The wheels of commerce start in a workshop – skilled tradesmen make the dies that make the machines that make the stuff we use..

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON – Manufacturing companies in Burlington face a serious shortage of trained workes with skills that relate to tool and die making.

The Centre, an educational organization that is part of the Halton Board of Education structure offers courses in electrical training, renovation skills development and industrial millwright mechanic/machinist  skills.   These are “trades” that pay  well and offer  satisfying work where expertise is built up over time.

The Centre for Skills Development & Training’s (The Centre) gets students trained and earning for career with a future, fast.

Students at The Centre are trained on equipment they would find in any workshop in Burlington.

The Centre is currently accepting applications for the 22-week, full-time program that includes over 70% of hands-on training in over 6,000 square feet of fully equipped shop space. Last year, over 92% of graduates found work in their field. The next start date is March 25, 2013.

Jamie Fierro-Silva on the right and Omar Taylor practice setting up measuring devices for the very exacting work done on tool making equipment at The Centre.

“Today, almost 50% of Canadian companies, regardless of size of location, are facing serious labour and skills shortages. This shortage poses a threat to economic growth; however, it also represents immense opportunity for people interested in working in trades,” said Kathy Mills, Chief Administrative Officer of The Centre for Skills Development & Training. “Our Industrial Millwright Mechanic/Machinist program is comprehensive and includes personalized job search assistance to ensure students land work in industry as quickly as possible.”

Established in 1988, The Centre for Skills Development &Training has two locations in Burlington and Oakville, and one location in Milton and Clarkson. The Centre provides pre-apprenticeship skilled trades training, employment services, services for newcomers to Canada, and customized workplace training and consulting services for companies.

That’s the corporate part of this story; there is a really interesting dynamic going on in the class I watched.  The twenty some odd people in the class I looked in on were guided by Al Hossack who would work one on one with students as they set up a machine or worked to solve a problem.

Hossack was steps away for any student working in a shop that had the kind of equipment these students would work with in any workshop they went to – and the vast majority of these students would be employed once they have completed their course.

Mike Harwood is the Job Developer for the trades department. In a phrase – he is the matchmaker – he knows all the students and knows the needs of the employers in his markets.  His relationship with the employers is such that they tell him what they need and he looks at what The Centre has coming through the system.  Sometimes a student will do a very short placement to see if the chemistry is right.

Harwood refers to his job as “employer dating”.

Al Hossack, a certified tool and die maker takes a student at The Centre through the set up procedures on a piece of equipment. Hands on and classroom time are part of the course.

What the Centre is doing is attracting people who want to learn a trade and then, while training them, are also grooming them for the first job they will go into.  It’s not a slam dunk course explained Al Hossack.  We aren’t like a community college where students wander in whenever they want and wearing their pyjamas if the choose.

The Centre teaches skills and focuses on good work habits; punctuality and reliability.  The students who walk out the door with their certificate in their hands take the reputation of the Centre with them – and that reputation is vigorously protected.  Students toe the line – end up with good jobs, not just decent jobs and are known to have come out of a good school.

Ellen Faraday – den mother to students at The Centre

Ellen Faraday, Senior Trades coordinator for The Centre is sort of the den mother of the place.  She lives and breathes what they do and sees every student as her project.  She knows them all by name and knows where they are probably going to get their first job.  These are “her people” and she is heavily invested in their progress. Ellen will tell you as she leads you from one workshop to another that three of the women who work with Mike Holmes – of Holmes on Homes fame came out of  The Centre and then she rattles off the names.

The course that will start at the end of this month is being sponsored by the Ministry of Training – they are picking up the bulk of the fees.  Great deal, great opportunity for someone who would like this kind of work or who wants to change the career stream they are in.

The Centre – worth looking at.


Return to the Front page

Just what kind of work can you do out of your home? City hall wants to update the bylaw – let them know what you think.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 14, 2013  The guy with the monster house doesn’t want the guy in the bungalow a few doors down  operating a Home Based Business where he grooms pets in the back yard or has a lawn mower repair business.

Burlington currently has a bylaw that limits what you can and cannot do in terms of business in your home; however don’t expect to see the bylaw officer going door to door snooping around.

In this city by law enforcement is a – “if you call us we will look into it”.  They are not pro-active but rather re-active.  When you call they do look into the concern you have quite promptly and more often than not manage to resolve the problem.

Is this an acceptable home business? What if the hairdresser is doing a wedding party and there are 10 cars parked outside the house?

Someone at city hall said “Home based businesses are a growing and dynamic part of Burlington’s local economy.”, which is a bit of a stretch.  Examples of home-based businesses include hairdressers, music lessons and pet grooming.  We take our lawn mower over to a place west of us for repairs where the work is done in the garage of a home in an average community.  The man we use asked us not to say anything because “his daughter works at city hall”.

City hall has decided to look into what is happening in the home based business sector and recently held a focus group where they  took  part in a 1 ½ -hour focus session about home-based businesses in Burlington.  The participants got $50 for their efforts.  There was one person from each ward, people who operate a home-based business,  people who live next door to, or near-by to a home-based business and    people who live in single detached, semi-detached, or multi-residential units including townhouse, condo, or apartment.

The focus group was held early in February and the results are in the hands of the planners who want to now get input from a wider audience and are talking to the Business in Burlington crowd that is herded by James Burchill.  Many of his 2000 plus members work out of their homes.  Some certainly carry inventory and perhaps ship from their home address.

The planners want to hear from people who work from their homes.  The bylaw that governs all this is set out below:

The following regulations for home occupation uses are set out in the bylaw:

The residential appearance and character of the dwelling must be maintained and no exterior alteration is permitted;

The home occupation is not permitted in a garage, but is permitted in a basement or cellar;

The home occupation is restricted to 25% of the floor area of a dwelling above grade;

The employees of the home occupation must be residents of the dwelling;

Retail sales are not permitted unless the goods are ancillary to the main home occupation use;

Outside storage and display is prohibited although goods may be stored in a garage provided they are not visible from the outside.

No equipment or process is allowed which may become a public nuisance in regard to persistent noise, odour, fumes, vibration, glare, electrical interference, traffic or parking.

In addition, the zoning regulations stipulate: music, dance, singing and physical fitness activities are only permitted in detached dwellings;  the following uses are only permitted in detached dwellings located on streets with a deemed width of 26m or larger:  medical or health care office, hairstylist, aesthetician or complementary health care.

City hall staff felt there was a need to update and clarify the home occupation zoning regulations and wanted to review the following:

Was a definition of “personal service;” needed?

Should home occupation uses be permitted on all streets?

Should there be a limit to the number of customers present at one time at a home occupation use?

Should uses such as dog grooming, dog daycare and dog training be permitted as home occupation uses?

Whether to allow on-line sales where there is no home pick-up and restricted inventory.

One of the Art in Action events that take place in private homes as part of their annual Studio Tour. Clearly not a home business but their event confused people at city hall. Did it need a license?

A few years ago the Art in Action group, that holds a Studio Tour where several artists gather in a home and display their art and sell from the location, ran into problems with city hall and had to put out dollars for a license.  That problem got resolved and last year’s tour had one group of artists meeting in the home of the Mayor.  Clearly there are exceptions.  The Mayor wasn’t given a favour – but that situation drew attention to the need for clearer regulations.

Some of the thoughts the bureaucrats are having don’t square all that well with the real world of people who work out of their homes.  What is positive about this process is that city hall is reaching out.    It is now up to those people who work out of their homes and have opinions to make their views known – this is a two-way street.

If you have a viewpoint let city hall know.  The staffer on this file can be reached at:

Return to the Front page

Hustle, hustle, hustle – he’s as good as a circus barker – Burchill at his best – every first Wednesday of the month.


James Burchill convinces the community to donate door prizes and seldom has less than 300 people showing up for an event. His mailing list has surpassed the 1500 mark. He might begin to sell insurance to a list like that.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 7, 2013   He has out done himself with this one.  James Burchill the tireless Chief Cheese of Business in Burlington who has the worst collection of puns you will ever come across has pulled of a major score.  He convinced the management at the Performing Arts centre to let him use the Family room, the Community room and now the mezzanine level into a trade bazaar.

He’s going to have three cash bars operating and expects more than 500 people to cruise through the event that will have some 20 vendors in what he calls zones.

Burchill will fill any email box he can find with a breathless announcement of what he gotten done “on your behalf” or as he put it in his most recent missive: “In 2 weeks it’s March 21st – the first day of Spring and at 5pm over 540 people will be arriving to enjoy some Social Fusion Networking and a Trade Show at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.”

Admission, Burchill tells everyone, is FR’EE. There are more than 20 vendor displays to explore throughout 4 zones (the Foyer, (It’s called the Family Room, James)  the Studio, The Mezzanine and now … the Upper Mezzanine as well.)

There are 3 cash bars. FREE canapé’s and other treats. Hundreds of dollars in door prizes and the event runs for an extra half-hour now.

If you’re not on the guest list and you’d like to be, simply RSVP here:

Consistent crowds means he’s serving a need. James Burchill draws them out to his MeetUp every Wednesday in Burlington. He also has groups on Oakville and Niagara Falls.

Burchill has used social media exclusively to build the organization, that’s all he has going for him,  and he is something of an expert in the field.  He has built the networking organization from just under 100 in a short 18 months to a group that is now very close to the 1500 mark.  It is made up mostly of smaller independent types – the services offered range from hypnotism to computer repair.

There are no membership fees, just show up.  Burchill once asked people to show up in shorts – few took him up on that one.  It’s networking at its best and is done with quite a bit more hustle than you see at say the Chamber of Commerce events.

Burchill has an agenda – he is a true believer, more like an evangelist actually, in what he is doing.  Can it last?  Few thought it would get this far.

The crowd and it is a crowd, meets at the Beaver and Bullfrog at the Waterfront hotel in the winters months and has moved the event to the Ivy on the South Service Road for the warmer months where the parking is not a problem.

Return to the Front page

Chilly Half Marathon floods the downtown core and brings traffic to a halt on Lakeshore Road.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 6, 2013.  It was close to perfect weather for a solid 5k run and Burlington was just the place to do it – along Lakeshore Road with either water on one side of the road or grand homes you could never afford to live in but are nice to look at on the other side.

The Chilly 5k is a commercial venture that brings 3500 + runners to the city.  They flood the downtown core and with the Performing Arts Centre open they had a place to store their gear while they ran.

Last year, when Mayor Goldring announced the start of the event he said in a rather grand voice that Burlington was the running capital of the province.

His statement was very close to the truth.  Burlington hosts the Chilly 5K and the Santa run.  Both draw thousands.  What kind of economic impact do these people have on the city?   Anyone driving through downtown Burlington Sunday afternoon would never have known there was a massive event earlier in the day – so it appears they don’t stay very long.  But while they are here – they take over the town.

