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Blog by Warden Marshall

​The Warden's Blog is updated regularly and serves as one of his communications about County programs, services and events.

To provide feedback about a blog entry or topic, please e-mail your comments to warden@simcoe.ca.

July 2017

Progress on affordable housing

For this instalment of my blog,  I'm focusing on social housing and highlighting some of our achievements, as well as future opportunities, included in the Housing Our Future: 2016 Annual Report. The Report was published at the end of June and outlines our progress on the 10-year Affordable Housing and Poverty Reduction Strategy. As you know, 2016 marked the third year of the project. Based on the stats below, you can see that we're making great headway towards our targets of creating 2,685 new affordable housing units between 2014-2024.

DYK…

  • 544 new units have been created since the Strategy was approved - this includes 75 new affordable rental units constructed in 2016 for seniors in both Penetanguishene and Barrie
  • 15 new secondary suites have been completed with County/Provincial funding during 2016 and 124 secondary suites were created without government funding in 2016
  • 20 households were assisted with down-payments through the Affordable Homeownership program during 2016 which assists in our goal towards moving families through the continuum of housing supports ultimately to sustainable homeownership
  • We invested $7.9 million in maintaining social housing assets in County owned and non-profit housing in 2016 – this includes dollars spent on repairs, upgrades and energy efficiency projects
  • We issued a Call for Proposals to solicit municipal interest in affordable housing development in partnership with Simcoe County Housing Corporation, which resulted in 11 offered sites in six different municipalities. Out of this we are in the process of formalizing a new build in Wasaga Beach and a longer term strategy to build in Bradford West Gwillimbury which is followed by Penetanguishene.
  • We continue to work very collaboratively with our Municipal Liaison Committee, which includes representatives from our member municipalities as well as Barrie and Orillia. This group has been great for taking a unified approach and making headway in tracking targets county-wide
  • While this is technically part of the 2017 achievements, we also hosted a very successful Affordable Housing Innovations Forum in February that has led new ideas and concepts - including the proposed motel conversion initiative

An important stat to keep in mind is that to my knowledge, more than 300 units of affordable rental development are in various stages of the construction process in six different communities across the County. These units will help us continue to make a dent in our targets. This includes a large build already underway in Collingwood that will create 117 new units. There has also been recent news about our efforts to work with non-profit partners, as well as the City of Barrie, to convert a motel in the Barrie area into affordable housing options for some of our most vulnerable residents. This project is very much in play and continues to go through our approval and land acquisition process.

We can't achieve our targets on our own and it's important that we recognize the funding commitments from the federal and provincial governments (which included an extra $13.3 million in Social Infrastructure Funding in 2016, in addition to the approximately $24.7 million received for 2014-2020).  

I have attached a Best Practices Information Sheet that provide tips and background details on how our municipalities can work with private and not-for profit sectors to identify and create new affordable rental housing opportunities in our communities.

I am anxious to see what we come up with during the budget process to deliver affordable housing to our more rural area hamlets and villages such as Victoria Harbor.

My housing message to everyone is that we can't sit idle. To my mind, housing is not the problem, it is the solution.  For me, we have to be active, nimble, creative and move far more quickly in delivering immediate solutions that address short and long term needs. I am happy we're getting there and that we are well on our way to achieving our targets.

Gerry Marshall
Simcoe County Warden

View past Blogs from Warden Marshall:

 

 

