Director of Education will have his hands full this school year: negotiating a salary increase won't be one of them - province has put a wage freeze in place.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2018



Directors of Education from school boards across the province met in Toronto last week to look into their crystal balls and try to determine just what might be in their future.

Spending cuts loomed large in the conversations which was followed closely by the realization that they would not be getting any salary increases this year.

The Directors experienced a seven year wage freeze that was lifted last year and then dropped back into place less than a month ago. They will learn to live on $200,000+

The concern over just how teachers are going to work with a sex education curriculum that is both dated and out of tune with the times is a concern.


Facts don’t seem to impact the province’s decision to use an older curriculum.

The Board’s still don’t have clear directions from the province and many teachers are concerned that the directions they get will clash with what they see as their responsibility to prepare students for the society they are going into.

Consent is a different word today than it was when the curriculum that is to be used was first written. That the difference even exists is a shame on all of us.

Miller prep at Central

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller the Director of Education for the Halton District School Board said that school boards have been down this path before when the Harris government cut spending on both schools and hospitals. With more pressure coming from the seniors sector than the parents – we can expect more to be cut from education when the cuts come – and they will come.

Miller will be meeting with all his school principals in the week ahead giving them a sense of what lies ahead.

The Mathematics curriculum is under review – the fear is that the Premier will insist that an older approach to teaching math will be brought back. The current government is not seen as all that friendly with advances in education.

Also in the line-up of problems is the number of collective bargaining issues that come up in February and March of next year. The government might see this as an easy place to reduce spending – so what if there are strikes – they tend not to last very long and the savings would be significant.

MMR Clair Proteau

MMR principal Clair Proteau checking out the design changes being made to her school.

At a more purely local school level – there are concerns about the number of students who are moving with the French Immersion program when it is taken out of Hayden High School and transferred to MM Robinson. Some of the feeder school are very much on side – 100% of the students will move with the program; at another school the number is close to zero prepared to make the move.

The situation was described as a “messaging” problem.

The really good news is that the transfer of Pearson high school students looks as if it will run very smoothly. A lot of work and effort had been put into making the transfer as seamless as possible for the students who will have to change their hoodies.

HDSB sign with flagIn Burlington Director Miller has a pressing problem coming his way with the accommodation that houses the Administrative Staff. The building on Guelph Line is not AODA compliant and has to meet the standard by 2025.

Upgrading old buildings is often more expensive than starting from scratch. The Board has land immediately to the south of the existing building that will meet the need – but the current crop of trustees weren’t all that keen on keeping the Administrative building in Burlington. Four of the eleven trustees are Burlington residents; four are from Oakville; two from Milton and one from Halton Hills.

The Milton people do have a bit of a drive, especially in the winter when Board meetings end well after 10 pm. Also the number of trustees from Milton is expected to climb due to their population growth.

The education beat is going to be active.

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Public school board trustee candidates just as important as those who want to be members of city council

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2018



The election that will decide who the Mayor of Burlington will be for the 2018 – 2021 term of office is attracting a lot of attention. The high profile offices usually get a lot of attention when an incumbent just might be getting the boot.

Burlingtonians have two very different choices if they decide that current Mayor Rick Goldring has done his bit. Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has her hat in the ring and former city Councillor and Member of Parliament Mike Wallace are candidates for Mayor. Aldershot resident Greg Woodruff has also announced his candidacy.

While those top spots are important – the critical level of municipal government for households with children is our school board which is Regional in nature.

The Board that is seeking re-election is the Board that voted to close two of the city’s seven high schools when it was not crystal clear that those schools had to be closed.

t-shirts-central-strongThe school closings are what the Board administration wanted. The Director of Education changed his position once he had compelling data from Central high school parents. It isn’t clear why the Board staff did not spot what Central parents discovered.

Because of the doubt the Board trustees did have the option of voting to not close any of the high schools at the time and to wait for a few years to see just what high school enrollment was going to be.

The very significant intensification Burlington is going through makes it clear that we are going to see more people living in Burlington. Some of those people will be families and some of those families will have children and some of those children will be high school students.

In the process of closing Robert Bateman and the Lester B. Pearson High schools the trustees did two things that have done almost irreparable harm to the community. Bateman had a Community Pathways Program that provided an essential educational program for students that deserve as much opportunity as any other student.

Moving the program to Nelson is filled with problems.

Few, other than the parents who had children in the program, knew about the vital role CPP played in the lives of disadvantaged students.

Bateman - crowd scene with BullOn the several student events that the Gazette covered at the school we didn’t hear a word about CPP; but as the PAR process rolled out it became clear that the program was essential for a group of families.

PAR HDSB Parents at BatemanWhen the decision to close Bateman was announced those parents erupted as well they should have. Had they made their case earlier in the process a different outcome might have been possible.

The Central high school parents did their homework and pointed out how expensive (never mind how disruptive to student life) it was going to be to bus their students. The Board looked at the numbers Central provided and agreed and took Central off the close list.

They then put Bateman on the list; their response was to claim the Central parents had “thrown them under the bus”.

The closing of Bateman has been pushed back two years.

Collard Amy

Ward 5 Halton District School Board trustee Any Collard

With nominations closed – parents now know who has come forward to serve at the Board of Education level. There are a couple of bright spots. The acclamation of Amy Collard in ward 5 assures the public that there will be at least one strong voice coming from Burlington.

