Home Builders Association looks forward to working with city on inclusionary zoning - making homes available to all income levels

By Mike Collins-Williams

January 13th, 2022



The West End Home Builders’ Association is very pleased to participate in the City’s Housing Strategy Working Group. I’ve been very encouraged by the discussions from this diverse group who bring different life and professional experience to the table.

I want to open my comments by acknowledging the housing challenges we face not just in Burlington, but across this entire metropolitan region that is the fastest growing area in North America. In fact – numbers were just released that Canada grew by over 400,000 people in 2021 and for the first time in Canadian history – Canada’s population growth exceeded that of the United States – a country 9 times larger.
Understandably, most of the new growth is coming to Vancouver and the GTA – and we here in Burlington are experiencing the pressures of this growth and the escalating cost of housing due to the inability of housing supply to keep up with demand.

There is no silver bullet solution to the housing crisis. We all need to work together – The private sector, the non-profit sector and all three levels of government. I strongly believe that this is the most important opportunity to develop the effective partnerships we all need to successfully address the housing crisis.

I am happy to be here today to talk about one planning tool that is available to us – and that is inclusionary zoning.

I’m happy to see the time and energy Burlington is investing to analyze housing options intended to promote much needed public policy adjustments through the Housing Strategy. I am here to say to you today as the CEO of the West End Home Builders’ Association that we support the development of mixed income communities, and we are supportive of the use of inclusionary zoning as a planning tool – but we need to make sure it’s done right and within the context of a comprehensive and achievable housing strategy.

There are over 800 examples of inclusionary zoning across North America – some jurisdictions have well designed policy frameworks that support the construction of new affordable units without placing the burden of costs onto the other buyers or renters through cross subsidization… while other jurisdiction have models that don’t effectively generate much of any affordable housing, and others thrust the entire cost of the program onto other purchasers

If Burlington’s Housing Strategy cares about providing housing in Burlington for all income levels, then we as a society have an undeniable role to play. We must collectively pay the costs of constructing affordable or subsidized housing options. This burden should not just be on new home buyers, but on everyone from a shared tax pool which can support the costs of an IZ program.

New first-time buyers of entry level condos near Burlington’s 3 GO Stations and renters absolutely should not be burdened with the entire cost of building affordable housing. Prices are already too high and asking first time home buyers to cover the cost of an affordable housing program is unequitable, unfair and socially irresponsible.

Our members have the knowledge, experience and capacity to build more housing – especially more transit-oriented and energy efficient multi-unit mid-and-high rise buildings in mixed income communities

surrounding Burlington’s GO Stations. This is a huge opportunity for the City of Burlington to partner with the private sector to provide affordable housing units that would otherwise not be built.

Here are a few suggestions for Council to consider as it researches and develops policy options:

Consider early in the policy development stage who will own, manage and maintain affordable units and administer an inclusionary zoning program. We recognize and appreciate that this was identified in Appendix A of the staff report.

As we are still in the earlier stages – we want to ensure that we don’t end up with an overly complex program with overwhelming administrative challenges. This is a particularly important consideration for the City of Burlington due to its size and the quantum of new affordable units that can reasonably be achieved.

I also want to highlight what type of housing inclusionary zoning can effectively deliver – I like to use the British term “workforce housing” – inclusionary zoning is not a silver bullet that can deliver either deeply affordable housing or supportive housing where additional services and financial support are required.

What inclusionary zoning can deliver, if designed properly, is key “workforce housing” within an affordability band just below where the market is today to provide a helping hand to folks that are struggling to get into the market.

As part of the Municipal Comprehensive Review currently underway and to assist the City’s efforts to satisfy its future growth requirements, the city also needs to consider and facilitate and environment that enables the City of Burlington to maximize the growth potential of its 3 PMTSAs.

Given the limited amount of MTSAs in the City, and the amount of growth likely to be allocated to the City, it is especially important to ensure that IZ units are “additive” to the supply that the market would provide in the absence of IZ.

Therefore – we need to ensure that an emphasis is placed on economic viability for those transit station areas under consideration in Burlington.

A poorly designed program won’t actually yield any affordable units and will increase the cost of entry level market-housing for first time buyers and renters.

A poorly designed program also runs the risk of causing Burlington to miss those targets and displace projected growth to other communities in other Burlington neighbourhoods or to adjacent communities that do not have the infrastructure necessary to support growth.

Any inclusionary zoning policy must be built as a true partnership and paired with offsets necessary to ensure the success of the program.

The industry is not seeking direct subsidies – but rather an intuitive partnership where the City of Burlington is not levying tens of thousands of dollars of costs through development charges, cash-in-lieu of parkland fees, underground parking requirements etc – on units that we are trying to ensure are affordable.

We need a partner to make this work – and we believe that with your help we can make this work to build more inclusive communities.

We are also hopeful that we can work together with the City of Burlington to leverage and potentially stack benefits through any provincial programs or through funds or low-interest CMHC loans that may be available from the Federal Government through the National Housing Strategy.

The more coordinated we are in our approach – the more benefits we can deliver.

I encourage Council members to review the case studies that are being generated. We should all have a good understanding of unsuccessful inclusionary zoning programs to understand the pitfalls of poorly designed programs.

We also need to pay attention to the case studies for comparable cities – Burlington is not Toronto, New York or San Francisco – we are not producing tens of thousands of units per year – nor do we have State programs like the 421A in New York where property taxes are waived entirely in rental buildings with affordable units or National programs like to Low Income Housing Tax Credit offered in the States – there are more senior level of government programs down there that can be combined into Inclusionary Zoning programs to support economic viability… I hope that is acknowledged as we move forward in Burlington to make sure we are working together to design an effective program.

I want to close by saying that in 2021, WE HBA has been pleased to see renewed collaboration between ourselves and the City. I sincerely appreciate my appointment to Burlington’s Housing Strategy Task Force and believe we are making positive progress. I am hopeful to continue in that positive direction and spirit of collaboration in any future work on Inclusionary Zoning.

Mike Collins-Williams is the CEO of West End Home Builders Association (WEHBA) .  He is a Registered Professional Planner and is a member of the  Burlington’s Housing Strategy Task Force

WEHBA is the organization that represents the interests of the construction and developer interests.

Related news story:

What is inclusionary zoning.

Return to the Front page

St Matthews taking a break as a food drop off location

By Staff

January 11, 2020



Food is still needed at the Food Bank.

St.Matthews Church served as a convenient drop off location.

They have taken a break:

Return to the Front page

Growth of Online Casinos in Canada and Government Laws


By Rupert Walters

January 12th, 2022



Online casinos are popular in Canada; it is one of the top countries with a high percentage of online players globally. In the era of the digital age, almost everything happens on the Internet. Games, sport, commerce have been digitized to accommodate and include a bigger percentage of people and to remove distance as a barrier.

With the introduction and growth of online gambling, especially in Canada, the popularity of online gambling keeps rising.

Before this age, gambling as a sport happened in land casinos. Gambling in casinos was viewed as exotic, and the most famous casinos attracted the elites. With the introduction and growth of online gambling, especially in Canada, the popularity of online gambling keeps rising.

As a result of the outright legalization of gambling in Canada, Canadians can easily play the game, win the games, and still enjoy the casino experience from the comfort of their homes.

Advantages of Playing Online Casino in Canada

Online gambling is a lucrative business and sport for players who play to win and gambling companies. Online casinos offer a diverse range of casino games, much more than regular house casinos. Players in Canada enjoy numerous features such as video poker, blackjack, slot lotteries, and live casino games.

Online casino games are safe and legal. Online casino sites that are licensed and registered are required by law to protect player information and data. Players are assured of their safety, credit card details, and password safety.

Online casinos are the best method to learn the betting game. Unlike the physical casinos where a learner plays against season players and most times loses money to the experienced player, online casinos give you a more balanced chance to learn without going bankrupt on your first tries.

With online casinos, you can play games any time of the day as it is accessible round the clock. It also includes amazing features such as toll-free support numbers, huge jackpots, welcome bonuses, and Canadian banking options.

The online gambling platform is prone to change from reviews and is always evolving based on the best info. As a result, the industry is always taking measures to create a safer, user-friendly experience for its consumer base. This has contributed greatly to online gambling thriving as a business and industry.

What Are the Canadian Government Regulations for Gambling?

Online gambling is legalized in Canada. The criminal code of Canada is a bill that involves illegal gaming and their federal charges in Canada,with the exemption of cases that are clearly stated in the bill or code. The code states that the provincial government can operate, regulate and control lotteries and online gambling. It also states the prohibition of gaming operations in Canada with some exemptions.

Online gambling laws in Canada can be regulated by each province in whatever way it deems fit. Each province is entitled to control and regulate gambling laws in its province.

First Nations culture and dance.

Gambling laws in Canada are divided into two broad categories, the First Nations law, and the provincial law. In Canada, federal laws are designed to pass online gambling regulations to the provincial government. There are, however, restrictions in some provinces.

