducted in the very near future and that precautions should be put into place immediately to ensure the safety, stability, and security of the individual.
Available on the Durham Region website is additional information, documents, and resources - including details on available suicide prevention apps. Please visit durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/mental-health.aspx to access.
Durham Live World Class Resort - Coming to Pickering!
I am pleased that on April 3rd, Ontario Gaming GTA LP announced Durham Live as the new casino site. This is great news for businesses and taxpayers and will have positive impact across Durham Region.
It started in December 2012 with my and Councillor Ashe's motion to make Pickering a willing host for a casino. We had a vision of bringing jobs, businesses, revenues, and other opportunities to the City.
Durham Live will be a $1.6 billion project on 200 acres at the northwest corner of Bayly Road and Church Street in Pickering and a major tourist attraction bringing thousands of new jobs and millions in combined revenues to both the City of Pickering and Durham Region each year. It will not only be a casino but a dynamic multi-use complex with a 5-star hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, waterpark, film studios, cinema entertainment complex, amphitheatre, boutique hotel, office tower, outdoor recreation space, and a wealth of dining opportunities. We will continue to work with Durham Live to bring Durham Live to life!
Job Growth and Economic Development in Pickering
The City of Pickering has finalized agreements with Kubota Canada Limited and other anchor tenants in the Pickering Innovation Corridor, which will be the catalyst for future job growth and economic development along Highway 407 in Durham Region.
Kubota Canada Limited, a subsidiary of Kubota Corporation - Japan, will be constructing a 500,000 square foot facility, plus an additional 65,000 square feet of head office space in its first phase. This new state-of-the-art facility will feature enhanced testing and training, as well as increased warehousing and logistics. Kubota Canada Limited has purchased 50 acres of land and looks to expand its campus to over a million square feet in future phases.
Red Crest Developments will be building two adjacent office buildings totaling almost 300,000 combined square feet. As such, there will be opportunities for small, mid-sized, and large businesses to lease office space in the Pickering Innovation Corridor. The office towers will be strategically located with easy access to Markham's high tech sector and Durham Region's EN3 super-cluster of ENergy, ENvironmental, and ENgineering companies.
The Behar Group will be building a 4-star hotel with an adjoining convention centre. The 30,000 square foot convention centre will be able to accommodate industry conventions, trade shows, corporate meetings, weddings, and social events. The developer has committed to creating a convention centre with the ability to meet the needs of all faiths, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds.
The Pickering Innovation Corridor is comprised of 800 acres of provincially owned lands in Seaton, located along Highway 407 between York-Durham Townline Road and Brock Road. The City of Pickering undertook the extraordinary approach of buying select prime acreage from the Province in order to directly market, sell, and manage the economic development opportunity.
“The City of Pickering's bold and innovative approach of purchasing and managing a portion of these Provincial lands was instrumental in signing the Innovation Corridor's first anchor tenants. It demonstrates that we're hungry and are willing to do what it takes to earn your business,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “More importantly, these initial investments will kick start immense commercial and industrial growth along Highway 407, which will create thousands of new jobs and strengthen both Pickering and Durham's economy over the next two decades.”
Discover Pickering Geocache Adventure 2018
Rabies and Microchip Clinic
55+ Speakers Bureau
Petapolooza Pet Trade Showbr
Rabies and Microchip Clinic
Mother's Day Tea
City of Pickering Council Meeting
Indoor Movie Night - The Secret Life of Pets
For more information on the above events and a list of other City and community meetings and events, visit calendar.pickering.ca.
A flurry of recent deals and announcements in Pickering, Ont. bodes well for the economy of the Durham Region city of 94,000 east of Toronto.
“We're very, very excited about the development in Pickering and for the opportunity for more development moving forward,” Mayor Dave Ryan told RENX in an interview.
Ontario Gaming GTA LP, a partnership between Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GC-T) and Brookfield Business Partners (BBU-UN-T), announced on April 3 that it's proceeding to municipal permitting for the Durham Live entertainment complex.
Toronto-based developer Triple Properties acquired the approximately 240-acre site, located at the corner of Church and Bayly Streets off Highway 401, from Runnymede Development Corporation a few years ago.
The Durham Live development, expected to cost approximately $1.3 billion, will include a casino, indoor water park, film studio, hotels, restaurants, convention space and more. It's anticipated the casino, which will be built first, will be operational by late next year.
“It will become one of Ontario's top tourism destinations and entertainment sites,” said Ryan.
Sale of two Seaton properties
CBRE Land Services Group executive vice-president Mike Czestochowski and senior vice-president Lauren White led a team that earlier this month brokered deals for two Pickering properties which are part of the provincially owned Seaton lands.
CBRE was enlisted in 2016 to sell approximately 1,200 acres of Infrastructure Ontario-managed land in Seaton, with approximately 308 acres for residential and mixed-use, 834 acres for employment and 56 acres for community uses.
Proceeds from the sale go to the Trillium Trust, which helps fund transit, transportation and other infrastructure projects across Ontario.
Upon completion, Seaton is expected to be a mixed-use community which will be home to 70,000 and support 35,000 jobs.
Mattamy Homes, TACC Construction Ltd., Paradise Developments and Fieldgate Homes formed a consortium called Seaton TFPM which purchased 397.4 acres located south of Highway 7 and west of Sideline Rd. No. 18 for $156.67 million. Two-thirds of the site will be dedicated to multi-density housing and one-third will be for employment uses.
The City of Pickering had purchased 27.3 acres of industrial, commercial and investment land in Seaton north of Whitevale Road and west of North Road for $2.8 million a day earlier.
“We recognized all along that residential growth had to be balanced by industrial,” said Ryan. “Without that economic base, we become a super large bedroom community.
“That's not what we want in this municipality, so we're working very hard to bring in employment opportunities.”
Pickering Innovation Corridor
Most recently came the April 13 announcement that the City of Pickering had finalized agreements with three companies in the “Pickering Innovation Corridor,” which is comprised of development land located along Highway 407 between York-Durham Townline Road and Brock Road.
The City of Pickering purchased 28 acres from the province and optioned 197 acres of innovation corridor land in order to directly market, sell and manage economic development opportunities.
“With the option agreement, the City was able to purchase the land directly from the province for $100,000 an acre (not serviced),” said Mark Guinto, Pickering's manager of business development and public affairs. “The purchaser/end user will have to participate in the cost sharing for the roads, water and sanitary services for the employment lands with the Seaton Landowners Group.”
The Seaton Landowners Group is comprised of Mattamy, DG Group, Lebovic Homes and White Sun Developments.
Kubota, Red Crest and The Behar Group deal
Tractor and heavy equipment manufacturer Kubota Canada Limited purchased 50 acres and will build a 500,000-square-foot warehouse and logistics facility and 65,000 square feet of head office space in its first phase. Kubota will invest approximately $67 million in the land and buildings.
Construction is expected to begin this fall and occupancy should begin late next year. The campus could expand to more than a million square feet in future phases.
