On May 24th I made an announcement that I intended to not run for re-election in Halton Hills. It was a difficult decision and making the public statement was hard to do because for me the job of councillor is the best job I could possibly have. It has given me the opportunity to help shape my Halton Hills and make it a better community for everyone.
When I was first elected 25 years ago, Georgetown had 2 sheets of ice at Memorial and Alcott, a swimming pool at GDHS and the outdoor pool. Our softball and hardball diamonds were all out at the fairgrounds.
Our only trail was the 1km rail trail between WIldwood Rd and John Street. There were zero bike facilities.
Soccer was growing rapidly and desperately needed new fields
But a lot has been accomplished since then.
My first task as a new councillor in 1998 was to chair the Facility Needs Study Committee. It was out of this work that a decision was made to build a new ice surface at Alcott and build the Gellert leisure pool. As a member of the fundraising team, I helped raise $2 million to fund these two facilities.
I was also the co-lead with Barb Baron procuring needed materials and funding to build the Old Seed House Garden. I have continued to be involved with the Friends of the Old Seed House Garden to this day and am exceptionally proud of this gem of park in the centre of Georgetown.
As Chair of the Trails and Cycling committees, I promoted the development of the Hungry Hollow Trail network which has taken almost 2 decades to complete but is finally at the finish line. This is one of the best recreational features in the town and one that is enjoyed by people of all ages.
In the past few years climate change has become an issue that should be of concern for every person and certainly every municipal leader. Our Town has become a recognized leader in taking action on this challenging issue. But there is more to be done as we plan for the new housing developments that are coming to our Vision Georgetown lands. Negotiations are underway with the developers to design a low carbon heating and cooling system for these new homes. This will not only reduce the carbon foot print of these homes, it will also reduce operating costs for the life of the homes. This is but one of many ways we are working to bring down the carbon footprint of our town. In my role as Chair of the Low Carbon Transition Committee I have had the opportunity to help direct many initiatives.
People have often expressed to me that they love Georgetown because of all the amenities and because they like the small town feel. Part of that feel can be attributed to the fact that our town is surrounded by farmland and Greenbelt. This situation is not guaranteed to last because Georgetown is in the Greater Toronto Area and developers and speculators have purchased the land south of the 10th Side Road with the expectation that all that beautiful productive farmland can be destroyed by development.
Imagine what Georgetown will feel like once the town sprawls southward to the meet the industrial area that is spreading northward from Steeles Avenue. What will happen to the small town feel then?
Stop Sprawl Halton was created by residents who saw this threat and chose to participate in the Official Plan process under the auspices of Halton Region. These residents wanted to save the farmland and instead grow our community through inclusionary zoning and intensification along our transportation corridors.
Stop Sprawl Halton was successful in swinging the votes at Halton Region so that growth out to the year 2041 will be accommodated within existing urban boundaries. However, beginning in the next term of council the process will be reopened in order to determine how Halton will grow to the year 2051. Stop Sprawl Halton will continue to participate in the process with the goal of stopping sprawl for an additional 10 years, thus protecting Georgetown from blending into Brampton and Milton.
When I announced my retirement my intention was to continue working with Stop Sprawl Halton to advocate for an end to sprawl. However, many people wrote to me and phoned me and talked to me on the street – all expressing the hope that I would reconsider my decision as they felt that my voice at Regional Council would be important in achieving the goal of stopping sprawl in Halton and Halton Hills.
After much discussion with friends and community leaders, I decided to reconsider my retirement decision. The truth was that I was not in retirement-mode as I continued to sign up for educational webinars on community building. With all of this in mind, I decided to submit my nomination papers and launch a run for re-election for Regional Councillor Wards 3 and 4 Halton Hills.
I made this decision because I think my experience at the Region means that the issues of preventing sprawl, supporting farmers, food security and protecting the natural heritage system from destruction caused development will be voiced. And if re-elected I can continue to provide leadership locally in the development of trails and other recreational facilities in Halton Hills as well as leading climate change initiatives.