PICKERING -- Police are asking the public for help in finding a missing 22-year-old Pickering man who is overdue in taking his medication.
Griffin Scott, 22, of Steeple HIll, was last seen by his family on March 21 when he left his home at roughly 5:30 p.m. He has not contacted them since.
They don't know where he was heading but police say he may be in the Toronto area. The family is concerned because Scott is now overdue in taking his medication.
He is white, five feet nine inches and roughly 130 lbs. He has short dark brown hair, brown eyes and a slim build. He was clean shaven and has a tattoo of the letter “B” on his right knee and noticeable damage to his right eye. He was wearing a dark black and grey winter coat and dark polyester Adidas-style track pants.
Police are asking anyone who sees him not to approach him and to contact police immediately.
Anyone who knows his location should call their local police service. In Durham call 1-888-579-1520. Tips can also go to Det.-Const. Conforti of the West Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2521.
PICKERING - With city hall, Esplande Park and the main library branch at the centre of it all, the recreation complex and the Pickering Town Centre nearby, and now plans to accommodate seniors, youth and the arts crowd, the future downtown Pickering is on the horizon.
“We've got the pedestrian bridge and this whole transit-friendly mobility hub,” said Pickering chief administrative officer Tony Prevedel. “We've kind of got the makings of a perfect storm.”
The city is featuring a model of its current vision of downtown at city hall. But it's still going to evolve. During budget discussions, the city set aside money to make way for the conceptual redevelopment of more than two acres of land in the city centre.
“Our plan is to transform the Esplanade South from Glenanna to Valley Farm Road into a bold, new city centre core,” said Mayor Dave Ryan at a recent Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade event.
He said both city hall and the central library will be expanded, as Pickering's population is expected to double in the next 20 years.
It will become more walkable.
“We want to create the south esplanade as a pedestrian friendly walkway, a boulevard,” Prevedel said.
The long-awaited arts centre, featuring both performance spaces and studios, is set to go on the southeast corner of Glenanna Road and Esplanade South.
It will become the new home to what Mayor Ryan called “the large, but underserved arts community.”
When Pickering's budget was passed, Justice David Stone, Durham West Arts Centre Foundation board chairman, said the commitment from Pickering brings the shared vision of a state-of-the-art performing and cultural centre in the city's downtown core closer to reality.
“In addition to providing high-quality arts and entertainment programming, the arts centre is an investment that will provide tangible, economic benefits to the entire region in terms of increased revenue from cultural tourism,” he said.
The city also envisions a new seniors and youth centre as part of the project.
The East Shore Community Centre has a very active seniors club that has outgrown its current home.
“They're bursting at the seems,” said Prevedel.
Instead of undertaking costly renovations to the current facility, the city would like to build a new facility that could provide adequate program and recreational space while being fully accessible for everyone.
“Accessibility is critical as well,” Catherine Hodge, Pickering's senior co-ordinator of business development and marketing, said of the new downtown.
A new youth centre will feature a full gymnasium and community rooms that would accommodate a variety of different sports, programming, and initiatives, said Mayor Ryan.
This downtown project will be a public-private partnership, which will include residential buildings where people can live in a more urban environment.
“There is a huge development pressure right now for condos and residential towers,” said Prevedel.
Hodge said the plan is to create a more modern environment that will attract tech savvy employment and businesses.
“It's critical to attracting new investment into our business community down here,” she said.
Hodge said the city has undergone extensive consultation with the public and most people seem to be on the same page when it comes to seeing a change from traditional suburban atmosphere of Pickering.
“I think it was pretty unanimous they were all looking for this centralized gathering space in this community to make it a cohesive city,” she said.
Prevedel says this vision could start coming to life in 2019, but admitted that's being optimistic.
“It will happen during the next term of council,” he said.
The Regional Municipality of Durham will participate in Earth Hour, on Saturday, March 25 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., by reducing lighting at several of its facilities. Local businesses and residents are encouraged to join the Region in promoting energy efficiency during this time and throughout the year.
“Let's go dark for the good of the environment! In celebration of Earth Hour, I encourage Durham residents and businesses to join us in reducing lighting. All non-essential lighting at Regional facilities including headquarters, water supply plants and water pollution control plants will be turned off,” says Susan Siopis, Commissioner of Works for the Region of Durham.
All year long, energy conservation is a priority for the Region of Durham. Regional facilities employ the use of timers and motion sensors to reduce lighting levels during off-peak hours when staff members are not present. In addition, energy-efficient light bulbs are utilized. Most recently, the Region has installed new automated systems in various facilities to allow better control of the heating, air conditioning and ventilation ensuring that the optimal indoor temperature and air quality is maintained by in the most efficient manner. Durham Region always considers the latest green standards and the most energy-efficient technologies in all new construction and renovation projects.
The Region's water efficiency program also helps contribute to energy savings. Water Efficient Durham's mandate is to encourage efficient use of water among all users, because by saving water, you not only save money but also save the energy needed to treat and transport the water through the system. For more information, visit www.durham.ca/waterefficiency.
The Region of Durham's Works Department is responsible for the management of Regional facilities, transportation and field services, water supply, sanitary sewerage and waste management. For more information, visit www.durham.ca/works.
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OSHAWA - Oshawa councillors opted to promote city Coun. Doug Sanders to the regional seat left vacant by the death of Nancy Diamond and then to appoint longtime Oshawa resident Gail Bates to fill the city councillor seat vacated by Sanders.
Council was required by law to fill the vacancy by either appointment or via a byelection and tackled the issue at the March 20 council meeting.
Before making the decision council heard from members of the public who mainly favoured holding a byelection, though other options included appointing former councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri to the regional seat. Marimpietri finished ninth overall in 2010 losing a regional seat by 134 votes.
Greg Milosh said he didn't believe in promoting a city councillor to the regional seat because if someone had wanted the regional job they should have run for it.
“I think the residents should pick their representative on council,” he said.
Alex Down advocated appointing one of the three city councillors to the regional job and then holding an open call where anyone could apply for the city seat. She felt a byelection would be too expensive.
“If we do host a byelection that's too much money being spent for the limited time we're looking to cover a seat,” she said.
City staff estimated a byelection would cost between $150,000 and $175,000 and would be held sometime between June 3 and Sept. 1.
In voting to appoint Sanders, Coun. John Aker said he believed Oshawa needed the seat filled at the region as soon as possible.
“We need our full complement of votes there,” he said. “There are votes that are very important to us and we have to be well represented by our current eight members of the 29-member council.”
Coun. Pidwerbecki, who moved the motion to appoint Sanders, said Sanders was well aware of what was going on in the region as a result of his work as a city councillor.
Coun. Bob Chapman nominated Bates, who finished fourth in the city council race for three seats in 2010, and said Bates has been involved in the community for 30 years.
“She, in my opinion, possesses common sense and reasonability and I think she will serve the citizens of Oshawa well,” he said.
Both votes passed on a 5-3 split with Aker, Chapman, Pidwerbecki, Sanders and Mayor John Henry voting for the appointments and Amy McQuaid-England, Rick Kerr and John Shields voting against.
The latter three all said they favoured a byelection.
“Regardless of my feelings toward the individuals who are appointed to these positions, the basic value we should have is a value for democracy,” said McQuaid-England.
Sanders said it was tough being appointed for the second time in his career. He was initially appointed to his city council seat in 2011 and won when he ran for a seat in 2014.
“We were as open and transparent as we could be, I know all the citizens are not going to be happy with what the decision is because a lot of them were going byelection but tonight they gave us many choices,” he said.
At the region, Sanders said he's hoping to focus on transit issues and plans to continue to push regional chair Roger Anderson about the completion of construction on Bloor Street.
Both Bates and Sanders said they agreed with members of the public who felt council should have a policy on how to approach vacancies.
“I really believe in the democratic process,” said Bates. “I understand why the appointment took place because of the length of time left in term and that should be the only reason why they felt they had to have an appointment.” A retired registered nurse and 35-year resident of Oshawa, Gates said she's particularly interested in Oshawa waterfront issues and the revitalization of the downtown. She will become a member of the city's finance and corporate services committees and is hoping to make an impact during the remainder of council's term.
“With only 18 months I think we can work through that, probably accomplish a few things not a whole great slate of things, obviously, there's not enough time and then see what happens in the next election.”
Sanders's appointment was confirmed at the council meeting as he was already vetted to ensure he met the qualifications for office, however the city clerk must still qualify Gates and the council will pass a bylaw making her appointment official which is expected to occur by March 23 allowing her to participate in the next round of city committee meetings.
Sanders said he and Diamond were great friends and he didn't think her shoes could ever be filled.
“As Nancy always said we have work to do and we have tough decisions and these are tough decisions that had to be made today,” he said.
OTTAWA-Ottawa has made no decisions on the sell-off of Canada's big airports and the government continues to weigh its options, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says.
The federal Liberals have been looking at the potential sale of major airports, now run by not-for-profit airport authorities, to reap a windfall that could be directed to other spending priorities.
While the Liberals prepare to deliver their second budget on Wednesday, Morneau told the Star that the issue remains under consideration.
“When we think about assets the government owns, I think we need to make sure that they are contributing to our opportunities for growth. We haven't come to any conclusions on airports,” Morneau said in an interview last week.
“I will continue to look at any asset the government has to make sure it's helping us to grow the economy as best as possible. In the case of airports, we'll look towards ensuring that we have a positive passenger experience and a good airport system,” he said.
Both the Conservatives and New Democrats pressed the government on the issue in question period Monday, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was noncommittal about what the upcoming budget might say about airport privatization.
“I am wondering if the prime minister could show Canadians exactly where in the Liberal election platform this was ever mentioned. Since he has no mandate to do so, will the prime minister guarantee that he will not privatize Canadian airports?” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said.
One study by the Vancouver Airport Authority estimated that the federal government could raise between $8.7 billion and $40.1 billion by selling off the country's eight largest airports, including Toronto's Pearson International.
But that possibility has sparked concerns in some aviation quarters.
Some fear that selling off airports to the highest bidders would mean higher fees for travellers.
Sen. Dennis Dawson, chair of the Senate committee on transport and communications, used a speech to a Quebec audience last week to speak out against the idea, painting it as a short-term fix to reduce deficits with little thought to the long-term consequences for passengers.
“It is understandable that the minister of finance is constantly seeking sources of funding to address deficits and pay for costly infrastructure programs,” Dawson said.
“Let's hope that the entire government will be there to promote and defend the real interests of air travellers and Canadian taxpayers,” he said, according to a prepared text of his remarks.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau himself has been noncommittal when asked about the issue, saying only that his “No. 1 priority” is “service to passengers.”
“To put it bluntly, whatever we can do to lower costs, offer more choices and destinations, shorten security waiting, shorten customs waiting times, create a bill of rights - or we call it a rights regime for passengers so they have rights as well with respect to airlines - those are all things that are priorities for me,” he said earlier this month.
“Anything we consider with respect to airports or airlines will be with that focus in mind. So that's the driver,” he said.
The budget may deliver relief for frustrated air travellers who have been stuck in security lines. It may do so in the form of a promise of service standards, such as those in place at other airports, to ensure the timely screening of passengers.
“It's an ongoing project of ours. We have heard from Canadians, and Canadians would like the waiting time to be reduced, and it's something that I'm certainly seized of,” he said.
Garneau said he's aware of the example of European airports, notably London's Heathrow, where 95 per cent of passengers are screened in five minutes.
“There are certainly some European airports that have given themselves targets, and we're looking at that and looking at technology and looking at ways in which we can improve or reduce the waiting times,” he said.
Garneau declined to say whether Ottawa would be prepared to boost funding to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the agency responsible for airport screening, to make the improved service a reality.
“I'm not going to discuss financial issues. We're looking at what it is that we can do to shorten the time, and, in due course, we'll have things to say,” he said.
The City of Toronto is on the verge of having its worst outbreak of mumps in recent history, with 31 confirmed cases thus far. While the Region of Durham has been spared thus far, that doesn't mean residents can`t be proactive.
Mumps, also known as epidemic parotitis, is caused by the mumps virus.
“The most common symptom is the swelling of the salivary glands or parotid glands, and it can make your neck or cheek bulge out on one or both sides,” says Denise Sampson, a public health nurse with the Region of Durham.
“Rarely, it can have serious complications that could include swelling of the testicles and ovaries, hearing loss or a type of meningitis. Those are rare, though.”
Other symptoms of mumps include fever, muscle pain, exhaustion and headaches, with symptoms typically coming 16 to 18 days after exposure and lasting for seven to 10 days.
Sampson says mumps is spread via direct contact with an infected person's saliva or nasal secretions.
“If you live in a household with someone who's diagnosed with the mumps, living in close quarters, being in contact with their secretions - kissing, coughing, sneezing, sharing food or drinks, eating utensils, lipstick, toothbrush, mouth guards. Sometimes when young kids share toys, they put their mouth on it,” she says.
The outbreak in Toronto is believed to have started in bars in the city's west end, primarily hitting people ages 18 through 35. However, the outbreak has now reached younger parts of the population, with the Toronto District School Board reporting four confirmed cases there.
Sampson says the reason many in the 18-35 age demographic are more susceptible to catching mumps is because of changes to vaccination schedules more than 20 years ago.
“Some people only did get a one-dose series. The immunization schedule changed at a certain point. But what the general thought is that anyone born before 1970 has what we call herd immunity. There was enough mumps circulating in the community at that time that you had immunity or you likely had the mumps,” Sampson says.
“Those people born between 1975 and 1995 were likely only offered a single dose of the MMR vaccine as a young child. And then in 1996, there was quite a campaign that was done related to measles, and some children got the MMR vaccine or some got a measles only vaccine.”
While the number of mumps cases in Durham Region is low - there were only five reported cases in the region in 2016 - there are steps people can take to help prevent themselves from getting sick.
“The best way to make sure you don't get it is make sure that your vaccines status is up to date, especially depending on which age group you're in. Then you can reduce your risk by not having exposure to other people's mouth and nasal secretions - don't share food, drinks, water bottles, towels or mouth guards,” she says, adding that people should also be sure to wash their hands and stay home if they're sick.
“That's for many infections that are bacterial or viral out in the community. The winter is a great time to breed certain things, so it's a good time to use those skills.”
To learn whether your vaccinations are up to date and if you need another mumps vaccination shot, please consult with your doctor or other health professional.
For more information, you can call the Durham Health Connection line at 1-800-841-2729.
What is it?
Most people with mumps recover fully, however mumps can occasionally cause complications including temporary or permanent hearing loss, mumps encephalitis (swelling of the brain), infection of the testes in post pubertal males (sterility is rare), and the ovaries in females. Mumps can also cause meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining that cover the brain and spinal cord. Mumps infection during the first trimester of pregnancy has been associated with a higher chance of miscarriage.
How is it spread?
What do I look for?
How is it treated?
There is no specific treatment for mumps. Supportive care including rest, fluids and pain relievers may be given.
How can I protect myself?
For the most up to date information, visit Durham Health Facts About...Mumps page.
"I was pleased to attend with the Durham Hindu Heritage and Community Centre."
Durham Region Health Department encourages regular cancer screenings as a part of Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Whitby, Ontario, March 10, 2017 - March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Durham Region Health Department is encouraging all residents to learn about colon cancer risks and what you can do to prevent them.
“Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Canada and is the second leading cause of cancer death,” explains Brian Dallaway, a public health nurse with the Health Department. “When caught early through regular screening, there is a 90 per cent chance that colorectal cancer can be cured.”
Men and women over the age of 50 can get checked every two years with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT). The FOBT is a free test that you can do at home. This test looks for blood in the stool which may be a sign of colon cancer. You can get an FOBT kit from your health care provider, or by calling the Telehealth Colorectal Screening Program at 1-866-828-9213. While rates of screening are rising, less than half of eligible Durham Region residents are getting checked. Women, newcomers to Canada and aboriginal populations have the lowest cancer screening rates.
Last year, Cancer Care Ontario launched MyCancerIQ, an innovative online cancer risk assessment tool that determines your risk of developing breast, cervical, colon and lung cancer. My CancerIQ is designed for Ontarians to build a cancer risk profile that highlights individual cancer risks compared to other Ontarians. This tool also provides you with a personalized health action plan so you can immediately begin to reduce your cancer risk. My CancerIQ is available online at www.mycanceriq.ca.
For more information about cancer screening please visit www.durham.ca/screening or call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.
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PICKERING - Pickering residents may not have to actually head to the polls to vote in the 2018 municipal election.
On March 6, the executive committee approved plans to go ahead with online and telephone voting in the 2018 municipal election, but it will be up to council for final approval on March 13.
Internet and telephone voting would ideally be available for an eight-day advance voting period. Voters would receive an information package in the mail, which would contain their elector identification number and information about the voting process, as well as a secure website address where they would go to register.
The city still plans to keep some polling stations open in 2018 on election day.
Although the use of Internet/telephone voting reduces costs as compared to traditional paper ballot voting, maintaining some polling locations on election day will offset most of those cost savings. But a staff report says 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.
While online voting is believed to encourage participation, allow residents and voters who are out of town to vote, and enhance accessibility, some concerns exist with voter authentication.
“Basically that's the only issue, is that it's at-home voting and no one's supervising it,” said city clerk Debbie Shields.
But the staff report noted, to date, of the 97 Ontario municipalities to use Internet voting, none have identified a case of voter fraud or other process problems sufficient to challenge an election.
In the 2014 regular election, the Town of Ajax solely used Internet and telephone voting and saw an increase in their overall voter turnout from 25 to 30 per cent. The 2016, the Town of Whitby North Ward One by-election also used Internet and telephone voting and saw a voter turnout of 29 per cent compared to 26 per cent in the regular election.
PICKERING - The City of Pickering is introducing a brand new registration system this spring that allows for fast and convenient searching, browsing and registration for programs and activities, any time, anywhere, from mobile devices and computers.