Red Crest Developments purchased approximately 5.5 acres at $100,000 an acre. It will build two adjacent office buildings totalling almost 300,000 square feet that will present leasing opportunities for businesses of all sizes. Ryan said, to his knowledge, Red Crest doesn't have pre-construction tenant commitments but feels confident in moving forward with its development.
“I think what you're going to see is success breeding success,” said Ryan. “As we have these businesses moving in, confidence is being shown.”
While the City of Pickering is attempting to attract energy, environmental and engineering companies to the innovation corridor, it's open to other opportunities as well.
The Behar Group purchased approximately 25 acres at $100,000 an acre. It will build a four-star hotel with an adjoining 30,000-square-foot convention centre to accommodate industry conventions, trade shows, corporate meetings, weddings and social events.
Pickering airport still a possibility
The federal government owns thousands of acres of land immediately north of the Seaton community which were expropriated in the early 1970s, with plans to build an international airport that has yet to come to fruition.
Ryan, however, is optimistic it will be built. Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga is expected to reach capacity within 20 years, and it takes at least 10 years to develop a major airport.
“The federal government has commissioned what they tell us is going to be the final study through KPMG,” said Ryan. “It will be doing a full financial analysis of the potential for those lands.
“We think, from the work that we've done and other studies that have preceded this, that there's going to be no question of the economic viability of those lands. To realize their full potential, the right solution is to move forward with the airport development.
“It's also the right thing to do for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as a whole. We're the only major metropolis that doesn't have a multiple airport support system. Our transportation infrastructure through the GTA, as a result, is failing.”
DURHAM - It wasn't the showdown people were expecting.
About 300 people turned out to the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade's annual mayors' breakfast at Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility, perhaps anticipating a debate between Ajax Mayor Steve Parish and Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan about the location of a casino. It didn't happen, although they did spar briefly about the Durham Live proposal when asked a question about transportation issues.
“I welcome such a large crowd. I wonder if something is going on,” Parish quipped when he spoke prior to Ryan's address.
Parish didn't discuss the casino issue at all in his remarks, but Ryan opened by talking about it.
Ryan said he would be giving “one of the most exciting updates in years.
“It's been almost six years since Councillor (Kevin) Ashe and Councillor (David) Pickles brought Steve Apostolopoulos of Triple Properties to my office and pitched me on the idea of a casino. I wasn't interested in a standalone box in a field. It didn't do anything for me, and outside of potential gaming revenues, it didn't add much value to the greater community,” Ryan said.
The next time Ryan met with the trio, they had the concept of Durham Live, which included the casino, but also a hotel, convention centre, film studios, water park, restaurants and an office tower.
“Now this was something truly special. When I took in all of the economic, tourism and job-creation potential of a project of this size and scale, I became a Durham Live champion,” he said.
“I know there's been a lot of noise about the casino and whether or not it should stay in Ajax or come to Pickering. However, if you filter out all of the noise, it really is a clear and simple matter,” he noted. “Great Canadian Gaming was awarded the GTA Gaming Bundle and was given a mandate by OLG to maximize revenues.”
The process for selecting Durham Live was open and transparent, he said.
When questioned, Parish said the Durham Live proposal relies on a partial interchange at Church Street, adding there's already gridlock issues on Bayly Street.
“It will be traffic chaos,” he said, noting the Ajax site is close to highways 401 and 412.
He said there's “no provision” in provincial plans to construct an interchange at Church.
Ryan said the interchange would be “fully funded by the developer. There's not a single cent from the taxpayers.”
In his address, Parish said, “It struck me that it is very clear 2018 will be a year of profound change in this region and province. A provincial election is coming soon, and our municipal election is coming. We don't know what will happen in these elections.”
A day after the breakfast, Parish announced he would not be seeking re-election as mayor of Ajax.
It's possible there will be a change in government at Queen's Park, he said.
“It's noted, with the tragedy of the passing of Roger Anderson, there will be a newly elected regional chair and at least one-third or 50 per cent of regional council will be new bodies starting next term,” he said.
He noted Ajax is “the largest municipality in Canada and maybe North America to have full internet and phone voting. It has increased voter turnout, and it's made voting much more easy.
“We have a great financial sustainability plan, which makes sure our fiscal practices are best practices. We have strong reserves and low debt,” he said.
He said the town has been an environmental leader for years.
He added that the waterfront is “under threat” by algae, which the town contends comes from phosphorous from the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. Tertiary treatment could remove almost all the phosphorous, he said.
“Huge algae blooms are fouling our waterfront. We have the capability to make that right. We've seen what happened in Lake Erie,” he said.
Ryan noted, on the airport, “After more than 40 years, Pickering Council has finally taken a positive position on the proposed airport. We have concluded that an airport is very much needed to unlock the full economic potential of the federal lands, and it's time that we advocate for what we believe to be in the best interests of Pickering, Durham Region, Ontario and, indeed, Canada.”
Pickering is less than 30 minutes away from Pearson airport when using Highway 407.
Pickering is “the perfect location for a secondary airport. There is no other suitable location that could serve the GTA catchment area,” Ryan said.
To get the latest updates on the Ice Storm from the City of Pickering, visit Ice Storm Update.
“More excellent news on businesses and jobs coming to Pickering. This has been are vision and what we have been working towards. We welcome these businesses to Pickering!” - David Pickles
Kubota Canada Ltd. is building a new facility in Pickering, Ontario.
Construction of the new facility is expected to begin this fall, and the company plans to begin moving its operations by the end of 2019.
The new facility will be designed to house Kubota Canada's (KCL) head office, training areas and warehouse operations.
Kubota has operated in Canada from Markham, Ont., since 1975. According to the company, the move is the result of its growing success in Canada.
“In Canada, the construction, agriculture, commercial and residential sectors are all highly competitive markets, which gives us the motivation to strengthen our leadership among Canadian customers and dealers,” said Bob Hickey, president of Kubota Canada. “It had become obvious that we needed a new state-of-the-art facility to ensure we could live up to our commitments to meet the increasing needs of our growing customer base. We are very thankful for the trust our dealers and customers place in our products and services.”
The new Pickering facility will cover 53,500 square metres, with the possibility of 92,900 square metres of floor space in the future. The company will invest about $67 million to purchase the land and construct the new headquarters.
“Pickering was selected as our future head office location because it provides a great sense of community and lends itself perfectly to our growing technological advancements,” Hickey said. “Our new location will enable us to have easy access to highways, affordable housing for our employees, as well as to equipment testing and training areas.”
Kubota Canada currently employs bout 190 employees. With the new facility, that number will grow to about 250 by 2027.
“We would also like to express our sincere thanks to Mayor (David) Ryan as well as to other City of Pickering officials for welcoming KCL and making this project possible. Lastly, we wish to thank the City of Markham for helping to bring KCL to where it is today,” Hickey said.
Kubota headquarters timeline:
Kubota Canada is a subsidiary of Kubota Corporation, a tractor and heavy equipment manufacturer based in Osaka, Japan. KCL markets and distributes Kubota-engineered and manufactured equipment, which includes a complete line of tractors, performance-matched implements, compact and utility tractors, compact construction, landscaping and public work equipment, residential lawn and garden equipment, commercial turf products and utility vehicles.
