Councillor Adams appointed chair of 2018 Budget Committee

Town plans for continued inflation level tax increases

At the inaugural 2018 Budget Committee meeting on June 26, 2017, Councillor Tom Adams was appointed as Oakville’s budget chair for the tenth consecutive year. Councillor Adams holds his Master’s in Business Administration from McMaster University and is a former senior risk manager to one of Canada’s major financial institutions.

Oakville is committed to offering valued services and programs to residents and making strategic investments in community priorities. Each year the town’s budget is one of the most important tasks facing Town Council, who have directed staff to prepare a budget that keeps the overall tax increase in line with inflation. The target for 2018 has been set at an overall property tax increase of 1.8 per cent, including the town, Regional and educational shares of the property tax bill.

Key budget pressures outlined by Nancy Sully, deputy treasurer and director, Financial Planning, include $1.4 million to implement the increased minimum wage announced recently by the Province, and $1.3 million in costs related to growth in the town including the operation of new transit vehicles, the cost to maintain new parks and roads, as well as costs associated with operating the new Trafalgar Park Community Centre (redeveloped Oakville Arena) and a proposed library.

The town will be looking at transforming the way services are delivered in order to respond to budget pressures in 2019 and 2020 relating to Trafalgar Park and the opening of the Southeast Community Centre (on the former hospital lands), a new fire station in Palermo, as well as other funding needs. Council has directed staff to keep overall property tax increases in line with inflation in both 2019 and 2020.

“The town is at the point where we must move beyond simple cost containment measures to keep tax increases at the rate of inflation in future years,” said CAO Ray Green. “Council, staff and the community will need to work together to set priorities, and look for opportunities to transform the way we deliver services.”

Green recommended a comprehensive reshaping of the organization that will enable the town to meet the overall budget target set by Council and create a longer-term vision for the financial sustainability of town operations.

“Oakville is recognized as having the healthiest finances in Ontario, and keeping those finances strong and secure is a key part of Council’s vision to make Oakville the most livable town in Canada,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Staff have made us aware of potential pressures on the horizon, and recommended we take proactive steps to address them. We are confident that taking early action will help assure the long-term health of Oakville’s finances.”

Staff noted that the 2018 budget documents would be released on November 21, 2017. Staff will present the Budget Committee with an overview of the proposed 2018 operating and capital budgets, including opportunities for potential savings or increased revenues. The Budget Committee will hear input from pubic delegations before making a recommendation on December 12, 2017 to Council. Final Council approval of the operating and capital budgets is scheduled for December 18, 2017.

“Our key focus for this budget is to meet our goal of keeping overall property tax increases in line with inflation, while building and renewing infrastructure and maintaining high quality services for the community,” Councillor Adams said. “Public input is a critical piece of our annual budget process and I look forward to engaging with residents over the next few months.”

For more information, access the staff report included in the June 26, 2017 Budget Committee meeting agenda or visit the 2018 Budget page.


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Council approves group home registration by-law to support neighbourhood cohesion

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 – for immediate release

Council approves group home registration by-law to support neighbourhood cohesion

In an effort to facilitate neighbourhood communication and cohesion, Council passed a new by-law — Group Home Registration By-law 2016-11 — that will see the town collecting business names, ownership and contact details of group homes in Oakville. Under the new by-law, town municipal enforcement services staff can respond to community questions and concerns by connecting residents with the group home operators. This quick intervention often leads to better community understanding and cooperation.

“In recent years, Council and staff have heard a number of concerns regarding activities at local group homes. Resolving these issues proved difficult because we did not know where exactly these homes were, or how to contact their operator,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “Our new bylaw will provide staff with much needed contact information to encourage dialogue and resolutions between neighbours.”

Under the town’s bylaw, a group home business license application/renewal must include a business name, ownership and contact information. The annual application/renewal fee is $93. Ownership and contact information collected through the licensing process will not be shared without the consent of the group home operator but is subject to normal Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requests.

A group home is defined as a supervised single housekeeping unit in a residential dwelling for the accommodation of three to10 persons, exclusive of staff, who by reason of their emotional, mental, social or physical condition or legal status, require a group living arrangement for their well-being

Although licensed by the Province, group homes are most often owned privately by a group home operator or a service agency subject to a service agreement. Service agreements outline responsibilities of group homes and may require the development of processes for dealing with resident concerns as well as inspections to ensure compliance with ministry standards including training of staff, documentation, files, interior maintenance of the home and overall safety.