April 2017 - BWG Matterhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/April-2017---BWG-Matter.aspx7/18/2017 1:28:25 PMApril 2017 - BWG Matter<p>Bradford West Gwillimbury (BWG) is an important part of Simcoe County. We recognize and are also experiencing the growth and service demands in BWG, which has seen a population increase of 26% from 2011 to 2016. While BWG appears to have initiated a formal process to review its current governing framework as a member municipality within the County of Simcoe, this matter is being driven by BWG directly, and therefore it is extremely premature for the County to comment on potential outcomes. </p><p> However, we have noticed some incorrect statements and wish to ensure that residents have accurate information related to County tax ratios, services and investments. </p><p><strong>Collection of Taxes:</strong></p><p>At the County level, our view is that we are one border, united as 16 member municipalities as well as the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Each lower-tier municipality, including BWG, collects the County's tax levy from residents directly, however the County portion of the levy is completely separate from the lower tier municipal portion and supports County services and programs. </p><p>The percentage of the County's tax levy on the full municipal tax in BWG is consistent with the average percentage across the County. </p><table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-2" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2" style="width:50%;"><strong>Municipality</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2" style="width:50%;"><strong>% of County Tax Levy (2016)</strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Bradford West Gwillimbury</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">27%</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">County of Simcoe average</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">28%</td></tr></tbody></table><p><strong>Clarifying Tax Ratios:</strong></p><p>Residents of BWG do NOT pay double the tax rate than our other 15 member municipalities. In fact, all of our 16 member municipalities pay the SAME County tax rate per $100,000 home value, meaning each property in Simcoe County contributes to the County's services of $295 per year per $100,000 home value. Thus a property in the north area of Simcoe County such as Midland or Penetanguishene valued at $500,000, would pay an identical County tax amount as a $500,000 property in BWG, Clearview, Severn, Tiny or Innisfil. </p><table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-2" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2" style="width:33.33%;"><strong>Municipality (sample from 16)</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2" style="width:33.33%;"><strong>County taxes paid by property value (2017)</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2" style="width:33.33%;">​</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">​</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2"><strong>$300,000 property value</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2"><strong>$500,000 property value</strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Bradford West Gwillimbury</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Severn</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Penetanguishene</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Tiny</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Clearview</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Innisfil</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$885</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$1,475</td></tr></tbody></table><p><strong>Lower-Tier Municipal Taxation:</strong></p><p>The same principle of home value assessment applies within BWG as it does within the County.  Various Wards or areas of BWG will ultimately contribute different percentages of BWG's municipal taxes simply because they have areas in their community that have higher population density and/or higher assessed home values (this is often seen in waterfront areas or in locations close to various amenities and downtown cores). Furthermore, a home in BWG that is valued at $1.2 million pays 3 times more in taxes than a home valued at $400,000 also in BWG for the exact same lower-tier municipal services.</p><p><strong>Average County Tax Contributions Per Capita:</strong></p><p>When you break down our full tax levy contributions by per capita (per person), BWG's 2017 County Levy on a per capita basis is the sixth lowest in the County and <span style="text-decoration:underline;">below</span> the County average. </p><table width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-2" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2" style="width:25%;"><strong>Municipality</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2" style="width:25%;"><strong>Population (2016)</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2" style="width:25%;"><strong>County Tax Levy (2017)</strong></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2" style="width:25%;"><strong>Average Per Person (2017)</strong></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">Bradford West Gwillimbury</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">35,325</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$16,253,810</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$460</td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-2"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">County of Simcoe</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">305,516</td><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-2">$152,395,587</td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-2">$499</td></tr></tbody></table><p><strong>MPAC Property Assessments:</strong></p><p>Property value assessments are not determined by the County of Simcoe, rather by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) which establishes values province-wide. Where BWG residents appear to be impacted most is through new growth and a significant jump in their 2016 MPAC property value assessments (which is impacted by many factors including the proximity to the GTA and its current soaring housing market). It is also important for residents to understand that MPAC assessments impact overall taxes across the board – the same impact will be felt for municipal, education, policing, regional or city taxes when adjustments to MPAC assessments are made. </p><p><strong>Services and Infrastructure Investment: </strong></p><p>The County provides a wide-range of equal services to all residents across our entire region regardless of their income or property assessments. The County makes strategic infrastructure and capital investments in those areas of growth and need. County overall capital spending in BWG over the past 5 years, including projected spending on projects currently underway, is approximately $106 million. In addition to the ongoing project completion work, new capital projects in the Long Term Business Plan are approximately an additional $38 million. </p><p><strong>Separated Cities and County Services:</strong></p><p>It's not an accurate comparison to look at the City of Barrie, because Barrie pays the County fees for service and does not receive full County services. For instance, we do not provide road services to Barrie, while as noted above the County's overall capital spending in BWG over the past 5 years, including projected spending on projects currently underway, is approximately $106 million – much of this investment supports road projects. </p><p> </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font> <font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>
