Waterfront committee might just pump a little energy into Beachway part of the city.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 10, 2012  There are things happening on the waterfront despite the close to disastrous state of the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

Pump House was opened in 1910 and closed in 1936 then used as a private residence. Structure seems solid - could become a Beachway destination.

Back when Burlington was a town there was a squat little brick building on the waterfront called the Pump Station that currently houses a`stuff ‘that the city doesn’t know where else to store.   The Pump House was in continuous service from March 3, 1910 to February 1936, the year following the completion of the first filtration plant. It was converted into a private residence.

Just to the west of the Pump House there is a concession that sells French fries and ice cream.  Jeff Martin heads up a subcommittee of the Waterfront Access and Advisory Committee that decided it wanted to do something and took on the task of turning the Pump House into a destination.

The first step is to get inside the building and get a sense of what shape it`s in and what it will take to turn it into a place the public can use.  The committee wants to entice someone with an entrepreneurial bent to take this on and turn it into a place that is open from at least May to Thanksgiving.

The building could be turned into a coffee shop, perhaps an art studio and a coffee shop.  Licensed as well perhaps.  The subcommittee is wide open to ideas and proposals – they just want to see something happening on the Beachway and hopefully get the Waterfront committee to the point where it can show it has actually managed to get done.  Serious case of leadership vacuum on that committee.

Another subcommittee did excellent work on pointing out locations across the city where private property owners were blocking legitimate access to the waterfront.  Les Armstrong and his team assembled a file and passed it along to city hall where it hasn’t moved all that much.

In the picture above you can see the edge of the railway tracks that were removed.

Jeff Martin’s group is determined to take the first step to bringing some life to the waterfront and making it a bit of a destination for more than those who like to get out for a walk.  The place has potential and if the city is willing to work with someone who has restaurant/hospitality experience, we could see something akin to the Williams Coffee shop that exists in Hamilton on their waterfront.

Jeff Martin, along with a number of other Waterfront Advisory members were getting fed up with what wasn’t happening  The full committee has spent most of its life (getting close to two years) spinning its wheels and getting deeper and deeper into the mud.

It`s terms of reference has a sunset clause in it; this one might not have much of a life left, which would be a pity because the waterfront needs some inspired leadership to channel the energy that is certainly evident on the committee.

However, as one way at city hall has pointed out:”They did re-elect the current chair so they have to live with that decision.”



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You will be able to see the art chosen this time. Exterior art at BPAC to be unveiled same month as Pier in 2013 Can we handle this?

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 9, 2012   After putting up a rather decent piece of public art in a place where no one gets to see it as they drive by, the city of Burlington is going to take a stab at getting it right this time.  At a city budget meeting most members of council referred to the Orchids now on Upper Middle Road just east of Appleby Line, as a “lesson learned”.

There is a new group behind the public art process and the hope is they will bring their considerable expertise to this second time around“ for the city as far as public art is concerned.

Not much of a public turnout for this unveiling.

The city hired CoBALT CONNECTS,   they used to be the Imperial Cotton Centre for Public Art, to oversee and administrate the selection of public art in the city.  The city put a chunk of money into the art program budget and moved very quickly to announcing that the next location would be the exterior of the Performing Arts Centre.  With the location issue of out the way, the community can now focus on who is chosen to do the art work.

All public art competitions will be evaluated by an independent jury of practicing arts professionals, community members and (when required) technical experts.  If you would like more information about the jury process or would like to be considered for future jury positions contact publicart@burlington.ca

Professional artists are invited to submit Expressions of Interest to create a permanent public artwork for the exterior of Burlington Performing Arts Centre. This competition is open to all Canadian and International artists and artist-led teams. Click for a copy of the application  form.

Because art is such a personal thing, and because so few people have the training or the experience to know good art when they see it, and because in a city the size of Burlington (any city for that matter) the more powerful people then to get their sticky fingers into the selection of anything that has to do with the “arts”,  Burlington wisely chose a third party with the intriguing name  CoBALT Connects  to manage the process.

They recently put out a document requesting an Expression of Interest from the arts community.  This is basically the first filter of names,  but a rather rigorous one,  that weeds out people who are not really qualified.  `Qualified ‘has been a bit of a problem for Burlingtonians so to make it crystal clear for those who have a disposition to complain CoBALT sets out what they mean by an artist: A professional artist is an individual who has specialized skills and/or training in his/her artistic discipline (not necessarily in academic institutions), has a history of public presentation and is critically recognized as an artist.

That definition does shut out the wild and wooly abstract artists who have yet to be recognized but Burlington was never going to mount that level of art anyway.  The definition CoBALT is working from sets a very acceptable standard.  It means your uncle who has done some really wonderful work on tree trunks with his chain saw is not going to qualify.

There is a well-oiled communications network used by the artistic community to spread the word on where the opportunities are.  With Expressions of Interest due April 13,  that does though preclude any advertising in the “arts” publications.   One assumes CoBALT knows how to get the word out to the artistic community.  If they don`t like what they see in terms of Expressions of Interest they can, one assumes, delay and extend the time line.

The art work has to be responsive to the architecture of the building it is going to sit in front of and at the same time capture the sense of anticipation, movement and energy that is part of a live performance.

Whenever people talk about doing something in the downtown core the word vibrant gets slipped in.  Saying we have a downtown core isn’t  going to make the vibrancy just appear.  It comes from the soul folks; it comes from the soul – ya gotta believe, you dig!

This piece of art is surrounded by don’t s.  It can`t be something someone can climb up and it must not have any sharp points and it has to comply with the Ontario Building Code. The art work should complement the design aesthetic of the building – does that mean it has to be grey and bland like the brick work?   The drawings submitted have to be certified by an engineer licensed to practice in Ontario.

The artist chosen will get a cheque for $95,000 CAD out of which he is going to have to pay for just about everything, including two trips to Burlington.

Stage 1 is the receiving of all the Expressions of Interest.  The deadline is April 13th and there will be hundreds of expressions of interest.   The selection committee will look at everything that comes in and ideally narrow it all down to three or four finalists using the following criteria:

Qualifications and professional experience of the artist.

Artistic merit of previous work.

Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines., budgets and success in executing projects of the scale outlined.

The artists responsiveness to the sit and approach to the project.

 Meeting deadlines and a budget is code for “we don`t want another pier on our hands”.

The three to four that make the cut from Stage 1 will be asked to prepare a Concept Proposal that is to include an artists statement, preliminary drawings, draft budget and implantation plan.  The finalists will have eight weeks to get this done and when submitted they will be paid an Honorarium of $1500 each.  The proposals then go to the public for comment and feedback.

The selection committee will recommend the successful artist based on the merits of the Concept Proposal, technical feasibility and public feed back.

Burlington's intellectual cognoscenti pose with the artist at the installation of the orchids on Upper Middle Road.

Unveiling a work of public art on the patio of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre will be a lot more dramatic than the miserable setting up of the orchids on Upper Middle Road on a chilly winter day.  Not an artist in site other than the Irishman who created the orchids, a couple of civil servants and a clutch of politicians.  Oh, and there were half a dozen mechanical types who had to drill new holes in the base of the orchids so the bolts put in place would fit.  While the orchids would past muster under almost any public art standard, the administration  and management of the that project was a lesson learned`.`

It is clear that the people in this city who makes the decisions didn’t take to our suggestion to move the orchids from Upper Middle to the steps of BPAC – an opportunity missed.

If all goes as planned the public art will be unveiled in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in June of 2013.  Wait a minute – June of 2013 – isn’t that the month we plan to officially open The Pier?  Are we tempting fate here?



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There was a buzz; it was the sound of 100+ people pulled together by social media guru. Will he go viral?

Margaret Lindsay Holton, an award-winning writer and mid-career Golden Horseshoe artist found herself fascinated with a form of social media intended for the business crowd and reports on her experience for Our Burlington.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  March 8, 2012  Chatter about ‘social media’ on the web is all pervasive these days. It is no longer enough to just have an email account. To be in the thick of things one must also have a Facebook and Twitter account.  Generally, the latter two sites are for personal ‘interface’ with other like-minded types. However, in the business world, the pre-eminent ‘social media’ site, LinkedIN.com, is mandatory to stay within the business loop. Like it or not.