Diane Miller Admin review delegation

Parent Diane Miller delegating to Administrative Review Facilitator Margaret Wilson.

The entry of Diane Miller for the ward 3 seat is good news. Ms Miller made a very strong delegation to Margaret Wilson, the Facilitator appointed by the province to carry out an Administrative Review of the process used by the Halton District school Board to arrive at it’s decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools: Lester B.Pearson and Robert Bateman. Ms Wilson found for the Board of Education saying there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the process that was used.

Her public report said: “Based on my review and consultations, I conclude that, while there were violations of the Board PAR Policy, they were such that they had no material effect on either the deliberations of the PARC or on the final decisions of the Board.”

One wonders what the Board administration would have to do to draw a different response from the Facilitator.

Jason BartlettJason Bartlett, who is running for the Ward 1 and 2 seat is an active participant of the Special Education parents group and can be expected to advocate for the parents with children that have special needs. Those children need all the advocacy they can get

One can only wish that those parents had been more active during that period of time when the decision to close Bateman was made.
One hopes that the debate for the school board trustees can hear sound arguments and strong positions from the trustees and do away with that “we were thrown under the bus” claim by Bateman parents.
There is the potential to elect trustees that can do the job they are elected to do.

This is the time for voters to look over the candidates and ensure that the direction the school board takes is sound and meets the needs of the children that will be heading back to school in a couple of weeks.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher

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First Rider program for those taking the school bus to class - on Saturday at Corpus Christ High School 9:00 am.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2018



That first ride to school on a school bus can be a big adventure or an experience that has a child close to terrified of being on their own.

The organization that manages the school bus service that services both the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board has organized a First Rider Program to be held on Saturday, August 25, 2018

The First Rider Program” (previously referred to as School Bus Orientation Day) will begin at 9:00 a.m.

School buses

Safely getting on and off of the bus and proper behaviour on a school bus are part of the First Rider program.

Parents of all first time riders are encouraged to bring their children to the free sessions, which will feature a classroom presentation on school bus safety, including Off We Go! a special video on school bus safety and a demonstration on a school bus.

School bus company safety officers and bus drivers will talk to the children and their parents about safely getting on and off of the bus, proper behaviour on a school bus, crossing the street to get to a waiting bus and overall school bus safety.

In addition, a handout will be provided to all young riders with tips on school bus safety. Both HSTS and the school bus operators hope this program will help students and their parents feel more comfortable riding a school bus before the first day of school.

The hour long sessions begin at 9 a.m. on August 25, 2018 at the following five locations throughout Halton.

To register students parents must contact the host bus company at the phone number listed below:

For Burlington the presentation takes place at Corpus Chris Catholic Secondary School 905-333-4047 (Attridge Transportation)

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Three Halton District School Board students earn perfect scores on an important test.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2018



She, along with two of her peers, have given the Halton District School Board bragging rights.

Dasha Metropolitansky served as a student trustee on the Halton District School Board where her performances were better than several of the publicly elected trustees.

Three students in Board of Education schools earned perfect scores in their International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.

Dasha Metropolitansky, Brian Guo and Hanson Liu achieved rare perfect scores in their International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. All three are students at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville.

IBL student pics 2018

Brian Guo, Dasha Metropolitanskyand Hanson Liu got perfect scores on IBL tests.

The IB programme is an internationally recognized, two-year diploma, which provides a challenging curriculum for highly motivated students. It offers additional academic rigor in languages, mathematics, humanities and sciences and emphasizes personal development for students. It is offered at 5,000 schools around the world, including three in the Halton District School Board: Georgetown District High School, Robert Bateman High School and White Oaks Secondary School.

The IBL program is scheduled to transfer to Central high school when Robert Bateman high school closes.  The date for that closing keeps getting extended.

According to the IB organization, only 13 students in the ‘Americas’ region achieved a perfect score (45 points), and three are students from the same school in the Halton District School Board.

“I owe my peers, teachers and White Oaks administration so much for providing me with excellent resources and counsel, without which my accomplishment would not have been possible,” Guo says. “I am honoured to have received a 45, but I am most appreciative of the IB for its formative impact on me as a learner and as a global citizen.”

“Aside from feeling extremely grateful, I am very proud that the three of us can represent White Oaks,” Lui says. “I hope this showcases the quality of the HDSB staff and resources that paved the road to our
achievement, and encourages more students to pursue this wonderful educational opportunity.”

“I’m extremely proud that I’m one of only 13 students in North and South America who achieved a perfect score in such a demanding program,” Metropolitansky says. “The fact that approximately a quarter of North and South America’s perfect scores came from the Halton District School Board is extraordinary and a testament to the quality of our schools.”

“The Halton District School Board is very proud of the scores Brian, Dasha and Hanson achieved in the IB programme,” says David Boag, Associate Director of the Halton District School Board. “For many of our students, the IB program is a great complement to the high level of education they already receive in our Board. We wish Brian, Dasha and Hanson the best of good luck, as we are confident they will achieve much success in their future endeavours.”

This fall, Guo is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Duke University; Lui is studying Health Sciences at McMaster University; and Metropolitansky is attending Harvard University.