Clearly an economic development opportunity here – if we could keep even a thousand of them in town for the balance of the day the merchants would feel the love as they say in the biz world.

Kune Hua, A cinema photographer with a sharp eye when looking through his lens and a fast hand in the editing room – expect to see more of his work in the city.

Kune Hua,  a cinema photographer with a very deft touch and an ability to catch the mood of an event.  He appears to have a fine eye and a very practiced hand in the editing room.  Hua, who has done some excellent work for the city in the past, decided he wanted to capture this event and spent the day out on the street with his camera.

This piece of film along with others he expect to be doing are being collected under his What’s Good in my Hood collection of videos that will be featured on Our Burlington and other platforms Hua is developing.

He is currently marketing his services to the commercial markets and has created a number of packages that fit different budgets and cinematic needs.  This is a fellow worth watching.

The race, more of a mixture of young people who really want to race and thousands of others who are out for the day.   While Lakeshore is a lovely location there are others in the city that are just as pleasant to use and less intrusive in terms of traffic flow. No word yet on just how much was raised for the Joseph Brant Hospital.

Return to the Front page

Fifteen Burlington businesses are finalists in Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award

By Walter Byj

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 3, 2013.  How often do we drive by a business in the city and wonder:  what exactly does that company make or what services does that business offer?  We all know what products Ford makes and many in Burlington will know who Fearmans is; but what about the 100s of smaller industries that are spread throughout the city that contribute to the growth and sustainability of this city?  Are there companies you didn’t  know about who provide a service you can use?

Burlington has companies that employ hundreds of people. Each year the Burlington Chamber of Commerce   invite the public to nominate companies that they deem to be the best  in one of five categories.

The Chamber then gives those nominated to a committee that interviews and determines which is the best of those nominated.

The 2013 winners of the Business Excellence Award for each category will be announced at the upcoming Chamber Business Awards gala to be held on April 11th.

There are five categories:  Manufacturer, Retail/Wholesale, Service (Small), Service (Large) and Employer of The Year.

Following is a brief description of each of the finalists in each category.  How many do you recognise?


Apex Composites Inc.  This manufacturing company located on John Lucas Drive in Northeast Burlington, originated in 2002 as a supplier and repair facility for race cars. However, like most progressive companies, they set their goals higher and along with highly trained personnel and sophisticated equipment, they now participate in parts manufacturing in the highly sophisticated aerospace and defence industry. The ability to meet the demands of their customers, should bode well for this company in the future.

Battlefield Graphics.  Established 1964 in Stoney Creek , this commercial printing company moved to its current location on Harvester Road in 1988.  Privately owned by the Theoret family, Battlefield Graphics, with a current staff of 85 people, has not only expanded over the years but has continually updated its presses so that it can meet the requirements and demands of its North American customers.  You may be familiar with some of their work as they produce the GM car catalogue and are a supplier for in-store signage at Wal-Mart.  Combining a strong sense of service along with the most up to date technology, this company has plans beyond North America as they strive to be a global player.

Marshield Radiation Protection & Storage Units  Many of us have benefitted from at least one of their products whenever we are seated in a dentist’s chair; the  dental apron is just one of their many products. Located on Morris Drive and established in 1979, the company is a division of Mars Metal Company.  Their products are also used in the nuclear industry not only in North America, but also for selected international accounts.

Shipway Quality Stairs & Railings.  Established in 1980 and located on Ironstone Drive, this company has become one of the premier staircase and rail makers not only in Ontario, but also throughout North America. With over 100 employees (craftsmen), this company is synonymous with quality and customer service which has enabled it to earn a strong reputation in the designing and building of stairs and rails.


Frid & Russell Business Products.  Filling business supplies needs since 1947, this Canadian office supplies company located on Ironstone Drive has become the largest independent office supply company in Southwest Ontario. Serving an area from Toronto to Kitchener to Hamilton this founding member of Office Plus has maintained their market dominance through a focus on competitive pricing and strong customer service.

UPS Store # 89  Located on Fairview Drive, this independently owned franchise is geared to serve small businesses. As the name suggests this outlet is equipped to package and ship parcels worldwide. In addition, they offer digital print and copy services along with a mailbox service.

Throat Threads Apparel  Originating as a tie company by Russ Fearon in 1993, this company has grown exponentially over the past number of years. Located on Plains Road East in a large century building, this company has yearly gained distribution rights for a number of highly recognizable international brands in such categories as men’s sportswear, dress shirts, belts, women’s wear and footwear. Some of their better known brands are Ping, Tommy Hilfiger and Swiss Army brands. Using strong sales and marketing skills, their products are located in a vast array of retail stores in Canada.


AIS Solutions  Offering expert financial advice, this company, located on the South Service Road, is ideal for those small businesses that required financial solutions but are not large enough to maintain their own staff.  By outsourcing their accounting or bookkeeping requirements to the AIS  Solutions team, smaller business will receive expert advice and solutions to a number of business requirements at a very reasonable cost.

Pat’s Party Rentals  Providing the necessary accoutrements for a large variety of social gatherings such as weddings, corporate events, fund-raising or trade shows has been the goal of this company for over 25 years. Established in 1987 and recently consolidating two locations into one larger facility on North Service Road, they provide not only the product required but also help with planning ideas.

Seferian Design Group  How often do we observe a nicely landscaped area and wonder who was responsible for this island of beauty?  Well, it just might be the Seferian Design Group. Established in 1992 and with a client list of well over 100, this landscape architecture and design firm has been beautifying residential, commercial and industrial areas throughout the golden horseshoe and beyond. Located on Ontario Street, this firm is the recipient of many awards.


Ampersand Group  Located on Billings Court, this hospitality focussed company offers, through its numerous divisions, expertise to clients in the hospitality business. Their services range from consulting and implementing unique restaurant experiences to software that enables a restaurateur to better track and record many aspects of their business.. Some of the Burlington restaurants Ampersand works with are The Dickens and The Rude Native and Prime Rib.  They also provide catering services at the Burlington Art Centre and the Performing Arts Centre.

Neelands Refrigeration Limited  We may take the refrigeration sections in our grocery store for granted but not so for Neelands. In operation since 1958 and located on Palladium Way in North Burlington, this distributor of a number refrigeration companies, helps in the design, location and logistics of a variety of refrigeration units within a store.  The ability to provide a full service menu to their customers has enabled this company to be highly respected in their field.

The Idea Factor Inc.  Highlighting and  promoting  their clients to potential and existing accounts is the target of this firm that is located on the North Service Road . The use of telemarketing, direct mail or other unique avenues helps in reaching out on behalf of their accounts for new customers. Representing accounts in both Canada and the U.S., their unique and innovative methods has enabled them to be in business for over 25 years.

 Employer of the Year

In 2012 the Chamber felt it was time for Burlington to recognize an Employer of the year.  This year two companies were nominated.

O.C. Tanner Recognition Company Ltd  To help motivate and then recognize the efforts of employees is the target of this firm that is located on Fairview Drive. In Canada since 1982, they work with a large number of employers in developing incentive packages that set targets and respective awards for their employees.

Thrillworks Inc.  Recognizing the growing influence of the internet and importance of a powerful web page was the genesis of this company located on the South Service Road.  Using a five step approach, they offer a one stop all service package for all of their clients. Some of their better known accounts are Tim Hortons, Pet Valu and Petro Canada.

There you have it – the fifteen companies that were nominated by their peers and will now go through a rigorous vetting procedure that is kept very confidential until the night of the awards.



Return to the Front page

Burlington’s leading “bon vivant” to lead the Masquerade Ball to the sound of New Orleans jazz.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 27, 2013.  The social side of this city seems to go through cycles – last year it was the Torsney ‘s with Brian Torsney deep into the Hospital Foundation fund-raising events to raise the $60 million they were tasked to come up with while his sister, a former Burlington Member of Parliament, Paddy Torsney headed up the United Way drive.

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquale (Pat) Paletta

This year it looks as if the Paletta`s are going to take up the headlines in the social sector.  Pat Paletta got himself nominated as the Entrepreneur of the year – that event will take place on June 6, 2013, and now son Angelo has been appointed as the honorary chair of the Masquerade Ball – the lead fund-raising event for the (BCF) Burlington Community Foundation.  The Ball will take place October 26th at the Burlington Convention Centre.  Tickets began to get scarce last year – so slip over to their website and book your appointment with the hair dresser.

Angelo, according to the Foundation, has played a number of key philanthropic and community support roles in Burlington.  Besides being the honourary chair the family corporation has joined BCF as its first Proud Supporter of our Vital Signs report, a community check-up we will share with Burlington residents on October 1st.

Last year the BCF published their first ever Vital Signs report, which, while not quite what many in the social development sector had hoped for, it was their first effort.  Everyone is looking for something quite a bit deeper and more relevant to the community this year.  Their report is announced for release on October 1st.

Colleen Mulholland, Executive Director, Burlington Community Foundation is as pleased as punch that Angelo is “sharing his time and leadership with us, in support of our largest fundraising event.”

Jazz – New Orleans style at the Burlington Community Foundation Masquerade Ball.

In their media release the BCF announces they will continue with the alluring feel of a masked gala, featuring the swinging streets of the French Quarter. “I am honoured to have been asked to be the gala’s honourary chair this year,” says Angelo,  who will dance up a storm.  “ I love the excitement of New Orleans, jazz and Bourbon Street, and my family and I have always had a terrific time at the Masquerade Ball. I hope the community will join us in this great celebration.”

In 2007, Angelo was formally installed as a Knight of Malta under the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, a religious order founded by Pope Pascal II in 1113. Devoted for 900 years to caring for the sick and the poor for more than 900 years, today this philanthropic Order operates accredited diplomatic and humanitarian missions in more than 100 countries.

Closer to home, Angelo is also the current Chair of the Board of Directors for the Carpenter Hospice.

The Paletta’s are also in an early stage ‘kiss and make up’ with the city.  There are a number of issues related to the development of land owned by the Paletta’s that some feel are hindering the economic development of Burlington.  As the largest holder of what the city has classified as “economic development lands” the city wants to be able to see those properties marketed and developed to bring some much-needed development to the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional part of the city tax assessment base.

City manager Jeff Fielding has brought a much different approach to developing relationships with the major stakeholders in the city.  Can one imagine a time when the city and the Paletta’s done trot off to Ontario Municipal Board hearings?

Part of this process is a significant shake up in the way the Economic Development Corporation manages the growth of the city.  In the past much of their focus has been on raising funds to keep the operation alive.  Fielding thinks that isn’t the smartest business model if Burlington is to prosper and has asked the BEDC to come back with a better business case.  That case has been presented to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee where it didn’t seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm on the part of either council members or staff.  Expect to hear more on this one.