“As Chair of Region of Durham Health and Social Services I congratulate our paramedics in this distinction.” - David Pickles
Councillor Ashe and I in our willing host for a casino motion approved in 2012, included the intent to share revenue from a Pickering casino with other Durham municipalities.  Given the recent announced that the Pickering casino site Durham Live has been selected, Pickering Council last night passed a further motion attached below that asks staff at the City and Region to move forward to discuss sharing 30 percent of the casino revenue with Durham Region to support projects and programs across Durham Region municipalities.
In a Tuesday news release, Canadian casino and hospitality operator, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (TSX:GC), announced that they will move forward with municipal permitting for a premier casino resort at the site of a massive entertainment development, Durham Live, recently approved for the city of Pickering at Church and Bayly streets.
Located in Southern Ontario in the Regional Municipality of Durham, what is expected to be a major tourist destination and create upwards of 10,000 new local jobs, Durham Live is being developed by Triple Properties, and in addition to a full-service casino, Durham Live Casino, will reportedly offer a five-star hotel, convention centre, film studios, boutique hotel, waterpark, office tower, restaurants, cinemas, and other attractions, according to a Wednesday news release from the City of Pickering.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said, “With respect to augmenting gaming revenues, economic development, boosting tourism, and significant job creation, Durham Live represents an unparalleled opportunity for Durham Region and the Province of Ontario. We thank the Developer - the Apostolopoulos family; OGGLP; and the Province for their shared confidence in Pickering,” according to the city's news release.
After the application for the re-zoning of three pieces of land in Pickering received approval from the city's council, the Town of Ajax challenged the decision and in Feb. last year, the Ontario Municipal Board ruled in favor of the plans for the entertainment destination that could include a casino.
Casino Ajax, located next to Ajax Downs, which offers live quarter horse racing, and Durham Live were both in the running for a casino, however, under provincial rules, only one gaming facility can exist in Pickering, Whitby and Ajax, which means if a casino were to open in Pickering, the Ajax Casino would have to close and vice versa. According to the news release, once the new resort is operational in late 2019, members at Casino Ajax will transfer over.
“We look forward to welcoming our existing team members to join us at the new facility once construction is complete, along with 1,700 new members of our family,” said Great Canadian Gaming president and CEO, Rod Baker. “Investing hundreds of millions of private sector dollars in the Durham Region economy will mean more construction and operations jobs for people in Ajax and Pickering, more procurement opportunities for local companies, more tourism in the region, and more government revenues to support communities.”
Ontario Gaming GTA LP, a partnership between the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Toronto-based Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (NYSE:BBU)(TSX:BBU.UN), is behind the plan for the casino at the Durham Live site located off Highway 401 in the city of about 91,771 and will operate the Pickering casino.
However, on Monday the Toronto Star reported that the Town of Ajax wanted a casino decision delayed until after the June 7 provincial election and in a recent statement said, “Minister Leal's closure leak followed by MPP (Joe) Dickson's promise letter clearly indicates the litany of bad faith and strategic dealings of the government to close the Ajax facility - one of the most successful casinos in North America.”
According to DurhamRegion.com, the Town of Ajax has reportedly received revenue upwards of $61 million from the Slots at Ajax Downs, which has been operating since 2006 and additionally supports Ajax Downs helping to provide 1,700 agricultural jobs.
Pickering Councillor David Pickles said, “Ajax has done well by Ajax Slots having received about $75 million for its use since it opened, but the province and OLG wanted to go with an improved business model and a competitive process,” according to a Wednesday report from the Toronto Star.
Pickles went on to say that Durham Live will expand on gaming, hotel, convention and entertainment opportunities, which will result in more jobs and revenue. He said, “We could be looking at up to $25 million per year in financial benefits and 15,000 jobs when everything is up and running. That's a huge benefit to our community and taxpayers.”
In addition to the estimated 10,000 new local jobs that would reportedly be created by Durham Live, the casino itself would have approximately 2,000 employees, including 1,700 new jobs.
Last summer, Great Canadian Gaming along with Brookfield Business Partners was chosen by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation to manage three facilities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack.
DURHAM - While Pickering officials are jubilant about being awarded a casino, Ajax vows the fight to keep Ajax Downs isn't over.
On Tuesday, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation announced it would be building a new casino in Pickering. Under provincial rules, that means the facility in Ajax will close.
The Pickering site, called Durham Live, is at Church and Bayly streets, across from Annandale Golf and Curling Club. In addition to the casino, the site could also have a hotel, convention centre, office space, a water park and a film studio.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan was pleased with the news.
“This is something that's taken a long time to come to fruition and we're pleased the decision has been made. We're looking forward to working with Durham Live going forward,” Ryan said.
Steve Apostolopoulos, co-founder and managing partner of Pickering Developments, said he's excited Durham Live was chosen.
“We've been working very hard for many years and we officially got the go ahead so we're very happy to proceed,” he noted. “It's great news for the region. We want to thank everyone who's been involved in the process.”
However, Ajax plans to fight to keep the casino.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish said there were a number of things that were strange about the announcement on Tuesday.
“First of all, there hasn't been any government announcement on it,” he said, adding Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson did put out a press release later in the day.
Parish also had strong words for Premier Kathleen Wynne, saying she has thrown Dickson “under the bus.
“He is done politically in Ajax,” Parish said, adding after this announcement, Dickson's chances of re-election are zero to five per cent.
He said Wynne's decision has shown “contempt” for the people of Ajax, and for quarter-horse racing.
Ajax is going to court on Thursday, April 12 to appeal an Ontario Municipal Board ruling issued last year that supported the Durham Live proposal.
Parish has great concerns for traffic gridlock along Bayly Street in Ajax as a result of a casino being build at Bayly and Church streets, and said it will destroy Pickering Village.
“We are not satisfied with any of these things and we will fight all of these matters as long and as hard as necessary,” he said.
In his statement Dickson said, “I'm deeply saddened and disappointed by this decision. I was one of the strongest proponents of bringing the slots to Ajax Downs back in 2006 with owner Norman Picov, as I knew that the revenues would benefit my municipality of Ajax and support the quarter-horse racing track.”
Dickson added, “I promised our community that if Durham Live was the successful project, I would fight for three main priorities - that no local jobs are lost, support for the quarter-horse racing industry continues, and the Durham Region benefits from a new revenue sharing agreement with the host municipality.
“I have been assured by OLG and the service provider that all OLG employees (about 300) currently at Ajax Downs will be transferred over to the new facility,” he noted.
“I want to thank Mayor Ryan for his immediate commitment toward revenue sharing with all of the Durham Region. The region's share of millions of new dollars from this project will mean better social services for all our residents. Additional investments in assisted housing and seniors necessities, as well as infrastructure are always needed.”
Pickering announced it expects annual revenue as the host community from the facility would be about $20 million a year. Of that, 30 per cent, or $6 million, would be given to Durham Region annually. Pickering is suggesting a portion of the funds be given to social housing “in order to secure matching funding from the senior levels of government.”