Active Net offers improved online user experience and greater program registration flexibility and reporting capabilities. More accurate and timely data will support better understanding of program participation and allow adjustments to recreation programming in line with the changing needs of the public. Programs can be searched by keyword, day, time, location and more.
Visit ca.apm.activecommunities.com/cityofpickering/ to view the website.
Registration for spring and summer aquatics programs starts on March 21, and leisure program registration begins on March 23.
PICKERING - Pickering Museum Village staff are collecting public feedback to help develop a new strategic plan.
Durham's largest living history museum has more than 7,000 schoolchildren visiting the site each year.
Museum operations co-ordinator Katrina Pyke is seeking public input to shape the museum's next six years.
Public Input sessions will be held for those who register to participate on Monday, April 3 in the evening and Monday, April 10 in the afternoon at the Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Rd. Register by calling 905-420-2222 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and choosing the afternoon or evening session.
Visit www.pickering.ca/museum to follow the strategic plan development process, or to complete an online survey. Updates will also be posted @PickeringMuse on Facebook and Twitter.
PICKERING - The City of Pickering is preparing a Recreation and Parks Master Plan to guide the development of recreation and parks facilities, programs, and services over the next 10 years.
Public consultation is being done in the form of telephone surveys, online surveys, comments and a public open house. Public input sessions and a pop-up event took place in January and February.
Submit comments by March 31 in writing at any municipal facility, or send by email to email@example.com.
A public open house will be held at the end of the process to present the draft master plan.
The master plan is scheduled to be completed by the fall. Project information, updates, documents and opportunities for participation can be found at www.pickering.ca/recreationandparks.
PICKERING - Council approved a 2.69 per cent property tax increase Monday night when it approved the 2017 budget.
This means the average Pickering taxpayer can add an extra $40.40 to the municipal portion of their tax bill this year. That's based on a home valued at $423,149.
Council unanimously approved an amendment by Ward 1 city Coun. Maurice Brenner that a two-to-2.5 per cent tax increase guideline be set for 2018, excluding special levies and a dedicated levy for escalating electric utility costs.
Last year, a similar guideline was also set, which Coun. Brenner said was a factor in bringing in the lowest tax levy in 17 years.
Ward 2 regional Coun. Bill McLean said this guideline highlights the financial pressures that the city faces, such as taxes and hydro costs, that residents also experience.
“We're really no different from the homeowners who are trying to manage their home,” he said.
Ward 3 regional Coun. David Pickles said the city reached a good balance between a tax increase and services.
He said he hopes businesses will grow and provide revenue along Highway 407, and added the Durham Live project, a proposed large entertainment complex that would include a casino, would also serve Pickering's bottom line.
The budget included $2.5 million to purchase land for future economic development activity near Hwy. 407.
Mayor Dave Ryan noted Pickering has had less than one per cent assessment growth year over year for more than a decade.
He said the success of the city in the future will depend on its ability to attract businesses to Pickering, which will offset the residential tax base.
“I think we have a very exciting future in front of us, one that we can certainly accomplish,” he said.
Council also approved hiring a consultant for the Pickering City Centre Project, which will include an expanded city hall, library, seniors' centre, youth programming and an arts centre.
“The commitment from Pickering reaffirms our partnership and brings our shared vision of a state-of-the-art performing and cultural centre in the city's downtown core closer to reality,” said Justice David Stone, chairman of the board of directors of the Durham West Arts Centre Foundation.
Commentary from Councillor Pickles
2017 City of Pickering Budget
City staff and Council are presently discussing the proposed City capital and operating budgets. A public budget meeting was held February 16th. The budget proposed and recommended includes $91.1 million for operations and $45.1 million for capital. A few highlights from the proposed capital budget include:i
This results in a City of Pickering increase of 2.69% to City portion of property taxes. However, the City portion of the total taxes is only approximately 30% of your property taxes; the Region of Durham portion makes up approximately 55% and the Province of Ontario (schools) makes up the balance (15%) of the total tax bill. With a 2017 Region of Durham tax increase at 1.8% and no increase to school taxes, the overall total property tax increase in Pickering is approximately 1.80%. This is below the inflation rate of 2.0% and lower than many other GTA communities. I believe this budget represents a fair and balanced investment in our municipal facilities and services to residents. In a future article, I will discuss the matter of property reassessments by MPAC.
Property taxes are a great bargain in almost all area municipalities - considering what we get in return. And no matter how you look at it, the Toronto homeowner has it pretty good.
But a careful look at this year's budget documents shows Torontonians are not making off like tax bandits. There are reasons for the low property-tax bill. Some unique Toronto costs are not included. The average doesn't account for hundreds of thousands who are tax-challenged. And when your taxes are based on the real estate market, it is not unusual for some to be house rich and cash poor.
All that said, there is room to increase the property tax burden in a city where residents demand high-service standards and city councillors are loath to cut programs.
The average Toronto homeowner had the lowest property tax bill ($3,077) when compared to 25 other jurisdictions in the GTA and Ottawa and Hamilton last year. But the Toronto tax bill does not include water and garbage disposal; plus, Torontonians pay an added land transfer tax.
Taken together (property tax, water, waste and land transfer tax), Toronto's tax bill falls to second lowest at $4,278. Only Milton's is lower at $3,967. Mississauga is not far away at $4,322, while Vaughan is sixth highest at $5,450 and King Township is king at $7,170.
Of course, user fees for parks and recreation, parking, permits and transit add to the “taxes” and vary widely across cities, but the bulk of the tax haul, all in, shows Toronto in an enviable position.
We are talking taxes on average. The actual tax bill is much larger for a large number of people. And the Toronto average is pushed lower by the large number of condo dwellers and their lower assessments.
The tax rate is what generates the tax amount. And Toronto shines here - with the lowest tax rate (.69 per cent compared to 1.56 per cent in last place Oshawa) for several reasons. The city has a large tax base over which to spread the burden. And, historically, the large commercial towers downtown carried a disproportionate percentage of the tax burden, thus shielding residents.
Note that municipalities around Toronto - in an effort to attract business away from the core, loaded on a greater percentage of taxes on their homeowners and shielded businesses. That partially explains why Mississauga's rate for homeowners is .87 per cent, Brampton's 1.1 per cent and Vaughan's .82 per cent.
Toronto is on a multi-decade mission to recalibrate the burden so that homeowners carry more and business carry less. That means if the city now levies a 3 per cent tax hike on residents, the amount on business is capped at 1 per cent.
A sidebar on Oshawa: Its highest tax rate demonstrates the fact it does not have the businesses, tax assessment and commercial clout to spread the tax burden. As such, you might expect Oshawa taxes to be among the highest. But no, it was 11th among the 25 municipalities last year at $4,650 all in. Either the council has found a way to squeeze a dollar better than anyone else or service levels are below their neighbours'.
Stung by criticisms that its taxes are too low, Toronto's councillors requested city staff provide other data showing how real estate values skew the city's tax burden. Most people agree that property taxes are not progressive. They do not reflect a person's ability to pay. Income tax does and municipalities have asked for income tax to replace property taxes, but to no avail.
So finance staff figures show the average Toronto home has a household income of $98,033 - just five spots from the bottom among the 25 municipalities. King tops out at $192,369; Oshawa has the lowest household income at $85,762. So, despite the high real estate values, the average Toronto homeowner doesn't have the large income of their neighbours.
But when property taxes are measured as a percentage of household income, Brampton comes out worst at 4.6 per cent, with Oshawa second-worst at 4.5 per cent. Toronto? Below the average 3.4 per cent - another plus - exceeded only by Milton, Oakville, Halton Hills and Burlington.
Some Toronto councillors have never accepted the fact that property taxes are based on the market value of a property. Downtown properties are higher valued and so pay comparatively higher taxes, even if the home does not consume more services, they argue. So, CFO Rob Rossini included some slides in this year's budget presentation to show the tax impact on different Toronto neighbourhoods.
They show taxes on a detached three-bedroom bungalow with one and a half baths and a one-car garage. Such a property in Toronto's east end out to Scarborough was still the lowest at $2,728, compared to Pickering at $4,737 for a similar property. In the west end, the taxes were higher at $3,503 (Mississauga was $4,277.) In North York, it was higher still at $4,017, more than Brampton and 19 of the 28 municipal regions compared.
And finally, in downtown, the taxes came in at $4,903 - second highest, next to Markham.
A similar study of taxes on a two-storey, three-bedroom home with a two-car garage and two and a half baths shows similar results. The Toronto east-end property still has the lowest taxes in the entire region and a downtown property, if you can find the typical suburban home downtown, with the highest taxes.
The detailed examination of all sides of the tax debate doesn't change the fact that Toronto property taxes are lower than what's levied in the region. But it adds layers to the annual debate and probably explains why city council is slow to jack up rates.
There are people out there - up in North Bay or down in Sarnia or out Kingston way - who think Ontario is subsidizing Toronto. Actually, the opposite is the truth.
They resent announcements of $100 million for the Toronto Transit Commission when their local bus system gets $1 million. But that's how it should be, considering the TTC carries 200, 300, 400 times the number of passengers.
They buy into the culture of anti-Toronto resentment that may be cathartic but economically destructive to the province, for if Toronto is lagging, Ontario drags.
The resentment bubbles vigorously to the surface at budget time. Usually, Toronto trundles up to Queen's Park with the perennial ask for more cash. It seems the city has an insatiable appetite. The budget dance grows tiresome. Ontarians look at the city's average property tax bill and sees red. “You are not paying your fair share. Raise taxes on your citizens before you hold a hand out to the province.”
If only it were that simple.
Even if city council were to double property taxes on Toronto residents, this fact remains: the province has robbed Toronto taxpayers of billions of dollars by dumping the costs of social services and housing onto local taxpayers. Social housing cost, which is universally considered the responsibility of provincial and federal governments, rests heavily on the city's ledger.
Queen's Park should be paying for the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner - just like it does for Highway 410 or 427.
And there is a reasonable claim that all Ontarians should pay for more of the operating costs of the TTC. Instead, the TTC must cover more than 70 per cent of its costs through the fare box - a percentage unheard of in world-scale public transit systems. And the rest comes from Toronto property owners.
Housing, social services and transit are three of the crippling responsibilities that burden the big city. Toronto accepts more than its share of the province's poor, disabled, homeless, transit-dependent and citizens who are dependent on the social safety net. When city politicians run up to Queen's Park and ask the province to pick up provincial responsibilities, it is particularly hurtful to hear the rest of the province pile on instead of saying, thank you.
No one expects that dynamic to change. What complicates the discussion is the fact everyone has an opinion on how much taxes Torontonians pay. We read the real estate section and see the property taxes paid on a million-dollar home and are galled.
It is a little more complicated than that.
PICKERING - The average Pickering taxpayer can expect to pay an extra $40.40 on their tax bill this year.
That's based on a home valued at $423,149. The City of Pickering's executive committee approved a 2.69-per cent property tax increase at the budget meeting on Feb. 16.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you've delivered us a budget that is both historic and progressive,” Mayor Dave Ryan said to staff. “Historic because it's the lowest budget increase in 17 years. And it's progressive because it still provides a vision and strong foundation for the next decade of growth as our city continues to evolve.”
The committee approved a $200 tax break for seniors and people with disabilities.
The big item in the capital budget is $23.6 million for a new operations centre on Clements Road.
Roads projects are costing $5.7 million, with the largest being the full road reconstruction of Westney Road from Eighth Concession Road to Ninth Concession Road, costing $1.8 million.
The committee also approved $2.5 million to purchase land for future economic development activity near Highway 407.
The budget will come before council on Feb. 27 for final approval.
PICKERING - In the wake of the recent fatal fire in Brampton, Pickering Fire Services wants to remind the community of the importance of having working smoke alarms on every storey of the home, and practising a home fire escape plan.
“We want to ensure that these types of tragedies do not happen in Pickering,” said Pickering Fire Chief John Hagg.
“Early warning is crucial as many fatal fires occur at night when everyone is asleep,” said Hagg. “While the Ontario Fire Code requires working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas, our fire department recommends that you install a smoke alarm in every bedroom. For added protection, larger homes may require additional smoke alarms.”
Some other tips include installing a carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area if the home has a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage. For optimum protection, it's recommended that additional CO alarms be installed on other levels and/or areas of the home that are in proximity to a CO source, subject to the distance limits provided in the product's instruction manual. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly by pressing the test button.
Regarding a home escape plan, all exits must be unobstructed and easy to use. Everyone should know at least two ways out of each room, in the event that a door is blocked by smoke or fire. All windows should open easily and screens and bars should be easy to remove. One person should be responsible for helping children, older people, people with disabilities or anyone who may need extra assistance.
For more information, visit www.pickering.ca/fire.
PICKERING - In the year that both Canada and Ontario celebrate their 150th birthdays, the City of Pickering will pay homage to the province and country at the events it hosts throughout the year.
The city will celebrate throughout all of 2017, featuring activity enhancements, new events and programs.
The celebrations kicked off immediately at the Mayor's New Year's Day Levee, which included the launch of a community art project celebrating The Group of Seven's Tom Thompson.
“Tom Thompson was born in Pickering and is an iconic Canadian artist,” said Tanya Ryce, supervisor of cultural services.
The city has hired an artist to create an outline of a painting by Thompson and she's teaching people how to fill it in using various materials.
“It's been broken up into a number of squares in a grid pattern,” said Ryce.
The project will travel to the Family Day event on Feb. 20 and hopefully to a few more this year, said Ryce.
The museum is also hosting a Tom Thompson exhibit in the summer.
The city has received grants from both the federal and provincial governments for event enhancements and is waiting on a couple more.
New on the agenda is the Journey Through Confederation on May 4. This youth active living fair is supported by a $40,000 grant from the Canada 150 Fund.
The theme, Pickering's Confederation Journey - 1867 to 2067, will celebrate who we are as Canadians in 2017 and who we want to be in the future, said Ryce.
The event, for teens aged 13 to 19, will include inclusive, accessible heritage sport and recreation; entrepreneurship; art; dance; theatre; fashion; food and technology.
Another major event will take place on May 27, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture, Tourism and Sport. The city will host a youth arts showcase - with the theme “I am Ontario” - an addition to Artfest on the Esplanade, Pickering's free annual event that celebrates the arts.
The youth-led project will be open to all residents of Ontario who are 25 and under and will include performances on the stage; an art show and sale; a juried competition for the selection of a designed public art piece; workshops and seminars; and immersive hands-on art activities to showcase local and iconic artists.
Canada Day festivities will be grand as usual in Pickering, but with a surprise guest Ryce is excited about, but can't yet disclose.
Residents can look out for a pop-up booth at various events, in which attendees can travel across Canada through the use of a green screen.
“What you're generally going to see is, as a community we're celebrating the things that make Ontario and a Canada a great place to live, work and play,” said Ryce. “We're going to celebrate all that is Canada, who we will be and who we have been through all our events. It's just a different lens from what we normally do.”
Residents are invited to share their Canada 150 celebrations with the city by tagging #PickeringProud or #Canada150 in social media posts. They can visit www.pickering.ca/en/Canada150.aspx for a full list of events, more information and to learn how to get involved.
Whitby, Ont. - On behalf of The Regional Municipality of Durham, we send our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and council colleagues of Regional Councillor Nancy Diamond, following her sudden passing. She faithfully served her community for many years.
“Councillor Diamond was a formidable force in municipal politics”, said Regional Chair and CEO Roger Anderson. “She was a strong female leader at a time when it was less common to see women in senior public service roles. She also led many local community endeavours and will be truly missed”.
Nancy was born in 1941 and served as Oshawa's mayor for 12 years from 1991 to 2003 after sitting as a city councillor from 1988 to 1991. In 2010 she returned to Oshawa City Council and Durham Regional Council and was re-elected in 2014. Among her many accomplishments, Councillor Diamond championed the creation of a university in Oshawa, economic development and transportation initiatives. She pursued solutions to gridlock and the development of social housing with admirable determination. Councillor Diamond embraced multiculturalism, keeping taxes low, and the advancement of local and national prosperity.
A book of condolences will be available at The Regional Municipality of Durham Headquarters, located at 605 Rossland Road East. Flags at Regional Headquarters have been half-masted in her memory. Her family will be in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult and private time.
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If this information is required in an accessible format, please call 1-800-372-1102 ext. 2036.
DURHAM - Salespeople going door-to-door who want access to test water or examine water meters are not connected with Durham Region.
The region has been contacted by residents asking about such salespeople, but Durham doesn't sell or endorse water filters or treatment equipment.
John Presta, the director of environmental services for Durham, said, “Some of these individuals make false or misleading statements about water quality and/or the mandatory replacement of water meters. The region provides clean, safe drinking water which meets provincial water quality standards. Our water undergoes daily monitoring and testing and does not require further filtration or monitoring at residents' expense.”
If someone shows up at your door, remember the following to protect yourself from scams:
Durham provides safe drinking water through the municipal water supply system, meeting Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. The quality and safety of the region's water is confirmed at an accredited laboratory, which is licensed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
The region has established a residential meter replacement upgrade program with its contractor, Neptune Technology Group, to replace or upgrade the meters in homes at no charge to residents. If the meter at your premises requires replacement or an upgrade, before contractors show up, you will receive an official letter from the region notifying you of the upcoming water meter replacement or upgrade.
You will also receive a letter from Neptune Technology Group advising you of how to book your appointment. The letter requests that residents set up an appointment with the contractor. Neptune installers will arrive on the arranged date and they are uniformed, carry ID, and are highly skilled to ensure a professional installation.
Information on water-quality testing is available from the region by contacting the works department at 905-668-7711, and from water quality reports, available online at www.durham.ca/water.
Ontario is boosting support for Durham Region, providing them with reliable, long-term funding to improve and expand local transit and offer more travel options for commuters and families.