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Coordinator of Nursery/Toddler Ministry - for Port Nelson United Church.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 16, 2018



There are churches in Burlington that have not been able to renew the contract with their pastor.

There are churches that have had to merge with neighbouring churches.

There are a number who think they just might have to give up.

And then there are churches that are vibrant, packed, have growing congregations.

The why of the difference is beyond this article.

Port Nelson United Church

Port Nelson United Church

One of the churches that is healthy is Port Nelson United Church – and they are looking for a COORDINATOR OF NURSERY/TODDLER MINISTRY

This is more of an advertisement than a news story – we are comfortable in letting the news pages be used to recruit the kind of help that healthy congregations need.

The primary focus of the nursery/toddler Coordinator is to provide a consistent welcoming presence/relationship with parents and the children working with the volunteers to ensure a safe, caring environment for Sunday mornings (10 a.m. -12 noon) September through June.

This is a paid position that could be shared by 2 individuals

– To maintain up to date registration forms and information about the infants & toddlers with parent information for ease of contact.

– Oversee sign-in/sign out procedures; ensuring the use of JTECH paging devices

– To establish excellent working relationships with the volunteers overseeing and assisting in their engagement with the children

– Ensure care of equipment and toys in the Nursery and that they are age appropriate, safe, clean and well organized for easy child access

– Ensure that all supplies needed are provided for the comfort & safety of the children

– Communicate any concerns to the Spiritual Growth Ministry

Port Nelson Glee Camp

Port Nelson United Church Glee Camp

– The Chair of Spiritual Growth Ministry

– Ministry & Personnel Committee


Please direct enquiries and resume to: Ann Fleming:

It is nice to see that there is still a place where children are nurtured and grown as Christians.

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West Nile virus positive mosquitoes found in Burlington, Oakville and Milton.

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 8, 2018



Three batches of trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus;two in Burlington and one in Oakville—for a total of four WNV positive mosquito batches in Halton to date.

“Halton is committed to being safe and healthy and reducing West Nile virus in our communities through both education and preventative programs like larviciding,” said Dr. Daniela Kempkens, Halton Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health. “Until the hard frosts of fall set in, people should continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites and remove mosquito breeding sites.”

West-Nile-mosquito-biting1Urban areas are more likely to have mosquitoes that carry WNV. The types of mosquitoes that transmit WNV to humans most commonly breed in urban areas in places that hold water such as bird baths, plant pots, old toys, and tires.

WestNileVirus_transmissionThe following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

• Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
• Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.
• Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects, where possible. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
• Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET or Icaridin.
• Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.

To report standing water at public facilities or for more information about West Nile virus, please visit, call 311or email

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Public school board appoints a trustee for Milton - he gets to take part in four board meetings.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 30th, 2018



At a special Board meeting on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, trustees of the Halton District School Board appointed Reza Ali Chaudhry as Trustee designate for Milton Wards 1, 6, 7, 8. Chaudhry will be sworn into office at the first regular Board meeting on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

He will serve as one of the Milton trustees until November 30th at which time the newly elected trustees take their seats. Chaudry will attend 6 meetings plus 6 Committee of the Whole meetings.

On June 20, 2018, the Halton District School Board resolved to fill by appointment the vacancy created by the out-of-region move of Kim Graves, Trustee for Milton Wards 1, 6, 7, 8, and adopted the appointment process the Board has used for past appointments. In following this process, applications were accepted until Thursday, July 12 at 4:30 p.m. Seven applications were received by this deadline, with one candidate withdrawing their application.

Qualifications of applicants, in accordance with the Municipal Act and the Education Act, were confirmed and interviews with applicants took place on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Six applicants were interviewed by the interview committee, comprised of available trustees. Interviews were held in public, as was the deliberation following the interviews.

“The interview committee was impressed by the qualifications and passion expressed by all applicants and appreciates the interest from the community to fill the role of Milton Trustee,” says Andréa Grebenc, Chair of the Board.

Reza Ali Chaudhry

Reza Ali Chaudhry

Reza Ali Chaudhry brings extensive experience in education and leadership to the role, having spent more than two-decades of his career with the Canadian Forces as a senior officer. He has worked alongside Canadian academic institutions and the United Nations internationally to empower local leaders and enhance public education. Currently a professor, he holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Peace and Conflict Studies and various executive certificates. Chaudhry’s involvement with the Halton District School Board includes holding positions on school council and taking an active role in the Milton School Boundary Review, attending Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meetings, Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) and Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grants engagement events in school communities.

“I am excited about working with our community and our school board on providing our students an innovative and inclusive educational experience,” says Chaudhry.

The upcoming meeting schedule for the Halton District School Board is posted on the Board’s website at

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If the formula put in place for Toronto were applied to Burlington we would have three members of council and a Mayor.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 28th, 2018



For those who sincerely believe that the public is better served with smaller government the decision Premier Doug Ford made about the size of Toronto’s city council will come as good news.

Ford has told Toronto that it has to align the ward boundaries with the boundaries in place for the federal and provincial constituencies; the two are identical.

Toronto has 25 federal/provincial constituencies and so they will have 25 wards.

Burlington has three federal/provincial constituencies – Milton, Burlington and Oakville North Burlington.

Boundaries for the riding of Burlington will stay the same. Oakville gets an additional seat and Halton gets bits and pieces chopped off.

Boundaries for the riding of Burlington

Milton map

Boundary for the riding of Milton.

