Why Aren’t We More Like Norway

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 7th, 2019



Last year almost 40% of all cars registered in Norway were all-electric (EV). There are now 100,000 EVs in that tiny country of just over 5 million people. By contrast Ontario’s much more modest goal of 5% of its fleet being EV by 2020 is looking more like a pipe dream than ever.

cars being charged

Will Ontario make the move from gas stations to electric charging stations.

Norway makes EVs tax free, it has an extensive network of free charging stations and there are other incentives, such as preferred parking. To fund those amenities Norway, the third largest global oil exporter, has the highest carbon tax in the world.

Norway implemented the world’s first carbon tax in 1991. Now its main climate change policy, carbon pricing is used to incentivize EV’s and zero emission space heating as well as invest in new GHG emissions technologies. Norway’s goal is to become completely net carbon free by 2050.

There was a promising report out of British Columbia about somebody building a zero emission house, though it only went viral because journalists were amused by its eco-efficient electronic smart cat door which cost an extra $2000. Clearly carbon free is still considered a peculiarity in this country. Though the federal government is developing net zero emission housing plans presumably intended for life in provincial building codes.

Burlington GHG emmissions - sourceQuebec rated an A grade, placing seventh among a number of jurisdictions, on an international report card on GHG emissions, the only Canadian province to do so. In fact the province outranked Norway, which suffered from its extensive oil and gas industry emissions. Still both have fossil free electricity and a carbon pricing system to encourage GHG-free heating and fuel.

Alberta and Saskatchewan scored “D–” grades by contrast, owning the highest per capita GHG emissions. And those provinces helped bump up Canada’s per capita GHG emissions, putting us in a virtual tie with the U.S. and Australia for the worst.

The Ford administration likes to take credit for previous Liberal policies which reduced GHG emissions by 22% from 2005 levels, yet has shown no interest in continuing the progress which got us here. Those emission reductions were facilitated by the Green Energy Act.

Today only 3% of the province’s fossil fuel emissions come from electricity generation. But the Green Energy Act is history now, as is the Cap and Trade carbon pricing program which promised even greater emission reductions. Gone too are the electric vehicle, insulation, energy efficient window and efficient heating incentive programs.

In their place the Minister of the Environment has introduced a $400 million slush fund for the biggest industries to dip into as they experiment with ways of further reducing their emissions. It’s not a bad idea. But it’ll never amount to more than an iota of emissions reductions.

Though industry makes up about 30% of provincial GHG emissions its status as a big polluter has declined by 28% since 1990. And well over half of those emissions are from Ontario’s oil and gas production sector. Which gets us back to transportation, which is the fastest growing sector of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. And following closely is the building sector, with space heating responsible for much of that.


Ontario Attorney General Carolyn Mulroney, will lead the provincial case against the federal carbon tax program.

All this begs the question of why the Ford government has put all of its eggs, into the one sector of the Ontario economy which is arguably already doing a good job of reducing its emissions. And why would it just ignore the sectors which are growing at a problematic rate. Are they incompetent, stupid or just don’t care?

Alternatives exist. Already electrically powered farm tractors are on the horizon and there is even an Ontario made EV pick up truck. But new technology needs a push for adoption, be it financial incentives to encourage consumer uptake and/or disincentives to discourage using fossil fuels.

Doug-Ford environment

Premier Doug Ford may have found himself unable to see the forest for the trees.

Mr. Ford’s revisionist approach, reaching out for ‘Happy Days’ will only ensure a reversal of the progress made over the last decade and a half. Clearly he and his ministers need to e-write their climate change plan to make it more like those of Norway and Quebec – or at least the one which existed before last June’s election.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Background links:

Electric Tractor –     More Tractors –     EV Truck

Emissions Report Card –   Norway –    More Norway

Cat Door –    Net Zero Housing

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If you thought Facebook already knows to much about you - get ready for a bit of a shock. They want even more.

background 100By Staff

January 6th, 2019



If you thought that your personal life was private – let us dissuade you of that fairy tale.  Have a look at some of the patents Facebook has applied for in the recent past.  The data we use comes from the New York Times.

One of the ways that the public can get some sense as to the direction a company might be going in terms of new product development is to keep an eye on the patents they apply for.

A patent sets out an idea for a product a company wants to produce and protects their idea from use by anyone else. In the past year Facebook executives have had to appear before Congressional committees in the United States and Parliamentary committees in the United Kingdom and asked to explain why they have made private information available to corporations who then mined that data and attempt to sway opinions.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the 2016 American presidential election and the decision made in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union was swayed by computer applications and “false” news stories on Facebook.

Many expect both Facebook and Google to come under some form of regulation that limits the information they collect and what they can do with information they do collect. Few people have any idea just how much information they have on us.

In a two part series the Gazette will be publishing a brief description of each patent and outlining what the impact of that patent might be.

Facebook has filed thousands of patent applications since it went public in 2012. One of them describes using forward-facing cameras to analyze your expressions and detect whether you’re bored or surprised by what you see on your feed.

Another contemplates using your phone’s microphone to determine which TV show you’re watching. Others imagine systems to guess whether you’re getting married soon, predict your socioeconomic status and track how much you’re sleeping.

facebook-logoA review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die.


Mark-Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, appears before Congress – says he wasn’t aware of how much data they were making available to private corporations.

Facebook has said repeatedly that its patent applications should not be taken as indications of future product plans. “Most of the technology outlined in these patents has not been included in any of our products, and never will be,” Allen Lo, a Facebook vice president and deputy general counsel, and the company’s head of intellectual property, said in an email.

Taken together, Facebook’s patents show a commitment to collecting personal information, despite widespread public criticism of the company’s privacy policies and a promise from its chief executive to “do better.”

