By: Laura Steiner
The die was cast two years ago when the wards were realigned. This was to be a municipal election based on change. The town went from eight wards to four in order to accommodate two new regional councillors. Six sitting councillors face off against other. Battling for the regional seat in ward 2 are Arnold Huffman, and Rick Malboeuf. Ward 4 Zeeshan Hamid and John Pollard, are facing off as well in the newly created regional seat. Rick Di Lorenzo and Robert Duvall are facing off for the local seat in ward 3. All are running where are three or more candidates, meaning a high possibility there will be more than one new face around the table.
Milton itself stands at the edge of some significant changes. First on the agenda is a budget. The town has had some of the lowest property taxes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) second only to Toronto. A budget call report pegs a potential increase at 12.82% for 2019, and staff have advised council they may need to either raise taxes or cut services. Which services get cut? Should taxes increase? If so, by how much? Budget deliberations begin in early December.
Marijuana has been legalized, and the province has given municipalities a one-time chance to opt out. This decision is coming with a report December 17 to Council. Most candidates acknowledge the reality of this being a legal substance. The argument is over zoning for storefronts, the public health aspects associated with it. All appreciate what a big change this is for Canada.
The overall plan for Milton has been to make it a place to live, work and play. Transit hasn’t been living up to expectations. Some of the flaws aren’t in Milton’s control; Metrolinx controls the Go Station. The Town has begun talking about the potential for two new Go Stations; one along Tremaine, and a second in the Trafalgar & Derry area. In the meantime how does the Town deal with it? Some have suggested looking into the use of ride-sharing services much like they’re doing in Innisfil. There’s also been some talk of re-making transit as a regional system connecting with Burlington, Oakville, and Halton Hills with Milton.
Growth remains the ever-present box of issues. The Places to Grow Act sets the population forecast as 230,000 by 2031. Intensification; the policy of growing up, not out has made the idea of high-rises a likely eventuality. The issue of building roads/ parks/ schools at the same time as housing has been contentious with the province not providing the funding for schools. Britannia Rd from James Snow Parkway to the 407 to be widened with work beginning next fall to be completed by 2020. The question of what Milton will look like in the next few years has already been opened with the previous council trending towards developments that are live-work spaces with shopping on the bottom.
Milton stands at the edge of change. It’s up to voters to decide how much they can live with October 22.