A lot of people have been discussing this article written in the Toronto Star by San Grewal…
Even though the article seemed to put Milton down and focus on all the things that are going wrong, we still have a lot to be happy about.
Especially when you compare living in Mississauga to Milton. Haha, that was fun.
But more than that, I believe the real issue underneath the story is the communication and interaction between the different levels of government.
I’m lucky enough to call a few Town Councillors friends, and I hear many stories of complaints they receive that have absolutely nothing to do with their job description.
So let’s break down who is responsible for what, and then circle back to the real issue in the Toronto Star article. I try not to get involved with politics, so this article is simply a bird’s eye view of how everything is organized, attempting to be as neutral as possible given the obvious facts.
I bet less than 5% of the local population is aware of this organization of different levels of government. Up until two years ago, I’m not afraid to admit that I was blissfully unaware myself.
Here we go…
Town of Milton (Municipal government)
Council includes the Mayor, two Regional Councillors, and 8 Ward Councillors listed here
Some of their duties include supporting arts & culture, by-law enforcement, economic development, fire services, parks and recreation, planning new developments in line with the regional and provincial vision, public transit, snow removal, tax collection and local roads.
It’s not their fault that the town is growing, nor is it up to them if a hospital or university is approved.
Halton Region (Regional government)
Milton Regional Representatives include Chair Gary Carr, plus three members of Milton Council – Colin Best, Mike Cluett and Gord Krantz, more details here
Duties include public health, regional roads including major arteries, waste collection and recycling, social services, water treatment and supply, police and ambulance, and official planning for future growth areas and regional transport (see our often referenced ROPA 38 and Map 1 for an idea of what future Milton will be like).
Province of Ontario (Provincial Government)
Currently represented locally by Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Indira Naidoo-Harris, more details here
Duties would include culture and tourism, administration of justice, the environment and natural resources, prisons, hospitals and health care, education (including the proposed university and our schools), highways and transportation.
Most of the friction from the Star article focuses on THIS level of government. The province has a mandate for growth called the Places to Grow Act, however they’re falling short on building the necessary infrastructure.
And if you’ve seen the recent news about how the government wants you to donate your tax refund, then it’s pretty obvious that there’s not enough money to go around.
“Hey Dad, can I borrow $20?”
“Well son, I’m already $298.9 billion in debt. Can you ask me next year?”
If I ran my real estate business on this philosophy, I wouldn’t be around very long. It’s too bad different rules apply to the public sector.
Canadian Federal Government
Currently represented locally by Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Lisa Raitt, more details here
Duties include criminal law, employment insurance, foreign policy, national defence, Canada Post, copyrights, citizenship and immigration policy, trade, economy and banking, and railways.
The last one is critically important, because of the proposed CN Intermodal station. We hope that Lisa Raitt is a strong advocate for the community when it comes time to fight this issue. Currently two groups, Milton RAIL and Milton Says No, along with the municipality and the Region, are working hard to lobby against the Intermodal’s proposed location.
What about the Star article?
The story to me is about the disconnect between the different levels of government, and Milton just happens to be the symptom, not the cause. In fact, I think it’s doing quite well given the limitations imposed on it.
Milton has done its best to comply with the standards set out in the Places to Grow Act. However, we’re encountering delays in the building of “supporting” structure, mostly because of Provincial debt levels noted above.
From the 407 sell off, to Hydro One, to , our Province has continually looked at short-term fixes instead of long-term stewardship of public assets. This article is an excellent summary of where we stand as a province.
If Milton is going to get better, then the Province of Ontario needs to get better.
What use is it to expect municipalities to create a growth plan for the next 25 years, if the province carries on approving things on one-year timelines… while constantly sinking deeper and deeper into financial debt?
The new Derry Green Business Park promises to keep more jobs in town, which will increase our tax base, diversify our economy and increase the number of residents who will live AND work in Milton. But without schools and transit options for residents, the Town will continue to struggle to be all that it could be with a supportive province.
And that, to me, is the real truth behind the Star article.