Lawson Hunter ask Council not to become a 'lame duck' and have the report get lost in the transition to a new term

By Lawson Hunter

July 7th, 2022


Lawson Hunter delegated at a Standing Committee earlier today to comment in support of “Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adopting to Our Warmer, Wetter, and Wilder Weather”. He said:

To my mind, this is one of the best reports I have seen this Council receive this term. I have every confidence that this committee will accept this report. My hope is that you will embrace the messages contained within and set in motion the recommendations with the urgency and the full commitment that they require.

Unfortunately, this report comes at a time when Council is near the end of its term, a ‘near lame duck Council’. Please do what you can to see that this report does not get lost in the transition to a new term and more importantly, that the City implements many, if not all, of the plans of action.

Lawson Hunter: “we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly.”

I have delegated to Council on more than one occasion about Mitigating Climate Change. Today, I’m here to say that I’ve turned a corner in my thinking. I still believe in Mitigation but my personal viewpoint is that we need to shift more towards Adaptation.

In 2019, Burlington City Council, along with many other municipalities in Canada, declared a “Climate Emergency”. At the time, the International Panel on Climate Change stated that we had 12 years to ‘mitigate’ climate change. Well, we’ve got 9 years left before we pass the point of no return. Nine years to keep global GHG emissions below 350 parts per million. Sorry to tell you, but we passed 410 ppm a mere four months later. The IPCC (which the report references) told us that we needed to limit average temperature level increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’ve blown past that. We now talk about 2 degrees, or even 3 or 4 degrees by the end of the century.

The dilemma, we face is our brains protect us by pushing those events from the past further and further out of our minds as we tend to focus on our day to day activities. ‘Live in the moment’ our coaches, and trainers, and self-help gurus tell us. Well, we can’t do that anymore. Not when those “climate events” keep coming, more frequently and harder and closer to home.

Sure, Burlington experienced the Ice Storm of 2013 and the Flood of 2014. A year ago, we watched on TV the drought and fire and flood that hit B.C. And in May of this year, less than two months ago, we narrowly missed the Great Canadian Derecho that tore a path of destruction from Windsor to Quebec City. A derecho is when a thunderstorm marries a tornado and creates a hurricane on land.

We, as a global society, recovered from the long list of environmental crises but did we learn anything from them? In her book, “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters”, Juliette Kayyem says, for the most part we did. She writes, “It isn’t that you can manage a disaster so that no harm will occur, … Essentially, we can learn to fail, more safely.”

My point is, we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly. And even if we are affected we, “Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again” as the song says. We take pride in Building Back Better. In a word we become ‘Resilient’.

And that brings me to my one, small uneasiness about this report. Words are important. They can spur us into action or they can lull us into complacency.

For example, in this report the word Resilience is used quite often in place of Adaptation. Resilience is described as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”, or “the ability to cope with and recover from setbacks”, or, “to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune”.

The impact of the 2014 flood on a Burlington basement

Climate Change is neither a difficulty, a setback or a misfortune. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s not a ‘what-if’ scenario. It’s a when-it-will-strike, there will be consequences kind of thing.

The report talks a lot about ‘collaboration’ as if that were a new thing. One has to hope that the City already ‘collaborates’ with entities like Burlington Hydro, Enbridge, the RBG and other stakeholders. I respect that stakeholders were invited to the table, but the collaboration must go further than a dozen or so meetings. It must infuse the landscape. Every organization, every company, every developer, every resident, should ask themselves “Is this the best we can do to respond to a climate change event?” And, “what part can I play after a disaster has impacted my neighbours?” rather than let ‘the City’ clean up the mess.

We are fighting against a system that none of us created. A system of global off-shoring, over consumption, externalities, short-term thinking, a ‘make it-break it-toss it’ society that is leading us over a cliff. Burlington used to be, largely, self-sufficient. Broken global supply chains have shown us that that is not sustainable anymore.

I get it. Your e-mail boxes are over-flowing with residents’ complaints about garbage, about potholes, about not enough ice rinks in the city. But you know what? Those fall into the category of the short-term thinking that got us here.

We, all of us, need to have the courage to say, “Stop it for a moment.” We need to shift our focus to ‘What will the impact of our decisions today, have on future generations?”. I’ve already spoken to Council about thinking, not in 20 years, or 50 years, but using the Indigenous wisdom of ‘seven generations’. In seven generations, 200 years or so, hurricanes, drought, floods, war, famine, will all probably hit Burlington. What will we construct today that will help future generations to Adapt?

We need to commit to the recommendations in this report. We need to set priorities. We need to ensure success by directing enough of the City’s budget now and into the future towards these goals. Let me tell you, it’s going to hurt, but future generations will thank us.

We also need to acknowledge the things that we’ve done wrong, but also what we did right to respond to disasters. We can adapt to a rapidly changing environment. COVID taught us that. Will we heed that lesson?

Biologically speaking, adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism, or species becomes better suited to its environment”. Not us trying to change the environment to suit our needs.

We are heading down the train track and no one’s got their hands on the brake. Here’s an example. And it is in no way a slam against Burlington Hydro. Burlington has experienced 33 power outages since January 1 of this year.

The 2013 ice storm blocked roads for days

My question is – is sixty plus outages acceptable when every house and building could have its own renewable energy source? Is 60 plus outages the new normal that we should expect? Again, I’m not blaming Burlington Hydro – it has to deal with flooding, wind storms, ice build up, drivers knocking down poles, and a few instances of preventative maintenance by the utility. Burlington Hydro is working with a system that was designed in the 1950’s, built in the 60’s and 70’s, and feeding power from a transmission system that was created some 100 years ago. Doomed to fail.

But see, there I go talking about a Mitigation to the climate change problem. It’s difficult to separate the two. We need both courses of Action. I’m here to ask you to take the next 15 or 20 minutes and really concentrate on what this city – not City (with a capital C), but the community of Burlington can do to prepare to ‘fail more safely’ because we will fail when it comes to climate change, it’s almost guaranteed.

I’m not an expert. You’ve got plenty of smart people on staff. You’ve already got a shelf full of reports, and you’ve got partnerships with good organizations with all kinds of environmental experience. What I want to impress upon you is the sense of urgency that I feel.

I don’t want Burlington to just ‘Build Back Better’. We can ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ or we can prepare for the worst and hope that it never comes to that.


• Don’t be lulled into complacency with aspirations and buzzwords.
• Give all City staff adequate training in first aid and disaster relief.
• Empower employees to assist and support the rest of the community, be it disaster, physical condition, mental health situation, knowing what to do and where to go in an emergency.
• Create more heating and cooling stations, and emergency shelters.
• Make floodplain maps easily accessible and support Conservation Halton’s program and frequency of new maps created.
• Instill a long-term vision in City staff, residents, local employees that we need to work together, support each other, for the common good.
• Work with developers, the largest group of game-changers, to build better, more equitably, and with robust safety features – additional stair egress, adequate fire protection and services.
• Recognize that disaster could happen at any time, in any location, and know how to respond.
• Learn to fail, more safely.

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Lawson Hunter interviews Gazette publisher and former Council member Rick Craven - should be a hoot.

By Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2022



Lawson Hunter is one of those Burlingtonians who gets involved.

Lawson Hunter delegating before Burlington City Council

He has delegated at city hall on numerous occasions and served on the Board of a number of organizations.

He has a regular podcast he does each week called Burlington NOW on which he interviews people he thinks are interesting.

He was the first person to interview Scott Wallace and get part of the unfortunate story about the closure of Burlington Taxi out to the public.

Lawson Hunter also does a regular program on CFMU, the McMaster University radio station.

Lawson gave me a call before the end of 2021 and asked if I  would go on the air with him and talk about how we all got through that year.

I am a newspaper person:; radio and TV were never mediums I worked with.  I talk too fast for radio and my ears are too big for television.

