City Manager Tim Commisso will lead the Bateman High School purchase Public Meeting on Tuesday

By Staff

May 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The following was passed along to us by a reader who was given the information by the city’s Communications department.

Director of Communications  Kwab Ako-Adjei, Director, Corporate Communications & Engagement said:

 “As with any public meeting the City holds, including virtual meetings, those in attendance will have an opportunity to ask questions. We are finalizing the details of how the questions will be asked, we will let those in attendance know at the beginning of the meeting how they can ask their questions.

“City Manager Tim Commisso will be leading the discussion along with other City staff (to be confirmed) that can speak to the project.”

Want to see just how good those facilitating chops are.

Finalizing the details the day before the event is cutting it kind of close – but better late than never.

The City Manager will lead the event – our recollection is that this will be the first time Tim Commisso will chair an event.  His practice is to make a comment during a meeting.

It will be interesting to see just how good his facilitating chops are.

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City plans to give away 25 bike racks - they will have to pick them up and build a concrete pad

By Staff

May 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Bike Month, is being celebrated in Burlington through to the end of June.

The city sees this as an  opportunity for people to try riding a bike for the first time, learn new skills, or simply have fun and connect with new people.

Special lanes for bicycles and the speed at which vehicles travel along city roads are an ongoing concern .

Riding a bike is one of the best ways to get around and explore your community. Fifty per cent of trips in Burlington can be done in a less-than 20-minute bike ride.

Burlington is once again holding a draw to give away bike racks for businesses and organizations to encourage cycling to their locations and offering a series of cycling webinars to celebrate Bike Month in Burlington.

Bike Rack Giveaway

The City, in cooperation with the Burlington Cycling Committee and the Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee, has 25 bike racks to give away this year. Each rack holds about 10 bicycles and is valued at $700. Interested parties are asked to email Dan.Ozimkovic@burlington.ca with contact information by June 15, 2022.

Bike rack that will be given to 25 locations

Selected organizations will be required to pick up and transport their bike rack to their private property and install the bike rack on a concrete pad for public use.

The City has been providing various organizations in the community, such as places of worship, small businesses and schools, with free bike racks for the past eight years.

 

 

 

Free Cycling Webinars

Residents are invited to learn about cycling with kids, bike maintenance, road rules and other cycling topics with the City’s free webinars.

Basic maintenance is important

Family Biking
June 2, 7 to 8 p.m. Webinar informationZoom link
June 20, 7 to 8 p.m. Webinar informationZoom link

 

Knowing the rules of the road

Basic Bike Maintenance
June 13, 7 to 8 p.m. Webinar informationZoom link
June 26, noon to 1 p.m. Webinar informationZoom link

 

 

 

 

 

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The sun is shining at the Art Gallery - four artists show a view of the Caribbean tourism sector

By Staff

May 30th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the pandemic receding from our day to day lives – that doesn’t mean it is over – the lock downs and restrictions are not as harsh.

We didn’t have a chance to update our readers on event at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

Joiri Minaya, Container #3, 2017. Archival pigment print, 40” x 60“
. Courtesy of the artist.

Here Comes the Sun is running until August 13th, 2022 in the Perry Gallery.

Four artists are featured – Irene de Andrés, Katherine Kennedy, Joiri Minaya and Ada M. Patterson

The exhibition was curated by  Noor Alé

Here Comes the Sun traces the origins of extractive tourism industries through the works of contemporary artists whose practices examine the interconnections between colonial legacies of crop plantations and service economies in the Caribbean.

Gesturing towards the Caribbean’s complicated relationship with the tourism industry, Irene de Andrés and Katherine Kennedy deliver criticisms of international stakeholders and land developers who stand to benefit from the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the region. Countering the intrusive colonial gaze, Joiri Minaya exposes fictitious representations of the landscape and the exoticization of Caribbean women. Ada M. Patterson subverts images of crops to offer a lamentation on the place of sugar and tourism in the Barbadian cultural imaginary.

The works problematize the paradise trope ascribed to the Caribbean by the West and pose questions about its construction: What are the historical foundations of this trope? Why, and for whom, was it built? Together, these works resist the Western gaze, address the shared complicity between tourists, diasporic communities, and land developers, and critique reductive conceptions of the Caribbean as a site of escapism.

The exhibition title is borrowed from Jamaican-born writer Nicole Dennis-Benn’s titular fictional novel. In Here Comes the Sun (2016), Dennis-Benn narrates the lives of three Jamaican women against a backdrop of power dynamics, economics, and gender inequities to advance conversations in the Global North about the complexity of tourism industries.

Here Comes the Sun has been generously sponsored by DJB Chartered Professional and the Ontario Arts Council.

The AGB is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

 

 

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Data from city survey on Bateman high school limited but has merit

By Staff

May 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There weren’t that many participants taking part in the survey the city put out and then withdrew two days later but the data they collected does have merit.

The city wanted to know how people felt about the city selling a sports field to the Board of Education, and how people felt about the city buying the Bateman High school site and then renting part of what they bought to Brock University.

The results will surprise a lot of people – especially the ward 2 councillor who thought selling the sports field was close to a travesty.

The results:

There is some additional data if this kind of thing turns your crank Click HERE for that data.

