Public can now review the six high school closing options.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 28th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For those of you north of the QEW – tonight is the night to get a close up look at the six options that are now being considered by the PARC that is in place to give the Halton District School Board Director of Education a recommendation on which, if any of the high schools should be closed.

PARC with options on the walls

Two representatives from each of the seven high schools in the city meeting to recommend an option to the Director of Education.

PARC is the Program Accommodation Review Committee that has two representatives each from the six high schools that have now met on four occasions to look at data the board has provided them and make a recommendation.

Details of each of the six options will be set out on different “information” stations” with school board staff on hand to answer questions.

The event takes place at the Hayden high school on Tim Dobbie Drive. The event begins at 7:00 pm. The Board of Education is not making a presentation to an audience – there is no start time. People will be able to move from “information station” to “information station” and look at the maps and accompanying information and ask questions of senior board staff.

The event will be repeated on March 7th at the New Street Education Centre on New Street.

The following are the meetings to take place before a decision date:

     
Public Meeting #2 (South Burlington schools) March 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

 

New Street Education Centre
3250 New Street
PARC Working Meeting #5 March 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
Director’s Report (with compiled feedback) to Committee of the Whole March 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
Public Delegation Night April 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
Final Report to Board of Trustees for decision May 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line
Protest outside board office

Parents from both Central and Pearson high schools have been demonstrating before school board meetings.

Burlington Central High school parents have been demonstrating pretty consistently since this process began back in October. They would like to see more involvement from city hall even though the final decision will be made by the school board trustees in May.

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School board expected to change public delegation by law.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 27, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Leah Reynolds

Ward 1 and 2 School Board trustee Leah Reynolds.

Ward 1 and 2 School Board trustee Leah Reynolds tells her constituents that she expects the board ratify changes to the Delegation By-law to make it easier for the public to submit a request to speak on an issue that is important to them in front of the elected board of trustees. Some of the proposed improvements are:

* The public will now have the ability to review the meeting agenda and board reports prior to submitting a delegation request.

* The deadline to submit a Delegation Request Form is extended up to two business days (at noon) prior to the board meeting.

* Prepared written transcripts are no longer required. This allows presenters the freedom to express themselves without adhering strictly to written materials that previously required Chair review.

* Each delegation will be allowed an additional five minutes for trustee questions and comments to allow for further clarification.

* Delegations can be made at Trustee Committee of the Whole Meetings. These meetings are open to the public, less formal with more opportunity for a question and answer dialogue rather than speeches and statements typically made at board meetings.

A positive change that will have an impact on the Public Delegation Night that has been set aside to hear delegations on the proposed high school closing scheduled for April 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the J.W. Singleton Education Centre, 2050 Guelph Line

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School board opens the survey on school closing options to the general public.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 27, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Parents throughout Burlington will have gotten a survey asking them what they think of the six options that are before the Program Accommodation Review Committee.

It is a reasonably fair and balanced survey at first glance.

There is one small problem and that is the detail behind each option is viewed in a separate screen and the type is so small it really cannot be read.

The Board would like your feedback on the remaining six options through the online survey. Click here to get to the survey.

The survey is available Monday February 27 – Monday March 13 (until 4:30 pm).

The order in which Options appear in the online survey is random.

All responses will be anonymous.

The survey can only be completed by using a desktop or laptop computer. It cannot be completed on a tablet or mobile device.

A public meeting is scheduled for North Burlington schools on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School. The meeting for South Burlington schools is scheduled for Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
We urge you to attend the public meeting – it doesn’t have a start time – you can drop in at any time and get more detail on any one of the six options. There will be Board of Education staff members on hand to answer questions.

For those who aren’t going to be able to get to either of the two public meetings set out below are details on each of the options. The details were released at one of the PARC meeting.

The six options are as follows:

Option 23d ‐ Robert Bateman HS, Lester B Pearson HS closes, Dr. Frank J Hayden SS program change
No change to Aldershot HS boundary
Burlington Central HS catchment expands to include Tecumseh PS catchment
IB program added to Burlington Central HS from Robert Bateman
Nelson HS boundary expands east. SC‐SPED & Essential programming redirected to Nelson HS from Robert Bateman
MM Robinson HS ENG catchment expands to include Lester B Pearson HS
Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS. No change to the English catchment.

Option 19b – Burlington Central HS, Lester B Pearson closes HS, Dr Frank J Hayden SS & Robert Bateman HS program change
Aldershot HS catchment expands east to Brant St, ESL program relocated to Aldershot HS from Burlington Central HS. 10 rooms available from the Aldershot elementary facility to accommodate additional
Nelson HS expands west to Brant
Robert Bateman HS catchment include John William Boich PS catchment south of Upper Middle Rd, and the entire Frontenac PS catchment
FI program added to Robert Bateman HS with same boundaries as the English program
MM Robinson HS English boundary expands to include Lester B Pearson HS. FI boundary include Dr. Frank J Hayden SS with the exception of John William Boich PS catchment south of Upper Middle
Frank J Hayden becomes English only school, with a reduced English catchment area

Option 4b – Robert Bateman HS closes
No change to Aldershot HS
Burlington Central HS expands to include the entire Tecumseh PS
Nelson HS expands east to include Robert Bateman HS. Nelson HS receives the SC‐SPED and Essential programming from Robert Bateman
MM Robinson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment
Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Florence Meares PS catchment. IB program and Gifted Secondary Placement added to Lester B. Pearson HS from Robert Bateman HS and Nelson HS
Frank J Hayden SS English catchment area is reduced.

Option 7b – No changes to schools south of the QEW
Frank J Hayden SS Boundary change
Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment area, John William Boich PS catchment area south of Upper Middle Road, and Alexander’s PS catchment
Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

Option 28d – Burlington Central HS and Lester B Pearson HS closes, Program change for Dr Frank J Hayden SS
Aldershot HS catchment area expands easterly to railway tracks, ESL program added to Aldershot from Burlington Central
Nelson HS catchment area expands west to the railway
Robert Bateman HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Frontenac PS catchment
MM Robinson HS catchment area expands to include Lester B Pearson HS catchment area.
FI is removed from Dr. Frank J Hayden SS and redirected to MM Robinson HS
CH Norton PS area that is currently directed to Lester B Pearson HS, to be redirected to Dr Frank J Hayden

Option 3b – Nelson HS closes, Dr Frank J Hayden SS and Burlington Central HS have a program change
Aldershot FI expands to include Burlington Central HS FI catchment
Burlington Central HS English catchment area expands to Walkers Line
Robert Bateman HS expands west to Walkers
FI program added to Robert Bateman HS
Lester B Pearson HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Kilbride PS catchment area. The Secondary Gifted placement added to Lester B Pearson HS from Nelson
Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS.
Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

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Parents wanting to keep Central high school open are gong to take their protest to city council. This should be fun.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 26th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Central Strong, that Merry Band of “die hards” that are fighting the good fight to keep their school open, have another task that they need help with.