Oakville North Burlington

Boundary for the riding of Oakville North Burlington.

Some of the people in the Northern part of Burlington are represented by the MP Lisa Raitt and the MPP Parm Gil from Milton.

Some of the people in the eastern part of the city are represented by MP Pam Damoff and MPP Effie Triantafilipoulos in the Oakville North Burlington constituency.

The rest of the citizens are represented by Karina Gould, a member of the Justin Trudeau cabinet and MPP Jane McKenna.

Using the Ford formula – Burlington would have three council members and a Mayor.

That would be nice and cozy wouldn’t it?

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Young people get to experience what fire fighting is all about.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 26th, 2018



The Burlington Fire Department recognized 12 young people, aged 12 to 14, who successfully completed Camp Ignite, a firefighter boot camp, at a graduation ceremony at Burlington Fire Station 1.

Fire fighters - Camp Ignite

Camp Ignite graduates – 2018

Burlington Fire Chief Dave Lazenby and fire department staff, along with Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, volunteers and families congratulated the campers and celebrated their accomplishments at the department’s first-ever Camp Ignite.

Fire fighters - rapelling

Rappelling down the wall of a building was part of the week long camp experience.

Camp Ignite is a week-long boot camp, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton and Hamilton, that gives youth the opportunity to participate in emergency response training while providing them with valuable life skills. Campers experienced a scaled-down firefighter recruit training program, including:

Fire fighters with hoses

Handling the fire hoses is not easy. The experience was very real for these young people.

• Vehicle rescue training
• High-angle rope rescue training
• Car and dumpster fires training
• Search and rescue training
• Water rescue training
• CPR awareness and first-aid training

This camp was funded by donations provided by Burlington Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 1552 and the City of Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Department.

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ONE BURLINGTON FESTIVAL: Building Bridges Between Faiths - August at the Band shell noon to 4:00 pm

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

July 18th, 2018



There are times when the city slogan – Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive., makes sense and actually applies to the city of Burlington.

Syrians Dec-2-meting-cr accepting syrians

They packed the Mainway arena to talk about how Burlington could best welcome Syrians to the city.

Back in December of 2015 the Mayor of Burlington called a public meeting public meeting on Syrian refugees to gauge what there was in terms of community support.  Many were surprised at the size of the turnout – Mainway Arena was close to packed.

EleezaThe turnout was impressive. Eleeza at the time a 10 year old, stood to tell the audience that she was raising funds to buys toys for the children who were arriving at the airport.  People began putting money in her hands.

Burlington was capable and more than ready to welcome the new comers.

Just over a year ago Rory Nisan arrange for a candle light vigil to be held in Civic Square to recognize the senseless slaughter of six people at a mosque in Quebec city.

The idea took on a life of its own and is now an annual event when different faith groups get together and celebrate what they have.

ONE BURLINGTON FESTIVAL: Building Bridges Between Faiths

The event is to take place in front of the Band shell next to Central Library on August 6 from noon – 4 p.m. In the event of rain, the festival will be moved inside Central Arena.

“I am excited for this Festival and have been meeting with Muslim friends from the mosque, Hindu and Jewish groups and a variety of Christian leaders – and we will be able to learn about different faiths and cultures while sampling many different ethnic foods,” said Rev. Orville James, minister of Wellington Square United Church.

Osob-Adus-BEST-2017Osob Adus, Burlington Citizen of the Year and well-known community activist, said the festival is a way of knowing and embracing the beauty of all faith traditions and creating bridges between them.

“Mutual understanding and respect are the foundations for building communities across the borders of difference,” said Adus, a Muslim.

Now in its second year, One Burlington Festival was initially held as a response to the Quebec City mosque mass shooting that occurred the evening of January 29, 2017 at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City.

This year, the festival will open with an Interfaith prayer led by five clergy representing different faiths. An Indigenous smudging ceremony will follow.

Throughout the afternoon, along with free food, entertainment from different cultures will be featured. Performers include local singer-song writer Kim Verrall and violinist Sophie Huang; the Burlington Slam Poets who are celebrating their 10th anniversary; First Nations performer Jimmy Dick and his family and dance groups from the Sikh, Persian and Afro-Canadian communities.

Central park bandshellChildren’s activities and games include compiling a faith passport for which every child will earn an ecologically-friendly prize.

The ecological theme of this year’s festival focuses on building an understanding of the connections between faith and ecology. Everything from Eco-dinnerware to a green clean-up team are embedded in this year’s event.


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An email from a bank is a really really red flag. Before responding to the email - give your bank a phone call.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 16th, 2018



The scammers never stop. One of the reasons they keep doing what they do (take your money from you) is because the tricks they use actually work. People respond to those emails that tell you your Netflix account has been shut down or there is a problem with your bank account and you have to get in touch with them right away.

Identity theft - many facesThe scammers are getting better. There was a time that either the spelling errors or the grammar was so bad that you knew it didn’t come from a bank. They have gotten better with the message they send. The Gazette maintains a couple of identities that give us a chance t see what the average Canadians gets. This one came in yesterday:

Dear User
Just to let you know that we noticed unusual activities on your online account during our regular update today. It is either your details have been changed or incomplete.
As a result of the technical issues detected your online account has been temporarily suspended. You are therefore required to verify your details to regain access to online service. Please click the link below in order to regain instant access.

