All kinds of shenanigans at city hall - where is all this coming from?

News 100 redBy Staff

January 25th, 2017



It was an interesting start to a significant meeting on the direction growth in the city of Burlington is going to take.

Ward 2 Councillor set out in her Facebook page what took place.

At the beginning of the meeting I discussed the lack of respect in the proceedings and called on all of us to set a higher standard. We may disagree, but need to be respectful. There’s no place for name calling, false allegations and the like.

My full opening statement on a Point of Privilege is here:

I would like to raise a point of privilege before we begin.

My goal in raising this is to ask all of us to commit to respectful dialogue.

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward raises a Point of Privilege at council meeting.

Point of privilege is used “when a member wants to draw attention to a matter that affects the integrity, character or reputation of an individual/group”

· Last night a delegate say planning staff should be fired; it’s not the first time our staff have been unjustly criticized publicly; I hope it will be the last.

· Another delegate said residents are NIMBYs, motivated only by self interest

· The same delegate said my motions were “political interference” a serious allegation – he chose to criticize the woman who is bringing motions, but had no similar criticism for my male colleague who is also bringing motions – some of which are similar to mine.

· Finally, a 14-page memo has been submitted to the public record from Mr. Mark Bales from Carriage Gate Homes, we all got a copy Monday. Mr. Bales has never spoken to me about my views about the OP or the downtown, and yet in his memo he presumes to know my motives, calls into question my integrity and character, and makes allegations with no evidence.

* and the Burlington Post being told they are “not a real newspaper.”

All of this has to stop. None of this is helpful to our discussions.

Like many women who have been subjected to personal attacks for having an opinion, and saying it out loud, I have mostly ignored these things in the past, assuming they’re simply part of being in public service. I can take it – I have a tough skin – 22 years as a journalist and 7 in elected office does that.

But I’ve realized this isn’t about me; it’s about all of us and the culture and example we’re setting. So it’s time to speak up.

When people see others exposed to personal attacks, it discourages them from participating in the community conversation. And we lose that input. I know people who will not stand at that podium because of the way they have been treated.

When personal attacks go unaddressed, it sends the message that these are okay. They are not. We can’t have one standard for people we agree with – letting their comments go unchecked – and another for those we don’t.

It’s time for this to stop.

So, I am asking that we all – everyone around this horseshoe and all members of the community – commit ourselves to a higher standard of respectful dialogue and mutual respect.

This is in keeping with our Engagement Charter, and referred to in the draft OP Chapter 11: “Mutual respect for citizens, staff and members of City Council is the basis for the development of constructive relationships and successful citizen engagement.”

We may disagree about many things today and going forward; I expect we will. But let’s commit ourselves to this: let’s assume that each one of us around this table and in the community wants the best for the future of our city, even as we have different perspectives about how to get there. Let’s allow for that difference, and maintain mutual respect.

News anal BLACKThe delegate who made the comment about residents being NIMBYs who are motivated only by self interest deserves a closer look.

Glenn WellingsGlenn Wellings is a planner by profession who works for clients in the municipal sector.  He was the last delegator to speak and was one of the three that was supportive of the plans and ideas that had been put forward by the planning department.

Who chooses the order at which delegators speak?  That decision would be made by people in the Clerk’s Office.  Are speaking slots determined by the date at which the request to delegate are received by the Clerk’s office?

Can people ask to be allowed to speak at a particular point?  People who cannot get to a day time meeting will ask to be heard in the evening.

Wellings didn’t add much to the information Council was given.  The Gazette learned that Wellings, representing a client in Halton Hills, had urged the public to participate in the public dialogue – but he did something quite different in Burlington.

Wellings Planning Consultants Inc. lists the following as clients:

  • Township of Amaranth
  • Township of East Garafraxa
  • Town of Grimsby
  • Regional Municipality of  Halton
  • City of Hamilton
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • County of Hastings
  • Town of Milton
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara
  • Town of Oakville

He was doing what his client wanted in Halton Hills.  Did Wellings have a client he was representing in Burlington? He didn’t say he was representing anyone; neither did he say that he has a relative working at city hall.  Nothing wrong with that.  The relative worked in Human Resources.

The relative did at one point work in Planning where the responsibility was related to the development of the downtown core.  The relative did some very good early work on the background related to future changes of the Waterfront Hotel.