But a chance to promote the Gazette was not something I wanted to miss.

The conversation we had is being broadcast over the McMaster University radio station – CFMU.

Link to that broadcast is HERE

The interview will air live at 5pm Monday on CFMU-FM 93.3. If you are in Burlington you should be able to pick up the interview on your radio.  If not click on the link above at 5:00 pm

I was advised that I share the program with former Councillor Rick Craven – hearing the differences in our opinions should be a hoot.


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Lawson Hunter wants city council to 'get it right' when they look to the public for their views on the Region's Official Plan review.

Delegating before city council is both a tradition and an important part of citizens getting their views before those elected to guide the city and direct the administration on what they want done.

Burlington has some fine delegators; people who do their homework and believe their role is to hold city council accountable.  Yesterday Hunter Lawson delegated on the plans the Region of Halton has for the updating of its Official Plan.

Lawson delegated several hours before Curt Benson, Planner for the Region, talked about the five Discussion papers the Region has prepared. Benson referred to the Lawson delegation several times during the long explanation he gave members of Council.  Hunter Lawson had been heard and Curt Benson had listened.

Lawson now gives his opinion on what public engagement is all about.

opiniongreen 100x100By Lawson Hunter

August 12th, 2020



Halton Regional Council held a workshop on July 8th and a Council Meeting on July 15th to deal with the Region’s upcoming Official Plan Review (ROPR) and how it relates to Planning changes recently made by the Province through the Greenbelt Plan, the Growth Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.

A City’s Official Plan must conform to the Region’s Official Plan which must conform to several Provincial Bills and Regulations. Over the past two years, the Provincial government has been busy making drastic amendments to Provincial Plans and the Provincial Policy Statement. This is why the citizens of Burlington must be informed and engaged.

Reg review process

Five Discussion Papers were drawn up that form the key themes of the Regional Official Plan Review:

Climate Change;

Natural Heritage;

Rural and Agricultural System;

Regional Urban Structure; and

North Aldershot Planning Area.

I delegated to Council to urge them to go beyond what the Region has planned for Public Engagement. From what I can gather, it is limited to the an online survey and one or two Public Information Centres, which will be difficult given our challenges with social distancing due to coronavirus. I propose that the City of Burlington hold its own Public Engagement strategy to inform the public of the importance of the Regional Official Plan as it relates not only to Land Use but to the Climate Emergency that this Council has declared. We need a ‘made in Burlington’ engagement plan. (Note: Curt Benson, Director of Planning Services at the Region, later told Council that there would be 4 PICs)

Escarpment - view to fieldsThough the Regional Official Plan is not slated to be finalized until Q4 2021, and the Region has hinted that Public Engagement will be undertaken – my concern centres on the fact that public engagement was slated to run from July 15th to Sept. 28th. Summer months are well known to be a slow time to engage the public. The time between July 15th, the day that Regional Council accepted the Discussion Papers, and July 29th, the day that public notice was sent of a request for comments, is a concern. The next Regional Council meeting will be Sept. 16th, when it’s expected Council will discuss public feedback, which is twelve days before the public engagement period ends. Neither inspires confidence that public engagement will be full and effective. (Note: Benson later told Council that Regional Staff would require considerable time to evaluate and prepare a report for Council’s review)

Public engagement is also noted for Phase 3 of the process but by that time Regional staff will have prepared ‘preferred options’ which will limit public discussion, as we have seen over and over again – a public display of an either/or choice or worse, “adopt this or nothing”.

In comparison, the City of Burlington has held extensive public engagement regarding the City’s ‘Adopted Official Plan’ and specifically the ‘Taking a Closer Look at Downtown’. Surveys (online and paper); 7 Citizen Action Labs; 17 pop-up events; outreach to 130 students and the Burlington Youth Council and the Halton Multicultural Council; walking tours; 3 drop-in sessions; and an upcoming online Town Hall on Aug. 18th. An unprecedented amount of effort.

Closer look image

Scoped Review of the Downtown portion of the affirmed but not yet adopted Official Plan

So I must ask, “Is Downtown Burlington more important than North Aldershot, the Rural and Agricultural System, Climate Change?” Each of the five topics that the Region is seeking public comment on is important in its own right. How much emphasis does the Region and the City place on these planning issues?

The timing of public engagement needs to be pushed back into the Fall to allow for a comprehensive process and full disclosure so that residents can digest, and discuss among themselves, the various reports, some of which are longer than 100 pages.

If the Region is not prepared to do this, then the City of Burlington must insist on these changes so that at least Burlington is prepared to look into the future and make its own Official Plan the best that it can be.

A municipal Official Plan does not inspire most residents to take notice. Despite the endless discussions this Council has had on its ‘Adopted Official Plan’, most Burlington citizens, outside of a few committed downtown residents, have only a vague notion of the significance an Official Plan has on how this city will look and operate for decades to come.

We need the Province to hear more than just a nice letter stating that the Region is discussing Climate Change and Natural Heritage and the rest. Each deserves comprehensive public engagement not only with ‘stakeholders’ but with the public that will be affected by those issues and by the Province’s changes to Plans such as the Growth Plan and the Greenbelt Plan, to specific topics such as lessening Environmental Assessments and removing restrictions that protect Endangered Species and eliminating zoning designations.

This is, perhaps, our best chance to let the Provincial government know exactly how we feel about those changes and how we want our city and region to look, feel, and develop for our children and future generations.

Appleby GO station

Appleby GO station – one of the hubs (now called MTSA’s) – Major Transit Service Area – where the city wants intensive development to take place. Think in terms of concentrations of apartments

I’m sure someone will note that it is the traditional practice of the Province to allow public feedback through letters, online postings or the Environmental Registry. But, you also have to admit that several of these changes were made under the cover of the COVID crisis, behind a wall of secrecy or hidden within some omnibus bill.

This is our chance to be heard. Public Engagement needs to reach the highest level we have ever known in this community. We need to pull out all the stops, educate, explain and underscore that changes to legislation and the Official Plan will have a major impact on our community for the next 30 years.

The Official Plan is the most significant tool that a city has to influence how neighbourhoods will look. How and where parks and amenities are located. What mixture of high, low and mid-level housing will be allowed. What transit and transportation methods will have priority. Where and what kind of development will be permitted – rural or urban, greenfield or intensification. Will we have walkable, complete streets or continue to bow to the car culture? Where and what kind of industry and business will be located in appropriate areas?

Hunter Lawson

Lawson Hunter

All of these things, and more, affect our promise to reduce GHG emissions over that same 30 years. The Land Use policies ‘we’ decide to enshrine will ensure that our air is clean, our neighbourhoods are livable, that we can accept the influx of new residents that we know are coming, 1.1 million residents in Halton by 2051, depending on whose forecasts you choose to accept.

Public Engagement, if done right, represents an unparalleled opportunity to discover what the public really wants our city, region and planet to look like – now and in the future.

Does that not require an extensive, well-funded and timely occasion to inform and listen to what the majority of citizens want?

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Lawson Hunter underwhelmed with council's response to his delegation.

opiniongreen 100x100By Lawson Hunter

November 5th, 2019



The deafening silence that followed my delegation to Council of the Whole on Nov. 4th spoke volumes. I was there to urge Council to back up their claim of a ‘Climate Emergency’ as they pondered the Proposed 2020 Budget.

V2F coverThe agenda item, “2018-2022 Burlington’s Plan Vision to Focus Financial Plan” was no doubt expected to be ‘received and filed’. However, as this would be Council’s (and the public’s) first glance at the new Budget – I jumped right on it and registered to delegate. I don’t think anyone expected that to happen. After all, a fuller report goes to Council November 18 after three closed Council Workshops to discuss in detail what is being proposed. Staff would like all this Budget stuff wrapped up by year’s end. Note: the 2019 Budget wasn’t finalized until March 26th of this year.