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Backing down on the public survey over the sale of a sports field is proving to be a little awkward

REVISED By Pepper Parr

May 25th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

The city’s Communications department had some concerns about wording we used to describe what we referred to as a self inflicted wound. There are some subjects that are very sensitive and we decided to remove a phrase we used.  Other than that – the story stands.  We changed the date as well from the 20th to the 26th.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to.

The decision to get public feedback on the city decision to sell the sports field to the west of Central High school has, to be polite about it, hit a speed bump.

The words transparency and engagement seemed to have been lost by the city communications people.  They are now falling over themselves trying to back out of a survey that wasn’t thought out all that well.

The tweet on the right, sent out earlier today, is kind of embarrassing.

City Manager Tim Commisso is reported to be putting together a public meeting to pass along more in the way of information.  What isn’t clear at this point is – will it be a joint meeting with the Board of Education or is the city going to have to wear this one all by itself.

What is so perplexing is that the rush that has been behind all this just wasn’t necessary – these are self inflicted wounds – the people who put together the survey need to really think through what took place and look for different approaches to what is a serious problem.

There is a public that is confused and angry.

City manager Tim Commisso needs to get a grip on this issue. It is close to being totally out of control. There are tens of millions involved.

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Resident feedback wanted on Robert Bateman High School proposals

By Staff

May 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington is looking for residents’ feedback on a proposed land transaction with the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and leasing arrangements with the HDSB and Brock University for the City’s planned acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School building and property.

The proposed transaction with the HDSB would see the City transfer ownership of approximately five acres of City owned-land (sports field at Central High School) to the HDSB as a component of a land exchange for the Robert Bateman site.

The sports field beside Central High school is owned by the city. Selling it to the school board frees up some cash that can be applied to the purchase of the Bateman location. It is a complex deal with a number of players that may not have had the benefit of some some take our time second thought. Some are wondering – why the rush? One pressure point is that Brock wants to be in the space they are renting – when? Tight timeline.

The City owned-land in question is located near Burlington Central High School and includes the high school football field and running track.

The HDSB has wanted to own the sports field beside Burlington Central High School for some time; that desire is consistent with the HDSB’s long-term intention to continue operating Burlington Central High School as a school. This land exchange component will advance the City’s efforts to secure the Robert Bateman site in continued public ownership, ensuring that the Robert Bateman site is available for continued educational and community-oriented uses.

Feedback will also be sought on proposed leasing agreements with the HDSB that wants to use some of the space and Brock University that wants to locate one of its departments in Burlington.

Both leases are expected to be long-term but not to exceed 25 years.

Burlington City Council directed staff to gather feedback from the public on these proposals. Public feedback can be provided at the City’s online engagement portal, Get Involved Burlington.  The time frame for getting sufficient public feedback is short.

The site is a big one; the plans to re-purpose the location from a local high school to a multi-use site that would pull together local residents, a unit of Brock University, a public library and a number of gymnasiums with lots of space left over.

A considerable amount of controversy is expected from the downtown community where there isn’t all that much open space to begin with. The 100th anniversary event was planned to take place on the sports field in June of 2023.  Will that space still be available to the public once it is in school board hands?

Any thought of a community centre with a pool in that part of town would be lost.  With three towers planned for Ghent and Brant, a short walk from the sports field, residents wonder if they are going to be locked out of creating more in the way of public amenities.

Click for the Link to Get Involve

This engagement opportunity will be open to Burlington residents until June 13, 2022.

Following public input, staff will report back to Burlington Council with a final report and recommendations at the June 21, 2022 Council meeting.

Some background:

In June 2021, HDSB announced that it has declared Robert Bateman High School surplus to its needs.

In December 2021, Council provided direction to staff to submit a formal offer to purchase the Robert Bateman High School site

On Feb. 3, 2022, Burlington City Council endorsed next steps to advance the potential acquisition of the Robert Bateman High School site from the HDSB.

Shortly after, also in June 2021, the City of Burlington announced that an expression of interest would be submitted to the HDSB to purchase the Robert Bateman site through a partnership with Brock University.

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Public school board to purchase the city owned sports field next to Central High School - that is part of a bigger story

By Staff

May 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board put out the following media release.

The Halton District School Board is advancing a land transaction with the City of Burlington that would see the exchange of the City-owned sports field at Burlington Central High School (1433 Baldwin St, Burlington), with the sale of the former Robert Bateman High School (5151 New St, Burlington).

The school will own the sports field once the negotiations are complete

The parcel of land adjacent to Burlington Central High School is approximately five acres and includes the sports field and track to the west of the school. The Board’s purchase of this land ensures the continued operation of Burlington Central High School by the HDSB for the foreseeable future.

In June 2021, HDSB trustees approved a plan to declare the former Robert Bateman High School facility surplus to its needs and retain an interest in a portion of the facility to relocate the Burlington Gary Allan Learning Centre. In September 2021, the City of Burlington expressed interest and submitted their formal offer on Feb. 3, 2022, which was accepted by the Board.

This opportunity to acquire the area at Burlington Central H.S. presented itself to the Board and the City as part of the negotiation process, where the land exchange was incorporated as part of the final offer. This was supported by the Board, as it advances its long-term facility accommodation strategy in Burlington. The Board sought Ministry of Education approval and received a positive response to proceed with the transaction.