Starting in 2019, Ontario will increase funding for Durham Region and other ... READ MORE
OSHAWA - Durham Regional chairman Roger Anderson called on members of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce to push for a Pickering airport at his annual speech to the group.
Anderson pointed out that the federal government picked up the lands for a potential airport in north Pickering more than 40 years ago. The regional chairman said he's discussed the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on three separate occasions and called the federal government “wishy-washy” on the issue.
“The federal government has an opportunity to create 35,000 to 40,000 jobs in Pickering. It's time they made a decision,” he told the group at the Jan. 24 luncheon. He also pointed out the region has spent $70 million servicing the lands for the airport.
Anderson said those jobs would allow kids who grew up in Durham and went to school in the region to live and work here as adults.
The father of two referenced his battle with cancer and his upcoming surgery when talking about the importance of having family close by.
“Right at this moment, there's nothing I want more than my kids to be close to me, nothing, especially in a couple of weeks,” said Anderson. “This is important. I want my grandchildren to be close.”
He asked the luncheon attendees to pick up a card listing emails for federal and provincial officials and contact them about the importance of building an airport in Pickering.
“It's our future, it's your future, it's your kids' future, it's your kids' kids' future,” he said.
Anderson also touched on a number of other infrastructure issues, including provincial transit issues.
He pointed out that the Durham connectors to Hwy. 407 - the 412 and 418 - will be tolled while similar connectors in other parts of the GTA are not and said he wouldn't mind the two hours of additional premium time each morning on the Durham portion of the 407 if the province removed the tolls on the connector highway. Durham drivers will pay extra to use the toll road between 6 and 10 a.m. while the window for the rest of the 407 is 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
He also talked about the need for better GO service.
“Extracting progress for Durham on the transportation file has taken constant pressure, constant pressure on the province from myself, from our mayors and our staff,” he said. “Durham will continue to press the province and more importantly Metrolinx - who operates GO - for transit funding and timing commitments that better match the growing demand and the pace of development along Durham Region's lakeshore communities.”
He briefly joked about the new presidency of Donald Trump in the United States, saying that he thought they would get along before making more serious comments on the issue.
“It does worry me, but I do believe the fact that Canada and Ontario are the biggest trading partners for the United States, the fact that 21 states in the northern parts of the U.S. do more trade with Ontario than any other country will have some influence on whatever Donald Trump is going to do with the NAFTA agreement.”
PICKERING - The City of Pickering is offering a free, eight-session course designed to help Pickering residents understand how their local government works.
This will be the city's second year of delivering the course. 'Pickering 101 - Your City. Right Now.' was designed to guide and enhance the city's engagement efforts.
Through weekly two-hour classes, city staff will teach participants how to understand and actively engage in the planning and processes behind the facilities, services, events and programs that touch their everyday lives.
“The city is committed to building a culture of community engagement, and to provide residents with a greater sense of agency, purpose, connectedness and responsibility,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “We welcome all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities - it's about building trust, and making meaningful, lasting relationships with those who call Pickering home.”
The course will run on Wednesday evenings, from March 29 to May 17. Interested applicants can register at www.pickering.ca/pickering101.
Pickering 101 - Your City. Right Now.
Pickering, ON, January 4, 2017 - The City of Pickering is offering a free, eight-session course designed to help Pickering residents understand how their local government works.
This will be the City's second year of delivering the course, Pickering 101 - Your City. Right Now., a recommendation first identified in the City's Community Engagement Strategy, which was designed to guide and enhance the City's engagement efforts.
Through weekly, two-hour classes, City staff will inform participants with the knowledge they need to understand, and actively engage in, the planning and processes behind the facilities, services, events and programs that touch their everyday lives.
“The City is committed to building a culture of community engagement, and to provide residents with a greater sense of agency, purpose, connectedness and responsibility,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “We welcome all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities - it's about building trust, and making meaningful, lasting relationships with those who call Pickering home.”
The course will run on Wednesday evenings, from March 29 to May 17, 2017. Interested applicants can register at pickering.ca/pickering101.
As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet. An award-winning municipality, Pickering is slated for significant economic and residential growth; offering an unparalleled quality of life for those who live, work, and play here. Its dynamic City Centre has been designated by the Province of Ontario as both an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub, and continues to evolve as a preferred destination for creative learning, memorable events, and unique experiences at the heart of a vibrant, connected, and engaged community.
Coordinator, Communications | Office of the CAO
905.420.4660 ext. 2134 | 1.866.683.2760
PICKERING - Pickering residents who received a device over the holidays and need some help learning how to use it, don't have far to go.
Pickering Public Library members can book a 45-minute appointment with technology staff. All appointments will be held at the Central Library, 1 The Esplanade S, Pickering, and are offered during the following times:
For more information or to register, visit www.picnet.org/node/2591.
Happy New Year from my family to yours!
Wishing you all good health, happiness and success in the coming year and always.
Welcome Councillor Shaheen Butt, City Councillor - Ward 3
I welcome City Councillor Shaheen Butt to Pickering Council. He was officially sworn in on Monday, December 12th with his family in attendance. I look forward to working with Councillor Butt as part of the Ward 3 Team.
Shaheen and wife, Ishrat, are home owners and property tax payers in Pickering where they have raised their two sons and daughter. He has had a long career in corporate and consulting businesses. Shaheen received a Pickering Civic Award in 2014 recognizing his many community volunteer contributions.
Please welcome Shaheen to Pickering Council. He can be reached at the Pickering Council office at 905.420.4605 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Polonsky's report on proposed airport released
The long-awaited report on the proposed Pickering
airport has been released and the author makes four recommendations:
“Undertake the analysis required to make a decision on the need for an airport including timing, type, size, location, capitalization, infrastructure, governance, and other pertinent factors”
“Continue engaging with stakeholders in the community throughout the process of making a decision on an airport and subsequent stages”.
“Avoid interim development that could jeopardize aviation options, until after a decision is made on a potential airport, and continue to foster success of agricultural activities in collaboration with the farm community”.
“Establish a Pickering Lands Advisory Network, consisting of a diverse representation of stakeholders for two broad purposes: a) to liaise with and advise Transport Canada on matters such as are referenced in this report; and b) to enable Transport Canada to
share information throughout all phases of development on the Pickering lands“.
Should you have any comments or questions please contact me.
When will my road be plowed?
Depending on the severity of the storm, the south urban area of Pickering can expect both salting and plowing within 12 to 18 hours after the storm. The north rural area can expect salting or sanding and plowing within 24 hours. Factors affecting these times include heavy snowfalls mixed with freezing rain and Ministry of Labour regulations that prohibit drivers from driving for more than 13 hours without a rest period. For more information, maps and snow safety tips, visit www.pickering.ca/en/living/snowremovalclearing.asp.
In order to keep you informed about Ward 3 and City news, subscribe to my eNewsletter. To receive your free copy, please visit www.pickering.ca/eNews and check the box beside “Councillor David Pickles Newsletter” to subscribe. By subscribing, you will receive periodic up-to-date information on important issues in Ward 3 and across the City.
Executive Committee Meeting
Planning & Development Committee Meeting
Visit the City of Pickering's website at www.pickering.ca for a complete listing of events. Click on the `Living' drop down menu and then on `Events Calendar'.
PICKERING -- An independent advisor's long-awaited report on the possibility of an airport in Pickering has been released, and author Gary Polonsky makes four recommendations.
The former Durham College president and founding president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology was named in summer 2015 as an independent advisor to meet with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities surrounding for the federally-owned land in north Pickering, which includes a potential airport.
The federal government expropriated 18,600 acres of land in 1972 for an airport that hasn't come to be. Transport Canada has since transferred 10,200 acres to Rouge National Urban Park, but still retains around 9,600 acres for economic development.
Polonsky met with business, government, aviation, agriculture/conservation, First Nations and academic stakeholders to hear their views on potential uses of the land.
The report summarizes each group's view, and recommendations.
Polonsky first recommends undertaking the analysis required to make a decision on the need for an airport including timing, type, size, location, capitalization, infrastructure, governance, and other pertinent factors; and second, to continue engaging with stakeholders in the community throughout the process of making a decision on an airport and subsequent stages.
Third, he suggests avoiding interim development that could jeopardize aviation options, until after a decision is made on a potential airport, and continue to foster success of agricultural activities in collaboration with the farm community.
Finally, he suggests establishing a Pickering Lands Advisory Network, consisting of a diverse representation of stakeholders for two broad purposes: to liaise with and advise Transport Canada on matters such as governance, financing, commercial activity on and around the airport, and to enable Transport Canada to share information throughout all phases of development on the Pickering lands.
PICKERING -- To the disappointment of ward 3 residents at City Hall Monday night, council appointed a new local representative rather than calling a byelection.
“We need a representative from ward 3,” said longtime Brougham resident Gord McGregor. “Not someone they picked, not someone they liked, not someone who follows the same line of thought that they do. We need some honest people on there.”
The seat has been vacant since the death of ward 3 city Councillor Rick Johnson on Sept. 27. Ward 3 is the area in which the federal government is considering building an airport, a sensitive topic to many residents who live nearby.
At the meeting on Nov. 21, council narrowly voted down a motion to call a byelection and chose to appoint Shaheen Butt, who came second to Johnson in the 2014 general election. Butt will be sworn in at the December council meeting.
“The real reason I'm not supporting a byelection is the cost,” said ward 1 Regional Councillor Kevin Ashe.
He said an elected councillor would only serve for about a year before campaigning for the next general election begins. And since a byelection wouldn't occur until late February or March, the seat could be vacant for six months after Johnson's death.
Coun. Ashe added winter elections historically have low voter turnout, and in the 2014 municipal election, ward 3 had the lowest number of people who went to the polls.
“It would not be unheard of to have a byelection turnout of less than 10 per cent,” he said.
During the meeting, ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean said “This is not a dictatorship where we get to appoint who we want” when he made a case for a byelection.
“It's up to the people of ward 3 ... to vote for whomever's going to represent them in the best fashion,” he said.
Ward 1 city Councillor Maurice Brenner, who won his seat in January's byelection, also supported residents electing their next councillor.
“There are no consolation prizes for second place in politics,” he said.
Mayor Dave Ryan's vote against a byelection created a tie, meaning the case for a byelection was off the table.
“As people were asking us to spend their tax dollars judiciously it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to spend it that way,” he said after the meeting.
He felt there would be a dismal turnout in a dead-of-winter byelection, compared to 32 per cent in the ward in the 2014 general election. He said the January 2016 voter turnout was just 14 per cent.
He said had Johnson's death occurred before he was sworn in, the Municipal Act would demand that the runner-up to the elected person automatically take the seat.
“When I put all of that together, it was logical to me and I think it supports the best interest of the community as a whole to support the appointment that I did,” he said.
Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles opposed a byelection. He noted council has both appointed councillors and held byelections in the past and felt Butt received sufficient support when he finished second. So he brought forward a motion for the appointment.
Butt, a 15-year ward 2 resident, had received 22 per cent of the vote in the 2014 general election, compared to Johnson's 57 per cent.
Former ward 3 Regional councillor Peter Rodrigues, who is openly opposed to an airport, spoke at the meeting, and indicated council didn't want a byelection for fear he would be re-elected.
McGregor shared the same sentiments.
“They're all against Peter because he's a guy at last who's going to put in some honesty, because Peter's an honest guy,” he said after the meeting. “I'm just fed up with it, as I sit there with my mouth shut. Enough is enough.”
Coun. Ashe and Mayor Ryan told reporters they do not know Butt's thoughts on a potential airport.
Resident Angie Jones was not pleased with the appointment.
“We all want to know where he stands on an airport,” she said. “That's what we want to know because Rick Johnson was always against it.”
Butt attended the meeting but was not ready to share his thoughts on an airport.
He could understand both sides of the heated debate over an appointment versus a byelection.
“It was a battle and I understand the emotions that went through in ward 3,” he said. “I think what they fail to know is they don't know me yet. I'm willing to fight for them, I'm willing to talk with them, I'm willing to represent them. That's what it's all about.”
PICKERING -- Immediately north of the hamlet of Whitevale, hikers, joggers, nature lovers and locals enjoy the hills, trails and meadows of a former gravel pit that has now flourished as a living ecosystem.
But that could change as the large development of Seaton in central Pickering takes shape. The community is expected to attract 70,000 people and 35,000 jobs and has been in the works since the 1970s.
Infrastructure Ontario, which manages the provincially owned land, has submitted a plan of subdivision to the City of Pickering. The planning and development committee will consider the application and a zoning bylaw amendment at an upcoming meeting.
The Whitevale Marsh Preservation Committee is asking for a compromise that would benefit both current Pickering residents and those moving into Seaton.
“Within this considerable development, we are only asking for a small fraction, two to three hectares, to be left natural and managed for the enjoyment of all,” the group wrote in a letter to Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson and other members of the provincial government.
IO spokeswoman Bianca Lankheit said in an e-mail the gravel pit lands were designated as `residential' in the Central Pickering Development Plan in May 2006.
“In addition to aligning with City of Pickering's Official Plan Amendment and the Region of Durham's Official Plan, the plan of subdivision also reflects the Ontario Municipal Board's approved land use, which was determined in March 2013,” she said.
Lankheit said developing these lands will help create a work/live environment that's envisioned for Seaton.
But the Whitevale committee would like to see a natural park that would act as a transitional area between the manicured urban parks planned for the development and the existing Seaton Trail, a popular spot located along the West Duffins Creek in Pickering.
“We would like everybody to use the park,” said longtime Whitevale resident Brigitte Sopher. “We are trying to take advantage of the feature that is already there.”
They suggest the flat expanses of land along North Road and north of the pit be developed, and the lower areas leading to the marsh be managed and enhanced with native species and trail heads. The residents are not opposing the elementary school planned for the area, and feel the area could be beneficial to the children for ecological studies and projects.
“With a little TLC you could really see this thriving,” said Mary Evans, Whitevale resident.
The residents are looking for the City's support in the matter.
“I do think there is an opportunity for the City of Pickering to get behind it,” said Sopher.
Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles has met with the residents and says there could be room to tweak the plans to maintain more of the trails and offer more connections, possibly a trail head, with areas for parking.
“I don't think it's an all-or-nothing proposition,” he said. “I hope maybe the Province can scale back some of the development plans to maintain some of the trails.”
Coun. Pickles will sit down with Infrastructure Ontario to discuss options.
“It's a really pretty area and it would be nice to preserve some of the trails,” he said. “If we can preserve some of the trails and provide more access to the trails, they may be more willing to entertain that idea.”
Coun. Pickles says the Whitevale group's suggestions will be discussed when the application goes to the planning and development committee.
Pickering Landmark gets National Recognition
Pickering, ON, November 8, 2016 - The LED-backlit Pickering crests, located on the east and west faces of the Pickering Civic Complex Tower, have been recognized at the 2016 Sign Competition Awards at Sign Expo Canada.
The City of Pickering congratulates Pattison Sign Group, the sign and visual communication company that led the crest installation work, and who received the esteemed award in the Fascia Signs/Channel Letters (Tenant Signage) category.
Sign Expo Canada is the Sign Association of Canada's National Trade Show, and is regarded as Canada's premier industry event. The Trade Show showcases the latest and best products and services in the sign industry, as well as features the renowned Sign Competition, Wrap and Design Competition, and Creative Competition.
The pin-mounted, stainless steel crests were installed in summer of 2016, as part of a larger masonry repair project at Pickering City Hall.
Although Pickering's Logo has evolved over time, the crest, originally created in 1974, remains on a number of prominent landmarks in commemoration of the municipality's rich history. The themes of atomic energy, industry, agriculture, greenspace, and Lake Ontario are all represented in the design.
As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet. An award-winning municipality, Pickering is slated for significant economic and residential growth; offering an unparalleled quality of life for those who live, work, and play here. Its dynamic City Centre has been designated by the Province of Ontario as both an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub, and continues to evolve as a preferred destination for creative learning, memorable events, and unique experiences at the heart of a vibrant, connected, and engaged community.
Pickering, ON, October 27, 2016 - The City of Pickering has been named one of the world's Smart21 Communities of 2017 by the Intelligent Community Forum. The Smart21 program recognizes the global elite municipalities that are successfully leveraging the power of technology to create a more connected, engaged, vibrant, and sustainable community.
“The City of Pickering is thrilled to be named one of the world's top smart communities,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “The Smart21 international recognition boldly states that Pickering is making the necessary investments to its technology infrastructure in order to attract the best and brightest residents and businesses to our City”. The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is a think tank based out of New York City that is comprised of a global network of cities and regions. The ICF received approximately 400 submissions from around the world for the Smart21 Communities of 2017 awards program. This is the very first year that the City of Pickering has participated.
The ICF has identified six indicators critical towards building an Intelligent Community: Broadband; Knowledge Workforce; Innovation; Digital Equality; Sustainability; and Advocacy. Some of Pickering's winning Intelligent Community initiatives include:
“Technology is the backbone of an intelligent community ecosystem, and will drive our transformation into a more sustainable, modern, agile, resilient, and smart (SMART) community,” said Dale Quaife, Manager, Information Technology, and Project Lead, Intelligent Community Initiative. “This recognition not only validates the innovative and leading work we are doing - it also provides more incentive for Pickering to continue with and expand its Intelligent Community efforts.”
Visit pickering.ca/smart for more information on Pickering's Intelligent Community initiatives.
As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet. Recognized by the Intelligent Community Forum as one of the world's top Smart21 Communities, Pickering is slated for significant economic and residential growth; offering an unparalleled quality of life for those who live, work, and play here. Its dynamic City Centre has been designated by the Province of Ontario as both an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub, and continues to evolve as a preferred destination for creative learning, memorable events, and unique experiences at the heart of a vibrant, connected, and engaged community.