Some local, provincial laws are difficult and restrictive, while others are flexible and simple. For example, places like Ontario and cities like Markham have restricted web-based gaming, and players experience difficulty in placing bets.

To enjoy the full experience of online betting in Canada, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local laws that regulate online gambling in whichever province you stay or are playing from.

Before an online gambling platform can operate legally, it must be licensed. The Kahnawake gaming commission is one of the licensing authorities in Canada. Once licensed, it is legal, and legality is guaranteed under Canadian federal laws.

Online casinos and gambling sites are, under the law, required to assure players’ safety. This means that players’ confidential and payment information is secure. In addition, licensed online casino sites use SSL encryption to guarantee and ensure data safety from hackers and fraudulent acts.

Players are also advised to avoid online casinos that are not licensed. Any form of fraud or danger you might encounter will be to your detriment. Offshore online casinos are prohibited by law and can lead to criminal charges.

Requirements to Own a Licensed Online Casino in Canada.

The requirements needed to establish and receive a license to operate as an online casino include the following:

  • Online casinos must use high-quality software.
  • Pass independent audit,
  • On line casino gambling is tightly regulated in Canada

    Provide all information on the company and shareholders

  • Ensure and guarantee a high sum of payout to players who win games,
  • Limit and restrict gambling access to minors below the adult age and people with gambling addiction
  • Provide accurate data on the payment system
  • Guarantee technical support system for complaints and guidance.

The license can be revoked or declined when these requirements are not met.

Online casinos are on the rise in Canada, it is huge, and it keeps getting bigger. It is played for fun, entertainment, and as a sport. Online casinos should not be perceived as full-time jobs or a source of income, and gambling should not be done with personal saving money. Players must be well informed on the laws that govern this sport in Canada before playing.



Return to the Front page

Engaging with the citizens important to Council - it's an election year. They did score well on a survey.

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2022


Part 2 of a 2 part feature on the level of citizen satisfaction on how the city is delivering services

Engagement has been a prime concern for the members of the current city council. Mayor Meed Ward has made engagement her signature skill set.

She at one point said she had 17 different ways to communicate with the voters of the city.

All are one-way traffic lanes – from the Mayor to whoever is listening.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward engaging with the citizens of Itabashi, Japan, during a tour of one of Burlington’s sister city.

Meed Ward prides herself on her training as a journalist – she used to frequently make mention of how important local media is – yet – she has not once held an open media event where questions could be asked directly and follow up questions put to her when she might appear to be avoiding an issue.

None of this is to suggest that Meed Ward has been a failure as a Mayor. She understood the importance of moving the Urban Growth Centre from the downtown core and pushing it north and closer to the GO stations where the high rise growth is going to take place.

The Rick Goldring Council went along with the Metrolinx decision to designate the bus terminals an MTSA – Major Transit Service Area.

And – she made sure that a tiny bus terminal, smaller than many kitchens lost the designation it had as an MTSA – Major Transportation Service Area. That designation is what made it possible for a development to soar 26 stories on a lot that was far too small for that particular development.

In the survey done by a reputable organization 755 Burlington residents were randomly selected and interviewed using either a residential landline or cell phone number.

The 2019 community survey is the first time that interviews/surveys were conducted using cell phone numbers, this is an important distinction to make as more people are forgoing landlines in favour of cell phones. The Community Survey was also replicated online (from September 13 to October 15) the City’s decision-making about projects and services is reflective of the voice of a majority of residents, with two major differences; 1) it was open call where anyone registered to the Get Involved Burlington platform could take the survey and 2) the sample size was much smaller (234 online versus 755 facilitated by MDB Insight).

When it came to measuring satisfaction on engagement we saw the following:


One of the graphics asks where people got their news.

In 2017 the Gazette was on that list. Someone somewhere removed our name from the list of news sources people in Burlington use.

Our numbers have grown every year during the ten years we have been publishing. Thought you would want to know that.

Part 1 of the series

Return to the Front page

Some eye popping numbers in a 'satisfaction' survey the city spent $29,000 on

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2021


Part 1 of a two part report on how satisfied with citizens are with the services the city provides

Council got off to a fast start this morning. Just as soon as they confirmed that there was a quorum they went into a Closed Session. There were three different matters that had to do with litigation and the public seldom gets to listen to any of that stuff.

Rory Nisan was chairing the CSSRA Standing Committee – he advised that there would be another break in the proceedings for a different closed session later in the day.

The meeting today was virtual virtual. The practice up until this point has been to have the Chair and the Clerk in Council Chambers. This time Nisan got to stay home and run the show from his residence. He was not wearing sweatpants or pyjamas.

On the agenda was a report on how well the city is doing on citizen engagement. A report from MBD consulting, that had a price tag of $29,000 + was presented.

Since 1998, the City of Burlington has conducted community survey since 1998 to uncover resident satisfaction. The surveys typically happen every 2-4 years, the most recent surveys were in 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2021. The survey provides the opportunity for bench marking and to monitor progress of community measures over time with the goal of continuous improvement. In addition to resident satisfaction, the last three community surveys (2015, 2019 and 2021) included asking residents questions regarding communications and engagement with the City.

One of the questions asked related to taxes.


There are additional graphics further along in this article.

The 2021 community survey was conducted using Computer Aided Telephone

Interviews where respondents were randomly selected from the city’s population using a mix of both residential landlines and cell phone numbers. The goal was to complete 750 interviews/surveys, with 125 completed interviews/surveys per ward. The total reached was 755 completed interviews/surveys with a margin of error of +/-3.6% with a 95% confidence interval.

The interviews/surveys were conducted between September 13 to October 18 and it took on average 18 minutes to complete. Responses were weighted based on the population by age and ward. Two items that are important to note one, that satisfaction of city services results were analyzed using a priority matrix that compares performance, room for improvement and the derived importance of each service (a measure which represents the level to which each service is related to overall satisfaction) and two a combination of both randomly selected Burlington cellular and landlines were included in order to obtain a variety of responses.

These were the issues that people were most concerned about

Levels of satisfaction with the services that are being provided





Overall, the results of the survey turned out highly positive across several measures.




Return to the Front page

Do you have an idea for the bird that best represents the city?

By Staff

January 9th, 2020



Stand By says the city motto.

The city has a crest with images that links to the agricultural past.

The city has a flag.

It hasn’t chosen a flower nor has it chosen a mascot – the Jefferson Salamander is a cinch for that category.

Soon the city might have decided upon a bird that represents some of what the city stands for.

There are a few days left to nominate a City Bird

The Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington community team is seeking nominations from the public for a choice of a “City Bird” for Burlington (and one for Hamilton as well).

Is there a species of bird you think has a special connection to Burlington?

Nominations must be submitted by midnight of Friday, January 14th. Nominations will be reviewed by the BFHB team and short-listed to the top 5 to 10 most suitable bird species to represent the city. The final vote to select one City Bird will be put to the public in an online poll to follow, in late January 2022.

The City Bird Nomination Form is HERE:

Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington is working to get both Burlington and Hamilton certified as Bird Friendly Cities in 2022, under the new Nature Canada program. Selecting a “City Bird” is part of the certification process.

To learn more about Bird Friendly City:

Facebook: Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington
Twitter: @BFCHamBurl
Instagram: birdfriendly.hamburl
Website: birdfriendlyhamiltonburlington.wordpress.com

Nature Canada’s Bird Friendly City webpage:

Bird Friendly City: A Certification Program

Return to the Front page

Webinar for not for profit organizations - If you are a board member or a leader you don't want to miss this event.

By Staff

January 6th, 2022



Burlington is blessed with a number of not for profit organizations that serve the public very well.

The people working for those organizations don’t earn a lot of money and for many it is a constant struggle.

The provincial level has brought in some changes to the legislation that governs how they are to operate.
Governance issues are always complex and take time to get used to.

Ontario’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) was proclaimed on October 19, 2021 and nonprofits have three years to update their bylaws and letters patent to comply.

Benjamin Miller is a staff lawyer on the Nonprofit Law Ontario project of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) He is presenting in a webinar on January 20th, If you are part of the not for profit sector this is an event you want to take part in – especially for the Board members.

The webinar will walk through what is new in the ONCA, steps nonprofits need to take to transition to the ONCA, and how Community Legal Education Ontario’s (CLEO) free resources can help you create ONCA compliant bylaws from scratch or adapt your current bylaws.

Ontario’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) replaced Ontario’s Corporations Act on October 19, 2021. To learn more visit nonprofitlaw.cleo.on.ca

Join us:
Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) Transition Presentation
Thursday, January 20, 2022
9:30 am – 11:00 am
Free event via Zoom

This session is suitable for: Organizations already incorporated under Ontario’s Corporations Act or a special Act.