The outcome of this transaction addresses key objectives for the HDSB and the City by ensuring  important educational and community programs continue to be offered within Burlington.

The Board looks forward to continuing to work with the City of Burlington on this matter.

The acquisition of the sports field is related to the Robert Bateman High School land transaction.

The bigger story is that the city had to find a way to lessen the public pressure on a price tag that was being floated and resulting in a lot of indigestion.  Whatever the city gets for the sports field will lower the cost of the Bateman site.

The city is gearing up another engagement effort to get some grease on a very squeaky wheel.

 

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How City Hall refused to share information: We push for better transparency - your job is to demand it.

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Every reporter strives for accuracy – they listen hard to what people are saying – waiting for that quote that just makes the story.

Accuracy matters – not as easy to get as people think.

Technology has made a big difference; it allows a reporter to capture what a person said and then transcribe it and use it in the copy being written.

As everyone knows – the technology can bite your bum.

The people best at getting what is said down perfectly are the Court reporters – they have a device that lets them capture what is said and instantly read it back

A number of years ago the City employed what would be the equivalent of a court reporter to capture what was said at Council meetings.

A Court Reporter with the transcribing equipment

The transcript produced was something the Gazette was very interested in getting a copy of.

We asked if we could have a copy.

We were told we couldn’t have the document which we thought was a public document.

We asked if we could buy a copy of the transcripts.

No the city wasn’t interested in doing that either.

We asked for the name of the company doing the work.  We thought we could buy the transcripts directly from them.

No – the city was not prepared to give us the name of the company that was doing the transcribing.

Kwab Ako-Ajei.,Director of Communications

All this back and forth was done by email with the Director of Communications Kwab Ako-Ajei. Director of Communications for the city.  Kwab reports directly to the City Manager.

Someone somewhere at city hall made the decision that the Gazette, a credentialed online newspaper, operating for more than ten years (longer than the people who have their fingers on the flow of news information to media have held their jobs), that the Gazette was not to be given access to the data they need to do their job effectively.

Council talks about the importance of media in the process of engaging the public. At one point the Mayor of the city publicly praised the Gazette for the job it was doing.

We may have done the job a little too well for some.

What to do?

Folks, Burlington is your city, your home.  You elect the government you get and they appoint the administrative leadership.

We push for better transparency – your job is to demand it.

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

 

 

 

 

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STOP the SPRAWL: the growth taking place and what is in the works adds to the climate emergency

By Staff

May 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The provincial election that began officially yesterday is about climate change.

Your life and the quality of the life you live in the next three to five years is going to be decided on who you elect on June 2nd.

Stop the Sprawl a group working across the province is doing there best to set out the issues and give you a chance to take part in this vital exercise.   Send them your thoughts: Stop Sprawl Halton – stopsprawlhalton@gmail.com

On April 14th 2022, Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act hurriedly received royal assent a scant two weeks after it was introduced. Bill 109 formalized a provision that would allow the Minister to refer Official Plan Amendments to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) if the Minister is not satisfied with the submission.

Beausoleil, the structure on the left in this rendering was approved at the Ontario Land Tribunal level – city council was not in love with this one.

This is an unacceptable shift from the long-standing process whereby provincial and municipal planning staff work collaboratively to achieve consensus on Official Plan submissions. Simply pitching submissions to an arbitrator that allows a single individual the authority to accept or deny Official Plans converts municipal planning to an adversarial process that will unnecessarily cost municipal taxpayers millions of dollars.
Official Plans and local autonomy threatened

In November 2021, Hamilton City Council voted to accommodate all expected future growth within its current urban boundaries, rather than sprawling outward onto precious farmland, woods and wetlands because the mandated market-driven housing mix CAN be accommodated.

It is unacceptable, therefore, that Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark stated in the legislature that Hamilton’s refusal to expand its urban boundaries was unacceptable to the Ford government, and that he was considering referral of the matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) for a decision. Hamilton’s approved plan was in compliance with all provincial policies.

In February 2022, Halton Regional Council also directed their staff to prepare an Official Plan with no urban expansion for the next 20 years, recognizing they have enough vacant land within the current urban boundary to accommodate all mandated growth to 2041. Halton also elected to delay approving its plan for accommodating growth to 2051 until the province reveals its response to the Affordable Housing Task Force Report. Halton fully intends to be compliant with Provincial legislation once the new rules are known.

Many other municipal councils are still completing their Official Plans. Will their deliberations be subject to the Minister’s whims too?

Referral to the OLT: double jeopardy for Councils and taxpayers

The problem in the Region of Halton is the same problem Hamilton is fighting.

The threat of referral to the OLT, with its significant price tag, will surely influence decision- making as councils struggle with the cost of a potential OLT court case. Councils understand that there is always the threat of going to the OLT to defend their decisions from challenges from land speculators. But they should not have the province also threatening the same challenge. What, in effect has happened is that the challenges expected from speculators will now be paid for by the people of Ontario via the Province’s intervention.

It is an affront to democracy to reject the planning decisions made by elected councils, when they have followed provincial legislation and made their decisions following due process, consistent with local priorities.