Click here to regain access

The moment to click on that line you will have begun the process of giving the scammer some of the information they need to get access to your bank account.  It does happen.  Read one of the really sad stories of someone whose bank account was compromised.

TD Canada Trust.
This email was sent from a notification-only address that does not accept email replies. Please do not reply directly to this email.

Rule number 1; if in doubt – don’t.

Rule number 2 – your bank will not send you this kind of email.  They will telephone you.

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She won - the milkweed plants stay.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2019



It was a short, to the point message.

“We won! City will no longer be removing milkweed from private residences!”

No cropped

The bylaw officer should have realized what he was up against when he saw the sign.

This was a big deal for Doreen Nicoll. The Burlington resident was paid a visit by a bylaw enforcement officer telling her that the milkweed in her front yard garden had to be removed.

The bylaw officer clearly didn’t see the sign in the garden – Nicoll was not someone to trifle with.

We asked for some pictures of her garden – she explained that some wild roses that blew in from another yard years ago that had taken over the garden. The kids moved home. “I had marking, exams, report cards, and then the heat wave hit. So, not every part is beautiful right now. Have a big yellow bag of mulch waiting in the driveway for cooler weather.”

Blue flowers

A very pleasant garden.

It is a very attractive garden that will have milkweed as part of the flowerbed. And Burlington now has a bylaw enforcement officer who knows much more about milkweed now than he did a week ago.

This whole mess was the result of a phone call someone made to the bylaw enforcement office complaining about the milkweed.

Nicoll explains that “milkweed started to grow, probably a throwback to when this land I live on was farmed. I’ve also purchased milkweed and over the past decade or so and all of it has done quite well. This is a particularly good year.”

Ward 2 Councillor and candidate for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “You did it everyone! Based on your advocacy, research, information, city staff listened and will be bringing a bylaw forward in September to remove milkweed from “weed” list to allow it to be grown.

“Well done to all!! In the meantime, the bylaw on milkweed will not be enforced. Tweet from city of Burlington: “City staff have drafted a new lot maintenance bylaw affecting tall grass and weeds. The draft bylaw goes to Council in September and will align with the provincial Weed Control Act. Until then, the city will not enforce the removal of milkweed.”

In electronic communication with Nicoll we learned more about how she approaches life.  “you should know I’m also active in ending gendered violence, an ally for Indigenous Nations and Peoples, as well as working to end hunger and poverty. All of these issues are intertwined.

Doreen Nicol - Raise the Hammer

Doreen Nicoll – Burlington actionist.

“I also like to be called an actionist — a term I am borrowing from Mike Nagy chair of the Wellington Water Watchers.

As Mike told me in an interview, “All it takes to be defined as an acitvist is to write a letter or contact your MP or simply ask for better health care. But, over the decades the term has too often become associated with negative connotations.”  The difference is I learn about the issue, take action, follow-up, and rarely if ever give up.”

Our kind of woman.

The original news story.

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Someone fingered Doreen Nicoll - they called the bylaw officer who didn't understand what role milkweed really played environmentally.

News 100 greenBy Doreen Nicoll

July 5th, 2018



In 2004 I had the grass in my very tiny front yard removed and a very low wall erected to contain my new garden. Originally, I planted native, heritage plants, most of them edible and all of them able to survive on rain water alone.

Over the years there have been plenty of transitions. Some plants thrive for years only to suddenly decline or disappear and be replaced by a completely different variety. This was survival of the fittest playing out in my garden thanks to the effects of climate change.

During that time, milkweed started to grow, probably a throwback to when this land I live on was farmed. I’ve also purchased milkweed and over the past decade or so and all of it has done quite well. This is a particularly good year.


Milkweed – din dins for the Monarch butterfly and a native plant in Burlington resident Doreen Nicoll’s garden.


But, this is also the year that I discovered that Burlington, Ontario considers milkweed, the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on, a weed that must be destroyed or removed.

On Friday, June 29, 2018, I returned from work to find a Notice of Violation on my front door. The notice stated that I was in contravention of By-law #12-2011 Part 3 3.1(b), which states, “Every owner of property shall ensure that grass and ground cover is trimmed or cut to a height of 20 centimeters (8 inches) or less and shall ensure weeds are removed or destroyed between May 1 and October 15 each calendar year.”

The Notice of Violation stated the require action was, “Remove or destroy milkweeds from front yard abutting the sidewalk and adjacent property” within seven days. So, by Thursday, July 5.

Again, let me be clear that my milkweeds are growing on my property and not on city land and definitely are not invading a neighbouring property.

monarch butterfly with milkweed

A Monarch butterfly – is that a milkweed plant in the background?

So, I began contacting local environmentalists to see if there were any alternative solutions. I did this because trimming milkweed to the required height of 8 inches or less means that the tops of the plants containing all of the leaves, which are home to valuable monarch eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalis, would be removed and that would have devastating results.

A very wise environmentalist, who wished to remain anonymous, told me about the time her neighbour reported her for growing milkweed in her naturalized garden. It seems the neighbour wanted the city to force this woman to grow grass instead of flowers.

Well, when she showed the by-law officer her receipt from a local nursery for the purchase of the offending plants she was told that everything was okay because clearly a nursery would not sell weeds to the public. The Notice of Violation was withdrawn.

