It has been over a year since I was elected to Regional Council for the Town of Lincoln. Coming up soon is the anniversary of the swearing in ceremony and the starting of the changes that were required at Niagara Region.

How have we done so far? My opinion is of course biased, but we have made good progress on a wide range of issues and I personally believe we are at a far stronger position today than we were a year ago. (See survey later in this posting for your consideration)

There have been issues this Council has been quite divided on — they make for interesting discussion in the newspapers and radio, but much of those have been pure politics. Where this Council has been united has been on the tackling of systemic issues at both at Niagara Region and in big issues within Niagara.

Niagara Region Strategic Plan

The following link takes you to the overview of Niagara Region’s adopted Strategic Plan:

And the following link will allow you to read the plan (this is in pdf format):

We are making progress in many of the areas we have outlined, with many now the focus of our budget for 2020.

Budget 2020

First off, if you click on the photo above, it will take you to the page on the Niagara Region site regarding budget.  Budget is handled through a committee of the whole and is chaired by Gary Zalepa from Niagara on the Lake.  For each meeting that we have, the agenda is published, the minutes are published (once approved), and the video of the meeting is published.

Capital commitments for this upcoming year are significant, which had been discussed in our 2019 budget meetings. I don’t wish to be negative towards previous Councils, but we are now in a situation where major capital investments are required. This includes major infrastructure investment for Long Term Care (new builds in Fort Erie and St. Catharines) and significant investments in water and wastewater treatment.

The total investment will be $375 million. To get an idea of size on this value, the Town of Lincoln is proposing $30 million, St. Catharines $53 million … (sources: see Town of Lincoln budget webpage and St. Catharines budget webpage)

$375 million is $100 million higher than this past year and a significant portion of this infrastructure spending will be taken on as debt. This makes sense as these are big ticket items that are long term in nature.

Although we have not finished the operations side of budgets, it is my expectation the overall tax increase will be somewhere between 5 and 7 percent.

Regarding the first ABC/operations budget meeting from this past Thursday, click here for the view from the St. Catharines Standard.

Traffic changes for improved safety

As I discussed earlier this year, I was very pleased with the Region implementing the community safety zone around Twenty Valley School in Vineland (Victoria Avenue).

On October 25, the Region hosted with DSBN and the Niagara Regional Police a meeting at Twenty Valley School. This meeting was to outline for the community what has been seen with the program to date and to talk about any other concerns parents, teachers and, in some cases, students had with safety. I brought greetings on behalf of the Regional Chair.

The Town of Lincoln Council, in my most recent visit (click here for the Town of Lincoln meeting starting at the 7 minute mark) reiterated that they would like to see this program in place for all schools on Regional Roads in Lincoln. With my long standing interest in road and traffic safety, that is high on my agenda and in fact I expect this to be moved forward in 2020 as part of an overall regional effort.

Waste Management

Waste Management has been a major topic of discussion in Niagara Region this term of Council so far. And we are making progress.

Click here for a breakdown of where we have come from with Waste Management and where we are going (new contracts, etc.).

I have been questioned about costs with the new contracts. At this point in time, as the contracts are being completely finalized, the information remains confidential (has been dealt with in closed session). I will be posting information as it is available.

A survey for your consideration

I am doing some experimentation with surveys and I would appreciate you providing some input — it involves items that are part of our budget and your views are appreciated.

And finally …

I don’t have an official budget for things like promotion — however, I have created the following to help get messaging out:

Please visit these and like or follow.

You can also click here for my Niagara Region website page.

I look forward to continuing with you on this journey.

Thank you.