Ontario’s Stop Sprawl Coalition calls on the Province of Ontario to repeal sections of Bill 109 that deal with referrals to the OLT.

We have a climate emergency: plan for it!

The climate has changed – the sudden floods in 2014 caused this flooding in Burlington

Ontario’s Stop Sprawl Coalition supports:

• Ending exclusionary zoning to allow for gentle density in existing neighbourhoods
• Growth through sustainable, more efficient use of land
• Ending sprawl as a means of accommodating new population
• Designing complete, walkable, transit-supportive mixed-use communities
• Saving farming, not just farmland
• Rethinking employment areas for efficiency of land use
• Protection of natural assets, including watersheds, water sources, sensitive lands and biodiversity
• Broad community consultation including Indigenous voices

The Places to Grow Act (PGA) was introduced in the Province of Ontario in 2005. This provincial legislation provided new guidance for how municipalities accommodate growth. It was introduced specifically to address the alarming loss of prime agricultural farmland in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) and the negative consequences of sprawl such as increased commute times, traffic congestion on provincial highways, loss of productivity, increased greenhouse gas emissions and the unsustainable increasing costs to the taxpayers for servicing sprawling growth.

The PGA for the first time forced all municipalities in the GGH to reduce their reliance on converting farmland to subdivisions and introduced mandatory intensification targets within built- up areas of the communities.

The Ford government updated the legislation in 2019 by walking back the intensification targets and by introducing a goal that would effectively require municipalities to approve more sprawl to accommodate growth. The key new requirement was to accommodate the future market for single family dwellings.

Since late last year, Stop Sprawl organizations have sprung up across the GGH in response to these changes which move the province in a backward direction. Municipalities have other priorities that will be thwarted if they simply comply by approving sprawl.

How we must grow during climate breakdown

The Green space we have left. In Burlington the Escarpment is protected – will a second term PC government keep that protection in place.

Ontario’s remaining green spaces are precious. They mitigate climate change and provide future food security. We applaud municipal councils that have chosen to accommodate growth within their existing urban areas and are diligently working on policies that will increase the supply of single-family dwellings without an urban expansion. They have chosen to grow by focusing intensification along higher order transit corridors and in commercial nodes. They have chosen to provide more opportunities for affordable housing to be built near services. They have chosen to plan for growing vibrant walkable, less car-dependent neighbourhoods. They have chosen to grow in a more financially viable way in contrast to accepting the escalating cost of growth through continuing expansion of their urban boundaries.

Stop Sprawl Ontario supports sustainable growth that integrates responsible land management , more efficient use of land, and focuses on creating walkable, livable, healthy communities for all residents in harmony with nature.

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It is much more than a model railroad in the basement of the Freeman Station. It is a significant look at the early years of the city.

By Denis Gibbons

May 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Folks in the Bay Area remember Bob Chambers as a superb photographer with The Hamilton Spectator, who covered world events like the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.

Few, though, know of another of his many talents – creating miniature displays, sometimes known as dioramas.

A steam locomotive pulls up in front of the miniature Burlington Junction station. Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

A huge replica of the hamlet of Freeman in the 1920s, and specifically the old Burlington Junction railway station, now occupies the basement of the historical Freeman Station on Fairview Street.

Freeman was located at about the intersection of Brant Street and Old Plains Road.

Retired Teachers of Ontario members presented the Friends of Freeman Station with a grant of $4000. Left to Right: Ron Danielsen, FOFS President; Ruth Miller, RTO Project Sponsor; Penny Hambly, RTO Awards Committee; Carolyn Hilton, RTO Awards Committee; and Claudia Stewart, RTO-District 15 President.

Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO) provided $4000  to fund a computer control system for its historic model railway educational exhibit. The money was used to purchase the central “brains” of the museum-quality model railway diorama depicting life in the village of Freeman.

Chambers constructed the model in the basement of his home. Gates Bisson contributed other items like a replica of the old fruit-processing plant and Supertest gas station and historian Bob Miller created a cattle pen.

Gary Thompson also donated a circus train, which will be used when children start arriving on field trips. The train often passed through Burlington many years ago on its way to set up in Hamilton.

Miller and KenTaylor, members of the Friends of Freeman Station, operate the model railway setup, which covers 660 square feet.

Miller recalls that before the layout was set up in the basement, the group set up a smaller model railway display at the library and included a Thomas the Train engine, from the popular TV show for children.

“Thomas’ headlights showed up as little eyes,” Miller said. “The kids just loved that.”

Two miniature locomotives approach the junction carefully. Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

The focus is the illuminated Burlington Junction station, which until 1988 stood on the railway line just to the southwest of the intersection of Brant Street and Old Plains Road.

Near the station is the actual junction of two lines – one which ran all the way from Montreal through Toronto and Burlington, then split at Hamilton allowing passengers to travel as far as either Chicago or New York.

Visitors took lots of photos of the miniature layout. Photo by DENIS GIBBONS

The other line, which started at the village of Allandale near Barrie, ran south to Burlington, then down the Beach Strip to service cooling units for frozen fruit grown in the area.

Because it eventually re-connected with the main line at Stoney Creek, it also was a quick bypass of the clogged lines in Hamilton.

