Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm out but far from down

Thank you to all who voted for me in the 2010 municipal election - those who saw an opportunity for real change, real representation at the local and regional level. 

I am honoured by your support and the fact that 2976 people believed in me and while we didn’t win this election, 2014 will be here before we know it.  I may be out but I am far from down.

My hope for the next 3 years...
That people will be really observant of what our elected representatives are really doing for us and our community. Let's rely on our own observations, on the facts, and not base our assessment on campaign claims and literature alone.  Truth and integrity must find their way back to politics at all levels of our government.
My two terms as local councillor were extremely interesting and rewarding years.  The workload was huge and diverse given the many complexities pressing on Milton; and I met many amazing people.  Being involved in over 20 committees, boards and organizations, I was totally committed to the community – and will continue to be.  I am passionate about serving this community.

This is the third election campaign during which I repeatedly heard the same complaint: people don’t feel they’re being heard, that there is a lack of information available to them.   

People would like information delivered to them on a timely basis, they want to be involved, even if only on a limited basis – or at the very least, they want an awareness of the issues before decisions are rendered.  

For several years, I have maintained an information-based website, as well as an extensive email list by which I’ve kept ward 3 residents apprised of issues.  I’ve received many expressions of appreciation for that effort.  At the same time, I have been the beneficiary of some good input.  Together we can, and have, accomplished a lot.  

A friend asked if I ever met any cranky people when I was out door knocking.  The fact is, a couple of people may have started out that way but if one listens – really listens, you find out they’ve been frustrated by ‘the system’, that no one was listening to them.  By taking the time to listen, a lot of problems and frustrations with the political system can be eased or avoided.

From the many conversations I had with people across wards 2, 3, 4 & 5, I remain convinced that we need to do a better job of REAL public consultation – the rolled-up-sleeves/sit-down-at-the-same-table/let’s-discuss-the-issues kind of public consultation.  Not what has been passing for public consultation – you show up at a meeting, make your comments, and that’s it.  No discussion.  As I have said many times, I don’t believe councillors or staff have a lock on all the good ideas and for myself I appreciated the input.

The number one topic while door knocking?  Road issues. 
  • ·         Traffic,
  • ·         Gridlock,
  • ·         Parking,
  • ·         Speeding, and
  • ·         Road safety in general 
  • And synchronizing traffic lights resonated with everyone with whom I spoke. Why haven't our  regional reps been able to accomplish this no-cost effort in all these years?
In my survey “Your Priorities”, road issues were again at the top of the list:  
  • ·         Inconsistent speeds/speeding,
  • ·         Need for traffic calming,
  • ·         Traffic issues generally,
  • ·         Road safety,
  • ·         Bike and pedestrian safety, or lack thereof.
  • ·         And the lack of trails connectivity was raised more than once.  
 As a member of the Trails Advisory Committee we were told that most trails would eventually connect - when developments in those areas are complete. Years into the future in some cases. However, what about people using the trails today?  If we want to get people out of their cars, they need that connectivity now.

Speeding issues: Drivers cut through our neighbourhoods to avoid gridlock on arterial roads.  The result is higher speeds and more volume on local roads.  Just ask the people who live on Woodward, off Martin Street.  I suspect those living on Scott, south off Main St might feel the same, judging by the number of people I see pouring off Main St.

The same complaint applies across the rural area.  Drivers speed well over the limit; don’t bother slowing down for anything, whether walkers with children or pets, people on horses, cyclists.  There are no sidewalks, no shoulders on the road, often the only place to bail out is the ditch – and more than a few people have ended up there.  The irony is that people move to the rural area for safety reasons only to find out it isn’t safe to walk the rural roads.

A promised traffic calming report never did not come to fruition.  I hope it will be a priority of the new council.  Given the new councillors with young families, I expect it might be.      

One thing to note, over 50% of speeders are local residents themselves – so by slowing down we can cut speeding problems by over half.  A no-cost program!  How often do we have control of our own destiny?  We build better cars and better roads but it’s the driver attitude which must be changed.

I have been involved in road safety since 1998 and will continue my efforts.   

Other priorities cited: 
The downtown business core:
        Maintaining the current 4 story cap in the downtown core;
        Implementing urban design controls to maintain the downtown character; 
        Encouraging local business expansion and thus increase employment;
        Improve trails and parks connectivity to shopping and employment; and
        The hospital.
The hospital factored in several mentions with an almost total lack of support for a surtax for the hospital.  Several suggested that we tell the province “no hospital expansion, no population expansion!” 

With regard to the downtown business core, a low cost facade improvement program implemented with tax incentives could help give us something like Niagara-on-the-Lake or Unionville.  We need to be proactive about preserving and enhancing our downtown core before it's too late. Tax incentives provide a net gain to the town by improving property values.

For a good example of preserving the integrity of a building for a modern business, take a look at Peggy's of Milton, 184 Main Street East.

Thanks, Milton, for all the support.  I will always be available, always be involved in our community, always be working to preserve the best of Milton.

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