Paletta International is a Canadian owned and family managed company, started by Pasquale Paletta (Burlington’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year) in 1951.  With its humble beginnings in beef processing, the company grew through vertical integration into raising cattle with feedlots in Burlington, Alberta and Colorado. The company also is involved in real estate, construction, media and entertainment. The company is managed by Pasquale’s four sons: Angelo, Paul, Michael, and Remi Paletta, from its Paletta Court facility in Burlington.

The BCF was established in 1999 by a group of local volunteers and philanthropists to improve the quality of life in Burlington.  The Foundation collaborates with donors to build endowments, gives grants and connects community leadership. For Masquerade Ball tables, tickets or information on becoming a Proud Supporter, contact Sandra Baker,, 905 639 0744 x 223

Return to the Front page

Local business promoter moves his gig to a more fashionable address for a one night stand.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 15th, 2013.   The theory is that if you invite a celebrity to your event more people will show up – and that would apply in Burlington if you invited Walk off the Earth.  Inviting the Mayor of the city to open an event – don’t think that is going to pull the crowd James Burchill, wants for his Spring into Business event – nevertheless the Mayor is going to deliver the opening remarks at the “Spring Into Business” Networking & Trade Show Event to be held at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre March 21st.

If you are an independent business operator mark that date on your calendar – actually you probably don’t have to – Burchill has the best list of smaller business operations in the city.  The one thing Burchill does exceptionally well is promote himself and his ventures.

The BiB – Burlington in Business crowd at the Waterfront Hotel where they meet once a month.  Founder James Burchill has moved his gig to the Performing Arts Centre for a March event.  Great bar over there – can they handle 500 + thirsty people?

He held a mini-trade show at the Beaver and the Bulldog a couple of months ago – the room was packed which led Burchill to believe he could move to a larger, brighter venue and put on a bigger event.  He might be right – it was certainly worth the risk.

The event is a joint venture between all the Social Fusion Networking groups and hosted by the beautiful Burlington Performing Arts Centre, this event will cater to approximately 500 people and showcase 25 local business vendors from 5pm through to 7pm.  Admission is free and has already attracted over 350 businesses from far-afield as Niagara through to Toronto.

Social Fusion Networking is the creation of James Burchill who launched the first event in January of 2012. To date these networks have attracted many thousands of local businesses seeking a new way of networking.  “It is my understanding that SFN is the largest independent B2B group in Halton because it exceeds 2500 members.” said James Burchill

With consistently high turnouts each month, SFN events integrate the best of modern social media and combine it with classical face-to-face networking. The results and feedback has been nothing short of amazing with James’ efforts being publicly acknowledged by as a “Top 10% Network.”

James Burchill, on the right, announcing the winner of a door prize – a session with a hypnotist.  Interesting.

Social Fusion Networking ™ was developed by James Burchill after he noted a series of problems with current B2B networking approaches. The punitive clauses that restricted members to one or few groups, the punishments for failing to attend, the caps and limits on how many people could participate encouraged Burchill to create a new way of networking with No Fees, No Pressure and No restrictions. Meeting monthly at local venues and available always online, SFN integrates a mixture of channels allowing people to connect and communicate in a manner and fashion that suits them best. SFN events are sponsored and advertising supported in lieu of membership dues.

The group has an interesting web presence and has in the past met on Wednesday’s at the Waterfront Hotel where they take up all the space at the best watering hole in the hotel.  The Mayor made an appearance there once – that didn’t do anything to attendance.


Return to the Front page

Local company takes environment seriously – lowers the heat and tells staff to bring in a sweater.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 13, 2014  There isn’t a large corporation on this side of the Atlantic that doesn’t say it is out there to help save the environment.  We Canadians, fresh air people for sure yet we live in a country that ships some of the dirtiest oil sucked out of the ground because a large part of our economy depends on selling that oil.

So when you hear about a company that says they are here to help save the environment – you kind of  raise an eyebrow and ask – yeah?

When we heard that the Walker Group has this Earth 1st program that sounded interesting – always good to have a snappy logo to slap on the shipping containers.  Then you look at the story a little more deeply and learn that the Walker Group has been doing this for more than ten years.

This year their challenge to their employees was to wear a really funky sweater to work February 7th.  Nice idea, lightens up the office, gives staff something different to do – but then they learn that the sweater might come in handy – they’ve turned the heat in all their plants down by two degrees.

THAT is a commitment; that is putting your money, and you personal comfort, where you mouth is.

Ask your staff to do some funky – and you never know what you’re going to get. The heat must have been down more than two degrees to bring out some of those scarves.  Norjohn plant in Burlington on a coffee break?

So we trotted along to the Norjohn Plant on Corporate Drive to see how staff had taken up the challenge.  Not a lot of people at this location.  Tight, tight security – which we will tell you about later.

There they were – the staff wearing their woollies.  Now this crowd isn’t going to take any prizes for the “funkiness” but they should get some points for the hat’s they wore.  The scarves on the guys at the left and right ends of the group photo are something we won’t comment other than to remind them that The Leaf’s haven’t won since 1967, which was the 100th anniversary of Confederation.

Warm sweater day was the way Walker Industries decided to have their employees reduce their environmental impact in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the company’s innovative EARTH 1st program.

EARTH 1st was developed to take Walker to another level of environmental performance by empowering employees to make a difference at work and at home.

In the past decade, through the suggestions of employees, the company has dramatically reduced its environmental impacts. Some examples include launching a carbon neutral building service, recycling concrete and asphalt, installing energy-efficient lighting and developing wax emulsions from environmentally sustainable resources.

The Walker Industries head office crowd did their part.

All 550-plus employees were asked to wear a warm sweater on February 7th. “We are encouraging staff to find wacky, funky and wild sweater, toque and scarf combinations,” says Alison Braithwaite, the company’s director of Environmental Performance. “We’re looking forward to the virtual fashion show as participants post their photos and videos on our challenge site.”

Walker locations taking part in the challenge included: Walker Industries Head Office & Walker Environmental Group – Thorold and Niagara Falls;  Organic Resource Management Inc. – Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Woodstock; • Norjohn Contracting and Paving Limited – Niagara Falls; • Walker Aggregates Inc. – Simcoe County and Niagara Region;  Amherst Quarries – Essex County;  Norjohn Limited – Burlington;  Norjohn-ACI Inc. – Portland, Oregon and Palm Coast, Florida.

The Walker Industries gang out at the compost site were really innovative – was this because they are all in witness protection programs?

While the employees were encouraged to become involved the organization went a little further and asked their  customers, suppliers, friends and neighbours to lower their heat and put on their favourite sweater to take action against climate change and work towards a sustainable future.

Braithwaite pointed out that: “If every Canadian lowered the heat by just two degrees this winter, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4 megatons.”

Other environmental challenges being planned for the year include a water reduction initiative, a turn-out-the-lights effort for Earth Hour, participation in Earth Day celebrations, a bike-to-work week, a community engagement project and a waste reduction week.

How did it work out?  Well the gang at Norjohn bought into the idea.  As for the rest of the organization – the results are still coming in.  Good idea, this planet is ours to save.

Return to the Front page

Things are getting a little hurried at city hall; legal department is scurrying around to get reports into the hand of Councillors.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 4th, 2013  A confidential report on the pier being built at the foot of Brant Street was scheduled for a meeting of the Budget and Corporate Services Committee tomorrow.

The Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting for the first time in its new format was advised this afternoon that the confidential report in the pier would be discussed at the evening portion of the Infrastructure and Development committee – which got the ire of Councillor John Taylor going – he didn’t want to go into a closed session of council to discuss a report that he has not yet read.

Usually an easy man to get along with – but grumpy, grumpy, grumpy when reports are not ready for him to read and review. John Taylor does nothing on the fly – legal department is going to have to smooth his ruffled feathers.

Councillor Taylor can get touchy at times with sudden changes.  While he groused city solicit Nancy Shea Nicol took him aside and explained that she would not be giving the a report because there were “some financials” that were not complete but that she would be giving a verbal report that would be followed up by the full document.

OK – but what’s the rush?  The report wasn’t due until Tuesday – tomorrow.  Is there something going on out there that the public has not been told about?

You bet your bippy there is.  The city is has entered the discovery process that has each of the parties in the dispute asking each other questions based on the documentation that has been provided.

That’s when the full story comes into focus and that is when lawyers ask themselves – is this something we should try to settle now or is this something we are solid on so we will go to trial?

The reason for the hurrying

and scurrying is that someone wants to talk settlement.

The reason for the hurrying and scurrying is that someone wants to talk settlement.  Who – that would be guessing.  Who has the most to lose?   The city is in the middle of all this – battling both Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. and AECOM for the princely sum of $7.5 million.  If they lose council members will have a lot of explaining to do – not something you want to get into when you are into the second half of their term of office.

Having spent a princely sum on legal fees to date the city has to be looking at any offer to settle that might have been made.

Last week the city disclosed that it had spent $2.1 million on fighting the Nelson Aggregate application for an additional permit to quarry on the Mt. Nemo plateau.  That was a good fight that took many, many months of hearings.  The cost of the legal stuff on the pier will make the Nelson hearings look like chump change.

Next week, Henry Schilthuis undergoes discovery as does the city’s Director of Engineering Tom Eichenbaum.  Ir is interesting to note that neither Phil Kelly or Tim Commisso are part of the discovery process – both were key players and on the city’s payroll when the problems with the toppling crane and the concrete pour that failed took place.

It’s getting interesting down at city hall.  Different Councillors are beginning to talk casually about where the developer is wrong and that the city has a solid case.

Stay tuned.

As for the actual construction of the pier – that’s going great.  There is every reason to expect the thing to open officially during the Sound of Music festivities in June of this year.  The contractor (one of four who bid on the pier)

Early morning view of the pier in September.  Some time was lost in October due to weather but November and December weather was decent enough to get some work done.  Rails and the node that will have the tower with the observation deck in place are now into fabrication.

who won the tender with a bid of  $6,429.700 is on time – on budget wouldn’t apply to this job because of the nifty way the city has handled the amount that was saved when the wind turbine got thrown under the bus at a Council meeting.



Return to the Front page

City looking into making home based business`s legal; will this solve part of the economic slowdown?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 31, 2012   Burlington’s Public Involvement Coordinator is setting up a focus group with people from each ward in the city to talk about home based business’s – which at this point aren’t legal in Burlington – although there are tons of them in the city.

Christine Iamonaco, Burlington’s Public Involvement coordinator is facilitating a focus group to gather views and feelings about the current home-based business bylaw.