PICKERING -- Longtime north Pickering resident Louis Mignault is pleased that he'll have to wash his car a little less in the future thanks to a new roads strategy adopted by City council.
“I have suffered for 30 years of that incredibly horrible dirt road,” Mignault said of Westney Road.
The Northern Roads Hard Surfacing Strategy identifies existing loose surface roads to be upgraded to hard surface roads, from Taunton Road to the Uxbridge-Pickering Townline. Council adopted the strategy at its Oct. 17 meeting.
Based on criteria such as maintenance cost savings, financial resources available, average daily traffic, and resident concerns regarding road conditions, upgrades to five roads will be up for approval in the 2017 capital budget for a price tag of $11.6 million.
“All the roads on there we're expecting will be in the five-year forecast,” said Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles.
Staff plans to finish Westney within the next two years, and the others will follow.
“At least we know which roads we're looking at,” said Coun. Pickles. “We can rationale toward them, we can budget for them.”
Mignault petitioned the City 15 years ago, along with 60 others, to do something about Westney.
“It was basically a country road slapped together and since it is a valley it gets a lot of water problems. Every time there is a bit of rain you get huge potholes and mud and of course in the spring when the ice melts it's just a disaster area,” he said.
The City maintains about 61 kilometres of paved roads in the area (which includes both northbound and southbound lanes), and 104 kilometres of loose surface roads.
“Particularly the cars were always filthy so it was very difficult to get to where you were going with clean clothes because you couldn't help touching your car because it was caked with mud very often,” Mignault said.
He said the mud would damage his brakes and his wheel balance.
“The big advantage is we could always find our car in the parking lot,” he joked.
The avid cyclist also packs up his bike and drives to the paved roads in Uxbridge so he can ride on a smooth surface.
Mignault believes most of the City's attention has been on south Pickering in the past and he's pleased to see improvements taking shape in the north.
The roads will not only provide better connectivity to regional roads and Hwy. 407 and Hwy. 7, but to Seaton employment lands in the future as development continues in the north.
The approval stems from a past motion brought forward by Coun. Pickles.
“It's been a while in the making,” said the councillor. “It's a good strategy, it's good work, it helps the City plan and will make a difference for residents in north Pickering as well.”
The roads will be reconstructed, rather than resurfaced, due to the gravel base quality and thickness, which is currently inadequate.
According to a staff report, the average operating cost for loose surface roads is more than four times that of hard surface roads. From 2011 to 2015, the average maintenance cost for loose surface roads was $7,700 per kilometre and the operating cost for hard surface roads was $1,801 per kilometre.
ROADS TO BE PAVED IN NORTH PICKERING
PICKERING -- There were tears, laughter and smiling nods as mourners remembered Rick Johnson, the “very much larger than life character” who passed away on Sept. 27.
Johnson, a long-time Pickering politician, was remembered for his work in the community, his funny side, his love for his family and his love for Pickering.
It was standing room only at the Nelson F. Tomlinson Community Centre (formerly the Claremont Community Centre) on Saturday, Oct. 1, as more than 300 people turned out to remember Johnson.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan told the gathered that all of Pickering council was at the ceremony.
“None of us are here today for anything other than we called Rick Johnson our friend,” Mayor Ryan said. “Rick did a great job. He did a good job for all of us. He was dedicated politician who liked to play hockey and none of us wanted to go into the corner with him.” Johnson served on Pickering council for more than two decades, starting in 1988. He held office continually until he lost his Regional Council seat in 2010. He was re-elected a City councillor in the 2014 municipal election.
Kevin Ashe, a fellow Pickering councillor, said it wasn't easy to speak about Johnson because “there's so much emotion attached to it. Number two there are so many stories and number three, there are so many stories that I can't say in public.”
He noted Johnson was a businessman, a musician, he loved to play sports, particularly hockey, slo-pitch and golf. Johnson was extremely good at fundraising, having “raised tens of millions for charity.”
Johnson raised money for the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital, the local Big Brothers association and to help build Herizon House, a shelter for abused women and children. “It arguably wouldn't be built without Rick's involvement,” Ashe said.
He noted Johnson's election signs had the slogan `We Want Rick Johnson back.'
“That's never more appropriate than today. He was a guy's guy, a man's man. There was an underlying tenderness and a sparkle in his eye,” Ashe added.
Fellow Pickering councillor David Pickles noted, “Rick had the gift of gab and 90 per cent of it was about politics, sports and music. And, some of it was true.
“Some times, in quieter times, he would speak about (wife) Susan and how much she supported him in politics, business and music,” Pickles said. “A lot of people never saw that quieter side, but it was certainly there.”
Of all his fundraising, Pickles said Johnson was “most proud of establishing the women's shelter. Rick is still a legend there for his fundraising.”
Johnson's friend Gord `Jigger' James said, “I'm not involved in politics. I'm just his buddy.”
James played hockey with Johnson for years, with James at centre and Johnson one of his wingers. “He was that guy who went into the corner and brought the puck out.”
He remembered the time when he and Johnson woke up on Feb. 14 and realized they hadn't bought Valentine's cards for their wives. The two hustled over to a drug store in Stouffville and then hurried back to the Johnson's Brougham house. They signed the cards in the car and James asked Johnson how many cards would Susan be getting from guys named Rick. Just him, Johnson said.
“Then why did you sign the card `Love Rick Johnson'?” James asked.
“He's not leaving. I'm not saying goodbye to him. The stories I shared with you will always be with me,” James said. “He was my best man and my winger. Maybe God needed a winger more, but he'll always be with us.”
Another friend, Kurrie Storey, noted, “He was very much a larger than life character. He was almost cartoon like, between Wile E. Coyote and Capt. America. I never met a character like him and I never will.”
Reverend Karen Smart noted Johnson was a “vibrant, up-front kind of guy. He and Susan were married for 41 years and they built a warm and welcoming home in Brougham.”
Rev. Smart read a note by Johnson's son Chris.
“My dad taught me how to catch a ball, swing a golf club, how to skate and to shake hands and look the person in the eye,” Chris wrote. “My dad taught me how to be the man I am today.”
Johnson is survived by his wife Susan, son Chris, daughter-in-law Cathy, mother Lorene, siblings Randy, Doug, Mark and Denise, and his `grand-dogs' Hershey and Nestle. He's predeceased by his son Russell, father Ivan and brother Mike.
He was buried at Brougham Union Cemetery.
The following arrangements have been confirmed:
Visitation at McEachnie Funeral Home on Friday from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm.
There will be additional visitation at the Dr. Nelson F. Tomlinson Community Centre on Saturday, at 12 pm, followed by the Service at 1:30 pm.
For Immediate Release
City and Community Mourns Loss of Councillor Rick Johnson
Councillor Johnson was a dedicated and passionate advocate for Pickering and represented Ward 3 tirelessly for over two decades. In that span, he worked diligently on behalf of Pickering as both a politician and as a community leader.
Councillor Johnson has held a number of respected roles over the years, including Deputy Mayor, Durham Region Public Works Chairman, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority Chairman, Veridian Energy Corporation Director, Durham Non-Profit Housing Director, Durham Region Master Transportation Plan Chairman, and Member of GTA Regional Public Works Chairs Committee. He served as a Local Councillor from 1988 to 1991, Regional Councillor from 1991 to 2010, and returned to the City in 2014 to serve as a City Councillor.
Councillor Johnson had a down-to-earth style that won him many friends and supporters. His influence went beyond Pickering and can be felt across Durham Region. Expressions of condolence are flooding into City Hall from those who have been touched by Councillor Johnson's compassion and generosity. For those of you who wish to offer condolences to his family, an online form is available on the City website and a book of condolence is available at City Hall.
Details regarding funeral and visitation arrangements are forthcoming and will be shared on the City website. Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies go out to Rick's wife Susan, his son Chris, the rest of his family and many friends and supporters.
He will be missed.
PICKERING -- The mood was sombre and the flags were flying at half-mast at Pickering City Hall on Wednesday, after longtime, charitable and colourful Councillor Rick Johnson died suddenly.
The 62-year-old Ward 3 City councillor was taken to Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital on Monday, Sept. 26. He died on Sept. 27.
“Rick was one of those community people that was frankly larger than life,” said a “heartbroken” Mayor Dave Ryan. “He seemed to know everybody and everybody knew him. He was very down to earth and had many friends and supporters.”
Mayor Ryan, a colleague and friend of Coun. Johnson's for more than 20 years, wrote on his Facebook page, “His influence went beyond Pickering and can be felt across Durham Region.”
The longtime north Pickering resident not only served the City on a political level but was also often seen out and about, whether it was playing hockey or baseball in Claremont, live music with his band, or simply meeting and greeting residents at various events throughout the city, such as his involvement as both auctioneer and golfer in the annual Mayor's Charity Golf Classic.
In fact, his friend Joan Wideman recalls a conversation with the councillor about his love of music at the recent golf tournament.
“He was very welcoming, a very fine man,” said Wideman, vice-president of corporate services for Pickering-based business, The Lenbrook Group.
Coun. Johnson held a diploma in agriculture from the University of Guelph and worked in the field for many years. After high school and throughout university, he worked for S A Wideman Transport in Claremont. When he was a young university graduate, he worked for Bobby Baun in north Pickering as his farm herdsman. In the 1980s and 1990s, he ran Nash Can Booking Agency, through which he booked famous country music acts from Nashville.
“He loved country music,” said Wideman.
Even before his time on council, the musician put together a band, Rick Johnson and the County Jamboree. He also started the Brougham County Jamboree on his farm which for 11 years drew crowds of a few thousand in the early years, and worked up to 5,000 each day. His band continued to entertain audiences at many events over the years and was going strong until his death.
He eventually opened up a business selling hot tubs out of an old hardware store Brougham.
“He loved that hardware store,” said Wideman. “And he loved the history of it. He had a great respect for tradition and history.”
But he wasn't NIMBY.
“He understood diversity and welcomed it,” said Wideman.
Coun. Johnson served the municipality politically since 1988, when he was first elected as a local councillor for Ward 3. In 1992, he began representing the City at Durham Region headquarters when he won a seat as Pickering Ward 3 Regional councillor.
His colleague, Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles said on Facebook he had the pleasure of knowing Coun. Johnson for more than 25 years, 14 of those as the Ward 3 team on council.
“Rick worked hard for the residents and charities in our community,” he said. “His down-to-earth style and care for individuals was always apparent. I enjoyed working with him and will miss him greatly. Many did not see the many small things he did such as dropping off food and clothes for families in need.”
Coun. Johnson had taken a short break from politics when he was defeated in the 2010 election, but he stayed active in the community in that time.
He soon made his return to politics when in the next municipal election in 2014 he chose to run again, and was easily elected as City councillor for Ward 3.
During his time on council, he served in many capacities, which included deputy mayor; Durham Region public works chairman; Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority chairman and Veridian Energy Corporation director.
The vibrant councillor won many awards for his community service, including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a Paul Harris Fellow award.
Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean is deeply saddened by his longtime colleague's passing.
“He was an excellent councillor who represented all residents of Pickering, especially those in ward 3,” he said. “He was a caring, giving individual who raised tens of thousands of dollars for many great charities and was instrumental in getting a woman's shelter built in our community.”
He said Coun. Johnson will be greatly missed at City Hall and around in the community.
“I will also miss his many stories,” he said.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish said, “When I heard, it was a real shock. I guess it was a shock to everyone. It's real tragic.
“He was part of the community and council. He was active in charitable work,” Mayor Parish added. “He was larger than life, the way he lived. In some ways, it made him very effective in his political work and charitable work. He was a character, but a good-hearted character.”
Durham Region Chairman Roger Anderson said, “Rick's contributions to our community were substantial. His commitment to Pickering and the Region was always evident as he strived to find solutions in the best interest of the public. Rick also went the extra mile to support charities from across the region in an effort to help sustain healthy communities. We will miss him.”
Coun. Johnson was married to Susan, with two sons, Russell and Chris. Russell died in a car crash when he was a teenager.
A book of condolences is set up at City Hall, One The Esplanade.
Durham Region's population growth over the past few decades could soon be reflected in the makeup of its regional council.
Council passed a bylaw this week to change its composition, after a year-long review process with local politicians and community members.
While the size of the council will remain the same - 28 members, plus a regional chair - the makeup will change slightly for three municipalities: the Town of Ajax and Town of Whitby would gain a seat each to increase their numbers to 4 and 5, respectively, while Oshawa would go down by two to a total of 6 representatives. There would be no changes to the other five municipalities.
“This process allows us to ensure our urban and rural communities are treated equally; a direct reflection of Regional Council's mandate to be fair, effective and responsive,” said Roger Anderson, regional chair, in a news release.
“Durham Region is growing and evolving. This electoral process reflects our progressive community and demonstrates our desire for transparency.”
The largest population growth in Durham Region between 2005 and 2015 was seen in Ajax, with an increase of 30 per cent, followed by Whitby with an increase of 19 per cent, according to the region.
In order to become law, the bylaw needs to get approval by a majority of the smaller municipalities. A spokeswoman said councils are being asked to pass the bylaw by December 2016. Once that happens, the bylaw would come into effect for the 2018 municipal elections.
This is the third time the region has changed its composition since it was established in 1974 with a 30-member council plus a regional chair. In 1989 it increased to 32 members plus the chair, and in 1998 it was reduced to its current size.
According to analysis presented to council, using the 2011 census, each councillor represents 21,715 people.
Some residents have suggested the council could function with a further reduction in size.
Both York and Peel regions, with over a million residents, have smaller council sizes than Durham. York's council is made up of 20 councillors and a regional chair. Peel's council is made up of 24 councillors and a chair.
PICKERING -- The Province is providing $10 million to study bus-only lanes from downtown Oshawa to the Scarborough Town Centre.
Provincial Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca made the announcement in Pickering on Aug. 11 at the opening of 900 metres of bus-only lanes between Liverpool and Glenanna roads.
The $10 million will allow Durham to plan, design and engineer a bus rapid transit program from downtown Oshawa to the Scarborough Town Centre, Mr. Del Duca noted.
Durham Regional Chairman Roger Anderson said, “It's always good to have news out of Queen's Park and today you brought good news.”
The Province, through Metrolinx, and Durham have been building bus-only lanes along Hwy. 2 for the PULSE service, which runs from Oshawa to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
The $10 million will pay for an environmental assessment to enhance the service in Durham and extend the service to the Scarborough Town Centre.
In an interview, Mr. Anderson said, “It's good news for Durham. We can move forward with the EA. It's a big project.”
The EA would take up to two years to complete.
“Now, we have the money, we can move forward,” Mr. Anderson noted. “It's great news. It's a bit of a surprise. We're always ready to move transit forward. For us, it's a big step forward. We have the funding and we can start it. It's a big step, a really big step.”
If the lanes are built, land acquisition would be needed.
“We might even have to move the bus off Hwy. 2. There's pinch points,” he added, pointing to Pickering Village in Ajax and along Hwy. 2 in Whitby.
During the ceremonies to open the bus lanes, Mr. Del Duca said, “This project is so crucial to the quality of life here in Durham.”
“I'm fond of saying our province is truly in the midst of a transit renaissance,” he said. “We want to ensure every corner of the province grows.”
Expanding transit means attracting jobs, economic growth and helping the environment, he added.
The new lanes run 900 metres from west of Liverpool to Glenanna. The construction work for the entire stretch will be completed in 2018.
Mr. Anderson noted Durham is “competing for jobs, so we can't rest. We're expanding GO east to Bowmanville, with four stops.”
Opening the bus-only lanes means it “truly is a big day for Durham. It's also a big day for the PULSE service,” he said, adding having more lanes will mean “more frequent and faster service.”
The PULSE service has buses going along every seven-and-a-half minutes during morning and evening rush hours.
Mr. Anderson said since the bus rapid transit ridership has increased 50 per cent since it was implemented.
“Hwy. 2 is the heart of our system,” he said. “Since 2006, we have carried 11 million riders. That's proof as the service is increased, people will use it.”
Pickering Regional Councillor David Pickles said, “Our downtown is undergoing a dramatic transformation. The Province kick started it with the pedestrian bridge. With BRT, our downtown will be even more accessible. Together, we are building a stronger community.”
Marshall Homes will be constructing 136 stacked townhouse units on the site of the former BC Produce Store at 1555-1575 Kingston Road. City Council has approved the sale of the adjacent City owned lands to facilitate access to the development from Kingston Road (with no vehicular access to Avonmore Square). Marshall Homes will be constructing a small parkette over the portion of Lennox Lane that connects to Avonmore Square for pedestrian use.
It is anticipated that construction for this project is to commence in the fall of 2016.
It's been a couple of hot hot weeks and although it can get a bit extreme, I still prefer it to the cold of February or March. In these editorials I have been trying to note matters of interest to residents. Many residents have asked about the services provided by the Region of Durham, particularly Health and Social Services, for which I am the Committee Chair. One of the many responsibilities include inspecting and posting reports of restaurants and personal services shops for the protection of residents. I hope you find this informative. Enjoy your summer. As always you are welcome to stay informed by visiting www.davidpickles.com or emailing me at email@example.com.
What do our Public Health Inspectors do?
Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) for the Durham Region Health Department inspect over 3500 food premises throughout the Region. PHIs inspect food premises to ensure compliance with the regulations, provide food safety information to owners/operators and the general public, and provide training and certification of food handlers to prevent and reduce the burden of food-borne illness. DineSafe Durham is the Health Department's food safety disclosure program where the community has access to inspection results from the on-site posting of red, yellow and green signs plus detailed inspection results on the website.
PHIs also inspect 700 personal service settings that offer services such as: tattooing, piercing, nails, aesthetics, hairdressing, spa services, etc. These inspections are conducted to ensure owners/operators follow proper infection prevention and control practices aimed at preventing and reducing the burden of infectious diseases. The new “Know Before You Go” PSS disclosure program requires owners to post red, yellow or green inspection signs at the entrance to their establishments that provide summary results of the latest inspection.
