By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
An air of positivity surrounds Regional Chair John Henry as he looks forward to 2020.
Henry knows what his priorities for the new year, quickly listing three options while speaking to The Oshawa Express.
“Getting the GO Train out to Clarington… on the route that was originally planned… is one of our key priorities,” he says.
He’s also hoping for the federal government to release an aviation sector analysis related to the Pickering Airport.
Lastly, growth is another priority Henry wants the region to focus on, as well as making sure services are in place to support that growth and continue meeting the needs of the Durham communities and residents.
“We’re very close to 700,000 people [living in Durham Region],” he says.
While the influx of new residents is welcomed, Henry says in turn it brings challenges.
“As we continue to expand, we do need to continue to look at long-term care. It is a challenge trying to meet those needs now, and making sure we have the pieces in place to support that and work towards that,” he explains.
He also points out for the immediate future, the region’s budget will be front and centre.
“This year we’re looking at 2.5 per cent [increase], which includes a big commitment to the police budget, and the continued growth of the region,” he says.
Henry believes a significant announcement is coming on the Lakeshore East GO Train extension, and he is excited for the news.
“I know the work that was done through regional staff in partnership with the municipalities of Clarington, Oshawa and Whitby, and the work the mayors have done in those communities, [so hopefully] the message has been heard,” he says.
Henry points out the region has put together its business case on the extension, and it was presented to council in order to speak about the advantages of building rail where “people actually live.”
The regional chair pledges he will continue to work with every mayor, councillor and municipality across Durham Region to “advance the entire region.”
“As Durham grows, we recognize the challenges with moving people and goods, and we’re trying to accommodate that in our designs and our plans. We’re looking forward to a very bright 2020… and we do that only by working together,” he says.