By not being legal the city means you cannot employ a person and have that person working out of your house.  You can be a hair dresser and toil away by yourself – but you can’t hire another person as a hair dresser and pay that person a wage.

It’s been a bit of a sticky issue.  People who provide a service feel they should be able to do so and hire other people to work for them.  The man who fixes out lawn mower works out of his garage – is that considered his home?  For a lot of guys the garage is home – but I digress.

There are people in some neighbourhoods who don’t want abnormal traffic coming and going to a home that has a couple of woman working as hair dressers.

The city appears to want to review the bylaw that governs all this.

Home-based businesses have been described as a growing and dynamic part of Burlington’s local economy with   hairdressers, music lessons and pet grooming given as examples.

City staff is looking for 6 to 8 people to take part in a 1 ½ -hour focus group conversation about home-based businesses in Burlington. They want to learn about your experiences with home-based businesses in your area.

Should people be permitted to run a dog grooming business out of their homes? Focus group being held to get answers to that question.

The city is looking for one person from each ward; people who operate a home-based business; • people who live next door to, or near-by to a home-based business and  people who live in single detached, semi-detached, or multi-residential units including townhouse, condo, or apartment.

The focus group session will take place on February 5, 2013, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Burlington City Hall. Compensation for participating is $50.00.

If you think this might be something that interests you or something you have an opinion on answer the questions below and email them to by Feb 4, 2013. If you are selected for the focus group, city staff will phone you to confirm your participation.


Cut and past with the answers in place and email to:  Put words focus group in the subject line

Home Based Business Focus Group Participant Application

Name: _____________________________

Ward and/or Postal Code:____________

Dwelling type: single detached house semi-detached home or multi-residential unit

Indicate if you are: a home-based business operator OR a home-based business neighbor or near-by resident

Phone number(s):________________

Your E-mail address:________________



Return to the Front page

Burlington Chamber of commerce releases Business Confidence Update – our part of Ontario feels they are doing well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 30, 2013  The Ontario Business Confidence Index, an index produced by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce,  shows that most Ontario businesses are confident in their own outlook (72 percent) and are planning to expand over the next five years (60 percent). However, the same businesses are unsure about the overall direction of Ontario’s economy–41 percent express confidence.

The index is a survey of 2,386 businesses and was conducted as part of Emerging Stronger 2013, a business-driven economic agenda for Ontario released today by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, along with their research partner, the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto.

A lot of money was spent on the presentation but the clientele needed to make a go of it just didn’t appear.

Emerging Stronger 2013 is a transformational agenda aimed at accelerating Ontario’s economic growth. It identifies Ontario’s challenges and advantages, and sets out practical and detailed recommendations for government and business.

Some of its key recommendations include: enabling better access to capital for start-ups and small businesses through crowd funding; encouraging businesses to employ more Aboriginal people and people with disabilities; opening up more government services to private sector and not-for-profit delivery; utilizing Ontario’s large immigrant population to grow exports; and, allowing more employers to participate in training.

The shingle had to come down after more than a year of solid effort – the customer base just wasn’t big enough for Celestial Beauty. The disposable income that many thought would drift from the several condominiums on Lakeshore Road just didn’t make its way to this shop.

The agenda comes days after Kathleen Wynne was named Ontario’s next premier and is intended to provide a non-partisan platform that should appeal to all three parties.

Keith Hoey and the Chamber of Commerce Emerging Stronger agenda will sit well with parts of the commercial sector but the several small business types in the core that went out of business this month don’t see it quite that way.

“The OCC’s Emerging Stronger agenda is truly transformative for Ontario,” said Keith Hoey, President of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “It outlines a plan for the provincial and federal governments to work together with private and not-for-profit sectors to achieve success.”

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has crisscrossed this province engaging and hearing from local chambers and their 60,000 members,” said Allan O’Dette, CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are confident that Ontario has all the assets to prosper, but we need to act collectively, strategically, and with purpose.”

“This Index is one of the largest surveys ever conducted of business opinion in Ontario,” according to Dave Scholz, Vice President of Leger Marketing, the pollster. “Business sentiment is very much ‘glass half-full’ in the province right now.”

Among the survey findings are:

Ontario is falling behind on productivity: only 10 percent of respondents believe their sector is a global leader in productivity.

Some sectors are much more confident than others: the financial services sector is the most confident in their own outlook (74 percent say their business will expand in the next 5 years).

Businesses are struggling to diversify their exports: 45 percent of Ontario businesses view China as the most critical market in the next 5-10 years. Yet only 1.4 percent of Ontario’s exports are bound for China.

Some regions are more confident than others: Greater Hamilton Area businesses are most likely to respond that the economy is heading in the right direction (48 percent), while Eastern Ontario businesses are the least likely (36 percent).

Return to the Front page

Is Burlington talking to one of the companies it is suing over the construction of the pier about a settlement?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 30, 2012  City council going into a closed session is not unusual.  They do seem to go private a little too much when the pier is involved but that is a legal mess.

Monday evening the Mayor advised Council that there would be a Closed Session at the end of the regular council meeting.  Again – not unusual.  But when he said it was to “discuss a confidential legal matter about the Brant Street Pier” my ears shot up.

Wasn’t it earlier in the week that the Mayor said in his State of the City address that all was well on the waterfront?  Yes, he did say: I am very pleased to advise that meaningful progress has been made on the Brant Street Pier in 2012. Work has continued in the winter and staff expect the ribbon to be cut in June.

Is that an offer to settle rising above the under construction pier or have the lawyers in Hamilton just turned on the lights over there?

This wasn’t surprising.  Construction is going well.  The contractor has managed to pour some concrete and while 11 days were lost when Sandy hurricane hit the United States all was well.  So well that plans for the Official Opening during the Sound of Music festival were underway if only in a preliminary way.  The largest service club group in the city is talking to staff about some ideas they have.

While construction is going well – things on the legal side are actually beginning to move along as well.  That process lawyers call “discovery” where each side gets to ask the other about information that has come out of documents each side has made available to the other begins.  Because there are so many players in this game close to a month has been set aside.

This legal quagmire is not just the city suing Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. , and AECOM plus a bunch of smaller players  for $7,500,000. Schilthuis is counter-suing the city for $2,699,344.32.

The first version of the pier was to be built for $6.9 million – that figure worked it’s way up to the $15.9 million the project has cost to date.

The rocket scientists out there can do the math with those numbers.  Do you see the “win-win” for the city in there somewhere?

February 4th – Ross Steel goes through the process

February 5th – PV&V gets its turn

February 6th – Lombard Insurance gets to talk and answer questions

February 7th – Brave, a concrete company gets its turn.

February 8th     EFCO Canada Company

February 11th , 12th and 13th Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. is in the room

February 14th  Burlington’s Director of Engineering, Tom Eichenbaum gets to answer questions.

February 15th – Zurich Insurance is up.

The Judge handling this case has apparently allowed extra time for Eichenbaum to answer questions.

At this stage in the proceedings all the evidence is on the table.  The city has turned over 23,000 pages of information consisting of emails and reports – anything that was written down relating to the construction of the pier.  The prime contractor Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd. has given the city 17.000 pages.

With all the evidence on the table lawyers on both sides question witnesses and delve into the details as they build their case.  Why did you say this in that document; what did you mean when you wrote that – that kind of thing.

Lawyers get a pretty good sense of where their case is going once they have gone through all the documents and if there is going to be a settlement before a case goes to court – this is the time to have a conversation.  Who takes that first step and how they take it is a critical part of the legal dance.

One side doesn’t want appear weak by asking if “perhaps we can talk”.  That’s what lawyers do for a living.

Knowing this – one had to wonder – what was it that the city solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol wanted to talk to city council about in a closed session?

The Mayor had said all was well on Thursday.

Construction of the pier was going just fine in the fall with very little time lost due to weather.  The legal case was moving along just as well.  Will there be a settlement before the pier is opened?

Methinks someone has suggested there might be a possible settlement before things go any further.  Who talked to who and when?  We don’t know but we are pretty sure the city is engaged in a conversation.

The Closed Session lasted for about 50 minutes after which council decided to:

Refer memo dated January 28, 2013 from Nancy Shea Nicol, City Solicitor, providing a litigation update on the Brant Street pier; and Direct the City Solicitor to provide further information to the Budget & Corporate Services Committee meeting of February 5, 2013.

What that means is that the city solicitor sent Council a memo; they discussed that memo in a Closed Session of Council and then directed to city solicitor to provide more information to a council committee that meets next Tuesday.

We can’t wait to hear what gets said:  will they do that in a Closed Session as well?

Stay tuned.



Return to the Front page

Don’t miss the Winter Market on Saturdays @ TERRA Greenhouse in North Burlington.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  January 31st, 2013  Looking for something a bit different to do with the family or grand-parents on a cold Saturday morning this winter? Bundle up the gang and head over to the TERRA Greenhouse on the north side of Dundas Street between Guelph Line and Brant Street.

Perfectly situated on the dividing line between North and South Burlington, the downtown lake-side crowd will be pleased that they don’t have to venture too far up into the ‘unknown hinterland’ of the escarpment. North Burlington country folk will be pleased that they don’t have to ‘dress up’ to descend into the tony suburbia of Burlington. This well-placed winter market is casual, inviting, and tasteful. Literally.

Large & lush TERRA Greenhouse welcomes vendors and visitors on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm.

As you stamp off the snow from your boots, your tootsies will soon warm up in this well-heated sun-lit huge glass greenhouse. You’ll be welcomed by tasty samples of a wide range of delectable consumables, like raspberry-saturated truffles or mouth-watering bacon-smoked fresh salmon. Taste testing is encouraged by most vendors, but careful what you nibble.  I had one mouthful of the smoked salmon pate and promptly plunked down ten dollars for a critical winter’s supply …

Smokeville’s husband-and-wife team offer mouth-watering smoked rainbow trout and a variety of delicious smoked salmon products.

Exotic highly spiced teas compliment a wide variety of freshly baked ‘local’ pastries. Hardy rustic uncut sour-dough bread loaves beckon, as do delicately decorated orange-chocolate cup-cakes. Fresh meat pies can be had with a quart of well-scrubbed late-harvest turnips or beets. And don’t forget to get your quota of concentrated sour cherry juice: an excellent all-round good health elixir.

A familiar face from the Burlington Mall summer market, this mother-daughter team offer concentrated sour cherry juice, guaranteed to fix what ails you.

Artfully arranged around the greenhouse’s bubbling fountain, strategic floral arrangements by TERRA green the space. Tables are stacked high with local wares by food and craft artisans. There’s really something for every taste. Yes, a tad more expensive then your local super-market, but frankly, it’s such a pleasing mish-mash of enticing stuff, you’ll soon find yourself enthusiastically supporting these local mum-and-pop enterprses.