“A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks about where its technology is going,” said Jason M. Schultz, a law professor at New York University.

Reading your relationships
Relationships graphic

One patent application discusses predicting whether you’re in a romantic relationship using information such as how many times you visit another user’s page, the number of people in your profile picture and the percentage of your friends of a different gender. The application would infer relationship statuses of users of a social networking system

If you are into this kind of stuff you can look at the complete patent application on the US government patent site.  This one is U.S. PATENT APPLICATION NO. 14/295,543

Classifying your personality
classifying personalittyThis one proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits. It describes judging your degree of extroversion, openness or emotional stability, then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display.  It is U.S. PATENT NO. 9,740,752 and intended to determine user personality characteristics from social networking system communications and characteristics.

Predicting your future


This patent application describes using your posts and messages, in addition to your credit card transactions and location, to predict when a major life event, such as a birth, death or graduation, is likely to occur.  They appear to want to predict life changes of members of a social networking system.  U.S. PATENT APPLICATION NO. 12/839,350

Identifying your camera


This patent considers analyzing pictures to create a unique camera “signature” using faulty pixels or lens scratches. That signature could be used to figure out that you know someone who uploads pictures taken on your device, even if you weren’t previously connected.

Or it might be used to guess the “affinity” between you and a friend based on how frequently you use the same camera. Patent US 20120072493A1 and U.S. PATENT NO. 8,472,662

Part two of this series will be published tomorrow.


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President Trump doesn't beleive the climate change arguments; Premier Ford doesn't buy into the need for a carbon tax; Canadian Minister of the Environment says changes are being made while the United Nations tells us we have 11 years left to get it right.

News 100 greenBy Staff

December 30th, 2018



In a media release from Queen’s Park the Ministry of the |Environment said: “Ontario’s Government for the People is gaining support across Canada in its fight against the federal government’s unconstitutional carbon tax. In addition to the Province of Saskatchewan, the Province of New Brunswick has now also joined Ontario’s challenge to the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which is an unconstitutional, disguised tax.

“The federal carbon tax will eliminate jobs and make life more difficult for families, seniors and everyone who works hard to get ahead in Ontario and across our country,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are on the front lines of this fight because the costs for people and communities are simply unacceptable, whether in Ontario, in Saskatchewan, in New Brunswick or everywhere people are bracing for this new tax.”

Ford and Mulroney

Ontario now has a government that doesn’t see environmental issues the way the federal government does.

“Canadians across the country are calling on the federal government to eliminate the unconstitutional carbon tax and let the provinces decide how best to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“Ontario has already intervened in the reference case Saskatchewan has launched to its Court of Appeal.
“We are thankful for the support of Premier Ford and Premier Higgs, and the people of Ontario and New Brunswick, for intervening in our case against this unconstitutional and harmful federally imposed carbon tax,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. “Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney have shown great leadership in introducing a constitutional challenge against this job killing carbon tax, and Saskatchewan is proud to stand with the people of Ontario in this fight. The federal government should respect the court process by delaying the imposition of this harmful and job-killing tax until the courts have rendered a final decision.”

New Brunswick has intervened in the reference case in Saskatchewan as well and has now joined Ontario’s challenge.

“The Province of New Brunswick is on track to meet and exceed carbon emission reduction targets by 2030. We believe the federal government’s carbon tax unfairly targets our business and is too heavy a financial burden for ordinary New Brunswickers and Canadians alike,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs. “That is why we have made good on our promise to join Saskatchewan and Ontario in court to fight a federally imposed carbon tax.”

“While our plan sets out a clear path as to how Ontario will achieve our share of the Paris targets, the federal government demonstrated yesterday that they do not.


There is a fundamental difference between what the province of Ontario wants to do on managing the amount of carbon in the environment and what the federal government wants to see done.

“Ontario is doing its share to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; our families, workers and businesses have already made significant sacrifices to get here, and there is no justification to punish them further with a carbon tax,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “With our environment plan, Ontario will continue to protect the environment while respecting taxpayers.”

The federal Minister of the Environment took a different tack saying: “Today demonstrates that multi-lateralism works to tackle a clear global problem—climate change. Three years ago almost to the day, some 200 countries came together to land an ambitious Paris Agreement. Over the last few weeks, the world gathered once again in Katowice, Poland, for the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) where our team worked hard throughout the negotiations to find common ground between developed and developing countries.

“I am pleased countries around the world came together to agree to rules for transparently reporting how all countries are fulfilling their commitments to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. To increase our ambition for climate action, we need clear and transparent rules.

“Canada also played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market, to help mobilize the billions of dollars of investments needed to tackle climate change. We were pleased with the outcome although more work remains over the next year to finalize the guidelines for international trading. Recognizing the global momentum on pricing pollution, Canada took part in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, encouraging all countries around the world to use the most cost-effective tool to reduce emissions.

McKenna Poland

Catherine McKenna, lower left, at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Poland

“At COP24, Canada and the United Kingdom celebrated the first anniversary of the Powering Past Coal Alliance—founded by both countries—which now has 80 members including Israel, Scotland, Senegal, Melbourne and Sydney, and ScottishPower. We also pledged $275 million to the World Bank to help more countries around the world power past coal and move toward clean and renewable energy. We know that to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, every country needs to phase out coal and ensure a Just Transition for workers and communities. People must be at the centre of climate policies.

“Canada helped advance the work of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, with Indigenous representatives from Canada and around the world. To further this work, we will be supporting an Indigenous representative in the UN Climate Change secretariat.

“By bringing together not only governments, but also stakeholders, organizations, businesses, Indigenous partners, and civil society, COP24 demonstrated the world’s shared commitment to fight climate change. As we move toward a more sustainable economy in our common fight against climate change, we can ensure good jobs and healthy, resilient communities for our people.”