November 2016 - Poverty and Food Securityhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/November-2016-Poverty-and-Food-Security.aspx1/31/2017 8:26:49 PMNovember 2016 - Poverty and Food Security<p>​I have made a commitment to once again participate in the local Eat the Math awareness program run by the Karma Project. Eat the Math is an annual event designed to raise awareness of systemic poverty and some of the related challenges with food security. Each year, representatives from The Karma Project invite politicians and local celebrities to experience ‘food poverty’ and share the experience with the community.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">How does it work? Participants are asked to eat only the contents of an emergency food hamper for five days (December 5-9). These hampers are co-ordinated with local food banks and represent what a person in crisis, with limited access to food, might be expected to survive on for five days.</p><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">I participated in the event a few years back and it was an eye-opening experience that truly hit home about how fortunate many of us are, but most importantly how so many of our residents struggle for basic nutrition and food sources each day.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Beyond my friendly challenge to my fellow politicians, I’m reaching out to our media partners and residents to help promote this unique project and bring greater awareness to hunger and nutrition issues in our communities.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Check out our<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span><a title="Eat the Math flyer" href="/WardenCAO/Documents/eat%20the%20math%202016_v2.pdf" target="_blank" style="color:#00539b;text-decoration:underline;">flyer</a><span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span>and learn how you can join participate.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>
October 2016 - Supporting the 400-404 Connecting Linkhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/400-404-link.aspx11/28/2016 8:29:02 PMOctober 2016 - Supporting the 400-404 Connecting Link<p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">As I travel around the County some of the most common feedback I receive from residents is the need for the County to be more involved in regional transit. While we have strategies, budget and a well-rounded transit plan in place to enhance our County roads, support area bus routes, build bikes lanes and trails and support other multi-modal forms of transportation, many of our residents and business owners remain concerned about growing commute times and increasing traffic volumes when travelling to and from the GTA.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">The province has recently implemented a number of successful projects to improve travel in our area including investing in GO Train stations in Barrie, Bradford and soon Innisfil. However, there continues to be a growing need for an east-west highway link between the 400 and 404.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Many of our municipalities, including Bradford West Gwillimbury, Innisfil and Essa are working collaboratively with our partners in York Region to advocate for the development of the 400-404 Connecting Link.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">The 400-404 Connecting Link is a proposed 16.2 km, four–lane controlled access highway that would provide an east-west connecting between Highway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury and the 404 in East Gwillimbury. </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">This isn’t a new idea. The 400-404 Connecting Link has been under consideration since the late 1970’s. The land continues to be protected for highway development by the MTO and a provincial environmental assessment was approved by Cabinet in 2002.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">The Connecting Link would aid in economic development, reduce congestion, improve commute times for residents and address regional growth. The proposed Link would also serve all travel markets, including commuters, transit, tourists and freight.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Outside of the obvious benefits for passenger and commercial vehicles, the Connecting Link has the potential to unlock employment lands located adjacent to highways in south Simcoe County, which would have a snowball effect of creating new jobs in our region, reducing travel demand, and improving live/work ratios for those looking to work closer to home.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">With a growing number of commuters, (37,480 of Simcoe County residents commute outside the County for work and 8,645 residents commute into Simcoe County from outside the area (2011)) and rising population from 465,000 residents currently to 796,000 by 2041, the urgency to provide a solution is only growing. Our projections show that the Connecting Link has the potential to serve up to 3,700 vehicles during peak morning hours by 2041. MTO studies also show that traffic in Simcoe County will back up past the highway 400 and 11 split by 2023.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">As a united group, we’re asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as the Ministry of Transportation to include the 400-404 Connecting Link in the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Residents can support our efforts by submitting your feedback to the province at<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span><a href="http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14851.aspx" style="color:#00539b;text-decoration:underline;">http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14851.aspx</a>, by October 31, 2016.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">For more information on how our municipalities are working together to make the 400-404 Connecting Link a reality, visit<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span><a href="/_layouts/15/FIXUPREDIRECT.ASPX?WebId=a41fbfa1-82ca-4939-9932-d97b8d6ad3e9&TermSetId=fb933945-005d-43ad-bb62-b84ef1fa9284&TermId=cae27cb0-6cab-4816-87c7-982906a0e95e" style="color:#00539b;text-decoration:underline;">www.simcoe.ca/connectinglink</a>.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman" style="text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></font><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;"></p><p style="color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-family:"droid sans", sans-serif;font-size:16px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;widows:2;background-color:#ffffff;">Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p><p>​</p>