So, in this time of the Suzuki foundation selling milkweed, documentaries like Metamorphosis showcasing school children planting milkweed to encourage the proliferation of monarch butterflies, and people being encouraged to cut back or stop all together watering lawns and gardens, I am perplexed why the City of Burlington is insisting I destroy this native plant that’s imperative to the lifecycle of monarch butterflies.

Here’s a thought, as we’re entering a municipal election this fall: why not make milkweed an election issue?

Monarchs deserve our protection, as does the water that’s wasted every summer on keeping grass green and non-native species blooming all summer long.

I would argue you don’t even have to live in Burlington or Halton to voice your opinion, because monarchs and water affect everyone across the province and country.

I encourage you to make your voice heard. Tell the City of Burlington, Ontario that you value native plants like milkweed, which nurture valuable monarch butterflies and survive on local rain water.

Here’s a list of email addresses so you can share your thoughts on this matter:

Mayor Rick Goldring
Councillor Marianne Mead Ward (who is running for Mayor)
Councillor Rick Craven
Councillor John Taylor
Councillor Jack Dennison
Councillor Paul Sharma
Councillor Blair Lancaster

After all, isn’t a weed simply a flower growing in what suburban society mistakenly believes is ‘the wrong place?’ Tell that to the monarchs.

What Ms Nicoll may not realize is that in Burlington by laws are enforced on a responsive basis. By law enforcement officer do not go looking for bylaw violations – they get complaint calls and they go out and investigate.

Someone fingered Ms Nicoll.

Doreen Nicol - Raise the HammerDoreen Nicoll, a Burlington resident, is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.  She writes regularly for Raise the Hammer, a Hamilton community based on-line publication where this article first appeared.


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Burlington supports Community Mindfulness - four sessions planned for the summer.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 3rd, 2018



We did not write this.

We pass it along to you for your edification from Community Mindfulness Burlington.

They are inviting residents to a series of free drop-in mindfulness sessions in Burlington parks in July and August.

The mindfulness sessions are led by volunteers from Community Mindfulness Burlington and partly supported by the City of Burlington’s Neighbourhood Community Matching Fund.

Mindfulness is a type of meditation where a positive mental state is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.

Participants are advised to wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat or meditation cushion. Mindfulness activities are inclusive and secular. All welcome to participate.

Sunday, July 8, 10 to 11 a.m., Mountainside Park. Mountainside Arena community room in case of inclement weather
Sunday, July 15, 10 to 11 a.m., Kiwanis Park. Aldershot Arena community room in case of inclement weather
Sunday, Aug. 12, 10 to 11 a.m., Mountainside Park. Mountainside Arena community room in case of inclement weather
Sunday, Aug. 26, 10 to 11 a.m., Kiwanis Park. Aldershot Arena community room in case of inclement weather

Your tax dollars at work!

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Five day program at Mohawk for those who want to learn how to create YouTube content.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 30th, 2018



Facebook and YouTube is everywhere!

They are in the news as a web site that was used to tilt the American presidential election.

How do these YouTube pages get created?

Mohawk Camp 2018Mohawk College is hosting a star-studded YouTube Creator Camp where high school level students will learn ‘Social Media Skills’ from the biggest names in the Biz!

The college describes the five day program as a brand-new ground-breaking initiative that runs from July 9th to 13th 2018.

This fun five-day intensive experience will allow students to get first-hand knowledge on social media influencing, and how to turn a hobby into a career. “This is the first Creator’s Camp of its kind in the Ontario, and we are excited about this offering,” Associate Dean Tracy Kadish said.

Move quickly if you want to get in on this. The classes for the 13 to 15 age group os sold out. There are just eight seats left for the 16 to 18 year olds.

Since YouTube went online in February 2005, it has become the go-to website for Internet content creation. Mohawk Creator’s Camp will help aspiring young minds make creative content and learn how to turn it into a profitable business.

The Camp comes at a cost of $375.00 and includes entrepreneurship training, master classes with Influencers, meals, and a field trip to Toronto. “Camp goers will take home intimate Digital Entrepreneurship skills that you won’t find anywhere else,” Natalie Reid, Program Coordinator of SURGE, noted. In partnership with the Industry Education Council of Hamilton and the M.I.G.H.T.Y. Entrepreneurship Program, students will also learn entrepreneurial skills to help them launch and manage their business.

Youtube chanel artMohawk Creator’s Camp hopes to be the first to give students an entertaining alternative when it comes to learning during the summer. Mohawk Creator’s Camp won’t just teach students about making videos, Students will be able to use this unique Camp as a stepping stone into a possible career in media. At the end of the camp, parents are invited to a showcase party which is planned for the evening of Monday July 16th.

For more information on Mohawk Creator’s Camp email or visit their Webpage


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New Rose Garden at the RBG opens to the public this weekend.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

June 22, 2018



The new Rose Garden in Hendrie Park, Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) will officially open to the public on Saturday, June 23rd. The occasion will include the Hamilton and Burlington Rose Society Annual Show.

Canadian shield roseMuch like the rejuvenated Rock Garden, the new Rose Garden embraces new designs and techniques that reflect a more modern, environmentally conscious approach to growing roses. One that people can implement in their home garden” said Jim Mack, RBG Head of Horticulture.