Ajax has been getting as much as $7 million annually as the host community.
Also, two per cent of revenues will be shared with the local quarter-horse industry “but will need to meet with industry representatives first in order to better understand their needs,” Pickering noted in a press release.
“Based on an economic impact assessment prepared for the developer, Triple Properties, it is estimated that Durham Live, anchored by a resort casino, has the capacity to contribute approximately $1.3 billion in incremental annual GDP, over $625 million in annual total tax revenues, and create approximately 10,000 new jobs. It is this once-in-a-lifetime value proposition that has generated significant business interest across North America,” the statement noted.
Pickering Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles initiated the idea in December 2012 that Pickering was a willing host for a casino.
“At the time Coun. (Kevin) Ashe and I wanted to keep the option open for a casino, but we were almost overwhelmed by the positive response of residents and investors,” Pickles said, adding the city was quickly approached by interested groups.
“I recall taking enthusiastic potential investors, along with councillors Ashe and (Doug) Dickerson, around the city in my car to look at sites, including the current Durham Live site,” said Pickles. “Then the Apostolopoulos family, as the Durham Live group, came along with this great proposal that blew everyone away with not only a casino but a dynamic multi-use complex.”
Also on Tuesday, Rod Phillips, the Progressive Conservative candidate in Ajax, issued a statement, noting, “Today, the Liberal government left the Town of Ajax and the quarter-horse racing community facing more uncertainty with the future of Ajax Downs. Kathleen Wynne and Joe Dickson once again failed to communicate with the parties involved, instead hiding behind a third-party press release. Understandably, Mayor Steve Parish and Council expressed their frustration with how they've been treated during this process.”
- With files from Kristen Calis
DURHAM - And the winner is Durham Live!
Great Canadian Gaming, the company selected to operate casinos in the Greater Toronto Area, has chosen the Pickering site for a casino.
That means Casino Ajax, the facility that's been operating since 2006, will close.
Ontario Gaming GTA LP (OGGLP), a partnership between Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Business Partners, will operate the Pickering casino, which will be built at Church and Bayly streets.
The Durham Live proposal includes hotels, convention space, an indoor water park and film studios, along with the casino.
OGGLP said in a press release the Durham Live site would create more than 10,000 local jobs.
The casino would have about 2,000 employees, including 1,700 new jobs. Jobs currently at Casino Ajax would transfer to the new location when that casino opens.
The press release notes the Durham Live casino will be open in late 2019.
“I'm very pleased to acknowledge that the great Canadian Gaming Corporation has chosen Pickering as the new home for their casino operations,” said Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, adding he's looking forward to it moving forward “at a significant pace.”
“Ajax has done well by Ajax Slots having received about $75 million for its use since it opened, but the province and OLG wanted to go with an improved business model and a competitive process,” said Coun. David Pickles.
He said the Pickering Durham Live site and proposal is simply bigger and better, including more gaming, convention, hotel and entertainment opportunities and will result in more revenue and jobs.
“We could be looking at up to $25 million per year in financial benefits and 15,000 jobs when everything is up and running. That's a huge benefit to our community and taxpayers,” Coun. Pickles said.
With files from Kristen Calis
This is a huge announcement for Pickering. The exciting Durham Live Project will bring thousands of jobs and millions in revenue to the City of Pickering. This is great for businesses and tax payers. Positive impact will be made across Durham Region. In December 2012 I drafted and moved a motion seconded by Councillor Ashe to make Pickering a willing host for a casino. We had a vision of bringing jobs, businesses, opportunities and revenues to the City. Today's announcement by Great Canadian Gaming of the casino coming to Pickering as part of the Durham Live is more than we imagined at the time. As I have been saying it's time to bring Durham Live to life!
View the news release for details.
Email received from Volunteer Coordinator Doreen Hume McKenna for Everyone Counts 2018 ...
Good Morning Councillor Pickles,
I'm glad that our paths crossed last week at the Housing Forum at the Ajax Convention Centre. As we discussed, I've attached the Call for Volunteers and the Volunteer Registration form for this year's Count.
Volunteers for the evening of April 16th are most welcome. This is when we will be doing the street count. Based on our experience last year, the street count will be in Oshawa and Whitby only.
Where we are more in need of volunteers is to schedule for our daytime locations that will be throughout the region at various times. On the registration form, these daytime events fall under the heading of “Magnet Events”. You'll also see that people can indicate what days they are available for, and then later on, what municipalities.
It would be very much appreciated if you can disseminate this Call for Volunteers amongst your Pickering and Regional Council colleagues. All are welcome with however much time they have available.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.
Everyone Counts 2018
DURHAM - Roger Anderson was remembered not only as a politician, but as a family man committed to his sons and granddaughter.
Westney Heights Baptist Church was packed as hundreds came to pay their respects to Anderson, who lost his battle with cancer on Saturday, March 24.
Pastor Jack Hannah said, “This is a service to honour someone who has served us so well.”
Hannah noted Anderson tried to keep his health issues private because “he didn't want other people bothered by him. He wanted to keep on his regional responsibilities.”
Hannah said Anderson called him when he was near death. The pair met and were joined by Anderson's son Warren and friend Bruce Pugh. Anderson wanted a “more family traditional funeral” and not a state funeral.
“He wanted me to make sure I conveyed to Warren, Ryan and Rhonda the support extended to them. You're important people. Ryan, Warren and Rhonda were important to him. Not so important as a young lady, Riley (granddaughter),” Hannah said. “Riley was Roger's pride and joy from the second he met her. He spoiled her rotten.”
“Today we're gathering to remember the man and reflect on the value of this man to his family and the community,” Hannah added.
Anderson had wanted a reading of Psalm 23 and The Lord's Prayer during the service, and it was handled by Pastor Don Symons.
Hannah joked, “He had a unique sense of humour, especially after a few black Russians. I don't know those people.”
When Anderson was first diagnosed, “His primary concern wasn't him, but how it would affect his work. He continued to work, even though he knew the end was near.”
Family was a priority and Anderson “always wanted to be at every hockey game, soccer game or school event, even if he still had on a suit and a tie from work,” Hannah stated.
Durham's chief administrative officer Garry Cubitt spoke of Anderson's passion for his job and of his accomplishments.
“Protecting the region was his biggest challenge,” Cubitt said. “Roger was working at his dream job. He often said he had the best job.”
Anderson was very proud of pushing through the rebuilding of all four homes-for-the-aged operated by the region, Cubitt noted.
“He said the residents deserved a good home,” he added.
“He was a trailblazer, an influential cheerleader, an advocate and courageous and he certainly was that,” Cubitt stated.
“He was enormously proud of his sons and he was over the moon about being a grandfather to Riley,” he added. “There are very few of us who will have an impact on the community and chair Roger Anderson was one of them.”
Jenny Gerbasi, the deputy mayor of Winnipeg and the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, said, “If spent any time with him, below that tough exterior was a real gentleman and a sense of humour. He could be blunt, but when he spoke, we listened.”
She added Anderson's “impact will remain for a long, long time, both in the communities and in our lives.”