According to the Municipal Act 2001, municipalities are only permitted to register a group home, but not regulate it. The town’s zoning by-law permits group homes in all residential zones, which is consistent with recent case law dealing with group home regulation.

For more information, review the staff report in the December 5, 2016 Administrative Services Committee agenda.


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Council approves group home registration by-law to support neighbourhood cohesion

Make your fire safety list and check it twice

Friday, December 2, 2016 – for immediate release

Make your fire safety list and check it twice

Oakville Fire urges residents to reduce risks of house fires during the holidays

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous when it comes to fire safety.

Statistics from the Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario show that careless cooking is the number one cause of fires in the province and the second leading cause of fatal fires. That is why the Oakville Fire department is urging people to take every precaution to stay safe as part of its annual holiday fire safety campaign.

“The hustle and bustle of the holidays can dramatically increase your risk of having a fire,” said Fire Chief Brian Durdin. “All too often, these fires are started by unattended cooking and in many cases alcohol or smoking is involved.”

Residents are also reminded that it’s the law to have a working smoke alarm on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas.

“Over the holidays, I urge you to take time to test your smoke alarms, practice an escape plan and make sure everyone in your home knows exactly what to do in an emergency,” said Chief Durdin.

As part of the campaign, the Oakville Fire department is inviting hockey fans to Holiday Fire Safety Night with the Oakville Blades on December 16 at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex. The first 250 people in attendance will receive free winter gloves courtesy of Scotiabank and there will be prize draws between periods as the Blades take on the Georgetown Raiders. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit the Oakville Blades website.

For a safe holiday celebration, add these tips to your list and check it twice:

Stay in the kitchen when cooking. If a pot catches fire, don’t try to move it. Cover the pot with a lid to smother the flames and turn off the burner.
Keep things that can burn such as cooking utensils and paper towels a safe distance from the stove as they can easily ignite.
Keep an eye on anyone drinking alcohol and make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off before going to bed.
Check sofas and chairs for cigarettes that may have fallen between the cushions. Cigarettes can smoulder among upholstered items for hours before igniting. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers.
Drink responsibly. Excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in many home fires.
Install and maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas of the home. Smoke alarms are also required on every storey. Failure to comply with the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm requirements can result in a ticket for $360 or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations.

For more tips, visit the holiday fire safety page.


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Province to hold land use public open house in Oakville on July 7, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016 – for immediate release

Province to hold land use public open house in Oakville on July 7, 2016

Provincial land use plans set future growth targets that shape our community

The Province of Ontario is inviting the public to provide feedback on its proposed changes to the four provincial land use plans (Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and Niagara Escarpment Plan). The four plans work together to manage growth, build complete communities, curb sprawl and protect the natural environment. Ministry staff will be at Oakville Town Hall on Thursday, July 7, 2016, from 5 to 8 p.m. to answer questions about the proposed changes to the plans. No registration is required.

“As a municipality our ability to control growth and protect green space is determined by provincial requirements and growth targets,” Mayor Burton said. “It’s critical that residents come out to provide input and learn about potential changes to those requirements.”

Oakville currently meets provincial requirements and growth targets through its Livable Oakville Official Plan, which sets out the mix of residential, employment, recreational, natural and cultural land uses necessary to create a livable and sustainable community.

The province initiated a coordinated review of its four plans in 2015 with extensive input from the public, stakeholders, Indigenous communities, and an expert advisory panel chaired by David Crombie. As a result, the province is recommending numerous changes to its plans.

Proposed changes include:

Providing more guidance on achieving complete communities and requiring municipalities to plan for sustainable and livable communities.
Increasing the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60 per cent of all new residential development occurring annually in the existing built-up area.
Increasing the designated greenfield area density target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 80 residents and jobs per hectare (excluding certain non-developable natural heritage features, such as wetlands and woodlands, rights of way for certain infrastructure, and “prime employment areas”).
Requiring municipalities to plan for density targets around major transit stations which support that type of transit.
Supporting the development of community hubs by encouraging public services to be located together in existing facilities near strategic growth areas, accessible by active transportation and transit.
Establishing stronger environmental, agricultural and planning criteria in the Growth Plan for settlement area boundary expansions.
Requiring municipalities to identify and protect prime employment areas. New policies would serve to improve transit connections for employment areas.
Requiring the province, through direction in the Growth Plan, to establish a standard methodology used by all municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe for assessing land needs.

