Foundation created to identify and fully fund creative arts and exercise programs for those living with Parkinson’s in Halton/Peel.

By Tamara Boaden

March 18th, 2022



The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation is a non-profit corporation . Our primary objective  is to identify and fully fund creative arts and exercise programs targeted specifically to enhance and support the lives of those  living with Parkinson’s in Halton/Peel.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder affecting 25 new people daily in Canada.  Next to medication, exercise is the most beneficial therapy for managing this disease.

My husband was diagnosed with  Parkinson’s in 2011 and I have experienced what this debilitating disease does and understand how important these programs are for people living with Parkinson’s Disease.

In May 2021, we  launched Parkinson’s in the Park ™which offered weekly walking, exercise, and Tai Chi programs in various parks In Mississauga.

In September 2021, we  expanded the walking and Tai Chi programs to Burlington.

Based upon our success and seeing the difference it made to our Parkinson Community, beginning April 2022, we are offering  and fully funding Arts and Exercise programs in Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington. Flyers are attached.

We plan to further  expand  our programs to Brampton and Milton by 2022/23.

We need your help to increase our community reach to attract new participants, volunteers, and financial supporters. Any assistance you can offer (i.e. share with your social media feeds, post flyers/brochures on community boards.





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Regional Council to debate an amendment to the mask bylaw in a rare Saturday meeting

By Staff

March 18th, 2022



Halton Regional Council will meet in a rare Saturday meeting to discuss an amendment to the bylaw relating to the Non-Medical Masks/Face Coverings in Certain Enclosed Public Places.

Notice of Amendment from Mayor Rick Bonnette and Councillor Clark Somerville re:  LPS26-22 – Update 5: Mandatory Non-Medical Masks/Face Coverings in Certain Enclosed Public Places in Halton Region


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Seniors find themselves at risk in supermarkets; teams of thieves stalking and stealing

By Staff

March 17th, 2022



The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a group of suspects in a series of purse and wallet thefts that have taken place throughout Halton.

Between April 2021 and March 2022 there have been 16 thefts involving a group of six different suspects (see attached photos) identified by police.

The suspects typically target older adults in retail and grocery stores throughout the region.

In many cases the victim’s personal identification number were also stolen, and the tap functions of their financial cards were used to make fraudulent purchases.

Men this size can frighten older seniors – what can the supermarkets do to provide a safer environment.

The suspects have been working in pairs and distracting their victims while shopping. One suspect will engage the victim in conversation while the other steals a wallet and/ or purse. In some instances, the older adult’s vehicles are also entered while one suspect distracts the victim by loading their groceries.

Working in teams these thieves would stalk and then steal from people who believe they are safe in a supermarket.

One distracts – the other steals

The estimated total losses of these 16 occurrences totals more than $25, 000.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective Constable Derek Gray of the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4777 ext. 2344 or via email at

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at

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Who are we hearing from - and does it matter? It does

By Pepper Parr

March 17th, 2022



Earlier this month I made the decision to hold comments sent to us from a specific Internet Protocol address that was being used by two different names.

We suspected the two names wwere being used by the same person.

Our comments section is populated with boisterous, well informed people who comment at length. Frequently there is an exchange of views that goes on for a week or two.

We also get offensive, even libelous comments which we delete.  We have, on a few occasions, taken away the opportunity to comment.

Many online publications that have a comment section ensure that they have identified the writer and are satisfied they are real people.

I am always dismayed when a writer does not have the courage of their convictions and chooses to use a phony name.

Many of the comments made are from people who strongly support a particular viewpoint; we welcome those.

Some commentators take us to task for an article they feel was unfair or biased, we welcome those as well.

The general rule is: know your client – it applies to almost everything.  People who comment in the Gazette are not clients but we feel it is important that we know who they are – our concern is not with what they wish to say.

I don’t know Maggie or Mary.  One of them claims that there are a number of people writing under a nom de plumes – that may be true – we just don’t have the resources to track down every person who comments nor is it our objective.

We did on one occasion allow a person to identify as anonymous.  The person was commenting on a position the City Manager at the time had taken on how he would support his Staff during a very contentious municipal election.

The writer took exception with the City Manager’s position because the writer held a very senior position in another level of government, and was not authorized to speak for that level of government: the person could not use their own name.

Senior bureaucrats are discouraged from taking public positions.

In one comment made by Mary an adjective was used that we didn’t see as offensive. The person being referred to saw it differently.  They claimed it was a hate comment and wanted a criminal investigation.

The writer of the adjective apologized and we saw the matter as closed.

We however are still in the position of not knowing who the writers are.  We did reach out to talk to them – we do that frequently with names we are not certain are legitimate. Mary did not take up the chance for a discussion

It  got messy.

In the past I have come close to closing down the comments section.  While I think it is critically important, vital even, that people have a place where they can say what they think and where their peers can respond, monitoring the comments is a significant draw on our limited resources.

There are readers who ask:  “Does this really matter?  Loads of blogs on social media are not the real names of the authors.”

True enough, but the Gazette is not a blog; it is a credentialed on line newspaper that has been publishing for more than ten years.

A reader added: “Younger readers and bloggers often use pseudonyms, it’s no big deal. People are just having their say. Many actors, rappers and people with maiden names even though they are married, use different names and surnames.

“These women may be in some sort of relationship. There is also Anne and David Marsden, two people under one name. How do you know who it is commenting on the article, is it Anne or David? Now there is a comment on here just from David. Do David and Anne have the same IP address? If so, how can they be allowed to use the same IP address?”