If you weren't at this event - you missed the buzz. Burchill, the social media guru behind this "social media" gathering is in the upper left with notes in hand.

Recently, I was doing my daily ‘check-in’ to that account, when I noticed that a few associates of mine had joined a group called ‘BusinessInBurlington’. Hmmm:  what’s that?, I wondered, and within a few clicks of the mouse, I found out.

“The Business In Burlington open networking group   started online in 2008 with a simple mandate – help connect, promote and support local Burlington businesses.  If you’re a business in Burlington, do business in Burlington, or simply want to connect with local Burlington business owners and other entrepreneurs – THIS is the place to be!”

I was amazed at the size of the group, over 800 members. Wow. How come?  Burlington, unlike Hamilton or Toronto, does not really have a unified City ‘identity’. Burlington is made up of six very diverse Wards spread out over a very large geographical area with a total population of only 170,000 +/-. For long-time residents, the City is better split into two distinct groups: those that live ‘above’ Dundas Street (formerly known as Highway 5), and those that live ‘below’. This divide is often expressed through contentious differences of opinion about the strategic growth of the City. It is built on fundamentally conflicting life values. Those above Dundas Street live in a predominately rural setting, while those ‘below’ live in suburban or urban clusters. Diverse, yes, unified, no.

So, WHO are these 800+ ‘like-minded’ business people of Burlington? And WHY do they feel the need to ‘join’ this group? (as I just did).

In answer, under the group discussion page, was a link for the third MeetUp on March 7th.   There have only been two other MeetUps, in January and February of this year. Each had 60-70 attendees. As of March 7th at 3pm, 148 members have signed up. These are, by any standard, LARGE social events.  People are coming together at a one physical location under the banner of ‘BusinessInBurlington’ without any specific agenda in mind. Again. Wow. How come?

The founder of Business in Burlington, (BiB), James Burchill, is naturally very enthusiastic about the response to his third event. In his own words, he is considered a “social media guru & an online marketing expert” (with 15,000 followers on Twitter to boot). He is also Founder/CEO of BusinessFusionMarketing, a Social Media Marketing (SMM) Advertising agency.  I emailed and asked him WHY he thought there was such keen interest at this point in time for ‘Business in Burlington’?  He first answered, “Good question!” He then promptly posted the same question on the LinkedIn ‘BiB’ discussion board. Over the next week, a few members responded with positive shout-outs for James, their inspiring BiB leader. But, more importantly, all comments exhibited a sense that ‘we be comrades in arms’.

Meanwhile, back at “BiB HQ”, James began offering a “video marketing” opportunity to some who intended to attend the next MeetUp event. A video booth, run by him, will record short introductions by participating members that will then be edited via his ad agency and posted on the BiB YouTube website with a URL linked back to member’s own websites. The strategy, according to James, is to maximize participants “SEO’d” exposure via YouTube, the “2nd most searched site on the net”. “Smart businesses”, he claims, “don’t have the time, the energy or the know-how to do proper video marketing on YouTube.”

“Businesses have no clue” James Burchill,Social Media guru. Further to this, James is now offering a special opportunity for those who want to “learn more about using video for email marketing”. Ask him about ‘Codename TF”.

All well and good comrades, but hey, WHAT ABOUT THE PARTY?There is no question that having an informal and free-admission ‘MeetUp’ at a familiar watering hole, the Beaver & Bulldog at 2020 Lakeshore Road, differs from more formal or conservative business gatherings that might be initiated by, say, The Chamber of Commerce or by the satellite McMaster University school site in Burlington. Talk about ‘dry’. And therein, to my mind, lies the key to this group’s apparent success.

Some of the 100 + people who took part in a "MeetUp"

Yes, business people from the broad business community are getting together. They are going to have a drink or two at the end of a long work day. They are also finally cashing in on their due diligence re: ‘on-line’ social media networking. Obsessively spinning in and out of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn, can soon consume many hours of the work week. This ‘business’ browsing may keep us up-to-date on what our like-minded comrades are doing, but in terms of actual productivity,  well, we all know how that works. When all is said and done, nothing replaces a good old fashioned chin-wag, or as James simply puts it, it’s “great to connect in person”.  Ergo, and eureka, let’s rendezvous at the local pub! (By the way, another trending ‘social media’ site, Foursquare.com, has also figured this Old Truth out.)

Cynics could well dismiss this ‘BiB’ LinkedIn ‘MeetUp’ as just a hybrid ‘pick up’ or a  veiled excuse for a ‘cocktail party’ circa 2012.  However, Jennifer Aaker, Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has a different take. She believes that the role and impact of ‘brand marketing’ has changed so dramatically over the past few years, that brands, especially those gaining traction now, are those who act as “party hosts” aggressively overcoming the ever-increasing public “trust deficit”.

Additional thoughts on the public “trust deficit” can be found  here and here.

Recognizing that we are becoming ‘cyborg-ized’ may also explain an increasing need for REAL human contact. Plugging into the internet is now an integral everyday extension of both our professional and personal lives. So, yes, how refreshing it is to just unplug for a bit, and get-together for some good old fashioned gossip.

To my mind, aside from the business hype, past and present, I think those who attend these ‘BiB’ MeetUps are genuinely interested in ‘down home’ socializing in a way not fashionable in well over a decade or two. In that sense, it really IS a local ‘cocktail party’ where rapid socializing, catching up, flirting, sizing up and business chats WILL happen over a drink or two within a very brief period of time. No strings attached.

James Burchill, as facilitator extraordinaire, has done Burlington a great service by manifesting this basic human need. ‘Let’s talk. Let’s have a drink. Let’s get to know each other a little bit better. Hey, what’s up with you anyway these days? What’s the BUZZ?’ As a community synergizer, he has effectively gotten people off their computers (and iGadgets), and put them in a convivial social atmosphere to ‘mingle’.

All of it – socializing in this friendly and informal way – encourages greater civic involvement, deepens an individual sense of belonging, and tangentially, nurtures a heightened civic responsibility by all those already actively invested in the success of this community. And, that, dear peeps, is GOOD for developing – and strengthening – a truly unified ‘identity’ for a rapidly evolving Burlington.

Turns out, it really is good business to ‘Know thy Neighbour’.  Who knows. Maybe square-dancing will make a come-back soon too.

Business in Burlington (BiB) meets on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 5-7pm currently at 2020 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, inside theBeaver & Bulldog pub. There’s plenty of parking, on-site and on the street

 © Margaret Lindsay Holton, 2012.  Margaret Lindsay Holton, an award-winning writer & mid-career Golden Horseshoe artist, was born ‘above’ Dundas Street (aka Highway 5), and now resides ‘below’ it. The photography is © M.L.Holton 2012 / https://canadadaPHOTOGRAPHY.blogspot.com


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$2500 and a HUG was all the cultural community could pull out of a budget committee.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 6, 2012  The culture mavens gave it their very best shot.  Barbara Teatero, Executive Director Museums Burlington, stood at the podium delivering a delegation on why the city should come up with $20,000 to support a collaborative efforts pilot project involving the Burlington Arts Centre, The Performing Arts Centre, Royal Botanical Gardens, Museum, Library and Tourism that would result in a web site that would create a brand for the city’s cultural destinations.  There was going to be more than a web site but that seemed to be the focus of her comments and the thing that council members couldn’t get beyond.  Weren’t there already enough web sites out there?

Burlington Art Centre Ian Ross assuring Librarian Maureen Barry that all will be well in the cultural worlds - eventually.

Burlington Art Centre Executive Director Ian Ross stood quietly beside Teatero as she made her presentation and proved that the two were no tag team.  Ross didn’t get to say a word – perhaps he should have spoken.  He did during the questions but didn’t have much in the way of a reply when asked what would happen if the group did not get the funding.

Almost everyone on council had their finger in this pie though. Councillor Craven wanted originally to approve a one-time expenditure of $5000., but he withdrew the request.  Taylor was quite prepared to give the Open Doors group $5000 provided the City Managers budget was reduced by $5000 but he too withdrew his request.

Councillor Sharman put forward the request for the $20,000 but wasn’t able to convince his fellow Council members that this was a wise expenditure at this time.

