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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.

Update on our pitch to Amazon and beyond

Our bid to bring Amazon's second world-headquarters to Simcoe County appears to have formally ended, but our efforts to promote our region to business investors around the world can certainly be viewed as a huge success and we celebrate the businesses and industries that are already located here and have discovered the benefits of working and living in this region. Our objectives were to promote our area with the goal of ultimately creating jobs and investment in Simcoe County.

We had a very impressive and serious bid that was endorsed by our federal and provincial partners. Landing Amazon was always going to be a challenge for each jurisdiction that made a submission but absolutely worth the effort for us to showcase our region and attract other businesses and economic growth to our area. Our message was heard by industry, businesses, and our residents that we are open for business. We offer something unique too – something that business leaders and workers want – an incredible alternative to the huge and expensive urban centres. Many business leaders and industries have told us that and proven it by locating here in Central Ontario.

Through our North of Ordinary pitch, which received incredible media coverage and social media engagement within and beyond our borders, we've shown the GTA, the province, the federal government, and international markets the Simcoe County experience and opportunity is North of Ordinary – beyond regular – and we're investment ready.

  • Our efforts to lure Amazon to Simcoe County were recognized by the economic development branches at both the provincial and federal level
  • National and international investors now know and understand that we have available and shovel-ready employment lands, infrastructure in place, a highly skilled labour market and local governments that are willing and ready to work collaboratively and quickly to form meaningful partnerships
  • Our current businesses heard loud and clear that we are here to help them grow and thrive
  • We created excitement and promise among residents, students and job seekers

Over the past four years we have worked hard at the County to expand our economic development portfolio and role. From hosting international business familiarization tours, attending sector-specific trade shows, developing local strategies to support current businesses and building labour focused training and education programs, such as the Skilled Trades Expo, we are making huge strides to grow our economy, help businesses and create jobs. We welcome other businesses and industries to reach out and join the North of Ordinary movement. We certainly remain available to assist the Toronto bid partners and the Province of Ontario in any way on their continuing efforts with Amazon.

Gerry Marshall
Warden, County of Simcoe

View past Blogs from Warden Marshall:

 

 