I visited the City’s website to gather some background and see what had been proposed. I clicked on Budget 2020 and there revealed was my first dilemma – the budget listed was for 2019.

Nevertheless, I had the 2019-2028 Approved Capital Budget and the latest version of ‘Vision to Focus’ (V2F) the guiding document that grew out of Burlington’s 25-Year Strategic Plan. Ambitious goals but no Operational budget numbers.

After an admittedly lame attempt at humour, I painted a nightmare scenario where the City took no action to address Climate Change (I called it a Climate Crisis). I asked, “What would people think of Council’s inaction 20, 30, 40 years from now?”.

In the Staff Report it stated:
It is important to note the V2F work plan is not being implemented in a vacuum, but rather aligned with organizational objectives and work plans and being cascaded down and linked into service plans.

If this is true, how is it that Council is being asked to approve a Budget without a Mobility Hub Plan; an Integrated Mobility Plan; a Climate Action Plan; an Urban Forestry Management Plan; a Green Fleet Plan; not to mention an official Official Plan?

The budget process provides a venue in which decisions are made to ensure the appropriate balance between affordability, service levels and financial sustainability are maintained.

There’s no balance to be had. We must act on all fronts and start the process today. Enough with studies. There are plenty of examples as to what other cities are doing to fight climate change. In fact, I gave various Council members a list of 103 actionable items that others cities in Canada have already put in place. Grab those concepts with both hands and start putting them into this Budget, I pleaded.

On the day before my delegation I stumbled upon the Proposed Budget 2020, all 686 pages of it. (

Approve the 2020 Operating Budget including any budget amendments approved by the Committee of the Whole -Budget to be applied against the proposed net tax levy amount of $173,597,452;

Capital Budget for the City of Burlington, with a gross amount of $85,791,551

Property taxes represent 65.5% of income for the City. The rest of the $264.9 million the City expends come from various revenues sources (think recreation fees, fines & debentures). However, the Budget default is already set at a 4% increase. Why look for any extras?

One thing that popped out at me was:
Business cases to address climate change impacts of $921K result in an additional tax increase of 0.55%

So what are we saying here? If you want to do something about climate change it’s going to go over-budget?

Additional Items for consideration (not included in the proposed budget)
I think says a lot when you dangle nice concepts such as ‘Free transit for children under the age of 12”, and ‘Additional Forestry staff to implement a City-wide Tree By-law’ out on a limb, easy to chop off so you can say, “At least we kept the Budget increase at 4%”.

I also turned to the proposed Capital Budget to get a flavour of how the City viewed long-term actions. Even though it’s a bit of ‘apples to oranges’ the ‘Vision to Focus’ listed one of its 5 Focus Areas, “Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure and a Resilient Environment” the Budget lists many of the same items as “A Healthy and Greener City”. Say it quickly – it sounds very ‘environmental’. But including Cemeteries, Parks & Rec, and Organized Sport Support are a bit of a stretch for me.

When looking at the Capital Budget, I focused on things that could possibly relate to Climate Change: Tree Management – OK, Environment and Energy – yep, Storage Water Drainage – well, maybe. And where was Transit? That came under ‘A City that Moves’ along with Parking, Roads and Transportation.

So I tallied up the 324 Infrastructure spending items in the ‘Adopted Capital Budget 2019-2028’ and organized them as: Transportation, Roads, Bridges & Streetlights = 56.5% (of budget); Parks, Community Centres, Splashpads = 29%; Erosion, Culverts, Cycling & Trails = 10%; and finally, Transit = 4.5%.

I’ll leave it up to you what you consider Climate Change adaptation, and how much emphasis the City places on my motivating concern.

Flood presentation - Burlington creeks

Lawson Hunter wanted maps which he finds don’t exist. This is the best the Gazette has.

With a minute to spare, I concluded by noting some of the shoreline clean-ups that I, and many others have done. I mentioned the Repair Café (next one on Nov. 16), my weekly environmental podcast, and the fact that I took the bus to City Hall. I’ve asked the City for floodplain maps and ‘buried creek’ and culvert maps – apparently, they don’t exist! This was not to put myself on a pedestal but to merely observe that I, and others in Burlington, are doing their best to combat Climate Change, often without much in the way of thanks.

Now it was time for City Council to do their part come Budget 2020.

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Handweavers and Spinners exhibiting at the Art Gallery

By Staff

January 25th, 2023



The Art Gallery of Burlington is proud to partner with the Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild (BHWSG) to present this collaborative exhibition of ceramic and textile. The use of the collection as a catalyst to connect multiple art and craft mediums is an exciting way to launch this year’s celebration of the Permanent Collection’s 40th anniversary.

Members of the BHWSG were asked to select a piece from the AGB’s Permanent Collection to act as a source of inspiration for new work. The spark ranged from colour palettes to personal connections with the ceramic artist. Each project pushed members to expand beyond their current practice and try something new – from technique to material to subject matter. The resulting works not only speak to the original collection piece, but also provide insight into how pieces can be viewed from different perspectives.

Image Credits: (L-R) DaNisha Sculpture, Starry Night, 1997. Earthenware, stains, glaze. 1998.054.0.1. Donated by Joan Bennett, 1998. Photo credit: Kat Williams. Lois Wyndham, Night Shades, 2022. Handweaving, rep weave.

The Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild are a dynamic community of local fibre enthusiasts who work, play, and create with fibre to make beautiful things. While most Guild members weave or spin, many also share diverse but allied interests, such as dyeing, basketry, knitting, felting and needle felting, braiding, beading, tatting, and bobbin lace making.

CURATOR: Christine Saly-Chapman

ARTISTS that are participating are: Melanie Bailey Cox, Lorraine Bissell, Fran Boisvert, Cathy Disbrow, Jennifer Earle, Marilyn Fish, Lawson Hunter, Linda Johnson, Vicki Lynch, Nancy Mazzetti, Jennifer Neve, Colleen Nolan, Hitoko Okada, Barbara Ozog, Nancy Rose, Susan Stasiuk, Ruth Thoem, MargaretJane Wallace, Lois Wyndham

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Fund raising target is reached - Teen Tour Band will have music to celebrate and recognize it's 75th Anniversary.

By Staff

September 8th, 2022



About a month ago Lawson Hunter came up with an idea:

The Burlington Teen Tour Band (BTTB) was approaching its 75th Anniversary and he thought having a piece of music written to celebrate that occasion was a great idea.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band has represented the city of Burlington, and its residents, throughout the world over the years – Expo ‘67, Japan, D-Day ceremonies in France, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbour, and even the Tournament of Roses (Rose Bowl Parade). Hunter feels it’s time to give something back to the Band.

The Burlington Teen Tour Bank performing on the Naval Promenade in Spencer Smith Park.

Lawson Hunter, a long time Burlington resident, is proud about a lot of things that make his city a great place to live, work, and enjoy life. One of the things that fosters that pride is the Burlington Teen Tour Band (BTTB), now celebrating its 75th Anniversary.

In discussions with BTTB Managing Director, Rob Bennett, Hunter learned that the Band had no official piece of music to commemorate the anniversary. Bennett explained that years ago, to celebrate an earlier anniversary, a special piece of band music was commissioned to mark the occasion. Why not have one for the 75th Hunter thought.

Ryan Meeboer will be composing the music that will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Teen Tour Band

As circumstance would have it, Hunter had a conversation with fellow Burlington resident Ryan Meeboer, a musical educator and a professional composer of music. Meeboer’s compositions are used by concert bands of all different levels of skill and band sizes (small jazz groups, ensembles, big bands). In fact, Meeboer has even worked with the Burlington Teen Tour Band.

The idea struck Hunter that Ryan Meeboer, who publishes his compositions through Eighth Note Publications, could write a piece to commemorate the BTTB’s 75th anniversary. The challenge is the cost of commissioning a complex score (with dozens of different instruments), royalties, fees, publishing and printing of charts.

