The Town of Oakville and the City of Burlington are largely urban, while the Towns of Milton and Halton Hills to the north are significantly more rural. Together with urbanization in the neighbouring Regional Municipality of Peel, the urban area of the GTHA is contiguous all the way from the City of Hamilton to the City of Toronto, as is visible on satellite images of the GTHA and the Golden Horseshoe.
Halton has been ranked by Maclean's national crime ranking report as being the "safest place to live" in the Greater Toronto Area, and one of the top 5 in Canada.
Halton Region experienced a growth rate of 17.1% between 2001 and 2006, and 14.2% between 2006 and 2011, giving it one of the highest growth rates in the country. Despite the unprecedented growth in residential development, agriculture and protected lands along the Niagara Escarpment are still the predominant land uses in the Region.
The Regional Municipality of Halton was established on 1 January 1974 as the successor to the former Halton County by the Regional Municipality of Halton Act, 1973. From 1 January 2003, it has been governed by the Municipal Act, 2001.
Until the 2000 municipal elections, the Chairman of the Regional Council had been appointed by the Ontario government. From that date, it has been an elective position. Joyce Savoline was the last appointed Chairman, and was elected and reelected as Chairman until her retirement from the position in 2006. The current Regional Chairman is Gary Carr.
The Council consists of the elected Chairman, the mayors of the local municipalities, and regional councillors elected by wards from the local municipalities (who also sit on their respective municipal councils).
The current membership of the council is as follows:
Identification of urban and rural features of the Region.
While the urban areas of Burlington, Oakville and Milton are experiencing rapid growth, there is still a significant proportion of the Region that is still rural, most of which is protected as part of the provincial Greenbelt or as part of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
Halton is somewhat unique, in that it has three distinct climate zones within its relatively small area, which are as follows:
Zone 5a - Halton Hills lying to the north of the Niagara Escarpment, together with the Town of Milton within the Grand River watershed
Zone 5b - the remainder of Halton Hills, Milton north of Derry Road, and that part of Burlington lying north of the Niagara Escarpment