The new Rose Garden focuses on Ontario-hardy, disease resistant roses together with companion plants. Beneath these beneficial plant pairings is a trickle irrigation system. Deep roots, combined with a consistently maintained layer of mulch, means less artificial watering which promotes an eco-friendly approach.

pink roseThe companion plantings and advanced irrigation system creates a garden that is resilient and sustainable; a garden growing in healthy soil working together to attract beneficial insects that stave off pests.

Opened in 1967, the original Centennial Rose Garden showcased a large monoculture of hybrid tea and floribunda roses for nearly 50 years. Despite the best efforts of RBG’s horticulture team, the collection had suffered in recent years. Using environmentally-friendly treatments could not outweigh the reality that the garden was made up of disease-prone roses, further compromised by falling under the shadow of large shade trees.

In 2017, construction began on the rejuvenated garden, sacrificing a year of roses in order to take the garden in a bold new direction.

RBG Turner tea-houseHighlights of the new garden include approximately 3, 300 roses displaying 300 different cultivated varieties, 4, 500 companion plants and many new enhancements to the garden landscape. This includes upgraded pathways, fences, gazebos stairs and lighting as well as renovations to the Turner Pavilion Teahouse that overlooks the new garden. Education elements include an array of new interpretive signs, including the “story of roses” display, teaching visitors about the history of roses.

In 2017, Royal Botanical Gardens launched a $3 million fundraising campaign in support of the new garden and are currently raising the remaining $700-thousand. More information can be found at

Rose garden layout

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Indigenous people will be recognized at every council meeting - hopefully the public will remember poor old Joe Brant too.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 19th, 2018



At the start of Standing Committee and Council meetings the chair will read a Land Acknowledgement statement.

mississaugas-new-credit-first-nation-canada“Burlington as we know it today is rich in history and modern traditions of many First Nations and the Métis. From the Anishinaabeg to the Haudenosaunee, and the Métis – our lands spanning from Lake Ontario to the Niagara Escarpment are steeped in Indigenous history.

“The territory is mutually covered by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy, the Ojibway and other allied Nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

“We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit.”

The national anthem will be sung at the start of City Council meetings.

For the next several days the Brant Street Pier will be lit with colours representing each of the Indigenous people of Canada: June 19, the Metis; June 20, the Inuit; and June 21, Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation.

Oblong great sunrise - think


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 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.

It will be interesting to learn just how much more information there will be about Joseph Brant at the Joseph Brant Museum when it completes its transformation. In the past there has been just a pretty pathetic display of material.

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Police report that 37% of all tobacco now being sold is un-taxed and illegal

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 19th, 2019



Anyone buying illegal tobacco products is funding organized crime.

Cigarette profits aThat’s the message Crime Stoppers of Halton is delivering to the public through a promotional campaign to help combat the distribution of illegally manufactured cigarettes.

The initiative is also part of a campaign by several Crime Stoppers programs to create awareness and stop the sale of contraband tobacco products across the Greater Toronto Area.

“We want people to know they are helping finance organized crime activity such as drug smuggling, gun running and human trafficking,” said Detective Constable Jodi Richmond, police coordinator of Halton Crime Stoppers. “A lot of this criminal activity is organized by outlaw motorcycle gangs and the cost to taxpayers runs into the billions of dollars.”

Jodi Thomson Crime StoppersRichmond also said an increasing number of fire deaths in Ontario are now being blamed on illegal cigarettes which are made without self-extinguishing safeguards.

“So not only are people who buy contraband cigarettes helping organized crime to thrive, but they are also putting lives at risk,” she said. “It’s definitely not a victimless crime.”

Dave Bryans, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association said “The Ontario Convenience Stores are pleased to stand with Halton Crime Stoppers in fight against contraband tobacco that is infiltrating every community in Ontario.

“Today we see contraband reaching epidemic proportions at 37% of all tobacco now being untaxed and illegal with highs in Northern Ontario of 65% +. We are hoping the new PC Government will work with Crime Stoppers and the Convenience Store sector to address this issue and look for solutions to minimize the delivery system in Ontario.”

Related news stories:


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Land Acknowledgement statement to be read at every city council meeting - Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation flag to be raised in civic square.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 18th, 2018



We basically took the land from the Indigenous people.

Some treaties were signed – we didn’t always live up to those treaties.

Canadians have begun creating a new relationship with the Indigenous people. The Halton District School Board has been reading a Land Acknowledgement statement at the beginning of each meeting for some time.

Starting this Monday Burlington city council will begin doing the same thing. Stacey LaForme the elected Chief of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, a graduate of the Osgoode Hall Law School and a member of the Ontario Bar will be a significant part of this ceremony this afternoon.


Stacey LaForme the elected Chief of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation,

In 2002, LaForme served on the Ontario Divisional Court panel that ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was a violation of their civil rights; his suggestion – that marriage be redefined – was subsequently adopted by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

A member of the Mississaugas people, LaForme is the first appellate court judge in Canadian history with a First Nations background. He has served as the Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario; as the Chair of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Land Claims; and – until his resignation in October 2008 – as head of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He will probably be the most distinguished, qualified and accomplished person at the event.

Some Burlington high schools have been holding “blanket ceremonies”, an interactive way of learning the history most Canadians are never taught.

blankets - all the land

Blankets representing the territory of Canada – it all belonged to the First Nations before the Europeans arrived.