The display includes a video describing how a steam locomotive works.

Burlington was once known as the fruit basket of Canada.

Dried fruit, particularly melons grown in farms along Plains Road, were shipped from the station around the world. Later canneries opened in this area.

A child in period costume was part of the crown on the re-opening of Freeman Station. Photo by Denis Gibbons

Queen Elizabeth and Canadian Prime Ministers from Sr. John A. MacDonald to Lester B. Pearson travelled along the main line, as did NHL teams moving from Montreal and Toronto to Detroit, Chicago and New York.

More than 1.000 service men left the station to defend their country in times of war and peace. Marching bands and hundreds of their fellow citizens walked with them to the station to bid them farewell.

After the Second World War, many emigrants from Europe arrived at this station to make a new life in Burlington.

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HDSB to focus on one of the five focus areas each day that make up the 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan to show the importance of schools, staff, families and the community working together

By Staff

May 2, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

HDSB to focus on one of the five focus areas each day that make up the 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan to show the importance of schools, staff, families and the community working together

Everyone has an opinion on education and everyone pays taxes to support the system we have in Ontario.

There is a lot to be learned about how our children are educated.  The week of May 2nd is your opportunity to learn how the Halton District School Board does that educating.

The Halton District School Board joins school boards across Ontario in celebrating Education Week from May 2-6, 2022. This year’s theme from the Ministry of Education is, Moving Forward. The HDSB will celebrate Education Week by focusing each day on one of the five areas of focus in the 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan (MYP) to show the importance of schools, staff, families and the community working together to support the well-being and success of students.

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the HDSB. – seeing more interaction with the public than previous Directors.

Education Week provides an opportunity to demonstrate the deep and enriched learning that is taking place across the Halton District School Board,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the HDSB. “The week also allows us to reflect on the importance of a strong and vibrant education system. Learning is most successful when we create equitable conditions that support excellent outcomes for all students. We are excited to profile how engaged our schools and students have been this year and we look forward to continuing to focus on learning, engagement and success for all.”

Throughout the week, we will be sharing examples of how each of the five areas of focus in our Multi-Year Plan guide student and staff learning in classrooms and throughout the Board.

As a lead off to Education Week, the HDSB is also proud to be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow (April 29) to celebrate the beginning of a new elementary school in Milton expected to open in the Fall of 2023. The school will accommodate 788 Kindergarten to Grade 8 students and will offer English and French Immersion.

Monday, May 2 – Equity and Inclusion: This area of focus shows how schools champion supportive and inclusive practices to ensure equitable access to positive opportunities and outcomes for all.

They arrive full of energy and enthusiasm – how different are they when they leave school ?

Tuesday, May 3 – Mental Health & Well-Being: This area of focus highlights how students strengthen safe and caring school environments that promote well-being, and enhance relationships and positive learning and working climates where everyone belongs and feels safe. May 2-8 is also Mental Health Week, as designated by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), which promotes mental health awareness, decreasing stigma and helpful resources.

Wednesday, May 4 – Environmental Leadership: This area shows how students and staff take action to help create a sustainable world and will be showcased to demonstrate how HDSB schools are providing opportunities to learn about connections between ecosystems, social justice and climate, as well as elevate local environmental initiatives and practices.

Thursday, May 5 – Learning & Achievement: Examples will be shared of how the HDSB strives to create learning environments to elevate student achievement, foster a culture of high expectations to maximize student and staff achievement and promote innovative strategies.

Also on May 5, the Board is proud to recognize the success of students through its annual Celebration of Student Excellence event. This virtual event will start at 7 p.m. Each year, one student per school is honoured for their excellence in self-improvement, enhancing the school and/or local community, citizenship, student leadership, academics, vocational studies and specialized programs or extra-curricular activities. A link to view the ceremony will be on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca) on Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. 

Friday, May 6 – Indigenous Perspectives & Awareness: On the final day of Education Week, the HDSB will highlight the many learning opportunities for students and staff that help promote knowledge and understanding of Indigenous perspectives and realities.

 

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Donated formal wear is available for students to choose from on May 9 and 17

By Staff

April 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is a really neat program.

Donated formal wear is available for students to choose from on May 9 and 17

Dresses, suits, shirts, ties available for students to browse at drop-in sessions

The Halton District School Board will host open houses in May for students to select, at no cost, donated formal wear for upcoming prom or graduation events.

Called Fashion Forward, students will have the opportunity to view and try on formal wear in a friendly and welcoming environment. Students may select from a variety of new and gently-used attire that has been donated for proms, graduations and other special events.

There are many different styles, colours and sizes of formal dresses available as well as suits, shirts, ties and shoes.

The dates to browse for formal wear are Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 17. Each open house runs from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Elsie MacGill Secondary School (1410 Bronte St S, Milton).

It would have been nice if the selection opportunities were held in each municipality – maybe next year.

Students are required to bring student identification to the open house they attend.

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A chance to play a part in Re-Imagining Education - right here in the Region of Halton

By Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board trustees came to the realization that the classroom level experience during the past two years was something that had to be looked at – in a positive manner.

Five of the 24 trustees formed a planning group and wrote the Minister of Education in February of 2021 – they didn’t get an answer and decided rather than wait on the Minister to respond to their idea they broke out on their own.