Climate change demonstrations

We will need more than demonstrations to bring about the changes in behavior that are needed.

Prior to the opening of the COP24 conference the United Nations issued one of the starkest warnings yet of the catastrophic threat posed by climate change, nations gathered in Poland on Sunday to chart a way for mankind to avert runaway global warming.

The COP24 climate summit comes at a crucial juncture in the battle to rein in the effects of our heating planet.

The smaller, poorer nations that will bare the devastating brunt of climate change are pushing for richer states to make good on the promises they made in the 2015 Paris agreement.

Three years ago countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible.

1.5 to 2c

Getting from 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade

But with only a single degree Celsius of warming so far, the world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas.

UN General Assembly president Maria Espinosa told AFP that mankind was “in danger of disappearing” if climate change was allowed to progress at its current rate.

“We need to act urgently, and with audacity. Be ambitious, but also responsible for the future generations,” she added.

In a rare intervention, presidents of previous UN climate summits issued a joint statement as the talks got under way, calling on states to take “decisive action… to tackle these urgent threats”.

“The impacts of climate change are increasingly hard to ignore,” said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. “We require deep transformations of our economies and societies.”

At the COP24 climate talks, nations must agree to a rule book palatable to all 183 states who have ratified the Paris deal.

The road to a final rule book is far from smooth: the dust is still settling from US President Donald Trump’s decision to ditch the Paris accord.

G20 leaders on Saturday wrapped up their summit by declaring the Paris Agreement “irreversible”.

But it said the United States “reiterates its decision to withdraw” from the landmark accord.

The UN negotiations got off to a chaotic start in the Polish mining city of Katowice Sunday, with the opening session delayed nearly three hours by a series of last-ditch submissions.

A string of major climate reports have cast doubt over the entire process, suggesting the Paris goals fall well short of what is needed.

Data doesn’t lie

Just last week, the UN’s environment programme said the voluntary national contributions agreed in Paris would have to triple if the world was to cap global warming below 2C.

For 1.5C, they must increase fivefold.

While the data are clear, a global political consensus over how to tackle climate change remains elusive.

“Katowice may show us if there will be any domino effect” following the US withdrawal, said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and a main architect of the Paris deal.

Brazil’s strongman president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, for one, has promised to follow the American lead during his campaign.

Many countries are already dealing with the droughts, higher seas and catastrophic storms climate change is exacerbating.

“A failure to act now risks pushing us beyond a point of no return with catastrophic consequences for life as we know it,” said Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, of the UN talks.

A key issue up for debate is how the fight against climate change is funded, with developed and developing nations still world’s apart in their demands.

no time to waste -belgium-climate-demonstration

The world has to get this right in the next decade.

Poorer nations argue that rich countries, which are responsible for the vast majority of historic carbon emissions, must help others to fund climate action.

“Developed nations led by the US will want to ignore their historic responsibilities and will say the world has changed,” said Meena Ramam, from the Third World Network advocacy group.  “The question really is: how do you ensure that ambitious actions are done in an equitable way?”

If the world doesn’t get this right in the next decade – future generations are going to have to live in a world regularly racked by weather the likes of which we are only beginning to see.

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Boards of education across the province learn of funding cuts after 4:30 pm on a Friday afternoon.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 18th, 2018



A Friday afternoon, days before schools close down the Christmas holiday, isn’t the time that senior people at the Halton District School Board have to expect to scramble and pow wow with the senior financial officer asking just what the document from the Ministry of Education means to how they are going to deal with a notice from the province that was skimpy on details.

The provincial government pulled a sneaky one – sending out a notice to school boards across the province advising them that significant cuts were coming last thing on a Friday.

Stuart Miller

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller.

“We got the notice at 4:48 pm Friday afternoon” said Halton District School Board (HDSB) Director of Education Stewart Miller. “Based on what we know, it doesn’t amount to much at this point” it looks like we are not going to be able to continue with the Re-integration program we had that brought students who had not earned a high school diploma back into a classroom because they were missing a credit or two.

“We were given funds to hire people to find the students and work with those kids to get them back into a classroom where they could earn the last couple of credits and be given their diplomas.

Miller said the HDSB was able to find 71 students and get them back into schools and earn their diplomas.
School boards across the province don’t know much about just what is going to be done.

Going forward Miller thinks “We think we are going to have to deal with budget cuts in the 1 to 4% range.

The Ontario Public School Board Association issued a statement saying they “believed a strong and equitable education funding is critical to supporting all students.

“We recognize the government’s commitment to finding efficiencies across all sectors, including education, and although anticipated, the decrease, or in some cases the elimination of program funding is disappointing. These various programs had a positive impact for students in our system, and school boards are currently reviewing the local impact of this announcement. We continue to strongly advocate for stable public education funding that supports continuous achievement and well-being for all students.”

Miller pointed to changes the provincial Ministry of Education wants in the teaching of mathematics. HDSB has a Renew Math Program that the province doesn’t appear to want to fund any longer.

The Minister of Education, along with several other Cabinet ministers, have said they want to ‘eliminate waste’ without providing any evidence.

School boards across the province have small, at times inefficient but very effective programs that produce results with measurable impact.

Getting 71 young people back into a classroom so they can complete their high school educations is life changing. Can that kind of work be done efficiently? The results are the metric you want to measure with.

Tough times ahead for education, health and the way we take care of seniors.

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If there are going to be cannabis stores in Burlington - where might they be?

background 100By Staff

December 6th, 2018



Just where can a cannabis store be located?


What started out as a way for smokers to cut down on their nicotine intake has turned into another carcinogenic drug that younger people have taken up.