Walk to school

They are going to walk to city hall and perhaps march into the council chamber.

They want you to meet at Burlington Central at 5:15 pm tomorrow, Monday, February 27th. They will be walking along Brant St to raise awareness and bring attention to their cause and will end at City Hall where they will greet City Councillors and Mayor prior to the city council meeting.

They want everyone to bring their Save Central signs or the signs that reflect your thoughts on what City Council should be doing.

Part 2 of this initiative is some canvassing of downtown streets, so that they can gather data on what they know to be the changing demographics of the core.

They have seen numerous infill developments all around the core of the city and believe they are seeing a lot of housing turn over with many new families moving in when empty-nesters and retired homeowners move out (some of them moving to the new downtown condos).

central-strongHowever, maintains Central Strong, the Halton District School Board doesn’t seem to have heard of this phenomenon.

The Board is about to do an on-line survey of parents relating to the options on the table at the Program Accommodation Review. Central Strong makes reference to a comment made by Kirk Perris that this is a “non-scientific survey”. That isn’t completely true.

Those parents responding to the survey sent to them by the board will produce results that are “scientific” in that the only people who can respond to the survey sent to the household will be people from that household.

There will be a second survey, identical to the one being sent to the households, that anyone can respond to – that version of the survey will not be scientific – anyone from Pakistan will be able to respond was the way Kirk Perris put it.

The Gazette expects to have the link to the public survey late Monday afternoon and will publish that as soon as it is received.

Households will get their link directly from the board.

The door to door survey work the Central Strong people want to do might reveal data that has not been known up until now. And getting all the data possible is well worth the effort.

Central Strong is asking that “as many of you as possible to pick a street, perhaps your own street or another nearby street, and do a simple checklist for us and send it in to us. If we can get a good number of streets done, that would be great.”

PARC crowd Dec 8-16

The first public meeting on the closing of Burlington high schools didn’t go all that well.

Specifically, include:

Street Name
Number of Homes Canvassed

How many homes have changed from seniors/retirees to families with children in last year, 3 years, 5 years.

How many have been family homes for more than 5 years

How many are empty nesters/retirees

Of the empty nesters/retirees, how many plan on selling within 1-5 years; 5-10 years

You might know the answers for some of the homes on your street without needing to ask.

It would also be helpful if some people could canvass an apartment or condo building floor or two so that we can see how many children are living there now and extrapolate that to the number in the total building.

Central Strong wants to be able to show that the downtown core is expanding as we know it is, that the development coming to the core will bring families and children, but also that the houses that are here are turning over to more and more families.

Important Dates

Public Meeting #2 (North Burlington schools) February 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School, 3040 Tim Dobbie Drive

Public Meeting #2 (South Burlington schools) March 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm at New Street Education Centre, 3250 New Street

PARC Working Meeting #4 March 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm. J.W. Singleton Education Centre, 2050 Guelph Line
Members of the PARC will be given the data from the surveys taking place between February 27th and March 13th

Director’s Report (with compiled feedback) to Committee of the Whole March 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm at J.W. Singleton Education Centre, 2050 Guelph Line

Public Delegation Night April 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm at J.W. Singleton Education Centre, 2050 Guelph Line

Final Report to Board of Trustees for decision May 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm at J.W. Singleton Education Centre, 2050 Guelph Line.

Trustees - fill board +

This is where the buck is going to stop. The 11 elected trustees will make the final decision. Will they prove to be independent or will the people that elected them see a decision to go with the staff recommendation.

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Is the Board of Education missing out on an opportunity to really harness the energy and creativity of the PARC?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is almost as if the parents who want to keep their local schools open have to do the job with one hand tied behind their backs.

Changes in provincial government legislation has reduced the number of public meetings a school board has to hold and it removes any focus on what happens to the community.

Director Miller has been saying from the get go that the interests of the students is his primary focus – that comes straight out of the provincial government play book.

PARC Jan 27 full group

Parents from different high schools watch the PARC deliberate; they have held four meetings to date.

The Ontario government is speeding up the process for closing schools, as part of a crackdown on publicly funded boards with too many classrooms sitting empty.

Ministry of education guidelines defines schools less than two-thirds full as “underutilized” and are candidates for either closing or changes to their boundaries or programs they offer. The ministry now has new guidelines for community consultations that must take place before a school can be closed. Critics say the guidelines limit public engagement and make it easier to close schools.

A committee reviewing the fate of a school is required to hold two public meetings instead of four under the new regime, and the time frame for conducting a review is cut to five months from seven. Another major change causing considerable angst for municipal officials is a shift in emphasis toward student achievement and away from considering the impact of closing a school on the well-being of a community and the local economy.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), said focusing the review process more narrowly on the interests of students might help school boards solve their fiscal challenges. But it comes at the expense of the longer-term interests of a community, including the impact closing a school could have on residential real estate values.

The new process gives municipal governments a formal role for the first time, providing an opportunity for school boards to collaborate with municipalities in making the best use of school space.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015 - hand out

Mayor Goldring may have thought he was dodging a bullet when he had his city manager sit on the PAR committee.

Mayor Golding, who sits on an AMO committee, is treating the closing of high schools like a roaring fire – something he isn’t going to get very close to – he accepted the offer of city manager James Ridge, who apparently volunteered for the task of representing the city on the PARC.  Ridge has said very little.

An AMO spokesperson said: “A school is the hub of a community. When you close a school, that community has lost a draw for anybody to ever come back.”   It is self-evident that property values in the community that loses a school will fall.

Then Minister of Education Elizabeth Sandals said that she wants the school boards and the municipalities to have an ongoing relationship where they are sharing their planning data so that the municipalities are aware of where there are clusters of underutilized schools.

The reality many school boards are facing is that there are too many empty seat and they are under pressure to address the financial drain.

The Halton Board seems to have decided it will follow the provincial guidelines and almost bulldoze the PARC parents into accepting the option the board put on the table; close two of the seven high schools.

We now have a situation where the Program Accommodation Review Committee currently looking for options it can give Director Miller is facing a board administration that fudges data and doesn’t work in a collaborative way with the PARC.  It amounts to a lost opportunity for everyone.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Aldershot High school PARC member Steve Cussons and Central high school representative Ian Farwell on the left.

Miller is quite right when he speaks of the significant time and effort the 14 PAR committee members  are putting in.  They have had to climb a very steep learning curve and have found on too many occasions that some of the data is incorrect.

Miller seems to have lost the opportunity to harness the energy and creativity of the PAR committee.  Is it too late for him and his team to make a mid-course correction and put some substance into the words, “collaborative” and collectively?

This is a shared problem and there is an opportunity to work as a community that understands and respects each other.

Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said in many heavily contested cases in the past, it was often a municipality that was fighting to prevent a school from closing.

That certainly isn’t the case in Burlington.

 

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Resident wants the school closing process to be halted by the Minister of Education

News 100 redBy Staff

February 24th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie

Burlington resident Gary Scobie wants the school closing process now asking place in Burlington halted. Here is what he had to say the provincial Minister of Education.

Dear Minister Hunter,

On February 16th I sent an email to Mr. Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board (HDSB), on which you and other officials were copied. I discussed the how the PAR process happening in Burlington for our high schools has been mismanaged by the Board, leading to a probable conclusion to close our oldest school, Central High, in the downtown core while leaving our newest school, Hayden High, north of the QEW over-filled into portables and over-bussed.

Other schools are still in the mix for closure and catchment alterations. I have no vested interest in the outcome (our daughters were well-educated in Burlington and now live elsewhere as adults). I do not live in the downtown core, but see the possible loss of our oldest school, Central High, as damaging to the future prospects of our downtown residential, commercial and cultural livability.

In real estate, they say the three most important things are location, location, location. This could not be truer for any other high school in Burlington. Central High is part of the fabric that makes our downtown attractive to families. Having a local school that is walked to by 92% of the students means it is a school that deserves to stay and be refurbished to meet all accessibility and program requirements. The alternative, being promoted by the HDSB is to close it and bus the students to the far reaches of suburban Burlington in the east and the west, thereby gutting our downtown of any future attraction to families.

Our downtown is the key intensification area in the future, as directed by our Provincial Government. There will be more condos and stacked townhouses built as re-development occurs under provincial mandate. I believe we all want families to move into existing housing and these new forms of housing to be built in the downtown core, keeping it vital both commercially and culturally. Removing one distinctive hub (Central High) will do much to defeat this goal. Once it is gone, it will never reappear as land in the downtown will be too expensive to re-assemble by the Board.

There are other alternatives, but they have been given short shrift by the Board in this mismanaged PAR process. I therefore am requesting that you, as Minister of Education, investigate this PAR process as soon as possible and request a halt to it before irreparable damage is done to our student experience in Burlington. This process is, after all, to benefit students. In doing so, it should not damage forever the most important neighbourhood in our City, our downtown core neighbourhood.

Burlington is well-known as one of the best cities in Canada to live and age in. I want to protect that reputation. The changes in the schooling of our students have the power to either damage or promote this reputation going forward. The issue is too important to be decided only by the HDSB in a poorly executed PAR process. I ask that the PAR be halted and the catchment areas be adjusted to distribute students fairly in the neighbourhoods where they live, using all the existing schools for now. Take a break from the PAR, step back and consider if a PAR is actually in the best interest of Burlington students, and if it is, begin again, with all of the data accurate and complete this time and treat every school and every student in a fair manner from the beginning. Thank you for your consideration.

Gary Scobie
Burlington ON

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Public meeting dates on school closings and online survey time frames announced.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 23rd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

REVISED

With the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) having gone through a long and very arduous process that some of them are not suited to they can now rest on their oars for a few weeks and see what the public has to say about the six options they have decided should be looked at seriously.

The vast majority of the members of the PAR committee are doing superb work.

PARC with options on the walls

The 14 members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee are all volunteers who have put in some long hours and exchanged thousands of emails to get to the point where there are six options for the public to review.

The disappointing aspect of the PARC process is that we now have parents from different schools battling with other parents to ensure that their school does not get closed. The process that Burlington has had to follow almost guaranteed this outcome – the PARC members find themselves between a rock and an even harder place – they have not had an opportunity to frame the debate and discussion and have not had the benefit of adequate an accurate information.

Hard working people PARC

The PAR committee members are fully immersed in the process.

For several this is going to be a very dis-satisfying experience. They deserved better treatment. These people volunteered – put in hundreds of hours and their work is not finished yet. There are some very talented people on the PAR committee and for the most part the ideas they have put forward are commendable.

They had hoped to have some input on the on-line survey that is going to be done – no such luck. One PARC member expressed some concern with the survey that is being put together. The one done December 8th was described by Kirk Perris, the man who put it together as “not one of his better efforts”. That wasn’t an understatement.

The public meeting plan explained to the PARC members was for an event that is to be as interactive as these things can be.

There are two parts to the public engagement: an online survey and public meetings where people can look at the details and ask questions. There will be one public meeting in the north end of the city and a second, with identical content in the south of the city.

Kirk Perris - Ipsos Reid

Kirk Perris, the IPSOS Reid facilitator hired by the board is designing the public meting content and the on-line surveys. He and PARC chair Scott Podrebarac are guiding the process.

Perris intends to set up information stations for each of the six options. Board staff will be on hand to explain the details of each option. PARC members will be on hand as well to give their take on how they got to where they are.

The on-line survey will be opened on the 27th of February. It will be sent out to all parents and there will be an on-line version for anyone else who wants to participate.

The first public meeting in the north end of the city is on the 28th – at Hayden high school, the second is on March 7th at the Gary Allan educational centre on New Street. Both start at 7:00 pm

The survey goes off-line on the 131th of March. There will be print versions of the survey available.

It would be advisable for anyone responding to the survey to wait until they have had a chance to attend one of the public meetings.

Perris talked in terms of questions that would be open ended as well as questions that would be closed ended.

He described the meetings as an exercise in public engagement – there are a lot of smart people who are looking very carefully and closely at the process so far and they do not feel engaged.

One PARC member wanted to know how the data collected is going to be used: “is this a popularity contest or are you going after data that is quantitative or qualitative? Why are we doing this?

PARC Feb 9 Reynolds and Grebenc

Burlington trustees Andrea Grebenc, on the left and Leah Reynolds have attended all the PARC meeting. Trustees Papin and Collard’s antecedence has been more sporadic.

There are some serious concerns in the minds of those people who are following this issue as well as members of the PARC.

The trustees who will make the final decision are sitting on the side lines – observing. One cannot envy them for what is coming their way.

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Burlington Downtown Business Association goes on record – keep Central high school open.

Comment 100By Brian Dean, Executive Director
Burlington Downtown Business Association
February 22, 2017
BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) is a not-for-profit, incorporated organization that represents the interests of its business membership in the downtown core of Burlington. We undertake multiple roles including event management, communications, marketing and advocacy on behalf of the 435 business and commercial property owners in the downtown.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

BDBA Executive Director Brian Dean – is that parking meter on his desk as a keepsake?

We are interested in all issues that affect the present and future health of our unique community of small businesses.

In January 2017 our Board of Directors met with two representatives from The Halton District School Board at our request. Mr. Stuart Miller, Director of Education and Mr. Dom Renzella, General Manager of Planning attended to brief our Directors with a presentation entitled “Program and Accommodation Review Burlington Secondary Schools”.