The Planning Group consists of:

  • Tracey Ehl Harrison (Chair & Site Admin)
  • Andrea Grebenc (Site Admin)
  • Joanna Oliver
  • Leah Reynolds
  • Margo Shuttleworth

The result is an imaginative and bold for trustees initiative that could produce some interesting ideas – it is now up to the community to respond.  Everyone has an opinion on education – let us see if those with opinions have any original ideas or social imagination.

Through a new initiative called Reimagine Forward, Trustees of the Halton District School Board are asking the Halton community and beyond to reimagine education by sharing ideas and stories to develop big-picture, innovative opportunities about how the publicly-funded school system in Ontario can evolve. Parents/guardians, students, staff, community and education partners are invited to provide their ideas and stories at engagehdsb.ca starting today until May 28.

Here’s the question:

“What are the big moves needed to reimagine public education?”

This is the singular focus of Reimagine.  Think big. Think positive. Be innovative. The secret sauce is here among us.

HDSB Chair Margo Shuttleworth

Reimagine is a grassroots project initiated and led by the HDSB Trustees. Submitted ideas will be reviewed by Trustees to influence local policy making and will be shared with participants, the Minister of Education and other Ontario school boards and education organizations in June.

We promise to:

read all of your ideas and stories and let them influence local policy making.

package up all of the ideas and stories in early June and share them with you, the Minister of Education, Boards from across the province and education organizations. You can share the findings too. We’ll share them here and at the Board table.

Please spread the word by inviting your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues to this site and by tagging @HaltonDSB

Register and participate anytime until May 28TH.

Positive change starts with thinking about and reimagining public education. Let’s work together to share stories and ideas. Please add yours. And, stay for a while to check out all of the contributions.

You are Invited! Let’s Reimagine -Together.

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Raptors Superfan to talk virtually to Halton District School Board students - April 27th

By Staff

April 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

What a thrill this is going to be.  And what an experience as well

And if the Raptors can hang in and give the 76ers a good run for their money and pull off a miracle as well – the kids who listen to the virtual broadcast will never forget the day.

The Halton District School Board has Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia talking to students in a HDSB-partnered learning resources launch nationally.

Nav Bhatia has attended almost every Raptors home game since the teams first season in 1995.

Nav Bhatia will join classrooms virtually on Wednesday, April 27

The Halton District School Board is welcoming Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia to classrooms as part of a virtual learning engagement next week.

Bhatia will join Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes virtually on Wednesday, April 27 to empower and uplift students through his messages of “strength in diversity” and “uniting the world through basketball”. This visit comes after HDSB students have been engaging in learning about Bhatia’s journey through educational resources and activities developed by HDSB staff.

The Superfan Nav Bhatia Foundation plans to make this “Superfan Workshop” available to schools across Canada.

Bhatia will speak to:

  • Kindergarten – Grade 6 classes from 9 – 9:30 a.m. 
  • Grade 7 – 12 classes from 9:40 – 10:20 a.m. 

Nav Bhatia is the legendary Toronto Raptors fan who has attended almost every home game since the team’s first season in 1995. His journey as a beloved fan, successful business owner and inspirational community builder is told through the recently released CBC documentary Superfan: The Nav Bhatia Story.

“After watching the documentary, the HDSB’s Human Rights & Equity Team knew this was a story meant to live in classrooms and with youth,” says Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education with responsibility for Equity, Inclusion and Indigenous education. “Aligned with core principles of Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, such as affirming identity, representation and critical consciousness, Nav’s story provides rich entry points for student learning and connects with the Equity & Inclusion area of focus in the HDSB’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan”.

With multiple connections to curriculum areas such as Language, History, Health, Civics and Careers, Equity Studies and more, the HDSB developed Superfan learning resources and activities for staff to engage students. In partnership with the Superfan team, these learning resources will now inspire youth across the country as the Superfan Workshop launches nationally.

At Chris Hadfield Public School in Milton, teacher-librarian Lisa Turbitt arranged for several classes to watch the Superfan documentary and collaborate on responses to questions such as, “How has Nav helped to create a sense of community?” and “What messages can you take from Nav into your own life?” The school shared their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #HDSBeSuperFan. Turbitt says this expression of student voice captured Bhatia’s attention and now HDSB students and Superfan Nav Bhatia will have a chance to meet.

“We hope this is just the beginning of a long and ‘super’ relationship,” says Eatough.

 

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Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to take place online April 26th

By Staff

April 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Halton District School Board  families, staff and community members are invited to the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion & Human Rights to raise awareness on historical and contemporary issues of identity, inclusion and human rights. The next session in the panel series will be:

Self-Determination and Anti-Colonial Practices:
Indigenous Rights, Education and Food Sovereignty
Tuesday, April 26 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.

This will be a virtual event, with the livestream linked on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca).
Registration is not required.

This session will not be recorded.