The province has published very detailed rules and regulations that determine what can be placed where – those regulations may not serve the interests and values of the city.

Council will debate and determine if they want to permit the opening of cannabis retail outlets in the city.  The city has a survey taking place on line now.  CLICK here to access that survey.

The online survey is open to Burlington residents until Thursday, December 13.

The Ontario Cannabis Store website is the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. It follows strict rules set by the federal government.

The government is also moving forward with a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that will launch by April 1, 2019. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licences. The Ontario Cannabis Store will be the exclusive wholesaler to these stores. Private stores will be introduced with strict controls to safeguard children and youth and combat the illegal market.

Cannabis and schools

School exclusion zones for ward 1,2,4 and 5

Cannabis schools 3 and 6

School exclusion zones for wards 3 and 6


Where you cannot smoke or vape cannabis

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis in:
indoor common areas in condos, apartment buildings and university/college residences
enclosed public places and enclosed work places
non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns

Schools and places where children gather
You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:
at school, on school grounds, and all public areas within 20m of these grounds
on children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20m of playgrounds
in child care centres, or where an early years program is provided
in places where home child care is provided — even if children aren’t present

Hospitals, hospices, care homes and other facilities
You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

within 9m from the entrance or exit of hospitals (public/private), psychiatric facilities, long-term care homes, independent health facilities

on outdoor grounds of hospitals (public/private) and psychiatric facilities

in non-controlled areas in long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, provincially-funded supportive housing, designated psychiatric or veterans’ facilities, and residential hospices

Publicly owned spaces
You cannot smoke or vape cannabis in publicly-owned sport fields (not including golf courses), nearby spectator areas and public areas within 20m of these areas.

Vehicles and boats
You cannot consume cannabis (smoking, vaping, eating) in a vehicle or boat that is being driven or is at risk of being put into motion.

Other outdoor areas
You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

in restaurants and on bar patios and public areas within 9m of a patio

on outdoor grounds of specified Ontario government office buildings

in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment locations

on grounds of community recreational facilities, and public areas within 20m of those grounds

in sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls which the public or employees frequent, or are invited to (e.g. a bus shelter)

police trafficHeader

Police now have serious penalties they can impose – on the spot. Have taxi money with you.

serious penalties

Cannabis – driving icon Driving
Driving impaired by cannabis is illegal and dangerous. Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows your reaction time and increases your chances of being in a collision.

If a police officer finds that you are impaired by any drug, including cannabis, you will face serious penalties, including:

an immediate licence suspension
financial penalties
possible vehicle impoundment
possible criminal record
possible jail time

Police officers have tests to determine if you are impaired and are now also authorized to use oral fluid screening devices at roadside to help enforce the law.

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Environmental oversight officers lose much of the clout they once had.

News 100 greenBy Gord Miller,

November 26th, 2018



There is only one thing that matters and that is the environment.

The closing of a 100 year old auto manufacturing plant pales in comparison to the environment.

glaciers melting

Glaciers melting

Climate warming is real – it is part of why the General Motors plant in Oshawa is being shut down. General Motors has come to the conclusion that the internal combustion engine has a very limited life span.

Electric cars are going to be the direction for the automotive industry.

When will the change in cars flip to all electric – no one really knows exactly when the tipping point will be reached but everyone knows that there will be a tipping point.

Ensuring that our governments understand this and react to the reality of climate change is easier said than done.

Gord Miller served as Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner of Ontario for three terms under four different Premiers. He currently resides in North Bay, Ontario. Here is his take and explanation of want is now happening with how we are protecting our environment.

“Like many jurisdictions with parliamentary traditions, the Legislature of Ontario appoints Legislative Officers (sometimes called Parliamentary officers) to oversee and review activities of government that warrant special concern. Their duties include regularly issuing public reports that critically evaluate government performance in specific areas.

“The Officers are chosen by an all-party Committee and report directly to the Legislature through the Speaker, not to the Premier and his/her government.

Queen's Park

Legislative Officers oversee and review activities of government that warrant special concern. They used to be safe from government influence – that feature of the job was dropped.

“Tradition and current legislation says they are appointed for specific terms and cannot be removed during that time (unless they can no longer do their job or have committed a wrong-doing serious enough to give the Legislature “cause.”) This inherent security of their positions is necessary to protect the Officers from undue influence by the government they review, or from reprisal for revealing embarrassing information in their reports.

“Ontario has nine Legislative Officers and is intent on cutting that to six, by elimination of the Child Advocate, the French Language Services Commissioner and the Environmental Commissioner, through recently introduced Bill 57.

“But Bill 57 goes much further. Bill 57 fundamentally undermines the independence of Legislative Officers by allowing a party with a majority to suspend any Legislative Officer based merely on “the opinion the suspension is warranted.” Of course, there is no precedent, no test or limitation to guide that opinion.

Open for business sign at border

Premier Ford celebrating the erection of one of the several signs he had set up at Canadian – American border points.

“This power to arbitrarily suspend Officers means the end of the era of independent Officers of the Legislature. Officers will now be “sitting ducks” to threats of retaliation by the governing party demanding a say in what the Officers reveal in their public reports to the Legislature.

“By failing to bend to the governing party’s wishes, Officers will risk their jobs, even though their jobs are explicitly to shine light on things gone wrong. And just to make sure the threat is clear, Bill 57 also removes the ability of eliminated Officers to seek compensation for their loss of income in the courts.

“Should you be so naive as to believe that such interference or retribution would be neither allowed or tolerated in Ontario, look no further than the current ECO Commissioner’s September 25, 2018 Greenhouse Gas Progress report (where she defended the merits of cap-and- trade). Then I invite you to read the response letter sent by the Minister of Environment Conservation and Parks.