This session is NOT for:
– Organizations thinking about incorporating
– Organizations incorporated under Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act
– Organizations incorporated under Co-operative Corporations Act, or
– Other statutes outside of Canada

Benjamin Miller (he/him) is a staff lawyer on the Nonprofit Law Ontario project of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) where he focuses on nonprofit and charity law and policy. Over the past 4 years at CLEO, Benjamin has answered hundreds of nonprofit law questions and developed an online interactive bylaw builder for the ONCA. Benjamin also works at the Ontario Nonprofit Network and has worked at the Canada Revenue Agency in the past. Benjamin holds a JD/MPP from the University of Toronto and an MA in political theory from the University of Ottawa.

Required: Pre-Session Questionnaire   (30 seconds)

Register here: cdhalton.ca/events Registration closing on Tuesday January 18, 2022


Return to the Front page

City announces Arts and Culture Funding for 2022: $75,000 will be distributed

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2022



It is one of the more imaginative programs to come out of Parks, Recreation and Culture.

For those who have applied and been given a grant – it has allowed them to put together some really nice community programming.

For those who weren’t even aware – they got to benefit from some imaginative entertainment.

The city is inviting artists to apply for the 2022 Burlington Arts and Culture Fund (BACF), an annual grant program that provides $75,000 of total available funding to local artists, multicultural groups and arts and culture organizations to foster creativity and enrich how Burlington residents experience and engage with arts and culture.

Fencing was repaired and upgraded at a community ball park with funding.

Applications will be accepted until noon on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 and will fund projects from April 2022 to March 2023. Successful grant applicants will be announced at the beginning of April 2022.

To be eligible for BACF funding, applicants must be located in Burlington and must be:

  • An incorporated not-for-profit arts and culture organization or a charitable arts and culture organization;
  • An individual artist or arts and cultural collective (defined as three or more individuals) that exhibit high achievement in arts and culture programming;
  • A multicultural group that fulfills a significant role in the Burlington community through the arts and culture.

Grants will be evaluated in part by a peer assessment jury for artistic merit and by City staff for program merit and strategic initiative, citywide and community impact and economic impact.

To learn more about this fund, the jury opportunity and the application process join City staff and arts and culture professionals for a virtual information session on:

Date:               Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Time:               7 to 8 p.m.

Location:        Microsoft Teams

Applications can be completed and submitted online at burlington.ca/artsandculturefund.

Angela Paparizo, Manager of Arts and Culture in conversation with ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

For more information, contact Angela Paparizo, Manager of Arts and Culture, 905-335-7600, ext. 7352 or email angela.paparizo@burlington.ca.  She comments on the program and the impact it has had on the community.  “The  Arts and Culture Fund grant program has successfully supported many amazing arts and cultural projects across the City since its inception in 2019. The wonderful thing about the projects that evolve through this process is the wide range of benefits to our community.

“We continue to see the program nurture the capacity of the arts and culture sector in Burlington, while fostering creativity, encouraging social cohesion and stimulating cultural and economic advancements. To find out more, I invite anyone who is interested in applying for a grant to attend our virtual information session on Jan. 17. We look forward to hearing from Burlington artists and to receiving their applications.”


Return to the Front page

Temporary closure of exhibitions and studio spaces effective immediately

By Staff

January 3rd, 2020



Administration at the Art Gallery announced this afternoon that “In response to the Government of Ontario’s announcement regarding a return to a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, the Art Gallery of Burlington will close for a period of at least 21 days, effective immediately. This closure includes all exhibitions and studio spaces.

At least three weeks before we see anything like this at the AGB

The health and safety of the community are always our top priority and, at this time, we are working to review and revise our programs, courses, and services planned in the upcoming weeks. Here’s a look at a couple of important updates regarding the closure:

Winter 2022 In-Studio Courses

If there are any changes to our Winter 2022 in-studio courses, registrants will be notified by AGB staff in advance.

Shop the AGB

This lovely piece of jewellery is available – you just drop by and pick it up.

The AGB Shop will remain open for curbside pick up only. Click here to browse the AGB Shop online.

Stay Connected to the AGB Virtually

The best way to check for announcements and updates is to visit our website, here. Here are other ways to engage with the AGB digitally:

Visit us on Instagram to view our IGTV videos for a series of fun, family-friendly activities you can try out using items from around your home.

·    Learn more about past and upcoming AGB exhibitions by visiting our website. Take a look at exclusive content including, exhibition text, artist interviews, audio clips.. Click on any of the underlined hyperlinks to visit an exhibition page on our website!

All of us at the AGB thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided us during these times, and we are so proud to be part of this extraordinary community. We look forward to the time when we can open our doors and welcome you again!

Return to the Front page

ONE Burlington plans a virtual event to celebrate the diversity of faith and culture in Burlington

By Staff

December 31st, 2021



With a foundation in faith, ONE Burlington (OB) celebrates the diversity of faith and culture in Burlington, Halton and area, by organizing engaging events that recognize the dynamic links between faith, cultural, environmental and service initiatives in our communities. We invite you to share in our upcoming seasonal events for winter 2022.

In recent winters, our events included World Religion Day, World InterFaith Harmony Week, the Share the Love Food Bank Drive and Black History Month – events endorsed by the InterFaith Council of Halton, the InterFaith Development Education Association, the Halton Multicultural Council and the Hamilton InterFaith Peace Group.

Our next event is World Religion Day (WRD) which is celebrated in January. On Sunday January 16th  2022 our online WRD will bring believers from different world religions together to discuss the future of faith from the perspective of their own. After WRD Simcoe (1pm) and WRD Durham (2pm), WRD Halton / Hamilton begins at 3pm.

The keynote presentation is by Dr. Brian Carwana from Encounter World Religions Centre, Guelph. Other speakers  are Hanadi Al-Masri of the Halton Multicultural Council, Rabbi Jordan Cohen of Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, media personality Reverend Michael Coren of St. Christopher’s Church in Burlington,  Sita Jayaraman of the Halton Catholic District School Board, and Ervad Mehbad Dastur of the Ontario Zoroastrian Community Foundation in Oakville.

Participants and attendees must register for our WRD Halton / Hamilton event through this Zoom Registration link:


ONE Burlington events are free and funded in part by the City of Burlington and the Government of Canada. If you don’t want to receive eMail notices about our events, please let us know by entering UnSubscribe in the body and/or Subject line of a Reply eMail. If you’ve requested this before, we apologize and will double check.


Best wishes to you and yours for 2022,  from the ONE Burlington Executive and Event Committees

OneBurlington.net     FB.com/OneBurlington     Instagram.com/OneBurlington     Twitter.com/OneBurlington


Return to the Front page

A light shade of blue has been chosen as the colour for 2022

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2022



Each year the Pantone Institute selects a colour that sometimes become the fashion colour.

For 2022, Laurie Pressman, vice president of the institute. “When we select the Pantone color of the year, it must be emblematic of what’s taking place at a moment in time. We were looking at a color that seamlessly moves between digital and physical.”

Will this shade of blue come to represent what 2022 is going to look like?

Ultimately, this new shade—and even the act of creating it—is meant to represent what many are hoping for in 2022: a fresh start for a world that knows that old systems and habits can no longer stand up to the challenges of today, let alone the days to come.

Ultimate Gray was chosen as the colour of the year for 2021. The blue chosen for 2022 is a bit of an improvement.

“We’re entering this different time where we’re reimagining our future, trying to rewrite our lives and acknowledging all the unknown before us,” Pressman says. “Looking at the world with different eyes has brought us—and will continue to bring us—new solutions.”

Time will tell.

What colour did Pantone choose for 2021 – and did it reflect the way the year went?

Return to the Front page

Last quarter of the year was as drab and disappointing as 2020's year end. 2022 offers challenges.

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 30th, 2021


2021 has been a year we are not going to forget quickly. We have learned that major changes are coming but we don’t know yet precisely what they will be. A look back at 2021 might give us a hint – it will certainly remind us of what worked and what didn’t.

Regional and City disputes that dominated the year’s news came began coming to a head in October. Mid month the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) agreed with the lawyers (there were 20+ of them on the call) that the Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) could be lifted except for several properties along Fairview between Brant and Drury Lane.

By this point, the ICBL had frozen developments in several areas for a couple of years. The Gazette reported regularly on the Waterfront Hotel development that held the required public pre-application meeting and revealed their plans for a 35-storey tower and a 30-storey tower that would sit atop a 4-storey podium at the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore Road.

On October 21st another pre-application meeting took place, this one for a development at Brant and Prospect – 789-795 Brant Street. There was no mention of how high the building would go other than noting that the proposed development includes a podium with a height of 7 storeys facing Brant Street. At hearings, city witnesses failed to bring forth compelling evidence of shadow issues from the new developments.

The Gazette criticized Mayor Marianne Meed Ward for becoming relatively mum on waterfront developments in what is described as the football – very much at odds with her vision of the city in the run up to her election.

They were first described as “mobility hubs” – then described as MTSA Major Transit Service Areas and designated as the location for significant intensification. High rise towers would dominate. That circle at the bottom of the graphic – a space about the size of a kitchen – did not get to keep the MTSA designation – it was just a simple bus terminal.