Central High school

The Downtown Business association calls Central high school a venerable institution.

The representatives shared the fact that two of the five conditions have been met to trigger a Burlington Secondary PAR. Further that the present recommendation includes the closure of Burlington Central High School, and, that a Program and Accommodation Review Committee had been struck. We understand that this PARC is actively reviewing information and garnering feedback from the broader community.

The Burlington Downtown Business Association would like to be considered a community partner to this consultation.

Of the high schools in the City of Burlington none is more venerable or as embedded within an established community of business as Central High School. The BDBA and its member businesses have developed a symbiotic relationship with the student body at Central High School over many decades.

The Downtown business community has a primary trade area, within a two kilometer radius, of approximately 24,497 people. Bounded by a stable residential neighbourhood, our draw includes approximately 1,200 people in the age range 15-19 years. We have observed the value of the student economy to the continued health of several of our member businesses.

Local high school students are patrons of several businesses in the downtown core. In fact, we are aware of some entrepreneurs that have adapted their business models to accommodate the cycle of student schedules. Several businesses have elected to open in the downtown because of the proximity to the high school population which is a primary market for their business model.

Rays with Central sign

There is hardly a storefront on Brant Street that doesn’t have a Save Central sign in their window. More than 1200 of the signs have been distributed.

These same students provide reciprocal value to several downtown businesses as a ready source of labour. Given that Central High School students are generally in the school’s geographic catchment area they are a reliable source of employment for businesses that value a proximal, walk able labour force.

Our business community benefits from the rich group of student volunteers that are critical to the success of our events, arts and cultural programming and other animation. The BDBA in particular, as a chief event organizer has provided Central High School with countless opportunities to explore the forty hours of community service required per student each year.

Further, both public and private sector groups within our downtown have been advantaged by the co-op and intern programs offered to the wider community by Central High School. We value the opportunity to mentor young business leaders and students similarly gain invaluable experience by liaising with community leaders.

The downtown business community has developed an appreciation of the mutually rewarding relationship with our students and the student economy. Toward our goal of making the downtown a “complete neighbourhood” we believe that Central High School plays a key role in ensuring that we cater to patrons at all stages of life.

Evidence of this is the BDBA’s observation that a number of downtown business members have elected to post signs in support of the movement to keep the high school open. As a body that advocates for the best interests of our small business community, the BDBA feels compelled to acknowledge this groundswell of support.

In a broader context, the BDBA has concerns about the potential cultural and historical impact of folding such a storied institution. As a community building organization we value the fact that parents are the city’s primary work force and a key market demographic for many small businesses. Families with school aged children are an important part of the diverse economy downtown; this diverse economy fuels our city centre’s economic resilience. High schools in downtown cores remain powerful agents in creating social networks. It would be unfortunate for families of school aged children to relocate to other parts of the city as a result of a lack of quality schools in their neighbourhood.

tim-hortons-at-brant

How big will the hit to this Tim Hortons be if central high school is closed?

Central High School students and families benefit significantly because of their location within a downtown district. Concerted efforts by community builders to make the downtown safe and livable for young adults results in a higher standards of livability. The result is enhanced facilities like accessible parks and public areas, traffic-calmed streets, better public transportation and other amenities.

In the coming months the BDBA will be canvassing its membership to quantify the value of the student economy to their businesses. We will also endeavour to learn from our business members the value to the students of their high school being located in the downtown core, on the doorstep of 435 businesses as well a several public institutions (City Hall, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Art Gallery of Burlington, Museums of Burlington etc).

Benefits to students include enhanced opportunities for a wide range of co-op placements, work experience, and volunteer service – all within walking distance. The BDBA believes that there is neither this number nor variety of both public and private institutions available to students within walking distance of a high school anywhere else in Burlington.

The BDBA will be assembling survey feedback in anticipation of a revised statement for review by the Program and Accommodation Review Committee.

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Muir wants the Board of Education to fess up and accept public responsibility for the decision to build Hayden high school and then revise boundaries to balance the population between the seven high schools.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

February 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I had a good hour long conversation with Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board earlier this month.

He told me he saw this Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) process as being about students, about what is good for them. However, when I raised some questions about how these benefits to students were being measured, this goal was not supported with data.

I asked for several forms of data (see below) but have not heard back from him.

Hayden High, named after a Burlington leader in the development of sport for the disabled. Grades 9 and 10 show up on Tuesday.

Hayden High, named after a Burlington leader in the development of sport for the disabled. Grades 9 and 10 show up on Tuesday.

The building of Hayden he agrees is the main driver for the mess. That is something that everyone knows, but unfortunately, for the credibility of the Board and the process you are in, nobody is talking about this. This needs to be rectified as it is key to the legitimacy of what you are doing.

Director Miller said he doesn’t want to go into how Hayden was justified – too political for him, he said. I asked for the paper trail, saying there had to be one, and I want to see it. I intend to follow up on this, and I ask for the paper trail below, but my own inquiry of all the available LTAPs finds that it smells bad.

I have looked into this deeper and it’s not transparent and there is no accountability. There was no justification, except, as Mr. Miller opined, the Ministry was talked into a new school there because the students up there should have a school. There is no justification in New Pupil Places, and Growth Pupil Places, using ministry concepts, anywhere in the LTAPs or Capital Plans.

There is no mention of a need for new pupil places, as the long term enrollment trends were consistently flat to trending down.

In fact, there was scarcely a mention of a new NE Burlington Secondary School to be found anywhere in the LTAPs, just that something about getting one was afoot.

It was clearly a transfer of students from the six high schools to Hayden that was used to fill it. Changing feeders to add to Hayden from Pearson. This much is mentioned, but very little attention was brought to bear.

There was no explanation that I found of why the school was needed, despite stable to falling enrollments, and no rationale was offered.

Gerry Cullen

Gerry Cullen, Superintendent of Facilities and Services; The complex that is made up of the Public Library, the Haber Recreation Centre and Hayden high school was his baby.

The significant issue here is that the staff people who planned and delivered Hayden are not being held accountable, or even explaining, but they are the staff body that is doing the analysis and providing information to the PARC right now. I don’t think you are getting a real drill down and detailed set of options.

The evidence in the LTAPs shows that Board staff basically and covertly fabricated a false rationale, to build student spaces that are not needed, for the opening of Hayden.

So my deep concern now is, that it’s not unexpected that these people can also design and fabricate a false rationale and process to close student spaces – to close schools.

As far as I can see this is what is happening.

All this does is cover up their gross mistake that created the situation, and they are just evading it in order to escape accountability.

Unfortunately, Director Miller, the boss of all this, is too politically shy to bring this accountability forward to the table, and so he countenances and approves this evasion of responsibility.

This leads directly to the conclusion that the Board lacks credibility, which depends on coming clean and being contrite.