Teatero explained that the objective was to tie into the “culture as a business” view that is floating through the municipal sector.  She said 700 towns in Ontario have a Culture Day and that the objective for the pilot project was to create a collective identification for the cultural interests in Burlington;  harness the inherent synergy between the different agencies and get some interactivity so that people who visit the Art Centre to look at collections there also get made aware of the Joseph Brant Museum and its offerings.  Culture and heritage were going to be turned into Siamese twins – joined at the hip.

Councillor Meed Ward wanted to know “what would prevent you from doing that with what you have”.  The point Teatero wanted to make was that they didn’t have the money they were asking for.

The city has just put out a Request for Proposals for the development of a Cultural Master Plan and the thinking around the council table was that nothing should be done in terms of creating synergies or developing identities until there was a master plan in place.

Burlington is close to awash with Master Plans.  The transit people are working through theirs, which Councillor Taylor doesn’t think is going to go much further than the five has already seen during his 20 plus years on council.  There is a Beachway Master Plan being worked up – the most current iteration of that plan is a follow up on work that started in 1987.

Barbara Teatero, Executive Director Museums Burlington

To be fair to this planning business, the Spencer Smith Park and the Discovery Centre are the result of good planning.  We at Our Burlington cannot wait for the warm summer evenings to arrive where we can sit on the veranda at Spencer’s and take in a sunset with chilled white wine. But I digress.

The request was for one time funding of $20,000 – didn’t make it but the $2500 as ongoing funding for the Doors Open program supervised by the Heritage Umbrella Group – HUG did make it.

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Outdoor ice skating at Spencer Smith Park ends. There go the Spring Break Plans. Did we have a winter?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2012   And then it was over.  Winter had hardly gotten a decent grip on the city and the lake came nowhere near freezing over.  There wasn’t any buildup of snow and the city must have saved a bundle on snow removal.

The true sign for Burlington that the winter was over is the announcement that as of 10:00 pm this evening the skating rink at the  Rotary Centennial Pond at Discovery Landing will close for the skating season.

If you didn't get to strap on the blades this winter - you're out of luck. Rink closes at 10:00 pm this evening.

This is probably the first executive decision Chris Glenn made as the now Director of Parks and Recreation; the Acting was removed from the title very recently.

“With the mild winter we were happy to be able to keep the rink open as long as we have,” said Chris Glenn, director of parks and recreation. “We are now looking forward to the spring season and the opening of the reflective pond.”

City staff will spend the next few weeks cutting the ice out of the pond and preparing the 10,000 square-foot (930 square metre) reflective pond for opening.

“Skating is still available at the city’s indoor arenas,” said Sandy Osborne, co-ordinator of swimming and skating. “Our indoor recreational skating and shinny hockey programs run all year and are a great way to stay in shape and have fun.”

Fun sure, but it’s not skating on ice is it.

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The sandbox is now his to run as Chris Glenn has the Acting taken away from his title. Congratulations..

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 1, 2012  The acting part of his career ended last night and this morning Chris Glenn enters city hall as the Director of Parks and Recreation.  It is a well-earned change to his title and while it won’t make any difference in his work load, it should make a difference in his pay cheque.  It is also the first step in the several that newly minted City Manager Jeff Fielding will be making in the ranks of his senior staff.  This one was easy.  He now has to resolve the Acting Executive Director of Finance and the Acting General Manager, Development and Infrastructure – there are some musical chairs involved in these two.

Chris Glenn has been with the city for some time, working his way through various departments but always coming back to parks and recreation which may have been the result of a summer job as a life guard at a swimming pool a long time ago.  He has been serving as the Acting Director for a number of years while a medical disability  leave of absence for the former Director worked its way through to completion.

He is no longer "acting"; it's now the real deal as Chris Glenn gets appointed the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city.

Glenn works with General Manager Scott Stewart and is frequently Stewart’s go to guy when there are some awkward negotiations to be done.  Every problem that cropped up with the development of the Alton community got resolved to some degree because of the steady hand Glenn brought to the table.

When you put a city administration, a school board and a library board all in one room and direct them to “work it out” you know there are going to be some fundamental differences of option and provincial rules and regulations that have to be dealt with.

The community centre that is made up of a high school, a community recreation centre and a library is now under construction.  The interminable meetings that got everything to the point where a shovel went into the ground were stick handled to a large degree by Glenn.  The actual construction of the Alton community is under the direction of the Halton District School Board – it is up to their people to ensure that the project comes in on time and on budget.

Burlington served as the lynch pin that pulled all the pieces into place and ensured that the needs and interests, of each group were fully understood and to the degree that it was possible, were met.

Developing executive level talent requires the kind of human resources leadership that is part talent scout and part strong administer with an ability to move people from department to department to give them mixed experience and at the same time asses the competencies.  Roy Male, Executive Director of Human Resources does this job for the city.  He has watched Chris Glenn grow over the years and while his comments made to city council in a closed session are not public, he must take a sense of pride in watching Glenn grow into this position.

Glenn now has to deliver on the expectations senior management have of him.  Expect to see a well-run operation with some surprising flashes of innovation. His patience and sound understanding of the way people work and what can be efficiently and effectively delivered have been in play for some time.  He can now go forward with a more satisfying sense of his authority.




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Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?

Sarah O’Hara is a Burlington mother of two who realized that her degree in modernist literature wasn’t going to lead to work that had meaning or a decent pay cheque attached to it, so she sat down with her husband and worked out a plan that had  her recalibrating her career choices and now rides the GO bus to York University  (“get my reading done on the bus”) where she will earn a teaching certificate and hopes to be in a Halton classroom, maybe as soon as next year.

Sara is not exactly a community activist, but she cared enough about her neighbourhood to be part of a group that has nine people delegating to a City Council committee to get the Drury Lane bridge repaired and operational.

 Sarah expressed an interest in writing for us and because the publisher of Our Burlington wasn’t about to enter Tansley Woods where a couple of hundred women were looking at Botox and new make up and getting financial advice at the Burlington Woman’s Show – he knows when the territory is not man  friendly – so he asked Sarah if she would cover the event.  Here is her report.

By Sarah O’Hara

BURLINGTON, ON February 26, 2012  Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?  The Burlington Women’s Show, of course!  This afternoon I joined hundreds of other women at Tansley Woods Community Centre to meet dozens of local vendors promoting their products and services.  Upon entering I received a stamp on my hand of a “Sex and the City” inspired martini glass which permitted me to enter a world exclusively geared toward women and the things we love.

Tony Racco of Cosimo's Salon- a Burlington institution that has been in the Roseland Plaza for more than 50 years provided coupons for a free wash, cut and style.. That made our reporters day.

The first booth I stopped at was hosted by Cosimo’s Salon which has called Roseland Plaza their home for fifty years.  To celebrate their anniversary the booth was giving each visitor a coupon for a free wash, cut and style – valued at $79.10.  Wow – a great start to my day!  Tony Racco, the owner, did demonstrations on the main stage with two models, one in her twenties and the other in her fifties.  As he curled, brushed and styled, he spoke about the many eras his salon has been through over the past fifty years from the bouffant styles of the sixties, to the sticky back combing of the eighties, to the softer curls that are in fashion now.  He seemed confident and knowledgeable as he turned the older model’s tight cap of curls into a soft cloud of shiny waves.  Seeing him in action made me look forward to visiting his salon.

In the same area I spoke with Ken Arp, owner of Smart Betty, an internet-based daily deal company.  As an avid wagjagger, I was eager to sign up for their emails, especially after finding out that for each purchase made 10% goes to a local charity of your choice, including the ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), the Burlington Humane Society, and Women’s Cancer Centres.

I followed this with a trip to the Booty Camp Fitness booth, where Sandy Cordeiro filled me in on the details of a Burlington-based women’s only boot camp.  This was only one of many fitness-oriented booths throughout the centre, such as golfing, karate, dance classes and yoga.  It was nice to be able to pick up their flyers amid the many chocolate and cupcake giveaways that were prevalent at the show.

Of course it wouldn’t be a women’s show without the latest in beauty and anti-aging products.  Slavica McIntyre, a certified Xtreme eyelash stylist, promises mascara-free beauty with her $150 eyelash implants available at I Love Lashes located in Queen B’s on New Street.  There were also demonstrations of Botox-free oxygenated facelift systems, and Carol Fysh, a face many would recognize from promoting products on the home shopping channel, was there with her new anti-aging line Red.