Mayor Meed Ward listening to residents at a public meeting.

As for Meed Ward’s vision of the city, an Engagement Plan was detailed regarding public consultation on Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) meetings. The MTSA is a designation given to the Go stations in the Burlington area, around which developments were planned for the City’s vision of their Official Plan. Key developments around this area are intended to create appropriate intensification and the protection of established neighbourhoods by focusing future population growth.  These are decisions that will shape the future of Burlington: public input is paramount.

Once the site of the Pearle Street Cafe about to become another high rise development making the area a high rise ghetto.

By the end of the month, the Ontario Land Tribunal ruled in favour of the developer Carriage Gate Homes for a 29-storey mixed-use condominium development on the northeast corner of Pearl and Lakeshore. Former Mayor Rick Goldring laid the blame at Meed Ward’s feet causing the Gazette to wonder if Goldring was throwing his hat in the ring for his old gig come next year’s municipal election. The issue in all Goldring’s finger-pointing was that the decision he was coming out against was decided based on the MTSA designation of the tiny Brant St. terminal, a hold-over from his time in charge.

Municipally, City Hall had a slew of items on the agenda in October. They continued to debate the upcoming budget, that would carry on until the end of the year. Mayor Meed Ward hosted Ontario’s Big City Mayor (OBCM) caucus meeting on October 14th; the meeting largely centered around demands for more action from the federal and provincial governments to aid municipalities through the pandemic recovery. Meed Ward used the opportunity to talk about the impact of lost revenues and added expenses on taxes. The OBCM meeting took place at the new Burlington hotel, the Pearle Hotel and Spa on the Waterfront. The Pearle’s opening was overshadowed by a chaotic calendar year but will surely become a premier destination in Burlington.

A Burlington Gazette readers’ survey, on which of the five new Councillors had shown the most growth over their term, yielded favourable results for Councillors Rory Nisan, Ward 3, and Kelvin Galbraith, Ward 1, two councillors the Gazette identified as most often backing the mayor.

In early October the City laid out rules for vaccination of staff that broke down into three categories: vaccinated, exemption, and testing. The third option allowed for staff to be regularly tested instead of being vaccinated, in stark contrast to the federal government’s approach that you get vaccinated by a certain day – if you’re not, you’re on unpaid leave.  The municipal policy was made much tough later in the year.

Halton Environmental Network brought Katharine Hayhow to the Region virtually. Weeks later the very effective Executive Director got poached by the Regional government where it is doubtful she will be able to do what she is very effective at.

Much of the positive stories to cling onto in 2021 came from the way generous Burlingtonians found new ways to give back despite the pandemic; by October they were offered some regional help. The Halton Region Community Investment Fund opened applications for not-for-profits that enhance the health, safety, and well-being of Halton residents. Virtual activities continued in the community, as the Art Galley ran creative Zoom events for the artists and hobbyists, and the Halton Environmental Network hosted a virtual discussion with United Nations Climate leader, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe.

Other Burlington organizations had moved to in-person offerings. The RBG ran an innovative interactive exhibit on artwork called ‘Seeing the Invisible’, featuring a range of contemporary and modern artwork complemented by AR or Augmented Reality Technology. AR is a technology that can add or augment any viewer’s perception of their environment.

Pressure from citizens resulted in the refurbishment of was once a water trough.

The Heritage Advisory Committee rehabilitated what has been known as the King Edward VII Fountain, a fountain with over 100 years of history in Burlington.  The Kind Edward VII Fountain was not the only Heritage Advisory Committee story of the month. A member of the Heritage Advisory Committee received a grant from the Committee. The recipient of the grant did recuse himself from the vote, and received the funds for an appropriate project. Still, questions about a conflict of interest were unavoidable.

Now it is just a bus terminal – there was a time when the terminal got used to justify a 26 story tower.

On Nov. 10, 2021, the City of Burlington received official notification of the boundary adjustment of the City’s Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designation from the Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Minister also confirmed the removal of the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designation in the downtown core. If that reads in the context of this year in review, that it was a long time coming, it certainly was. What’s more – for some significant downtown Burlington developments the decision came too late. Seven buildings were grandfathered in based on previous designations.

The Marsden’s still won’t believe the decision is final.

The City suggested the decision sent a clear signal “that the scale and intensity of recent development activity in Burlington’s historic downtown was driven by misuse and reliance on the UGC and MTSA and was not sustainable given on-the-ground realities of physical and social infrastructure.” Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns led a well-attended walking tour through downtown Burlington educating those interested in the grandfathered development sites. The mood presented at the tour around the City fighting the decision wasn’t optimistic, “What I cannot do is completely stop them,” Kearns said. Earlier in the year, the City had essentially celebrated the designations for a new UGC and the removal of the MTSA as done deals, this proved not to be the case.

The battle to see something much different on the Waterfront Hotel property is being spearheaded by the Plan B people.

The Gazette learned an application had been filed for, what the Gazette has been calling, the Two Towers that Darko Vranich wants to put in the space now occupied by the Waterfront Hotel.

The application had been filed on October 26th, it wasn’t available to the public until late November – more questions about transparency had to be asked.

Budget deliberations occupied much of the month at City Hall. The 2022 proposed City tax increase sat at 5.45%. Each member of Council put forward a motion setting out changes they wanted to see to the proposed budget. 2022 will be a municipal election year so Council, Mayor Meed Ward in particular, wanted to get that number down. The public had an opportunity to weigh in and ask questions at a Virtual Budget Townhall to be emceed by the Mayor on November 22, 2021. On November 29th Council went through a budget exercise including a five-year simulation on what the public can expect – the assumption being that there will be no radical changes in the economic environment. The average projected city tax increase over that period came out to 5.17%, a tough pill to swallow.

Once THE taxi cab company in the city had to close – insurance rates skyrocketed and drivers could not be found for the vehicles.

Effective Friday, Nov. 26th, Burlington Taxi closed its service. Scott Wallace gave a very complete outline of just how the business he has run since he was a 19-year-old unraveled.  Uber was what Wallace called the first of a thousand cuts, but he was never able to recover from COVID-19. Then there was an issue of insurance, consolidation in the taxi market resulted in skyrocketing rates that went from $5000 a year per car up to $18,000 per year per car. Wallace needed a change in the municipal bylaw – the city said it was unable to make the change within the necessary time frame.  Five days later the city made the needed change but by that time Burlington Taxi was out of business and Blue Line in Hamilton took over some of the then available taxi slots in Burlington.

Burlington observed Remembrance Day with a ceremony at the Naval Monument in Spencer Smith Park and another at the Cenotaph by City Hall, in the recently unveiled Veteran’s Square. The event in Veteran’s Square was advertised as a virtual one but the city was unable to keep people away – Brant Street was thronged by crowds, arriving to pay respects. The City encouraged applicants to run outdoor neighbourhood ice rinks through the winter months. Canadian Music Hall of Famer Steven Page put on a show at the Performing arts Centre on November 13th. The BPAC LIVE & LOCAL Music Series returned to the Community Studio Theatre on Sunday, November 14th, featuring local artist Hayley Verrall.

Faced with the void left by Burlington Taxi’s closure on November 30th, City Hall issued temporary licenses on December 7th to drivers who could be on the road by the end of the day. Blue Line of Hamilton was providing the dispatching service.

City Council passed a budget on December 14th including a 4.62% tax increase. Council managed to decrease the size of the budget Staff had presented but by less than 1%. City Council will go into an election year with their second consecutive highest city tax increase under Mayor Meed Ward, it’s a figure the mayor will not be pleased with.

City managed to announce a tax rate before it was passed by Council.

What followed the budget announcement was a peculiar, related story. The City issues City Talk, a print piece that is delivered to Burlington residents, in the December 14th issue of City Talk they announced: “CITY COUNCIL APPROVES 2022 CITY BUDGET: BURLINGTON TAXES REMAIN BELOW AVERAGE IN COMPARISON OF LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES.”  So, what’s the problem? City Talk was mailed before the budget was approved!,,

City Council agreed on December 6th to make a formal offer to purchase the Bateman High School property for a reported $50 million. There are all kinds of details that are not known; the HDSB will retain some of the space, Brock University is in talks with the city to rent space, Tech Place is going to need an affordable place to operate and has eyes on the Bateman location, and the library might become a tenant as well.

Santa appeared throughout the city spread good cheer, gift and Holiday Greetings

Throughout December Burlington engaged in a measure of holiday cheer. The Burlington Holiday Market went on as planned showcasing local business owners after its hasty approval process, the city and its organizers hope to make it an annual affair, there were provisions in the arrangement for exactly that. The fire department got plenty of mileage out of their antique firetrucks this December: the antique fire truck filled in for a sleigh to cart Santa around town for a socially distanced Santa Clause parade. A nice substitute but everyone hopes for a return to a traditional Santa Claus Parade next year.