September 2016 - Population Allocation in Springwaterhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/springwater-allocation.aspx11/1/2016 3:34:17 PMSeptember 2016 - Population Allocation in Springwater<p>​On May 16, 2016 County Council denied a request for a 6,000 population allocation for lands which had previously been approved by the Township of Springwater and County of Simcoe for potential development.  </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><p>Landowners took action against the County of Simcoe and Township of Springwater at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) with the intent of overturning County Council’s decision by arguing jurisdiction. </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><p>This past Tuesday morning (September 27), legal counsel provided a further update to County Council. County Council, having weighed the update and legal opinions, proposed the settlement agreement that was subsequently finalized on September 28, 2016. It is important to note that the settlement allocated half of the developers’ original request.   </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><p>The agreement <span lang="EN-US">provides certainty and avoids what could have been a lengthy, unpredictable and very expensive legal battle with vast and variable outcomes which could have resulted in the County of Simcoe surrendering its authority to plan our communities to the Ontario Municipal Board. Even if the County had been successful at the OMB, there could have ensued expensive and equally unpredictable appeals to the Courts.</span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p><span lang="EN-US">While Springwater Township’s initial reaction was unfortunate, a second reflection would reveal that the settlement put forward by County Council firmly places all of the decisions surrounding any development in the hands of Springwater Township. For clarity, all zoning, subdivision details, and the density of development will be protected and under the direction and control of the Township of Springwater. County Council had the best interest of all involved including Springwater Township when making this decision.  </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p>To the benefit of all our residents living across the 16 municipalities in Simcoe County, the County now retains the legal jurisdiction to manage and allocate population growth within our region with input from our municipalities. The County of Simcoe will continue to work with our partners to ensure continued fair, equitable and good planning practices take place. </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><p></p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>
July 2016 - SWIFT receives big boosthttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/July.aspx10/1/2016 12:10:35 PMJuly 2016 - SWIFT receives big boost<p>​Earlier this week, I joined provincial Ministers Deb Matthews and Bob Chiarelli, as well as federal Minister Navdeep Bains and colleagues from the Western Ontario Warden's Caucus (WOWC), for a major funding announcement in support of the Southwestern Ontario Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network project.</p><p>When I say major, I mean huge! The province and federal governments are each kicking in $90 million to support SWIFT, which will improve access to ultra-high speed broadband internet connectivity across all of Southwestern Ontario… and of course Simcoe County!</p><p>I sit as Vice Chair of the WOWC and Chair of the SWIFT Initiative Sub-Committee; and as a mayor of a rural, small-town, I have long advocated for equal access to broadband internet for all. </p><p>My private sector experience before entering municipal politics was primarily in the telecommunications sector. Given my background, I have long found it simply unacceptable that our rural communities remain underserviced or are at the mercy of independent service provider offering significantly overpriced internet connectivity. My fellow County Councillors share this sentiment. That is why we were one of the first municipal governments to support SWIFT, when in May 2015, we showed leadership by contributing $2.5 million towards the project over a five year period. </p><p>Universal access for rural communities in Simcoe County will help us retain our young people, attract growth and development, support rural businesses and entrepreneurs and will make public services easier to access.</p><p>SWIFT meets all these needs and offers a forward-looking, financially sustainable solution that will help make our businesses more competitive and create greater equality in terms of access to reliable and affordable internet connectivity across the entire county. Here's how it works:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>SWIFT will build on existing fibre to create a far-reaching regional fibre network. The project will leverage government and broader public sector organization (i.e., schools and healthcare centres) to serve as anchor tenants of the network. This strategy will bring fibre closer to customers and will make it easier for independent service providers (ISPs) to connect homes and businesses to ultra-high-speed internet </li><li>SWIFT will direct funding – from municipal, provincial and federal governments - to address gaps in broadband infrastructure that are leaving some communities behind. The new funding will trigger private investment from ISPs, who will continue to own and operate their networks and deliver services directly to customers </li><li>All ISPs will have equal access to the fibre network, leveling the playing field and creating a more competitive marketplace. That will better serve urban and rural communities </li></ul><p>Beyond our Caucus, the Region of Niagara, the Town of Caledon and the City of Orillia are also on board.  Southern First Nations Secretariet, school boards, colleges, university and health care organizations have also joined us through valuable partnerships.</p><p>Our timeline and implementation plan will be formalized over the coming months. With a project of this scale, we will continue to monitor timelines and keep you updated as progress is made. </p><p>This is a tremendous victory for all our residents and businesses in Simcoe County, and for all of us who have been advocating for equal connectivity. </p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>