Upon entering one room I was approached by a woman named Terezia who asked me if I would like a free sample.  Thinking of the chocolate and toothpaste samples already abundant in my large purse, I happily agreed.  I was somewhat disappointed when she ushered me onto a high chair and swiftly removed my carefully-applied eye makeup from one eye with a wet sponge.  She gravely told me that I have inherited thin skin under my eyes and that only her Hollywood Eye Magic tuck serum could help me.  She coated my left eye with the thick yellow serum and told me within ten minutes I would see a change that I would not believe.  After advising me not to change my facial expression she informed me that I could buy the serum for $100.  I promised her I would think about it.  By now the skin under my eye was uncomfortably burning and tight, so I made my escape to the closest washroom to clean it off.

More costume jewellery than an average eye could take in was to be found at the Women in Burlington event at Tansley Woods.

By now I was quite hungry, so I followed the smell of fresh bread until I found the Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill table, where I was treated to delicious brushetta and a glass of Chardonnay.  Next to them was The Water Street Cooker where I munched happily on a turkey wrap while chatting with the cooks about the supposed haunting of the old building where Emma and her family succumbed to strange deaths before the Old Lakeshore Road home was turned into a restaurant.  This mystique, coupled with the delicious fare, makes the restaurant a popular Burlington destination.

The main event was the fashion show, hosted by City Line’s Lynn Spence.  The gym was packed with women (and the odd man) in a horseshoe formation around the t-shaped stage.  If one ignored the tucked-away basketball nets and fluorescent lights she could imagine she was watching the catwalk at a chic big-city show.  Spence hosted with confidence, knowledge and humour.  She showed clothes from Sears, J. Michael’s, Laura, Melanie Lynn, and other local (and affordable) stores.  Spence gave tips on what styles best suit body types, what colours are going to be trendy this season (coral and orange) and how to make an outfit diverse – for instance, pairing a wrap dress with skinny jeans or removing a belt to make a dress a tunic.  Her motto was “[this is] clothing you can understand – that makes sense.”  The audience was enthralled and enthusiastic, applauding and cheering after each model.  Cosimo’s provided all the hair and makeup.

The Women’s Show of course boasted the expected accessories.  Jewelry, makeup, purses, scarves and belts were available from high priced designers, such as Breanne Morrow of White Feather Designs who studied how to pound copper in Mexico, to more affordable fun accessories such as those from Vixin, where I bought a Tiffany and Co. style bracelet for $10.00.

There were also booths I never would have expected to find at a Women’s Show, such as Investors Group.  Mark Murray, the consultant I spoke with, told me they are geared toward family planning and lifestyle goals, and why shouldn’t these be things women think about?  While I wholeheartedly agree that this is something that is important to both genders, I was more drawn to booths that concentrated on fun, beauty and glamour.  This explains why I did not even stop at the Funeral Planning booth, and I didn’t see anyone else do so, either.

Nickelbrook craft brewery was there, and its host, Kevin, told me that craft beer is now making up 20% of the local selling beer.  Coffee Culture was also present, giving away steaming cups of coffee and delicious looking squares for donations.

Of course, health and wellness centres abounded.  Premier Homecare Services offers PSW services as well as companion services to post-surgical or elderly home owners; Dr. Derek Jasek of Headon Chriopractic Wellness Centre told me about the importance of devoting time to flexibility and posture to dramatically increase your quality of life; the Healthy Self Clinic specializes in thermographic imaging to detect and prevent breast cancers instead of the more traditional mammogram option.  I was, however, surprised to see a booth called Brainworx.  Its owner, Patrice Shennette, told me that our brains are deeply affected by trauma, both physical and emotional.  She is confident that her method of converting brain waves to musical tunes, and then adjusting this music to reflect that which our brains made at birth, is key in allowing ourselves to maintain confident, strong and healthy lifestyles.

Several hundred woman spent Sunday at Tansley Woods enjoying all kinds of free treats and more advice than they could possibly use. A chance to get out of the house without the kids.

Sears Mapleview also had a table for the first time.  Carol, the marketing coordinator, told me their new, young CEO, Calvin McDonald, is attempting to make Sears more visible in the community.  On April 17 they are hosting a cosmetic and fragrance gala.  Tickets are $10 and $2 from each goes toward “Look good, Feel better,” for people who are living with cancer.  Canyon Creek will cater the event.

I left the Women’s Show with a bag full of flyers and samples, and a head full of ideas of how to look good, feel good and dress well.  The women at the show all seemed to share a camaraderie, chatting easily to each other while inspecting different products, comparing finds and generally just happy to be in a facility where everything is geared toward the wants and needs of most women.  The Women’s Show is a great way for women to get out and find local businesses that cater toward our needs.  I look forward to next year!

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If you know how to raise your pinky finger and can fake a British accent – Barb Teatero wants to hear from you.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON February 25, 2012 For those who are of a monarchist bent – there is an opportunity for you to be the “Queen” at  Ireland House on Mother’s Day.   The event is one of three Museums Burlington is putting on with funds they received to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Barb Teatero, Director of Museums for Museums of Burlington, made the application for the funding of a program that has three parts and was given a grant of $20,400 which allows the Museum to put on the events with no entrance fees.

Along with tea being served at Ireland House on Mother’s Day, with someone impersonating the Queen, there is going to be interactive activities for the student crowd during the March break as well as an exhibit that will tour the city with a probable stop at Tansley Woods and City Hall – the details are still being worked out.  Teatero just got the cheque on Friday and it hasn’t cleared the bank yet – so details aren’t cast in stone yet.

The Jubilee is a government program designed to focus on the 6o years that Queen Elizabeth has worn her crown.  That’s a big deal and the government is right to spend money on marking this occasion.  The current government has decided it wants to make the relationship between Canadians and the Monarchy a little tighter than previous governments.  Relationships with the Monarchy are quite specific for Burlington.  While the city had never had a “royal” visit, it has had a citizen who saw quite a bit of the Royal Family even if those visits were a couple of hundred years ago.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

In the 1700’s Joseph Brant, an aboriginal who spent a lot of time in Burlington and was given 3,500 acres of land at the “head of Lake Ontario” for his service to the King.  That land is basically what we know as Burlington.  Elizabeth and James Streets were named after two of Brant’s children.

Not much attention is paid to what Joseph Brant actually did – it’s quite an impressive list of feats and worth knowing more about.  Most Burlingtonians know that the hospital was named after the guy and that’s about it.

Given to Joseph Brant by King George III with the inscription: "A Gift from a friend to Captain Brant`.

Brant travelled to England on two occasions and met with King George III in 1775/6 and again in 1785/6.  The practice in those days was for gifts to be exchanged and George III gave Brant a gorget made of silver with the inscription: “A gift from a friend to Captain Brant”.  A gorget is a piece of equipment that is worn around the throat by warriors. The item is the most important piece in the Brant Museum and is something borrowed by other museums around the world.  It is a priceless piece of history.


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Orchids on the move? Was the “lesson learned” turned into an advantage that might satisfy everyone?

By Pepper Parr


February 24, 2012  It is always very unwise to let politicians anywhere near the selection of public art.

Burlington made a wise decision a number of years ago when they selected the Imperial Cotton Centre for the  Arts as their third party public art advisers.

The placing of public art in the city has raised a lot of negative comment. Most people don't understand why the sculpture, a modernistic interpretation of orchids was installed in the middle of a busy road. There is a solution to this problem.

The first major project they took on was described at a recent Council Committee as a “lesson learned” – which had to do with the ‘orchids’ that now decorate a stretch of Upper Middle Road located just before the street dips beneath the railway tracks – which gives the average driver doing the speed limit all of 1.2 seconds to actually see the art.

While “provincial”  Burlington was convinced someone locally could have done a much better job for a lot less than the $100,000. the city paid for the three orchids, I think they had some local welder who thought he was an artist in mind.   The orchards are good art done by someone with an international reputation.