Lawson Hunter: Burlington Resident wants to give Burlington Teen Tour Band a Musical Gift

He set out to raise funds – needed $3000.

“I thought the solution would be to initiate a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds,” Hunter states. has raised money for thousands of campaigns to help ‘kickstart’ artistic projects. Potential donors register, post a donation, but only pay if the campaign reaches it’s target goal. “It’s an all-or-nothing style of raising funds for a good cause,” explains Hunter.

How good is it?

THANK YOU, THANK YOU. The campaign is a success. The Burlington Teen Tour Band will have a song composed for the group to celebrate its 75th Anniversary. The hope is that the music will be written and rehearsals will begin by the end of the year. BTTB will perform a beautiful piece of music for years to come – all thanks to you.

Lawson Hunter has no affiliation with the Burlington Teen Tour Band, his involvement is purely as a resident of Burlington.

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Repair Cafe will open up on Tuesday in Aldershot on Plains Road - in front of the BIA office - look foe the white tents

By Staff

August 8th, 2022



We are a little late with this notice – our apologies.

The Repair Café will take place Tuesday – tomorrow at the Aldershot BIA on Plains Road – they are located on the north side of Plains Road – can’t miss it – there will be all kinds of white tents along the side of the road.

This event will be the last outdoor event of the year for the Repair Café.

They go indoors on September 10th at Port Nelson United Church.

This is also the end of the municipal funding they were able to get last year.
From this point forward the Café will rely on donations.

Lawson Hunter – the guy who organizes the event with the help of a solid team admits that the donations route is a bad business model but that it is really good Community service.

Hours are:

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Summer in the city - with a focus on the Band shell on Sunday evenings

By Staff

July 15th, 2022



Summer in the city. Kids in the backyard pool making way too much noise.

Older crowd gathered around the BBQ getting caught up.

For those who like to sit outside in a reasonably comfortable chair and listen to music – you can wander over to the Band shell at Spencer Smith Park and take in a performance that begins at 7:30 every Sunday evening.

The Galt Kiltie Bank – they play around their part of the province in different municipal parks

This Sunday the Galt Kiltie Band will be playing.

For those who cannot get out the music is still there for you – a couple of clicks away on your computer

Lawson Hunter who does stuff and different things around town broadcasts the performance live in

Good social distancing – relaxed – all that’s missing is some good Jamaican Ginger Beer.

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A 75th anniversary commemorative piece of music for the Burlington Teen Tour Band - you can help

By Staff

July 15th, 2022



Burlington Resident wants to give Burlington Teen Tour Band a Musical Gift

Lawson Hunter, a long time Burlington resident, is proud about a lot of things that make his city a great place to live, work, and enjoy life. One of the things that fosters that pride is the Burlington Teen Tour Band (BTTB), now celebrating its 75th Anniversary.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band took over the FAmily Room of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre the day the city turned the building over to the community.

In discussions with BTTB Managing Director, Rob Bennett,  Hunter learned that the Band had no official piece of music to commemorate the anniversary.  Bennett explained that years ago, to celebrate an earlier anniversary, a special piece of band music was commissioned to mark the occasion.   Why not have one for the 75th Hunter thought.

Ryan Meeboer, publishes his compositions through Eighth Note and teaches with the Halton District School Board.

As circumstance would have it, Hunter had a conversation with fellow Burlington resident Ryan Meeboer, a musical educator and a professional composer of music.  Meeboer’s compositions are used by concert bands of all different levels of skill and band sizes (small jazz groups, ensembles, big bands).  In fact, Meeboer has even worked with the Burlington Teen Tour Band.

The idea struck Hunter that Ryan Meeboer, who publishes his compositions through Eighth Note Publications, could write a piece to commemorate the BTTB’s 75th anniversary.  The challenge is the cost of commissioning a complex score (with dozens of different instruments), royalties, fees, publishing and printing of charts.

“I thought the solution would be to initiate a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds,” Hunter states. has raised money for thousands of campaigns to help ‘kickstart’ artistic projects.  Potential donors register, post a donation, but only pay if the campaign reaches it’s target goal.  “It’s an all-or-nothing style of raising funds for a good cause,” explains Hunter.

The Kickstarter campaign has just begun.  Supporters are encouraged to pledge any amount.  Deadline for completion is September 7th, in time to have the piece written, rehearsed, and performed before the end of the year.  Any funds pledged above the target goal will go towards operational costs for the Burlington Teen Tour Band.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band the day it entered the Performing Arts Centre which became its official home

The Burlington Teen Tour Band has represented the city of Burlington, and its residents, throughout the world over the years –  Expo ‘67, Japan, D-Day ceremonies in France, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbour, and even the Tournament of Roses (Rose Bowl Parade).  Hunter feels it’s time to give something back to the Band.

Title of the Kickstarter project: Burlington Teen Tour Band 75th Anniversary Composition Target – Goal to be Raised: $3,000 (including fees charged by Deadline for campaign: September 7, 2022

Click  Kickstarter  for the link.

Lawson Hunter has no affiliation with the Burlington Teen Tour Band, his involvement is purely as a resident of Burlington.  Does this suggest he has a generous frame of mind but  tin ear?


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Council Approves the Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather Climate Resilient Plan

By Staff

July 13th, 2022



City Council yesterday approved Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather.

This plan identifies Burlington’s risks and vulnerabilities from climate change and is directly related to 2018-2022 Burlington’s Plan: From Vision to Focus.

About the Climate Resilient Burlington plan

This is what wet looks like

The purpose of the Climate Resilient Burlington (CRB) plan is to identify actions to manage the highest risks of warmer, wetter and wilder weather. While the CRB plan considers Burlington’s climate projections to the years 2051-2080 under a high emissions scenario, the plan outlines 32 actions under five themes focusing on building resilience and preparing for a changing climate over the next 10 years. Although this is Burlington’s first climate adaptation plan, work is not starting from scratch, but rather building on initiatives already underway.

The CRB plan was developed with City staff and community stakeholders representing 12 City departments and 17 community organizations. The community was also engaged throughout the process through a number of measures including a dedicated project page, a public project launch and surveys.

CRB Themes and Goals

Theme 1: Resilient Built and Natural Infrastructure
Goal: Manage infrastructure to prepare for future climate conditions and carbon neutral goals
Goal: Enhance resilience of infrastructure exposed to high flood risk
Goal: Invest in proactive measures to prepare for increased extreme events to avoid post-storm reactive costs

Theme 2: Thriving Natural Environment
Goal: Reduce damage to trees while increasing the value of the services they provide
Goal: Value, conserve and enhance the multiple services that natural areas provide

Theme 3: Extreme Heat and Health
Goal: Provide City services to support the community during extreme heat events

Theme 4: Disaster Resilience
Goal: Build capacity in the community to prepare for and respond to more extreme events and long-term climate stresses
Goal: Encourage climate adaptation actions from citizens and businesses

Theme 5: Strong and Resilient Economy
Goal: Support agricultural community in preparing for climate change
Goal: Support and develop resilient local supply chains to help withstand impacts associated with extreme climate events outside of Burlington

This isn’t what warmer did – that 2013 winter storm

Projects with links to climate actions underway

There are several climate actions already underway through various City departments and projects. Each item listed has a direct link to reducing risk, reducing emissions or preparing for climate change effects.