May 2016 - Hospitals and Long Term Carehttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/may-2016-healthcare.aspx7/28/2016 1:49:42 PMMay 2016 - Hospitals and Long Term Care<p><span lang="EN-US"></span></p><p></p><p></p>As you know, I have been working with our area MPs and MPPs, as well as joining in conversations with our County Councillors from Collingwood, Midland, New Tecumseth along with the Mayors of Orillia, Bracebridge and Huntsville to take action on what we consider a potential health-care crisis in Simcoe County. <br><br> As part of this process, Jane Sinclair (General Manager of Health and Emergency Services for the County) and I shared a private meeting with the Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on May 15. He was open to our suggestions on how to better work together. I pitched a conceptual template of how the County and Muskoka can play a more dynamic and impactful role in health care and lend value to some of the hospital and LHIN challenges that exist. The Minister was intrigued by the opportunity and saw value in what we can possibly bring to the conversation. The Minister will meet with his staff to discuss while, at my end, I will seek councils permission to engage our staff in an official role.   <br><br> In the County, we have a shortfall in provincial long-term care funding for our four homes of $340,000. Although not required, we passed a motion to implement strategies that will yield operational cost reductions equivalent to $120,000 annually. Rather than undertake direct nursing and personal care cuts, we agreed to fund the remaining provincial shortfall of $220,000 from our reserves. In addition to long-term care, four of our five area hospitals in Simcoe County face potential funding shortages, impacting both service and staff under the existing hospital funding model. GBGH faces $5 million in provincial funding shortages, OSMH announced that they are looking at staff layoffs and Collingwood General has a 20 years history of deficits.  <br><br> Our region is home to 465,000 residents, with projections to grow to 667,000 by 2031. Given the size of Simcoe County and our anticipated growth, we face many health-related pressures. <br><br> Overall health-care system spending and long-term care funding both require serious discussion.   <br><br> Another stark concern is that 11 per cent of adults and 16 per cent of children in the region live in poverty, which further complicates their health-care opportunities. We also have an aging population and many of our smaller or rural communities are popular locations for retired seniors. Furthermore, we are one of Ontario’s most vibrant tourism destinations for families and people of every age, with more than 9 million visitors to our region each year, many of whom are travelling to our rural communities for events and attractions and, from time to time, may require health-care services. <br><br> Making access to quality health-care services even more pertinent is the vast size and corresponding transportation challenges posed by our region. These challenges alone should be reason enough to re-think the existing funding model and the associated impact it’s having on small-town, medium-sized hospitals.  <br><br> Now, more than ever, access to quality health-care services is a key priority for small-town rural communities. <span lang="EN-US">Hospitals not only impact health care in our communities, but viability and sustainability of our hospitals affect the economic growth of rural communities. Municipalities across Ontario have the opportunity to work together to protect these vital community assets. </span><p><span lang="EN-US">As a County we will continue to advocate for Long Term Care funding and overall system spending to make these services more sustainable and respectful to our residents.  </span></p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p><p><br> </p>
April 2016 - Driving our economy forwardhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/april-2016.aspx5/30/2016 5:17:52 PMApril 2016 - Driving our economy forward<p>As a Council, we've made an even stronger commitment to supporting growth through economic development and tourism initiatives. We developed an Economic Development Sub-Committee to help increase Council's focus on economic development and approved additional staff resources to support and implement our strategies.</p><p>These strategies are driven through partnerships with regional businesses, service providers and various levels of government, and focus on supporting labour and creating jobs in our region. According to <em>Statistics Canada, </em>2,030 new jobs were created in Simcoe County this past year. We intend to do all we can, through smart and creative initiatives, to help attract, grow and support our economy and increase jobs. </p><p>It's almost been a year since we reprioritized our economic direction, our increased focus has led to some tremendous outcomes:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>In partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board,  <a href="http://www.jobcentralsm.ca/"><font color="#0066cc">www.jobcentralsm.ca</font></a> was launched in June 2015</li><li>We hosted our first ever online Job Fair connecting employers to job seekers in an online space. The event connected 2,882 job seekers to more than 80 employers – resulting approximately 1,800 one-on-one conversations and interviews</li><li>Approximately 800 participants attended a series of regional food entrepreneurship seminars during the provincial AMI conference that was hosted in Simcoe County  </li><li>Our 'made-in-Simcoe County' Land Inventory portal was launched earlier this year to assist potential businesses in finding a home in Simcoe County <a href="http://www.edo.simcoe.ca/properties"><font color="#0066cc">www.edo.simcoe.ca/properties </font></a></li><li>County Council approved a multi-year funding program for our member municipalities valued at $1.4-million. This funding will help our municipalities to support local economic efforts with the ultimate goal to attract, grow and support business growth and expansion.  </li><li>To support regional tourism branding, County Council approved $400,000 a year in funding following the Destination Marketing Organisation model</li><li>We partnered with the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board to host the Premier's Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy Expert Panel (April 5, 2016). This event provided our region with the opportunity to provide input directly to the Expert Panel which was established to assess how well our workforce is positioned to meet the needs of Ontario's economy.  The Panel will be recommending an integrated approach for the government to bridge education, training and skills development with the demands of an evolving economic landscape.  </li></ul><p>We have boots on the ground, and momentum working in our favour. I am sure that 2016 will see us continue to build on our accomplishments and support our economy, businesses, employees and job seekers in achieving their dreams and goals. </p><p>Sincerely,</p><p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font></p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p><p>​</p>