The difference is that we know that David Marsden is real and we know that Anne Marsden is real.

“This could be an identical situation” said the writer, “some people have separate email addresses and some use a joint address.

“Lives are changing, we should all try to change or at least acknowledge changes. “… a good editor means keeping up with the changing times. I’m sure as I get older I may find it more difficult, too.”

I still do not know if Mary is not the same as Maggie; just saying they are is not enough.  I need to KNOW that they are.

There is no discrimination here.  Convince me that you are who you say you are and I am a happy camper.

I publish the Gazette, pay for it out of my pocket, and I am responsible for the content.

I would hope that those who choose to comment be responsible enough to properly identify themselves.


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Views on masking are mixed: many think the decision to remove the requirement came too early

By Staff

March 16th, 2022



The winding down of COVID-19 restrictions has begun in most of the country, and it’s being met with both confidence, and concern.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, finds Canadians divided about the swiftness of public health measure reduction, and open to keep key restrictions in place for longer if necessary.

Indeed, large numbers say that removal is happening too quickly (36%), at the right pace (38%), or too slowly (22%). Significant regional differences define the overall findings, as people in various parts of the country react to the situation where they live and gauge the changes through the lenses of their own realities.

Nationally, 73 per cent say they would support continuing masking requirements in public spaces while 64 per cent support proof of vaccination at places like restaurants and theatres in their community.

These data help to underline an emerging trend as governments shift responsibility to Canadians to decide which health measures to continue to follow. While official requirements may soon no longer be in place, many are ready to continue with the habits they have formed over the past two years. Two-thirds (64%) will continue sanitizing their hands in addition to washing, three-in-five will maintain the practice of social distancing, and fully half say – at least for the time being – they will avoid large crowds (53%) and continue to wear a mask in public (50%).

Mayor Meed Ward with staff members at a restaurant chose not to wear a mask.

As premiers and public health officials make announcements about the plan for spring, they do so with varied public opinion profiles. In Atlantic Canada, B.C., and Quebec, premiers are perceived as having handled the previous two years well. A majority also say that Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has done a good job (56%). On the other end of the spectrum, residents in Manitoba and Alberta are overwhelmingly critical of what they have seen from their premiers since the pandemic began.



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Real Estate: Inventory still low; standout sales coming in at 49% + over asking

By Staff

March 16th, 2022



During the month of February, the average price for a freehold property in Burlington was $1,626,700, 34.4% higher than February 2021 when we saw the average price at $1,210,336 and 62% higher than the average price of $999,453 during the month of February 2020.

This is what building out did for communities.

During the month of February, properties sold for just over 120% of the listed price and in 7 days, on average.

Sales were down 24% as compared to February 2021.

YTD, prices were up 31.8%, sales were down 18.8% and Days on Market were down almost 50% as compared to the same period in 2021.

Inventory levels remained very low with only 86 properties listed at the end of February as compared to the 5 year average of 196 or 56% less active listings.

During the month of February, just 10 properties sold for under the listed price. The balance sold for well over the listed price with 76 properties selling for in excess of 20% over the asking price.

A couple of standouts – a recently updated backsplit on Ardleigh Cres. was listed for $1,090,000 sold for $1,630,00; 49.5% more than the asking price.

A 1950’s sidesplit on Clarendon Park in original condition was listed at $999,000 and sold with 11 offers for $1,600,000 – 50% over the asking price.

Finally, a good example of the trajectory values have taken was demonstrated with a property that was listed on Catalina in Brant HIlls. This property was listed in 2018 for $784,000 for a couple of months and didn’t sell. With no changes to the condition of the house or property, it was listed in February for $999,000 and sold in 9 days for $1,442,000.

Burlington Condos

During the month of February, the average price for a condo apartment in Burlington was $775,000, 36.7% higher than February 2021 when we saw the average price at $567,000 and 51% higher than the average price of $513,000 during the month of February 2020.

This is what building up is doing for Burlington

During the month of February, properties sold for just over 114% of the listed price and in 12 days, on average. Sales were down 8.2% as compared to February 2021.

Inventory levels were extremely low with just 17 active listings, 63% lower than the 5 year average.

A couple of noteworthy sales. A 1020 sq. ft. 2 bdrm unit at 1451 Walker’s Line in the Tansley neighborhood was listed at $500,000 and sold for $763,000. These units were selling in the high $500’s just 2 years ago. The Chelsea building in Headon Forest saw two remarkable sales.

A 1295 sq. ft. unit, in original condition (circa 2000) was listed at $649,000 and sold for $815,000 and another unit at 1295 sq. ft. slightly more updated, was listed at $599,900 and sold for $829,900. Finally, an 870 sq. ft. unit in the brand new buildings near the Go Station on Fairvew St was listed at $699,000 and sold for $870,000.

What Does All of This Mean

The market continues to be strong, however we are seeing a transition from an overheated market to a sellers market, and expect this will continue to transition over the next 60-90 days, landing us in a balanced market by summer. Apparently world disasters are not causing weakening of prices. It’s hard to imagine what exactly might cause our trading areas to see a major correction.

What we are seeing is expected, the current market is not sustainable, however prices should still hold and if anything just increase on a lesser scale than they have. While we believe we will see some levelling off as inventory levels rise, we don’t anticipate an erosion of values in the foreseeable future.