City Council last week had a major problem with paying as much as $35,000 for individual bus shelters that would adorn the entrance to the up and coming Alton community.  There was some hope that there would be some sculpture in front of the high school being built in the Alton community, but no one could agree on anything so they settled for fancy bus shelters.  Councillor Taylor couldn’t stomach that one and managed to convince his council members to put the kybosh  on that one and they did – almost.  Councillor Lancaster convinced them to defer rather than say a total no and asked staff to look into providing information on fancy bus shelters  more appropriate to the Canadian climate.  The examples given didn`t look as if they offered much protection on a cold winter day.  As soon as we get the pictures from the city hall staff member we will show those to you.

With the orchids on Upper Middle Road now a fact and with negative public comment still growing all admitted that the orchids were perhaps not the arts’ greatest moment in Burlington.

While the bus shelters got the boot,  art for the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre got serious attention.  Dan Laurie, a local insurance broker,  offered to put up a sum of money providing the city matched his amount on a two for one basis for something that would be installed on the plaza in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Additional donours have come forward and offered funds on the same basis.

Council wasn’t sure they wanted to have the city stuck with a situation where they had to put up two dollars for every one that someone decided to donate so they seemed to take a pass on that opportunity.

Our Burlington is a cogent observer of all things civic at city hall and there is a very, very simple solution to both getting acceptable art in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and stifling the howls about the art on Upper Middle Road.

This is not a true photograph but rather two pictures superimposed on each other - to give you an idea what the orchids would look like if they were installed on the plaza outside the Performing Arts Centre. The council members and city staff in the picture would not be part of the installation.

Move the orchids from Upper Middle Road to the plaza in front of the Performing Arts Centre. Whizzo! – everyone is happy.  To give you an idea as to just how magnificent those orchids would look in front of the Performing Arts Centre, we Photoshopped the Orchards into a picture of the Performing Arts Centre so you could see just how fine this would look.

In the “art” work we did, we included the Mayor, several Council members and some senior City Hall staff.  One might give some thought to having those people pose during specific events during the year – the public could buy peanuts to feed them with the profits from the peanuts going to offset the $500,000 the Performing Arts Centre is going to cost in the way of their annual subsidy.

There won’t be any problem moving the orchids.  Some people think they are in Jack Dennison’s Ward 4 but  he claims they are in Blair Lancaster’s Ward 6 – they are both right – the thing is in the middle of the road on a small floral island and they really aren’t in either ward, much to the relief of Dennison who doesn’t ever want to be touched with anything to do with the arts.  Jack just wants to pave those roads.


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Renowned world class author to speak at Burlington Library; Different Drummer co-sponsors the event.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 16, 2012  I’m not quite sure how he does it but Ian Elliott, proprietor of The Different Drummer Bookstore manages to attract some very impressive authors to his Engaging Ideas events he holds at the Public Library.

He recently had Michelle Landsberg as a guest and while I wasn’t able to make it to that event, I am told it was a great evening.  Landsberg is always good copy and good conversation.

An author with an international reputation and the ability to explain issues and ideas better than many - will be in Burlington February 27th.

On February 27, 7 pm author Modris Eksteins will introduce his new book Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age.

While that is certainly a mouthful of a title in the book,  Dr. Eksteins examines the career and concerns of Vincent Van Gogh and the explosion of his international reputation through a chain of surprising events in Weimar Germany.

Ekstein’s previous books, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, and Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II and the Heart of Our Century, have brought him major literary awards along with great international success and acclaim.

Solar Dance shares with these works an extraordinary recreation of the times, illuminated with keen insight and an astonishing range of reference in an artful, engaging and edifying presentation.

To reserve seats in advance, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

We have pinched shamelessly from a Globe and Mail review of Eksteins work.  I not only don’t have the time to review the books (but they are on my list of books to read) but I don’t think I could do as well as Mark Kingwell. If you are interested in reviewing books for Our Burlington – be in touch.

From Globe and Mail, February 10, 2012

No film fan can forget the scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) in which two pseudo-intellectual New Yorkers, played by Michael Murphy and Diane Keaton, enumerate the members of their “Academy of the Overrated”: Norman Mailer, Scott Fitzgerald, Lenny Bruce, Gustav Mahler, Heinrich Böll, Ingmar Bergman, Carl Jung, Walt Whitman, Isak Dinesen, possibly Sol LeWitt.

Allen’s character, Isaac, a self-involved but earnest television writer, is particularly dismayed by their inclusion of Vincent van Gogh – pronounced, notoriously, “van Goch”

“Van Goch?” he mouths incredulously to his girlfriend. “She said van Goch?”

Van Gogh has been sneer fodder for snobs longer than most. Critic Carl Steinem, commenting on the craze for his work in the early 1920s, condemned the work as “petit-bourgeois kitsch” with “the likeness of a collectively minded idiot.”

Then and now, denunciations seem only to fuel an enduring, outsized popularity. Three of the highest prices ever paid for art were fetched by van Gogh’s work, even as blockbuster shows continue to create queues down the blocks of every city with an art gallery.

Posters of his paintings regularly outsell every other artist, to the point of being a dorm-room nuisance – for God’s sake, hang something else! – and his visage, name, story and signature now adorn everything from high-end liquor to banks.

This ubiquity has a non-cash price, namely that, precisely because we see the works everywhere, it’s no longer possible for us to see them. The startling vividness of van Gogh’s vision, the madness, the tragic impoverished death at 37 with just one work sold, no longer have the antagonistic power of a century ago.

Philosopher Karl Jaspers: “I could not help feeling that van Gogh was the only truly great and unwillingly ‘insane’ person among so many who pretended to be insane but are really all too normal.” Nowadays, van Gogh is no longer even an authentic madman; he is, instead, a textbook case of cultural over-determination, strangled by his own success.

The book is about the guy who cut off his ear and sold just the one painting before his life ended at 37 - it is much more than that.

Modris Eksteins’s subtle and engaging new book offers an account of how this came to be, and in telling it, Eksteins bestows a great gift: new strangeness. In 56 short sections, each linked to a van Gogh work, he interweaves the large fabric of culture, politics and money with the small, indeed pedestrian tale of a dancer turned art dealer who, in 1927, was arrested for the crime of offering 30 forged van Goghs for sale. The dealer, Otto Wacker – also known by various stage names and pseudonyms – was, in Eksteins’s phrase, a “twentieth-century mutant”: chancer, fabulist, romantic, a homosexual who joined the Nazi party, a dancer who leaped around the truth as well as the stage.

Wacker, in common with many talented men and women of Germany’s Weimar period, found interregnum Berlin an irresistible playground for stimulation and self-creation. “Berlin was crazy, debauched, metropolitan, anonymous, gargantuan, futuristic,” one Viennese writer said, “an infernal cesspool and paradise in one.” The combination of freedom and anonymity – the “metropolitan attitude” that sociologist Georg Simmel had identified as early as 1903 – would have lasting effect not just on these people but on the century’s course. Painters, writers, architects, philosophers and frauds of all types flocked to the wide-open, decadent city that would later host the extended madness, the violent “solar dance,” of Hitler’s Third Reich.

The Weimar Republic, Eksteins writes here, “was installation art on a grand scale, a fantastic panorama of commotion, imagination, and violence, literal and figurative, fuelled by a never-ending sense of emergency. Hitler and National Socialism were as much a product of Weimar as were Walter Gropius’s architecture, Fritz Lang’s films, and Marlene Dietrich’s legs.”

Makes you want to read the book – take advantage of the opportunity to meet the author.  I won’t be able to attend – there is a City Council committee meeting that needs attention.  If you choose not to join me at Council committee – do get to the library and take in this event.

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Like it or not you have to deal with Facebook’s new layout. Here’s how you lock down your profile – post-Timeline.

ItCanada.ca publishes more than half a dozen technology magazines including CIO Canada and Network World.   They are a reputable publisher that has been in business for quite a while.  They recently did a piece on securing your Facebook data.

Our Burlington is about to embark on a series about Identity Theft and this is as good a way as there is to get you started on securing your identity.  Most of us use Facebook and like the way it allows us to keep in touch with people we don’t see very often.  Louise tells me about how she takes care of pets; Cory inundates me with things about the NDP that I really don’t need to know, Brian somehow digs out trivia stuff that I usually don’t get and I’ve got a guy in Spain who shares a family name with me – and that’s about all.  I enjoy the service but really resent someone using the information and comments I put up on the web site to their advantage.  If I’ve made you a Friend then be my friend and respect my privacy.