Pat Vanini, the executive director of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, joked about the organization holding meetings where lunch would be served.
“If he didn't get his egg-salad sandwich, it could make for a rocky start,” she noted.
“His commitment and willpower seemed to have no limits,” she said. “Roger's legacy is much broader than most people realize. He was a father, a leader, a friend. Well done Roger.”
Rene Soetens, a longtime friend and former Ajax council colleague, spoke of Anderson's involvement in the town, from being in the Kinsmen club to serving as Ajax Home Week chair one year. The Rotary Club bestowed the Pat Bayly Award on Anderson.
Anderson was also involved in raising millions of dollars for the Ajax-Pickering hospital, as well as post-secondary institutions in Durham.
“His time with us and his influence on us was significant. Go with the knowledge that his time with his friends, his family, with Ajax, with Durham Region will be remembered,” Soetens said.
Remembering Roger Anderson
It is with great sadness we learned of the passing of Durham of Region Chair and CEO Roger Anderson. Roger Anderson had been a great booster and fighter for the municipalities and residents of the Region. Over the years, I appreciated his advice and leadership as I served on both the Pickering and Durham Councils. His contributions were been significant.
Affordable and Seniors' Housing
In 2016, Region of Durham Council established the Affordable and Seniors' Housing Task Force with myself as Vice-Chair to address the need for more affordable rental housing for low- and moderate- income households, and to address the need for more housing choices for Durham seniors.
The Task Force identified that the Region, municipalities, and other partners have important roles to play in supporting the creation and maintenance of affordable rental and seniors' housing. The Task Force Report includes 34 recommendations that highlight the need for collective action and was approved in December 2017, noting:
“Municipalities are catalysts and facilitators of change. They track and identify community needs and demographic shifts. They are responsible for creating and implementing public policy, and for carrying out land use planning and servicing...[they] make important on-the-ground decisions about implementing innovative planning provisions, including density bonusing, legal second units and inclusionary zoning provisions.”
I, as Chair of Health and Social Services, will be working with residents, councils, and staff to monitor the ongoing implementation of the recommendations to ensure that we continue to enable, facilitate, and support the creation of affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income households. We also continue to identify opportunities to support the creation of more housing choices for our seniors.
For those who may be interested, you can view the Task Force Report on the Durham of Region website (durham.ca) under `Business Resources'.
Improving Recreation & Parks
I continue to work for residents to ensure that recreation and parks facilities, programs, and services play a vital role in our community and in the lives of our residents. The City has recently completed two important documents:
Following extensive community consultation and, after a comprehensive review of market demand, participation data, projected population growth and shifts in leisure interests and service delivery options, the Plan and Strategy were endorsed by Council on January 15, 2018. The reports can be found on the City's website at pickering.ca/recreationandparks.
City of Pickering 2018 Budget Update
On February 26th, Pickering council passed the 2018 budget with an increase of 2.49%. This is the lowest increase in 18 years. For the average residential taxpayer, with an assessed property value of $500,000, the City share of the increase is approximately $45.34 per year.
The property tax bill consists of three components: Durham Region (55.0%), School Board (14.8%) and Pickering (30.2%). For the average residential taxpayer, the blended overall increase is 1.80%.
The 2018 budget includes many positive initiatives for the City such as:
Exciting New Grande Esplanade Project
This year, staff will begin the work to create a concept for development of 2.2 acres of prime land at the heart of our downtown. The vision starts with expansions to both City Hall and the Central Library. Next, The Esplanade South could be closed down to vehicular traffic, becoming a 'Grande Boulevard', exclusive to pedestrians and home to a long awaited arts centre. Next to the arts centre, a new combined Seniors & Youth Centre and a residential tower will rise.
New Youth & Seniors' Centre
It is envisioned to be approximately 45,650 square feet and will feature multi-purpose activity rooms, seniors game room, computer room and boardroom, youth multimedia room, youth games room, full size gymnasium, visitors reception/lounge, and staff offices. Staff will pursue a private project partnership for the construction of this $26.5 million community centre in the heart of downtown.
Free Lunchtime Skate
City of Pickering Council Meeting
Victorian Style Tea
City of Pickering Arts Studio Opening
Take Pride in Earth Day
PICKERING - The Ontario Municipal Board has set aside three days to meet for a second pre-hearing regarding a proposal to build on the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Geranium Homes is appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board to build around 70 homes in the northeast section of Claremont, on a property known as Ward Farm.
At the first pre-hearing on March 22, the dates were set for the next meeting, scheduled to take place on several days, Oct. 30, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
On these dates, the status of the applications should be sorted out, said Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles.
The main hearing will likely take place in 2019.
Original applications for the property date back decades, and the OMB is expected to decide whether it will invoke the `clergy principle,' which states that, generally, land use planning applications must be judged on the basis of the law and policy in place on the date of the original application.
A grandfather clause in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan allows development applications submitted before Nov. 16, 2001, to go forward.
Original developer Toko Investments applied for rezoning and filed a draft plan of subdivision to build 27 homes on a portion of the land (referred to as Phase 1) in 1990, but plans never went beyond a public information meeting, when Toko opted not to pursue it further. The city also received a rezoning application for more lands (Phase 2) on the property, but no draft plan of subdivision.
Geranium Homes since purchased the property, and in 2012, the new developer reactivated the lands and submitted another rezoning application and a draft plan of subdivision for 27 detached homes. Again, the application didn't go further than a public information meeting.
Geranium Homes is appealing all three of its applications, on the grounds that Pickering exceeded the time limit to make a decision on the proposals.
“I found the hearing helpful to residents in that it cleared up some procedural questions such as timing and some inaccurate information that had been circulating to residents,” said Pickles.
An open house on the proposal is set for April 24 in Claremont.
The Geranium Claremont Pre-Hearing meeting on March 22nd lasted about two hours. There were about 50 people present. I and Councillor Butt attended and we were pleased to see a good turn out of Claremont residents. As I had anticipated in my previous eNewsletter, the hearing was conducted in a quasi-judicial format and dealt mostly with procedural matters such as registering those persons who wanted to be parties and participants to the OMB hearing. It was explained that parties would be expected to contribute in a more formal way perhaps with lawyers and experts while participants could monitor the hearing or make less formal submissions. The Board member addressed a few questions of clarification including that no houses have been approved or are being built.
The next hearing dates are October 30 to November 1 at which time various motions from parties will be heard likely dealing with the status of Geranium's applications. The main hearing is likely to be in 2019.
I found the hearing helpful to residents in that it addressed some procedural questions such as parties and participants, the timing of the hearing, and cleared up some inaccurate information that had been circulating to residents.
The Board member was also made aware of the recent Geranium notice that was delivered to residents regarding a prior comittement to hold a voluntarily open house in Claremont, now scheduled on April 24th, to provide information to residents and address questions; this open house was requested by Ward 3 Councillors Pickles and Butt and supported by staff to help inform residents.
This information here is intended as a brief update to residents, for specific details and questions please follow up with city staff.
PICKERING - Pickering council wants to see improvements to the Taunton Road and Steeles Avenue connection.