Panel speakers include:
• Marie Battiste, Mi’kmaw Educator, Author and Special Advisor at Cape Breton University, Professor Emerita, University of Saskatchewan
• Sheri Longboat, Associate Professor and Researcher, University of Guelph
• Tabitha Robin Martens, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
• Nancy Rowe, Education Consultant & Treaty Partner, Michizaagiig, Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Kwe

Those interested in attending the event can submit a question to the panel before or during the panel discussion through this Google Form: https://forms.gle/L5AxQvpErhR9wpkG9

“Each session in the series will explore how issues of identity and inclusion intersect with education,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board.

“This provides an opportunity to create awareness of multiple perspectives of insight and analysis on how individual identities can be reflected and engaged in the broader HDSB community. This panel series aligns with the Board’s commitment to raise awareness of diverse community perspectives and the need to broaden resources to support inclusion and student achievement, as reflected in the HDSB’s Multi-Year Plan 2020-2024 and the Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan – The Way Forward.”

Future sessions in the series include:
• Perspectives on Islam and Islamophobia (Tuesday, May 31 at 6 – 7:30 p.m.).

Previous panel sessions include Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (Feb. 7), Black Excellence: Today and Every Day (Feb. 28) and Two Spirit & Transgender Awareness: Beyond Bathrooms (March 29). Full recordings of these panel discussions are available to view on the Director’s Panel Series on Identity, Inclusion and Human Rights webpage.

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The crass, vile, political chicanery at city hall needs close public scrutiny in the way they handle a Code of Conduct matter

By Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While most of us enjoy the break from the day to day life we live, hoping that we are getting through the pandemic and that whatever the new normal is going to be that nice warm weather is included – there are civic issues that need close attention.

Earlier in the week the Integrity Commissioner released a report in which they stated that a city Councillor had breached the Council Code of Conduct and recommended that the Councillor be docked five days pay.

The report is lengthy. It sets out four items and decided that ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte had breached the Council Code of Conduct  on two of them.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

The Integrity Commissioner was responding to complaints filed by two other members of city council: Rory Nisan and Kelvin Galbraith.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is not a party to the complaint but is believed to have been very active in getting the complaint to the Integrity Commissioner.

Councillor Stolte does not deny doing what she is accused of doing. She published a statement the day the contents of the Integrity report were released saying that if her being docked five days’ pay was the price it took to get the issue of Closed sessions of Council on the table and part of a robust public discussion then so be it.

A robust public discussion is exactly what the city needs – there is no certainty that any such thing will take place.

The Mayor said on Thursday that she had yet to read the report and would do so on the weekend; Councillor Sharman said he too had yet to read the document.

Take those two statements with more than a grain of salt.

Councillors Nisan and Galbraith have not made themselves available for comment.

Councillors Kearns and Bentivegna have not made any comment.

Those close to what happens at city hall have known for some time how fractured this council has become. When Meed Ward was elected in 2018 the population was for the most part filled with hope that development would be reined in and towering residential buildings would be located away from the downtown core.

The Nautique condo development found a way to get around a transportation issue – shortly after shovels were in the ground and the crane was in place purchase agreements were pulled and higher prices put in place. It was the kind of development people feared would take place.

The developers wanted to build and sell condominiums close to the lake.

Five of the seven member council were new to municipal politics and have struggled to deal with the very significant issues.

Burlington is being forced by the provincial government to grow its population at a startling rate. The Burlington that many love as it is are having a difficult time accepting the construction of towers that rise 26 storeys across the street from a six storey city hall.

Some 40 development applications are before the Ontario Land Tribunal, a jurisdictional body where Burlington has not done very well.
The number of Closed sessions city council has held is the nub of the issue. Stolte is not the only member of Council who wants to see fewer

Closed sessions and only when they are absolutely necessary.
Burlington is the subject of an investigation by the provincial Investigator of Closed Meetings. There is no date for a report on that investigation.

In 2017 the Halton district School Board decided to close two of the city’s seven high schools. It was a divisive process. In the fullness of time the HDSB decided to declare the former Robert Bateman High school surplus – which meant it was able to sell the property.

Conceptually it is a great idea – winners everywhere – until Council decided to seal their lips and keep the public out of the picture.

There is a very tightly defined process for selling surplus school property. The city of Burlington turned out to be the only bidder for the property.

At the time Brock University was looking for a new home for its Faculty of Education. Suddenly there was a real synergy in play.

When matters of property are before city council they are usually discussed in a Closed session. A developer making an application to construct a large residential tower or a property that is going to have a hundred or some homes always involve zoning and Official Plan amendments. The city administration wants hold these discussions in private, as well they should. Thus the rationale for going into a Closed session.

The difference with the Bateman property is that all the players were public – none of them were asking for or seeking a zoning change or an amendment to the Official Plan for an organizational profit.

The interests of three public organizations (a school board, a university and a municipality) that serve the interest of the public (You and I) were being worked through.

To add to the discussions there was a very real concern about the amount of asbestos in the former Bateman high school, what the cost of its removal and who was going to pick up that cost.

The site is big, the Mayor wants it to be a public place, the school board wants to get rid of the property but rent back some of the space. Brock University wants to make the place home for the Faculty of Education. Councillor Stolte wants the public to know what all this is going to cost. .

Councillor Stolte felt that because these issues were important to the public at large the need for Closed Sessions was lessened and took the positioned that the greater good was more important. She never made any secret of her position.