For information on DineSafe Durham visit: https://www.durham.ca/dinesafe/
For information on “Know Before You Go” visit: https://www.durham.ca/knowbeforeyougo/
Durham Region's Age-Friendly Durham Community Survey
For Durham Region residents 55 and older, for their caregivers and for community organizations, The Region of Durham has launched a survey to gather feedback on key Regional Services.
Pickering City Centre Farmers' Market
Waterfront Concert Series
Esplanade Park Concert Series
Pickering Food Truck Festival
Visit the City of Pickering's website at www.pickering.ca for a complete listing of events. Click on the `Living' drop down menu and then on `Events Calendar'.
PICKERING -- Gary Polonsky's detailed report on the potential land uses for north Pickering, including a possible airport, is not the last on the long-debated subject.
The federal government chose the former Durham College president and founding president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology last summer as an independent advisor to meet with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities on the land. Meanwhile, there are more studies being done.
The federal government expropriated 18,600 acres of land in 1972 for an airport that hasn't come to be. After transferring 10,200 acres to Rouge National Urban Park, it still retains around 9,600 acres for economic development.
After interviewing numerous sources from all angles, Mr. Polonsky submitted his final report in June. He cannot disclose his recommendations until the report's made public.
“It's not what I want to see for the land, it's more along the lines of possibilities and some ideas on the process to get to a final decision,” Mr. Polonsky said of his report.
Transport Canada spokesman Daniel Savoie said in an e-mail the report will be made public in the coming months.
Admittedly, Mr. Polonsky wasn't interested in the subject before being given the job -- the whole process had taken more than 40 years and effectively gone nowhere.
“But then, as I began to read about it and meet people, many who had strong views, I definitely developed a passion for it and I still have that to this day,” he said.
Now keeping on top of his new interest, Mr. Polonsky will keep an eye out for two other studies that are currently underway. In May, Transport Canada hired KPMG to undertake a Pickering lands aviation sector analysis to: update supply and demand forecasts for aviation traffic in southern Ontario; develop and evaluate options for the type of airport and its potential role in the southern Ontario regional airport system; and provide an assessment of the revenue-generating potential and economic impact of these options. This work is expected to take around two years.
Both Mr. Polonsky's and KPMG's reports will support future decisions regarding the Pickering lands, said Mr. Savoie.
Also, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, operator of Toronto Pearson International Airport, is currently studying passenger growth forecast for southern Ontario, along with regional airports.
This year's grade: A
Last year's grade: A
Attendance: Council 12/12, Committee 17/20, Regional council 11/14, Regional Committees 21/32
Regional expenses: $695.75
Mayor Ryan has been able to maintain a house of calm, even with yet another shake-up of council, following former councillor Jennifer O'Connell's election to the federal government that saw one councillor change positions, and another return after years off the job through a byelection. The mayor speaks up on important issues, such as development plans for Seaton and Duffin Heights, the vision for the downtown, and maintains his strong belief in Durham Live in Pickering being right for the area, but he never grandstands. He's a strong supporter of the arts community and the hospital and remains active in the community.
Ward 1 Regional Councillor
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: B+
Attendance: Council 11/12, Committee 20/20, Regional council 9/9, Regional Committees 18/26
Regional expenses: $196.88
Coun. Ashe's grade improves this year for two reasons: he was appointed by his colleagues as being competent enough to fill outgoing councillor Jennifer O'Connell's seat at the Region of Durham - and he's been doing a good job - and because he was able to cut down on his City expenses. In fact, he's no longer the biggest spender. He brings forward motions, including one to give $5,000 to the Fort McMurray relief fund. He speaks up on many issues at council and asks questions of staff and delegations.
Ward 2 City Councillor
This year's grade: B-
Last year's grade: C+
Attendance: Council 12/12, Committee 20/20
Coun. Cumming is finding his way as a local councillor, so his grade improves. He's informed on local topics and asks questions of residents and staff, and is visible in the community. In the winter, he raised concerns about motorcyclists using Frenchman's Bay, and he worked with staff to help improve safety at local parks that residents had safety concerns about. He brings his good business sense and entrepreneurial way of thinking to council meetings. He has the lowest expenses and perfect attendance, always appreciated by the News Advertiser.
Ward 3 City Councillor
This year's grade: B
Last year's grade: B
Attendance: Council 12/12 Committee 19/20
Coun. Johnson often speaks on issues relating to the residents of the north, including the time he worked hard to help a Brock Road resident and business owner who was affected by the name of the road being changed. He has brought forward motions this year, and played a big role in the renaming of the Claremont Community Centre to the Dr. Nelson F. Tomlinson Community Centre. We would like to see him cut down on his expenses, which are the highest among Pickering councillors. Since he has a large ward, the reason he says for his high expenses, and worked hard this year, his grade doesn't drop.
Ward 2 Regional Councillor
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: A-
Attendance: Council 11/12, Committee, 18/20 Regional council 13/14, Regional Committees 34/39
Regional expenses: $6,331
Coun. McLean spoke up this year against controversial changes to Ontario's autism program, prompting both Pickering and Durham Regional councils to pass motions requesting the Province to reverse its changes. He speaks up for residents, including the time at the Region he helped a longtime Pickering resident who's well water supply was cut off after many years, which was most likely due to construction of a nearby development. He brings forward motions, including one urging the Province to ban all door-to-door sales in the home services sector to help protect seniors.
Ward 1 City Councillor
This year's grade: B
Last year's grade: N/A
Attendance: Council 5/5, Committee 8/8
A veteran when it comes to Pickering politics, Coun. Brenner hasn't lost his knack for tackling issues head-on in the community. In mere months of returning to council after he was elected in the January byelection, he's introduced and seconded a number of motions. One of his motions requested CN Rail to erect fencing around areas where there are safety concerns. He's keeping an eye on Metrolinx and transit development plans. He encourages public consultation on many issues, asks thoughtful questions and often speaks from an access ability and human rights angle.
Ward 3 Regional Councillor
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: A-
Attendance: Council 11/12, Committee 19/20, Regional Council 13/14, Regional Committees 22/31
Regional expenses: $2,493.84
Councillor Pickles continues to ask important questions at council and committee meetings, often speaking up regarding Seaton developments. He's also visible in the community. We appreciate that he keeps his expenses relatively low, despite serving a large ward. At the Region of Durham, Coun. Pickles was named the new chairman of the health and social services committee when it was left vacant. Regional councillors voted 19-8 in selecting him over Oshawa councillor and committee vice-chairwoman Amy McQuaid-England. He is a smart and capable councillor.
Pickering, ON, July 5, 2016 - On behalf of the City of Pickering, Mayor Dave Ryan has taken the Mayors' Monarch Pledge to increase action and awareness to help the monarch butterfly.
The National Wildlife Federation's Mayor's Monarch Pledge encourages Mayors in Northern America to take at least three actions in one year to address issues that contribute to the loss of this species. Mayor Ryan is one of four Canadian Mayors who have pledged so far.
Municipalities that pledge to complete eight or more actions are recognized as part of the Mayors' Monarch Leadership Circle, and Pickering's goal of completing nine make it one of the first Canadian Cities to earn this distinction.
In the last 20 years, the monarch butterfly species has declined by 90 per cent, and as pollinators, they play an intrinsic role in the health of our environment and community.
"Over the past several years, Pickering has developed and implemented a number of initiatives to assist not only the monarch butterfly, but also other pollinators," said Mayor Dave Ryan. "By participating in the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, we want to help this species, while also encouraging other Canadian cities to do the same."
To get involved or to learn more about Mayor Dave Ryan's Monarch Pledge visit www.pickering.ca/en/living/pollinators.asp
As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet. An award-winning municipality, Pickering is slated for significant economic and residential growth; offering an unparalleled quality of life for those who live, work, and play here. Its dynamic City Centre has been designated by the Province of Ontario as both an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub, and continues to evolve as a preferred destination for creative learning, memorable events, and unique experiences at the heart of a vibrant, connected, and engaged community.Media Contact:
Coordinator, Sustainability l City Development
905.420.4660 ext. 2170
1.866.683.2760 | TTY 905.420.1739
School's out for summer! Although Council does not formally meet in July and August, Members of Council continue to work for constituents and community groups all summer and keep up with City and Region of Durham projects. I am always available to residents looking for information and assistance. I will be updating my website www.davidpickles.com shortly, so have a look and contact me should you have any questions. I can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Economic Development News
On May 30th the City presented the 2015 Civic Awards. Search Engine People was presented the Local Business Award celebrating their position as Canada's fastest growing company in the search engine optimization and on-line marketing sector. The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade took home the Economic Development award, in recognition of their 60 years of business support excellence in our community.
Over the past few weeks, the City has helped celebrate a number of Grand Openings as we welcomed C.F. LED Lighting, Value Village, Regus Business Centre and Plumbers Supply to our community.
Don't forget that Tuesday is farmers' market day, from 8am to 3pm, in the parking lot on Esplanade South next to City Hall. Eat healthy and eat local!
Share your opinion on the quality of life in Pickering!
The City of Pickering is currently updating the 2012 Measuring Sustainability Report, which set a baseline for indicators of a healthy community with respect to environment, economy, society, development, and consumption. As part of the update, we are conducting a resident survey about the quality of life in Pickering. The survey asks questions about themes such as: health and safety, physical wellness, public participation, community services, affordable housing, mental health, climate change, and sustainability. Survey results will be analyzed and reported through the updated Measuring Sustainability Report in early 2017.
Visit pickering.ca/survey to provide your input before the end of July.
Those who take the survey have a chance to win one of the following: one-year Health Club Membership at the Pickering Recreation Complex ($460.00 value), Family Season Pass for the Pickering Museum Village ($85.00), and one of three sustainability gift baskets.
Questions or requests for alternate formats can be directed to us at 905.420.4617 or email@example.com.
Pickering residents are invited to compete in annual Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods program
The City of Pickering is inviting people to come together and complete an activity for a chance to win thousands of dollars for a community enhancement project.
It allows people work to on projects that make Pickering a better place environmentally, socially, or economically.
Groups are encouraged to complete activities that they enjoy doing, or to be recognized for activities they are already doing. Some of the initiatives that groups have done in the last three years include, litter cleanups, helping charities, community gardening, volunteering, organizing group fitness, beautifying the city, and environmental awareness.
Participating groups can be made up of immediate neighbours, schools, places of worship, friends, businesses, and existing community groups. Groups have until the end of November to complete their activities. At the end of the program, all participants will be invited to a celebration where a winner will be chosen by fellow groups through a peer vote. The winning neighbourhood group gets the opportunity to work with the City on a community enhancement project valued up to $10,000.
Sign up today at pickering.ca/csn or call 905.420.2660 ext. 2170
Pickering City Centre Farmers' Market
Waterfront Concert Series
Esplanade Park Concert Series
Pickering Food Truck Festival
Visit the City of Pickering's website at www.pickering.ca for a complete listing of events. Click on the `Living' drop down menu and then on `Events Calendar'.
Regional Council approves Terms of Reference for new Affordable and Seniors' Housing Task Force
Whitby, Ont. - Durham Regional Council adopted the Terms of Reference for a new Affordable and Seniors' Housing Task Force. The task force will review information related to the Region's current rental housing supply, consider the input of industry experts, and explore best practices being used by other municipalities and organizations.
“In our updated Durham Region strategic plan, Regional Council made a commitment to reduce homelessness and consider innovative options for affordable housing,” said Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “The new task force will continue this dialogue and establish a strategic direction to support our growing region.”
On March 14, the Government of Ontario released an update to Ontario's Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy (first introduced in November 2010). This update provides a framework to support the review of opportunities related to the supply of affordable and seniors' housing across Durham Region.
The task force meetings will focus on:
The following members were appointed to the Affordable and Seniors' Housing Task Force: Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer; Regional Councillor David Pickles, Chair of the Health & Social Services Committee; Regional Councillor Bob Chapman, Chair of the Finance & Administration Committee; Town of Ajax Regional Councillor Colleen Jordan; Township of Brock Mayor John Grant; Municipality of Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster; City of Oshawa Regional Councillor Dan Carter; City of Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan; Township of Scugog Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew; Township of Uxbridge Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger; and Town of Whitby Regional Councillor Elizabeth Roy. The work of the task force will be supported by an inter-departmental staff group led by the Region's Social Services Department.
The task force will report back to Durham Regional Council in fall 2016 on recommended strategies related to the creation and maintenance of affordable and seniors' housing, in order to inform the 2017 Regional Social Housing Servicing and Financing Study.
For more information on the Affordable and Seniors' Housing Task Force, or to access a copy of the Terms of Reference, please visit www.durham.cawww.durham.ca.
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WHITBY -- The first section of the new Hwy. 407 in Durham will open next week and drivers can travel on it for free until the end of the year, the Province has announced.
“I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the first phase of Hwy. 407 is now complete and will open officially to traffic on Monday morning,” said Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca in Whitby on Friday, June 17.
“Commuters will be able to drive along Hwy. 407 from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa and along Hwy. 412 (in Whitby), which connects the 407 to Hwy. 401. There will be an initial toll-free period for these sections of highway. Drivers will not have to pay toll fees until 2017.”
The Hwy. 407 East project is part of the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario's history -- about $160 billion over 12 years. It's intended to help manage congestion, support economic growth and the efficient movement of people and goods through the eastern GTA and beyond.
The second and final construction phase will include extending Hwy. 407 from Harmony Road to Hwy. 35/115, and Hwy. 418 in Clarington connecting Hwy. 407 to Hwy. 401. This final section will be built by 2020, with an interim opening from Harmony Road to Hwy. 418/Taunton Road by late 2017.
“The Hwy. 407 East Project will provide significant economic spin-off benefits to the region both now but also for years to come,” said Mr. Del Duca, adding that the improved flow of traffic will also benefit families by shaving time off their daily commutes.
“Highways 407 and 412 will provide alternative options to those commuters and will help people get to and from their destinations faster.”
Regional Chairman Roger Anderson said the extension is a welcome addition to Durham, creating a path to major opportunities for local residents, as well as businesses.
“It's an opportunity for economic development,” he said. “Both sides of the 407 in Durham Region are developable with industrial and commercial development, the Province owns 800 acres of land just east of here, Whitby and Oshawa have lands abutting the 407. It's a great opportunity for creating jobs for our new residents moving into Durham on a daily basis.”
Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell added that the opening will also bring long-awaited relief to residents affected by road closures, gridlock and other issues related to the ongoing construction.
“Most people are anxious to see it get going. The decision was made a long time ago to run the route here so let's just get it done, get all the mess out of the way and relieve the congestion, which has been a real serious problem,” he said.
“It's a serious problem everywhere but Winchester Road has been awful for years so this should fix a lot of that and that will make a lot of people in the area a lot happier.”
DURHAM -- Looking south, Hwy. 412, the link to Hwy. 407, near Dundas Street West in Whitby. May 30, 2016.
DURHAM -- When the Hwy. 407 east extension opens later this spring, it'll bring with it enhanced opportunities for business, transportation and employment, say local officials.
The first phase of the extension, from Pickering through to Harmony Road in Oshawa, is due to open in late spring, said Kalvin Reid, a spokesman for the 407 East Development Group, adding an exact date isn't available yet. It was originally to open in December 2015.
When Hwy. 407 and Hwy. 412, the link from the 407 to Hwy. 401 at the Ajax-Whitby border, are opened, Durham will benefit, says Kathy Weiss, director of economic development for Durham Region.
“The extension of the 407 will improve transportation infrastructure by helping to reduce traffic congestion through the GTA and Durham Region, resulting in efficient movement of goods and people through the area, specifically Durham,” she said in a statement.
“It will also provide stimulus for facilitating economic growth by providing a much-needed, high-capacity transportation system, and will add 800 acres of employment lands into the Durham Region inventory. Further, the 407 will provide direct major highway access to the proposed Pickering airport and surrounding employment lands, creating an aviation cluster in Durham Region.
“This is all in addition to the creation of thousands of construction and engineering jobs.”
Thousands of Durham residents and businesses will have an alternative route to Toronto and areas to the west, including Pearson International Airport. And people and businesses in Toronto and points west will have another way to get to Durham and points east.
Lisa Hausz, the manager of business development and marketing for Ajax, said transportation options are top considerations on where a company decides to locate.
“They're always looking for land, labour and transportation,” she said.
Transportation options are not only for moving goods, but ensuring employees can get to work, she noted.
“They all work together,” Ms. Hausz added.
That's important as traffic congestion in the GTA costs about $6 billion annual in lost productivity.
Economic development is “broader than transportation options. What we promote is access to all of them -- rail, road,” she said.
When a company approaches the Town, she said transportation options are outlined.
“We highlight the 407. We make sure they know where the ports are, the airports.”
Companies will build transportation options into their business case, “options for moving product. When they look at the 407, it's one of the options,” she noted.
“We would like to see more truck traffic, but it's not there yet with the pricing. It will become very viable in the future,” Ms. Hausz said.
The importance of the highway isn't lost on local officials.
At a recent Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade meeting, Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said, “The 407 could become a technology corridor linking like-minded businesses and institutions in York and Durham regions.
“This becomes even more significant when the first phase of the Hwy. 407 expansion is completed later this spring. This critical investment in our infrastructure will help drive economic development across Durham Region,” Mayor Ryan said.
“And with the 407 expansion, this intermodal hub would then have easy access to the Durham airport in Pickering, the 800 acres of employment lands in Seaton, the large commercial centres in Markham and Vaughan, and also Pearson Airport and its business parks,” he noted.
“Access to a regional reliever airport, a municipal aviation airport, rail, water, six lanes of Hwy. 401, and now Hwy. 407 could transform Oshawa and Durham Region into a transportation and logistics powerhouse,” Mayor Ryan said.