Taunton is a four-lane arterial road in Durham, east of the York-Durham Line. In Toronto it becomes Steeles, a four-lane arterial road running west of the York-Durham Line to Beare Road, and narrows to two lanes west of Beare to Tapscott Road (east of Markham Road).
The Region of York has completed an environmental assessment (EA) to widen Steeles from Tapscott to Ninth Line from two to six lanes. But an EA is yet to begin in order to resolve the issues on Steeles from Ninth Line and Beare, a distance of roughly 4.3 kilometres.
A motion, presented to and eventually passed by council on March 12, notes this bottleneck impacts traffic capacity and safety.
“It's going to become a greater problem as Seaton gets filled out and more people take this route,” said Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles, who introduced the motion.
“It's been getting to a crisis situation.”
Council is asking Toronto, York, and Metrolinx to make the EA to increase capacity and safety on Steeles between Beare and Ninth Line a priority in their capital planning programs.
“This motion asks for Toronto, York and Metrolinx in discussion with the Region of Durham to make this connection happen sooner as opposed to later,” said Pickles.
Ward 3 city Coun. Shaheen Butt brought the motion forward with Pickles.
“It is dangerous and I think it's about time that we get this moving,” he said.
Ward 1 regional Coun. Kevin Ashe agreed, but had a different idea.
“I think the answer here is to make this a provincial road, upload this to be a provincial responsibility,” he said.
Mayor Dave Ryan noted Pickering has long been asking for improvements to this stretch of road. He and chief administrative officer Tony Prevedel have met with a number of ministers about the matter over the years.
“Every time we make a delegation, this is on our list,” he said.
NORTH DURHAM - Community Care Durham is seeking new volunteers to help with its mental health programs in North Durham.
The COPE Mental Health Program in Scugog, Uxbridge and Brock is now recruiting volunteers to assist in facilitating a variety of support groups, such as those addressing depression, anxiety, coping and wellness, and social recreation.
Community Care Durham is searching for volunteers who have a passion for mental health, are good listeners and those who are compassionate, patient and outgoing who get along with others. Volunteers facilitators will also be asked to help others with goal-setting, problem-solving and providing emotional support.
“These are not clinical groups, they're support groups,” stressed Kathleen Wells, a COPE program manager in North Durham.
COPE is a community mental health service offering support to adults aged 16 and older with emotional and/or mental health concerns. With the support of volunteers, COPE clients are able to learn, develop, and maintain skills while improving ways to cope and manage.
COPE accepts referrals from a wide variety of community sources and self-referrals are also welcome. There is no fee for the services.
Community Care Durham offers more than 50 support groups across the region through its COPE program, with anxiety workshops being offered in nearly every municipality.
“People are becoming more educated (about anxiety) and they're starting to identify the feelings they're having,” said Wells.
In Scugog, COPE programs include a weekly anxiety and stress management support group, as well as a social recreation gathering. A social recreation group is also offered in Uxbridge, as is a New Day Wellness Group for those 55 and older dealing with anxiety and stress and in need of socializing.
The North Durham support groups meet in churches across the three municipalities. Most sessions last two hours.
Volunteers do not need a background in mental health, just an interest in helping people, noted Wells.
“The support groups are not problem solvers, but they're great in conjunction with other supports that people are getting,” she said.
An extensive mandatory 12-week training program in Mental Health Fundamentals and Group Facilitation is offered three times a year on Thursday evenings. The classes are held in Whitby and run for three hours. The next round of training will begin on April 6.
The focus of the training is to provide new volunteers with the skills and knowledge necessary to become facilitators. A one-year commitment is required.
Each COPE session is overseen by two co-facilitators and there are no more than 12 people in each program.
“People can sit with someone in the same boat and exchange ideas and the facilitators are there to guide the conversation and provide information and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak,” said Wells.
Between eight and 10 new volunteer facilitators are needed for the North Durham COPE programs. Both men and women are welcome to apply.
For more information about volunteering with COPE, please contact Wells (905-985-6216, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Marcy Marchuk, Community Care Durham's volunteer co-ordinator (905-623-2261, extension 221, email@example.com).
To learn more about the COPE programs or complete a volunteer form, visit www.communitycaredurham.on.ca.
PICKERING - A grant of $450,000 from the federal government will help conserve some large and important artifacts from Pickering's past, and make them more accessible to the public in the future.
The grant from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, announced on Feb. 20 at the Pickering Museum Village, will assist the City of Pickering's conservation building project.
“It's nice to have them contribute to that effort and that cost,” said Marisa Carpino, Pickering's director of the community services department.
The total construction project in the 2018 capital budget is $1.3 million dollars, with an additional $200,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
“We hope to have it completed by end of 2018,” said Carpino.
The building, a barn from the 1970s located at the museum village, is uninsulated and unheated with a concrete slab for flooring and minimal lighting. The building has no water supply or septic system.
The museum attracts more than 12,000 people annually and educates visitors on the daily life of Pickering Township's early settlers in the 1800s.
“We've been planning for a number of improvements to accommodate residents, visitors and tourists and to protect the artifacts,” said Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles.
The reconstruction of the conservation building is intended to result in upgrades while retaining as much of the existing structure as possible. The conservation building will become more suitable to store the museum's larger artifact collections, such as wagons and vehicles, and an old fire truck that's currently stored at another location, Pickering's operations centre.
“They're just scattered everywhere because we haven't had appropriately sized and suitable space,” said Carpino.
It will also provide a dedicated and fully equipped conservation lab for these artifacts.
The conservation building does currently house larger heritage vehicles and pieces of equipment, including steam-powered engines and other machinery. While indoor storage protects these artifacts from direct exposure to the elements, they remain vulnerable to factors such as large fluctuations in temperature, humidity and pests.
City staff estimates 684 agricultural, industrial and transportation artifacts will be properly housed in the revamped building.
Highlights of the new building will also include: a dedicated lunch room, office, a large artifact conservation workspace and washrooms; permanent potable water and septic systems; and a new racking storage system.
“It's going to be designed in a way that can support solar panels in the future,” said Carpino.
The 2018 capital budget also includes $895,125 for the Phase 1 design a new Pickering Heritage Community Centre to replace the administration building at the museum. Phase 1 construction is slated for 2019 at a cost of $4.7 million with contributions from development charges covering more than $1 million of the total project cost.
The new building will be 22,650 square feet and provide administrative, conservation and reception spaces for the museum, library archives space, moved from the central library branch, and community centre space.
“We want to make sure it's visible to the 407 because right now it's tucked away,” said Carpino.
The community centre will be a new space for those currently using the Greenwood Community Centre, which Carpino said has reached the end of its useful life. Once the new space opens, staff will begin discussing repurposing the Greenwood facility.
“It's really a win-win for the community,” Carpino said.
This new space will include a number of features such as a guest welcome area, a collection storage area, a space for exhibit galleries, and an auditorium to host events for up to 350 people. Currently museum productions are held off site in a building that seats no more than 250.
Come out to the Durham Racquetball tournament and learn more about the sport and consider becoming a player.