March 2016 - OPF & MMF Updatehttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/march-2016.aspx4/20/2016 6:27:41 PMMarch 2016 - OPF & MMF Update<p>We've reached an important milestone in the OPF and MMF projects. The siting process is now complete and the consultant's recommendation on the preferred site was released in our Committee of the Whole Agenda for our upcoming meeting on March 8<sup>th</sup>. The report is listed as Item #CCW 16-054 in our <a href="/_layouts/15/FIXUPREDIRECT.ASPX?WebId=a41fbfa1-82ca-4939-9932-d97b8d6ad3e9&TermSetId=fb933945-005d-43ad-bb62-b84ef1fa9284&TermId=a3bddb63-6814-4d02-86fa-01b13363a034">Public Agenda</a>.</p><p>The staff report includes the following recommendation: THAT development of the Organics Processing Facility (OPF) and Materials Management Facility (MMF) proceed with consideration that both facilities be located on a single site, located at <strong>2976 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Springwater (C136)</strong>.</p><p>I'm not surprised that a co-located facility is being recommended as our best option. Both facilities on one site clearly offers capital and operational savings, among other benefits.</p><p>We are aware of the sensitivities when siting any waste management facility – and understand nearby neighbours might have further questions. Staff have already sent letters to neighbours/businesses surrounding this site, as well as the other six short-listed sites, to notify them of the report's findings. We have also reached out to Springwater Township and will have ongoing consultation with this important partner. Following further direction from Council, staff are also preparing to meet nearby neighbours and the general public to share more information and answer questions about the Horseshoe Valley Road site. </p><p><strong>We are going down this path for the right reasons.</strong> These facilities are not landfills and instead offer a solution to securely manage our own waste, control transfer and processing costs, and help to reduce our waste disposal by creating our own diversion capacity. The benefits that stand out most to me are that we save tax payers' money with the MMF, while the OPF aligns with our overall waste strategy to help reduce the need for disposal by building our own local processing capacity. It's a full circle approach – from farm – to table – to earth – as the facility would allow us to produce valuable compost and fertilizer products to support our agriculture sector. </p><p>It has been a long road and a comprehensive process to get to this point – here's a quick glance at the steps taken by the project team to identify this preferred site:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>Thorough Environmental Assessment methodology (although not required for these projects) applied by industry leading consultants</li><li>Process and criteria approved by this County Council</li><li>Three screening phases to evaluate candidate sites</li><li>502 potential sites evaluated</li><li>Extensive public, Aboriginal and stakeholder consultation</li><li>Review of more than 200 public comments</li><li>Short-list site visits and mapping</li><li>Determining the net effects for each facility (OPF, MMF, and co-located) on each site and comparing them against each other</li><li>Recommendation that 2976 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Springwater is the most preferred site for all three options – MMF, OPF and co-located facility<br> </li></ul><p>Given this comprehensive process, I am confident that our consultants have landed on the best possible site for this facility. </p><p>Committee of the Whole will receive the siting report during our meeting on March 8<sup>th</sup> (Committee of the Whole starts at approximately 9:30 a.m. in County Council Chambers). A decision will not be made until County Council provides further direction during our meeting on March 22<sup>nd</sup>. </p><p>Certainly exciting times as we push forward to creating a greener future for all our residents. For full details, visit our <a href="/_layouts/15/FIXUPREDIRECT.ASPX?WebId=a41fbfa1-82ca-4939-9932-d97b8d6ad3e9&TermSetId=fb933945-005d-43ad-bb62-b84ef1fa9284&TermId=b4a505d9-0d5b-4106-a742-0d5a790d932e">project web pages</a>. </p><p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font></p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p><p> </p>
January 2016 - The Year Aheadhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/january-2016.aspx3/3/2016 6:00:57 PMJanuary 2016 - The Year Ahead<p><span lang="EN-US">We have a jam-packed agenda at the County this year, and the common theme that ties everything together is growth. Whether it’s our proactive response to increasing demands on our services, increases in regional populations, greater partnerships with our municipalities, other levels of government and community partners. As a County we will over the course of the next year implement strategies that support and address our regional growth and service demands. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p><span lang="EN-US">Fortunately, we are in a strong financial position to meet these needs. This was recently reconfirmed by </span>Standard & Poor’s Rating Services as they affirmed our very strong AA rating.  The rating is well earned as we have a very low debt burden, great fiscal policies that are complemented by  a strong economy and our historic budgetary performance. We take great pride in our continued prudent management of your tax dollars and our stable financial position which allows us to maintain our services and make strategic investments for the future. Our 2016 operating budget of $449 million is consistent with this approach. </p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p>With the growth in the need for our services in mind, here’s a preview of some of our key priorities for 2016 (listed in no particular order):</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p><span lang="EN-US">Addressing growing needs in affordable housing and poverty within our communities will continue to be a key priority for council and a personal priority for me in 2016 and beyond.  Our Social and Community Services strategies take a “housing-first” approach. Simply put affordable housing is not the issue, it’s the solution.  We will continue to implement strategies from our 10 Year Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention Strategy with a continued focus on engagement with municipal, private and not for profit sectors to assist in achieving our target of creating 2,685 new affordable housing units by 2024; and most pressing, meeting our phase 1 target of 895 units by the end of 2017. While these are bold targets, they’re attainable through the support of our partners at all levels. County funding will also go a long way towards creating additional secondary suites, new rent supplements and planning for rental development. This includes the opening of our new Simcoe County Housing expansion site in Barrie (33 Brooks Street) and development of a proposal for expansion and redevelopment of Simcoe County Housing locations in Collingwood and Innisfil. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p><span lang="EN-US">Including Barrie and Orillia, our region is projected to grow to 667,000 residents by 2031, placing a greater emphasis on the need for effective planning/development policies and strategies. We are taking a regional approach to our preparations. From a planning perspective, we hope to receive full approvals to our Official Plan from the Ontario Municipal Board. We are also looking at how the County can be more involved in regional transportation, linking rural and urban areas through the completion of our Transit Feasibility and Implementation Study later this year. