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MY VIEW: Halton Hills mayor launches monthly column

Ann Lawlor will be sharing her thoughts, news and updates here every month for local residents
Mayor Ann Lawlor

This is the first column in a monthly series that I have been invited to write for HaltonHillsToday. I appreciate the chance to share Town of Halton Hills news and my thoughts!

I was elected as mayor in 2022 and I am often asked, “How’s it going?”

I’m not going to lie - this is a lot of work! In the past year, learning a new role; leading a council with many new town councillors; inflation driving up budget costs; and worst of all, construction on virtually every road in and out of town. (Though the province and region, and not the Town, were responsible for most of the work, I heard a lot of drivers’ frustration!)

On top of that, with new provincial legislation, all Ontario mayors are handling major changes to local administration. In the case of Halton Hills, we have boundary changes, strong mayor powers, loss of income from development, more planning responsibilities, revisions to planning processes and more.

On the positive side, I am heartened by visits to expansions and new businesses, by joining in with fundraisers and community causes. And then there are sport events, fairs and festivals that bring out both hometown and visiting crowds.

In my experience over the past year, there is no doubt that our local slogan is true. We enjoy “small town living at its best.”

As a major initiative, Town Council developed a 2023-2026 Strategic Plan. It identifies the shared vision and priorities to guide the Town over this term. Two local surveys gave input with positive highlights: 91 per cent of residents were somewhat or very satisfied with Town services; and 74 per cent of residents felt they received fairly good or very good value for their tax dollars.

The plan notes four strategic priorities and reveals our values as a council and community.

First priority is a “Thriving Economy.” We will continue to support business investment through programs such as a new transportation master plan. Also, a new plan for Guelph Street, which visions more mixed use, residential and commercial opportunities and better walkability and landscaping.

The next priority is “Natural Areas and Heritage.” Council recognizes the importance of natural assets in our town and we will preserve and enhance special places such as Fairy Lake in Acton and Hungry Hollow.

The third priority is “Infrastructure and Asset Management.” New roads, bridges, facilities must keep pace with a growing town. We also manage existing assets as well as our tree canopy, wetlands and natural areas. The latter perform important physical functions, too.

Our fourth strategic priority is “Safe and Welcoming Communities.” We’ll retain our character while welcoming new residents, ensuring people are connected and expanding services and programs. Managing growth is more than ensuring that construction proceeds smoothly. We’ll also consider how new residents fit in and maintain the small town feel that is so important to us all.

So that’s the plan for the next few years. Stay tuned for updates and share with me your positive ideas to help Halton Hills thrive. Be in touch! You can reach me at [email protected].