The city’s legal department didn’t see it that way nor did the Mayor. Both wanted much more control over the issue

And so here we are in the midst of crass, vile, political chicanery.

It is time for the public to weigh in and let their member of Council know what they think and feel.

This is not something that should be allowed to slip by without a close public review.

Related news stories:

Integrity Commissioner’s report in full

Councillor Stolte Statement

The Closed Session issue has been around for a while

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Halton District School Board studentswill be strong competitors at Robotics event.

By Pepper Parr

April 13, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington high schools have always been strong competitors in the field of robotics.

Six robotics teams from the Halton District School Board (HDSB) will be competing at the FIRST Ontario Provincial Championship in Mississauga Thursday through Saturday (April 14-16).

The robot was taught how to throw that basketball. It was not drafted by the Raptors

Schools participating include Burlington Central School, M.M. Robinson High School, Garth Webb Secondary School and Georgetown District High School, each with one team, and Oakville Trafalgar High School with two teams.

Each HDSB team qualified for the provincial competition based on their results from taking part in regional competitions including those held at Humber College, Waterloo and York universities. This provincial competition is a qualifier for the World FIRST Robotic Championship held April 20-23 in Houston, Texas.

“Our Halton FIRST robotics teams worked extra hard this season coming out of lockdown, with tight timelines to build their robot in time to compete in their first qualifier at the beginning of March,” says Veronica Kleinsmith, Lead for the Specialist High Skills Major andPathways programs with the HDSB.

“All HDSB teams built impressive robots this year and three of our schools are ranked in the Top 6 in Ontario going into this provincial competition. Each team raises funds from community and business sponsors, designs a brand for their team, hones their teamwork skills, builds and finally programs their robots for a difficult field-game challenge.”

The students who take part in the robotics courses are amongst the smartest in the HDSB system.

Established in 2001, FIRST Robotics inspires young people to be leaders and innovators in science and technology by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills to inspire innovation and foster self-confidence, communication and leadership.

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School bus drivers with Covid19 infections means temporary service disruptions

By Staff

April 10th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Shortage of school-bus drivers amid pandemic continues to temporarily disrupt services

Halton Student Transportation Services (HSTS) is reminding families of the continued bus route disruptions due to the ongoing decrease of available drivers resulting from COVID-19 isolation requirements.

Lots of busses – not enough drivers.

“Every effort will be made to communicate cancellations as quickly as possible, but in many cases, we will have minimal notice as drivers continue to follow public health guidelines and minimize risk to students,” says David Colley, General Manager of Halton Student Transportation Services.

To stay informed about bus route cancellations, families can:

• Visit the Halton Student Transportation Service Alerts page for up-to-date route cancellations and delays
• Register for Delay/Cancellation email notifications via the HSTS Parent Portal
• For instant delay notifications, download the Delays App to your smartphone: BusPlanner Delay App

We understand the impact that this has on families and we thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

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There are solid reasons to be concerned about the Covid19 testing the government is not doing

By Staff

April 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Beachway water treatment plant in Burlington is the largest in the Region

The Covid19 infection numbers for the province are not encouraging – infection reports are climbing and the number of children not in school is alarming.

The Boards of Education don’t have any central reporting – what we are hearing from readers is that – a lot of kids are not in class.

With province wide reporting gone for now municipalities are relying on waste water testing.

While the numbers are not high – the trend is in the wrong direction

 

Location of the waste water treatment plans where testing is done. The test results are rising in every location

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Changing the way people view what has been a taboo subject - two women from Burlington appear to have made it happen

By Pepper Parr

April 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How does change come about?

What makes people decide they want to change something that they think could be better.

Olivia Netto

Olivia Netto and Inman Nemar were both students at Nelson high school out riding their bikes and a situation arose that had them talking about those occasions when you really need a product there is nothing at hand.

The product in this instance was feminine personal hygiene products – a taboo for many people and something that young men just don’t know all that much about and are not comfortable asking questions either.  But for Olivia Netto and Inman Nemar it was a serious subject and they decided they wanted to try and bring about a change:  Getting free mental products in as many public locations as possible.

“Over the course of the past few years, we’ve noticed a lack of accessibility to feminine hygiene products both within the community and at schools. Our mission is to create a donation-based drive to cater to those in need. At school, in the workplace and in Burlington”, said Inman.

They took the view that offering free menstrual hygiene products in public washrooms is now considered as essential to the community as offering toilet paper, soap and paper towels.

Inman Nemar

Providing menstrual hygiene products in each of the public washrooms in the facility also provides a more inclusive approach to support the needs of transgender and non-binary individuals.

When they decided to try and involve the city they got a very good response.

Their focus was on Burlington – given the success they have had – they have their eyes on the Region, then the province and – why not the whole country.

They researched, they asked questions and they put together a presentation that went before city council.

They wanted the city to consider a pilot program

Olivia is studying Industrial design at Carlton University and Inman is studying Life Sciences at McMaster.

Asked how they can monitor the distribution and the take up Oliva said: “We have scouts out there.”

Why the apple? That’s something they will have to tell you. What they really want to talk about is their Pink Project.

There initiative is called the Pink Project; it was enthusiastically taken up by council – they approved the project as a pilot that will be in place until the end of the year.

Public response so far has been positive

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