Obviously, it is a great time to sell still and we believe buyers will see more inventory, and less competition making it a little less stressful when making an offer on a property.

The commentary on the Burlington housing market was provided by the Rocca Sisters Team

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Electric Mobility Surveys Now Available 

By Staff

March 15th, 2022



Surveys are available for residents to complete to identify opportunities and barriers for supporting and encouraging electric mobility in Burlington. Participants have the opportunity to complete one or more surveys on:

The survey starts with a few general questions and then you will be given the option to select which survey you would like to answer. At the end of each survey you can choose to complete another or answer some optional questions before you submit. Thank you for your feedback.

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Milton, Oakville and the Region end their State of Emergency - Burlington still hanging in there

By Staff

March 15th, 2022



The Town of Milton has ended its state of emergency for Covid-19. The state of emergency was first declared at the onset of the pandemic, on March 24, 2020.

The ending of the state of emergency follows the same announcements from Milton’s municipal partners – Halton Region and the Town of Oakville.

With the end of the state of emergency,  all residents are thanked for their resilience and commitment to keep our community safe. Residents are asked to remain kind, considerate ,and respectful toward those who continue to practice public health measures for their own well-being.

Residents are also encouraged to remain vigilant and practice what we have learned over the last two years. This includes staying home when sick and most importantly, getting vaccinated and boosted.

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Natalie Pierre, chosen by current MPP Jane McKenna to be the Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington in 2022 election

By Pepper Parr

March 14th, 2022



Natalie Pierre

For over 30 years, Natalie Pierre and her husband Paul have made Burlington their home. Natalie is a human resources and finance professional with experience in the public and private sector. For the past 13 years, she has led hiring and recruitment at Sheridan College.

As a mentor and coach, Natalie has worked with high school, college and university students, to overcome the challenges they face in entering the workforce.

A determined problem solver, Natalie has worked tirelessly with all levels of government to advocate for improved mental health supports. Natalie and her husband have two children, Katie (25) and Mike who would have been 22 this year. Natalie has, and will continue to be, a strong voice at Queen’s Park.

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The Mayor amends Election procedures while council sits quietly

By Pepper Parr

March 14th, 2022



During the debate on March 2nd about the use of city facilities when elections are taking place, I sent the following to the City Clerk:

“There were two documents on the screen that did not appear to be in the agenda.
I have attached two screen shots to help you identify what I am talking about.
Would you have both documents sent to me – and would you explain why the documents were not in the agenda pkg.

I did not get a response from the City Clerk but I did get a response from the city communications department – the City Clerk doesn’t appear to answer email sent to him – a matter we will cover in some detail on another occasion.

We wanted a copy of a document that Mayor Meed Ward introduced to Council as a “walk on” agenda item. Walk on means the item was not on the agenda. The Procedural bylaw requires that the Chair of the meeting seek the approval of a majority of Council to permit the “walk on” item.  It was the Clerk’s job to catch the error and bring it to the attention of the Chair.

That didn’t happen either.

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon had nothing to say

When a report is being introduced to a Standing Committee meeting there is usually an introduction or comments from Staff on why the report is before Council.  City Clerk Kevin Arjoon had nothing to say – so the Mayor moved the report which allowed her to then talk about the nine amendment she had plus a Staff Direction.

Some Gazette readers took exception with our concern over the documents not being available to the public  – they are usually available five or six days before a meeting – giving those interested an opportunity to delegate.  That is another matter that will also be covered at another time.

Two of the nine amendment were not staff supported; the others were supported by Staff.

Each amendment was introduced to the Standing Committee. There was stiff debate on some of the amendments.

The agenda item was: Use of Corporate Resources During an Election Policy.

In previous municipal elections then Councillors Meed Ward and Bentivegnia had significant issues with the Clerk’s department as to what was permitted and what was not permitted.  There were some pretty silly decisions made by the Clerk at the time.

Marianne Meed Ward had some direct experience with city staff, the Clerk’s Office to be specific, on how election rules should be administered. She was making sure that the same things didn’t happen in 2022

Mayor Meed Ward started her presentation setting out “Principles” and adding a :However to those Principles.



The Mayor then took council through each of the amendments – one by one.


What Meed Ward wanted to ensure was that members of Council would still be able to do their jobs while the election campaign is taking place. There were portions of the policy document that could be interpreted to suggest that a Councillor seeking re-election had an advantage.  All members of those currentlt on council were consistent in wanting a level playing field.

During the meeting the Committee Clerk was able to make changes in the document that was before Council.  In the illustration below you can see where items have been revised.


Most of the rules related to city space and  would not apply to independent bodies like the Performing Arts Centre, the Art Gallery and the Libraries. The independent bodies were expected to create policies of their own.  Councillor Bentivegnia argued that it was still city property – and it is – but it is city property that is governed by an independent Board. It took Bentivegnia a couple of conversations to fully understand that one.



Council members and many Staff people use their own phone for city business.  The city pays a person who uses their own phone about $35 a month


The use of city business cards during an election was prohibited – but what does a candidate do if while talking to a voter at the door step the voter asks about a specific problem. Can the candidate give them a copy of the Council members business card and ask the voter to call the office and get the help they need?

The point being made was that while you are electioneering you are a candidate and not a Councillor.  Councillor Nisan suggested that they all take part in a bonfire at which they would all burn their city provided business cards.

Incumbents are seen to have advantages new candidates don’t have in terms of media.  This council was going to great lengths to ensure that their names and pictures did not appear in documents coming out of city hall.