  • Alert Burlington – Community Notification System
  • Cooling and Warming Centres in partnership with Burlington Public Library
  • Home Flood Protection Assessment Program
  • Plumbing Permit Fee Grant Program
  • Stormwater infrastructure improvements such as larger creek culverts and creek channel improvements
  • Burlington Stormwater Management Design Guidelines
  • Urban Forest Master Plan
  • Municipal Natural Assets Initiative – Grindstone Creek Watershed Project
  • Spencer Smith Park and Beachway stabilization and wave breaks
  • Asset Management Plan
  • Climate Action Plan (focusing on reducing community emissions)
  • Corporate Energy and Emissions Management Plan
  • City View Park pavilion and solar installation
  • Anti-idling campaign and bylaw
  • Expansion of the City’s electric vehicle charging stations
  • Electric Mobility Strategy
  • Corporate Green Fleet Strategy
  • Integrated Mobility Plan (focusing on active and public transportation)
  • Rural Active Transportation Strategy
  • Cycling Plan, a component of the Integrated Mobility Plan, which includes projects such as the Plains Road bikeway improvements
  • Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA)

Pretty wild

Related news story;

Lawson Hunter urges Council to take the report seriously – they said they would

Climate Resilient Burlington, Get involved page:


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Repair Cafe partners with Burlington Green to make a Saturday a very sustainable day for everyone

By Jason Octavo

May 15th, 2022



With just a little funding from the city the Repair Café has managed to serve people in a really very useful way. They fix broken household items.

Their fourth, or was it their fifth Repair Café event, this one as part of a joint effort with Burlington Green at the Burlington Centre Hub, they GET DATA

Man with girls fixing “the Claw toy” is Gary Kirkwood. – Fixing blinds is Mike Rooks. Blinds are not are usual repair item. Lady was thrilled to have one set repaired at the April 9th session, she brought in another.

The idea for a repair Café came out of the Netherlands about 15 years ago. There are now more than 2000 Repair Cafes operating – Burlington started in 2029.

Once a month, the project operates in a different location within the city to attract new residents.

Lawson Hunter, organizer of the Repair Cafe events explaining what the groups manages to get done.

They are always on the lookout for people who are handy with a screw driver – people can volunteer by going to their Facebook page at

Repair Cafe can be reached by email at –

15 items were brought in, 10 repaired.

BurlingtonGreen invited the Repair team to take part in what was an their Electronics Recycling Drive Thru.

When the Fire department gave up on collecting electronic waste Burlington Green saw an opportunity to fill a community need.

The next Repair Cafe will be in conjunction with the Aldershot BIA Outdoor Markets Tuesdays June 7, July 5, and August 9 from 3pm to 7pm at Whiteoaks Plaza 195 Plains Rd. E.

The Repair Cafe took place at The Hub, a space within the Burlington Centre is made available to community Groups.

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Portrait Gallery of Canada names new executive director: Robert Steven, former AGB President & CEO starts next week

By Staff

April 27th, 2022



Some people manage to land on their feet when their job gets taken away from them

The Board of Directors of the Portrait Gallery of Canada (PGC) is pleased to announce that it has appointed Robert Steven, former president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington, as its new executive director, effective May 2, 2022. Robert Steven will succeed Joanne Charette who has led the PGC through its first year of operation.

“Robert Steven is passionate about social issues and brings an excellent appreciation for the richness and diversity of the peoples who live in Canada,” said Lawson Hunter, Chair, Board of Directors, Portrait Gallery of Canada. “The Board was impressed by his demonstrated ability to rally community support for cultural projects from the ground up; his insight in current museum issues and practices; and his leadership experience. We look forward to working with him as we move forward with our vision to build a physical presence in the nation’s capital.”

Reporting to the Board of Directors, Robert Steven will play a highly visible role, representing and enhancing the positive reputation of the PGC with government officials, funding agencies, donors and the public. Steven will also be responsible for developing the PGC’s vision and strategic and operational plans; building on the PGC’s dynamic online exhibition and public programs; directing human resources and volunteers; managing financial resources; and advancing and tracking the progress and success of PGC initiatives.

“I am delighted and honoured by this opportunity to join with the exceptionally distinguished group of visionary leaders whose tireless work to create this important institution has brought the organization so far in such a short time,” said incoming executive director Robert Steven.

“To be part of the growth and development of such an ambitious new museum, dedicated to the individuals and identities found in this place we now call Canada—at this significant moment when the opportunities for mutual understanding, conciliation and systemic change are both greater and more urgent than ever before—is no less than a dream come true. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone who believes in the impact that the experience of museums and of works of art can have on the lives of individuals and of communities,” Steven added.

“On behalf of the Portrait Gallery of Canada’s Board of Directors, I would like to thank Joanne Charette, who stepped out of retirement to assume the role of interim director while we were building our online presence,” said Lawson Hunter. “The PGC benefited from Joanne’s leadership experience with the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Gallery of Canada, and we are grateful to her for her work ethic and commitment to our young
not-for-profit corporation.”

Robert Steven, former head of AGB will lead the Portrait Gallery of Canada

About Robert Steven
Robert Steven is a dedicated, forward-thinking and accomplished leader of arts and heritage institutions. He brings years of experience at the executive level, including six years as president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington in Ontario and seven years as executive director and curator of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in Alberta. Robert Steven holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Fine Arts Studio, from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto.

He also successfully completed the Museum Leadership Institute Program at the Getty Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, an intensive course for museum executives that addresses current trends and challenges in the museum field, leadership, strategy, organisational culture and change management. Robert Steven was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People in 2013 by Alberta Venture Magazine. He was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and served on the Government of Alberta’s Premier’s Council for Arts and Culture in 2009. As well, he currently serves as Vice President of Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries (formerly the Ontario Association of Art Galleries).



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Repair Cafe will set up at Tansley Woods March 12th - free help with things that no longer work

By Staff

February 11th, 2022



Burlington has hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who took early retirement or put in their 25 years and stopped punching a clock – and are looking for something to do that appeals to their better selves.

Some serve on committees, others join service clubs and others come up with an idea of their own and look for ways to make it happen.

Typical set up at a Repair Cafe.

Lawson Hunter has served on a number of committees – including Community Development Halton, served on a committee that wanted to hear what the public had to say about the Tansley Woods Centre that was to be developed.  He worked with the Burlington Food Bank for a period of time.

He was former Program Manager at Cable 14 Hamilton; former Executive Director at Jamesville Business Improvement Area (Hamilton); former Communications Assistant to Lily Oddie Munro, Minister of Culture & Communications; former Administrator at Burlington Art Centre (now Art Gallery of Burlington); retired Letter Carrier at Canada Post.

At 21 years of age, Hunter was the youngest Board member of the Sarnia Public Library & Art Gallery.

He has clearly earned his stripes.

With time on his hands Hunter heard about the Repair Café; an organization with 1500 volunteer units around the world and about eight in Canada.  Toronto has a Repair Café that has been operational for five years.

Hunter set up an outdoor Repair Café with the Aldershot BIA to learn what the interest might be.  “One lady came in with a knock off Tiffany Lamp and wanted the cord replaced.  While we were working on the lamp another lamp walked by, saw the lamp and said – I have one of those and the cord is worn out – can you fix it?.  We could and we did.

“Before the day was over a third person said she too had a lamp that needed a new cord.  I knew we were filling a need.”

Hunter adds just how immediate a repair need can be.  “A woman came in asking if we could repair the cord on her electric mowing machine – and get it done before her husband came home.

Lawson Hunter delegating to city council

With a couple of trial runs in different parts of the city Hunter knew he had identified a need and rounded up some of his friends and applied to the city for a Community grant.

His application was accepted – the next repair Café will be in Tansley Woods Centre on March 12th – runs from 10 am to 1:00 pm

Show up and they will do what they can for you.

There is no charge for the labour – you are expected to pay for any parts that are needed.

Then he came up with an idea – why not help people fix things?  He wasn’t thinking of helping people fix their relationships – that’s not quite where Lawson excels.

He wanted to help people fix a toaster or a blending machine or a CD player.

He applied for and got a grant from the city (cheque hasn’t arrived yet) to set up the Repair Café. “We’re just a bunch of guys that want to fix things and keep them out of the landfill site” said Hunter.  To use the moniker of a ‘Repair Cafe’, means to agree to the policy of not charging for repairs (parts yes, labour no) which he adds – “ it’s a terrible business model but a great community service.”

