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Mayor’s Mailbag – April 2022 Roundup – Support for Ukrainian Refugees; Burlington Taking on Climate Change

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Mailbag – April 2022 roundup.

The Mayor’s Monday Mailbag is a weekly initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office has launched to share answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at mayor@burlington.ca or the Mayor’s social media platforms.

At the end of the month, we publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.

Mayor’s Mailbag – April 2022 Roundup

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES SUPPORT

QUESTION:

“What kind of supports and services does the Region of Halton have in place to help Ukrainian refugees?”

ANSWER:

This resource list provides information on existing supports and services in Halton that may assist arriving refugees affected by the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Please note that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is introducing new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily or permanently. A dedicated service channel for Ukrainian immigration enquiries is available for clients both in Canada and abroad at 613-321-4243, with collect calls accepted. Clients can add the keyword “Ukraine2022” to the IRCC crisis web form with their enquiry and it will be prioritized.

Halton Community Services Directory:

The Halton Community Services Directory (HCSD) provides access to information on a wide range of community and human services. Human services range from access to basic necessities of life to enhancement of personal and social growth.

  • A separate webpage on Support for Ukraine and translation of information is available.
  • Please contact any organization listed prior to visiting in person to receive the most current service information.

Halton Multicultural Council:

Halton Multicultural Council (HMC Connections) is a community-based settlement agency that provides a variety of programs and services to immigrant and refugee communities including:

  • Information, referral, orientation to Halton, Ontario and Canada
  • Counselling
  • English language classes
  • Employment supports and specialized supports for highly skilled immigrants
  • Adult, youth and senior groups and programs
  • Transitional housing
  • Crisis management for newcomers
  • Career Accelerator Program for internationally trained health care professionals; and
  • Interpretation and translation.

Employment and Financial Supports:

Halton Region provides a range of employment and financial supports, including:

  • Ontario Works: Ukrainian refugees who have not been sponsored to Canada who are residing in Halton may apply for Ontario Works assistance by applying online or by calling 311. If determined eligible for Ontario Works assistance, Ukrainian refugees can receive money to help with the costs of food, housing and health related items (e.g. prescription drugs). The amount of money provided depends on the family size as well as the family’s income, assets and housing costs.
  • Employment Assistance: Through Employment Halton, anyone can access our virtual employment workshops 24/7 (available on our website) and/or sign up for our monthly calendar workshops through ca, see “News and Events”. In addition, Ukrainians with a work permit may receive assistance through Employment Halton to find a job. Employment Halton staff work one-on-one with residents to help them prepare for, obtain and maintain employment. We partner with organizations across the region to identify employment opportunities for qualified candidates.
  • Subsidized Passes for Low Income Transit (SPLIT): Through the SPLIT program, Ukrainian refugees (regardless of sponsorship status) may apply for assistance with the cost of a bus pass or tickets in Burlington, Milton and Oakville or the cost to participate in the ActiVan or Taxi Scrip programs in Halton Hills.  If eligible, 50% of the transportation costs will be paid on the individual’s behalf.  Individuals may apply for assistance through the SPLIT program online or by calling 311.

Housing Supports and Services:

Halton Region provides a range of housing supports and services, including:

  • Halton Access to Community Housing (HATCH): Ukrainian refugees may apply to the HATCH wait list for subsidized housing in Halton, including the newcomers to Canada housing priority. Verification of employment or financial assistance income such as Ontario Works is required to be eligible on HATCH. Once on the HATCH wait list, potential housing allowance programs like the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program may also be available to support these families. COHB provides permanent ongoing funding directly to eligible individuals and families to supplement their private market rents in Halton.
  • Halton Housing Help: While Ukrainian refugees wait for permanent subsidized housing programs from the HATCH wait list, Halton Housing Help can assist them find suitable, affordable accommodations in Halton.
  • Housing Stability Fund: The Housing Stability Fund can assist with the acquisition of basic furniture, beds moving costs, last month’s rent as well as other incidentals.
  • Shelters: Halton Region also can provide family emergency shelter to individuals arriving at its shelter facility in Burlington. Safe, temporary rooms with in-suite amenities can be provided. On-site supportive services to help Ukrainian refugees acquire more permanent housing and access to social services and supports can also be provided while in the shelter program.