Social media was a challenge.  Some things on social media cannot be changed.  An entry on LinkedIn cannot be changed was an example Meed Ward gave.

A lot of time was spent figuring out how Council members could talk about city business and not cross the line into working as a candidate.  Several Councillors wanted the city communications department to monitor what the Councillors sent out – the Communications department took a pass on that one.



Meed Ward argued that during the period between May 2, when candidates can file their nominations through to the last Council meeting in September, there was still a lot of serious council business to take care of.  There had to be a way for Council members to communicate with their constituents and at the same time campaign.  Removing any name identification and photographs (the Councillor would be identified as Councillor for Ward X) from communications material the city issues was determined to be the best approach


Meeting with constituents at a ward meeting called by the Councillor had all kinds of possible red flags.  Councillors saw it as unreasonable for a Councillor to say nothing about running for office at a meeting to discuss an issue.

Burlington is now very much into branding.  There is a project that focuses on creating and promoting One Burlington, to ensure that the city as a corporation gets the visibility and attention it feels it deserves and needs.

During the last election Mayor Meed Ward arm wrestled with the City Clerk at the time over the placing of small magnetic fridge cards on the bumpers of cards.  Councillor delegated to Council on his right to put signage on his vehicle.  The Clerk at the time argued that part of the vehicle was paid for by the city.  It was a different Clerk and a different time.

All these amendments had merit.  Councillor Kearns added an amendment of her own asking that Spencer Smith Park be kept campaign free.  That lost – however Civic Square was defined as campaign free.

The issue for the Gazette was the absence of any public input.  While this Council would love to believe they are all going to be acclaimed – that is as certain as that Irish rainbow that is going to direct us all to that mythical pot of gold.

It was at the end of the meeting that those monitoring the web cast heard the City Clerk apologize for the walk on report – he said it was better to do it now rather than wait until April.

That raised a serious – why wasn’t this done months ago?

We all knew what the date of the election was going to be.  A city that can’t stop itself from touting how engaged it is – manages to find a way to issue a report that is the very foundation of the way we choose our leaders.  The Clerk’s incompetence should have been noticed by the City Manager.   How did he manage to be asleep at the switch while the Clerk fumbled with the file?



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Former school board trustee official challenges current trustees to do what is right or follow a 'lame duck' Premier

By Peggy Russell

March 13th, 2022



Public School Board Trustees in the Province of Ontario have less than a week to make a very big decision regarding their responsibility to the students and staff and, by extension, the welfare of their communities, with the responsibility they were charged with when elected.

Peggy Russell

Do they follow the direction of the Premier of this Province or do they follow the advice of the experts represented through the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition’s Statement of March 9, 2022?

The Ontario Children’s Health Coalition states: “Masks remain an important layer of protection as the pandemic continues and may be needed in communities with low vaccination rates and where there is a surge in cases. Masks also protect those most vulnerable, including high-risk, immunocompromised and fragile children.”

Trustees in the Province of Ontario have a definitive Role in which, “they must weigh what is in the best interests of the whole education system” which they are duly elected to represent.
This will be the true test of elected Trustees relevancy; there is no hedging around this one.

Either they listen to the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition or, if they do not, they should be prepared for the potential legal ramifications, not just as a Board, but as individuals who could be named in Legal Actions for not following the advice of the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition.

Currently Trustees have been advised that legally, they must abide by Public Health Orders. My question is: Are those Orders in the best interest of our collective society or that of special interest groups and some sectors of industry?

Then there is the moral obligation to the children, families/guardians, of the students they serve: to ensure that each and every student, no matter their health status, is provided the same opportunity to learn in a safe classroom environment.

Do Trustees understand that this indeed is their Alamo?

Either they listen to the experts from the Ontario Children’s Health Coalition and do what is right or they follow a “lame duck” Premier who is seeking re-election and the Orders of Ontario Public Health Units who serve at the pleasure of the Premier and their government. Which will it be?

Trustees in Ontario must be prepared to legally challenge the Province, Ministry of Education and, where applicable, Ontario Public Health Units. Trustees need to understand what is truly at stake at this moment or they risk becoming irrelevant.


Peggy Russell is a past Vice-Chair of the Halton District School Board. and was a Director of the Ontario Public School Board Association for eight years.



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Will Council meet in an Open Session on the 22nd - masks are no longer required - in person delegations should be permitted

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2022



Will there be mayhem on the streets when masks can be off everywhere and almost anywhere on March 21st ?

What does that do to plans various organizations have to protect the people they care for ? The Hamilton-Wentworth School Board is reported to have told the province that they will require Masks in schools until April 15th.

With the Spring Break keeping schools closed, the concern that people travelling may bring the virus home with them; and the expected increase in social activity will bring together people who have not been together in the past increasing the opportunity for the virus to spread.

No masks in this picture: does that mean we will see every member of Council in their seats next week?

What will that do to our elected officials and the way they meet.

City Council is due to meet on the 22nd – will it be a virtual meeting, which appears to be the preference for most of the seven members on Council.

There is a bylaw in place calling for virtual council meetings – will that be the excuse that is used to require the meeting to be virtual?

The bylaw hasn’t prevented the Mayor from taking advantage of every possible photo-op.

The City Manager is reported to be working on the approach the city will take to opening things up and at the same time reporting on how many City Hall staff will work off-site and how many will work in city facilities.

