Tonight on Live With The House Mom: Milton Ward 4 Regional Council Candidate and current Ward 8 Councillor Zeeshan Hamid!
Zee is able to join the broadcast at around 10:59 into the video. Gotta love LIVE video! Always learning….
The municipal elections are just around the corner! Zee has been hard at work meeting with his constituents and spreading the word about the upcoming election.
Zee took some time during the broadcast to educate us about the new Milton Ward structure and talked about the different positions needing to be filled during this election. We have switched from 8 wards down to 4 wards. Each Ward will now have its own Town Councillor and also a Regional Councillor. This new format will allow each Ward better representation at a Regional level. For more information about the new Ward system, check out this Inside Halton article.
Zee is a resident of Ward 4 and lives in the Harrison Community. I asked him what he thought people should be thinking about when they are deciding who to vote for this year and what types of things a Councillor can help their constituents with?. He explained the difference between local and regional issues: Ward councillors are able to communicate with residents and take their concerns to the appropriate parties. Ward councillors also help with local policies that can impact us currently but also impact the community well into future generations.
I asked Zee to share some of the major concerns he has been hearing from residents in Ward 4 as he has been out canvassing. He said that residents are very concerned about the proposed CN Intermodal Hub and what that will mean for their house values. Residents are asking a lot of questions about the Milton Education Village (to be built over the next 4 years – the area still isn’t serviced. Will be running some classes out of the Milton Education Village Innovation Centre), future home to Laurier University and Conestoga College, but are also concerned about what impact student housing might have on their neighbourhood. He also mentioned hyper-local issues including traffic, construction, school over-crowdedness. (School Board Issue). Also, parents would like to see additional programming at the secondary level to allow their children to continue their education in Milton instead of commuting to schools in other communities.
Residents of Ford Neighbourhood will be happy to see the proposal for the Ford Neighbourhood Park, which should be in the 2019 capital budget. Zee shared his experience of living in the Harrison community when it was first built and understands the frustrations of living in a newly built neighbourhood.
Zee discussed the Milton Education Village Innovation Centre and the design of the new Education Village, which will include: Conestoga College, Laurier University, a walkable and bikeable neighbourhood including a couple of thousand homes with schools, high schools, a tech employment area (which will be known as the Research Park). The Town of Milton is already talking to employers to see who would like to be the first to be part of the Research Park.
Zee is a GO rider and gave an update about the ongoing Go Transit discussion. The new parking lot is going to tender right now and there is a commitment to the project. It will not be a parking structure. Rather it will be a parking lot located south of the GO Station on Nipissing, which will increase parking by about 50% or 850 spots. Unfortunately, this will be inadequate in the long term as we consider the growth expected in Milton. Zee proposes as a better long-term plan that there should be two additional Go Stations. The first, located on Tremaine close to the new interchange for the 401 and a second on Trafalgar, which is planned to be a “mobility hub“: a mixed-use neighbourhood with homes, jobs, shopping, condos and transit. Lobbying at a provincial level for these Go Stations has already commenced.
I’ll add that Milton’s Economic Development department is working hard to attract business to our community to create jobs locally. As far as real estate is concerned, transit is a very important issue. If a commute to work is too long or difficult from our community, it ultimately deters people from living here. Connecting our residents with the efficient transportation they need will improve their quality of lives, protect our environment and increase the value of our homes!
One of the other challenges with GO service is that the tracks are not owned by Metrolinx, rather they are owned by CPR and both businesses share the use of the tracks. This is the reason why we currently only have rush hour GO service in Milton. Currently, the City of Toronto, the City of Mississauga, the Town of Milton and the City of Kitchener have gotten together and are consulting about another area currently being called “The Missing Link”. The idea is to run the track outside of the urban area because none of the cities actually want the freight trains running through the urban area. Freight trains sometimes carry dangerous goods and any accidents could cause significant impact to an urban community. CP is on board, so if a new track was built, they would be able to run their freight trains on that track, allowing GO to use the existing track and provide all-day GO service.
When asked “what concerns of seniors are you aware of and take an interest in solving?” Zee responded that with all of the focus on growth happening in this community, the seniors who have built this community are concerned that they might get left behind. Affordable housing is a HUGE issue. People who have spent their whole lives in Milton would like to stay in Milton and want to downsize perhaps, but home prices are a barrier to doing that.
He went on to say that “you will start to see a lot of condos going up and people sometimes ask why “we are allowing it”. It’s not the Town “allowing them”, there is a huge market demand for them”. We need to have a wide range of housing available. Affordable housing is a serious issue for seniors. Others concerns include activities and transit. Zee says that the Town needs to work even harder on affordable housing.
He also offered an update about the fight against the CN intermodal hub and discussed how the Province had joined in the fight, which is expected to strengthen the case significantly. The issue is that CN is attempting to bypass the planning process. The Region of Halton, the Town of Milton, Halton Hills, Oakville and Burlington believe that no business should have the right to bypass local legislation, provincial legislation and local bylaws. They believe that CN should go through the permit process, just like any other business would be expected to do.
Finally, with regards to the new Cannabis Legislation, municipalities will have the option to opt out of allowing dispensaries in their communities. Zee would like to see the decision of whether or not to do this, handled at the regional level, not on a local level. The reason for this is because is a neighbouring town decides to allow a dispensary close to the border of Milton (kind of like the outlet mall, which technically resides in Halton Hills – Halton Hills gets all of the tax revenues and Milton gets all of the traffic!), Milton could miss out on possible revenues but still bear the other negative aspects of the dispensaries presence. The town also needs more information about what the province is offering in terms of funding for policing. Without that information, it is very hard for a prudent decision to be reached.
Polls are already open at Hugh Foster Hall! Here is a link to the Town’s Election Website.
I had a chance to interview Milton Ward 4 Town Councillor Candidate Sameea Ali. Check out the interview here!
See you at the polls!
Considering a move? I’d love to help! Schedule a call to discuss your plan!