Child Care and Parental Supports:

Halton Region provides child care and parental supports, including:

  • Child Care Fee SubsidyUkrainian refugees living in Halton may be eligible for child care fee subsidy. The child care fee subsidy program helps families who qualify with the cost of child care for children who are 0-12 years of age. The subsidy is available to families who are attending school, working or have a referral for a medical or exception circumstance. Individuals may apply for child care fee subsidy, online at www.halton.ca/For-Residents/Children-and-Parenting/Need-Help-with-the-Cost-of-Child-Care or by calling 311.
  • EarlyON Child and Family Centres: Ukrainian families can attend EarlyON Child and Family Centres to participate in programs, get some parenting support or connect with other parents/caregivers and their children. EarlyON Centres are for children aged 0-6 years and their parents/caregivers.
  • Children’s Developmental Services: For Ukrainian families who have children who are at developmental risk or have special needs, they can access multiple programs through Children’s Developmental Services. Referrals can be made with parent consent by calling 311.
    • Infant and Child Development Services: Supports children in their homes from birth to school entry with development of language, thinking/play, movement, social, and self care skills.
      • Services are available to babies born under 37 weeks; multiples (2 or more); traumatic birth or prenatal history; history of prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs; children not reaching their developmental milestones; children with diagnoses that may impact development; risk factors that may impact attachment with child.
    • Inclusion Services: Supports successful participation and skill development for children birth until age 12 attending licensed child, nursery school or licensed home child care.
    • Family and Community Behavioural Services: Supports families, caregivers and professionals who are caring for a child/youth age 2-21 who have a diagnosed developmental disability and /or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to understand a child’s behavior, build independence, self-regulation, successful relationships, hygiene and social skills.

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CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES

QUESTION:

“We need to take climate change seriously — what are the City of Burlington and Council doing with respect to climate action?”

ANSWER:

High level timeline of Council Actions:

  • Climate Emergency Declared – April 2019 — this applies a climate lens to decision-making, programs, budget, etc.;
  • Vision to Focus – 2019 – Council priorities identified to complete Climate Action Plan; develop the Climate Adaptation Plan; and update Corporate Energy & Emissions Management Plan, among others;
  • Corporate Energy & Emissions Management Plan (for City operations) with a target for City operations to be net carbon neutral by 2040 – this was approved by Council in 2019;
  • Climate Action Plan (for the community) with a target to be a net carbon neutral community by 2050 – this was approved by Council in 2020; and
  • Climate Adaptation Plan – Climate Resilient Burlington: a Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather – final draft to be presented to committee & Council in May 2022.

Note: It’s important to note BurlingtonGreen’s contributions in the City’s climate action plan: the group participates on the stakeholder advisory committee for the Climate Action Plan (as well as the former Community Energy Plan); actively participated in the workshops to develop Climate Resilient Burlington, the climate adaptation plan; and is also represented on the Bay Area Climate Change Council.

 Climate Action Plan Priorities:

1. Electric Mobility Strategy

  • City staff are working in partnership with BurlingtonGreen to develop our first community based Electric Mobility Strategy (BG has a ‘Make the Switch’ program to encourage people to adopt electric vehicles – EVs – and have had some great social media campaigns to help promote and spread awareness of EVs);
  • Focus of this project is on light-duty vehicles;
  • Burlington Transit is working with CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium);
  • The transportation sector is responsible for more than 40% of our community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Electrification of the transportation sector is an important initiative to meet our net carbon neutral goal;
  • The purpose of the strategy is to identify actions that can be supported by the municipality and within the community to encourage the transition to electric mobility in the community — in addition to vehicles, th City of Burlington is also looking at the opportunities and barriers to support e-bikes and stand up e-scooters;
  • The work to develop involves looking at strategies and best practices in other communities, market trends in EVs, EV ownership data at an aggregated level; community engagement through surveys; interviews with key stakeholders; engagement with an advisory committee; and one-on-one discussions with Council members;
  • Three surveys were posted on the City’s engagement portal ‘Get Involved Burlington’, looking at feedback from the community on EVs, e-bikes and e-scooters and had a great response — so we’re looking forward to digging into the results to help us identify actions that may be appropriate;
  • The City has a number of EV charging stations already installed in public city lots, primarily in the downtown core and Council has approved a budget to expand charging stations to be installed at some of our recreational facilities, as well as a downtown at ‘level 3’ or ‘fast charger’. We have also applied for funding from The Atmospheric Fund to increase the number of chargers we can install;
  • The City provides an indirect incentive to encourage electric mobility in Burlington by not charging for time at a city charging station – although a parking fee may apply depending on the parking lot and time of use;
  • Once City staff assess all the information they’ve gathered, they will start to develop some draft actions that they will share with our advisory committee and then make available for public feedback; and
  • Staff’s goal is to present the Electric Mobility Strategy to Council in September 2022 for consideration.

Note — Upcoming Event: The City and Burlington Hydro are sponsoring the Plug’n Drive MEET event where they are bringing their Mobile EV Education Trailer to Central Park in Burlington for a four week period starting on Saturday, April 23 until Friday, May 20 where residents can book an EV test drive and talk to EV ambassadors about what it’s like to own and drive an EV. Information is available on the City’s website Burlington.ca/environment or takeactionburlington.ca. Or go to Plug’n Drive’s website and look for the Burlington MEET under events.