There are some jobs that have to be performed at a city office; others that can be done by people working off site. The policy appears to be that a staff member is either an on-site or an offsite employee. They cannot switch from one to the other.

More clarity on just how this will be implemented and what the impact will be on the public can be expected soon given that the province has already started the process of getting to the point where there are no restrictions.

Why any of this is being done while we are still working with a pandemic befuddles us. When the World Health Organization moves Covid19 to an endemic – the restrictions can be moved.

What will we do if there is a sudden steep increase in infections ?

That appears to be a risk the politicians are ready to take.

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Waterfront study and the development application - no recent news on either.

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2022



The deadline for responses to the survey put out after the Waterfront Study virtual meeting that took place on February 22nd, was March 1st the last date they would be accepted.

There are two things taking place with the area outlined in blue. The oldest activity is a study of the area outlined in blue which the city says has been ongoing since 2018 – it actually started way back in 2015 when the city had a Staff member doing some work on what would be possible and fit in with the Promenade and Spencer Smith Park when the owners of the Waterfront Hotel decided they were ready to redevelop the property. The area within the red boundary is the property owned by Darko Vranich . In August of 2021 he began the process of providing the City Planning department the information it would need to prepare a report for City Council which would decide to Approve the development, Not approve the development or approve a development with required changes. hotel site was ready. The report from the Planning department has to be before City Council and approved no later than April 17th of 2022

It was a very short survey; two questions – what did you think and where do you live.

The X’s mark the land the city would take as permitted park land allowance.

Shouldn’t have taken all that long to sift through the responses, pass them along to the consultants overseeing the study and share both the results of the survey and whatever the next step was going to be.

There was some interesting news shared during the DATE meeting – the most significant being that the city planned on taking a 20 metre wide piece of land from the west side of the site. The width would run from Lakeshore Road to the southern and of  the the property line.

There doesn’t appear to be any sense of urgency about a study that is intended to “inform” the long term development that will take place.  Wouldn’t the Hotel site development application, if approved, set the pattern for any development in the immediate area.  No?


Related news stories:

A time line that didn’t work for the citizens.

What about a land swap

The Statutory meeting

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Who is the writer - and why would they want to write under different names?

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2022



Who do we hear from when a comment is made?

We put our name on everything we write – no fake names and we expect people who comment to do the same thing.

We recently came across a situation where there were two names, often saying basically the same thing.

We did reach out to talk to one of them, Mary Hill, to get some clarification. We did ask for a phone number, didn’t get one but the answers she gave us to the questions we asked were satisfactory.

Using your real name is usually a good idea.

Then we noticed this:
Maggie Riley

Mary Hill

What’s your problem? you might ask. When all the data we have is available we have the following:

Maggie Riley

Mary Hill

The IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are the same – Maggie Riley and Mary Hill would appear to be the same person.

That’s not the way the game is played.

We will no longer publish comments from either name until there is clarification as to just who is the author of the comments.

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Social media causing serious harms; should be carefully regulated

By Connor Fraser

March 11th,, 2022



There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that how we interact with the internet, and social media in particular, is disastrous from a health perspective.

Firstly, several studies have noted the link between social media use and depression. A 2018 study released in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking demonstrated that every one-point increase in passive social-media use was associated with a 33% increase in depressive symptoms.

Secondly, many have identified links between social media use and reduced memory and attention. Research published by the Gerontological Society of America reported that “on days when social media use was high, individuals reported more memory failures” and furthermore that “higher previous-day social media-use was associated with more memory failures on the subsequent day.” The researchers hypothesize that a key mechanism for memory failures is attentional disengagement, whereby “individuals using social media are less engaged in real-world activities…and may not encode these events and experiences as deeply as they would otherwise.”

Late in 2021, Facebook made headlines by announcing it would re-brand itself as ‘Meta’ signalling CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intention to play a key role in developing the ‘Metaverse’: The next generation of the internet, enabled by technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Instead of clicking on webpages and newsfeeds, users will eventually navigate a digital world similar to the physical world, complete with their own avatars, and digital property such as clothing and land.

Imagine a world where a significant number of people live within a tightly controlled digital experience, rarely going outside or interacting with their neighbours. Companies such as Meta and Microsoft are betting big on people spending a lifetime online. But regardless of how scary this potential future looks like, many (particularly young people) are already living in a pseudo-metaverse.

For example, a 2019 article reported that children under age 14 spent nearly twice as long with their tech devices per day as they do with their families. These transformations are having profound impacts on our memories, and ability to pay attention and focus – which has serious implications for the future productivity of our economy, democracy and ability to confront life’s challenges. I argue that social media is already causing serious harms to society – and should be carefully regulated if we hope to prevent these harms and stop the ‘Metaverse’ from magnifying them to a terrifying level.

Consider that an incredible amount of resources have been dedicated towards designing social media and metaverse technologies to be maximally addictive. Former engineers at Google and Meta admit that their apps exploit the same psychological susceptibilities that makes gambling so compulsive, such as variable rewards. Faced to confront the latest techniques in psychology and advanced machine-learning algorithms, it’s no wonder why many find themselves continually attached to their phones – it’s not your fault!

Neither is it uniquely the fault of social media companies, who to my knowledge have not been accused of breaking government laws and regulations in any major way. The role of the firm has always been to generate profits for shareholders – and implicitly value for their customers. Contrastingly, it is the role of the government to identify activities that generate negative externalities and positive externalities – and regulate those activities which produce negative externalities (such as pollution) and fund those activities which produce positive externalities (such as public education).