“Getting in touch with the Repair Cafe is easy: All residents are invited to contact us to let us know what items they need to get fixed to keep them out of the global garbage heap.  Email us at  or visit our Facebook page at



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Burlington Taxi did everything it could to continue to serve the public

By Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2021



In an interview done by Lawson Hunter on a blog he runs called Burlington Now Scott Wallace gave a very complete outline of just how the business he has run since he was a 19 year old unraveled.

Uber was what he called the first of a thousand cuts but he managed to reorganize the way his fleet of 55 cars + special vehicles used to transport students and still be profitable.

Burlington Taxi was able to pivot and challenge the Uber business model but then Covid19 hit the world and all the wheels stopped rolling.

Then Covid19 hit and to this day he has not been able to recover. First there was no traffic – or not enough to remain at breakeven; then when people began to want to use taxis he could not recruit the drivers.

The people he had just did not want to work in a Covid 19 environment.

Then there was the matter of insurance. There was a time explained Wallace when there was a reasonably competitive insurance market but that changed.

Consolidation in the taxi market result in sky rocketing rates that went from $5000 a year per car up to $18,000 per year per car.

That just wasn’t sustainable and the decision to close the business and move was made.  The last cab run ended at 5:00 pm on Friday.

Wallace did keep the city informed and did have a proposal for them to consider.

The city just wasn’t able to make the change within the time frames required.

Unfortunately the city has not been as forthcoming with what happened within city hall as Wallace has been with what he had to cope with for the past two years as he watched his money disappear trying to run a needed service.

Wallace has another business he runs and he will survive. He told Lawson Hunter that were he 35 he might have looked for ways to make it work but he isn’t 35 anymore.

Despite his age, (he is a very healthy mid fifties guy) and even wth the business he was struggling to keep operational Scott Wallace found time to help the Festival of Lights people put up the lights. His specialty was the helicopter – he was the person that put it together each year and fiddled with it until the lights came on.

Keep him in mind when you take the time to tour the Festival this year – he put a lot of himself into this city

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When was the last time you heard a good delegation?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2020



Where have all the good ones gone?

Where are the dozen or so people who could be relied upon to delegate responsibly, to keep the members of Council on their toes?

Where is Gary Scobie, where is Tom Muir, where is Greg Woodruff, Blair Smith, Jim Young, Roland Tanner and Hunter Lawson?

Jim Young 2

Jim Young

Roland Tanner

Roland Tanner

Scobie 3

Gary Scobie

Hunter Lawson

Lawson Hunter

Dee Dee Davies  always spoke in a measured deliberate tone abd had that ability to pause when she felt she wasn’t being listened to.

These are the people who did their homework and had the courage of their convictions to stand before council and speak on behalf of their communities.

Some say that people are going through burn-out.

Some say that the people who were always available to speak no longer believe that they were heard, worse they don’t believe they are being heard now.

Is the awkwardness of delegating under the conditions that the pandemic imposes what is keeping them away from Cit Hall?

Do delegators find they don’t feel there is any real connection with the members of council when they are speaking ?

Council chamber - new look

There is more than enough room for the members of Council to attend in person. Staff would have to take part virtually.

Could this council find a way to have at least some of the Councillors in the Council Chamber? There is more than enough room in the Chamber for at least half of the Council members be in place with the delegator at the podium.

The Halton District School Board has 4 trustees in the room.

What we aren’t seeing is any effort to make the process of citizens speaking to the elected

When a delegator has finished there is, frequently, all too frequently, a statement read by the Chair that there were no questions because the delegator made their point very clear.

Balderdash – the Chair just blew the delegator off.

What City Council is doing now is not healthy for the democracy we are all so proud of – it actually stinks.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Citizen suggests a pause on adding people to Advisory Committees

opinionred 100x100By Lawson Hunter

October 10th, 2020



As Council knows, public engagement is near and dear to my heart. I’ve spoken about community education, a wider approach to give citizens the opportunity to comment on policies and plans, and I’ve proposed various methods of having community voices heard – in particular – citizens’ assemblies.

I respectfully ask that Councillors search out information on how Citizens’ Assemblies work and how they are successfully being used around the world.

Fortunately, I have the time to attend Standing Committee and Council meetings being held during the day. Many in our community cannot afford to take time off to participate.

I attended one of the Citizen Action Labs, have spoken to several ex-members of Citizen Advisory Committees, attended a few of those committee meetings as a silent observer, and read the various documents, staff reports, committee minutes and the recommendations from the Citizens Advisory Committee Review Team. As you know, I go in for the deep dive.

As public engagement goes, I look at what the City has done with regard to the Adopted Official Plan and the ‘Take a Closer Look Downtown’ initiative as the gold standard. Dozens of opportunities, countless interactions, volumes of documents to pour over, many, many Get Involved messages, even walking tours and town halls.

Compare that to the City’s outreach for the Advisory Committee Review. Three Action Labs, an online survey and a questionnaire at an outdoor market. All done over a year ago. Yes, there was a citizens Review Team that, I presume, worked diligently to interpret the responses heard. But there was no opportunity to respond to the document that they produced.

Basically, a year has passed and silence. If nothing screams Public Engagement – in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS – it’s the Advisory Committee structure. Something that the public has been complaining about for over 20 years.

Then, on Sept. 17th up pops a staff report with a phased in approach and a request from the Corporate Services CSSRAC committee to start recruiting Advisory Committee members.

Which to my mind, means that we’ve gone back to the status quo while the Clerk’s office works out the details.

So here’s my request. Hit the pause button for a few more months. We’ve all been distracted by COVID. Parents are struggling how to send their kids to school and keep their families safe. Operations at City Hall has morphed into a giant Zoom call. Council is about to be swallowed up with the City’s 2021 Budget. Business owners are fighting to keep their doors open. And more and more people have lost their jobs, and are lining up at Food Banks and COVID testing sites.

Is this the time to start recruiting for Advisory Committees? We’ve gone seven months without them. What harm would another few months do?

Hit the pause button and give this staff report, and some details, to those people who spent their time attending the Action Labs, who bothered to fill out the surveys, who sit or have sat on previous Advisory committees, the Engagement Charter and Shape Burlington.

Give us a chance to review what’s being proposed. One last chance to make a suggestion or comment. A bit more time to decide whether or not we want to sign up for a committee, or decide to let others take over.

That would be Public Engagement, the kind that we deserve here in Burlington.


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Every bus rider has their own story. Part 2

opinionviolet 100x100By Lawson Hunter

April 20th, 2019



Lawson Hunter is an observer; people watching is a hobby.  He chose to watch people who ride buses – this is part 2 of his experience.

bus - reading from screen

This is not a distracted driving offence.

Yes there are a lot of interesting people that ride the bus, each with their own story about how and why they take transit. I don’t usually plunk myself beside people and strike up a conversation. I tend to sit and read or look out the window, but I wanted to learn more about my fellow passengers so I spent a few days riding on a number of buses throughout the city. I gathered up my courage and introduced myself as a writer doing a story about people like – us.

Many, many years ago, when I was a high school student, in another city, I didn’t have much choice when it came to getting around town. It was either the bus or walk. Things have changed a bit since then but judging by the number of students I see riding the bus each day, it’s still a fact of life and no one seems to be too upset about it.


Running for the bus.

Sometimes I took the bus to get to my part-time, after school job. That was a bit more stressful because I had to get to work on time – or else. I never did find out what “or else” was. I was pretty good at figuring out the schedule and the bus usually arrived on time. Finishing work late, however, meant that I would miss the last bus and have to walk home.

I was reminded of those days when I chanced upon Fatima on bus no. 87. She was on her way to work at one of the stores at the Power Centre on Brant street. Number 87 is the bus that runs along North Service Road and into parts of Tyandaga. It’s a weird little run – 6am until 9am and then 3pm until 6pm (approx.). It’s one of the ‘employment’ routes that service a particular area around ‘peak’ work hours.