November 2017 - Roadshttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/November-2017-Roads.aspx1/18/2018 5:21:32 PMNovember 2017 - Roads<p>We've had a number of frosty mornings over the last few weeks and while I hear we are in for a more moderate winter, I'm certain we will get our share of winter blasts over the next few months. A reminder to use caution and patience when driving and remember that our snow plow operators are out to ensure that we get to and from our destinations as safely possible. </p><p>For this instalment of my blog, I thought it was fitting to provide some background on our signficant and vital plow and transportation operations. </p><ul><li>We maintain more than 1,800 lane kilometres of County roads to manage and clear on a given day</li><li>We have 38 plows as part of our County fleet that operate out of five County transportation garages located in Midhurst, Beeton, Orr Lake, Creemore and Ramara </li><li>In 2016, our staff responded to 403 winter events (which involves clearing of snow, salting and sanding), that averages out to 81 events per garage. This number fluctuates each year with 2015 totals being 357 events and 60 per garage</li><li>In 2016 staff applied 20,856 tonnes of salt and 59,917 tonnes of sand to our roads </li><li>Since 2012 we have used more than 113,000 tonnes of salt and almost 365,000 tonnes of sand to keep our roads safe and sound for driving</li><li>There is quite a bit of science that goes into road maintenance. In 2016 Transportation Maintenance and IT staff collaborated on a program to install reader technology in each of our plow units. The technology is comprised of a data logger, connecting cords and plow and wing sensors allowing staff to capture actual data from the plow units and use this data to analyse the operations to become more efficient and effective. The data loggers were connected to the electronic spreader controls that control the application of winter solids and liquid de-icers and measured the application rates, speed of the vehicle, type of materials and min and max rates for the run as well as the start and end time of each run. The temperature sensors were connected and measure the road and air temperature to assist us in assessing our work and application of materials</li></ul><p>Our plow operators and transportation staff to do a tremendous job of keeping our roads clear, goods and services flowing and our residents as safe as possible on even the most treacherous winter days. They will be out in full force soon and we wish everyone a safe winter season on our roads. </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>
October 2017 - North of Ordinary Pitchhttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/October-2017---North-of-Ordinary-Pitch.aspx11/30/2017 9:26:30 PMOctober 2017 - North of Ordinary Pitch<p>I am focusing this edition of my blog on our announcement that we have made a serious pitch to bring Amazon's new facility, dubbed Amazon HQ2 to Simcoe County. Amazon is one of the fastest growing companies in the work, employing 380,000 across the globe and it is estimated that it will be the first company to reach a valuation of $1 trillion.</p><p>Our proposal would involve a green-field build of an 8 million square foot facility that would create significant local construction jobs and support our communities.</p><p>Amazon HQ2 will employ up to 50,000 full time jobs with an annual compensation exceeding $100,000 U.S. per year.</p><p>We worked closely with the Federal and Ontario Government to develop our submission and it is clear that if Amazon decides to look outside the United States then Ontario is by far the best Province and Simcoe County is certainly in play. Furthermore, if Amazon is looking outside a large urban centre such as Toronto, then Simcoe County is very well positioned to compete with any location across Simcoe County. Part of our announcement on Thursday was to share with everyone why the Simcoe County experience is Truly North of Ordinary:</p><p>We offer attainable housing, good provincially run health care with 6 hospitals, good education opportunities for families and the employer, such as Georgian College and Lakehead University, and a 1.7 million labour force within a one-hour drive. We have infrastructure and transportation in place with major highways, expanding GO and municipal transit services and access to 3 international airports within an hour's drive (our own LSRA, Pearson and Billy Bishop). Our communities are growing from 465,000 to 800,000 by 2041 and as I stated at the event perhaps our greatest selling feature is our lifestyle and quality of life.  When we stitch all that together, we have a tremendous story to tell and sell. </p><p>Because of Amazon's requirements in the RFP, our site search was coped to sites in the south part of the county, close to the GO Transit, Hwy 400 and major population's centres of the GTA for workforce purposes. </p><p>The three sites identified site proposed in our submission are: Innisfil Line 6 near 20th Sideroad. (owned by the Cortel Group); 2423 Sideroad 5 in Bradford West Gwillimbury, just southwest of the Highway 400 and Highway 88 interchange and owned by the DG Group. The second Owners of the third site wish to remain anonymous.</p><p>The three preferred sites meet all the requirements outlined in the RFP.  </p><p>The announcement is more than just our pitch to Amazon. It marked our arrival as a major economic player in the province of Ontario and aligned our goals with the provincial announcement to address labour challenges. </p><p>The province just announced that that it plans to increase the number of post-secondary students graduating in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, including artificial intelligence, by 25 per cent over the next five years. This initiative will boost the number of STEM graduates from 40,000 to 50,000 per year and position Ontario as the number one producer of postsecondary STEM graduates per capita in North America. Locally, Georgian College and Lakehead University are recognized as leaders in many of these disciplines – with Georgian College in the process of developing a new state-of-the-art Advanced Technology, Innovation and Research Centre.</p><p>We have a lot to be proud of and we hope to invite Amazon here in the near future to show them just why our experience is North of Ordinary and that Simcoe County is open for business. </p><p>Thank you to Harry, Lynn, Terry, John and Bill for joining our team at the event.  A big thanks to Innisfil, Bradford, Georgian College, Lakehead and our development partners for helping us make this pitch possible. Staff went above and beyond to execute a world-class announcement to capture not only the attention of Amazon but other major businesses. </p><p>Imagine… Amazon… second world headquarters… Simcoe County. </p><p>Check out our latest video to promote the North of Ordinary experience: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ddFel2BwCA&t=24s">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ddFel2BwCA&t=24s</a> </p><p>Sincerly, </p><p>Warden Gerry Marshall</p>
Summer 2017 - Progress on affordable housinghttps://www.simcoe.ca/WardenCAO/Pages/Blog/Summer-2017---Progress-on-affordable-housing.aspx11/30/2017 9:23:59 PMSummer 2017 - Progress on affordable housing<p>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.</p><p>DYK… </p><ul><li>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</li><li>15 new secondary suites have been completed with County/Provincial funding during 2016 and 124 secondary suites were created without government funding in 2016</li><li>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</li><li>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 </li><li>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.</li><li>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</li><li>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 </li></ul><p>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. </p><p>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).  </p><p>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. </p><p>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. </p><p>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. </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><p>​</p>
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>