The province is inviting members of the public to submit their written comments and feedback on the proposed changes by September 30, 2016.

For more information on the province’s Coordinated Land Use Review or to see dates for other open houses, please visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs website.


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Province to hold land use public open house in Oakville on July 7, 2016

OREA’s Forms Guru Shares the Latest on Form #801, E-Signatures and Operating with Integrity 

This past fall it was my pleasure to participate in OREA’s EMERGE event tour to speak with REALTORS® about varied Standard Forms Updates, including Form #801, E-signatures and adding integrity to trading activity using Standard Forms & Clauses. Form #801 has garnered a lot of discussion and controversy. Members need to know about regulatory changes which can translate into essential changes in real estate activity, including the two regulatory changes resulting in the creation of Form #801: 

To not represent to anyone that an offer exists unless that offer is in writing; and
To retain a copy of all written offers or a summary document (such as Form #801) of all written offers.

Technology and e-signatures are now an integral part of the real estate landscape in Ontario. So OREA invited industry experts to EMERGE to talk about the benefits of this technology and what REALTORS® need to consider when they are choosing between the many options available. In my presentation, the minimum requirements according to the Electronic Commerce Act were discussed for members to keep in mind when choosing an e-signature provider. 

In this video you’ll get answers to many common questions about Form #801, e-signatures and integrity using forms. But don’t stop there – every month OREA will be releasing a new video featuring one of our EMERGE speakers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, last month’s video features Andrew Fogliatio discussing online lead funnels. Next month you’ll get to see the highlights from the consumer panel, which was by far the most talked about part of EMERGE. 

If you like what you see, be sure to attend this year’s EMERGE conference, running in six areas of the province between September 22 and November 17. The live events feature business ideas and technology tips from top experts in the field not available anywhere else. This is one of those memorable conferences with real benefits for your real estate business that you won’t want to miss.   

OREA members will receive further information about this year’s line up of speakers as well as how to register as it becomes available. In the mean time, check out our EMERGE landing page for key dates and more content from last year. On behalf of the team at OREA, we look forward to seeing you there! 

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OREA’s Forms Guru Shares the Latest on Form #801, E-Signatures and Operating with Integrity 

International Women’s Day

 

On March 8th the world celebrated International Women’s Day. In the 98 years since women were granted the ability to vote by the Canadian government, women have made significant contributions to Canadian public and private life.

Take for instance, in Ontario’s political realm, thirty-seven out of 107 Members of Provincial Parliament are female, including the premier, the leader of the third party and 7 ministers. This is the highest number of female MPPs in Ontario’s history and the first time the province has elected as woman as premier.

Late last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made history by appointing Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet. Fifteen out of 31 members of his cabinet are women, many of whom are responsible for prominent portfolios.

Within our own industry, women now make up half of all real estate professionals. This is a huge jump from the early 1950s, when barely 5% of REALTORS® were female. This year, OREA has 6 female leaders on our board of directors.

 

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International Women’s Day

Ontario Launches Airbnb Pilot Project

The province is collaborating with Airbnb to raise awareness about homeowners’ and consumers’ rights when booking or offering accommodations through Airbnb. Airbnb is an online platform that allows people to list or book private accommodations.

The pilot project will create a webpage, with Ontario specific content, that will give users more information about reporting rental income, consumer protection rights under contracts, accessibility requirements and regulatory and safety obligations.

This pilot project is part of a larger consumer protection initiative by the government to harness the benefits of the sharing economy while protecting Ontarians. The government has also established a Sharing Economy Advisory Board to help Ontario seize opportunities in the rapidly expanding sharing economy.

Currently, there are more than 11,000 Airbnb hosts in Ontario. The average host makes approximately $280 a month on this online platform. Last year, more than 375,000 visitors used Airbnb to book accommodations in Ontario.