Rod Phillips - Minister of the Environment

Rod Phillips – Minister of the Environment being sworn in.

“The Minister responded, in part, “I want to respectfully advise that any suggestion we should pursue policies that betray commitments we made to the people is not well taken.” The veiled threat made two months ago, was cloaked in the language of respect because of the protection of the independence that the Commissioner enjoyed at the time.

“Move ahead in time and read the sentence again, through the eyes of a Legislative Officer who can be summarily suspended because of the opinion of the governing party, and the threat emerges with great clarity.

“Bill 57 masquerades as an economic efficiency initiative, while it is a vehicle to dismantle an important parliamentary mechanism of government accountability. It is a shiny new tool for the governing party to stifle the criticism of parliamentary watchdogs using intimidation and threats. Is the Ontario public well-served by this development – I think not.”

Gordon MillerGord Miller, former Ontario Environmental Commissioner met with Mayor Goldring on the Meridian Brick plant in Tayandaga.  Not much came of the conversation.

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Fiorito wants to see attention paid to getting lids on Blue Boxes and a ravine management program.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department and worried about annual tax increases of around 4% annually.  Here is what Vince Fiorito thought.

By Vince Fiorito
November 20th, 2018

Congratulations to Burlington’s elected City Councillors and Mayor! May you govern wisely for our community’s benefit!

Rules of engagement graphic

These were the rules Mayor Elect used at her ward meetings. The city adopted them for city wide use.

Your First 100 Days sets the tone with constituents, city staff and various interest groups. Please treat everyone with dignity and respect to foster a cooperative, collaborative environment at city hall. You never know who can help or hurt you, including former political rivals, their supporters and the person who waters the plants in your office? Why the plant person? They overhear conversations as they water plants and know much more than they let on; same with the person who empties the trash. I recommend you get to know “everyone” at city hall.

We need a Mayor at the helm with all Councillors rowing in the same direction to make progress on important issues. I recommend all Councillors fly their ideas by the Mayor first before making public pronouncements.

Within the first 100 days, everyone must have a firm understanding of how the city collects and spends our money. I recommend an independent audit of city finances to establish baselines to measure improvements, as well as identify past poor decisions, waste and mismanagement.

You have a mandate to change the city Official Plan and solve traffic congestion problems. Please design our city to accommodate walking, biking, taxis (fleet owned autonomous vehicles), public transit and delivery vehicles. Make developers accommodate and pay for their fair share of improvements which increase property values.

All new development must prioritize creating affordable, accessible housing for seniors living on fixed incomes and millennials moving out of their parent’s basement.

We need to reform our electoral system to make every vote count, even when 11 candidates run against each other.

Sheldon Creek - farm equipment + Vince

Vince Fiorito with a piece of equipment that got dumped into the Sheldon Creek ravine.

On the environmental front we need:
• lids on Blue Boxes
• a city wide tree by-law
• a plan to relocate the Aldershot Quarry
• a ravine management policy
• a biodiversity and endangered species management policy
• an invasive species management policy
• a recognized right to know about local pollution sources
• a program that makes polluters pay for improvements to the ecological systems that clean our air, purify our water and producing uncontaminated food

Vince FitorioVince Fiorito, a ward 5 resident and an acknowledged expert on invasive species and local environmental issues.  He was named the Sheldon Creek Steward by Conservation Halton

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iStem program draws more than 1000 people to Aldershot high school.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 14th, 2018



There were more than 1000 people wanting to know more.

They filled the auditorium, then they filled the cafeteria and then they asked some people to move to the library where briefings were being given on the iStem program that will be offered to the September 2019 grade 9 class at Aldershot high school.

Cafeteria crowd Nov 2018

This is the crowd in the cafeteria – there were even more people in the auditorium and more in the library.

The program was one of the outcomes of the Program Accommodation Review that took place in 2016 that closed two of the city’s seven high schools.

Aldershot was spared in part because the original recommendation was to close Central high school.

In 2016 the debate was about closing schools. The Board of Education was close to desperate in wanting to get some good news out.

The idea of doing something special, something almost radically different got put on the table by a trustee and staff took to the idea.

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

Superintendent Terri Blackwell and Director of Education Stuart Miller- delighted with the turn out.

Director of Education Stuart Miller handed the task of overseeing the closure of the two high schools, Lester B. Pearson and Bateman high school, to Superintendent Terri Blackwell who ran with it.

She researched, pulled together a rather impressive group of advisers from the academic community and came back with a report that didn’t require a lot of additional funding and was academically sound.

The trustees bought in and Blackwell was in business; creating a new program that said to students: We won’t ask what you want to be…We will ask: What problem do you want to solve?

It was a challenge that brought out, perhaps the largest crowd Aldershot high school has ever seen.

student signing up

Students filling in the application forms for the iStem program.

People were filling in applications on the spot.

The Board of Education got far more people than they expected. They ran out of brochures and Superintendents who were explaining the course content had voices that began to fail them.

Superintendent Julie Hunt-Gibbons said she didn’t expect to have a voice she would be able to use the next day as she answered detailed questions.

The audience she was talking to had a hunger for something different for their children.  Hunt-Gibbons stressed that while Stem – Science, technology, engineering and mathematics were core, English, history and French also mattered.

The program starts with grade 9 students.

Kerry in white coat 2

Kerry Sagar, lead instructor for the iStem program at Aldershot high school.

Board staff wore white lab coats and actually scurried from place to place in the school. They were pumped, excited about the program that was being offered, and just a little stunned at the number of people who kept streaming through the doors of the school.

Miller told the audience that the world we live in needs innovation and ingenuity and schools needed to teach differently so that students could go out into a world much different than the one their parents took part in.