The current relationship with social media is such that people receive an onslaught of messages from numerous platforms and numerous devices, and find themselves very quickly “toggling” between tasks, unable to consistently focus on any one task for greater than 3 minutes, on average. This toggling is rapidly eroding the capacity for long-term, strategic focus – precisely the tools that people need to set goals and achieve anything meaningful in life.

It is worth noting that social media is not entirely bad, and there are positive aspects to these technologies. For example, in a report commissioned by PEW research, many teens reported that access to social media played an important role in overcoming difficult life experiences. These benefits were magnified for vulnerable populations, such as youth from households with annual incomes less than $30,000 – suggesting that social media offered critical support group that wouldn’t have otherwise been available or affordable.

Moreover, the majority of teens responded that social media enables them to spend time with their friends on a daily basis, through free messaging and video chatting features. During the pandemic, these services have undeniably played an outsized role in enabling people to remain in touch while in-person opportunities were limited. Additionally, some have argued that powerful social media algorithms provide a great service by connecting people with products that are optimally tailored to their needs. To cite one example, last year I received a Spotify advertisement for the language program “Learn French by Podcast” which I subsequently subscribed to and got a huge amount of value from.

While it is clear that social media has benefits to offer when used appropriately, I think it is important to recognize that certain use patterns can be incredibly destructive – especially when people turn to aimless scrolling and passive searching for instant validation. To prevent harms from further accumulating amongst young people, and also to prevent these harms from accelerating as the metaverse becomes more potent, the government must develop an action plan to leave people in control of their relationship with social media.

Any action plan should focus on increasing healthy behaviour and preventing harmful behaviour. One strategy might include imposing regulations on tech giants that make it mandatory for all apps to periodically (i.e. once per month) provide users with a “time-spent” report, remind them about healthy-use habits, and remind them of in-app features that exist to turn-off notifications and block content. Another strategy might include devoting greater government resources to educate citizens about the circumstances under which social media use is harmful. Integrating compulsory modules into the elementary and high-school curriculum about healthy social media practices would be a good start.

Two final points to add. In order to proceed with meaningful action, more academic research of much greater rigour, needs to be conducted. The study cited above from the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking made use of an online survey where participants answered subjective questions about their experience with social media and any subsequent feelings of depression. This is hardly sufficient evidence, nor the type of decisive evidence I would want to have in my arsenal to push back against big tech. The calibre of academic scholarship in this field needs to improve dramatically in order to provide a clear rational for action that will find sustainable support amongst the majority of citizens.

Finally, I wonder if there is an appetite to explore different business models. One of my professors at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Daniel Breznitz, once commented that “if you’re not paying for a service, you’re a product, not the customer.” In the world of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, users pay no subscription fees and should therefore think of themselves as “products”.

In order to generate revenues, these business models must create value for their actual customers (i.e. advertisers) by keeping us online for as long as possible. Altering the model by introducing a subscription fee could allow companies to generate value for users as their primary customers, and perhaps abandon the need to aggressively target us with manipulative techniques.

Regardless of what action the government decides to take, this file requires some movement, and I’m shocked that Canadians have received limited leadership from elected officials until now. With continued complacency we are sleepwalking into a future health and economic crisis of titanic proportions.

Born in Hamilton, raised in Aldershot, Connor Fraser attended Waterdown Montessori School, Glenview Public School, Burlington Christian Academy and Aldershot High School. He earned a BASc. in Engineering Science and a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto.  He then  worked as a member of the technology development team at Microchip Corporation (North San Jose, California) where he contributed to the design of computer memory for FPGA chips.

Connor volunteered for the U of T Human Powered Vehicles Design Team as a machinist and led the design of a rollover detection system for high-speed tricycles. During the summer of 2013, 2015 and 2017, Connor lived in Quebec thanks to support from the YMCA Student Work Summer Exchange, and the Explore Program & is decently proficient in spoken French. 

He is currently enrolled in the dual Master of Global Affairs and Master of Business Administration program and is concurrently a CFA Level 2 candidate. He is a Senior Producer with “Beyond the Headlines”, a weekly public affairs radio show that airs on CIUT 89.5FM




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15 bus shelters in Burlington have been vandalized.

By Staff

March 10th, 2022



In the past the damage was graffiti. It isn’t public art by any stretch of the imagination. It’s kids with too much free time on their hands and parents not fully aware of what their children are doing.

15 bus shelters in Burlington have been vandalized.

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) is investigating an ongoing string of damage targeting bus shelters.

Between February 23 and March 7, 2022, 15 bus shelters in Burlington have been vandalized. On several occasions, the city completed repairs only to have the glass on the same shelter smashed again overnight.

The majority of the shelters targeted were on New Street however police are also investigating occurrences on Lakeshore Road, Harvester Road, Brant Street and Guelph Line.

The HRPS is conducting extra patrols in these areas and request residents report any suspicious activity to police. Police have not made any arrests and do not have any suspect descriptions to provide.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4777 ext. 2316

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at


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Burlington Councillor Paul Sharman along with several Oakville Council members bark back at Metrolinx: 'Meet your commitment build the grade separations'

By Staff

March10th, 2022



When Metrolinx advised the Town of Oakville and the city of Burlington that they would  not be able to proceed with the planned construction of grade separations  – they surely didn’t think that was going to be the end of it.