2. Home Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program

  • Another key program area under the Climate Action Plan is a program to support homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their carbon footprint;
  • The City recently partnered with the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College to complete a feasibility study and program design to introduce a small scale program that would expand with time;
  • It would involve a small scale loan to support homeowners who wish to install air source heat pumps in their homes to reduce the use of heating their homes with fossil fuels; and they also provide cooling too;
  • We would also like to see more support at the local level for homeowners through a virtual delivery centre to assist homeowners to find information about energy audits, how to book an audit, identify potential incentive programs, assist how to review an audit, etc. Often homeowners just don’t know where to start and what’s available to help them;
  • Next steps is to have Council approve the budget in early 2023 and roll out the program; and
  • Eventually, the program could expand to also support homeowners in all sort of related sustainability initiatives, such as ensuring homes are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

3. Integrated Mobility Plan

  • Recognizing that the City is focusing on electric mobility, it’s also important that we focus on supporting sustainable modes of mobility, such as active transportation and transit;
  • Integrated mobility is another key program area in the Climate Action Plan;
  • Over the years, transportation planning has really focused on moving vehicles around the city but at a cost of sustainable transportation options;
  • Our Transportation Services Department is working on the Integrated Mobility Plan that looks at prioritizing how to move people around the city, by cycling and walking and transit, not just moving vehicles; and
  • Staff are currently working on the necessary elements to support the preferred network approved by Council and is planning to present a recommendations report to Council in December 2022.

4. Sustainable Building and Development Guidelines (for new buildings)

  • This was recently approved by Council;
  • Implementation of these guidelines is difficult because the City cannot require developers to go above and beyond the Ontario Building Code, but some local builders have been proactive. Many have utilized geothermal heating and cooling systems in their buildings that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of these buildings;
  • These guidelines are also being used in the planning of the growth we’d like to see around our Major Transit Station Areas (MTSAs) to ensure that these are complete, livable communities that support sustainable transportation measures.

5. Renewable Energy

  • The City is working with a group of students at McMaster University in Engineering and Public Policy who are doing research on municipal best practices to support renewable energy in communities; and
  • A community survey will be part of this research – to be posted later in the spring on getinvolvedburlington.ca

Climate Resilient Burlington – a Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather

  • Recognizing that we are already being impacted by the changing climate, it is important that we plan for the future by identifying those areas where we can improve resilience;
  • City of Burlington staff worked in partnership with Town of Oakville staff to prepare a climate projections report for Burlington and also created a Climate Impacts story map available online;
  • The process to develop the climate adaptation plan – ‘Climate Resilient Burlington – a Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather’ — was an intensive one, working with both City staff and community stakeholders;
  • It involved a review of the projected climate impacts, completing a risk and vulnerability assessment, prioritizing our risks, and identifying actions that can help ensure the resiliency of city operations and the community;
  • The draft plan will be presented to the Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee in early May 2022 and will be available on getinvolvedburlington.ca for review and feedback by the public;
  • This is our first edition of the Climate Action Plan — we recognize the significant time that City staff and community members made to help us develop a plan so we can work together to ensure we have a low carbon and climate resilient community.

 Corporate Energy & Emissions Management Plan

  • This term of Council approved plan guides for the City in how to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations with a goal to be net carbon neutral by 2040;
  • The redevelopment of Skyway Arena has been designed to have a low-carbon footprint with the use of a geothermal system and a future solar installation;
  • The new City View Park pavilion has been designed to be net carbon neutral and has a new solar installation;
  • City staff will be doing deep energy efficiency assessments of four major City facilities;
  • Efforts have been made to green the City fleet – we currently have a mix of 50 hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric and 100% electric vehicles in the fleet. We’re also testing and transitioning to electric landscaping equipment; and
  • The City’s Fleet Manager will be starting soon to develop a new and updated green fleet strategy to help guide future decision-making.

Collaboration

  • Collaborations and partnerships are very important to the work that the City of Burlington and Council do – we cannot take on take on climate change by ourselves;
  • The City of Burlington partnered with the City of Hamilton and Mohawk College to create the Bay Area Climate Change Council — a social collaborative to support and advocate for climate action in both bay area communities. BurlingtonGreen is also a member of the council;
  • The City also participates on the Halton Climate Collective, working with our local municipalities, Halton Region and school boards, among others, to collaborate on climate action and engage the regional community; and
  • The City is involved in provincial and national organizations to support and learn best practices from each other, such as the Clean Air Partnership and QUEST.

Information on Engagement/Websites:

  • GetInvolvedBurlington.ca – the City’s one window engagement portal for information on city led projects, such as the Electric Mobility Strategy;
  • TakeActionBurlington.ca – a blog prepared by City Sustainability Dept. staff to share information about sustainability initiatives led by the city and what’s taking place in the community;
  • Burlington.ca/environment – the City’s website for information on climate change and sustainability initiatives; and
  • BurlingtonGreen.org – for information about BG’s initiatives

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RELATED LINKS:

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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Phone: 905-335-7607
Email:  mayor@burlington.ca

Media Specialist: John Bkila
john.bkila@burlington.ca
905-335-7600