PICKERING - Residents are feeling safer and local crime rates are down, according to the latest report the city uses to create a more sustainable municipality.
Healthy society is one of the categories in the Measuring Sustainability Report, which addresses 52 indicators grouped into five categories, the others being healthy environment, healthy economy, responsible development and responsible consumption.
The newest report was recently released.
“We tried really hard to make sure we are measuring things that were directly related to Pickering,” said Pickering's sustainability co-ordinator, Chantal Whitaker.
In 2010, the city produced the first report, and after staff engaged with stakeholders to determine important areas to focus on, the second was released in 2012, which included more indicators that the first.
“Having baseline measurements, and tracking this data, allows us to measure our growth, identify challenges and continue to drive progress in meeting our evolving sustainability objectives,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.
Examples of indicators measured include air quality, employment rate, affordable housing, crime and safety, volunteerism, childhood asthma and adult diabetes rates, and energy use.
“Establishing those priorities is really important,” said Whitaker. “You need to measure how you're doing and how your partners are doing to know if you're on the right path for all the areas of interest.”
The report reflects efforts by residents, businesses and community groups to help further Pickering's journey to becoming a more sustainable city.
One of the indicators, crime rates, shows criminal code violations at 19 Division (Ajax-Pickering), dropped from 9,046 in 2008 down to 6,976 in 2010 and even more to 6,215 in 2015.
“Not only are our crime rates down in Pickering, but when we asked the community, how safe do you feel in Pickering, generally people feel safe,” said Whitaker.
In the area of healthy environment, she was pleased to see Pickering doing well when it comes to surface water quality.
The surface water quality index, which measures eight key pollutants, states Duffins Creek is at target, and Rouge River, Carruthers Creek and Petticoat Creek are good with minor action required.
There was a significant jump in 2017 in the number of trees planted, which went from 5,354 planted in 2016 to 16,243 in 2017. Whitaker noted this is mostly due to a massive replacement of trees that were destroyed due to invasive species such as emerald ash borer.
She also said Pickering has done a lot of work improving its tree canopy in south Pickering, and has expanded north.
“There's a very high percentage of Seaton that is remaining natural,” she said, adding 50 per cent of land in the massive central Pickering development will remain natural.
Whitaker said the report also shows where improvements can be made.
Just 47 per cent of respondents in a community survey said they often or very often shop at a local farmers market, and 34 per cent said they sometimes do.
“We want to make sure we're teaching people about local food,” said Whitaker. “This year we are expanding the farmers market.”
The report also includes ways to contribute, and is available to view at pickering.ca/msr, or for loan at the Pickering Public Library.
Hang in there everyone#a couple more months of winter to go! In this article I talk about keeping sidewalks and roads clear of snow and fixing potholes, a few of the downsides of winter. I also encourage you to nominate someone in the community you think worthy of recognition in our Civic Awards. Details below.
New Broadband Network
The City of Pickering has applied for Federal grant funding for its new broadband network. The Pickering Ultra-High Speed Municipal Area Network will be a 48 kilometre fiber backbone network which will serve the core of Pickering and connect through Seaton to the communities of Whitevale, Greenwood, Brougham, and Claremont. The network will be constructed by a private sector ISP partner. It will have three new Points of Presence, and will provide existing and future (Seaton) municipal facilities with reasonably priced, high-speed internet access. The network will be configured to permit other ISPs to co-locate based upon reasonable wholesale rates, and its location will enable future connection to neighbouring broadband networks such as those proposed for Uxbridge. Construction of the network is subject to federal CTI (Connect To Innovate) grant funding availability and Council approval.
At the same time, Pickering is amending its Official Plan to ensure that all new development is designed to provide infrastructure for internet connectivity to and throughout new buildings. The new policies will require that conduit for fiber optic cable is included in all public right-of-way, so that more and more residents are connected to existing and future networks, and we can progress toward our objective of building a connected City.
The City presents civic awards annually to members of the community who have made a significant contribution to the City. Nominations for the 2017 Civic Awards will be accepted until Thursday, February 8th at 4:00 pm. You, or any member of the public, can submit a nomination form online at pickering.ca, by mail, or drop off in person at our Customer Care Centre. Nomination forms and information available in City facilities or online at pickering.ca/civicawards.
Important Winter Reminders
On-Street Parking: Parking is prohibited from December 1st to March 31st between 2 am and 5 am, and during any winter control operations (in accordance with Traffic & Parking By-law). If vehicles are hindering the snow clearing operations, they will be ticketed ($38.00 fine) and/or towed (at the owner's expense). Parked cars not only slow operations, but create a hazard for plow staff, and cause large amounts of snow to be left on the road after the car is dug out.
Sidewalks: Residents are responsible for removing ice and snow from sidewalks in front of, or adjacent to their property within 24 hours after a snowfall. This helps ensure that everyone has a safe passage along our sidewalks.
Windrows: It is the resident's responsibility to clear the snow left by the plow at the end of the driveway (known as a windrow). Residents should shovel this onto their boulevards and not onto the road. Operators do their best to minimize windrows and we understand how frustrating this can be for our residents who have just cleared their driveway, but unfortunately it is unavoidable and we appreciate your understanding.
Bus Shelters and Super Mailboxes: Bus shelters are cleared by a contractor through Durham Region Transit. Snow removal operations around super mailboxes is completed by Canada Post.
I was able to practice my technique in pothole filling with one of our hard working roads crews on Valley Farm Road recently. With the swing in temperature - freeze and thaw - it's doing a lot of damage to our roads. If you have a pothole in Pickering we have not got to yet send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the location so we can get there.
The City is committed to building a culture of community engagement, to provide residents with a greater sense of purpose, connectedness and responsibility. The Pickering 101 program aims to educate residents on how their municipal government works and encourage participation in the planning and processes behind the facilities, services, events and programs that touch their everyday lives:
For more information on this unique program, or to register, visit pickering.ca/city-hall/Pickering 101.
St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Art Show
St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Art Show Reception
Free Lunchtime Skate
Executive Committee Meeting (Budget)
Family Day Event
City of Pickering Council Meeting
For more information on the above events and a list of other City and community meetings and events, visit calendar.pickering.ca.
DURHAM - Two sites in Durham Region, in Ajax and Pickering, remain in the running to be the home for Amazon's second headquarters.
Amazon announced the 20 finalists for the headquarters, dubbed HQ2, whittling down more than 200 submissions.
One location is Toronto, but that includes the proposal by Toronto Global.
The Ajax and Pickering sites were part of the Toronto Global proposal. The Ajax site is on Salem Road, north of Kingston Road, while the Pickering site is along Highway 407.
A statement from Toronto Global noted, “On behalf of all the mayors and chairs of the Toronto Region, and our partners in Waterloo Region and Guelph, we are thrilled that our bid to attract Amazon's HQ2 will be moving to the next stage in the selection process. We were proud to submit our proposal alongside some of the most competitive and dynamic Canadian communities, who helped to highlight the great range of advantages we offer as a country. We are even more honoured to be selected as the only Canadian location to move forward in this competition.”