Elsewhere the antiques were on hand, manned by retired firefighters, to add a festive flair to the Join the Joy event supporting Joseph Brant Hospital’s Labour and Delivery Unit. Frosty’s Village program, organized by several mothers to spur donations to the Burlington Food Bank, featured a concert of Christmas carols. The Sound of Music drummed up funds with their Silent (Night) Auction, with guitars, show posters, and albums signed by popular musicians.

A popular event that was in its 5th year raised funds for the Arts.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre organized the Festival of Trees, an indoor forest of beautifully decorated artificial Christmas trees. The Festival of Trees held a silent auction to bid on the trees, all proceeds support the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. It was the most wonderful time of the year, or so it appeared to be for a moment.

On December 2nd the first case of the lab-confirmed case and two probable cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 were identified in Halton Region. By mid-month, responding to the rising number of Covid19 infections and the rate at which the Omicron variant was replicating, the province once again increased lockdown measures.

COVID-19 cases in Halton remained manageable compared to the province at large with 3128 active cases as of December 29th in the Halton region, a drop in the bucket compared to the 76,992 active cases provincially. Ontario reported a record-breaking 10,436 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Regionally the total case count has reached 22570, in Burlington it is at 5970.

Mayor Meed Ward shows up at GO-VAXX event to apologize for something she didn’t do.

In the face of the rising threat of the Omicron variant Burlingtonians were eager to receive their booster shots and showed up in droves to a GO-VAXX bus parked at Burlington Centre on December 27th only to be turned away. A late change to appointment-based booking rather than walk-ins turned the GO-VAXX scene chaotic, people who lined up for the booster shot had to be turned away.

December is the time of year for celebration, gathering with friends and family, a time for reflection on a year that came and went, and looking forward to the next year. At the end of 2020, all anyone would have wanted was for 2021 to be different, and despite a vaccine and some months of near-normal life we are forced to have the same reflections. This time we hope 2022 will not be a repeat of 2021.

Once more we will enter the new year concerned with safety at the forefront of our minds. Let us hope in a year’s time these concerns have faded.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

First quarter 2021

Second quarter 2021

Third quarter 2021

Return to the Front page

Second quarter of 2021: restrictions and changes - but life went on and people continued to be people

By Ryan Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 28th, 2021


2021 has been a year we are not going to forget quickly. We have learned that major changes are coming but we don’t know yet precisely what they will be. A look back at 2021 might give us a hint – it will certainly remind us of what worked and what didn’t.

Well into the year and things were not looking any better. Doug Ford’s April 1st announcement that the province would be entering yet another lockdown was no April Fool’s joke. In the throes of rising COVID-19 case counts, the promise of spring, inspired by vaccination distributions and loosening restrictions, was snatched away.

City manager Tim Commisso, heads up the Emergency Control Group that makes changes in service delivery and spending during a pandemic while at the same time keeping council fully informed.

On April 8th, the Gazette patted the City on the back for the job they’d done managing Burlington during the pandemic, writing “What is visible is how Staff have upped their game to meet demands that change by the day – at times by the hour.” Not everyone felt that way: by April 13th City Manager Tim Commisso had to ask the public to be kind and considerate to City staff doing their jobs and doing their best to serve the community.

President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital, Eric Vandewall, asked for public support in staying safe in a piece published in the Gazette on April 15th, the hospital was at 94% capacity, all non-urgent procedures had been postponed, Vandewall implored the public to follow guidelines.

For Burlington school boards it was back to online learning on April 12th. Ontario gave authority to police to ticket folks who left their home without a good reason and restricted outdoor activities, neither of these was well received: both exacerbated stress on Burlington and Region staff. Amid the backlash, the Halton Regional Police Service released a statement on April 17th explaining they would not be pulling people over at random.

On April 20th City Council had a Halton meeting, wrestling with the province’s controversial mandates and not finding much they could do. “We need your help,” said the Mayor, “to be patient; we are all tired, frustrated, and worried.” On April 22nd Municipal leaders in the Region of Halton called for sick pay for workers and a tightening definition of what is essential.

A year into the pandemic COVID-19 gloom continued to dominate the April news cycle, but by the month’s end Halton residents aged 50+ who couldn’t work from home had been approved to book their vaccination in early May.

Earlier in the month, the Gazette brought the exact lack of public engagement in budget building under scrutiny following an influx of cash poured into the city on April 9th, the federal government dropped $1.9 million while the province added its $1.6 million and the city will contribute $1.3 million for a total of $4.8 million all to be used to revitalize Civic Square including a grand entrance on the ground floor. There was very little in the way of public input.

In early April Halton Region asked residents to share feedback on how and where they wanted to see the community grow over the next thirty years. The Province’s Growth Plan required that Halton plan to accommodate 1.1 million people and 500,000 jobs by the year 2051. Halton Region currently had a population of 595,000.

Burlington was going to grow up and not out and much of the growth was going to be clustered around the GO stations. Plans for a seven tower development are going forward. .

Meanwhile on April 6th City Council outlined their growth plans that included a seven-tower development next to Burlington Go Station that would have a planned 2500 residents.  The zoning for the property did not have a height limit.  One way or another the development was poised to happen Councillor Kearns expressed excitement for it.

By month’s end, Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner became the longest-serving Chief in the country.

The beginnings of an urban farm. Land was loaned to a group that grew produce donated to the Food Bank.

Elsewhere Burlington traditions continued to take different shapes due to the pandemic, Burlington Mundialization Committee coordinated a virtual celebration of spring, including a live photo stream of the Japanese cherry blossoms in Spencer Smith Park. The virtual Sakura Festival commemorated Burlington’s 32-year twin-city friendship with Itabashi, Japan.

On May 1st, the Gazette reported a Town Hall: Lisa Kearns for Burlington:  virtual event where the Ward 2 Councillor set out to tell Burlington why she should be the Liberal candidate in the next provincial election. The Gazette suggested Kearns was in the process of scaring off anyone else who would seek the nomination and throughout the month that looked to be the case. There were even reports Kearns was grooming a colleague to succeed her Ward 2 position.

By May 23rd there were reports of another candidate, days later on May 27th that candidate was revealed as Mariam Manaa, a young woman who cut her teeth working for Burlington MP Karina Gould and Oakville/North Burlington MP Pam Damoff.

Days later Andrea Grebenc, the Chair of the Halton District School Board, announced she too would seek the provincial Liberal nomination.  For a short period of time the race looked crowded, but Kearns promptly withdraw on the 28th. Kearns and Grebenc put out a joint statement singing one another’s praises. Gazette commenters wondered where Mariam Manaa fit into all of this, and why neither Kearns nor Grebenc mentioned her, in due time it proved to be an excellent question.

Three women went after the nomination for the provincial seat. Lisa Kearns above, Mariam Manaa to the right and Andrea Grebenc below sought the Liberal nomination.

As for day-to-day City Council happenings in May, spending fell under scrutiny. Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman wanted to shake up the way the city budget was prepared with a tighter unvarnished look at just what the departments are doing.

In a May 8th meeting, Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna announced he didn’t want to be part of a tax and spend council. This followed a report on looking at different operating models for the Tyandaga Golf course, the model was tax-funded. Councillor Bentivegna argued that the spending would normally be part of the creation of a budget and setting the tax rate was instead being debated without input from the finance department. Bentivegna was the lone vote against the golf course funding, despite his colleagues’ assurances the golf course spending wouldn’t be reflected in taxes this year or the next, his point was at some point the public would be asked to pay for this.

Meanwhile, the community remained frustrated under pandemic conditions but there were some positive signs, by May 7th 42% of Halton residents had their first vaccination.  Ontario announced that outdoor recreational amenities could reopen if COVID measures are in place, beginning Saturday, May 22 at 12:01 a.m.

The story on the opening of the Farmers Market was more about social distancing than what was going to be offered for sale.

In May the Gazette photographed outdoor fun in the sun, children smiling brightly chasing an ice cream truck’s familiar jingle, families headed for the beach with towels and snacks, properly distanced lines to grab a hot dog at Easterbrooks, and couples listening to gentle breaking waves, rhythmic and soothing against the shore. The Farmers Market opened for the season on May 18th to a small but eager crowd.

Of course, there was bad news:  City Council went into a Closed Session on May 5th and cancelled their Park Ambassador program. The reports were that this was the result of a city employee harassed or injured by unhappy citizens. City staff member, Amber Rushton, alluded to civil unrest and anti-government movements while discussing the incident. It was truly a disturbing situation, and it seemed any efforts to police outdoor COVID safety protocols had been abandoned.

Chicken Little is expected to make appearances in the June provincial election

While all of Burlington continued to navigate their way through the endless pandemic MP Jane McKenna trivialized COVID-19. In a bizarre and tone-deaf comment, McKenna labelled members of the oppositions as “chicken littles” over COVID-19, accusing them of exaggerating the pandemic’s seriousness. However, it offered the Gazette the opportunity for a rare moment of levity amid pandemic news. The Gazette published McKenna’s comments alongside a rubber chicken on life support. That chicken was named “The Dirty Plucker” by Gazette readers.

