Candidates for the job as Mayor debate - no sparks yet - but the differences in the platforms are becoming clearer.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 4th, 2018



The people of the city got to use the space at NuvoOne in a studio that was the broadcast centre for 100 Huntley Street. Few of those in the audience to listen to the four people who want to be the next Mayor had been in the huge cavernous room before.

The room was not brightly lit – the debate between the candidates wasn’t all that illuminating either.

Judy W table

The studio used for the debate needs some help with its lighting. It could become a major meeting place in the city – no parking problems.

The event was sponsored by Burlington Green and the turnout was good, there were seats to be had but not many.

Time had been set aside for all the ward level candidates to meet and greet people. Not sure all that many minds were changed but the candidates were active. The room had the feel of a trade show with all the merchants standing before their tables with their campaign literature set out.

It was a great occasion for all those who like the thrust and parry of politics – the closing of the two schools in June of 2016 was still a hot topic.

MMW - Wallace - Rick G

Three of the four candidates for the Office of Mayor.

There wasn’t a defining moment in the debate. None of the candidates drew blood or scored a significant point. Amy Schnurr, who wore a suit, which told you that it was an important event, told the audience that she had a whistle she would blow if things got out of hand – never had to put the thing to her lips all evening.

Candidates Greg Woodruff, Marianne Meed Ward, Mike Wallace and incumbent Mayor Rick Goldring answered the six questions but no one got in a good shot at any of the others.  There was no defining moment.

The final question to be asked was left up to the audience.  Did they want to hear what the candidates had to say about cannabis, traffic improvements or affordable housing for seniors.  The audience chose housing for seniors.  Interesting.

What has become clear is the approach each wants to take to the developing of the city.

Woodruff doesn’t want to see any buildings more than six storeys tall – nothing higher than a mature tree.

Woodruff doesn’t have much chance of being elected but he makes some really solid points when he explains what he feels is really happening to the city.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Meed Ward wants the Official Plan city council spent years completing and sent off to the Region to be brought back where it can get overhauled.

She told the audience that between 2016 and 2017 the city lost 17 companies – we’d never heard that before from the Economic Development Corporation.

Mike Wallace explained on more than one occasion that he wasn’t really up to date on the specifics of an issue but he would get himself up to date once he was Mayor.

We did learn that Mike Wallace’s wife wants to move into a condo downtown – maybe in five or six years.

The Mayor said we have to grow, the province was making that very clear. Goldring didn’t come up with any ideas or initiatives that could or would change the trajectory the city is on.

Meed Ward said, on several occasions that the growth that is required by 2031 has already been reached.

Transit Del Luca + Woodruff

Greg Woodruff, on the right, talking policy with Steven Del Duca,   a former Minister of the Wynne government

Woodruff and Goldring pointed out that there is another growth requirement coming our way – the Region is going to be told that an additional 220,000 people have to be added to population by 2041. The Region gets to determine which municipality that growth is going to be allocated to.

The audience heard significantly different views on the shale mining that is being done at the small quarry on upper King Road where the lifestyle of several hundred resident in spacious homes will have undergo significant changes.

When the Tyendaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) fought hard to get someone at city hall to listen they were told that Meridian Brick had a license and there was nothing anyone could do. Last night it became clear that there was quite a bit that could be done – they heard that there should be a 200 metre set back behind the homes.

Meed Ward wants the Environmental Commissioner to issue a zoning hold that would put a hard stop to the plans to begin mining for shale in the eastern cell of the quarry.

Full TEC site

The shale quarry on King Road is now a significant election issue. All four candidates had opinions.

Eighteen months ago TEC couldn’t get much in the way of attention from city hall. They have proven that if you persists you can prevail.

Meed Ward focused on the need to restore trust and civility at city hall.

Mike Wallace said he has the connections that are need to ensure that Burlington gets heard at Queen’s Park.