Everyone needs to see this, and understand why I persist in raising it as a key issue in the resolution of the PAR.

We discussed information needs and what I would like to see.

Stuart Miller

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller.

1. I essentially demanded the accountability paper trail and business plan of how Hayden was approved.

2. I suggested that empty seats be divided between all seven schools, and then six schools. Analyze what is needed to do this (boundaries), and the relative or net money savings compared to the closure and other options.

3. Show how any money savings will be spent for the benefit of students. I asked for detailed data on; number of additional subject offerings, in what schools and how many students gain. I want to see the entire accounting balance.

4. What are the variable operating costs of the empty seats in Central and Pearson.

5. Revisit student number projections downtown. It is another error to discount families moving into condos as affordable.

These are all essential questions I think.

Beyond these outstanding issues and questions, I have a few things to say about the progress I read about in the Burlington Gazette in the first two PARC meetings.

I think the options outlined so far are directing the PARC to closures. The dot-mocracy process from the Gazette’s latest story suggests to me that the PARC is voting, not to the student benefits, but to save their own schools. I think this is due to the framework the Board is using, that frustrates people to exercise the only power that appears available to them.

Two options that close both Central and Pearson are essentially the same in the biggest and most important outcomes and consequences. People are essentially voting for the same thing.

Having these two options and giving them votes, is like rigging the candidate list so the same candidate can be voted for twice.

You can’t add these votes to get a legitimate result.

This is pretty obvious, but perhaps not to everyone.

These closure options are the worst possible results for students, residents and the city of Burlington.

Dot distribution for option 28

Muir argues that the PARC members are being herded into choices that are not in the best interests on the students and the city of Burlington.

Just look at the criteria met, and criteria not met. Those met by closures are most often expressed in general, vague non-specific terms – there are no details. For example, the “no closures” option; “Does not meet a range of outstanding issues, which prompted the PAR.”

Those criteria unmet by closing schools obviously impact the students directly, in concrete and definitely negative terms. This happens in many ways that you are aware of and I will not repeat here.

These options are definitely not about the student’s welfare.

Unfortunately for the people of Burlington, in my opinion, the Board staff seem to excel at providing rigged and manipulated information and choices to get what they want. They did it for Hayden for seats not needed, and now they are doing it again to get rid of schools.

They have boxed you in to a process that is narrowing and focusing you to vote for what you see as the interest of your school and keeping it open. Since the five schools not really named seriously for closure outnumber the two focused on, you can see how the potential votes are translating to actual results reported in the Gazette.

By way of this message I am asking Director Miller, the Board, and the PARC to request and/or provide answers to my questions, explanations, and requests for information.

If you people want this, you will very apparently have to go after it and demand this accountability.

How else can the Board ever be credible and able to be trusted?

Muir making a pointTom Muir is a resident of Aldershot who has been a persistent critic of decisions made by city council. He turns his attention to the current school board mess. He recently suggested to Burlington city council that “If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit.”

Muir challenges the decision to build Hayden high school and asks that the Board of Education accept responsibility for the mistake.

 

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Our city and our unique cultural - could you describe it to a Tea!

artsblue 100x100By Staff

February 21st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington’s public art program would like people to describe Burlington to a ‘tea’.

Beginning, Feb. 25, 2017, the city is launching an exciting new project designed to learn more about Burlington’s neighbourhoods and its unique culture. Over a six-month period, artist Lisa Hirmer will be conducting research into Burlington’s ‘cultural nodes’.

Cultural nodes are areas within the city where residents can experience and share culture.

Burlington TeaAs part of her work, Hirmer will be presenting a series of temporary art installations and performances.
The first event is Burlington Tea! This project will invite participants to warm up while they share their experiences of the city. Residents will be tasked with designing a tea flavour that reflects their experience of their neighbourhood. Participants will then get to enjoy a cup of the tea they designed.
This event is free and you do not need to register in advance! Please join us at the following locations:

Feb. 25, 2017
10 a.m. to noon Haber Recreation Centre and Norton Park

2 to 4 p.m. Brant Hills Community Centre and Park

Feb. 26, 2017
10 a.m. to noon Tansley Woods Community Centre and Park

2 to 4 p.m. Lowville Park

March 1, 2017

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Civic Square, Burlington City Hall

Lisa Hirmer is an interdisciplinary artist who has created publicly engaged projects across the world and has worked with University of Lethbridge Gallery, Peninsula Arts (U.K.), Flux Factory (USA), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Nuit Blanche (Toronto), CAFKA (Kitchener-Waterloo) and Doris McCarthy Gallery (Toronto) amongst many others.

Lisa Hirmer

Lisa Hirmer is going to work with groups to describe Burlington to a tea!

Hirmer is a Guelph-based inter-disciplinary artist whose work combines visual art, design, social practice, performance and art-based forms of critical research. She is the director of DodoLab, an experimental project-based practice focused on exploring and responding to the complicated reality of public opinion. She was selected as the Artiss in Residence for rhe city of Guelph in 2016

She has a master’s degree from the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture, and her work has been shown across North America, Europe, Australia and the UK. Locally, she has created projects with The Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of Guelph, the Musagetes Foundation and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.

For Burlington Tea! She is joined by award-winning environmental designer, Glynis Logue.

Angela Paparizo, Manager, Arts and Culture sees this initiative as something that will be “fun, intriguing, artistic and cultural. Tea is a drink that spans across so many cultures. A cup of tea can break down barriers, start conversations or more simply, warms you physically and emotionally.”

 

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Citizen is having difficulty with some of the numbers the Board of Education is putting out on the cost of closing schools.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 21, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The bureaucrats use the words “transparency” and “accountable” when they talk about the work they do. It is the citizens that employ these bureaucrats that insist on both the transparency and for the bureaucrats to be accountable.

Dave Myers, a retired senior who gets away to ski a little from time to time has sat in on all of the Program and Accommodation Review (PARC) meeting and found himself wondering about some of the data the public was being given.

Myers was in sales and marketing and the costs of a product or service are things he can get his head around.
Burlington is currently undergoing a Program and Accommodation Review that may lead to the closure of one or more high schools in the city. A PARC with two parents from each of the seven high schools has been meeting to discuss closure options. The meetings are open to the public.

Myers, a parent, not on the PARC, who has attended these meetings and reviewed the information provided to the PARC believes there are several concerns about the renewal costs for Burlington High Schools.

Gerry Cullen

Gerry Cullen, Superintendent of Facilities and Services with the Halton District School Board. He apparently has funny numbers.

On Thursday February 17th at the Burlington Secondary High School PARC meeting, Halton District School Board Superintendent, Gerry Cullen explained how high schools are maintained and upgraded.

Myers believes Cullen clearly recognized that there was an error in the data presented in the November 6thSchool Information Package (SIP). SIP’s are documents that have more information than anyone could want on the condition of a high school. The data is available on the school board web site.