“June is the Month of Play,” was the first message of the month from Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s desk, after 14 months of on-and-off lockdown Burlingtonians could be forgiven for thinking they misread the release.  Burlington ran a Get Outside and Play Challenge all month where participants learned more about Burlington while completing activities.

On June 2nd Burlington came out of a stay-at-home order that had been in place since April. Ontario re-opened on July 11th, ahead of the re-opening the Gazette was asking the important questions, “Does this mean that one minute after midnight – between the end of Thursday and the beginning of Friday that I can be outside with my ten best friends quaffing an ale?”

School boards began discussing outdoor graduation ceremonies.  An expectation was established that students would return to classrooms in September. There were outdoor gatherings exceeding limits and parties that broke the rules that Mayor Meed Ward responded to. But the good was outweighing the bad in terms of progress in the COVID fight.

THIS is what a bottle and can drive is all about.

Amidst the sunnier circumstances, Burlington’s generosity was in fine form for charitable events in June. The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation partnered with local businesses to raise funds for a hospital that the community needed to lean on more than ever before. The Neal Family bottle drive for the Food Bank and Compassion society had another strong outing. Julie Neal spoke to the Gazette about her role establishing the popular bottle drive, just three years after moving to Burlington, “Who am I? I’m just a nobody loving the community I now live in.” For the Food Bank, their gardens began to sprout, on June 1st there was lettuce, sage, and rhubarb to harvest along with the garlic greens and garlic heads that were planted last season. Aldershot’s Skyway Diner ran a food item collection for the bank all month, finding a way to help others despite being in the hard-hit hospitality industry. Burlington Green announced their city-wide Burlington clean-up was back on for its 11th year on June 17th.

On June 25th St Matthews Anglican Church won a business excellence award for their work in the not-for-profit sector for the work they do for the community, including hosting a weekly drive-through food-drive throughout the pandemic.

In June the community battle to keep the current Robert Bateman High school functioning at some level was won. At their June 2nd meeting, Halton District School Board trustees approved a plan to relocate Gary Allan Learning Centre to Robert Bateman High School.

Elsewhere the City of Burlington Council wanted more rainbow crosswalks, plus benches and banners, to show support for LGBTQIA+2S Community. The Catholic District School Board voted not to permit the flying of the rainbow flag at Catholic schools. As for the locations of Burlington’s new rainbow crosswalks:  The people voted to locate one right outside the Catholic Board offices.

Ryerson Public School was to get a new name.

Despite a more positive news month for Burlington, national and provincial news weighed heavily on all. The discoveries of mass graves at residential schools were felt throughout the country. For Burlington’s part the Halton District School Board voted to rename Ryerson Public School and the city voted to rename the adjacent park – both had originally been named after Egerton  Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system.

On a Friday afternoon the Muslim community held their Call to Prayer in Spencer Smith Park. The Gazette published a handmade sign held up by a Muslim woman that spoke to the editor’s heart, it read:

“I love you. You’re probably thinking  you don’t even know me. But if people can hate for no reason I can love!”

On June 28th, the underestimated Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim woman, won the Provincial Liberal nomination.

Related news story:

The first quarter of 2021


Return to the Front page

January to March of 2021 was hard - it didn't get any easier during the balance of the year

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

December 27th, 2021



The year started out with a sense of caution, within days the caution turned into a lockdown that would last for weeks.

It took some getting used to. Here is how Burlingtonians handled the first three months of 2021.
Life for so many in began in the same way in 2020, isolated and lonely. Lockdown had taken effect once more, Joseph Brant Hospital opened operation of their field unit tent early in the month and the Gazette monitored how and where the city of Burlington would eventually administer the vaccine.

Halton Regional Police Services Chief Tanner.

And so, the city of Burlington and the Region of Halton stayed inside, isolated and waited…with one notable exception: Police Chief Stephen Tanner.

On December 21st, Premier Ford announced a lock-down to take effect on Dec 26. On December 22nd, Police Chief Stephen Tanner asked the then Police Services Board Chair, Rob Burton, for permission to leave the jurisdiction to travel to Florida on a private matter. Burton gave permission. However, Burton did not advise the other members of the Police Services Board on what he had done.

On December 26th, Chief Tanner left for the United States. On December 26th, the province invoked a shutdown for 28 days.

There was considerable demand for the Chief to be fired. Oakville Mayor Rob Burton resigned as Chair of the board on January 11th but remained on the board.

Chief Tanner apologized for poor judgment in requesting the travel, and Burton lost his position as Police Services Board Chair for his poor judgment in granting it.

While some like Mayor Burton and Chief Tanner were in the news for all the wrong pandemic-related reasons, charities in Burlington were continuing to find creative ways to make the new normal work.

On January 22nd Ward 4 Councilor Shawna Stolte drove around Burlington to pick up donations left on porches and address the needs of the Food Bank. For their part, the Food Bank was servicing an all-time high of people in need and somehow holding it together.

Local food drives were working well.

Stolte’s plan was an early year example of the kind of innovative contactless donation that would run throughout 2021 organized by generous Burlington citizens.

Elsewhere, city council got off to a rocky start in 2021 or rather continued their rocky 2020 trajectory. Reports released on January 11th detailed how COVID-19 had impacted the municipal government: 196 people were laid off; 290 jobs had reduced hours; 68 people were asked to put in additional hours. Morale reached a low point.

The Operations draft budget for 2021 budget came in with a 4.99% tax raise, it was a number Mayor Meed Ward didn’t like the look of, so throughout the month, in a series of meetings, they tried to get that number down to a more palatable 3.99%.

Budget concerns were springing up as a result of pandemic losses. Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sherman made an ominous statement concerning transit losses.  “There is a serious concern about a million-dollar loss at transit that we have not been told about and there is another one coming.”

In the calendar year 2021 the city finance department  presented two budgets both of which included what they referred to as a COVID budget.

Municipal disappointments relating to development disagreements would become a growing theme through the year’s news.

Mayor Meed Ward setting up her computer for the broadcast of her remarks on the need to stay indoors and not congregate with others.

Rolling into the month of February the city remained in the grip of a low point of the COVID-19 pandemic.   A light began to reveal itself at the end of the tunnel: by the middle of the month the stay-at-home order for Halton had been lifted, although with restrictions in the red zone, which Halton was in, remained limiting. Vaccine centers were established, and Burlington looked forward to a post-pandemic oasis. Of course, the pandemic wasn’t over, and we know now the light at the end of the tunnel was but a slightly brighter ongoing tunnel.

On February 1st Burlington announced its COVID-19 Task Force and it was massive. Headed by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward the Task Force contained every name you’d guess may be on there and then some. Various leaders, decision-makers, and experts assembled to assist the hospital and health care workers with anticipated patient surges and broader community efforts with COVID-19 and pandemic recovery.

Mohawk Public school where classrooms had to be closed.

The Region of Halton saw its lockdown and Stay-at-Home orders lifted on February 16th – those eager to get out of the house found a heavy snowfall waiting for them. A day later the Gazette reported the first case of COVID-19 in a Burlington school – in Mohawk Public school where the classroom had been closed. Other schools in the Region reported cases as well. Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health, warned of variants of concern and data that could lead to another lockdown.

On February 23rd inoculation locations were announced, Burlington prepared for the vaccine to be made available but just when that day would come remained unclear. Writers and commenters at the Gazette expressed their frustration with vaccine acquisition timelines.

People were frustrated.

The skyrocketing housing market was proving not to be a short term event. The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board Market Watch, was reporting average sale price for a home in Halton was $1,206,016, an increase of 17% from the previous year.

Most disturbing was the report of an uptick in domestic violence. In early February the Halton Regional Police Service reported that if the current trend continued, officers would attend more than 4,000 intimate partner violence incidents by the end of the year.

Early in 2021, it had become clear that the problems of 2020 would not be discarded with that year’s calendar.

Still, there was the promise of change on the horizon, and acts of generosity continued to be a bright spot of Burlington’s pandemic response.

The cultural sector offered impressive contributions to Black History Month. Several of Canada’s finest instrumental jazz musicians were online on February 10th thanks to a grant from the City of Burlington’s Community Support Fund, a program created to support Burlington artists during the pandemic.

Police cruiser decorated to reflect the concerns of the LGBQ community.

The Halton Regional Police Service and its Black Internal Support Network solicited the community’s help in the design and creation of a Black Heritage Police Cruiser.

Also falling under the matter of diversity education was the Halton District School Board’s (HDSB) release of a plan that included an Indigenous Perspective and Awareness area. They appointed Stephen Paquette to a position as the Board’s Indigenous Knowledge Guide and Engagement Advisor, Paquette would participate in Ryerson school renaming later in the year. The HDSB’s plan covered 2020-2024, one-quarter of the time frame had passed making the document, and the world changed as it was written so how much their priorities will have swayed on the document on a whole remains to be seen. But proper education on Indigenous history is always welcome and a lack thereof would come to the forefront of one 2021s defining stories later in the year.