Set out below are five ways to secure your new profile

By Logan Kugler

With the ongoing rollout of Facebook’s Timeline feature, security and privacy have never been more important to your digital life. The new layout presents all of your current and past activities on Facebook — posts, photos, comments, likes and so on — in a handy timeline format to anyone with access to your profile, which may include friends of friends, colleagues, executives at your company, a potential future boss … well, you get the idea.

If you’ve made the jump to Timeline — and if you haven’t, you will within the next few weeks, like it or not — you should know that Facebook has changed a few things, and there are certain settings you need to pay attention to if you’re concerned about what parts of your life others can see. Here’s how to lock down your profile in the post-Timeline world.

1. Limit your connections

Most key privacy settings are accessible by clicking the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of your profile screen (next to your name and the Home button). From here, select Privacy Settings in the drop-down menu.

Protecting your Facebook data: Rule # 1 - Limit your connections

Click on Edit Settings next to the How You Connect option to begin your profile lockdown. This section contains five privacy settings.

The first three settings govern who can look up your profile and see your contact information, who can friend you and who can send you messages. For maximum privacy, change the first and third settings to Friends, thereby preventing anyone else from looking up your profile or sending you messages.

The second setting governs who can send you Friend requests. The more secure choice is Friends of Friends, but it limits your connectivity on the world’s largest social network. If you’re worried about losing out on friendship opportunities, keep it set to Everyone.

The last two settings dictate who can post on your timeline and who sees those posts. Only Me is the safest option, but choosing it severely reduces the number of interactions Facebook offers. If you’re seriously considering limiting your timeline posts to you and only you, it might be time to leave Facebook entirely.

Setting both of these options to Friends is relatively safe while still allowing the sharing that makes Facebook fun. And there is a way to review posts from friends before they appear on your timeline, as you’ll see in the next section of the story.

2. Tailor your tags

An easily missed entry in the Privacy Settings is one innocuously labeled How Tags Work. However, it is essential to tweak the settings found here if you want to take control of your profile’s privacy, as some tagging actions can be pretty invasive.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 2 Tailor your tags.

The first two settings (Timeline Review and Tag Review) are particularly useful. When you enable them, you can review posts and photos that friends tag you in, as well as the tags friends add to your own posts — all before this information goes public. That’s especially valuable if you have well-meaning friends who think tagging you in those Vegas party photos is a good idea.

The third setting, Maximum Timeline Visibility, should be set to Friends or customized for certain friend lists or networks to ensure that these tagged posts, once approved, aren’t seen by everyone.

Disable the fourth setting on the list, Tag Suggestions. It makes it harder for friends to tag large quantities of photos featuring you or people that look like you. But it also takes some of your profile’s privacy out of the hands of others.

The last setting on the list is seriously important: It determines whether or not friends can check you in to places. Turn it off. The only thing worse than constantly broadcasting your location is having someone else do it without your express permission.

3. Rein in app permissions

Speaking of permissions, the permission window that used to appear frequently when Facebook apps wanted to access your profile information is pretty much MIA now. Currently, apps need to ask you only once for permission. Once they do, they’ll mine your profile information as often as need be, sometimes even when the app isn’t being used.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 3 - Rein in your app permissions.

Fortunately, there’s a privacy fix. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick one, since you’ll have to tweak each app’s settings individually.

In the main Privacy Settings, click on Edit Settings next to the Apps and Web sites entry to bring up the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings page. Next to “Apps you use,” click on Edit Settings again to access a full list of apps running on your profile. Each app is accompanied by an Edit button, which displays the app’s permissions when clicked. Each app has different permissions enabled, so you’ll have to check each one individually.

Here’s the bad news: Some permissions, such as sharing basic profile information with the app, cannot be altered. These are marked by the grayed-out word “Required” next to the particular permission.

Other settings, however, have the word “Remove” next to them — click on it to remove any permission. These are the only items that can be changed, so you’ll have to take a hard look at what permissions an app deems a necessity. If you don’t like what you see, click “Remove app” at the top of the same page and learn to live without that app.

For the apps you do keep, it’s important to control who sees the information that the apps share — many of them are designed to broadcast your activities on your timeline and in the “ticker” on the right side of users’ home pages. At the bottom of each app’s permissions page is another important option entry titled “App activity privacy.” Click on the drop-down menu and select Only Me to be sure your app activity isn’t seen by anyone else.

Similarly, if you install any new apps, be sure to select Only Me under “Who can see activity from this app on Facebook” on the installation page.

4. Stop others from taking your information with them

The Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings also contain some other features that security hounds would be wise to disable.

Protecting your FAcebook data. Rule # 4 Stop others from taking your information.

Click on Edit Settings next to the entry labeled “How people bring your info to the apps they use.” Other users may be able to bring your personal information with them when they use apps and Web sites. It’s all in the interest of making things more social. It can also be invasive. Uncheck the box next to each information category listed (there are 17 of them) to prevent others from using your personal data.

Head back to the Apps, Games and Web sites privacy settings and click Edit Settings for the “Instant personalization” category. This option should be turned off by default, but check to make sure. You’ll first see a pop-up screen explaining the feature; when you close that, you’ll be able to see whether it’s enabled. If it is, disable it. This will prevent Facebook partner sites from accessing your public information to personalize your experience on their own Web sites.

5. Reduce your social footprint

Sharing is the whole point of Facebook, but the Timeline layout sometimes takes this to extremes, making it easy for others to see all your activity from years gone by. The good news is that you can disable Recent Activity updates, which broadcast new friendships, groups you’ve joined and any other changes in your basic information (such as relationship status or political views). Just click on the X next to a Recent Activity update on your timeline and select Hide Similar Activity from Timeline.

Protecting your Facebook data. Rule # 5 Reduce your social footprint.

This makes the process of hiding certain activities from your past a little easier. But here’s the bad news: Individual status updates or posts from, say, your less judicious days need to be removed individually by clicking the pencil icon next to each item and choosing Hide from Timeline — a process that could take you to the end of 2012 if you’ve ever been very active on Facebook.

There’s a limited solution, though: In the main Privacy Settings window, the second-to-last entry on the list is titled Limit the Audience for Past Posts. Click on the Manage Past Post Visibility link next to it. A window will appear giving you the option to change all past posts so that they’re visible only to friends. Click Limit Old Posts to do so.

That will at least prevent anyone other than people you’ve friended from seeing older items on your timeline. But considering that your boss, colleagues and other acquaintances may be among your Facebook friends, it’s still a good idea to review your entire timeline and remove compromising status updates, comments, links and photos. Start with the oldest items first. When you first started using Facebook, you probably had fewer contacts and might have posted and commented with less caution than you’ve done more recently.

As a last precaution, make sure that everything you post on Facebook moving forward is shared only with friends, specific networks or friend lists: Click the drop-down box next to your status update, comment, link or other shared content and select Friends or a group. For even more granular control over who can and can’t see a post, select the Custom option.

It bears mentioning that the last and best defense against digital privacy invasions is common sense. You may want to be a bit irreverent with your Facebook friends — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But ask yourself if you’d wave that questionable photo or say that pithy comment in front of someone who could affect your future hiring prospects. If not, think twice before you post it on Facebook.




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Tax increase thinking would have Burlington as one of the lowest in GTA – council talking 3.4%

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON January 17, 2010  – This time last year Council member Paul Sharman was savaging senior city staff over the data they had provided council and the budget recommendations they had made.  This year Sharman was blowing kisses to Joan Ford, Acting city treasurer.  How things do change.

Has Sharman learned to see things through the lens of a civic council member rather than his private sector corporate lens?  Or has the city`s Executive Budget Committee learned something from the 2011 budget exercise?   Whichever, the projections for the 2012 budget look pretty decent at this early stage but as Councillor rick Craven pointed out, “the comments in the staff report – “There are insufficient financial and human resources to support all existing services, add resources to respond to community growth…”  Craven, who runs a very tight committee meeting made the point that “we are not funding infrastructure needs adequately either.  “We are setting aside half a percentage point of the budget when we need a full 1%. to get our roads where they need to be.”