Adding to the confusion Myers says PARC members were told previously that the January 24th SIP renewal costs, that were hugely different than they were on November 6th, were incorrect and new data would be forthcoming.

At Thursday’s PARC working meeting #4, Cullen said, that actually the January 24th SIP renewal costs were correct and expressed 100% confidence in this information.

So, wonders Myers: “the data’s correct, sorry that data is incorrect and here’s the new data, no it’s incorrect, more new data coming, no, no, sorry the data is correct, and we’re 100% confident this time. Confused? Trusting?”

In the HDSB’s January 24th SIP both historical and projected renewal costs are presented, let’s look at those historical costs.

Are these in fact “actual real costs” or historical budgeted costs?

Myers took the HDSB’s historical costs and compared them annually by school.

Myers data AAA

Notice the exact same “costs” for MM Robinson in 2012 and 2013, these look like budget numbers vs. actual real historical costs.

When the information is presented this way, a few other observations and questions arise. Myers points out that:

This is a 10 year view (2004 – 2013), why is data included for 2015 for two of the schools only?

No renewal work was done for Pearson and Nelson in 2008, and for 2 consecutive years at Bateman and Pearson?

The total cost for Aldershot does not balance with the January 24th SIP data.

Almost $8M was spent on renewals in 2005, then only $821,000 in 2013, a ten-fold decrease?

Cullen explained that renewals were managed and planned to take out the yearly ups and downs.

There are more questions that can be raised, but scratching at the surface suggests a data quality/data integrity concern said Myers.

Some have already questioned the projected renewal costs for our high schools by. Myers looked at this information closely and has questions regarding its quality and accuracy.

First of all, according to the foot notes in the January 24th SIP the data for renewals is based on inspections completed in 2011, so the information is 6 years old as of today! I don’t recall Mr. Cullen communicating that to the PARC representatives.

The inspectors at the time were making predictions of renewal costs for 10 years into the future or to 2021 – how good was their crystal ball?

Why would the HDSB not complete a more recent series of inspections in, say 2016, knowing it was going to undertake a PAR?

But most interestingly, only Central shows work for 2020 and 2021. How is it possible that there is no identified renewal work for Aldershot after 2014; Pearson after 2018; MM Robinson 2015-2020; Nelson after 2015; Bateman after 2018?

Is data missing, or not being reported? Or has the HDSB completed work for other schools that were lower priority than renewal required work for Central?

Myers also looked closely at the actual renewal costs that  Cullen has put forward for Central:

$1.9M for a new roof at Central, Historical SIP and Google Earth shows that some roof sections are new – has this been accounted for in the estimate?.

The SIP data also shows that roof replacements (if accurate) had been completed at Nelson, Bateman, Pearson and Aldershot with Central being one of the last in the cycle. So are we making decisions for students based on scheduled roof repairs?

Why did the HDSB put a brand-new roof on portables at Pearson with enrollment at 392 students in a school with a student capacity of 642 students in the permanent building and 936 students when the portables are included. Would it have been more cost efficient to remove these portables as they were not needed, not to mention an eyesore and detract visually from the school?

Fittings Auditorium Seating – $159,000; the auditorium at Central was completely renovated five years ago for $120,000 and largely paid for by fundraising at the school. All the seats are new. Fittings for the seats are budgeted to cost more than the entire renovation?

$280,000 for roadway and parking lots and Pedestrian walkways at Central. Myers inspected the asphalt surfaces at Central and all other high schools and found Central to be typical in condition to the other schools, and in fact more than acceptable. Nelson and MM Robinson appear to require more pavement work yet Nelson shows $0 and MM Robinson only Shows $96,000?

It appears most if not all windows at Central have been replaced, yet $38,000 is called out for new windows.

$1.6M is required for various heating and ventilation system renewals at Central, a boiler was replaced and much work was done to the heating system historically.

Studies – $71,000 for Central, albeit a small item, approximately $30,000 is carried for studies for the other schools, so studies at Central are twice that at other schools?

So what, asks Myers, is the PARC supposed to do with this data? It is clear that the data is incomplete and inconsistent among schools at best, and potentially prejudicial to a few schools at worst, especially one of the schools named in the original closure recommendation (Central).

PARC with options on the walls

The 14 parents who serve on the PARC are being smothered with data that is correct one meeting, incorrect the next and difficult to comprehend.

As such, the PARC should be very careful about making any decisions based on these numbers. In fact, they have been advised by the PARC chair “not to focus on the numbers.”

That is all well and good, however, says Myers,  the “bell has been rung” already by providing these numbers, and it is very difficult to walk it back and for PARC members to un-hear or forget the costs they have been given for the five year renewal costs.

Protest outside board office

Cold, dark conditions don’t stop the parents from Central and Pearson high schools from demonstrating outside the School Board offices on Guelph line.

Further, the HDSB has not taken significant efforts to correct this data and provide a more complete, consistent set of numbers for the PARC to review. That remains a significant problem with this process, one of many already raised about the quality of the information being provided to the PARC on which they are to base their deliberations.

If the data cannot be trusted and if the Board of Education chooses not to respond or provide valid data is the PARC process Burlington is currently going through valid?

Is it transparent?

Are the bureaucrats accountable?

Doesn’t look that way does it.

All the data, the debate and the serious citizen concern are headed towards the trustees – one can only hope that they will be both transparent and accountable and put a stop to this farce.

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High school closing review gets down to six options that the public can debate and provide opinion through an online survey.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Program Accommodation Review (PARC) committee has gotten to the point where they can put forward six options they will send to the Director of Education.

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 city councillor MArianne Meed Ward is reprenting Cntral high school parents on the PARC. She has a son at Central. She told a meeting of Central high parents earlier in the week that it is “tough” going but that she was optimistic that Central high school could b kept open.

After four meetings at which these people worked hard at absorbing mountains of information and communicating with each other – there are 14 members of the PAR process – they are at the point where they can say : This is where we are – there is at this point no consensus on any one option but they have whittled down the 30 they had in front of them to the six the public will be asked to comment on

There will be two public meetings, one in the north another in the south on February 28th and March 7th.

Here are the options:

Option 23d ‐ Robert Bateman HS, Lester B Pearson HS closes, Dr. Frank J Hayden SS program change

No change to Aldershot HS boundary

Burlington Central HS catchment expands to include Tecumseh PS catchment

IB program added to Burlington Central HS from Robert Bateman

Nelson HS boundary expands east. SC‐SPED & Essential programming redirected to Nelson HS from Robert Bateman

MM Robinson HS ENG catchment expands to include Lester B Pearson HS

Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS. No change to the English catchment.