What the Gazette was surprised to learn was that in January the relative was transferred from Human Resources to the Office of the City Manager where all the strategizing is being done on getting the draft version of the Official Plan approved by city council.

Wellings could have given full disclosure and told Council about the relative that worked for the city.

Related news story.

Wellings urges citizens in Halton Hills to get out and support a development; in Burlington citizens are NIMBY’s – concerned only about their self interest.

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11 comments to All kinds of shenanigans at city hall – where is all this coming from?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Is it merely coincidence that the final delegator a few times now on the OP has been either a developer or a planner who proceed to support the city while bashing other delegations and citizens? Hmmmm …

  • joe gaetan

    Let me see if I got this right, a delegator shows up dressed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Said delegator mysteriously gets the last word by feasting on the carcasses of forthright citizens, some of whom have never delegated in their lives. Said delegator purports to be taking the high ground and defender of staff while all the while having an agenda of his own? Great way to ruin the diminishing trust between council, staff and the voting public.

  • Judy

    Bravo, Marianne. Well said.

  • I agree with Mr. Woodruff and I respect totally Ms Meed-Ward’s concerns. She is correct when she brings to light the fact that when women -especially- articulate an opinion that is clear and sensible they are criticized severely for simply having the courage to do so. The day of men in high places looking down on intelligent hard-working women is not over yet.
    Even men like Mr. Woodruff are critized unfairly. My opinion is that these two people talk good sense and we should listen to them. They speak for those of us who don’t want Burlington to turn into a ghastly, skyscraper city like Toronto
    and Mississauga.

  • Shannon

    “The delegate who made the comment about residents being NIMBYs who are motivated only by self interest deserves a closer look.” I can’t help but notice that none of the more than two dozen other delegates deserved “a second look” on these pages.No one else’s backgrounds were investigated. People who speak up at council aren’t on trial here. Singling out those who support what the city is doing and flashing their photo on-screen so readers can infer that they MUST be working covertly on the behalf of another interested party is really unfair. Anyone can get up there and speak. It doesn’t matter if their spouse works for the city in any capacity (as far as I understand). They’re not making policy. They’re just speaking. How is it any different than writing a letter? Shining the spotlight on those who hold opinions not in line with most Gazette readers and making less-than-subtle insinuations about their motives could discourage many from sharing those opinions in this kind of public forum, and maybe even from speaking up at City Hall. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

  • Ken

    Hey Greg Woodruff;

    Didn’t you hear the Mayor say it’s only 5% of Burlington that’s being intensified?

    Can’t Planner’s find somewhere in the 95% that isn’t going to roil existing residences?

  • William

    Having a staff person working directly on the official plan development who has an immediate relative or spouse with financially interest in its outcome could represent a conflict of interest. More details are required to assess this.

    There is plenty of evidence that the planning department and the development community do not have at least an arm’s length relationship. That the city manager shook Carnicelli’s hand after council approved the 23 storey monstrosity is one example.

  • Joan Gallagher Bell

    Well this is a fine kettle to be in. It has been quite a term of local politics. What type of comments are expressed around town when question is asked about local politics ‘it doesn’t matter because it is the same old…same old. When one has to raise the point of behavior in council I would give pause for reflection of self. This is not to think of abominable actions at prior meetings. Now that is not openly displayed but what happens behind the backdrop at council? Sad.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Incredibly, Marianne’s Point of Privilege was met with a wall of silence by all of council, including the Mayor. Nobody felt the need to say a word. Except for the Chair, Councillor Craven, who asked if this would apply to her too. To which she replied, “of course” (did he miss the part where she said “we all”?). He then further proved her entire point by continuing to badger her, in an incredibly rude and disrespectful display. Not one voice of support or comment from all of Council about the topic of treating each other and the public with respect, and nobody jumped in to caution Craven. Wow.

  • You know I’m starting to like NIMBY. Just take it literally.

    Yes – you can build tall buildings – just not in my back yard.

    What’s wrong with that? You want to put a couple of buildings out by the GO train. That’s not in anyone’s back yard – sure go build it.

    You want to put a 10 story building 10 feet from this guys property line. Sorry that’s literally his back yard.

    What’s wrong with that?

    • Hans

      Agreed. There is nothing wrong with NIMBY. We invest heavily in our homes and communities and we have the right to try to protect that investment.
      As Greg says – put the tall buildings next to Wellings’house…