By: Laura Steiner
We live in a democracy where every four years like clockwork we have elections. We get to mark an X beside a candidate of our choosing based on the job they’ve done. It’s a kind of reset button. Nowhere is this more true than in municipal government, where their actions affect our daily lives more than any other. Monday night was the final meeting of the 2014-2018 Milton Town Council. They won’t meet again until December, unless there’s an emergency.
This council has had some fantastic achievements. Opening the long-fought for hospital expansion last October, the establishment of a Laurier campus after a 10 year discussion. Even getting the province onside with a fight against the Intermodal facility is a success. They have increased transit, adding a seasonal route out to Kelso, finished rerouting Tremaine Rd to hook up with the long-planned 401 overpass. They’ve approved new Monday opening hours for the Milton Public Library, and approved a new Sherwood Community Centre.
There have been bumps along the way; a couple of things that did not work out the way they were intended. The bid to harmonize the rural and residential tax levies saw rural residents increase their tax bill by $12.38/ $100,000 in 2017. Rural residents were angry, raising the point they were paying for services they wouldn’t get like transit.
Council’s decision to realign the ward boundaries in order to accommodate additional Regional councillors along Derry Rd was polarizing one, barely passing with a 6-5 recorded vote. Those who argued in favour called a money-saving option, and say it made sense to divide up the rural area like that so everyone had a piece of it. Those who argued against it call it undemocratic, and say it made it more difficult for candidates to run because the campaigns were expensive.
The next council will have its challenges. Milton’s tax rate is the second lowest in the GTA largely thanks to Development Charges (DC’s), and the reserves. That could be at an end, with a budget call report asking for a tax increase of 12.82% next year. Councillors could be tasked with the question of where to cut, or how high to raise taxes.
Marijuana will be legal before election day, and the province has given municipalities a one-time opt out of allowing physical storefronts leaving council with another decision to make. Another question mark next to how to regulate both Air B&B and Uber. Can Uber be used to help address problems with transit?
Election day is October 22, less than 1 month away. Consider it a chance to press the reset button.