Tired of standing? Rest your bones in the convenient festive TERRA garden furniture displays. You never know, you just might decide to re-do your summer patio. TERRA attendants are on hand to assist with your purchase if you do. I found their service helpful and informative, not pushy.

The Little Truffle Maker offers her wares. Taste testing is obligatory! 

If you’re not interested in the excellent food produce, you can always sniff exotic expensive hand-crafted soaps or hand-made packets of room freshening lavender. Or, try on a well-knitted toque and scarf combo in a wide variety of joyful colours. Grab a budding cactus or ruby red orchid on route.

It’s always great when a new venture hits pay dirt. Timing is everything. Would this IDEA have worked two years ago? Hard to say. But today, the TERRA greenhouse on Dundas Street has a ‘hit’ on its hands. So much so, there’s talk of opening another Winter Market up in Milton.

Nothing succeeds like success. Without a doubt, this is a win-win venture.  The TERRA greenhouse could well have remained dormant over the winter months, but this resourceful interpretation of ‘space’ welcomes all who seek an enjoyable and novel Saturday sojourn. Local food vendors now have a warm and inviting place to sell their specialty items without incurring a crushing overhead.  Visitors won’t be disappointed.  It is a festive and welcoming event.

Pies ‘n Such offered great gift packages of 5 tasty items for five dollars.

Do head over earlier rather then later. Doors open at 10am on Saturday and close at 3pm. The place was packed last Saturday by 10:30am.

The Winter Market runs until the end of March. Free parking. Free entry.

And don’t forget to try those FREE lip-smacking taste-testing morsels.
Don’t miss the Winter Market on Saturdays @ TERRA Greenhouse in North Burlington.

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.






Return to the Front page

Retailers along Brant Street did next to nothing to gussy up their part of town for Christmas: How come?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 6, 2013  You live in Burlington; you shopped and therefore you shopped at the malls.  I didn’t know Burlington had that many cars until I went looking for a place to park at Mapleview Mall Christmas Eve day – but I found a spot and, as is my habit, did all my shopping in less than an hour – knew what I wanted to buy and where it was being sold.  Then I strolled along the different levels and saw a few things I had not thought of and that was my Christmas Shopping – done.

You didn’t pick up much Christmas spirit along this stretch of Brant Street if you walked along it during the holiday.

Earlier in the week I had occasion to be on lower Brant Street and wondered what had happened.  There was nothing to suggest that it was Christmas – well yes, there were those pitiful little lights on the street lamp poles.  Even Civic Square had a lackluster look to it – until the lights were on and then it looked decent enough.

I thought perhaps it was just the bottom of Brant Street that had been ignored – so walked north to Caroline and then on up to Prospect – and it was even more grim.

So what’s with this phrase we use about having a “vibrant” downtown core that is a pleasant place to shop and meet with friends?

Once the location for one of the better “hotels” in town this Emshih property doesn’t have even a Christmas twig on it.

The pictures that accompany  this article  show precious little in the way of Seasonal decoration – with the exception being the works who showed some creativity.

Last year the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) held a contest for the best displays – several of which were very innovative, Especially the one done up by the condo sales agency on Lakeshore.  Did that competition get cancelled this year?

Even with the contest last year,  lower Brant didn’t look all that well then either.  Emshih Developments owns a number of the properties along Brant; one would have hoped they would put some of the profits back into the community.  They found it useful to financially support the Mayor’s One Dream that we are told we will hear more about sometime in January.

The opportunity to do something really spectacular with this storefront was lost to one of the reputedly better marketers in the city.  This was embarrassing.

The Works, a new franchise in town that created a buzz on their opening day by offering a free burger. They have the most innovative storefront look of the Season.  Is that because they are new and don’t know any better – Burlington doesn’t appear to “do” Christmas.

It didn’t get any better when you got off Brant Street.  One would have thought that a pub with the name Dickens would have taken the spirit of the season in its teeth and done the place up really nice.  They opted to spend twenty bucks on stuff from the dollar store.  Can you feel the vibrancy?

The Downtown Business Association used to support this effort financially – they had to cut back – Burlington Hydro took up the slack. So what is it that BDBA does for their members?

The BDBA had to tell the Festival of Lights people that the $5000 donation they traditionally made to that organization,  which sets up the lights that are dotted throughout Spencer Smith Park and along Lakeshore Road would not be forthcoming in 2012.  Fortunately Burlington Hydro came to the rescue.

During the Car Free Sunday last summer that saw Brant Street closed to traffic so that people could stroll the streets and ride bicycles in complete safety and shop if they wished – there were stores that didn’t bother to open.  There were people at the Caroline – Brant Street intersection close to spitting nickels because of the traffic delays – had they known this was all to aid the objective of getting people out of their cars – and that some stores didn’t open; one wonders how they would have applied the word vibrant to that situation?

There seems to be a mis-alignment here.  Is the BDBA an organization that has lost its drive or purpose?  Anyone within the BDBA boundary pays a tax levy whether they like it or not.  Are they getting value for what they are paying?

Those retailers also pay into a parking levy which in lieu of providing on site parking.   That parking levy was used by the Bridgewater development on Lakeshore as the plank on which they built their argument about not having to provide parking space – instead they would pay into the levy just the way other downtown core business people do.  With 150 + hotel rooms and two condo’s – there is going to be a parking need.  A problem brewing there that someone at Planning hasn’t thought through.

The restaurants were doing a very brisk business on the Thursday and Friday leading up to the start of the seasonal holiday for city hall.  Impossible to get a parking spot in the lot off Elizabeth Street.

In the fall the city held a Downtown Workshop that filled the Art Centre as people listened to a consultants report and took part in exercises where they got to trot out their ideas and visions.  All good stuff – we suppose but one can`t see any new ideas on our main downtown streets.

Is it even possible to grow our downtown to the point where it is a busy, vibrant, profitable place for retail and serviced people to locate?

Sheila Bottin, the Deloitte consultant the city has hired to advise on what kind of commercial office space can be built on the John Street and Elizabeth Street parking lots has told the city to “forgetaboutit” – developers can’t get the rents they need to cover the cost of providing those underground parking places.  And no one is going to take a bus downtown – they would rather take the GO into Toronto.

Brian Dean, Executive Director of the BDBA works his tail off for his association. Is he beating a dead horse

The Village Square is up for sale with much gnashing of teeth on the part of the public, or so we are told, but the location no longer works for many retailers.  There was a time when it was THE hot spot in the city but some less than wise management practices resulted in many restaurants fleeing to Brant Street where rents were more manageable.  Brian Dean, president of the BDBA,  will tell you the biggest favour Jack Friedman, owner of Village Square, did for him was when he revised the rental agreements: “those people moved to Brant Street suddenly the downtown core had a future.

But that future is stymied.  Management mistakes by others are not what one builds a business plan on.  Dean is tireless in his work for his association – it would be nice to see his association members doing as much for themselves as he does for them.  Perhaps Dean has done all he can do and someone else should take the helm?  Something isn’t working.

Jody Wellings has toiled tirelessly at city hall on the city’s core commitment and never fails to bring a positive attitude to the job – but there don’t appear to be any solutions that are gaining traction.  What is it we’re missing here?

Brant Street is a great place to be during the Sound of Music but RibFest and the Children’s Festival don’t do much for the retailers.

It might be too early to tell if the Performing Arts Centre has had the hoped for impact on the restaurant business.  Melodia Mediteranean Cuisine and Bar opened and is getting decent reviews but Prime Rib announced a move from Brant around the corner to Locust, a stone throw from the Performing Arts Centre close to a year ago and it has yet to open its doors.

We’ve not seen solid attendance and audited numbers from the PAC people yet, so we don’t know what the attendance has been.  The line-up has been impressive but everyone knew, or should have known, that it was going to be a long painful labour getting the place to the point where it had created a market for live entertainment and a following for specific kinds of entertainment.

For a retailer that  sells poinsettias by the truck load this is just not a Christmas look.

The feel of Brant Street is in the hands of the retailers; they decide what they want to do to their store fronts.  If they are bare and uninviting – people stay away.  Yes, parking is a problem but it doesn’t take long to get a parking spot, just some patience.  But one needs a reason to go downtown – and if the storefronts are as dowdy as they were in the photographs we took – heck I’ll drive to Oakville, which by the way got written up in a Toronto electronic magazine as the place with the nicest Christmas feel to it on the main street.

Mayor Goldring’s former Chief of Staff, Frank McKeown,  may have figured out the solution when he said “Forever Elvis” will work.  If all else fails – perhaps?


Return to the Front page

Here’s a rich one for you; Paletta named BEDC Entrepreneur of the year while the family firm fights city hall on major developments.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2012  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) has named Pasquale Paletta as the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Paletta founded Paletta International, a Canadian-owned and family-managed company, in 1951.

Pasquale Paletta, named Burlington Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneur of the year for 2013.

“I am very thankful and honoured to be named the 2013 Burlington Entrepreneur of the Year,” Paletta said. “Burlington has always been home. Burlington has grown together with me and I look forward to our future growth and continued partnership with the city to continue its growth and achieve our combined dreams. I hope I can do more for Burlington.”

Paletta came to Canada as an Italian immigrant after the Second World War and moved his family to Burlington in 1964 and started a 10,000-square foot meat packing plant.

Today, the family has a facility of more than 200,000 sq.ft. and exports to more than 17 countries worldwide.

The family is believed to be the largest holder of undeveloped lands in Burlington and has in the past number of years fought the city on almost every development project it has started.

Paletta International head office in Burlington

His family has developed thousands of residential units, constructed more than 500,000 sq. ft. of buildings, developed hundreds of acres of property for retail and employment, farmed thousands of acres and expanded into film, media and entertainment.

Over the past eight years, BEDC has inducted the following acclaimed business people into Burlington’s Business Hall of Fame: Harry Voortman (Voortman Cookies), Mark Chamberlain (Trivaris), Michael Lee-Chin (AIC Ltd. /Portland Holdings), Michael DeGroote Sr. (Laidlaw/Republic), Ron Joyce (Tim Horton’s), Murray Hogarth (Pioneer Petroleums), Ron Foxcroft (Fox40 International) and Reginald Pollard (Pollard Windows Inc.).

Each year a call for nominations is sent out to the business community. Then a nominating committee made up of BEDC board of directors chooses the entrepreneur by using stringent evaluation criteria.

“We have been very fortunate to have had some of Burlington’s most successful entrepreneurs inducted into our Business Hall of Fame, Mr. Paletta is an ideal choice for this significant accomplishment,” said Alf Zeuner, chair of the BEDC’s board of directors. “It was with great interest to review the achievements of all nominees. Making the decision of the final recipient was not easy as Burlington is home to many outstanding entrepreneurs.”