Burlington ward 5 Councillor took the lead on this and, working with Oakville council member issued a statement making it clear that a delay was not on for their communities.

The Town of Oakville and City of Burlington received updates from Metrolinx (the Province’s Agency for coordinating and integration transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) on the Burloak and Kerr Street Grade Separations.

Life today at the Burloak crossing.



This was the promise – when the price ballooned Metrolinx wanted to back out. The local municipal Councillors aren’t on for that decision.

Metrolinx indicated it could no longer meet its commitment to the costs agreed to by all parties involved for both the Burloak and Kerr Separations and that the Kerr Street underpass would be deferred with no future timeline. ” These changes to our agreements with the Provincial agency are unacceptable to us.”

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman – isn’t prepared to accept the Metrolinx decision.

Grade separations not only ease congestion, they are pivotal to the health and safety of our community for vehicles and pedestrians and ensure rail transportation moves unimpeded across the Lakeshore West Line.  As representatives in areas directly impacted by these railway crossings, we hear daily about delays, safety issues and concerns from our residents.  We are determined to ensure the Province and Metrolinx fulfill their commitments to the residents in our neighbourhoods and the Halton community at large.

The Metrolinx LAkeshore West line is schedule to offer 15 minute service – vehicles will never get to cross the tracks under those conditions.

“We are calling on all Halton MPPs to work to ensure the government’s commitments to the construction of both grade separations move forward and that they do so immediately and at the costs agreed to with the Municipalities in 2018.  Now is not the time to put critical infrastructure on the back burner.  With the Province mandating growth throughout our communities, we in good conscious cannot continue to fulfill the Province’s demands of added population without safety being put firs.” said Sharman

“Movement throughout our Region relies on critically integrated corridors and the infrastructure to move those vehicles, pedestrians and transit safely and quickly.  This is more than a step backwards; the Government has slammed the car in reverse.  We are calling on all residents who have a stake in this infrastructure getting built to contact your MPP and let them know that these delays, deferrals and cost overruns are unacceptable.”

Provincial members:

Stephen Crawford (Oakville) –

Parm Gill (Milton) –

Jane McKenna (Burlington) –

Effie Triantafilopoulos (Oakville North-Burlington) –



Sean O’Meara                                                                                           Beth Robertson

Regional & Town Councillor Ward 1                                                         Town Councillor Ward 1

Cathy Duddeck                                                                                         Ray Chisholm

Regional & Town Councillor Ward 2                                                         Town Councillor Ward 2

Paul Sharman

City of Burlington Council Ward 5

There is an interesting omission: Burlington’s Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is not a signatore to the statement.  She was all over television reports in the decision

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Significant changes to science, mathematics and technology curriculum become effective in September

By Staff

March 9th, 2022



The provincial Ministry of Education has seen the light and announced decisions to significantly revise the science and technology curriculums.

The Grade 9 science course will be de-streamed for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1 to 8: Science and Technology, 2022, and the planned changes to the new de-streamed Grade 9 science course, are part of the government’s plan to align curriculum changes with the province’s economic needs and place an emphasis on critical life and job skills, including the fast-growing skilled trades.

Ontario’s elementary science and technology curriculum was last updated in 2007 and the Grade 9 course was last updated in 2008.

Since then, significant scientific and technological innovations such as the advancement of smartphones, everyday use of 3D printing and genomic vaccines have emerged, and the global economy has changed. The updated curriculum responds to these changes with the goal of positioning Ontario as a leading jurisdiction in STEM, helping to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

The new curriculum will be implemented in September 2022, in time for the 2022-23 school year as part of the government’s plan to ensure that all students have the foundational, transferable and entrepreneurial skills they need to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“Ontario has transformed the curriculum to now emphasize STEM education across all grades, embedding life and job skills that will support the next generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “From finding new cures for cancer, to space robotics that reach new planets, and the development of artificial intelligence and technologies that are changing the economy, Ontario’s new science and technology curriculum is focused on giving young people the skills to think critically, dream boldly and chart new pathways forward for our economy.”

Writing code will become part of regular classroom assignments in September.

For the first time in Ontario history, the revised curriculum includes required learning on real-world connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics. New expectations include:

Basic computer coding will become a part of the daily classroom work.

Coding: mandatory learning on coding from Grades 1 to 9, consistent with the math curriculum, to further enshrine Ontario as a STEM leader. For example, in Grade 3, students can learn how to program a small robot.

  • Connecting STEM Learning: for the first time, Ontario has dedicated learning expectations from Grades 1 to 9 which explicitly connects science, technology, engineering and mathematics to real-world issues.
  • Emerging technology: students will learn about the rise and application of advanced research, robotics and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Students can learn about the impact and application of AI in their daily lives, including facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, drones and search engines.
  • Skilled trades: mandatory learning from Grades 4 to 9 on the relationship between how advancements in science and emerging technologies are enhancing the skilled trades and providing exciting career opportunities.
  • Food literacy: learning related to food literacy in every grade that empowers students to make decisions that affect physical and mental health, consider local food production, and the scientific processes involved in agriculture.


The previous curricula did not contain required learning related to the skilled trades. Students will now explore how science relates to careers in the skilled trades and how emerging and new technologies impact these careers. These new learning expectations within the curriculum will ensure Ontario’s students are at the forefront of emerging innovation, thought and able to compete in the global economy.