The iStem program is, in part, a program in which students will learn how to learn.

Learning by rote and memorizing will not be as important; students would learn by doing.

istem brochure part 1

iStem Curriculum for grades 9 and 10

istem program part 2

iStem curriculum for grades 11 and 12

The Board at this point has no idea how many people will actually apply. Their initial enrollment projection was pretty low – they hoped there would be at least one full grade 9 class. If the size of the audience and the questions they asked are any indication – there could be three different grade 9 classes at Aldershot in September of 2019.

The board has said there will be no caps on the size of the program.

There is a lot more to tell about this program.

The iStem program is set to run in the western end of the Region – this will end up being offered in Milton and Oakville.

Miller said the program could become a model for the way students are taught. He could be right.

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An opportunity to learn about the principles of professional performance.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

November 11, 2018



This might interest some people.

Ken Gass, the Artistic Director of the Canadian Rep Theatre, will be doing a 90 minute workshop during which he will explore the key principles of acting & performance.

Ken GassIf you have you ever thought that you could be an actor, participate in a practical hands-on workshop and discussion on the principles of professional performance.

The afternoon will include improvisation and other key exercises in a workshop that promises to be both entertaining for the newly initiated and challenging for those with more experience.
Takes place at the Performing Arts Centre in the Community Studio Theatre on November 17th at 3:00 pm

Click to reserve a place for yourself.

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Time to Choose leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but what can be done to fix this global threat.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

November 9th, 2018



On Wednesday, November 21, Burlington Green will be holding the fifth and LAST screening of our 2018 Eco-Film Festival, “Time to Choose”.

Takes place at the Central Library -2331 New Street, Burlington.

BG Eco folm graphic Time to chooseCharles Ferguson explores the comprehensive scope of the climate change crisis and examine the power of solutions already available. Featuring narration by award-winning actor Oscar Issac, “Time to Choose” leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but what can be done to fix this global threat.

Click here to learn more, check out the trailer and to RSVP for the film event.

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A week to focus on crime prevention; a program that works.

Crime 100By Staff

November 3rd, 2018



The Halton Regional Police Service Set to Launch 2018 Crime Prevention Week – Help Us Help You

The Halton Regional Police Service will be kicking off Ontario’s annual Crime Prevention Week, which runs between November 4 and 10, 2018. The week-long promotion of crime prevention is supported by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and all police services across Ontario.

Police senior command at HQ

Halton Regional Police Senior Command cutting a celebratory cake during the opening of the new police HQ. From the left are: Roger Wilkie and Deputy Chief of District Operations Nishan Duraiappah, Deputy Chief Regional operations and Chief Stephen Tanner.

Police Chief Stephen Tanner said: “We know from experience that crime prevention works. When police partner with community agencies and engage with their residents to stop crime in its tracks, everyone wins.

“We are proud that Halton Region has maintained the lowest crime severity index in Canada for 13 straight years. But the bolstering of community safety and well-being takes hard work and collaboration.

“That’s why the Halton Regional Police Service is proud to partner with government, community leaders, young people, and businesses to prevent crime throughout our community.”

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Information session dates for public school board French Immersion classes announced.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 2nd, 2018



ici parleIn the Halton District School Board, the entry point for the French Immersion program is Grade 2. In the Grade 2 French Immersion program, 100% of the instructional day will be taught in French.

A series of community information evenings are scheduled to help address any questions parents/guardians may have before registering their Grade 1 child(ren) for the French Immersion program. The following sessions will be held:

French Immers schedule


Registration for the French Immersion program is open to all Grade 1 students and will begin on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. The deadline for submitting your registration form is Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 at 4 p.m.

No registrations will be accepted after this date.


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New innovative high school program to be explained to the public at Aldershot high school.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 1, 2018



A project that was one of the really positive parts of the PAR that closed two of Burlington’s seven high schools was the decision to create a new program that would be located at the Aldershot High school.

It went through a number of names and took a little time to put together the team that was going to create a new, and some thought radical change in high school programs.


Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the Halton Board.

The project was handed off to Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the Halton Board is referred to as iStem which is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

The Halton District School Board is holding an I-STEM Open House for students, families and community members to learn about a new regional program for secondary students. The four-year program, located at Aldershot School, will begin in September 2019 with students entering Grade 9.

Available to students in Halton and beyond, the I-STEM program will enable students to develop innovation skills related to engineering design and design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking skills, and global competencies. Community and post-secondary partnerships will provide enhanced learning opportunities for students.

The I-STEM Open House will be held on Tuesday, November 13th from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Aldershot School (50 Fairwood Place W, Burlington).

M Benz event istem posterAt the I-STEM Open House, students and parents will learn about the:
• four-year program and I-STEM certificate
• unique opportunities within and outside the school
• application process (the application deadline is January 19, 2019 for students interested in entering the program in September 2019)

The I-STEM program has been developed in collaboration with innovators, educators, industry leaders and community members. I-STEM Program Development and Advisory Partners include: McMaster University, Mohawk College, Canada 2067, Let’s Talk Science, Engineers of Tomorrow, Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), TechLink, and I-THINK.

To learn more about the I-STEM program, visit www.hdsb.ca (Search “I-STEM”) or email I-STEM@hdsb.ca. Follow the I-STEM program on Twitter at @ISTEM_hdsb.

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Police record checks process changed effective today. Some surprises.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 31st, 2018



The Halton Regional Police Service provides Police Record Checks to all residents of the Region of Halton, for volunteer or employment purposes. This service is most efficiently obtained ONLINE or you may attend one of our five police facilities.

HRPS crestOn November 1, 2018, the Police Record Checks Reform Act will come into force, ensuring a clear, consistent and comprehensive set of standards to govern how police record checks are conducted and disclosed in Ontario.