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Ontario Launches Airbnb Pilot Project

Ontario Realtors® advocate for tax relief for first-time home buyers

 

Today, the Ontario Real Estate Association presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs urging the government to improve the affordability of home ownership for Ontario first-time home buyers by modernizing the land transfer tax (LTT) rebate. The presentation was part of the committee’s pre-budget consultations.

“The dream of home ownership in our province for young Ontarians is becoming increasingly difficult,” said Ettore Cardarelli, OREA Government Relations Committee Chair. “While prices are largely responsible for these challenges, young first-time buyers are also being hurt by increasing closing costs like the provincial land transfer tax. To help keep home ownership affordable for younger generations, OREA recommends that the land transfer tax rebate for first-time home buyers be modernized to reflect present day home prices in Ontario.”

The LTT is charged as a percentage of the sale price of a home. Over time, the rebate’s effectiveness has eroded as home prices have increased. The maximum LTT rebate has not been updated in over two decades.

OREA’s presentation also made recommendations focused on helping reduce energy consumption in the residential housing sector. Specifically, the association also advocated for tax relief for Ontarians wishing to retrofit their homes for energy efficiency.

“OREA’s recommends the creation of a series of provincial rebates for home owners to assist them with the cost of doing the audit and the energy efficiency retrofits,” said Cardarelli. “This initiative would help Ontario achieve its greenhouse gas emission targets while injecting stimulus into the economy and supporting jobs in the construction and renovation sector.”

The Ontario Budget is the province’s financial roadmap for the year. The Budget sets the priorities for government spending, based on months of research, consultation and analysis. During the pre-consultation phase, the government seeks input from constituents and stakeholder groups. It is expected that the Minister of Finance will deliver his budget to the legislature in March 2016.

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Ontario Realtors® advocate for tax relief for first-time home buyers

Do we really make a difference?

I was in a beautiful, small Ontario town attending a well organized, volunteer-based community event.

One of our members, who had received some of our volunteer leadership development training, was on the Board of Directors of the local Chamber of Commerce.

That member was no longer a volunteer on the local real estate board but they were contributing to their community and I felt a strong sense of pride about the volunteer training that we had done.

You can call it the multiplier effect or “pay it forward”. OREA’s volunteer training was helping volunteers make an additional contribution to their local community.

In the last 10 years 14,000 members have invested in volunteer training, so just imagine the ripple effect that it’s making on their community contributions.

As I drove away from that small Ontario town I realized the positive impact that real estate volunteers have made all over the province for the betterment of communities and it citizens. And I was proud that OREA was there to help.

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Do we really make a difference?

Musical jam raises funds for shelters

Dancing and jamming were the order of the night for Ontario REALTORS® who took part in the Jam with a Past President event, held during the Political Affairs Conference (PAC) of the Ontario Real Estate Association last week.

The Jam was a highlight of the annual conference organized by OREA. This year’s PAC took place from Nov. 22 through 24 at Toronto’s Park Hyatt Hotel, while the Jam was held in the legendary Lee’s Palace musical venue on Bloor Street West.

This is the ninth consecutive year that the fundraising “Jam” has been held, with proceeds going to support shelter-based charities through the Ontario REALTORS Care® Foundation. Brian Walker, OREA’s president in 2007, led the music with his band, Shakey and the Blue Notes, while inviting other musicians from the world of real estate to jam with him, or dance to the beat. This year, the event also featured a silent auction table. Real estate boards and foundations were invited to donate items for auction, with proceeds going to shelters and charities.

This year’s event raised more than $7,000 for shelter-based charities around the province. Overall, the “Jam” has raised more than $49,000 since its inception.

The Ontario REALTORS® Care Foundation is the charitable arm of OREA. It supports shelters and shelter-based charities across Ontario through grants. The money raised helps to provide shelter, warmth and hope to people who need your support.

Some of the recipient charities are: Habitat for Humanity; Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations across the province; Collingwood Crisis Centre; YWCA Sudbury; Covenant House Toronto; Couchiching Jubilee House; Domestic Abuse Services Oxford; Community Living Mississauga; the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa; and the Regional Hospice of Quinte, among others. For more details, see the “Grants” page of the foundation’s website.

It’s not too late to make a donation. Visit www.realtorscareontario.ca

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Musical jam raises funds for shelters