Option 19b – Burlington Central HS, Lester B Pearson closes HS, Dr Frank J Hayden SS & Robert Bateman HS program change

Aldershot HS catchment expands east to Brant St, ESL program relocated to Aldershot HS from Burlington Central HS. 10 rooms available from the Aldershot elementary facility to accommodate additional

Nelson HS expands west to Brant

Robert Bateman HS catchment include John William Boich PS catchment south of Upper Middle Rd, and the entire Frontenac PS catchment

FI program added to Robert Bateman HS with same boundaries as the English program

MM Robinson HS English boundary expands to include Lester B Pearson HS. FI boundary include Dr. Frank J Hayden SS with the exception of John William Boich PS catchment south of Upper Middle

Frank J Hayden becomes English only school, with a reduced English catchment area

Option 4b – Robert Bateman HS closes

No change to Aldershot HS

Burlington Central HS expands to include the entire Tecumseh PS

Nelson HS expands east to include Robert Bateman HS. Nelson HS receives the SC‐SPED and Essential programming from Robert Bateman

MM Robinson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment

Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Florence Meares PS catchment. IB program and Gifted Secondary Placement added to Lester B. Pearson HS from Robert Bateman HS and Nelson HS

Frank J Hayden SS English catchment area is reduced.

Option 7b – Dr. Frank J Hayden SS Boundary change

No changes to schools south of the

Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment area, John William Boich PS catchment area south of Upper Middle Road, and Alexander’s PS catchment

Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

Option 28d – Burlington Central HS and Lester B Pearson HS closes, Program change for Dr Frank J Hayden SS

Aldershot HS catchment area expands easterly to railway tracks, ESL program added to Aldershot from Burlington Central

Nelson HS catchment area expands west to the railway

Robert Bateman HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Frontenac PS catchment

MM Robinson HS catchment area expands to include Lester B Pearson HS catchment area.

FI is removed from Dr. Frank J Hayden SS and redirected to MM Robinson HS

CH Norton PS area that is currently directed to Lester B Pearson HS, to be redirected to Dr Frank J Hayden

Option 3b – Nelson HS closes, Dr Frank J Hayden SS and Burlington Central HS have a program change

Aldershot FI expands to include Burlington Central HS FI catchment

Burlington Central HS English catchment area expands to Walkers Line

Robert Bateman HS expands west to Walkers

FI program added to Robert Bateman HS

Lester B Pearson HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Kilbride PS catchment area. The Secondary Gifted placement added to Lester B Pearson HS from Nelson

Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS.

Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

Kirk Perris - Ipsos Reid

Kirk Perris, a facilitator from IPSOS Reid who will be putting together the survey that will be sent out to all parents by the school board and will be available to anyone else on line.

Option 19 was the one the Director of Education recommended to the trustees.

Option 7 – a decision not to close any of the high schools had a bit of a battle to remain on the list.  Some PARC members thought such an option voided the whole purpose of the PAR process while others felt very strongly that the public had the right to voice an opinion on whether or not they wanted any of their high schools closed.

One of the problems the people from Central and Pearson had was there being a lot of financial data available on the savings that would result from closing Central and Pearson but they didn’t have similar data for any of the other options.

Some PARC members felt they were being manipulated by the board to agree on option 19.

The PARC process brought a lot of information to the surface that the board didn’t readily supply.

The process also put members of the PARC in a position where they had to vote for the closing of some other school to ensure that their school remained open.

The Aldershot PARC members were very concerned what a closing of Central would do to their school.

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A classic childrens' book - a true Canadian story to be told by the author at Central high school March 9th.

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If high schools were ever supposed to be a place where the general public could add to their knowledge when the school wasn’t filled with full time students – March 9th is one of those days when that will happen.

Lindsay Mattick the author of Finding Winnie will be at Burlington Central High School March 9th,  to talk about her book, the true story of the world’s most famous bear. Starts at 6 p.m there is no admission fee.

Winnie the Pooh

A classic childrens’ book – a true Canadian story to be told at Central high school March 9th.

Winnie was a real bear, rescued and trained by Captain Harry Colebourn (Mattick’s great-grandfather) during World War 1. The bear cub went on to inspire author A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh character.
Mattick will autograph copies of her book, which will also be on sale – cash only.

These were the ships that fought the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest naval battle in history. Shown here is HMCS Haida, currently tied up in Hamilton.

These were the ships that fought the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest naval battle in history. Shown here is HMCS Haida, currently tied up in Hamilton.

The Ontario Genealogical Society, and three veterans from the Friends of HMCS Haida and Burl-Oak Naval Veterans and the Canadian War Museum Memorabilia Box will also be present.

getting new - yellow

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Raccoon strain of rabies on the up-rise in the Region - explain the danger to your children.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There have been ten case of raccoon strain rabies in the Region.

The Halton Region Health Department received test results from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on February 13 confirming a case of raccoon strain rabies in a skunk found in the City of Burlington. Residents are reminding to avoid all contact with raccoons, skunks and other wild animals.

skunks

Alive they are cute – dead they could be the death of you. They can be pretty stinky as well. Just leave them alone.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes severe damage to the brain and spinal cord, and if untreated before symptoms appear will lead to death. The virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually entering through a bite or scratch.

“Anyone who comes in physical contact with a raccoon or other wild animal should see a physician immediately and contact the Health Department by dialing 311,” said Dr. Daniela Kempkens, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region. “Halton Region, as well as neighbouring communities, are experiencing a higher than average number of rabies cases and we want residents to be aware of rabies and know how to protect themselves from wild and stray animals.“

After someone is exposed to rabies, timely use of the rabies vaccine can prevent the rabies illness. While the rabies vaccine is extremely effective if it is administered before any symptoms occur, there are a number of things you can do to protect your family and pets from the threat of rabies:

• Seek medical attention immediately if you come in contact with a raccoon, skunk or other potentially rabid animals.
• Report all animal bites or scratches to the Halton Region Health Department.

• Warn your children to stay away from any wild, stray or aggressive animals.

• Do not touch dead or sick animals.

• Do not feed or keep wild animals as pets.

• Make sure your pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date.

• Keep your pet on a leash when off your property.

• Any pet that has come in contact with a raccoon or other wild animal should be seen by a veterinarian.

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Dotmocracy - do the dots tell the story? Four options left on the table - drift is towards closing Central and Pearson.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In order to begin whittling down the 30+ options before the PARC the members of the committee were asked to pair up by school affiliation and offer their input on the outstanding options, (it was now down to 14 options)

Using the 13 point PARC framework, PARC members were asked to write down supporting details to either “Criteria Met,” or “Criteria Not Met,” for a given option, along with any suggestions on the foolscap paper.
Along with the written input expected from PARC members, there was also a “dot-mocracy” exercise. After contributing (and reading others’ contributions) all the outstanding options, PARC members were asked to attach a dot to three options for which they favoured.