I asked Fatima, politely, how she got home since the bus would not run around normal closing hours. “My Mom picks me up,” Fatima said. “Good,” I replied.

I continued on no. 87 and watched as a hoard of cars pulled into the parking lots of two private schools along North Service Road. I got off at the Aldershot GO station, took the train to Appleby glad with the fact that my Presto Card handled all the transfers seamlessly.

Bus station 1

City staff applauding the roll out of a new bus.

Then I traveled up to the Alton area. Specifically, I jumped off at the 407 carpool parking lot to watch a few buses come and go. Pretty thin ridership, but then it wasn’t quite time for commuters arriving via the handful of GO buses that stop there. I then saw Bill. I didn’t catch him coming off a bus so as I approached him I asked where he was coming from. He mentioned that he was actually dropped off by one of his work colleagues at the Region of Peel in Brampton. “They encourage carpooling at the Region,” Bill stated. “I get dropped off here and the rest of the group carries on along Dundas Street (Hwy 5).”

Bill then explained that he usually catches a city bus (it could have been 6, 11, 25, 3A or 5A) and goes to the gym, to workout, before he continues, via bus, to his home. Sounded pretty good to me.

Haber name in sign

Haber, a destination for students using transit.

I decided to head back down to Appleby GO and chose the no. 11 bus. That took me past the Haber Recreation Centre and Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School. The bus stopped long enough for a few students to get on board. It was after school hours, I guessed by the carrying cases they had. Musical instruments maybe. But the word ‘Badminton’ on the side of the case gave it away what they were up to.

A few minutes later, Brenda, got on the bus. “Why are you taking the bus?” I asked.  “Had a car accident,” Brenda replied. “I have to wait two weeks for it to get repaired and there wasn’t a rental car provided.” As we got closer to Fairview Street, Brenda said goodbye and got off the bus to make her transfer.

As Brenda got off, Graham got on the bus. He’s saving his money so that he can take a driver’s course and get his licence. Even then he noted, “I’ll still have to take the bus until I get my full G2 licence.” As we pulled into the GO station I lost track of where Graham headed next.

Tatyana, who works in Mississauga, got off the GO train at Appleby and was on her way to catch the no. 10 bus. Well dressed, with a professional satchel on her hip – containing a laptop I guessed, Tatyana stopped long enough to tell me that she could have taken 4, 10 or 20 but the no. 4 bus ends at 6:30 so she doesn’t catch that often. “By the time I get off the train all I want to do is sit back and let someone else drive me home,” Tatyana exclaimed. Then she dashed off and onto her bus.

Haber and Associates have been aggressive advertisers using the space on city buses for public exposure.

John Street terminal.

On a different day, at the John Street Burlington Transit depot I met an older lady. She didn’t want to give me her name but, like everyone else I met during this adventure, she had no qualms about chatting, briefly, about riding on Burlington Transit. “I prefer to walk,” she said. “But I can only walk so far and then I get tired. That’s when I wait for the next bus.” Good for you I thought.

When asked where she was headed she told me “Walmart”. “I go up there to buy groceries and such, but just one or two bags at a time,” she explained. I asked her which bus went up Brant Street. “Two or Three,” she replied. “They changed it a while ago. I’m not sure.” I told her I would ask at the kiosk on John St.

My final ‘victim’ was Lacey. Lacey works at Tim Horton’s and needs to get to work most days by 6am. “There’s not a lot of people on the bus at that time,” noted Lacy. She relies on the bus even though, in a pinch she could walk the distance.

“Not much fun in the winter,” I suggested.

“No,” she replied. “That’s why I’m grateful there is a bus. But,” she hesitated, “there could be a schedule, maybe electric, at the stop to let us know if and when the bus will arrive.”

I think about that and other things that would make me take the bus more often. I admit, I’m an occasional bus rider these days. I don’t ‘need’ to take the bus but when I do I feel a little more ‘connected’. More so than with others that drive past me. Sure, there could be more buses, more frequent departures, more routes, and softer seats, free wi-fi on the bus, maybe even more room for parcels or groceries.

It’s a chicken and egg thing. Would more riders mean better service, or vice versa? If more ‘gas tax’ money was spent on transit improvements rather than potholes, red light cameras, or parking lots would I be happier taking the bus? I’ve observed that everyone has an opinion about the money the City spends on public transit, for sure.

Bfast 2018 forum

A public meeting on transit problems.

I’d be happy to hear what others would like to see happen to our transit system because public transit is not going away. It’s needed more now than ever – to move more people and get fewer cars on the road – to provide an alternative to the wasteful fact that most cars sit, parked somewhere 20+ hours a day – and to help combat climate change.

What do you think?

Lawson Hunter can be reached at:

Part 1 of On the buses,

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Transit as a lifestyle - one man's experience.

opinionviolet 100x100By Lawson Hunter

April 16th, 2019


Part 1 of 2  Lawson Hunter approached us a number of weeks ago asking if we might be interested in publishing the experiences he has as he rides the Burlington Transit system. He doesn’t offer any solutions to the problems that exist; all we get are his observations on how transit works for some people. Enjoy and expect some interesting feedback from readers on this one.

Sitting two seats in front of me on the bus a woman was talking, loudly, on her phone. I didn’t recognize the language but it was fascinating none the less. She was speaking non-stop, so that the person on the other end of the conversation couldn’t get a word in edge-wise. And though it might have annoyed a few of my fellow passengers, I revelled in the fact that ‘where else in the world could I experience this cultural phenomenon?’

I enjoyed the fact that this woman, perhaps a recent immigrant, felt comfortable enough amidst strangers to talk so… did I mention – loudly. Was this any different than listening to a bunch of students chatting and giggling with the energy that comes after a day at school? Or two people in the midst of a heated argument?

If you’re a bit of a people-watcher, like I am, sitting on a bus is the place to be.

Old, young, affluent or otherwise, riding on the bus has an equalizing affect. We’re all along for the ride, trusting the expertise of some unnamed driver. The maddening pace of rush hour traffic has no effect on our psyches. Some turn to books, or ever-present cell phones, or keeping a brood of children in line and quiet. Me, I like to witness the exchange between fellow travellers. Taking the bus gives me the chance to experience life up close while watching the city slowly unfold outside the windows.


Aldershot GO was part of the trip.

One day I’ll be on the bus along with, say, Nolan and Lana and their two little children in a double-stroller. They came to Canada from the Congo. They’re travelling from Hamilton to Waterdown via the No. 1 bus. Wait! They’re Hamilton residents but they need a Burlington bus to connect them with downtown services and their home. Almost every day they, and their kids, travel using a Hamilton bus to get to the Aldershot GO station, then Burlington Transit drops them off at King and James, and then they make the return trip. “So much better than our country,” Nolan exclaims. And I got to practice my rusty French for a bit – before we (I) gave up.

At the other end of the city, I noticed a handful of people jumping off an Oakville Transit bus rushing to catch the GO train at Aldershot station – heading for the Blue Jay game vs. Boston. I’ll let you guess how I knew they were Blue Jay fans. Again, wait! It’s easier to go from parts of Oakville into Burlington to catch the train. “The cars are empty,” shouts one fan as she runs past me, “at this time of day. They’ll be full at the Oakville station.” Ahh. So there is some strategy when taking transit.

“I can take more than one bus to get home,” notes Jack who lives not too far from Appleby GO. He works ‘downtown’ (Toronto, but wouldn’t get into specifics). His wife has the family’s one car. Jack sees no need to buy a second car “just to drive six kilometres and then park it all day” or worse drive into Toronto and pay for parking all day.


Some can’t live without a car – others know they will never need a driver’s license.