The award will be presented at BEDC’s annual signature event, which will be held on Thursday, June 6 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

The Paletta International head office operation is massive and includes the poultry packing operation as well as administrative and property management divisions.

The Paletta interests were   instrumental in an attempt to bring the Hamilton Tiger Cats  to Burlington   and  make the city their “home” town.  Mayor Goldring, new to the office of Mayor at the time didn’t champion that idea.

Several of the Paletta developments before the city are tied up in differences of opinion or before the Ontario Municipal Board.

Angelo Paletta, Pasquale Paletta’s son, was one of 35 people chosen by Mayor Goldring to be part of the group involved with the Mayor in defining the dream for Burlington.

The Paletta family donated a large sum to the restoration of a mansion on Lakeshore Road now known as the Paletta Mansion.



Return to the Front page

Can you become an entrepreneur without a Mentor? O’Krafka doesn’t think you should even try without one.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 23, 2012  Becoming an entrepreneur  is now fashionable; it’s hip.  And if you’re a budding entrepreneur then you need a Mentor.  Learning how to choose a mentor has become another arrow in the quiver of any  university graduate looking for a job or the person out of a job, which is the pool of people producing the entrepreneurs.

The Pythons’ Pit project, a Halton Rotary initiative being led by Fareen Samji and Tom McLeod, is getting close to its day of deliverance when applications have to be in for the $150,000 that is available for entrepreneurs who can convince a group of proven business start-up people that they have the right stuff and can make money out of an idea and their energy.

A group of people who have ideas  and want to move them  forward but need more funding to make that happen met at e-spot over in Oakville recently.  They were there to do early practice pitches on their ideas – sort of like a baseball pitcher being in the bullpen practicing.  This is the place you can make the mistakes that are going to be part of your success.

Tina Turner on the left with Donna Messer critique funding proposals for entrepreneurs who want to appear before the Pythons’ Pit.

There were a lot of mistakes made at the e-spot meeting.  Of the close to a dozen people making presentations there really wasn’t one that was fully prepared.  There were a couple of ideas that had potential and one that could be funded almost immediately.

Everyone has to start somewhere but the starters have to do more hard work and the people commenting on their efforts have to be  quite a bit tougher with their comments and criticisms.  At some point some of these people are going to get funded and if what we saw last week is the best they have – then a lot of money is going to be lost on ideas that have not been fully researched.  There wasn’t one person in the group that had financial projections.  None set out what they needed financially or how long it would take them to break even.

The critical comment was pretty soft.  You don’t do budding entrepreneurs any favours when you soft pedal the criticism.  The consumer spending their dollars will be brutal in their choices.  People want value for what they pay money for and if the value isn’t there, they don’t buy and the business goes belly up.  Not a pretty picture.

There was however some excellent advice given by Jeremy O’Krafka, a man who has made a business out of the mentoring business by organizing people who were interested in becoming mentors and people who needed a mentor but didn’t know how to find one.

One of his claims to fame is having held the World’s Largest Business Mentoring Event which got him into the Guinness Book of Records – and that is going to do what for his business?  A conversation ice breaker I guess.

While talking to people who wanted to be entrepreneurs O’Krafka, who can be found at his web site,  made a number of very, very useful points.  His starting point was that you need a mentor and laid out three tips for protégés to get themselves ready for a mentor.

Be Prepared advised OKrafka:  “Know who you’re meeting with – research your mentor before you meet. With all of the information that’s available on the web, there’s no excuse to not conduct a background check.”

Use your time wisely:  “Get to the point. There are certainly networking situations that require the customary social niceties. But, if the agreed upon purpose of the meeting, is for the mentor to provide advice on your business, let that be the focus.  One mentor told us how he called out the protégé he was meeting with, for wasting the first 2 minutes on fluff – welcome to someone who values their time.”

Take Action: “Strive to have at least one action oriented take away from each mentor that you meet with.  Do it. Follow up with your mentor to let them know the outcome.  There’s nothing that says our time together was worthwhile like a message to say thank you – and this is the progress I’ve made.”

OKrafka had some very solid advice – there is more that we will share with you as we follow the progress and development of the Pythons’ Pit.

Entries close December 1.  The organizers are expecting a number of entries from students at the McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business and from students taking business courses at Sheridan College.

The entries will be judged by six area entrepreneurs who will determine where the $150,000 seed money will go and may, if they see potential that interests them personally, invest some of their own money.

The  six are:

John Romano, owner of Nickle Brook brewery and operator of Better Bitters Brewing Company, is one of the six Pythons that will be looking critically at the proposals.  At 27 years old, Romano dramatically altered his career path: he gave up aerospace engineering to open a small home brewery in Burlington called Better Bitters.

Randy Pilon, founder and current president and chief executive officer of  Virox Technologies Inc. in Oakville, Ont., spent 14 years with Bausch & Lomb, where he rose through the ranks eventually becoming Corporate Vice President of the Canadian subsidiary. In 1998, Pilon founded Virox, a company with a patented technology in disinfection and sterilization.

Susanne Mikler, Co-founder and Owner of LC Liaison College | Culinary Arts, an organization that has more than 11 campuses located throughout Southern Ontario, Mikler and her business partner, husband Rudy Florio, have made Liaision College the fourth best culinary arts school in the world.

Nadir Ansari grew up in London, Ontario where his unquenchable curiosity and affinity for music, math and personal refinement came to life. After completing his Master’s thesis on Statistical Modeling of Bridge Loading from the University of Western Ontario, he joined forces with Brian Isherwood, to become partner and eventual owner and CEO of Isherwood Associates.

George Minakakis, is a Milton businessman and global retail leader.  During his tenure with the Luxottica Group, he was solely responsible for the Canadian divisions of LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut and Licensed Brands with a combined store count of more than 300 locations across Canada. He also served as Chief Executive Officer for Greater China including Hong Kong where he was responsible for the expansion of Luxottica’s Premium brand LensCrafters with over 250 locations.

Don Dalicandro is Chief Executive Officer of ASI, a software company serving the mobile field workforce needs of Fortune 1000 North American clients.  He has over twenty-five years experience working with large and medium sized companies in diverse business sectors including finance, manufacturing, consumer goods, oil and gas, field service, commercial office construction and leasing, retail and food service.

Grace Attard of the e-Spot, outlines the program for budding entrepreneurs who want to hone their pitch to the Pythons’ Pit.

There are a lot of people very interested in seeing how this initiative works out.  Do we live in a community that fosters innovation and creative thinking?  Do we have people in the community that will do the really hard work that it takes to get a business off the ground? Do we have mentors that are tough and direct with their critical comment or do we have people who want to play nice?

Personally, I didn’t see the kind of grit that it takes at the e-spot event.  Nice people, some interesting ideas but none were really fleshed out and except for one – there just isn’t a market for the idea.

e-Spot, is a place where people, wanting to develop a business and have an idea they are passionate about, might want to be aware of and look into.  Located at 353 Iroquois Shore Road  just off  Trafalgar in Oakville, with Grace Attar ready to answer questions.  They have a membership program some might find useful and provide various consulting services geared to those who are not ready for and can’t afford the big consulting outfits. Worth looking into.

We will follow this.

Return to the Front page

Meetup groups are popping up all over the place. Should City Hall host a Meetup?

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  November 22, 2012 Earlier this year I wrote about the BusinessInBurlington MeetUp organized by social media entrepreneur James Burchill.   Since that time I’ve been intrigued by the continued proliferation of other Meetup groups in the area. There’s a group now for just about every interest imaginable: books, games, movies, health, pets, meditation, drumming, careers and even odd-ball hobbies. Seek and ye shall find.

Not quite a WANTED poster at the Post Office but a good representation of the kind of people who show up at meetings of the Burlington in Business MeetUp.  Attendance roared up to 300 plus – which is pretty close to the capacity of the Beaver and the Bullfrog  pub at the Waterfront Hotel.

For those unsure of what ‘MeetUp’ is all about: the idea was started by two New York City techie entrepreneurs, Scott Heiferman and Brendan McGovern. The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, was pivotal to the formation of their ‘meet-in-person’ concept. Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman says that the manner in which people came together in the aftermath of that traumatic event inspired him to use the internet to make it easier for people to connect with strangers in their community. These young gents launched their ‘interactive’ website in New York in 2001. Now, eleven years later, there are over 11 million registered Meetup users and over 110,000 groups world-wide. In Burlington and the Region of Halton, there are reputed to be over 513 groups. Personally, I found about 40 Meetups catering to a diversity of interests in the area.

Meetups are all about people and the way they choose to spend their time.  In this montage photographer Margaret Lindsay Holton has caught the feel of a Burlington in Business MeetUp organized by James Burchill.

It’s easy to start a specific Meetup forum, (a monthly fee of less then $30 gets your group up and running), and easy too to join any other Meetup group for free. Add your personal tastes and preferences during sign up, then off you go. At all times the option to attend any Meetup is entirely voluntary. The point of all this ‘meeting up’ is to find friends and/or associates who share your interests, and then, basically, enjoy yourselves. One of the perks of this kind of ‘focused’ meeting is that a lot of preliminary ‘social sorting’ doesn’t have to occur. All attending know that all attending are there for the same reason, whatever that might be.

A sample of Burlington and regional Meetup groups follows. Once on the group page of any Meetup group, click on the Home Page to find an overview of what that group offers.

FTDTW or ‘Friends to Do Things With’ is a relatively new addition to the Meetup community having formed in January of this year. Yet obviously they’ve hit a nerve, because 87 events later, they now have over 500 members, 30 years of age and up. What do they do? Meet at bars, clubs, the Ribfest, restaurants, movie theatres and cafes.

Sassy Bookworms have been around a bit longer, and have a very loyal following. Started in July 2010, with now over 200 members. Sassy Bookworm Meetups usually occur in members’ residences and are limited to 30 or so sassy bookworms per event. They get together to discuss a new title by a different author once per month.  (You’re going to love their Marilyn Monroe-with-a-book logo!)

The Burlington Photography Meetup Group  was founded in April, 2010, and now has just under 200 members. Designed for both amateur and professional photographers, the Meetups are social photographic outings in the region.

Looking for alternate cuisine ideas? Try vegetarian with a friendly vegan groups  – The Burloak-Vegetarian Meetup Group or Danielle Roche’s inspired Eat Local Burlington group.

Details Happy Veggie Heads

As Eat Local Meetup organizer Danielle says, “After reading the ‘100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating’, I am inspired to eat more organic foods grown within 250 km of Burlington. It has been an amazing experience visiting farms, markets and meeting other local food enthusiasts.” Since August 2010, over 240 locavores have signed up with this Burlington-based Meetup group. There have been over 120 ‘local’ foodie events organized by Danielle. Now that’s commitment!