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p><span lang="EN-US">As a country, our population growth is driven by immigration. New Canadians are increasingly calling Simcoe County their home, and through our Local Immigration Partnership we are working with area partners to attract newcomers to our communities and provide support resources that help establish more welcoming communities. This includes programs such as the Library Links multilingual resource initiative and the Ontario Government’s Local Poverty Reduction fund that are aimed at helping immigrants in our communities. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><p><span lang="EN-US">Economic Development and regional tourism fuels our needs for employment and attraction. We want to help our municipalities and partners prepare for and embrace our bright future. Given this objective, we have restructured our grant and funding programs in Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts and Culture sectors. These funding opportunities will help our partners attract, support and grow business. We have added economic development resources and look forward to taking a more active role in helping our municipalities garner new business and employment opportunities. </span></p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><span lang="EN-US">County roads truly impact all of us and our businesses. As a County, we maintain an inventory of more than 850 kms of roads, 50 signalized intersections, and 200 bridges. Given our growth and the demand on our road networks/systems, ongoing maintenance and road/transportation enhancements take up a large percentage of our budget annually. In 2016, we will invest in capital roads projects totaling $42.1 million. This includes reconstructing and rehabilitating approximately 55 km of roads and a total of 5 bridge structures in 2016. This will be managed through approximately 20 construction contracts. Highlights will include completion of County Road 50 and County Road 90 (from Barrie city limits to the CPR bridge), reconstruction of Wilson Drive County Road 43 intersection and work on the Bear Creek bridge replacement among other projects.</span><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p>Last December I updated everyone on our Solid Waste Management Strategy Update session, which looked at opportunities for efficiencies over the next five years. We currently have aggressive diversion targets, which are proposed at 71% diversion by 2020 and 77% by 2030. Our best way to achieve these targets is through the growth of our organics program. This strategy aligns two key projects currently on the go – our proposed Organics Processing and Materials Management Facility initiatives. Staff will provide Council with an update on the preferred site early this year. We will have further public and stakeholder information sessions, and, later in the year, staff will work towards preparing reports on technology and site specific designs which will include further consultation with the public. These are important projects which support our long-term objectives to increase our diversion rate, reduce garbage, and securely manage our own processing capacity.</p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font><p>In 2016, we will continue to ensure our residents receive the highest level of care possible by increasing our resources and expanding our health and emergency services programs to suit the needs of our growing region. Paramedic Services are adding additional resources across the region to improve response time challenges and meet the demands of increasing call volumes. They will also continue to implement other programs such as our community paramedicine initiative to continue to meet growing demands on their services. </p><p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font>We are also expanding our training and preparation to respond to emergency situations. Our Emergency Management staff have partnered with the District of Muskoka to host a large scale regional Emergency Exercise which will see several hundred participants unite to test our response to a mock water loss emergency. These exercises test our emergency response plans and help us improve our continuity of operations and communications plans, which also contributes to the disaster resiliency of our communities. </p><p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>We are looking at strategies to respond to our growing population of seniors. This includes provincial and County funding towards an Age-Friendly Community Initiative to identify, plan and address needs and priorities related to older adults in our area. I encourage you to get involved and provide input by visiting <a href="/">www.simcoe.ca</a> .  Our Long Term Care and Seniors Services staff are incorporating new and innovative ways to help engage with and improve the quality of life of our seniors. One such program has been happening at Sunset Manor since September. The Tots and Tykes Intergenerational Program sees little ones from E3’s Tiny Tots Daycare visiting with residents for an hour each week, bringing with them their energy and laughter and lust for life that our residents are thriving on. As a grandfather myself, I completely understand the joy that our seniors must feel after spending time with these youngsters. We are also in the process of renewing our Accreditation decision through Accreditation Canada, a not-for-profit independent organization that provides national and international health care organizations with an external peer review process to assess and improve services provided to residents based on standards of excellence. </p><p><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font><font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font>Finally, as Warden I want to continue to grow and foster our relationships with our municipalities, upper levels of government, community partners, and most importantly all  of you, our residents. I plan to meet with all our municipalities again on various topics over the coming year. We look forward to hosting the second annual Simcoe County Comes Together Conference this spring. Also, stay tuned for dates and information on a number of new Warden’s events and picnics geared to engage communities in all corners of the county. The first event will be a free Warden’s March Break Fun Skate. Information will be posted on <a href="/">www.simcoe.ca</a>  over the coming days.<font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"> </font></p><p>That’s just the tip of the iceberg! 2016 is sure to be a busy, productive and impactful year. I look forward to working with all of my fellow council member’s and our phenomenal staff to continue providing quality service and making positive impacts .  <font color="#000000" face="Times New Roman"></font></p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>