The city budget team is projecting a tax increase of 3.444%.  They were directed to come back with a budget for 2012 that was between 2% and 3.5%

There isn’t going to be very much that is new in this budget – the exercise is going to be to move as much money as possible into infrastructure and ensure that we have the funds the hospital has asked the city to contribute for the rebuild of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.

Councillor Dennison pointed out that the hospital is still working at drawings for the parking garage and that they have no sought any building permits or prepared for a site plan review.  The Memorandum of Understanding between the hospital and the city is not yet signed but Acting City Manager Kim Phillips believes construction on the garage will get started this year and the city seems prepared to write the cheque for the first $7.5 million.

Lots of kudos for Ford on her draft budget - will everyone be as happy when it comes down to the final determination?

Acting treasurer Ford gave a Council committee an overview of what the budget recommendations were.  Mention of service cutbacks and the elimination of underused facilities was frequent.  But at this point no one has detailed which services might be cut back and there wasn’t any mention from Council members as to which facilities were underused in their wards.

All Boards and commissions were asked t keep their increase requests to below 2%, which for most is close to impossible.  Lots of haggling to be done yet.

Festival looking for an 80% city funding increase.

The surprise for many this morning was the close to last minute request from the Sound of Music festival for a close to 80% increase in the funding they get from the city.  They are asking that the city increase the $52,000 they are currently contributing to $86,000 – which as Councillor Lancaster pointed out is an 80% increase.

It was going to take more than a “spoonful of sugar” to make that medicine go down.  Sound of Music Executive Director Dave Miller had a presentation with lots of pictures and data but the state of the electronics in the Council Chamber are in a pretty sad state of disrepair and he was unable to share his power point presentation with the people in the public gallery.

If the Sound of Music Festival is going to get the increase they want – there is going to have to be a significant change in attitude on the part of this Council.

Miller was asked by Councillor Taylor if the Festival had written a letter asking for the increase.  Apparently they had not.

More on the Sound of Music story in a report to follow and much more once we’ve had a chance to look at the draft budget.


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Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate – delicious fun event at Ireland House.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  January 17, 2012  – It is difficult to see any relationship whatsoever between chocolate and the Ireland House at the Oakridge Farm – but who cares?  They are putting on a chocolate making event – which is a half day long taking place on Sunday, February 12 at Ireland House from noon to 3:00 pm.

Yummy, yummyy - choclate making event. Book early.

It is just chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate – and oh yes, a little bit of history thrown in to keep it legit.  For the chocolate lover – and that would be most of us – this is an event to make time for.

Space is limited – 40 people max, so if you want to take in this event call Ireland House and reserve your space.  Tickets are $30. each – take the Missus and you get two tickets for $50.

The program is delivered by Chocolate Tales, a group that market this niche offering where owner David Levy bring his mobile chocolate-making service to workshops about the art of chocolatiering. They use only use certified nut-free Belgium chocolate.


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One of the better advocates for equality and social justice to speak in Burlington.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 16, 2012  Literally thousands of Burlingtonians log into Our Burlington – and that pleases us.  The analytical reports we get tell us how many people visited the web site and how many were first time visitors.  We learn how long people stay on the web site and how many pages they look at.  What we don’t know is who you are – and that is as it should be..

Today, we wish we knew if teachers at our high schools were reading us – because there is an event taking place later this month that we would really like every high school teacher with young women in their classes to know about.

The A Different Drummer Bookstore is bringing Michelle Landsberg to the city.  This woman is a must for every women getting an education.   Who is Michelle Landsberg and why would you want to listen to her?

We could fill pages telling you about her.  Michelle is a Mother, a community activist, a book reviewer, a writer for the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and the Toronto Star, appearing over more than forty years, Michele Landsberg has engaged with and exposed the injustices borne by women, seen in infamous events and present in the mechanisms of our society.

Always the advocate - Michelle Landsberg take up the microphone and the pen - and brings aboiut change.. A speaker not to be missed.

Many of gains made by women and for women came about because Michelle Landsberg was there, fighting the good fight.  You may not want to be out there burning your bra – but you do want to hear what Michelle has to say.  This woman isn’t a strident feminist but she is feminist advocate of exceptional courage, widely recognized and celebrated for the light she casts on the most troubling of iniquities.

Michelle will be talking about her latest book, Writing the Revolution.  In her Toronto Star columns she  continually broke new ground, ably and frankly delineating the social and legal status of women, with her cogent commentary from today’s perspective.  She also has one heck of a sense of humour.

Michele Landsberg presents and discusses Writing the Revolution on Monday, January 23, at 7pm, in the Centennial Room at Burlington Central Library.  Tickets are $10, available at the Third Floor Information Desk at the Library, and here at A Different Drummer Books.

To reserve tickets, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.


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Burlington band makes big waves with eight million ripples.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 10, 2012  – Eight million You Tube hits and counting.  Walk off the Earth, a Burlington based band has the world going whacky with their innovative approach to getting their fifteen minutes of fame.  That celebrity, Russell Crowe caught their material and tweeted his crowd about the group certainly didn’t hurt.  But as the band says – you do what you gotta do to get the exposure you need – and if you don’t do it yourself – it ain’t gonna happen  But  happen it did.  Slip over to You Tube and check it out for yourself.

You Tube just might have given Walk off the Earth the boost they needed to really make a mark on the musical scene. Are we looking at another Spoons in the making? From the left: Joel Cassady, Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Nicassio, Michael Aj Guilfoyle and Ryan Marshall.

The band set themselves up in front of a camera with five people – but just one guitar and then did one of the almost funny deadpans into the camera.  Ryan Marshall, the guy on the right doesn’t bat an eyelash as he plucks at the top end of the guitar while Joel Cassady, on the left, doesn’t even play the instrument but uses it as if it was a bongo drum and creates a neat beat.

Platinum blonde Sarah Blackwood has her head down for much of the four minute plus piece, but then pops up and looks straight into the camera to tell us about some guy that worked her over.

The band, Burlington based, uploaded the video to You Tube January 5th and somewhere along the way it went viral and were at eight million plus hits, when we saw the piece.  If this were the 50’s they’d be getting a call from Ed Sullivan.  But it isn’t – so they might have to settle for a spot on the Mayor’s Cabaret on the 24th of February.  The band is booked for The Casbah in Hamilton on the 27th of February.

Comment from a loyal reader:

“They’re now up to over 10 million views! Small name correction: the one on the right is Michael Taylor, who just happens to be the father of my beautiful goddaughter! (It’s a small town.) Ryan Marshall is second from the right.”

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Just a few days left to get your 15 minutes of fame on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre.

By Staff

If you really want your 15 minutes of fame on a Burlington stage – get your demo into the Mayor’s Cabaret.  There are just a few days left to be considered for the event which is to take place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre on February 24th.

Mayor Goldring, upper right, practices his routine for the upcoming Mayor's Cabaret. He hasn't been told yet that after his Blue Jeans Gala performance - he isn't going to make the cut.

To date there are 30 submissions and the Mayor’s Office expects a few more to come in at the last minute – you could be one of those.  While the competition is going to be stiff we are able to tell you that you won’t be going up against the Mayor or Mike Wallace, Burlington’s MP.  Both took part on the Blue Jeans Gala early in December and both have decided to keep their day jobs.

The Cabaret is Mayor Goldring’s initiative as a fund raiser for the Centre, which has just gone through what they called a slow opening – and they weren’t kidding.  Starting with Royal Oak back in October to the big ticket Gala with Sarah McLaughlin on the stage and a “boffo” event for the patrons who could put up the $400. per ticket price.

Now the Centre settles into becoming a destination in the city that delivers world class entertainment and at the same time makes room for local performing arts groups and serves as home base for the Burlington Teen Tour Band.  The Mayors Cabaret is about as local as you’re going to get; it will be interesting to see what comes in. If you want to take a shot at being selected click on the link above.

The Sound of Music people are heavily involved in this initiative; they will be doing the selecting and overseeing  the production.

Inquiries: Daphne Jaques, Assistant to the Mayor,  (905) 335-7600, ext. 7478

Email: jaquesd@burlington.ca

Tickets for the event are $100. each, available at the BPAC box office – 905-681-6000,  for which you get a lot more than a comfortable seat The Centre has shown they know how to put on an event and based on the first really WOW! Gala we can expect this to be just as impressive.  Big question is: Will Cogeco Cable TV have their cameras on site?