The Halton Regional Police Service offers three types of Police Record Checks for the members of the public who reside in the Halton Region. If you are unsure as to which Record Check you need to complete, please see our website.

• Criminal Record Check – Learn more or apply online now.
• Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check – Learn more or apply online now.
• Vulnerable Sector Check – Learn more or apply online now.

The Impact on Youth Record Checks

These standards also include how police services release Police Record Checks containing youth records to applicants. Up until now, police services have released a Police Record Check containing youth records directly to the applicant who then provides the Police Record Check to the organization or volunteer agency. The federal and provincial government has found this approach to be contrary to the Federal Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

As of November 1, 2018, youth can only apply for a Police Record Check if:

A. The youth is applying for purposes of employment or volunteering directly with:

• the Government of Canada;
• the Government of a province; or
• a Municipality;


B. The youth requires their own youth records for their own personal information (Privacy Request).

The Halton Regional Police Service will only provide Police Record Checks to applicants under the age of 18 for government positions.

What does this mean for Non-Government Agencies and Youth Seeking to work or volunteer at these organizations?

Effective November 1, 2018, non-government agencies are not authorized to receive any youth Police Record Check results. Similarly, youth are no longer required to undertake a Police Record Check for volunteer or paid employment with these agencies.

To require applicants to apply and pay for a Police Record Check when no results will be released is not in the best interest of the applicants, the police service or the community.

Non-government agencies will now have to proceed with alternative application steps, such as interviews and references for youths, and not rely on, either in part or solely, a Police Record Check, as they may have in the past.

Fee schedule

If you have to be finger-printed you need to make an appointment and provide some very specific information.  Here is the link for more information on that service.

For more information about Police Record Checks, please visit our website: https://www.haltonpolice.ca/about/courtsrecords/policerecordchecks.php.

You are also invited to contact our office directly with your inquiries:

Information and Records Services
2485 North Service Road West
Oakville, ON L6M 0Y3
P: 905-825-4777 ext. 4712

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Thorneycroft exhibit at the AGB is wild, big, imaginative and not to be missed.

artsorange 100x100By Staff

October 28th, 2108



We really should have told you about the Diana Thorneycroft exhibit when it opened at the Art Gallery.

It opened in September – the election kept us away from a lot of the cultural life of the city.


Diana Thorneycroft

Thorneycroft is a Winnipeg artist who has exhibited various bodies of work across Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as in Moscow, Tokyo and Sydney. She is the recipient of numerous awards including an Assistance to Visual Arts Long-term Grant from the Canada Council, several Senior Arts Grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Thorneycroft - full ramp

It is huge, sweeping from floor level to the height of an average person’s shoulders. Kids will love it – just make sure they don’t touch the ponies.

Her exhibit may have been the last one outgoing Senior Curator Denis Longchamps did for the AGB before he headed west to the  Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery in Waterloo.

The Thorneycroft work has been the subject of national radio documentaries and a CBC national documentary for television. Thorneycroft’s photo-based exhibition, The Body, its lesson and camouflage was on an eight city tour from 2000 to 2002.

The exhibit at the AGB covers three of her recent works Herd, The Village and Black Forest (dark waters); it is a stunning installation. Over a hundred and fifty toy horses stampede throughout the gallery in Herd, some with morphed appearances. The altered physical representation of the horses highlight a juxtaposition of the animals as vulnerable yet powerful, tamed but wild.

Introducing young children to art is not always easy – they have yet to develop critical skills. The Herd is big and imaginative- the kind of visual that will stretch a young mind. It will be difficult to keep their hands of the hundreds of ponies that are charging up a steep slope.

Thorneycroft is known for creating provocative and controversial photographs that challenge her audience’s viewing experience. Her seemingly comical images composed of innocent subjects-dolls and toy figurines -and set against the landscapes of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries reveal, upon a closer examination, a deeper and darker meaning.

Titled Group of Seven Awkward Moments, the exhibit was at the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg.

Thorneycroft - partial slope

Looking down the ramp the ponies are running up.

In one of the pieces in that exhibit she used Arthur Lismer’s 1922 canvas, ‘Sombre Hill, Algoma’ as her backdrop. In the foreground is a model of the Avro Arrow airplane propped up by pontoons that Thorneycroft took from a Cessna model. An interceptor aircraft, the real Arrow in the mid-1950s was celebrated as the cutting-edge of Canada’s aviation industry.

However, in 1959, at the height of the Cold War, its production was cancelled by the Diefenbaker government and all five flying test models and production aircraft destroyed, along with their blueprints. In Thorneycroft’s alternate universe, though, one has survived and been adapted to serve the more prosaic needs of the Great White North.

You will see that imagination at work in the Herd – on at the AGB until the November 18th.

Thorneycroft - close up

A closer look at those ponies is the result of an artist’s imagination at its fullest.

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Alison Braithwaite - Words are powerful; embrace the messiness of our lives.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2018



The Gazette met Alison Braithwaite a number of years ago when she was in the private sector. She had this capacity to pick a point in a conversation when she could shift the direction a conversation with a few words.

I wondered about how she had done that for some time after the coffee meeting we had.

Alison Braithwaite -

Alison Braithwaite –

“Words powerfully manifest our lives

“Words are powerful. The words we choose to use influence what we manifest in our lives and how we feel in our bodies. This week, I was speaking to someone who is very special to me. She was talking about her life and some of the challenges that she is facing at the moment. What I heard her saying was: “I am in a fight with this. I am fighting that. I need to fight this other thing.” For her, in this moment, everything seems to be a battle.

“The words we choose affect our bodies

“What I observed in her body as she spoke was how she tensed up as she spoke. The more she spoke of her fights, the more her body tensed up. It was like her body was preparing for battle and getting ready to ward off the missiles being launched her way. I could see the energy she was using just thinking of the battle.