Environmental groups have opposed building the highway, fearing it will perpetuate urban sprawl.
Pat Valentine of Land Over Landings said the group's concerns are primarily with the federal lands in Pickering.
“We don't think having a highway there will be enough to make an airport happen. There are so many reasons an airport can't happen. I don't think there's a connection. There's no business case for an airport and there's never been a business case for an airport,” Ms. Valentine said.
The highway would be a “boon for people on Brock Road. It will help with land south of the federal lands, with Seaton.”
She noted the land south of the 407 is serviced, but “there's nothing north, except 44 years of neglected farmland. That's where we're concerned.”
Hwy. 407 in Durham has been on the books for decades and had been promised for years. When it finally made its way into Durham in the late 1990s, it ended at Brock Road in Pickering. And for years, that's as far as it got. Extending it east of Brock out to Hwys. 35/115 has been a priority of local and regional politicians.
With work wrapping up on the first phase through Oshawa, construction on the second phase to 35/115 in Clarington is under way and the timeline for completion is 2020. The second phase includes a 407-401 link, Hwy. 418, near Holt Road.
PICKERING -- To Pickering hurdler Nikkita Holder, winning a Pickering Civic Award reaffirmed that she's on the right track.
“This is definitely a great surprise at a perfect time and it kind of reminds me that I deserve this,” said Ms. Holder, who won bronze in the 100-metre hurdles at the 2015 Pan Am Games. “I deserve this award and my medal and I'm looking forward to doing more good things.”
Ms. Holder, focused on competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics, received a special citation award as Mayor Dave Ryan and members of council handed out the 2015 Civic Awards on Monday, May 30.
She was one of five Pickering athletes who won medals at last year's Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, all of whom received Special Citation Awards Monday night.
Many other community members were also honoured at the ceremony.
“Together with the efforts of many other committed residents, they help nurture our unique sense of community,” Mayor Ryan said.
Gord Taylor received a lifetime achievement award. He and his wife operate a dairy farm in north Pickering and host school groups interested in learning about farms. He was active at Valley View Public School, coached soccer, baseball, ringette, and is active at Mount Zion Community Church, among many other volunteer efforts.
He was modest after receiving the honour.
“I didn't do all those things for an award; I did it because that's what I thought you're supposed to do,” he said.
Having already won many awards in his young career, including one at the 36th annual Young Artists Awards in Los Angeles, and a Joey Award in Vancouver, Alex Thorne, 14, received an arts award at his hometown's ceremony.
He currently is the voice of Zuma on the TVO and Nickelodeon hit PAW Patrol, and is the voice of a villain on the new animated show PJ Masks.
“It was surprising,” he said of learning he'd won a Civic Award. “But I felt honoured. I was happy. Very happy.”
The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade received the economic development award, for growing and sustaining the economic strength of the community and ensuring it remains a prosperous place to retain and grow business.
Executive director Kathy McKay said it was an honour to receive the award.
“It's a great event and just to see what else is going on in Pickering, it's a great opportunity,” she said.
2015 Pickering Civic Awards recipients
Special Citation Award
Ashraf Abd El Maseeh
Lifetime Achievement Award
Gord (Fuzz) Taylor
Individual Volunteer Award
Service Group Award
The Knights of Columbus, St. Isaac Jogues Church Council
Community Group Award
Probus Club Pickering
Amateur Sports Award
Youth Volunteer Award
Youth Leadership Award
Herongate Barn Dinner Theatre
Cultural Diversity Award
Pickering Ajax Italian Social Club
Backwoods Players Theatre Company
Economic Development Award
Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade
Local Business Award
Search Engine People
Rosebank Public School
Access Award for Disability Issues
Pickering Soccer Club
Dentistry on Liverpool
PICKERING -- Pickering council is asking Metrolinx to use innovative and creative ways to minimize noise resulting from rail service in the city.
Metrolinx is currently undertaking The Big Move transportation master plan, which focuses on the future of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
A motion passed by CIty council at its most recent meeting notes enhancements for the Rouge Hill GO Station and the potential GO rail electrification on the Lakeshore East corridor, which runs parallel to the Pickering's urban area, are intended to improve passenger service and help reduce road congestion and gas emissions. But council believes noise from the increased rail service will also result in a negative impact on the abutting residents and businesses.
The motion says there are many innovative and creative measures that can be used to help minimize the impact of noise associated with rail service. These include features such as walls, living walls, trees, berms or a combination of them.
PICKERING -- Pickering council is concerned about an Ajax company seeking air and noise approval from the Ministry of the Environment for mobile crushing and screening units related to its aggregate producing company.
Strada Aggregates Inc. is located on Notion Road in Ajax.
A motion by Pickering council stating its concerns, passed at the most recent council meeting, states residents in the vicinity have expressed issue with the high level of dust and noise.
Emissions to the atmosphere include particulate matter and products of combustion such as nitrogen oxides. Public consultation on this matter closed on March 25 and the ministry is considering the request.
PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is contributing $5,000 to Fort McMurray relief efforts.
Council approved the donation at the Monday, May 16 meeting. The contribution will go through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's Fort McMurray Disaster Fund, and it will be matched by the federal government.
The motion was brought forward by Ward 1 Regional Councillor Kevin Ashe and Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles.
The devastating wildfires continue to spread and Fort McMurray's entire population was evacuated weeks ago, with many people living in temporary shelters. It has a population of around 88,000 people.
“I think what really hits home to many of us is Fort McMurray is a municipality that is similar in size to the City of Pickering,” said Coun. Pickles.
Whitby and Ajax are among other municipalities that have made contributions to help Fort McMurray so far.
“It's happening all across the province,” Coun. Ashe said of the generosity.
To donate to Fort McMurray relief fund, look for the Fort McMurray Appeal link at www.durhamregion.com.
A flag raising ceremony will take place at Pickering City Hall on Monday, May 30 at 1:00 pm to recognize Pride Durham Week. The flag will be displayed until June 6, 2016.
“The Friends of the Ajax Pickering Hospital strongly support the recommendation of the Scarborough/West Durham Expert Panel to create a new Durham Health Corporation that will include the Ajax Pickering Hospital and the existing sites of Lakeridge Health Corporation.
We are very concerned that many media articles repeatedly refer to the integration of the Ajax Pickering Hospital with Lakeridge Health Corporation. This is not what the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins announced on April 28, 2016. The Minister supported all of the recommendations of the Scarborough/West Durham Expert Panel, including the creation of a new Durham Health Corporation.
West Durham is experiencing huge population growth. For example, Ajax is the fastest growing municipality in Durham, the population of Pickering is expected to grow with Seaton, and Whitby continues to expand to the north. A new Durham Health Corporation would focus exclusively on the needs of this rapidly growing community and is required to make certain every resident has the hospital services that they deserve.
A single Durham Health Corporation with fair and equal representation from all the areas and encompassing all the hospitals in Durham Region is needed.“
Media Contact: Walter Donaldson, chairperson of The Friends of the Ajax Pickering Hospital, 905-427-7834, firstname.lastname@example.org
In May, celebrating Mother's Day is a big event for the Pickles family. Brenda, my wife of 26 years, and I will make sure we let our mothers know how much we appreciate them. As well, our daughters and I will do something special with Brenda. Don't forget to let your mother know you are thinking of her on Mother's Day!
Following up on my April article on the recent budget discussions, the City's budget was passed at the Council meeting on March 29, 2016. The combined City, Region and school taxes average tax rate in Pickering is 2.07%
The 2016 Capital Budget is $35.1 million of which $25.1 million is for infrastructural renewal. Significant projects include the $5.5 million LED streetlight replacement program which will include the replacement of all Bay Ridges neighborhood's wooden poles that have reached the end of their useful lives. Over 7,000 street lights throughout Pickering are expected to be retrofitted with LED fixtures, which will result in significant savings in utility and maintenance costs for the City. Other major capital projects include $5.9 in accelerated road infrastructure projects, Delaney Arena improvements of $2.3, City Hall accessibility upgrades of $1.3 million and the design and site preparation of a new fire hall to serve Seaton. I will outline many of the road projects in my June article.
For further information and to view the City's Budget visit: www.pickering.ca/en/cityhall/budgets.asp
Pickering City Centre Farmers' Market
For five years now, you've been enjoying the best of fresh local food, fun and festivities from the Pickering Town Centre Farmer's Market. The City is now taking over the market and is committed to helping bring local food to your table, along with a touch of local culture and family activities. This summer, look for the Pickering City Centre Farmers' Market to raise its tents on June 14th and running every Tuesday from 8am to 3pm, until October 4th. We'll be located in the public parking lot on Esplanade South, just steps away from the old market, and right next to the Central Library. We're excited that many of your favourite vendors have already told us they'll be back.
Street parking is limited, so our friends at Pickering Town Centre have generously allowed market patrons to park on the mall site. Accessible parking spots will be designated on the south side of Esplanade South directly next to the market. Look for more exciting details about the market in the weekly Community Page ad section or on our website at www.pickering.ca/farmersmarket.
Free Compost Giveaway
Pickering Horticultural Society's Plant Sale
Mother's Day Planting
Artfest on the Esplanade & Durham West Blues Fest
Whitevale Spring Festival
Visit the City of Pickering's website at www.pickering.ca for a complete listing of events. Click on the 'Living' drop down menu and then on 'Events Calendar'.
DURHAM -- The hydro utilities in Oshawa and Whitby as well as Veridian Corporation have announced they are considering a merger of the three companies which would create a single utility covering the majority of Durham Region's population.
Officials announced on April 28 that a memorandum of understanding to consider potential benefits and the feasibility of a merger among Veridian Corporation, Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation and Whitby Hydro Energy.
Altogether, the three companies have 220,000 customers mainly in Durham Region, though Veridian also has customers in Port Hope, Gravenhurst and Belleville. Veridian is the largest with 119,000 customers including all residents in Ajax and Pickering as well as some areas of Clarington, Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock in Durham. The OPUC has 57,000 customers in Oshawa while Whitby Hydro has 41,500 customers.
In Oshawa, the sole shareholder in the OPUC is the City of Oshawa.
Mayor John Henry said the OPUC has stated it will hold at least two public open houses during the discussions of a potential merger and he believes bringing the three utilities together would improve services and hold costs. For example, he points out savings in the consolidation of billing services and the creation of a single monitoring centre. He said the sale of the OPUC or privatization are not on the table.
“(In) the City of Oshawa, we have a resolution that we would not sell our utility,” he said. “A merger brings some size and volume to us as a city, it will help to protect our residents. It's discussion only, there's nothing binding this yet but it was thought that this would be important to look at and to discuss.”
In their statement announcing the merger talks, the three utilities pointed to provincial policy which supports utility consolidation including the 2012 Ontario Distribution Sector Panel Review and the 2015 Advisory Council on Government Assets.
Mayor Henry points out that just east of Durham, Peterborough is considering selling its utility to Hydro One.
“Larger protects us from some of the challenges that are currently going on in the province ... it would be a real challenge if other utilities around us were purchased and we were to stand alone,” he said. “So here we have an opportunity to create a regional utility and we can be stronger by the number of people it serves and it protects our residents. Simply size helps.”
Veridian CEO Michael Angemeer also touched on provincial policy in his statement.
“The timing also makes sense, as Ontario has created a policy framework in favour of utility integration that has resulted in successful mergers west of Toronto that will act as a catalyst for economic growth in those parts of the province,” he said. “The mergers and acquisitions that have formed Veridian have resulted in benefits to shareholders, communities, customers and employees while achieving a high level of reliability and employee and public safety.”
Part of the process, said Mayor Henry, is the valuation of the three electric utilities. While dividends from Whitby Hydro and OPUC go to their home communities, dividends from Veridian are split proportionally among the four municipal owners: Ajax, Pickering, Clarington and Belleville.
Last year, the City of Oshawa received a $1.7-million dividend from the OPUC and the mayor said any merger should see the City continue to receive a dividend.
“I would not enter into a deal that didn't allow our City to capitalize on the return of its investment,” said Mayor Henry. “The dividend is key to our planning here in the City and I think the dividend for the each of the communities is important. It's something that helps us meet the needs of our residents.”
Minister of Health Eric Hoskins made the announcement in Scarborough Thursday morning.
Mr. Hoskins was following the recommendation of an expert panel that examined hospital corporations in Scarborough and west Durham and concluded the Ajax facility should be part of Lakeridge, while Rouge Valley Centenary should merge with The Scarborough Hospital General and Birchmount campuses.
In a press release, Rouge Valley board of directors chairman Fred Clifford expressed his disappointment in the news.
“Our patients and their families remain our top priority,” he says. “While this is a very disappointing outcome, our board and leadership team remain committed to delivering the highest quality of care to our patients.
“I want to assure our staff, physicians, and volunteers that our commitment to them has not diminished,” Mr. Clifford said. “We will do everything we can to support them during this time of transition.”
The Ajax site had been part of the Rouge Valley Health System since the 1990s.
Region warns residents of aggressive water treatment sales tactics in Durham
WHITBY, ON - The Regional Municipality of Durham would like to remind residents to be wary of door-to-door salespersons currently canvassing Durham homes selling water treatment and metering equipment that is not endorsed by the Region.
“Residents have been contacting the Region to inquire about door-to-door salespersons who want to test the residents' water or see their water metre,” says John Presta, Director of Environmental Services. “The Region of Durham does not sell nor endorse water filters or treatment equipment for residents. The Region provides clean, safe drinking water, which meets provincial water quality standards. Our water undergoes daily monitoring and testing and does not require further filtration or monitoring at residents' expense.”
Information on Durham's extensive municipal water quality testing is available online at www.durham.ca/water.
If someone shows up at your door, remember the following to protect yourself from scams:
The Regional Municipality of Durham provides safe drinking water to residents using the municipal water supply system, meeting Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. The quality and safety of the Region's water is confirmed at an accredited laboratory, which is licensed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change-a requirement of the Ontario Drinking Water Regulations set by the province of Ontario.
The Region of Durham has established a Residential Meter Replacement/Upgrade program with its contractor, Neptune Technology Group, to replace or upgrade the meters in homes at no charge to residents. Before contractors show up, residents will receive an official letter from the Region of Durham notifying them of the upcoming water meter replacement. Residents will also receive a letter from Neptune Technology Group advising you of how to book your appointment. The letter requests that residents set up an appointment with the contractor. Neptune installers will arrive on the arranged date; they are uniformed, carry ID, and are highly skilled to ensure a professional installation.
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Lori Rosamond | Administrative Assistant to Commissioner of Works
Whitby, Ontario, April 20, 2016 - Durham Region Health Department is advising members of the public who consumed Nature's Touch Organic Berry Cherry Blend frozen berries in the last 14 days to get a hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible. The Health Department will be holding free hepatitis A vaccination clinics for individuals affected by this advisory.
This advisory concerns product that was purchased from any Costco location in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador between Dec. 11, 2015, and April 15, 2016.
“Anyone who ate this product within the last 14 day, and who was not previously fully vaccinated against hepatitis A is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health.
Durham Region Health Department vaccination clinics will be held by appointment only as follows:
Region of Durham Headquarters, Whitby - 605 Rossland Rd. E.
Township of Scugog Building, Port Perry, 181 Perry St., 2nd floor
The Health Department is unable to accommodate walk-ins or individuals without appointments at these clinics.
This listing of hepatitis A vaccination clinics is also available at durham.ca. To book an appointment, call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729. Vaccine may also be available through local health care providers and through Costco stores. Please contact store locations for details.
Independent businesses that purchase from Costco for subsequent retail sale to the public may also be carrying this product. These businesses should check their supply and remove any affected product immediately, and also contact the Health Department at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613. Food premises outside of Durham Region are advised to contact their local public health unit.
The Health Department is also asking anyone who ate the recalled product to monitor for signs and symptoms of hepatitis A, practise thorough hand washing and contact their health care provider with any concerns. Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, stomach pain, dark urine, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, clay or ash-coloured bowel movements, and jaundice. Symptoms can occur from 15 to 50 days following exposure, but usually occur within 28 to 30 days.
In addition, anyone who ate the recalled product within the last 50 days and is a food handler or works with vulnerable populations should contact the Health Department at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729 for more information, or speak with a health care provider as soon as possible. People who live outside of Durham Region are encouraged to contact their local public health unit.
For more information about hepatitis A or hepatitis A vaccine, visit durham.ca/factsabout. For details about the Health Department's hepatitis A vaccination clinics or to book an appointment, please call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729, or visit durham.ca.
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The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999 or email@example.com
If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.
PICKERING -- More than half a year of work on Kingston and Brock roads will begin on April 18.
The reconstruction of Kingston Road, from west of Brock Road to east of Bainbridge Drive; and the reconstruction of Brock, from south of Kingston to north of Finch Avenue should be completed by Nov. 1.
Work consists of storm sewer replacement, local water main replacement, road widening, sidewalk reconstruction and traffic signal replacements.
Most construction will occur in the daytime, Monday to Friday. Some road-crossing construction and road resurfacing will be done overnight.
During peak traffic periods, at least four lanes and separate left-turn lanes will be open on both Kingston and Brock. During non-peak traffic times, left-turn lanes may be closed, and through lanes may be reduced to one lane in each direction. Road and entrance closures will occur at night.
More information and future updates will be posted on www.durham.ca/cdeap.
PICKERING -- Pickering residents can expect a 3.99 per cent property tax increase in 2016.
That's an additional $56.62 on a house valued at $376,900 on Pickering's portion of the tax bill.
It's below the proposed 4.9 per cent increase, which staff and council whittled down during budget discussions on Thursday.
“It's a good solution for Pickering residents,” said Stan Karwowski, City treasurer.
The proposed budget includes a base increase of 2.6 per cent plus special levies for large projects.