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Through the magic of television – you can watch the social, culture event of the year.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 17, 2011  –  On December 3rd Burlington got a peek at the kind of city it could be; urban, sophisticated, connected and able to show the rest of the country that it is not a small ingrown town run by an old boys network.

Cogeco Cable did a thoroughly profesional job of cable casting live the Gala Opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Mark Carr, on the right, will be moving on to CBC, ABC or NBC soon - unless of course he is waiting to move into Ward 6.

The opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre with Sarah McLaughlin on the stage as the lead performer was without a doubt THE cultural, social event of the year for the city.

The event was broadcast live by on Cogeco Cable who had five cameras on the site along with their mobile unit and a staff of 14 people backing up Mark Carr and Deb Tymstra who were on air throughout the evening.

The Cogeco programmers are going to re-broadcast the event on the following dates:

Dec. 18, 5:30pm

Dec. 25, 5:30pm

Dec. 27, 10pm

Dec. 29, 8:30pm

If you want to get a sense of how this city works, the way the movers and shakers meet and greet each other – take the time to watch the re-broadcast.



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Burlington Mayor unable to take part in the Cabaret he created; maintains there is still a place for local MP Wallace.

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 14, 2011  –  With 18 acts already in the vetting pipeline for the Mayors Cabaret, Our Burlington asked Mayor Goldring: “ Will you be submitting your talent for consideration to the vetting committee that is in place to select the talent for the Mayor’s Cabaret?”  We followed that up by asking: “ Would you expand on which of the many artistic skills you happen to possess?

Mayor Goldring advised Our Burlington that: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to perform at the Mayor’s Cabaret. Since my debut at the Blue Jeans Gala, I have been inundated with requests for my services. I have had to turn down a request to be the opening act for Burton Cummings at Massey Hall, the very evening of the Cabaret. The city comes first however and Burton Cummings has rescheduled.

Our Burlington also asked the Mayor, “is it true that you have instructed the vetting committee for the Mayor’s Cabaret not to accept an application from the Member of the House of Commons for Burlington to take part in the event and further – is it true that this decision is based on the experience at the Blue Jeans Festival ?”

Belting it out for a good cause. The Mayor and some of his staff along with people from the Sound of Music and the Theatre Burlington Board ham it up a bit while promoting the Mayor's Cabaret.Performing Arts Centre Board

“Completely untrue” the Mayor told Our Burlington in an exclusive interview.  The Mayor added that “Our MP will be most welcome to audition for the Mayor’s Cabaret- we are an inclusive city, after all. I am still coaching him daily via Skype, on his song and dance routine timing.  He has had a bit of trouble coming out of his shell. He is pretty conservative so it will likely require a lot more effort to help him change his old habits and realize his potential. After all, the poor guy works in the House of Commons.

The Cabaret, scheduled for February of 2012 has a closing date of January 6th.   The focus for this fund raising initiative of the Mayors, which hopes to raise $80,000 that will go to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, is Burlington talent.

It was evident during the Blue Jeans Gala when The Spoons and Silverstein took to the stage that Burlington has home grown some very significant musical talent.  The Sound of Music Festival has made Burlington one of THE destination events for those who want to take in summer concerts.

The idea for a Cabaret came out of Mayor Goldring’s office before the Blue Jeans Gala took place but what few people knew before the Gala was that the Mayor had legs of his own that he wanted to strut on stage.  The Cabaret idea seems to have brought to the surface a part of his hidden personality that has not been seen before during this first year in office and it certainly wasn’t evident during the election campaign.  Had former Mayor Cam Jackson known of this talent he would never have run against Goldring.

The Cabaret is a partnership between the Mayor and the BPAC along with the Sound of Music people and what the Mayor hopes will be a significant number of corporate sponsors.

The event is open to submissions from entertainers with a preference being given to local artists.  There doesn’t appear to be any limitation.  Mine, acrobats, jugglers singers, bands – whatever you think is entertaining.  More detail is available at:  www.burlington.ca/cabaret

For details on how to participate give noted attorney Gerry Murphy a call at 905-541-0582 or reach out to him at gerardmurphy@bellnet.ca

Tickets to the event are $100.00 which includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions and souvenir sales.  The only thing that is not confirmed at this point is if our local MP will take to the stage again. We hope not.


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Artists manage to convince the city to refund some of the licensing fees. Looking now for a by-law change.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 9, 2011  The Artists and the Bureaucrats met – and the Artists won the more important part of the battle.  With any luck the matter will get to city Council and a stupid rule will get re-written or set aside.

The Background.  Arts in Action, a collective of artists that hold a Studio Tour once a year that gives the public a chance to see what artists in the city have been doing and an opportunity as well to show and sell what they do.

Burlington stained glass artists Teresa Seaton, took her skills to city halland tried to get the bureaucrats to cut up the bill they had to pay for a license to sell their art. She thinks the Art in Action group might manage to get half the fee they paid back.

The city’s Building Department decided to require the artists to apply for a Transient Traders Licence  and charge them fees that amounted to more than $1000.   The artists gulped but felt they didn’t have a choice and ponied up the money. Artists, who don’t have a pay cheque never mind the fat pensions that city hall doles out – felt they had no choice.

Artists in Action (and they were certainly in action on this file) complained and after a suitable delay they got their meeting with the bureaucrats.  Teresa Seaton, co-chair of the Artists in Action, reports that the bureaucrats had decided before the meeting  that “because we were a not-for-profit organization we will have to submit a Transient Trader Licence application two weeks before the event but  we will be exempt from fees.  Now that the city has the Artists in Action “on file” they get goodies.

Seaton further reports: “As far as being reimbursed the fees paid for the 2011 Studio tour that have already been paid – it will be looked into”.  “We came away from the meeting with the impression that we will receive at least half of the $1000. + back.  The rest will apparently get kept by the city for “paper work costs”.   Someone has to pay for all that paper work and the artists learned that this time they get to pick up that tab.

Don Graves, Burlington artist, helped to get the city to look at the plight of a starving artist a little differently. He got half a loaf.

Seaton reports that she and “her wingman” Don Graves, who attended the meeting with her, chose not to argue that point We did go on to argue that we felt forced by the city to obtain these licences under threat of fines being levied against us.

“It was an interesting discussion with the supervisor at city hall. They are now more aware of the plight of us poor struggling artists trying to “Make a profit”.  It is our understanding that a Bylaw review will be done in the next couple years of which we will be advised. As well, they have us on file as an organization that will be consulted as the bylaws are amended.

Seaton adds that:  “We fought the cause for every artist with a showing studio in their own residence. According to the city, these artists would still have to pay this licensing fee since they are not known to have a not-for-profit status.

“Basically”, said Seaton  “we were left with the impression that what the city doesn’t know can’t hurt you. Although this is not the most advantageous solution it will do until the bylaw reviews proceeds. Seaton promises to argue the case of the poor starving artist more strenuously then. She might push for a full refund of the fees they paid for 2011 as well.

The Artists in Action now feel they won’t have to increase their membership fees and are now going forward with their end of December call for the 2012 show.



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A chance to take in the Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet Opening on Cogeco cable.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2011  If you missed the Opening Gala of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre last Saturday – and if your allowance was on the small side, the $400. ticket was beyond you – there is still a chance for you to see the swishy folks tippling fine wine and schmoozing like crazy.

Cogeco Cable was all over the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Red Carpet opening. They will rebroadcast for those who missed the live event.

It was a wonderful evening – the Family Room had a blue glow and there was the buzz of a crowd that is having fun and enjoying themselves.

Cogeco Cable television has five cameras on site and a staff of 14 manning the equipment with their mobile parked outside the building to take the event live.

If you want to watch the event – here are the re-broadcast dates:

December 18, 5:30pm

December 25, 5:30pm

December 27, 10pm

December 29, 8:30pm

Worth taking in – the folks at the Centre really know how to put on a show.  All they need to do now is to develop the audience; they certainly got off to a good start.  And with several SOLD OUT shows in the schedule all the ingredients seem to be in place for a successful operation.  Take that Hamilton!

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