Sitting next to Jack on the bench waiting for No. 80 is Nick. His job is, “on the other side of the (Appleby) tracks. I just walk under the tunnel to catch the bus”. Nick, who works in IT, doesn’t think he’ll ever own a car. He doesn’t even have a driver’s license.

But not everyone on the bus has the option of owning a car. Students like Liam and Liam, I’m not kidding, take the bus to school every day. Liam (1) complains, ever so slightly, that when he went to Central’s elementary school, the School Board arranged a school bus to pick him up. Each school year, approximately 33,000 students who attend 150 public and Catholic schools across Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville rely on school bus transportation to and from school.

Now that he’s in Secondary School, Liam has to pay to ride the civic bus – albeit the School Board subsidizes students’ fares. Liam (2) notes that his parents pay for his monthly bus pass. Both Liams claim that if they were involved in extracurricular activities, their parents would probably pick them up. “The bus is okay,” said Liam, “but it could be cheaper”. That would be, again, up to the School Board that has a limit on bus travel of greater than 3.2 km between school and home.

Uber taxi

Uber and Lyft are now part of the transit ecology – both are now public corporation’s as well.

I caught up with Nancy, who works in downtown Burlington, and takes the No. 3 or 10 bus almost every day due to the fact that she is visually impaired and can’t drive. She mentions that the signage could be larger. “Connections are always a challenge,” Nancy observes. It’s a common complaint for any transit service in North America.

“If I have to go anywhere other than between work and home, I might consider Uber,” says Nancy. She also comments that Burlington Transit seems to be constantly modifying routes or schedules. “They say it’s to make improvements but I think it’s just to make it more convenient for drivers.” When I ask if she is planning to attend any of the public meetings set out to discuss transit issues, Nancy admits that she was unaware that they were actually taking place on the day we met.

I’ve long ago realized that public transit is not about getting about in a speedy manner. Taking the bus is a different lifestyle for sure. It takes longer but don’t we often hear experts tell us to ‘slow down and enjoy the journey’? I can’t do that when I’m concentrating on the other crazy drivers that blast along the roadway as if they were the only person on the road. For me, the bus gives me the time to slow down, maybe read a book, write a story, notice that Spring is finally here, or let me do a bit of people watching.

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Smart idea - a Repair Cafe - keep this one in mind.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 14th, 2019



They gather dust in basements, garages, at the back of closets – old TV’s, audio equipment, toasters, irons or toys. Or what about that lamp with the crooked base, the lawn chair with the bent leg, or that electric kettle with the broken cord?

broken lamp

Broken lamps now have a place to go for repairs.

Wondering what to do with that old or damaged household appliance?  Don’t want to throw it out into the landfill?  Still holding onto it because ‘it might come in handy’ someday”?

Burlington is about to join over one thousand cities around the world (15 in Canada) that have a ‘repair café’, a place where you can bring that poor, old, defective treasure – and have it fixed, good as new, avoiding the global garbage heap and making it useable again.

Lawson Hunter, the energy behind getting this off the ground in Burlington points out that Kitchener is the closest similar operation.  “Though we are using the name ‘Repair Cafe’ there is an international organization called the Repair Cafe Foundation that has a handbook, and some standards to qualify as an official ‘Repair Cafe’.  At this stage we just want to use the generic name and see if that resonates with the public.  So far everyone’s been enthusiastic with lots of ‘That’s a great idea.”Should have had one years ago’.

Run by volunteers, and always looking for more ‘handi-persons’, Burlington’s repair café (name to be determined) will be opening its doors on April 16th, 6:30-9pm, at Rolling Horse Community Cycle at Unit 2 – 650 Plains Rd. East. (part of Next Door Social Space).

We are looking for used items that need repair and your input (volunteers will help you repair your item – that way you have the satisfaction of making the repair).

Have extra tools, electronics, meters, manuals and the like? Please tell us what you’d like to donate and we’ll let you know if we need them.

Costs to repair, parts only.

broken toaster

They expect to be able to fix your toaster.

WHAT    –     Small household items/appliances (no refrigerators, laundry, autos, couches, etc.)

–          Repairable items (no new items to be assembled)

–          Bring any manuals or tools that might help

WHO     –      You, your friends, neighbours – let everyone know

WHEN   –      Starts Tuesday, April 16th, 6:30pm


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Local resident wants to prove that Burlington is a ‘sharing city’ - join him at the library on the 14th.

News 100 greenBy Staff

April 5, 2016


“From the time we are little, we are taught to share” declared Lawson Hunter. ”However, as we age, the desire to acquire ‘stuff’ grows as soon as we earn a little bit of money and join the consumer society. Advertising pushes us to buy the next best thing, a bigger, better, newer version, a complete set, to find happiness and fulfillment. That may be good for the economy but is it good for society?

Uber taxi

Uber taxi, while disruptive to the taxi industry, is one of the more popular sharing services.

“Capitalism may be built on competition,” says Lawson Hunter, “but history shows that we progress much further if we co-operate with one another.” Collaboration, the sharing of ideas and resources, takes us leaps and bounds beyond the private, proprietary approach. Community has always meant working together to achieve good for everyone, not just the individual. Inequality results when many hands do the work but only a few grow wealthy because of it. Sharing brings everyone up to the same level and everyone benefits.

Some call it the ‘sharing economy’; the gig economy; the gift economy; peer-to-peer accommodation; or collaborative consumption, but at its core it is very simple – if you’re not using something why not let someone else use it?

Though not officially counted in the GDP, the sharing economy could grow to $335 billion by 2025, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. This is the foundation behind such revolutionary start-ups such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and dozens of other disruptive technologies that citizens and cities are embracing or challenging, depending on your point of view.

To that end, Hunter met with the Mayor to see if he could get something going at that level – the Mayor is going to think about it.

He has run the idea by a couple of council members – they didn’t day ‘not a hope’. Hunter, who is a letter carrier dabbles in some public relations consulting.

Library shelves with books

Libraries are perhaps the original sharing service.

The sharing economy has opened the door to more efficient uses of everyday items we own but do not use to their fullest capacity. For example, car ownership is ubiquitous and yet most cars sit parked for most of the day. Someone may purchase a drill only to use it a half a dozen times in total leaving it to lay in the toolbox for years. Books, clothing, household items may be used once or twice and then discarded. This is an incredible waste and unsustainable. Why not ‘share’ with someone else, reducing cost, optimizing resources, and extending the usefulness of thousands of articles?

Hunter points out that we already share quite a lot! We just don’t know about it or take it for granted. Libraries, food banks, used clothing stores, parks, public transit, recycled building materials, and even co-operative housing are examples of the sharing economy.

Volunteering to coach hockey, teaching someone to read, driving a patient to the hospital, carpooling, shoveling your neighbour’s sidewalk are just some of the ways we already ‘share’ our time and effort, goods and services. It’s important to measure, and celebrate, the many ways society shares its common resources. There is an international organization that wants every community to stand up and be counted in The Sharing Cities Network –

Getting it - blackHunter explains an event called a mapjam – a time when people get together and map out just where sharing is done in a city. “You would be surprised ay just how much sharing goes on” and points to a number of situations in Burlington where people on a street collectively own a heavy duty snow blower.
More than 500 MapJams have been hosted in 60 countries – two have taken place in Canada – Elora and Toronto.

bikes for rent

Many cities around the world have created bicycle sharing services.

Hunter wants Burlington to join that Network. To kick things off, he is hosting a ‘#Map Jam’ on Thursday, April 14, 7:30pm, Frank Rose Room, at the Burlington Central Library. Every organization that shares, opens its doors, facilitates exchanges, co-ordinates time-sharing or carpooling or food banks or little league sports, arts, and activities is invited to network, meet other sharing activists and exchange information. The general public is also invited to learn more about the sharing economy. “We may all be amazed at how we already are in the sharing economy,” says Hunter.

What Hunter is promoting is exactly what the Parks and Recreation department is trying to get going in the city.

Related news story – city prepared to fund projects

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