The City, which was originally proposing a .3 per cent levy for LED street light upgrades, will continue with the project but will now take that money out of the 2015 surplus.
A roads and bridges levy was reduced from the one per cent that was originally proposed to .39 per cent.
A one per cent special levy will be used to participate in the federal government's anticipated infrastructure funding. The City will learn more about this grant program when the federal budget is released on March 22.
“If there's roads and bridges infrastructure money, we have projects ready to go,” said Mr. Karwowski.
He noted the overall increase to the residential taxpayer (the bill is split among the City, Durham Region and the school boards) is 2.07 per cent, which compares favourably to the Toronto January inflation rate of 2.1 per cent.
Resident David Sim said “I'm happy they've gone back and taken another look and were able to lower the rate” but he feels the City should try to stay in line with the inflation rate on its own portion of the tax bill.
Mayor Dave Ryan pointed out that 20 years ago, the City passed zero per cent increases.
“Eventually it catches up,” he said.
Of the $57.8-million capital budget, $49 million is for infrastructure renewal.
“That's what's driving this budget,” said Mr. Karwowski.
The LED street light replacement program, costing $5.5 million, will include the replacement of all of the Bay Ridges neigbourhood's wood poles, which have reached the end of their life. More than 7,000 street light fixtures are planned to be retrofitted with LED fixtures throughout Pickering. They should save around 67 per cent in electricity use, and lower utility costs by more than 50 per cent.
Major projects include the replacement of the City's operations centre on Tillings Road, budgeted at $26 million; accessibility upgrades at City Hall for $1.3 million; Delaney Arena improvements, costing $2.3 million; and the design and site preparation for a new fire hall to service Seaton.
Ward 1 City Councillor Maurice Brenner suggested the City consider marketing some of its own services to private companies in the future to help increase the municipality's revenue. For example, it could provide operations work such as groundskeeping to malls and plazas.
The final budget will go to council for approval on March 29.
PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is asking for the public's input to help improve accessible parking spaces.
The City is proposing changes to its traffic and parking bylaw in order to ensure that accessible parking spaces in Pickering are appropriately provided, marked and maintained, and to comply with the Province of Ontario's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
The City is proposing the following changes to the bylaw: to increase the minimum number of off-street accessible parking spaces required on public and private properties; to introduce two types of off-street accessible parking spaces; and to improve the pavement marking detail required for accessible parking spaces.
These amendments have already been presented to, and approved for public consultation by Pickering City Council.
Visit pickering.ca/accessibleparking for more information, and to provide feedback by April 15. Contact Nathan Emery, coordinator of traffic operations, for more information by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 905.420.4660, ext. 2054.
PICKERING -- Drivers can expect some delays near Old Taunton Road and Taunton Road West in Pickering beginning next month.
The Region of Durham's contractor will install a trunk sanitary sewer and trunk watermain from just south of the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Durham Region Reservoir construction site, located on the south side of Taunton Road.
The Region's contractor, Hard-Co Construction Ltd., has begun the clearing and grubbing operation and will begin sanitary and watermain construction in early April. The contractor is expected to complete the work by the end of September. The tunneling required to install the sewer and watermain beneath the C.P. Railway will be a continuous 24-hour operation. This component is expected to take about four weeks. Unfavourable weather conditions may influence the overall work schedule.
Lane restrictions will be in effect throughout the project on Old Taunton Road and Taunton Road West. Access will be maintained for emergency services, garbage pick-up, buses and local residents throughout the construction project, but delays should be expected. Residents will be notified in advance of construction work that's immediately in front of their properties.
Drivers are asked to exercise additional caution for pedestrian safety and the safety of the construction workers.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact one of the following Durham Region works department staff members: Chris Worona, project inspector, at 905-261-7707 or email@example.com or Roger Beynon, project Supervisor at 289-928-0703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For service disruptions, call 1-866-278-9993.
DURHAM -- Pickering Councillor David Pickles is the new chairman of the health and social services committee.
Coun. Pickles replaces Lorne Coe, who resigned from Regional council after winning a provincial byelection in the riding of Whitby-Oshawa.
Regional councillors voted 19-8 on March 9 in selecting Coun. Pickles over Oshawa Councillor and committee vice-chairwoman Amy McQuaid-England.
Councillors also approved appointing new Whitby Councillor Derrick Gleed to the health and social services committee.
Durham has new planning commissioner
DURHAM -- Brian Bridgeman is the new commissioner of planning for the Region.
He replaces Alex Georgieff, who retired in mid-February.
Mr. Bridgeman started working for the Region in 2005 and spent 10 years as the director of current planning in the Region's planning division.
“I look forward to working with an exceptional group of forward-thinking professionals to support council's efforts towards sound planning and economic prosperity,” Mr. Bridgeman said in a statement. “My aim is to work with staff to develop and implement new ideas that will help Durham Region meet strategic goals.”
Over the years, Mr. Bridgeman has been involved in a number of committees and working groups, including the emergency management working group; corporate climate change committee; Planning Act working group; conservation authorities liaison committee; and Development Directors of Ontario.
He received a bachelor of environmental studies degree from the University of Waterloo, a diploma in public administration from the University of Western Ontario and has also completed the leadership program at Queen's School of Business.
Council and staff were able to drop the increase to 3.99 per cent after a day of budget meetings on Thursday.
“It's a good solution for Pickering residents,” said Stan Karwowski, City treasurer.
The proposed budget includes a base increase of 2.6 per cent plus special levies for large projects.
The City, which was originally proposing a .3 per cent levy for LED street light upgrades, will continue with the project plans but will now take that money out of the 2015 surplus.
A roads and bridges levy was reduced from the one per cent that was originally proposed to .39 per cent.
The increase includes a one per cent special levy, which will be used to participate in the federal government's anticipated infrastructure funding. The City will learn more about this grant program when the federal budget is released on March 22.
Resident David Sim spoke to the committee, before the increase was reduced to 3.99 per cent, stating he wasn't pleased.
“It seems in Pickering it keeps going up,” he said of the tax increase.
Mayor Dave Ryan pointed out that 20 years ago, the City passed zero-per cent increases.
“Eventually it catches up,” he said.
The LED street light replacement program, projected to cost $5.5 million, will include the replacement of all of the Bay Ridges neigbourhood's wood poles (around 300), which have reached the end of their life cycle. More than 7,000 street light fixtures are planned to be retrofitted with LED fixtures throughout Pickering over the next year and a half. The LED units are expected to save around 67 per cent in electricity use, and lower utility costs by more than 50 per cent.
The replacement of the City's operations centre on Tillings Road is budgeted at a total cost of $26 million.
Another major project is the design and site preparation for a new, single-storey fire hall that will service Seaton.
Accessibility upgrades at City Hall are budgeted at $1.3 million.
The final Pickering budget will go to council for final approval on March 29.
PICKERING -- Despite retiring 10 years ago, Gary Polonsky has landed back into full-time work.
The former Durham College president and founding president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology is learning about and will soon report on possibilities for controversial land in north Pickering.
The federal government expropriated 18,600 acres of land in 1972 for an airport that hasn't come to be. Transport Canada recently committed to transferring 10,200 acres to Rouge National Urban Park, but still retains around 9,600 acres for economic development.
Mr. Polonsky, an independent advisor, is meeting with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities in the area, which could include an airport.
“Essentially my mandate is to listen to people and to report honestly what they say and all that takes the form of a report,” he said.
He interviews many people a day -- from government officials to the aviation community to agricultural and conservation groups -- and says each has been “fantastic.”
Some focus on growth and commerce and profits and jobs, and others on eating local, fresh food, and respecting and living on the land.
“So it's a challenge to me but a question I keep asking myself is, 'Is there a scenario that would be great for both? Or at least good for both?'” he said.
He noted some foresee as many as 60,000 jobs in the area.
“Imagine if that kind of a windfall could befall our community, whether they're air related or agricultural related or a combination.” he said.
He didn't make any recommendations in his interim report and isn't sure he'll offer any in the end.
His final report will include forward-looking perspectives which could be recommendations, observations or conclusions, or a series of 'what if' scenarios and questions.
“Whether they're actually called 'recommendations' or not, they will try and provide a useful format for the minister to consider as he and no doubt the prime minister make the final decision,” he said.
He spoke highly of Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, former astronaut.
“I think whatever he decides, Canadians can be encouraged and take comfort in knowing a person of that ilk is at the helm,” he said.
Mr. Polonsky believes the report could be made public by fall.
DURHAM -- Regional Chairman Roger Anderson spoke to the Clarington Board of Trade in an effort to rally the local business community to push for the development of the Pickering Airport on Thursday, Feb. 10.
Mr. Anderson said the proposed Pickering Airport will drive business investment and economic opportunities in Durham. He said Toronto Pearson Airport will reach capacity in 22 years and a new airport will be needed. Developing the proposed Pickering Airport site would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
“I'm talking thousands and thousands of good jobs. I just can't emphasis enough how important it is ... There's an opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, I mean one that we'll never get again,” said Mr. Anderson.
He told the business community that jobs were the No. 1 issue in Durham Region and that as a group, local business men and women could help pressure higher levels of government to usher in large-scale economic investments.
“If you speak somewhat united and deliver a clear message, people like the prime minister pay attention,” said Mr. Anderson, who passed out a list of contact information for politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all Durham members of Parliament.
He also said Durham Region needs investment in transit and social housing.
The CBOT crowd at the Clarington Beech Centre included representatives from local industries, developers and politicians. CBOT executive director Sheila Hall thanked Mr. Anderson for addressing the group and said Clarington would love to see more Regional investment in creating serviced lands -- especially in south Courtice -- and better broadband connectivity.
Having the pleasure to serve residents on the Regional Council for the Region of Durham for just over a year now, I thought I would address some questions I have heard from residents about the Region of Durham The Region of Durham consists of eight municipalities: Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Clarington, Oshawa, Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock. Each of the eight municipalities have Council representatives that sit on Regional Council for a total of 28 Regional Councillors, plus the Regional Chairman. Pickering has four Council representatives - one from each of the three Wards in Pickering, plus the Mayor. Pickering Councillors that sit on Regional Council also continue to sit on and serve their respective municipal council - that is the Pickering Regional Councillors sit at both the Durham Regional Council and the City of Pickering Council and continue to serve residents in both roles. In the last municipal election, the Regional Chair, Roger Anderson, was directly elected for the first time. The size and allocations of Regional Council seats is currently being reviewed. Regional Council has four main committees: Finance and Administration, Works, Planning & Economic Development and Health & Social Services. I am the Pickering Council representative on the Health & Social Services Committee.
For more information about the Region of Durham and the Regional Council Review, please visit www.durham.ca
Updates from Economic Development
Noodles & Company has opened their doors at the 1899 Brock Road Smart Centre. Well known in the US, this is only the second location to open in the GTA, serving up an endless array of your favourite noodle dishes. Councillor Ashe and I along with our spouses, were pleased to have enjoyed a hot lunch at Noodles & Company during their opening weekend.
Applications are under review for a variety of business operations including the construction of a new free standing Beer Store on Pickering Town Centre lands, as well as a new cross dock trucking facility on Silicone Road, and a major expansion to offices at the Signature Aluminum plant in the Brock Employment Park.
Pickering Awards Neighbourhood Group $10,000
Valley Plentiful Community Garden won February's ‘Best Group Effort’ at the Celebration event, held in recognition of the City's 2015 Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods Program. Valley Plentiful Community Garden coordinates and maintain a 95-plot community garden in Pickering's City Centre was awarded the opportunity to work with the City on a community enhancement project valued at $10,000. To find out more about the groups, or to get involved in the 2016 Celebration Sustainable Neighbourhoods program, visit pickering.ca/csn
Mayor's Virtual Town Hall Meeting
March Break Free Teen Program
March Break - OPG Free Family Swim
Fire Station 5 Open House - Sparky's Birthday Party
Friday, March 18, 2016
Durham Region Special Needs Olympics Swim Meet
Sunday Afternoon Big Band
11th Annual Sustainable Pickering Day
Visit the City of Pickering's website at www.pickering.ca for a complete listing of events. Click on the ‘Living’ drop down menu and then on ‘Events Calendar’.
WHITBY -- Brock Road, just north of Rossland Road in Pickering, will be closed for two days for construction.
The Region of Durham's works department is reminding residents this section of the road will be closed From Feb. 20 at 5 a.m. until Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. for the installation of storm sewers and electrical duct banks. Unfavourable weather conditions may influence the work schedule.
This closure is a part of the Brock Road/Rossland Road reconstruction, which is ongoing until late 2017. For more information, search for the project on www.durham.ca/cdeap.
Drivers are asked to exercise caution for the safety of pedestrians and construction workers.
OSHAWA -- Former Oshawa city councillor Robert Lutczyk stood in front of a crowded courtroom Thursday afternoon and apologized to the family of David Potts, the former colleague he kidnapped at gunpoint more than three years ago.
A subdued Mr. Lutczyk -- his demeanor much changed from the aggressive and combative face he's put forth during his years-long journey through the justice system -- expressed deep remorse for the bizarre series of events in 2012 that saw Mr. Potts abducted from his home at gunpoint.
“I never had any intention of hurting David,” Mr. Lutczyk said. “I wish it had never happened, but it did. I accept that it happened and I accept responsibility for it.”
Mr. Lutczyk has pleaded guilty to charges including kidnapping with a firearm and weapons offences relating to the incident in October of 2012. Thursday, prosecutor Ngai On Young called for a 10-year sentence.
Mr. Lutczyk said he was “greatly moved” by a victim impact statement read into the record by Mr. Potts's wife, Maureen Potts. During the lengthy and eloquent submission, Mrs. Potts described the horror and dread that gripped her and her children after Mr. Potts, the city solicitor, was abducted in his driveway after returning from a late city council meeting. Click here to view the complete victim impact statement.
“I've never been so desperate and lost,” she said, holding back tears. “I contemplated the possibility I wouldn't see David again.”
Mr. Lutczyk confined and taunted Mr. Potts, subjecting the whole family to an “outrageous nightmare,” Mrs. Potts said.
“Mr. Lutczyk's unimaginable cruelty found its mark that night,” she said. “In Mr. Lutczyk's own words, this was about exacting revenge.” Court has heard that by October of 2012 Mr. Lutczyk had hit rock bottom. He was jobless, his marriage crumbling, and he was deep in debt. He'd lost his city council seat in a prior election but even before that had seen the entirety of his council salary seized in court-ordered garnishments to pay off creditors.
He blamed Mr. Potts for his woes, Mr. Young said.
“You get the sense that Mr. Lutczyk blamed Mr. Potts for everything that went wrong in his life,” Mr. Young said.
The prosecutor recommended a global 10-year prison term but even if that's accepted by Superior Court Justice Alex Sosna, Mr. Lutczyk's time behind bars is likely to be much shorter than that.
He's served more than three years of pre-trial custody, for which he would generally be allowed enhanced credit on a 1.5 to 1 basis. But Mr. Young said the Crown agrees Mr. Lutczyk ought to be granted even more credit for his dead time at the Central East Corrections Centre in Lindsay.
Mr. Young cited two factors: Mr. Lutczyk's extended incarceration in segregation -- essentially solitary confinement -- and an incident in which he was tossed naked into a segregation cell and left that way overnight.
“The overall reason is the hardship and difficulties he endured when he was in pre-trial custody,” Mr. Young said.
Defence lawyer Chris Murphy called for a total sentence of eight years, leaving Mr. Lutczyk less than two years to serve. The events of 2012 were an aberration for Mr. Lutczyk, who was battling overwhelming stress and what psychiatrists have since diagnosed as an adjustment disorder, he said.
“You've got a law-abiding, functioning person who does something that doesn't make sense,” Mr. Murphy said. &
Justice Sosna will pronounce sentence Feb. 26.
Mr. Lutczyk abducted Mr. Potts outside his home in Courtice at gunpoint and drove him to an industrial area in Whitby, where he'd rented space in a garage. A quick-thinking Mr. Potts convinced Mr. Lutczyk to take him to a local coffee shop for food; Durham police closed in and Mr. Lutczyk raced back to his compound. He leapt from the vehicle and used Mr. Potts as a shield while police trained their guns on them.
Mr. Potts managed to break free. Mr. Lutczyk retreated inside the garage where he remained holed up, surrounded by dozens of police officers, for the next 27 hours. He's been in custody since his surrender.
Mr. Potts has yet to speak publicly about his ordeal -- he declined to comment again Thursday -- but his wife's victim impact statement shed much light on the way the event affected the family. She said she continues to be concerned about Mr. Lutczyk, even if he is bound for prison in the immediate future.
“Who might be next on his list?” she mused. “I constantly worry Mr. Lutczyk will continue to exact revenge when he's released from prison.” Mr. Lutczyk took pains to express his remorse.
“I don't ever want you to think, Maureen, that this would happen again, that I stew in hatred, because I don't,” he said.
Mr. Lutczyk, his back bent and his ankles bound in shackles, turned to face Mr. and Mrs. Potts, who sat just feet away.
“I'm sorry for it all,” he said.
DURHAM -- The path through the criminal justice system can be long for those who are declared not criminally responsible for their actions.
During a symposium designed to raise awareness of the forensic mental health system, Dr. Karen DeFreitas, medical director of the forensic program at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, outlined the process as it unfolds for someone suffering from mental illness who is charged with a crime.
“People who have committed some act and been charged for that, but who don't understand the court system well enough to navigate it, they would come to the hospital and we would attempt to treat them until they are fit to stand trial,” she explained, noting the process is different for those who are deemed Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) for their actions.
“If you're charged with an offence and you committed that offence but because of an illness that person didn't understand what they were doing or that what they were doing was wrong, they would be sent to our facility for treatment.”
Ms. DeFreitas said members of the public may have a very different perception of the forensic system than the reality, noting she is often shocked at the comments posted on media stories regarding those who have been deemed NCR.