December 2015 - Top 12 from 2015https://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/dec-2015.aspx1/29/2016 9:00:17 PMDecember 2015 - Top 12 from 2015<p>Now that the holiday season is here, it's hard to believe that we are more than a one year into our current Council term. It's been a tremendous honour to serve as your Warden for the past year and I look forward to the year ahead as we continue to advance key services and programs for our residents. </p><p>The holidays are a great time to reflect on the year that was. I thought it would be fun to recap with my spin on the <em>12 Days of Christmas </em>(you can hum along in your head !!)</p><p>My top 12 from 2015, in no particular order:  </p><p><em>1. </em><em><strong>Expanded Role in Regional Economic Development</strong></em></p><p>One of the key commitments we made as a Council over the last year was our effort to create greater economic opportunities in Simcoe County and to expand the County's role in helping all of our municipalities achieve economic growth. This focus also extends to Tourism. With more than 9 million visitors to our region each year, tourism is one of our most significant economic drivers and our largest employment sector providing jobs to more than 25,000 people. We can look forward to advancing our role and regional support in both economic development and tourism. </p><p><em>2. </em><em><strong>Strategies to Help Those in Need</strong></em></p><p>We made a commitment to generate 2,685 new affordable housing units over the next 10 years. We are focused on putting rooves over the heads of those whom are homeless. We are also committed to creating a greater footprint of Secondary Suites.  Beyond our partnerships with mental health and addiction agencies to reduce homelessness we are working with the 20,000 Homes Campaign to identify the root causes of homelessness.  These findings will assist us in developing strategies to reduce and prevent homelessness.  </p><p><em>3. </em><em><strong>Communication from/with the Warden</strong></em></p><p>One of my personal goals as Warden was to enhance communications amongst Council, our municipalities, stakeholders and most importantly our residents. I have also tried to make the Warden's relationships with the Provincial and Federal Government more visible. Simply put, I have tried my best to increase our communications to raise awareness about our services, programs and to promote our many successes. </p><p><em>4. </em><em><strong>Closer Relationships with our Municipalities</strong></em></p><p>Another achievement over the last year has been the close interaction between the County and our municipalities. We've held a number of meetings with all our municipalities and with key ministries over the past year. These continued relationships are essential to services we provide to our residents. </p><p><em>5. </em><em><strong>Successful Simcoe County Comes Together Conference</strong></em></p><p>In November, we hosted the first ever Simcoe County Comes Together Conference. I received tremendous feedback about the Conference and look forward to co-ordinating another meeting next year—covering additional collective issues and opportunities that impact all our municipalities. </p><p><em>6. </em><em><strong>County Budgets</strong></em></p><p>As a new Council we essentially passed two budgets in the last 12 months. Our 2015 Budget, approved in January 2015. It set the stage for what has been an engaged and highly productive discussion on the floor throughout 2015. Staff have guided us through the year in a responsible manner and I was pleased with our growth as a Council and ultimately our direction to approve the 2016 Budget of $449-million. </p><p><em>7. </em><em><strong>FCM and AMO Appointments</strong></em><em> </em></p><p>Over the past 12 months we supported the appointments of regional representatives at key federal and provincial bodies. Deputy Warden Terry Dowdall was elected to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors earlier this year; County Councillor Lynn Dolin is involved with AMO's Board as the Caucus Chair, Small Urban Caucus of AMO advocating for Provincial issues, and our General Manager Trevor Wilcox was elected to AMO's Board of Directors as Secretary-Treasurer. These are important placements for the County and I know our representatives look forward to working on behalf of all our municipalities to advance our collective issues and concerns and build our relationships with the Provincial and Federal Governments. </p><p><em>8. </em><em><strong>Public Engagement</strong></em></p><p>Public input is extremely important to the democratic process. I think it's safe to say that we have placed an increased importance on ensuring that our residents and stakeholders are engaged. </p><p><em>9. </em><em><strong>Enhanced Promotion of County Services </strong></em></p><p>I think our staff do a great job of raising awareness about services, events and happenings at the County. Personally it's been a busy year of media interviews raising awareness about our many projects and successes. Social media is also important and I'm happy to report that I recently entered the Twittersphere and can be followed @WardenGerry (a crowning achievement in itself!). Terry also joined at @TerryDowdall. Follow and engage with us!</p><p><em>10.</em><em><strong>Tremendous Support for Charitable Causes</strong></em></p><p>As Warden, I'm privileged to host a number of charitable events throughout the year that benefit causes throughout our communities. These events combined raised approximately $98,000 in 2015 with proceeds supporting initiatives such as the Georgian Village Fundraising Campaign and the United Way of Greater Simcoe County. I want to sincerely thank all our generous sponsors and participants for helping make our communities stronger. </p><p><em>11. </em><em><strong>Completion of Numerous County Projects</strong></em></p><p>Staff have worked extremely hard this year to maintain our high level of services. Transportation worked on 12 road and bridge projects; Paramedic Services made great progress on their Community Paramedicine pilot project; Social and Community Services advanced important initiatives to reduce poverty in our communities, including our support of the 20,000 Homes Campaign; Long Term Care and Seniors Services continue to advance our Age Friendly Community program; Forestry invested in property acquisition to further position us as leaders in municipal forest management; the Museum launched a number of new exhibits, galleries and programming opportunities; Simcoe County Tourism supported huge events driving economic stimulus to our region; and our Local Immigration Partnership worked with partners on a number of training and community initiatives to help create welcoming communities. I could go on and on, but you get the point – it was a busy and impactful year at the County. </p><p><em>12. </em><em><strong>Increased Focus on Waste Diversion Efforts</strong></em></p><p>I look forward to voting on our new diversion targets in 2016, which are proposed at 71% diversion by 2020 and 77% by 2030. To me, the best way to achieve these targets is through the expansion of our organics program. This of course supports our current evaluation of the Organics Processing and Materials Management Facilities. These projects have tremendous potential to increase waste diversion while being environmentally and economically responsible. The significance of and attention to these projects will only grow throughout 2016. </p><p>Gerry Marshall<br>Simcoe County Warden</p>