On February 20th Regional Council announced they would make an application to the Federal Court of Canada to review the CN rail hub.

Following several closed meetings, City Council was working to bring a budget to the table with a more palatable tax increase than the 4.99% debated in January. Things were trending closer to Mayor Meed Ward’s vision; the city ended up with a  4.14% increase, which was the largest of her term to date.

Burlington city council had voted for a new Official Plan which almost immediately faced a list of appeals that climbed to 48 – this would be an ongoing story for the balance of the year.

Rolling into March there was news that those over the age of 80 could book their vaccination appointments on the 3rd of the month. At last.

By March 6th, 15,000 people aged 80+ had scheduled vaccination appointments. By the month’s end appointments were available to those aged 65+. More businesses got the go-ahead to open. The winter of our discontent seemed to be ending, not quite made glorious, as the old quote goes, but made something closer to manageable.

Burlington Centre opened for business.

Malls opened on March 8th to the highest provincial case count since early February;  over 1600 new infections, tempering the good news. On the final day of the month, Premier Doug Ford warned people not to make plans for Easter. The pandemic remained far from over.

Staff at city hall were surveyed on their well being and the results outlined an overwhelmed group. “Workload and expectations” were the top concern, accompanied by “unclear priorities,” and a “lack of breaks, inability led to disconnect, and work-life balance.”

Work-life balance concerns went all the way to the top of city hall with Mayor Meed Ward herself, who the Gazette reported on March 10th had ruffled some feathers by instructing her staff not to email her outside of 9 am to 5 pm.

Despite being overwhelmed, surveys from the staff gave the City a ringing endorsement at the March 3rd meeting, 75% of them believe somewhat or strongly the City had responded well to the changes impacting staff caused by COVID-19.

On March 9th city council hosted a Zoom meeting on the housing strategy they wanted to put in place as part of the Burlington Lands Partnership (BLP). The BLP’s founding, which unfolded late 2020 and throughout the first quarter of 2021, was due to widespread support for the city to take a greater strategic role in targeting municipal land development in Burlington.

The BLP positioned themselves to fill the void of a single entity with a mandate to realize the potential of emerging land development deals. The BLP suggested mutually beneficial partnerships with not-for-profits, developing communities, Halton Region, and the Provincial and Federal Governments. The BLP Steering Committee, poised to do much of the grunt work, was being established, seats on that committee were highly sought after by members of Council. As constructed, the final decision on any development will be made by city council.

There was concern over whether every idea would reach city council, or if such opportunity would only be afforded to ideas the Steering Committee felt had merit.

Young people were also plagued with lagging well being during the pandemic and the HDSB hosted two mental health and well-being information sessions for parents and guardians. There were components of pandemic-related stress among students, but this is an important conversation at any time.

In late March the HDSB aimed to set an example for the community by engaging in environmental learning activities on Earth Hour, March 26th.

Burlington was on its way to becoming experts at socially distanced events and March was rife with them. The Sound of Music, a staple of Burlington tradition, put on a different kind of show. On March 27th, Monster Truck played a Sound of Music Return to Live Series event from the Burlington Performing Arts Center, a ticketed live stream event.

The Burlington Arts and Culture Fund supported Aeris Körper’s PROSPECTS, a virtual contemporary dance routine followed by a discussion affording an innovative night to enjoy arts from home. And the Brant Museum announced the Around the Town Easter Egg Hunt that would take kids around significant Burlington heritage sites and allow them to enjoy time outside.

The Jefferson Salamander, which should be the city’s official mascot, made the news again as it headed for its traditional breeding ground.

The Parks and Recreation department opened registration for several programs. As a Gazette contributor at the time wryly observed, “Someone believes there is going to be a spring, followed by a summer during which the city Parks and Recreation department will offer the best program it can.”

And the City reminded everyone to be cautious of salamander mating season; they would be crossing Kings Rd. in heat. It was beginning to look like a normal Burlington spring.

The second quarter of the year will be published on Tuesday.

If readers want to dig in a little deeper on any one story – use the archives.  Enter the subject matter and you should get the full story.

Return to the Front page

Casino Bonuses in Canada Are Attracting More and More Online Gamblers

By Karina Rysberg Bay

December 22, 2021




This is what an online casino gambling bonus looks like

The casino bonuses world is, without a doubt, a vast one. You can run into new and lucrative bonuses daily, making the online casino gambling world quite competitive. Online casinos have to constantly come up with new ideas and bonuses to stay in the game.

For example, the casino bonuses in Canada can offer you some great deals that will be pretty compelling and hard to say “no” to. This significant choice of casino bonuses is one of the leading reasons why more and more Canadians are opting for online casinos rather than going to physical ones.

Of course, it’s not all just about the bonuses. Online casino gambling can offer you easy accessibility, excellent comfort as you can play from your couch or on the go, and a chance to play for free. Newbies should always choose free slots at first before they set on to play for real cash.

Now, let’s take a close look at why casino bonuses are so appealing and how to choose the best ones.

How to choose the best casino bonus?

Some casino bonuses are staggering, but experienced players still don’t consider them the best bonuses available. Why is this so? The reason is quite simple; that online casino lacks some other qualities, such as safety measures, SSL protection, or end-to-end encryption for your transactions.

Determine the reputation of your online casino.

There’s another reason for the most lucrative bonuses not being the best ones. Usually, you can take a tremendous welcome bonus but only use it on some games, not your favorite ones. Therefore, some of the best ways to tell good bonuses from bad ones are to determine the reputation of your online casino.

An online casino is reputable if it has an issued license. You can check whether your casino has a license or not on their website. Another way to check whether the casino is reputable is by looking for the safety measures they use.

If there’s ID verification, end-to-end encryption, SSL protection, and two-step verification available, you can rest assured that the online casino is worthy of your time. In line with this, the bonuses will also be trustworthy.

Final thoughts

We hope we have helped you understand why more and more Canadians are opting for online casinos and why casino bonuses are extremely popular among them. Also, we hope that you can now tell a good online casino from a bad one. Have fun in your next gambling experience, and good luck!


Return to the Front page

Holiday schedule - city hall

By Staff

December 21st, 2021



Those who are actually working within City Hall will limp out of the building on the 24th and return on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. – hoping that things will be much different and much better.

Given the Covid infection numbers we are seeing (more than 3000 plus on Friday) the year we are going into could turn out to be very hard for a lot of people.

Here is what’s open and closed at the City of Burlington

Over the upcoming holiday season, City of Burlington administrative services will be closed between Friday, Dec. 24, 2021 and Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, re-opening on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

For more information about which City services and facilities are available over the holidays, please see the summary below or visit burlington.ca.

*Important information regarding COVID-19: The information provided below is accurate as of Dec. 15, 2021. In the event of any changes made by the Province of Ontario to current COVID-19 public health measures, please visit burlington.ca/coronavirus for potential impacts to City services and programs.

Residents can stay informed about City news at www.burlington.ca/coronavirus and our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter, @cityburlington on Instagram and facebook.com/cityburlington

City Service Holiday Closure Information
Animal Services


While the Animal Shelter at 2424 Industrial St. remains closed to the public due to COVID-19, all animal services continue to be offered.

To report an animal control-related emergency, call 905-335-3030 or visit www.burlington.ca/animal.

Burlington Transit Burlington Transit will have the following schedules:

  • Friday, Dec. 24 – weekday schedule until approximately 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 25 – modified holiday schedule
  • Sunday, Dec. 26 – holiday (Sunday) schedule
  • Monday, Dec. 27 to Friday, Dec. 31 – regular schedules
  • Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 – modified holiday schedule.

Visit burlingtontransit.ca for full schedule information.

The Downtown Terminal at 430 John St., and Specialized Dispatch (Handi-Van) will be closed on Dec. 25, 2021 and Jan. 1, 2022. The Downtown Terminal will be open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 28.

Schedules and specialized booking are available at burlingtontransit.ca. For real-time schedule information visit Google/Apple Maps or triplinx.ca.

City Hall The Service Burlington counter at City Hall (426 Brant St.), will close at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, and reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 at 8:30 a.m.

Many service payments are available online at burlington.ca/onlineservices.

Halton Court Services – Provincial Offences Office Court administration counter services at 4085 Palladium Way will be closed on Friday, Dec. 24, re-opening Wednesday, Dec. 29 and then closed on Monday, Jan. 3, re-opening Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

With the exception of the December holiday closures, telephone payments are available at 905-637-1274, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. All in-person services are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Many services are also available by email at burlingtoncourt@burlington.ca or online at Halton Court Services.

 Parking Free parking is available downtown, on the street, in municipal lots and in the parking garage on weekends and holidays, including Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1, 2022.

NOTE: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.