“It's quite shocking what your fellow human beings will say,” she said, noting there is a stark contrast between the forensic system and the traditional criminal justice system.
“NCR verdicts are very rare; they only account for about one in 1,000 cases in Ontario. On top of that the time in the forensic system versus time in the correctional system is often much longer, usually two to three years in our system compared to days, weeks or even time served in the correctional system.”
Once in the forensic system it is a long road to rehabilitation, with an individual's fate decided by the Ontario Review Board (ORB), which operates independently of the criminal system and is given great deference. Any appeal of an ORB decision goes straight to the Court of Appeal.
“It's not quite like a court because a court is adversarial. The ORB is meant to be more collaborative and it can be more inquisitorial,” Ms. DeFreitas said of the six-person board, which includes two lawyers, one psychiatrist, either another psychiatrist or a psychologist, and one public member. Ms. DeFreitas is an ORB member.
“We can ask questions and ask for evidence just like a court, but the board also has a bit more flexibility to ask for what it needs to make a decision,” she said, noting while the board makes decisions based on an individual's well-being, its number one mandate is to prevent potential harm to the public.
“It's not fair if someone is mentally ill and really doesn't understand what they've done,” she explained. “You can't punish someone if they don't know what they're doing.”
Whitby lawyer Anthony Balka has extensive experience with the forensic system. Currently all of his clients have diagnosed psychiatric disorders, and his entire caseload involves representing clients before the ORB.
“People often say to me, 'how can you stand representing these people, aren't you worried people are faking it?' So I tell them to go home, look in the mirror, and pretend for five minutes that they have a psychiatric disorder,” he said.
“Now imagine doing that for 30 days on a ward surrounded by people who are very good at what they do and whose job it is to find out what's going on in your head. Not to mention all the other patients who truly do have a disorder. It's not an easy way out by any stretch, it can be a long, long road. It can take years and years to get out from under an NCR. I have many clients who want out of the system and wish they had never gone the NCR route but just served their time in the criminal system.”
However, Mr. Balka also noted that the forensic system “works very well” for some clients, with the outcome largely dependent on an individual's perspective and attitude.
Ms. DeFreitas also defended the system, noting media is quick to point fingers when a forensic patient goes on unauthorized leave from a hospital, referred to by staff as “eloping,” which is usually accompanied by public warnings and a police search.
“These patients are not escaping. The term escape implies broken windows and stuff like that,” Ms. DeFreitas explained. “Often we let them out on a pass and they don't come back, which garners a lot of attention in the media, but in reality elopements are very low.”
At Ontario Shores there were 51 unauthorized leaves of absence by patients from 2014 to 2015, the majority of which occurred in the civil program rather than the forensic program. Ms. DeFreitas said a total of 0.4 per cent of all inpatient days at the hospital were spent on unauthorized leave.
While she recognizes that the phenomenon is unfortunate, she also points out that patients are given passes for a reason.
“If we were to set the bar so high that no one eloped, first of all we couldn't do that, secondly it would solve the elopement problem but it doesn't solve the issue of reintegration,” she said.
“If we never let people out they would just sit in the ward and that would really hamper their progress, not to mention the hospital would fill and there would be no room for new people coming in. On one hand we don't want anyone to elope, but on the other hand people need to understand we can't be perfect, we have a mandate to reintegrate.”
She also points to statistics that show the successes of the program, mainly a 10 per cent reoffender rate compared to 40 per cent in the correctional system, and an even higher 70 per cent for individuals with mental illnesses who go through the correctional system.
“The ORB works hard to minimize the risk to the public and at present it does that very well,” Mr. Balka said.
“The problem is the public wants perfection from the ORB, and perfection is not to be had. We are dealing with human beings here.”
Some people call it the worm. It's the new landmark on Hwy. 401, a strange undulating form that appeared across the road a few years ago.
The worm is no everyday roadside attraction, though. It's the new bridge that allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross 15 lanes of the 401 between the Pickering Town Centre mall on the north side and the GO Train station to the south, complete with a massive GO parking garage.
The garage is a kind of monument to the consequences of bad urban planning, when cities were briefly designed exclusively for the car. Pickering sprawls, making reliable public transit difficult to reach all of it, but too many cars have made driving unattractive.
The worm and parking garage is a portal between the two worlds, connecting a car-dependent one to a transit-oriented one. The garage isn't particularly pretty but it's a Band-Aid repairing our past mistakes.
However, the bridge is set for more than just moving GO commuters. Unlike many cities and towns in the GTA, Pickering doesn't have a historic downtown of its own (the one it did have became part of Ajax), but since it was developed in the 1970s, the area around the mall has become its de facto city centre, with a city hall and central library across the street to the east and dense townhomes and apartment buildings nearby.
Right now, the north side of the bridge ends at a new Durham College building and a parking lot leading to an entrance to the Hudson's Bay store. It doesn't feel particularly downtownish, but the City of Pickering undertook a major downtown intensification study in 2011 that outlines great plans to turn land on both sides of the highway into a regional cluster.
Currently, about 5,000 people live and 5,000 work in downtown Pickering, but the plan anticipates 8,000 more of each moving here in the coming decades.
At 250 meters long, the bridge isn't completely finished, as the aluminum mesh that gives it its distinct shape still doesn't cover the entire structure.
“It's just a bridge,” some might say, but landmarks have power: nobody drives through Pickering without noticing Pickering anymore. Even the mayor, Dave Ryan, is proud of the bridge, going so far to say so on Twitter.
The bridge has moments of quiet when you can have it all to yourself, but when a GO train arrives from Toronto, especially in the afternoon rush, the bridge becomes filled with noisy commuters. It sounds like downtown.
It's during the quiet that the full length of the bridge can be appreciated. It's meditative when alone up there, the slightly muffled 401 traffic speeding by below, a perfect viewing platform for one North America's mightiest highways.
Being there reminded me of the 1988 novel Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, where the entire story is one man's lunch time trip up an escalator in an office building. A most everyday, boring kind of thing, but Baker uses that brief time to go deep into the thoughts of the young man riding the escalator.
There's time to think when crossing the worm, time to look out at the 401 with its endless stream of cars, each heading to some private world, each with a network of friends and family. The magnitude of this region's population can be understood here.
To the south, there's also an atomic view over industrial warehouses to the reactor domes of the Pickering Nuclear Generating station. This end of the bridge will become residential buildings, according to the intensification plan, making the parking garage less of a monolith on the landscape. Too bad it couldn't have been buried under the new housing.
Pickering and its worm are typically Canadian. All our towns are invented: some long ago, many more quite recently. In Pickering, the worm will lead the way.
PICKERING -- Maurice Brenner beat out 11 other candidates in the Ward 1 byelection Monday night to return to council for the first time in a decade.
“The tears were flowing,” Coun. Brenner said of his reaction to the news.
When Jennifer O'Connell, the previous Ward 1 Regional councillor, was elected as Pickering-Uxbridge MP in October, her seat was declared vacant.
Pickering councillors chose to appoint Kevin Ashe, the Ward 1 City councillor at the time, to fill the Ward 1 Regional role, and called a byelection for the local position.
Twelve candidates submitted their names for the race.
Coun. Brenner was elected as Ward 1 City councillor in 1985 and again in 1988, and then represented Ward 1 residents at the regional level until losing his seat to Bonnie Littley in 2006.
Mayor Dave Ryan, who congratulated the returning councillor when he arrived at City Hall, said he wasn't overly surprised by the news, as Coun. Brenner has a strong name recognition in the ward having represented it for a number of years.
“We've got a new council and I think we have a different way of doing business than we used to,” said the mayor. “It's a very positive outlook. I'm hopeful that he's going to contribute to that.”
Coun. Brenner said he feels humble. “To get that opportunity again is something that a lot of people don't have, the ability to go back...in time, to set the clock back to have another chance,” he said.
Coun. Brenner thanked residents in Ward 1 for choosing him.
“I can assure you and I can assure them that I'll be accessible, accountable and transparent in each and everything that I do on their behalf,” he said.
He said his reason for running was to embrace Pickering in a positive way, and he looks forward to working with Mayor Ryan and the other members of council.
“We may not always agree but we're going to agree to disagree, and one thing I'm confident: whatever I do and whatever each member of council (does) together, it's believing that each person is doing it for what they believe is the wellbeing of those that they (represent) and I respect that,” he said.
Knocking on doors, Coun. Brenner mostly heard from seniors who are worried about their financial wellbeing, and from residents with speeding concerns.
“My No. 1 priority to start...is to look for options to help our most vulnerable in the city of Pickering,” he said.
Tate Besso - 47
DURHAM -- A justice of the peace has dismissed Peter Rodrigues's claim that he's the victim of abuse of process, meaning the former Pickering councillor's trial on allegations of contravening the City's sign bylaw will continue.
JP Gerald Ryan dismissed a Charter challenge filed on Mr. Rodrigues's behalf Tuesday, Jan. 12. No reasons for the judgement have yet been released; Mr. Rodrigues's lawyer, Carol Shirtliff-Hinds, had called for the charges to be withdrawn on the basis that Mr. Rodrigues had been singled out by political opponents.
The charges arise from Mr. Rodrigues's alleged insistence on parking his brightly-wrapped van outside city hall in Pickering in the months leading up to the municipal election of 2014. Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to more than dozen charges under the City's sign bylaw.
The van, with a yellow wrap featuring Mr. Rodrigues's name, picture and an image of City Hall, was deemed not to be an election sign, but does fit the definition of a sign, City clerk Debbie Shields testified Tuesday. The use of the vehicle became an issue when the former councillor began to park it outside the municipal offices and rebuffed requests that he instead use his designated space in an underground parking lot, Ms. Shields said.
Complaints about the van began in the latter months of 2013 and intensified in 2014, after the campaign for the municipal election officially began, the clerk testified.
“At the beginning of September (of 2013) I began to get questions as to why the councillor's van was on the street,” Ms. Shields said.
Mr. Rodrigues was asked to stop parking the van outside city hall and warned he might be charged, but he largely ignored those entreaties, she said.
Mr. Rodrigues deliberately parked the van on streets around the municipal office, taking care to move it regularly to avoid a ticket for parking in excess of three hours in one spot, court heard.
“He continued to park on the street,” Ms. Shields said. “It was concerning to me because it was an unfair advantage over other candidates.”
After issuing repeated warnings, Ms. Shields turned the matter over to the bylaw enforcement department, court heard. Mr. Rodrigues was slapped with 16 charges in September 2014, weeks before the election.
In the motion calling for dismissal of the charges, Ms. Shirtliff-Hinds alleged the complaints came from Mr. Rodrigues's political opponent, David Pickles, who went on to win the election. Tuesday Ms. Shields acknowledged Mr. Pickles was “one of” those raising concerns about the van. Complainants also included other candidates, and even residents of a condo building across the street from city hall, she said.
Mr. Rodrigues was charged after repeatedly ignoring requests to stop breaking the sign bylaw, the clerk said.
“We were hoping we would gain compliance,” Ms. Shields said. “We don't go out and just lay a charge, we give them quite a few opportunities to comply.
“When we can do nothing else but charge, then we charge,” she said.
“I am pleased that the ridiculous and false allegations against city staff and myself were dismissed. Mr. Rodrigues has tied up significant staff time and thousands of taxpayers dollars by taking the city to court on these allegations. I will not comment on his trial on the bylaw charges against him as these are still before the courts.” - David Pickles
Ontario's Liberal government wants to squeeze four more years of life out of the Pickering nuclear station.
It will start a $12.8 billion refurbishment of the Darlington power station this fall.
Nuclear reactors at both stations owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) were originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020.
But cabinet decided to keep Pickering running until 2024 while the four nuclear reactors at the Darlington station are rebuilt to extend their lives by about 30 years.
OPG says the Darlington rebuild will generate $14.9 billion in economic benefits to Ontario and generate 11,800 jobs at peak of construction.
Bruce Power assumed all risks of cost overruns for its nuclear refurbishment, which will start in 2020, four years later than originally planned.
Ontario's Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are worried taxpayers will be on the hook for huge cost overruns with the Darlington rebuild, noting nuclear projects never come in on budget.
Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wants to keep generating between about half of Ontario's electricity from nuclear power.
Ontario companies in the CANDU reactor supply chain.
Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government has put up a “for sale” sign on a large swath of Pickering land - just in time for a Durham byelection next month.
With voters in nearby Whitby-Oshawa expected to go to the polls Feb. 11 to elect a successor to former Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, the Liberals on Thursday announced the Seaton lands are finally on the market.
That's the area along Highway 407 adjacent to a massive federal-owned tract set aside generations ago to build an airport in Pickering.
The Ontario government expropriated the Seaton lands in the 1970s to build a new town to serve the airport that never materialized.
With Ottawa unlikely to proceed with a Pickering airport, Queen's Park has long been working with the local council and developers to build a new “sustainable community” for 70,000 people,
Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid said more than 1,000 acres are being sold, with the proceeds going toward building new infrastructure.
“By selling this provincial asset, our government is helping build Ontario up, emphasizing sustainable communities and supporting families across the GTA and beyond,” Duguid said in a statement.
There will be about 800 acres of “employment lands” and 269 acres of “residential and mixed use lands” sold for many millions of dollars, which the government believes will support 35,000 jobs.
The public sale, which is being conducted on the open market, will be handled by CBRE Ltd. and should be completed by the end of the year or early in 2017.
Infrastructure Ontario, a government agency, prepared the property for marketing.
“The sale of the Seaton lands marks another milestone towards making the vision of Seaton a reality,” Bert Clark, Infrastructure Ontario president and CEO, said in a statement.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, whose city of 94,000 people has been working on developing Seaton for years, hailed the announcement as a “major step in allowing the private sector to get started on the creation of 35,000 well-paying new jobs.”
Ryan noted the city already “boasts one of the strongest clusters” of energy, environmental, and engineering companies in the province and the new development should “attract even more of these progressive and innovative companies to our city.”
While the project has been a big regional issue for some time, it does not fall within the riding of Whitby-Oshawa, which the Liberals hope to pick up after Wynne calls the byelection, likely next Wednesday.
The Seaton lands are in neighbouring Ajax-Pickering, held by Liberal MPP Joe Dickson, so it remains to be seen whether the new suburban development will be a hot topic with voters.
“It's an issue that's been discussed at Durham regional council,” said Durham councillor Lorne Coe, the Progressive Conservative candidate in Whitby-Oshawa.
His main opponent in a riding that has been Tory for more than 20 years is fellow regional councillor Elizabeth Roy, who is carrying the Liberal banner.
Niki Lundquist, a lawyer with Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, is the NDP candidate.
With files from Rob Ferguson
For Immediate Release
Pickering Ready to Welcome 35,000 New Jobs to Seaton
Pickering, ON, January 7, 2016 - Today, the Province of Ontario announced its immediate plans to sell all of its employment and residential lands in the Seaton area. The City of Pickering looks forward to working with the eventual purchaser(s) to achieve the 35,000 new jobs target as prescribed in the Central Pickering Development Plan.
The Province of Ontario formalized the Central Pickering Development Plan on May 3, 2006. Since then, the City of Pickering has been working closely with the Province and the Region of Durham to ensure that Seaton becomes a sustainable, urban community with a strong focus on economic development, livability, and the protection of the natural heritage system.
Seaton is planned to accommodate 70,000 new residents and 35,000 new jobs. To ensure the community attracts high-quality employment opportunities, the City of Pickering has commissioned a comprehensive sector analysis study which will identify specific sectors of the economy that would be attracted to the 800 acres of employment lands in Seaton.
The sector analysis will be completed and released this spring. Interested purchasers are encouraged to meet with the City to discuss the sector analysis findings, and develop ways of working together to attract business and jobs to the Seaton lands.
Seaton is located adjacent to both Toronto and Markham. The Seaton employment lands run parallel to Highway 407, and are situated directly south of the Pickering Airport lands - making them highly accessible and extremely desirable for industries and businesses looking to expand their footprint in the Greater Toronto Area.
“The City of Pickering is open for business; and on behalf of Council, we thank the Province of Ontario for taking this major step in allowing the private sector to get started on the creation of 35,000 well-paying, new jobs in Seaton,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “Pickering boasts one of the strongest clusters of EN3 (Energy, Environmental, Engineering) companies in Ontario, and I would be thrilled if Seaton helps attract even more of these progressive and innovative companies to our city.”
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Ontario is moving forward with its plan to build key infrastructure across the province by proceeding with the sale of the Seaton Lands.
The Seaton Lands, which have been provincially owned since the 1970s, are being sold on the open market to support a new urban development in the City of Pickering. Upon completion, Seaton will be a mixed use, sustainable community, which will be home to 70,000 people and support 35,000 jobs.
The provincial sale includes approximately 800 acres of employment lands and 269 acres of residential and mixed use lands. The lands will be marketed as of January 7 to prospective purchasers.
The government is committed to dedicating the net proceeds generated from the sale to the Trillium Trust, which helps fund transit, transportation and other key infrastructure projects across the province. This is part of the government's plan to support asset optimization targets of $5.7 billion to build new transit and other priority infrastructure across the province.
Making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan also includes investing in people's talents and skills, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
“The sale of the Seaton lands is an excellent example of our government making smart use of underdeveloped resources to create jobs and catalyze economic growth across the province. By selling this provincial asset, our government is helping build Ontario up, emphasizing sustainable communities and supporting families across the GTA and beyond.”
“This is a significant milestone for residents of Pickering and the Durham region, who will see the creation of good paying jobs and new infrastructure because of the sale of the Seaton lands. I am pleased that our government is working to grow this vibrant community, and that the residents of Pickering will benefit from the new urban development for years to come.”
“Infrastructure Ontario is pleased to have led the process of preparing the Seaton Lands to be marketed. The sale of the Seaton Lands marks another milestone towards making the vision of Seaton a reality.”
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