Rick Goldring said he has proven that he can work with anyone; that he is as non-partisan as a politician can be even though he ran as a Green candidate in 2006

Designed to improve the flow of traffic - but is it worth hold a photo - op for?

Designed to improve the flow of traffic – but is it worth hold a photo – op for?

The idea of using roundabout to better manage traffic was put out; do something about synchronizing the traffic lights – the Mayor did tell the audience that there is a pilot taking place – he didn’t say where or how long it would be before there was some data that would allow some decisions to be made.

The city has a significant amount of land that is zoned as Employment Land. When Schnurr asked the candidates what they would do with that land Mike Wallace actually began to wiggle a bit in his seat. This was a question made for him. When he launched his campaign several months ago he told his followers that he had an idea for a Liberty Village look alike in Burlington.

Liberty Village is a part of Toronto where a lot of the high tech happening is taking place – it is a part of the city where people live, work and play – a phrase that is dear to the hearts of everyone running for office. People in Burlington want to be able to live, work and play in houses that are affordable.

That put the matter of affordable housing on the table – just what is it and how does the city get more on it in the inventory of what there is that can be bought or rented.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

There will be a number of affordable units in the Paradigm development on Fairview .

Meed Ward pointed out that there are affordable units being included in some of the developments. The city and the Region are going to have to work on this to ensure that the public understands the issue and how to can be tackled and also to understand the difference between subsidized housing and affordable housing. It is probably the biggest challenge the city faces.

Mike Wallace put a good idea on the table when he suggested that when there is a problem on the bridge to Hamilton and traffic gets badly backed up in the city that street with four lanes have three of the lanes made one way so that traffic can move faster.

Good idea – one that will need a lot of massaging to make it work – it would mean a lot more in the way of traffic management for the police but it could certainly be done.

Each of the candidate was asked to talk about their strength and weaknesses: Meed Ward admitted that she need to learn to cut back on how long she talks – blessed relief for us all there.

Mike Wallace said his strength was his ability to pull people together and get some collaboration into the mix. His weakness – he tends to be a little too frank.

Goldring on Facebook live 1

Mayor Goldring said he tends to “ruminate” on issues – no argument with him on that one.

The Mayor admitted that he tends to ruminate too much – he won’t get an argument there.

It was a good debate – the city has grown in the past eight years; residents are no longer prepared to sit and passively listen. They want to be at the table well before decisions are made.

That is a big cultural change for this city.

Giving all the ward level candidates space and the time to talk to people was a good idea – but it did make for a long evening.

John Street - Elizabeth parking lot

At one point it was going to be the home of the McMaster University School of Business. That idea didn’t pan out. Now there is talk of making it a park. Meed Ward loves the idea of a park – she wants it to be on the roof of an office building that would have underground parking.

Turning the Elizabeth street parking lot into a park was an idea that got put out – no problem with that for Meed Ward – put the park on the roof of an office building and put parking underground.

The public got to see what NuvoOne plans to do with the space that was once used exclusively by Crossroads.  It could be developed into a major space where people can work and play and collaborate.

What didn’t get debated?  Taxes – not a word.  Tax increases from the city in excess of 4% during the last seven years just isn’t sustainable.

The ward 1 debate takes place this evening at the East Plains Road United Church – giving the 11 candidates the time they need to set out their platform is going to be a challenge for moderator Mark Carr.

There will be another Mayoralty debate at Central high school on the 9th.




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2 comments to Candidates for the job as Mayor debate – no sparks yet – but the differences in the platforms are becoming clearer.

  • Susie

    The comment by Meed Ward to opt out of creating a downtown small park for, a park to be on an office building rooftop with parking underground, tells us how hard it reallly is to read the minds of the politicians that say the downtown proposed developments will have reached its growth quota, and then make a comment like that????

  • Was at the Debate

    “No sparks yet”? Allow me to disagree. Rick Goldring’s use of his closing remarks time to personally attack Marianne Meed Ward, by name, resulting in boo’s and cries of “shameful” from the crowd? Them’s sparks……