The Blanket Exercise is based on participatory popular education methodology and the goal is to build understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada by walking through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. Everyone is actively involved as they step onto blankets that represent the land, and into the role of First Nations.

By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy.

Students learn the key terms and concepts behind the words Aboriginal peoples, First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Aboriginal peoples is the term used in Canada’s constitution, it has specific importance within a Canadian legal context.

Assimilation, Colonization, Discrimination, Doctrine of Discovery, Equity and First Nations which is not a legal term but replaces “Indian” in common usage. The term elevates First Nations to the status of “first among equals” alongside the English and French founding nations of Canada.

Less land left

The Blanket ceremony takes participants through the history that took away more and more of the land that the First Nations owned.

Indigenous peoples is a term for which there is no one definition because it is up to each Indigenous person to define themselves, something that for far too long has been done by others. However, Indigenous peoples all over the world have the common experience of being the original inhabitants of a territory and being oppressed by ethnic groups that arrived later.

A Mohawk (Kanienkehaka) person from Akwesasne who is a member of the Bear clan may choose any number of indentifiers. Others may identify themselves as members of one of the many other First Nations in Canada – Innu, Cree, Salteaux, Ojibwe, Haida, Dene, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Blood, Secwepmec, etc., each with its own history, culture, and traditions.

On blankets reading to each other

The lnd that the First Nations owned ended up being reserves around the country.

In 1876 all the laws dealing with Indigenous peoples in Canada were gathered together and put into the Indian Act. The Canadian government used the Indian Act to attack the identity of Indigenous peoples. It limited hunting and fishing and made spiritual ceremonies like the potlatch, pow-wow and sundance against the law. This didn’t change until the 1950s. To this day, the Indian Act controls many aspects of Indigenous peoples’ lives.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of First Nations and Métis children were forced illegally from their homes and adopted or fostered, usually by non-Indigenous people. This period is known as the 60s scoop. Many of these kids experienced violence, racism and abuse and lost connection to their identity and culture. Like residential schools, the purpose of the 60’s scoop was assimilation.

Territory map

The land that Burlingtonians live on is represented in treaties; what is now Burlington is land that was given to Joseph Brant who in tern sold it off in bits and pieces. There isn’t as much as a square foot that belong to a descendant of the Brant family. But we named our main street after the man.

Treaties are internationally binding agreements between sovereign nations. Hundreds of treaties of peace and friendship were concluded between the European settlers and First Nations during the period prior to confederation.

These treaties promoted peaceful coexistence and the sharing of resources. After Confederation, the European settlers pursued treaty making as a tool to acquire vast tracts of land. The numbered treaties 1 through 11 were concluded between First Nations and the Crown, after Confederation.

Students - focused - girl

Some of the students were transfixed by the blanket ceremony. Far too many paid more attention to their cell phones as they texted each other.

For Indigenous peoples, treaties outline the rights and responsibilities of all parties to the agreement. In the traditions of Indigenous treaty making, these are oral agreements. In addition, they are “vital, living instruments of relationship”

In reading a Land Acknowledgement we are beginning to accept these rights and responsibilities.

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School boards in Halton are getting far less funding than comparable boards in the province - that shortfall is felt in the classrooms your children attend.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 17th, 2018



An Infograph is a graph that conveys information in a more effective visual manner.

The Halton District School Board released an infograph that showed how poorly the Region does in terms of provincial grants for education.
HDSB funding graphic 1

No one at the Board of Education can say quite why the Region gets less on a per student basis than others – the fact is Halton, which is Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills get less.

The model used for school bus funding has not changed since 1998 which is what has led to the near crisis is recruiting bus drivers.  The boards have not been able to pay the drivers a decent rate.

Comparative funding graph


The funding shortfall impacts what the Board does at many levels – Special Education suffers; the Halton Board has to find $20 million to cover Special Education needs which are higher than the average student.Growth and Spec Ed funding


The needs are very real, unfortunately the local school boards are totally dependent on the province for a significant part of the funds needed to operate the schools.

Trustees and the Board administrations work to determine where the needed funds are going to come from at  a time when we now have a provincial government that thinks aloud in terms of “efficiencies” and talks in terms of reducing spending by as much as 4% (at least that is what the public heard during the recent provincial election).  Education and health are two of the biggest spending items in the provincial budget.

Just how provincial funding for school boards works isn’t fully understood by the public. Property taxes and development fees cover just a portion of the cost.

How are sch bds funded

Because the funds come from the provincial government the Boards and trustees would like to see pressure put on the newly elected members of the provincial legislature.  For Burlington this means appealing to Jane McKenna who has been returned to the Legislature.  McKenna was first elected to Queen’s Park in 2011, lost to Eleanor McMahon in 2014 and defeated McMahon in the election held earlier this month.

During the election debates it was clear that McKenna was going to follow the path set out by Doug Ford who talks in terms of getting better value for the dollars spent.  Burlington parents with children in local schools are the people who know where efficiencies exist.

Given that those same parents elected the government we have now – they have to live with the consequences of the election.

There are two problems with those conclusions.  A majority of those who voted didn’t choose this government and just 58% of those with the right to vote bothered to troop out to the polls on election day.

Results data box

Salt with Pepper is the musing, observations and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

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