(As published in the Aurora Banner, December 22, 2016)

As this year comes to an end, I hope that everyone can take some time to reflect on the positive aspects of this year and gain a renewed focus on their goals and aspirations for 2017. I am excited for all the great things to come in 2017, especially as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Town of Aurora’s Toys for Tickets program. Toys for Tickets invited those who received a parking ticket in Aurora from November 15 to December 1, for selected parking infractions, to donate a toy in lieu of paying their parking fine. As a result of this year’s program, the Town of Aurora received more than 60 new, unwrapped toys. All toys have been donated to the Aurora Lions Club Toy Drive.

I am pleased to announce that Aurora’s 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets are approved. The Town’s operating budget was approved at $60.8 million with an $18.2 million capital budget to rehabilitate roads, waterlines, Town facilities and other Town-owned infrastructure. Council and staff worked collaboratively to achieve Council’s budget target of inflation (2.1 per cent) plus 1 per cent for fiscal strategy to ensure funding for the future. The 3.1 per cent increase to the tax levy translates to an additional $80.52 on a home with an average assessed value of $770,000.

The 2017 budget is fiscally responsible but also ensures that we consider the changing needs of our residents. With a population of more than 60,000, Aurora is the fifth largest municipality in the Regional Municipality of York. Our population has more than doubled its size since 1990. Although it appears that the Town is still growing rapidly, we are actually approaching build-out and that represents a significant change in our budgeting approach. Council has been, and will continue to be, diligent in budgeting practices as we plan for the future of our community.

Council and staff are extremely grateful for all the feedback received throughout the budget process. We recognize and appreciate the opinions of our citizens and we thank you for taking an active role and interest in your community. Every submission from our residents was evaluated and we worked diligently to incorporate all suggestions. For more information on the 2017 budget, please visit aurora.ca/budget.

I am also delighted to share the news that Council approved a motion regarding the Cultural Precinct revitalization project. In early December, the results of the Cultural Precinct consultation were presented to Council. The Cultural Precinct is a three-block area bordered by Yonge Street to the west, Larmont Street to the east, Metcalfe and Church Streets to the south and Mosley Street to the north. The area includes the Town Park and Armoury and the former library and seniors’ centre, known as Library Square.

Council approved a motion to:

  • Preserve the main features of the Town Park.
  • Have staff report back on specific enhancements to Town Park for consideration by Council.
  • Have staff report back on estimates for repurposing of the Armoury and to initiate a design exercise.
  • Proceed with an application for the demolition of Town-owned buildings at 52 and 56 Victoria Street pending the relocation of tenants and begin a design exercise for redevelopment of Library Square.

Council is very pleased to move forward with plans to revitalize Aurora’s downtown core. With the input received we can begin to develop this area to become a central point for community gatherings, celebrations and a popular tourist attraction. For more information on the Cultural Precinct please visit aurora.ca/culturalprecinct.

Thank you to the patrons of the Town’s annual Santa Under the Stars event for their food donations to the Aurora Food Pantry. Your generosity and kindness will make a difference for families in Aurora during this holiday season. Don’t miss our last event of the year, Aurora’s Family First Night on Saturday, December 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Aurora Family Leisure Complex. Celebrate the new year with fun, free activities, shows and more. Visit aurora.ca/firstnight for additional details.

Stay connected with us for updates via the Town’s social media feeds, website, Notice Board or the Aurora Matters newsletter. For more information on Aurora, please visit aurora.ca.