To support the continuum of learning in mathematics, the ministry is also issuing an addendum for each of the Grade 10 Academic and Applied Mathematics courses, to be implemented for the 2022-23 school year. The addenda outline additional learning expectations to support students in their learning as they transition from the new de-streamed Grade 9 Mathematics course to the current Grade 10 Mathematics courses.



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Diane Murray: First woman to be placed on the Development Hall of Fame

Diane Murray being presented her Hall of Fame award by Vince Molinaro.

When the members of the Home Builders Association met as people all in the same room – it was something they had not done for two years.

To make it a memorable occasion they had the Minister of Municipal AffaIrs and Housing in as the speaker – he did not let them down, said everything they wanted to hear.

They did something else that was a first for the development/construction industry that now has 330+ member in the West End Home Builders Association.  They made a woman a member of the Hall of Fame.

Diane Murray was not only the first woman to be added to the Hall of Fame but she was also the first person who did not come from the industry.  All of Murray’s career was with Union Gas (now Enbridge) where she worked with developers getting them through some of the regulatory issues and putting pipes in the ground to move gas.

Diane Murray – centre rear row – with a Union Gas (new Enbridge) crew on a construction site.

Now retired Diane Murray will tell you that it is a much different industry now then it was the day she first put on a hard hat 30 years ago.

“The developers are different, the size of developments are much bigger and the make-up of the work force has changed.  It was a tough go for women in an industry that was very male dominated.  None of us had executive level jobs.”

Now there are women who are the daughters of developers and they didn’t join the family firm to take dictation.

Are they there yet?  Not yet, claims Diane, but on this the day that women pause to celebrate the positive changes that have taken place, Diane Murray looks back on an industry, of which she was part, and is content with the changes that have been made knowing that it isn’t over yet – that a better day is not too far ahead.

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iGaming with Smart Phones has grown at a phenomenal rate - sites are safe and secure.

By Jasmine Jones 

March 10th, 2022



In the past two years, when we were stunned by global news, with cities being locked down and people being compelled to stay at home to comply with health regulations and social distancing measures, some companies and services providers were forced to suspend their physical operations. Gambling, one of Canada’s favorite pastimes, was also severely affected by this scenario, as land-based casinos and gambling facilities were forced to close.

Statistics released by certain industry studies, on the other hand, indicated that iGaming was one of the few business sectors that thrived during this span, with large revenue growth. The recent push the iGaming sector made into mobile functionality, including the deployment of upgraded mobile-friendly websites and even the launch of unique mobile casino applications, is undoubtedly behind this rapid success.

Given the high use of Smart Phones – using them to gambles anywhere and at any time, in entirely secure virtual settings.

With the advancements in mobile technology over the last decade, the mobile market has become one of the most significant sectors in the gaming industry, particularly because 87.6 percent of Canadians have a smartphone, up from 14 percent in 2009. Therefore, iGaming operators and software providers quickly realized the potential of mobile gaming and started investing in mobile responsiveness and mobile-friendly games.

When online casinos were initially conceived, there weren’t many trustworthy operators, and these platforms were shunned since most players were afraid of being scammed or deceived. However, as technology advanced, these websites got considerably safer, and today Canadian bettors and punters from all over the world can enjoy classic games on the palm of their hands, anywhere and at any time, in entirely secure virtual settings.

It is now obvious that the adoption of mobile technologies by the iGaming market resulted in several benefits for both players and operators. And in this article, we’ll take a brief look at the advantages that this has brought to iGaming, as well as some of the features that players may enjoy on these platforms.

Total availability

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our life, with the majority of our internet activity taking place on them. There’s always something new to look forward to in the mobile app stores, from watching movies to taking gym classes. So it was only a matter of time until the iGaming sector embraced these technologies.

Currently, most iGaming operators, including companies that have just entered the Canadian market such as STS Bet Canada, provide mobile-friendly websites and mobile applications, allowing players to enjoy their favorite games 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the modest screen size of smartphones, these platforms offer a realistic casino experience to both casual and high-roller punters.

Smart phone, desk top and tablets – you can gamble from any location

The majority of casino websites and mobile applications work well on every portable device accessible today, from smartphones to tablets. These platforms are remarkably easy to browse and function the same way as if we were playing on a powerful gaming PC or laptop, thanks to HTML5 technologies that have been introduced in recent years.

Players may get these applications from the iOS and Android app stores and make use of mobile gaming’s full potential. With these applications, you can play any game available from the operator, enjoy special bonuses and promotions, make deposits and withdrawals, and even contact customer service.

A multitude of game options

Hundreds – perhaps thousands of reliable gambling web site are now available.

One of the most appealing aspects of online and mobile casinos is the wide range of games offered, which includes classics such as roulette, blackjack, and slot games.

Slots are perhaps the most popular games on these websites, and the selection of online slots is vast. Some of the industry’s most well-known software suppliers, such as Playtech, Microgaming, and Evolution Gaming, release new slots nearly every month, including branded licensed games from popular movies and TV shows like Game of Thrones, Jurassic Park, and Vikings.

Table games are also highly available, and players can choose from many variants of blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and even craps, including novelty games like Perfect Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, and Multiball Roulette.

However, some of the industry’s biggest innovations in the past couple of years, live dealer games and live game shows are also offered at iGaming platforms. Live dealer games, as opposed to traditional online casino games that rely on random number generators, employ professional croupiers who manage games in real-time. And live game shows bring the excitement of TV game shows like Deal or no Deal, Jeopardy, and Monopoly Live to punters playing from the comfort of their homes.

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