(As published in the Aurora Banner, Thursday, November 26, 2015)

The holiday season is almost here!  The Town is waiting in eager anticipation for a visit from our favourite jolly man dressed in red, Santa Claus! I invite you all to join us on Saturday, November 28 at 6 p.m. for the most festive event of the year, Aurora’s Santa Under the Stars Parade. Please visit www.aurora.ca/specialevents for more information and a listing of the upcoming special events this holiday season.

Even though this year is almost ending, we are still working on a number of important initiatives.  Town Staff and Aurora Town Council have been effectively working through the budget process. The goal is to have the final budget approved on Tuesday, December 8 at the Council Meeting. Please visit our budget web page at www.aurora.ca/budget for more details about the 2016 Budget.

On another note, municipalities in Ontario face exceptional pressure about infrastructure development, access to quality services and the ability to generate sources of revenue to meet the needs of residents. With the emergence of cutbacks and increasing cost pressures, we need to find alternate sources of revenue versus the current user fees, taxes and development charges. The Provincial Government is investigating additional revenue opportunities similar to those provided for in The City of Toronto Act, which includes a municipal land transfer tax. The proposal is still under consideration by the Ontario Government. Stay tuned for further developments.

Also, don’t miss the upcoming Culture Quest event on Saturday, November 28 at 9 a.m. Participate in an urban adventure race and receive clues to explore Aurora’s Cultural Precinct. The event will help our consultant continue to gather community input for the future design and concept plan for the Cultural Precinct that will be located in Aurora’s downtown heritage district. We need input from our residents to create a plan that meets the needs of our local community. For more information on this project, please visit www.aurora.ca/culturalprecinct.

With the winter weather fast approaching, please remember that Winter Parking Restrictions are in effect from Sunday, November 15 to Friday, April 15, 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Vehicles are not permitted to be parked on the street, over sidewalks or onto the roadway. This is hazardous for residents and obstructs the ability of our Infrastructure and Environmental Services staff to plow our roads and sidewalks. For more information, please call 905-726-4751 or visit www.aurora.ca.

This holiday season, I would encourage everyone to participate in the tradition of giving by supporting the Aurora Food Pantry. Please visit the pantry’s website at  www.aurorafoodpantry.ca to see what assistance is needed this season. I would also encourage our community to give generously to Aurora’s Salvation Army Kettle Drive which runs until Thursday, December 24. Contributions to this campaign will provide practical assistance to vulnerable members of our community throughout the year. Look out for the kettles in Aurora at Town events, The Real Canadian Superstore, Metro and the three LCBO’s in town.

Ee have many exciting events, programs and initiatives happening in Aurora! Keep yourself updated on what’s happening by visiting the Town’s website, reading the local Notice Board and subscribing to our social media feeds and monthly e-newsletter. We have a variety of channels to keep you updated and informed! See you around Town!