Interested in Salsa dancing? You’d be surprised the number of Meetup groups within a 250 km radius who have, or are preparing, Salsa dance events. Check out the very popular 400 plus members of the Llamas Meetup group of Mississauga:  or, in Oakville, the smaller group – Salsa Night/Noche de Salsa – Don’t want to dance, but want to drum? The 500 strong Burlington-based Naked Beat Drum Meetup hosts frequent events.

Tin ear, no twinkle toes? Never fear. The Halton-Peel Social Group (over 400 members) is hosting a ‘big screen’ event of The 100th Grey Cup between the Toronto Argonauts & the Calgary Stampeders at Philthy McNasty’s (Oakville location) on Sunday from 4 to 10 pm. A small $2 cover with RSVP is requested. Bar, big screen, beer, passionate fans: what more could you want?


Too much noise ? Ok. Try urban buddism’, or meditation, with the Centre for Compassion and Wisdom, founded in October, 2011. This group now has 57 members located in Burlington: Don’t like that group? Try Burlington Meditation: OR, join the Quick Brown Fox Meetup group on Novermber 24th at the Appleby United Church on Spruce Ave for a workshop on ‘How to write a Page-Turner’ Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo. His proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published. The workshop runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fee: $44 paid in advance or $48 at the door.

If over 50, single, and just want to ‘mingle’ for a bit, try the very popular 500 member strong Singles Mosaic –  Founded in 2009 by social director, Diona Szcerbak, she too charges a small cover fee for organizing these socials-for-active-seniors events. Small price to pay, really, to make new old friends.

 One of Burlington’s newest Meetup groups, Mommy Connections, just started up on November 1st, 2012. There are only four members. Hard to know whether they’ll be a success or not, because unlike many of the other Meetup groups that charge, if at all, a small ‘admin/entrance’ fee, this group is hoping to have new mums fork out $120 for an 8 week class.

Contrasting that group with the explosive growth in popularity of the Burlington’s ‘League of Extraordinary Ladies – (founded in January 2012, with now over 140 members), it would seem that Mommy Connections is off to a rocky start.

Still, that’s the fun of these Meetups.  Some ‘click’, while others don’t.  Like-minded gravitate towards like-minded. It’s up to YOU how engaged you want to be.

A member of the League of Extraordinary Ladies

A lot of the success of a Meetup group comes down to the personality, passion and administrative attention of the principal organizer. Jessica Dennis of ‘Extraordinary Ladies’ is passionate about “bringing women together for the benefit of gathering ideas, bridging business cultures and changing lives! This group is intended for women from all walks of life.”

Whatever your passion or interest, you’ll find like-minded people on

Still not sure? Consider this ‘what’s it like’ video.

Some Meetup groups can become victims of their own success. The Business In Burlington (BiB) Meetup frequently has a waiting list now for its monthly get-togethers at the Beaver & Bulldog on the Lakeshore. On average, 120 people get together monthly. Very popular with the small business, IT and entrepreneurial crowd, BiBers are working this social network to ‘get connected’ and ‘get ahead’. So, if you are interested, be sure to RSVP your attendance early.

One additional small note: once you do  ‘join’ Meetup, make sure you set your ‘group alerts’ for once a week, or once a month depending, again, on your level of interest, otherwise, you will be bombarded by incoming Meetup mail. This has been a growing problem with the Business in Burlington group. With well over 700 members and an active ‘on-line’ forum, email is frequently clogged with their updates and self-promoting announcements. Still, all said and done, it remains an interesting bunch determined to make their Burlington a better place to live, work and play.

James, the BiB organizer, is such an accomplished enabler, perhaps he could mesh a few other local Meetup groups in the region to generate a ‘living picture’ of the DREAM that is Burlington for Mayor Goldring?  There certainly seems a proliferation of paid consultants and INSPIRE events coming from City Hall that are working very hard to determine what Burlington is and should be all about. Maybe it would just be easier (and cheaper) if City hosted a monthly ‘Meetup’ at City Hall.

Sign up with Meetup here.

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.

Return to the Front page

Final stages of a project in the planning stages for more than 20 years. A Delta Hotel and two condos to go up on Lakeshore Road.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 20, 2012  A project that has been in the works for more than 20 years cleared another hurdle and is one more hurdle away from applying for a building permit, which the city will have to issue. The Committee of Adjustment approved all 15 minor variances asked for by Mayrose Tyco, the company that has worked to put a “landmark” structure at the edge of Lake Ontario.

What is now a flat empty lot on the south side of Lakeshore road will become a bustling construction site just about the time city council expects the pier to open. During the next three years, three structures will rise from the site – one 22 storeys into the sky. Burlington will finally have its landmark structure.

Committee of Adjustment meets to handle minor variances that a citizen wants made to a zoning by-law, usually for something they want to do with their property.

The committee has a chair and four members appointed to the committee by the city.  Each has a vote and the majority prevails.  The Committee has to answer four questions in the affirmative in order for the variance being asked for to be granted.  Those questions are:

1:  Do the proposed minor variances from the zoning by-law maintain the general intent  and purpose of the Official Plan?

2:  Do the proposed minor variances from the zoning bylaw maintain the general intent and purpose of the zoning by-law?

3:  Are the proposed minor variances from the zoning by-law desirable for the appropriate development or use of the land, building or structure?

4:  Are the proposed minor variances from the zoning bylaw considered minor in nature.

Get a yes to all these and you’ll probably get what you were asking for – but you have to get that yes from at least three of the five members of the committee.

Last week, we attended our first ever Committee of Adjustment hearing because the Mayrose Tyco Corporation was asking for 15, yes 15 minor variances on the three structure project that is going to be built at the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth streets.  This one has been a long time coming and except for one more hearing at the Conservation Authority the project will be ready to apply for a building permit and then the digging begins.

It will be the largest construction undertaking this city has seen for some time.  A builder hasn’t been appointed yet – the document needed from the Conservation Authority has to be in hand before they make that announcement.

But that Building Permit application is in the process of being drawn up.

The Riviera Motel is now nothing but a memory – the bulldozers were pulling that down last week.

The next step is readying the lot for the construction which is going to take at least three years.

The rendering needs a really close look to fully understand what the developer had to work with and what is going to be built.  Start with the open space in the centre.  Due to the grade there is all kinds of terracing necessary to get people from the street level to the waterfront.  No one in a wheel chair is going to get down that part of the site.  There is a curved roadway to the east of the large condo on the right.  There are opportunities for some very upscale commercial on the right side of the Courtyard in the middle.  Can Burlington support that level of commercial?

All three structures will go up at basically the same time – an eight story Delta four star hotel that will face Lakeshore Road and have an entrance on Elizabeth Street.  The building got an additional storey in height to accommodate the 152 rooms that are a must if the hotel is to have a four star rating.

The buzz in the community was that the hotel would be open for the Pan American Games in 2015 – not true.

The first look for the public at the Delta four star hotel that shaped much of the later design of the project. The entrance to the hotel will be off Elizabeth Street which will be pushed through to south of Lakeshore Road.  The 22 storey condo is west of the hotel.  An additional seven storey condo will be south of the hotel.

The thinking is that the hotel won’t be completed in time and Four Stars in the hotel business that  means quality – this one isn’t going to be rushed to completion.

The project is “four to six months behind our original planning” said Ken Dakin, the project planner who has been the project planner since 1999 – he was involved with the project as far back as 1997.  He took the committee of Adjustment through each of the 15 variances he was asking for – and explained carefully the wisdom, as he saw it, of the changes he was asking the Committee to make.

There was a couple of what some might call “slights of hand” proposals, such as the decision to treat the hotel restaurant as one of the commercial elements that  the Committee agreed to go along with.  Another was the decision to convert some of the space on the east side of the hotel into residential rather than commercial.  The argument put forward by the project planner, quite persuasively, and we thought correctly, was that commercial just wasn’t going to survive on the east side next to the walkway that leads down to the waterfront.

The 22 storey condo has a slight triangular shape to it; narrower at the south end than the north end which allowed for balconies that will give every unit owner a decent view of the lake.  Balconies were not as in vogue when the project was first put forward.  At that time the height was a proposed 33 storey structure.  That didn’t fly.

View from Lakeshore Road looking south to the lake – 22 storey condo on the left with the four star Delta hotel on the right.  The access to the Courtyard is in between the two buildings.  There is also a winding pathway that is already in place on the east side (the left side in this rendering) that leads to the waters edge.  The Courtyard will be a series of shortish terraces to accommodate the grade which is actually quite steep.

While the public continually said they wanted commercial activity to the sides of the open space that will stretch from Lakeshore Road to the water’s edge the builders are concerned about finding commercial tenants who want to locate and can survive financially in an area where cold winds will roar in off the lake on some of those colder winter days.

The hotel wants the site to be upscale and not have a Tim Horton’s that becomes a 24 hour hangout on the property.  Finding the right commercial tenants will be a challenge.  The hotel will have a coffee shop of its own but the site could probably support a second one that is part of the open space at the centre of the three buildings.  A family restaurant would probably fit in as well – but where does one go from there?  Maybe the Art Centre could be convinced to open up a retail outlet – but the rent would have to be a bit of a gift.

The entrances to the three levels of parking space that will serve all three structures will be at the second floor level and there will be just the one entrance which is going to mean some very tight scheduling for vehicles wanting to get in and out of the garage.

The zoning bylaw called for 3 metres of space between the edge of the southern part of the hotel.  Given changes required by the Conservation Authority there wasn’t as much room as the planners originally had in mind.  But at the early stage the plan was for a 125 room hotel.  The need to move that up to 152 rooms – meant something had to give somewhere and that give is at the southern end of the hotel.  Look carefully at the illustration to see the challenge the architects faced.

The pathway to the east of the Mayrose Tyco project has been in place for a number of years. It was part of a land transfer that gave city land to the developer in exchange for the pathway and the walking space along the edge of the lake. The 22 storey condominium will sit beside the pathway.

The developer asked that the requirement for 272 commercial parking spaces be cut back to 152 raised some eyebrows.  The project planner explained the changes that have taken place since 2006 when the parking requirements were put in place.

In 2006 the property was not within the city’s Defined Parking area.  That Defined Parking Area is a part of the downtown core that “shares” parking space in the several city parking lots.  Properties within the Defined Parking Area can forgo the installation of on-site commercial parking and instead pay a levy to the city to guarantee access to the municipal lots and parking garages within the Defined Area.

Somewhere between 2006 and today that Defined Area boundary got moved to include the Mayrose Tyco development and with that stroke of a pen – there went the need for all that on-site commercial parking.