Recreation Programs and Facilities Winter Fest Camp for children aged four to 12 years old will run during the holiday season. This program is open to everyone and includes active time, games and crafts. Learn more and register at burlington.ca/schoolbreaks.

Tim Hortons free winter break swimming and skating – swims start on Dec. 19, and skates start Dec. 20. Pre-registration is required. For more information on dates and times and to register online, visit burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

Drop-in programs – pre-registration is required for drop-in swims, skates and more during the break, visit burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond – open daily, ice conditions permitting, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (closing at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 and closed on Dec. 25). Visit burlington.ca/pond.

Holiday facility rentals are available for play and recreation for gyms, ice rinks and community rooms. Now accepting bookings for 60 or 90-minute rental slots until Jan. 2, 2022. Special holiday rates are in effect. For information and to book online visit burlington.ca/rentals.

Roads, Parks and Forestry Administrative office closed Friday, Dec. 24 to Monday, Jan. 3, re-opening Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

Essential, winter control and reduced parks maintenance services will be provided. For more information and updates on snow removal, please visit burlington.ca/snow.

As we prepare to leave 2021 we look back to see what we lost – what we do now and what will carry us through – each other.

My life-long friend Patti Stren, author of several children’s books, is handing out hugs.  Something you might want to consider.


Return to the Front page

How did Council get to squabbling over when Rainbow Crosswalks should be installed?

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2021



How many ways are there to pay for the Rainbow Crosswalks City Council wants to install?

An initiative that was a really good idea; something that was important to do got politicized during the budget exercises which is unfortunate.
The LGBTQ2S+ community is a distinct part of the diverse community that Burlington has become. The recognition those brightly painted crosswalks provide is important. They are statements that needed to be made.

The crosswalks are not cheap – they come in at $10,000 plus each and funds have to be set aside to keep them sharp looking.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has politicized the Rainbow Crosswalk initiative and made it her own. Is it going to backfire on her?

A number of Councillors felt that having three in place at this point and making room in future budgets was a fiscally prudent thing to do.

Mayor Meed Ward felt that all six were needed now and she wondered aloud if some of the public art money could be made available to pay for the final three.

And so the squabbling began with the City Manager dragged into the issue.

When three Council members disagreed with the Mayor on the timing of the installation she took it upon herself to make a public statement that made it sound as if the three, Councillors Sharman, Stolte and Kearns, were somehow anti LGBTQ2S+; nothing could be further than the truth.

Did Public Art funds pay for the Black Lives Matter art work done on the sidewalk outside City Hall ? Has the fund become the Mayor’s piggy bank?

During the summer when people were outdoors a large graphic was painted on the sidewalk outside city hall. Public Art funds were found to pay for what was a strong Black Lives Matter statement.

Politicians have their favourite projects; they currently have a budget to pay for projects within their wards.  The Mayor has a very healthy budget that she reports on publicly.

In the ten years the Gazette has been covering city Council we have never before seen so much nasty squabbling.  There are numerous examples of this poor behaviour – what is most disturbing is that this situation impacts on a community that has had attention it did not need.  Real people with real issues are being hurt – all the satisfy a small political objective.

The Mayor was very much a part of that initiative.

The LGBTQ2S+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit.

Return to the Front page

Burlington Food Bank will be open during the afternoon of Christmas Eve

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2021



The rate at which the Omnicron variant of the Covid19 virus is tearing through the province (3784 new infections yesterday) has put pressure on everything and everyone.

Food donations arrive daily but the demand is bigger than the supply. Cash on hand makes it possible to purchase needed food items.

The Burlington Food Bank soldiers on with their service that provides fresh food to families that need help on the three week rotation they use.

With the holidays upon us the Food Bank has had to do what can only be called an extreme pivot.

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Food Bank said earlier today that they are able to meet the growing demand with enough in the way of food donations coming in and enough money in the bank to be able to purchase what isn’t donated.

“We have found that we need to purchase more these days and inflated prices aren’t helping. We are fortunate in that we have a number of corporate supporters that work with us on an almost daily basis.”

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank is before the cameras almost daily – thanking people for the food and cash donations

Longer term, adds Bailey “it is difficult to project where we will be this time next year. We thought we were on our way out of the pandemic and edging towards a more normal environment.

The numbers on the need side are getting a little worse but the support from the community is holding up and the really wonderful part of all this is that the volunteer staff are continuing to show up every day.

“We are going to be closed for the week between the holidays (December 27th to December 31st) but we will be open the afternoon of Christmas Eve to ensure that everyone who needs food is taken care of.

When we decided that we had to be open I hoped that some of the staff would be able to stay the extra few hours” said Bailey who added that the “volunteers were asking me this morning if the Christmas Eve hours were still on.”

Indeed it is still on. The Burlington Food Bank will be open until 2:00 pm the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

Return to the Front page

Outdoors is the safest place you can be - and the kids will love it.

By Staff

December 20th, 2021



Snow on the ground – get ready for winter fun.

And watch the people at Parks, Recreation and Culture pivot once again to keep people active and staying healthy at the same time.

There are many opportunities for everyone to be active outside.

The information provided below is accurate as of Dec. 20, 2021. In the event of any changes made by the Province of Ontario to current COVID-19 public health measures, please visit burlington.ca/coronavirus for potential impacts to City services and programs.
Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond

Scheduled to open on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

The Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond at the waterfront in downtown Burlington is scheduled to open Tuesday, Dec. 21. The rink will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. Registration is not required.

Residents are encouraged to call the ice conditions hotline, 905-335-7738, ext. 8587 before leaving their house, to make sure the Pond is open.

The skate lending program is back this season at the Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond and is available Friday, 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and during the school breaks, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more about the Pond’s features and rules, visit burlington.ca/pond.

Outdoor artificial rink
The artificial skating rink is open at the old tennis courts in Sherwood Forest Park, 5270 Fairview St. This rink is best suited for parents with young children and anyone learning to skate.

Neighbourhood Rinks
There are 15 Neighbourhood Rink locations available in City parks this year. The rinks will be open to the public and free to use once the weather is cold enough for the ice. City staff will install boards for the natural ice rinks that will be maintained by neighbourhood volunteer groups. Everyone is asked to respect the open/closed signs and stay off the ice when the rink is closed.

For more information on the Neighbourhood Rink program and locations, visit burlington.ca/neighbourhoodrink.

That was fun!

The city has designated six areas in the city that are safe for tobogganing. They include:

• Brant Hills Park, southwest of the tennis courts, 2300 Duncaster Dr.
• Central Park on the hill northwest of the community garden, 2299 New St.
• LaSalle Park, east of the parking lot, 50 North Shore Blvd.
• Lowville Park on the hill at the southwest end of park, 6207 Lowville Park Rd.
• Nelson Park on the east side of park, north of the Centennial bike path, 4183 New St.
• Tyandaga Park at hole number four on the west slope, 1265 Tyandaga Park Dr.

To view designated tobogganing sites and tips for safe tobogganing, please visit burlington.ca/tobogganing.

Tim Hortons Free Swimming and Skating
Thanks to Tim Hortons, Burlington residents can enjoy another year of free swimming and skating this holiday season. View schedule and sign up, visit burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

Play Equipment Lending Library
If you need some play equipment or want to try something new without having to buy it, try the City’s Play Equipment Lending Library, including new glow-in-the-dark equipment which can be useful as the days get shorter. Pickup at Central Arena, 512 Drury Lane. To borrow, visit burlington.ca/playlending.

Imagine the golf course covered in snow – what a great place to hike.

Disc Golf and Hiking at Tyandaga Golf Course
Tyandaga Golf Course (1265 Tyandaga Park Dr.) is open for disc golf and hiking during the winter season and open from dawn until dusk.

Players need to bring their own discs.

Discs can also be borrowed through the Play Equipment Lending Library.


Return to the Front page

Different gifts - laced with quality and a uniqueness you don't find very often

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2021


A very modern look for a fine piece of leather-craft. Available only at the art gallery in Burlington.

You are at the point where the bulk of your Seasonal shopping is done.

But – there is one person you don’t think you have just the right gift for.

And – you’ve never been to the AGB Shop.

The arts may not be quite your thing but they offer numerous choices that are unique and tend to delight the person getting the gift.

There is a purse that caught our eye when we were taking the pictures a month or so ago.

Hours for the Art Shop are:

Tuesday to Friday: Noon to 5:00 pm

Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Masks are required.  While the Art Shop has quite a bit of room should there be too many people and social distancing is not possible, management will look for ways to schedule people.

Wine poured from a glass slipper into beautifully decorated wine glasses. You won’t find this kind of stem ware anywhere else in the city.

Skilfully crafted, one of a kind – at the Art Gallery Shop

See anything you like? Art Gallery members can rent pieces they like and if they really like what has been hanging on their walls they can buy the piece. A number of Burlington corporations rent art work for their offices. You might want to think about buying a membership for someone and then introducing then to the rentals. Theo Roma is the person to talk to at the Gallery about this idea

Return to the Front page