“Let go of the fight

“The metaphor of war is used a lot in our culture. It seems that we, for whatever reason, always need an enemy. We battle the bulge, we battle drugs, we battle cancer and mental health issues. This battling an enemy becomes a big problem when the enemy we are battling is a part of ourselves.
“Shift the metaphor

“We need to shift our metaphors. The metaphor I like to use is that of a kayaker, skillfully navigating white-water. We all have white-water in our lives at times, fighting the water is not going to get us through it.

Reading the water, feeling the water, dancing with the water and skillfully navigating through it works much better.

“Embrace the messiness

Alison Braithwaite logo“A kayaker does not run from the messiness of the whitewater, she sees it, recognizes it, accepts it and moves through it. There is no fight there. Her body becomes as fluid as the water as she chooses her path, navigates her way through and celebrates with euphoria when she is through the tough parts.
“Let’s embrace the messiness of our lives. Accept it without fighting and navigate our way through.”

Questions for self-reflection

1. Over the next week start to notice the words you use. You may want to get some help with this. It is always easier to notice what someone else is saying than hearing what we say ourselves.

2. Notice what metaphors you are using. Are you struggling, fighting, stuck, challenged or moving through things?

3. How is the language you choose limiting or expanding you?

4. What shifts could you make to use more empowering and expansive language?
Remember, you are amazing, you are capable, you are skillfully navigating through life and that is worth celebrating every step of the way.

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Teachers recognized, appreciated and celebrated on World Teachers Day.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 11th, 2018



The election debates took up most of the available oxygen and we missed the celebration and recognition of World Teachers’ Day last Friday, as proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

OutdoorPlay child

An inquisitive young mind.

World Teachers’ Day is devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the educators of the world, as well as taking time to look at and address issues pertaining to teachers. World Teachers’ Day also celebrates the role teacher’s play in providing quality education at all levels, which enables children and adults to learn to take part in and contribute to their local community and global society.

This year’s theme, ‘The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,’ has been chosen to remind the global community that the right to education cannot be achieved without the right to trained and qualified teachers.

Teachers at the Halton District School Board support the learning, growth and success of more than 64,000 students. Guided by the Board’s Multi-Year Plan, teachers help students focus on important values including accountability, collaboration, creativity and integrity.

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Mohawk Gardens Public School celebrating 50 years of teaching students.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

October 11th, 2018



The mid 60’s were the years when the Board of Education couldn’t build schools fast enough.

The schools are now celebrating their 50th anniversaries. Some of the schools are also now closing.
Mohawk Gardens Public School is the next to celebrate a 50th anniversary.  The school is a JK to grade six with 398 students.

Former students, staff and community will be attending an Open House on Saturday, October 20 from 12 – 4 p.m.

MohawkGardens_50Years crest

Strong school spirit.

What is now Mohawk Gardens Public School (5280 Spruce Ave., Burlington) opened its doors in 1968 and since that time hundreds of students have experienced a positive start for lifelong learning.

On Monday, October 15, the school will hold a student assembly featuring a special slideshow and guest speakers to mark this 50-year milestone. Halton District School Board dignitaries will be in attendance, and a panoramic photo will be taken of the student body wearing Mustangs spirit wear and the school colours of blue and orange.

Mohawk Public School was officially opened on October 15, 1968 and was merged with Elizabeth Gardens Public School to form Mohawk Gardens Public School in 1984.

To recognize this, there will be displays from all three schools including opening the 25th anniversary time capsule from 1993.

Mohawk 50th kids

Keeping the students in the same place while the picture was taken must have been a challenge.

Attendees can visit classrooms, see student projects and memorabilia displays, enjoy refreshments, pizza, birthday cake, a photo booth and children’s activities.

There will be a choir performance and dedication ceremony of the school’s outdoor learning garden starting at 2 p.m. Board and local dignitaries will be in attendance.

Legacy Bricks for the outdoor learning garden are available for sale to anyone through School Cash Online and forms can be submitted to the school’s office. Bricks will be installed in spring 2019.

The school is accepting memorabilia from all decades to be showcased. To provide mementos, email mohawkgardens50@gmail.com

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Job opportunities.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

October 11th, 2018



The Centre for Skills Development and Training is in the business of training people for good jobs and then helping them get those good jobs.

They hold information sessions for people who are interested in training.  The have a Job Board as well.

They are currently interviewing for Metalwork and Assembly Technicians.


The Centre 1

The Centre 2

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50% of car seats inspections - fail.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 26th, 2018



Members of the Halton Partners for Car Seat Safety recently conducted a Car Seat Inspection Clinic at the Wellspring Church on New Street in Burlington. This group is a collaboration of the Halton Regional Police Service, the Halton Region Health Department, the OPP, the four municipal Fire Services and a number of community volunteers.

In the course of the clinic, police officers interacted with all drivers performing cursory checks of car seats and identifying those requiring further inspection.

carseat inspection

Learning how to set up the car seat correctly.

Officers conduct these inspections under the authority of the Highway Traffic. Occupied car seats form part of a vehicle’s equipment.

Police conducted 90 inspections (the 5-point ‘quick’ inspection).


car seat test results




Link to Ministry of Transportation web site – detailed instructions.

Some noteworthy observations:
• Children showing up in a booster when they should still be in a 5-point harness
• Many untethered or loosely tethered forward-facing car seats were identified.
• A number of boosters were inspected where it was determined that parents had not installed supplied screws in the armrests.

The Halton Partners for Car Seat Safety recommend parents and guardians to read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions when installing a car seat. For car seat resources in your area, dial 311 for information.

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