The 188 parking spaces for the residents who will eventually live in the condos still stands.  What this means is a real tightening of parking space in the area around the site.

Accessible parking spaces also took a hit.  There were to be 9 – the developer asked that it be reduced to 5.  The argument was that if the commercial space was being reduced by 60% (that was the 272 down to 152) then it would follow that the accessible spaces would also be reduced by 60%.  Explain the logic of that rationalization to people who need parking closer to the entrances of buildings.

There were a bunch of other small changes that made sense to the adjustment committee members who spent relatively little time on this application.  Much more time was spent on an applicant who wanted to put an addition on a house that a neighbour felt would intrude on their privacy.  That one didn’t get Committee of Adjustment approval.

The Bridgewater project will be a welcome addition to the city – it will be a wonderful site to spend time on and will open up a pathway from east of the Waterfront Hotel through to where the pier will be located and on into Spencer Smith Park.

This picture taken from close to the walkway that leads to the waters edge with the now demolished Riviera Motel in the background give some sense of the rather steep grade the architects had to work with.  A lot of terracing was needed to accommodate the drop from the street level to the waters edge.

What is missing however is any sense of grandness to it all.  The condo towers will soar into the sky and be the biggest thing this city has ever seen but on the ground it will be kind of cramped, small in scale and nowhere near what we see in European cities where public places are grander in scale.

The sad part is that the money behind this project is Austrian in nature.  Pity that they didn’t bring the tradition of grand public places to Burlington.

There were four people taking part in the Committee of Adjustment meeting.  Their concerns seemed to be related to how the structures would impact on their view of the lake.  There are literally hundreds of people in the immediate area who are going to see a hugely different architecture in front of them and many will be very upset.  Nothing they can do now – the appeal period is close to ending.  Next step is a document from the Conservation Authority and then on to city hall for the building permit – which the city must give them.

A view of the drop the architects had to work with as they redesigned the site when the larger hotel became part of the project.  The hotel will come very close to the concrete pathway.  It is a very challenging site.  The Riviera Motel has been demolished.

The developers have had this property in their hands for more than twenty years during which time they have seen little return on their investment.  When the major changes to the original proposal were made in 2006 the thinking was that we would see construction equipment on the site within a year.  The recession in 2000 put the bollocks to that plan.  It was basically impossible to get anyone to become a partner in the project.  Minto, a highly regarded developer in Toronto and Ottawa pulled out around 2010.  Mayrose Tyco was then squeezed by the Conservation Authority who advised them that there were some regulatory changes about to come into force that would result in a deeper set back from the edge of the water.  That would have changed far more than the developer wanted to even think about coping with.

They landed Delta as the hotel operator and re-worked the site to give the hotelier what they needed and still keep the condominium part of the project financially viable.  Now all they need is a robust economy through to 2015 when the condo units will be very much in demand.  Getting to this point meant some compromises from the original dream.

They chose to create a tight site rather than go for the expansiveness that we appreciate in Spencer Smith Park.

But twenty years is a long time to wait for a return.  And it will be a wonderful place to live if you can afford one of the condo’s – especially in that 22 storey tower.  Wonder what they will go for?

Return to the Front page

Taxi service pilot project works well enough to be done again during the holiday season says operator..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012   It is always interesting when a person who operates a business in the city; one that requires licensing and is overseen by a city department, suggests to the city that they might be able to offer an additional service and would like to try out a new idea.

Scott Wallace, president of Burlington Taxi did that last March when he took the idea of setting up a taxi shuttle service that would get people, who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car, home once the bars in the downtown core closed and to drive people from bar to bar during the evening.

It worked, sort of, and well enough for Wallace to ask if he could run the same type of service between late November and the first of the new year.  After very little discussion council committee said “sure, why not” and moved it along  to a full council meeting.

What was disappointing was that the committee didn’t give the idea a lot of attention and no one thanked Scott Wallace for the idea and the initiative he took.  The least he deserved was a “thank you”.  Maybe he’ll get that at the council meeting.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster chats with Burlington Taxi president Scott Wallace during the Downtown visioning exercise recently.

The idea was brought forward last March when Burlington Taxi made a formal request to Community Development Committee to operate a shuttle taxi service for the downtown restaurant and bar patrons. The proposed pilot was to operate during peak times of the year on Saturday nights from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. after which time the City of Burlington would evaluate whether this would be a long term viable.

Council approved the pilot.

Overall, while the pilot project was not a huge success, the idea that there are options available for people to move about the downtown and to take people home during the peak times was seen as an important move forward in the area of alternative transportation said Manager of By-law Enforcement and Licensing, Tracey Burrows, who has the letters  C.P.S.O., M.L.E.O. (c) behind her name;  heaven only knows what they mean.

The goal of the Pilot, which ran from  May 5, 2012 to September 1, 2012, was to evaluate operating larger capacity vehicles in the downtown core to assist in moving patrons between downtown bar locations during the late evening (11pm -1am) hours and then out of the downtown core in a more timely fashion during the bar rush period. (1 a.m. – 3 a.m.)

The Service Area for this pilot was bordered by QEW in the west, the Guelph Line in the east, Fairview Street in the north and Lakeshore road in the south. All patrons requiring rides outside of this area would use standard taxi services or other transportation of their choice.

Two Multi-passenger vehicles (Ford club vans) between the hours of 11PM and 3AM every Saturday night. beginning on May 5.

One van was used to shuttle people between different bars and began at Emmas Backporch at 11PM and drove a route:

1. Proceed to Pearl Street (Poacher)

2. Proceed to Elizabeth Street (Martini House/Dickens/Honey West)

3. Proceed to Brant Plaza using John Street Access (Joe Dogs)

4. Proceed South on Brant Street to Lakeshore Road. (Queens Head/Rude Native/Pepperwood)

5. Turn East on Lakeshore Road to Waterfront Hotel (Beaver and Bulldog)

6. Return to Old Lakeshore Road (Emmas)

The vehicle stopped for passengers at any point on the route but would not take passengers to any destinations off the route. This bar to bar service ended at 1AM. When the vehicle began to deliver patrons to any destination within the designated Service Area concluding service at 3AM.

Older Ford club vans, which were technically not licensed as taxis, were used during the pilot with the full consent of the city.  The multi-passenger service worked well enough for Burlington Taxi to ask for a second pilot with a view to making this a permanent service.

After the first six weeks Wallace found there was little demand for the bar to bar service so he revised the offering to allow both vehicles to be available to transport anywhere in the City of Burlington including bar to bar downtown.

Wallace fully expected problematic behavior to be a major concern.  He is “ happy to say that it has not been an issue at all. Our drivers have reported to us that for the most part the passengers have not caused any major issues.”

“The impact on Taxi Drivers Income was a major issue when we debated this type of service”, reports Wallace. “  We closely monitor driver income to ensure they can also make a decent living. When we compared driver revenue per hour from the same time last year there was no significant change. Additionally we had no complaints from our drivers about the vans being on the road.”

The total Revenue for the pilot was $3,425.00. The total Expenses for the pilot was $5,152. This only includes driver wages, fuel and insurance. It does not include vehicle depreciation or repairs and maintenance.

Wallace also reported that the pilot had limited impact on service levels. “They averaged around 80% which is considered good for this specific PEAK period. The use of the service was very limited with less than 5% of all calls using the service while having to be subsidized by Burlington Taxi.”

However the pilot did have some successes. “People were generally satisfied with the service and having another option of getting home at peak times. Additionally while the pilot operated during some peak months a good part of it ran during slower months skewing the ridership volumes. We had extreme high volumes of business during the Sound of Music festival and usage was very high, ” said Wallace

Wallace believes that “ if marketed properly and operated only during the peak months of November, December, May and June that this service could be successful.”

Wallace wanted pricing to be $5 per person anywhere in the City of Burlington.

Wallace likes what he learned enough to advise the city that he is in the process of finalizing a proposal to the city  for peak period taxis to operate on Saturday nights throughout the year.

Return to the Front page

Engaging ideas for November. Three authors talking about things that matter. Few cities get authors like this.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 4, 2012  November sort of seems like a lead up to the coming holiday season.  The time is busier; work makes more demands of us and our social lives get busier.  Life around us is more active; there is so much more to do.  That lazy summer weekend seems so long ago.

It’s a small, independent bookstore that has been in business for more than forty years and continues to draw top level authors. Burlington is one of the few Canadians cities that consistently offers these events.

We human being seems to go through these cycles and our friends over at the Different Drummer are adding to the  mix of all the things we can do, want to do and would like to do.

Ian Elliott, proprietor at the bookstore on Locust Street has put together a November program you are  going to want to take part in.

Globe and Mail writer Doug  Saunders, will talk about his new title, The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? at the Burlington Public Library on New Street Monday, November 19th at  7:00 pm – tickets $10.

Very few Canadians understand the change that is taking place in our society with the immigration influx.  Will these new people change our core values; what will they bring to Canada that we don’t already have?  It is time for more Canadians to begin to understand what these new Canadians offer – more than you may realize.

A broadcasting career that ran for more than 40 years during which tens of million Canadians learned what had gone on during the day. Lloyd Robertson was the most popular news anchor of his time.

On Monday, November 26th at  7:00 pm  Lloyd Robertson, former news anchor with CTV News, and many may not know, a onetime lead broadcaster with CBC will be at Royal Botanical Gardens 680 Plains Road West Burlington, 7:00 pm to talk about his illustrious career as a news anchor and reflect upon his six decades as a journalist.  The Kind of Life It’s Been is a personal look at a career we all watched take place.  Robertson will offer wonderful insights and some laughs as well.  Tickets to the event are $10.  The event is being sponsored by A Different Drummer and Bryan Prince, Bookseller.

Clair Carver Dias will be at the Different Drummer Sunday, November 11th at 2:00 pm.  An Olympic medal winner Dias will talk about her novel; a riveting chronicle of six athletes staking everything and battling personal and professional odds for the ultimate goal – a chance to compete at The Games. Ian Elliott tells us that Dias is an accomplished writer, a superlative speaker and wonderful company.

Dr. Neil Turok will deliver the CBC Massey Lecture for 2012.  He will be speaking at the McMaster University Club.

Neil Turok, the person giving the Massey Lecture this year, at the McMaster University Club, 1280 Main Street West, in Hamilton  on November 27th; 7:00 pm.  Tickets are $10.   The Massey subject this year is : The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos. Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute, presents a vision of the future based on the workings of the human mind.

This is pretty heavily stuff but highly relevant – tickets will go quickly.  The event is being put on by A Different Drummer in partnership with Bryan Prince Bookseller and House of Anansi Press.

All the speakers are informed, highly engaging and well worth the time.  A Different Drummer Bookstore.

Return to the Front page