It’s Council week! Summarized here are a few highlights from our agenda this Thursday. You can read the full agenda at: https://pub-niagararegion.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=ddfed171-0bc4-45ab-9830-e58c772c83d4&Agenda=Agenda&lang=Englishhttps://pub-niagararegion.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=06ab12b4-7d60-4daf-b06d-cda0f4019e33&Agenda=Merged&lang=English
- Public Works approved an expansion of Community Safety Zones to 12 additional sites in Niagara. A Community Safety Zone is a localized community safety initiative that highlights road safety within specific areas that result in the doubling of traffic offence fines. These areas are typically close to a school, community centre or senior’s homes or has a higher number of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. For Pelham, we will see a CSZ on Hwy 20 to Rice Road to Pinecrest Court. More information on these sites can be found at: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/council/niagara-school-year-poised-to-start-with-12-new-community-safety-zones/article_d97d5608-4728-5388-a116-44786b897419.html?
- Public Health provided an update on funds received to support staffing other resources to support social assistance applications for asylum seekers. There was also a lot of discussion on the leveling out of asylum seekers arriving in Niagara. This year we’ve received nearly 5000 individuals to date and all of them require support in terms of housing, food security, some language support, employment or access to schooling. Lots of discussion on funding and the difficulty in expecting municipalities to support services for individuals that land here due to federal policy. Find more info at: https://www.105theriver.ca/news/local-news/federal-help-still-needed-for-asylum-seekers/
- The Region had also received a funding adjustment from the province to support the expansion of the Canada-Wide Early Learning & Child Care program. Some of these funds will go to staffing in order to meet reporting requirements. Niagara is only operating at 64% of licensed child care capacity primarily due to staffing shortfalls. As a result, the Region has been advocating for wage increases Early Childhood Educators and workforce funding that will allow for things such as education and training to make qualifying for these positions easier to access. This will be part of our advocacy work at AMO next week.
Other notable items:
- Councillor Batemen also brought forward a motion promoting advocacy with the Province on free coverage, highlighting the important impact birth control can have with respect to promoting gender equality.
- Budget discussions started at the end of July with a base of 9% increase. I know Council will largely have a focus on bringing this number down. The approval of the budget is long process where we sift through expenditures and determine where to delay or cut cost. Discussions will resume throughout the fall with a final budget determined by the end of the year. You can find more information on these discussions via the St. Catharines Standard: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/council/early-look-at-niagara-region-s-2024-budget-tough-decisions-loom/article_d1c712c0-2237-5dbb-b14a-f5a2afa73e32.html?
Council meets Thursday, August 17, 2023 to discuss these items. You can watch Committee and Council meetings online at https://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/council-meetings.aspx