Toronto is the only Canadian city named among the finalists.
Amazon said the second headquarters would cost $5 billion and create 50,000 high-paying jobs.
The 20 finalists are: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; Philadelphia; Toronto; Washington; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; Columbus, Ohio. Also listed are Northern Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland.
The company said it will announce the site later this year.
Toronto is the only Canadian city on Amazon Inc.'s short list of 20 candidates for a second North American headquarters.
The e-commerce giant received 238 applications for the opportunity and says narrowing it down to 20 was very tough.
The other Canadian communities that applied but didn't make the short list include Hamilton, Ottawa-Gatineau, Sault Ste. Marie, Simcoe County, Halifax, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Windsor.
Amazon says it plans to choose the location later this year after diving deeper into the proposals from its top cities.
The largest e-commerce company said it would work with each of the candidate locations to get more information and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership.
Amazon said in September it would build a $5 billion second headquarters in North America, kicking off a competition between cities and states to offer tax cuts and incentives that could bring 50,000 high-paying new jobs.
The list reveals little in terms of geographic preferences, with finalists on both coasts and the heartland. Amazon found it difficult to engage with so many applicants and had to whittle the list to enter the next phase of evaluation.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough - all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan, of Amazon Public Policy, said in a statement. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Whatever city gets chosen will be transformed by Amazon, which has already changed the character of its native Seattle, setting in motion a building boom and rising rents. High paying tech jobs can permanently transform a region and raise the political prospects of the leader who helped seal the deal.
Amazon has said its preferences for the site include a metropolitan location with a population of more than 1 million, mass transit, proximity to an international flight hub and the potential to retain and attract technical talent.
Here's the list:
PICKERING - Racquetball members in Pickering have big plans to increase membership numbers in hopes to avoid a court closure, which is one of the recommendations of a new master plan for parks and recreation services.
Despite concerns raised by residents and some councillors, the Recreation and Parks Master Plan, a 10-year guide, and Skateboard Park Strategy, were passed in principle at the Jan. 15 council meeting.
Mayor Dave Ryan noted at the executive committee meeting on Jan. 8 each item will have to come before council individually before it can proceed.
“Those elements can be reviewed, refined and accommodations can be made,” he said.
At the Jan. 15 council meeting, he read from a staff memo that addressed concerns regarding the skateboard park, racquetball and pickleball.
The plan calls for the closure of at least one of the two racquetball courts, which is used by handball, racquetball and wallyball (essentially indoor volleyball) players.
“An aging population appreciates fall, winter and spring indoor activities in a secure, indoor environment,” longtime racquetball member John Philips told the executive committee.
His wife and handball player Susan Philips said Pickering has about 50 racquetball members, and at least 30 other people who are not members, but pay a court fee when they play. The city's findings show membership has declined since 2014.
Racquetball members are creating a formal committee to garner new support for the sports, and have already organized its first racquetball tournament for February, sanctioned by Racquetball Ontario.
Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles said at the executive committee meeting he would like to see a two-year time frame to implement the members' plan to attract more members.
In the memo read by Mayor Ryan a week later at the council meeting, staff committed to making no decisions about the racquetball court before 2020.
“I'm disappointed again,” Susan Philips said after the meeting. “I realize that a lot of the councillors were trying to help but I think when we're volunteering our time to make this happen, they could show good faith as well and take the recommendation out. And if we don't do what we say we're going to do, then re-examine it later.”
Another area of concern was regarding a new skateboard park. Consultants found there is a need for skateboarding opportunities in Pickering, and the current skate park at Diana Princess of Wales Park is outdated and needs to close. The consultant's recommendation suggests eliminating the roundabout in front of the rec complex, and to integrate the skate park into the entryway design.
Scott Loyst is a local skateboarder who has been heavily involved in the entire process, and supported the recommendation.
He said skaters like the idea of the park being in a visible area for safety purposes, and said if the park is built properly, the activity is drowned out after 200 feet.
“They're not tattooed punks who just want to drink beer,” he told the executive committee.
Gerry Mey, a longtime rec complex user, had spoken against the skate park in front of the rec complex.
“It would stick out like a sore thumb,” said Mey, who is in his late 80s and frequents the rec complex with his wife.
He said the park being in front would prevent the ready access that he has become accustomed to.
Councillors did not support the recommendation either and from the memo Mayor Ryan read from, he noted the park will not be located in front of the rec complex, and new locations will be explored.
The area of pickleball was also addressed in the memo.
Richard Sogawa, of the 1st Pickering Pickleball Club, spoke to the executive committee about the need for more playing opportunities in the city for the growing sport.
The city does offer registered pickleball programs at three locations. But Sogawa noted there are no permanent pickleball courts available full time, all year round, indoor for drop-in play.
He plays at Pickering Village United Church, which is in Ajax, and at the rec complex in the main gymnasium, where he comes early to tape the lines before play time begins. After, he removes them.
“It's a good place to play. We appreciate the opportunity to play there. We could do better,” he said.
He said the rough textured walls can be hazardous.
The plan does call for delineating playing boundaries for pickleball on the gymnasium floor at the proposed Seniors' and Youth Community Centre, which will be located in the downtown core, and at a proposed multi-use facility in Seaton.
“Our appeal is to allow us the opportunity to use one indoor tennis court and be able to put permanent lines in place, but you can use taped lines to save costs,” Sogawa said, adding four pickleball courts can fit into one indoor tennis court.
The memo said staff will start up focus group sessions, which will include both pickleball and tennis players, and will come up with a plan no earlier than 2019.
The plan includes 77 recommendations and can be found at www.pickering.ca.
PICKERING - The City of Pickering is planning to amend its official plan in order to ensure the infrastructure is in place to ensure broadband access in new developments.
An information report from city staff presented at a public meeting on Jan. 8 noted internet service is becoming essential for health care, education, employment, social and political inclusion and overall economic success.
Key changes to the city's official plan will include: requiring the inclusion of conduit for fibre optic cable, in all public rights-of-way, through new development, redevelopment, road construction and reconstruction; and ensuring that all new development or redevelopment is designed to provide the infrastructure for the delivery of, current or future, leading-edge information and communication technologies, to and throughout the buildings.
Development applicants will also be required to submit an implementation plan that will demonstrate how telecommunication technology will be designed and implemented.
The changes to the official plan will come before the planning and development committee at a future date for approval.
Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles noted the importance of ensuring that northern areas in Pickering receive access to high-speed internet as well.
DURHAM - Waste collection times may be delayed due to the extreme cold weather and high volumes of seasonal waste, warns the Region of Durham.
If roadside waste has not been collected by 8 p.m. on collection day, it will be collected the following day, says the region's works department.
Residents are reminded for the safety of workers to ensure waste, blue boxes and green bins are placed in a visible and accessible area before 7 a.m. on their collection day. They are asked not to place waste materials on top of snow banks, and to ensure they are not frozen to the ground.
Garbage and green bin collection for Whitby and Oshawa residents is the responsibility of the municipality, not the Region of Durham. Residents can contact their local municipality regarding the collection of these items.
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