PARC with options on the walls

Members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee meeting February 9th.

Options that received two or fewer dots were not seen as not having much in the way of support and were dropped from further consideration.

Option 7     ………

No school closures, cap enrollment at Hayden

Criteria Met

Overall: Least disruptive to school communities, given that there are no school closures.

Accommodation of students in a permanent facility

Cost effectiveness of transportation

80% utilization across the city

Regional programming remains an option

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Does not meet a range of outstanding issues, which prompted the PAR

Low utilization persists exacerbating fiscal issues o No precedent or process for capping enrolment

Suggestion: Boundaries could be adjusted to create stable boundaries and allow for growth.

Bateman closes     ….
Criteria Met

Overall: Next to Option 7, it is least disruptive to school communities, given that there is only one school closure, and there is a neighbouring school nearby (Nelson) that could absorb some of the Bateman students.

90% utilization rate met

Unified cohorts

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students.

Uncertainty if all programs will be offered (e.g., OYAP, SHSM)

CPP, Essential, and LEAP all move to one school

Balance of enrollment not met (Hayden remains over-capacity; Pearson remains under-capacity)

Nelson requires portables

Split cohorts

Bateman daycare closes

Option 19     ……………
Pearson and Central close; Hayden program change.

Criteria Met

Overall: Disruptive given that two schools are closing, and leaving a large gap in downtown Burlington without an HDSB high school; utilization met.

Full range of programs (mandatory and optional)

Fiscally responsible (utilization rate is improved; transportation savings)

Accommodation of students in permanent schools

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students

Increases use of portables

Increases transportation costs

Elementary PAR will be required; splitting of cohorts 

Specialized programming is lost

Does not balance enrollment

Lose Pearson nursery

Walkability decreases

Suggestions:
Tweaks to Aldershot and Bateman to balance enrollment;

Tweaks to facilitate stable long term boundaries (e.g., Increase boundary for FI South Burlington east (Aldershot), move some FI to Nelson and to Bateman

Avoid splitting Pineland cohort between Nelson Bateman

Option 28     ………
Pearson and Central close; Aldershot and Hayden program change

Criteria Met

Overall: Disruptive given that two schools are closing, and leaving a large gap in downtown Burlington without an HDSB high school; utilization met.

Accessibility addressed

Stable boundaries

Good range of programming

Minimal use of portables

Fiscally sound

Criteria Not Met – Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students

Option 7 Feb 9

PARC members first set out what they felt was and was not met in terms of the Framework criteria – and then their ranking of the options before them. The 14 have now been whittled down to four.

Transportation costs are high

Elementary PAR will be required; splitting of cohorts

Specialized programming is lost

Lose Pearson nursery Suggestions:

Increase Bateman enrollment by moving Nelson English boundaries

Increase Aldershot English boundary to include Maple.

Keep Pearson

Correct error in utilization for 2019 at Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS.

This gets the choices down to four options.

What hasn’t been broken out are the increased transportation costs and the cost of additional portables.

This is drifting towards a recommendation to close Central and Pearson high schools.

Meeting dates as of Feb 16

Remaining scheduled meetings.

 

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Here is a wake up call: $10,326,837 to bring Burlington high schools up to accessibility standards.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board’s Accessibility Plan calls for:

Reasonable provision shall be made to provide accessibility to each building, each building floor space and all types of student program space within each floor space for persons with disabilities such as physical mobility disabilities, visual impairment and hearing impairment.

The total cost to get the high schools to the boards standard is $10,326,837

In a report to the board assessments on the cost of getting the high schools up to the board standard were based on the following information:

Aldershot High School is a grade 7–12 school with a gross floor area (GFA) of approximately 143,000 sq. ft. Originally constructed in the mid-1900s, it is a 2 storey school with additional level changes at various locations on the ground floor. The 2nd floor is accessed by a limited access limited use elevator (LULA) and stair lifts have been installed to address access issues to the various levels of the school. Washrooms appear to have been upgraded but are still below current accessibility standards. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $1,565,066

Burlington Central High School is a 3 storey grade 7-12 school with a GFA of approximately 158,000 sq.ft. The original building was constructed in 1922 and has been added to over the years. The last major addition added a new technical wing and gymnasiums. The auditorium has been upgraded with new seats and equipment. There are currently floor areas of the building that are only accessible by stairs, necessitating both a new elevator and stair lifts for accessibility to all floor areas. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $3,186,106

Lester B. Pearson High School was constructed in 1976. It is a 2 storey school that currently has a single storey ‘porta-pak’ addition that is not in use. The GFA including the porta-pak is approximately 113,000 sq. ft. The 2nd floor is currently accessed by a LULA elevator. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is
$1,538,114

M.M. Robinson High School was constructed in 1963. A recent renovation has created a large entrance foyer and includes a full size elevator that provides access to all floor areas. It is a 3 storey school with a GFA of approximately 214,000 sq. ft. The school includes a large wing outfitted for special needs education and several technical shops. The special needs wing is equipped with accessible features that buildings of this age do not often include. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is
$1,396,676

Nelson High School was constructed in 1957. The school is a two story building with a GFA of approximately 168,000 sq. ft. 2nd floor areas and a small music wing are currently accessible by LULA elevators. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $1,715,241

Robert Bateman High School was constructed in 1970 (then called Lord Elgin High School). It is a 2 storey school with a GFA of approximately 213,000 sq. ft. The second floor space is accessed by a full sized compliant elevator. The school includes teaching space for many service-related courses, in a variety of technologies and the culinary arts. The school also has a large special needs wing on the ground floor that has several accessibility features in place. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $925,634

If Central and Pearson were closed that cost would be reduced by $4,724,220 for a total of $5,602,617

The information was given to the 14 members of the PARC who are preparing a report to the Director of Education who will in turn prepare a report for the trustees who will make a decision if any o the high schools should be closed and if so – which high schools would be closed.

There are 1800 plus high school classroom seats in Burlington that do not have students in them.

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Committee in place to give the Director of Education advice on possible school closings: a consensus has yet to emerge.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 14th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Scott Podrebarac called it dotmocracy – you cast your vote by putting dots on a chart.

It is a process used to get a sense as to where the thinking of a group of people is going.

Sort of like a straw poll.

When the dots (three to each person) were handed out to the 14 people on the PARC who vote – there are a number of advisors – there were 42 dots to be distributed.

The official tally won’t be released until the minutes of the February 9th meeting are published. The publishing of those minutes will be delayed a bit – they have to be signed off by the Chair who is going to be away from his desk for a personal matter for a day or so.

The Gazette has been able learn what the two critical dotmocracy results were:

Option 19 short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 15 dots.

Option 19, which was the Director of Education told the trustees was the Staff recommendation got 15 dots and

Option 7 - short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 8 dots.

Option 7 which was to not close any schools got 9 dots.

The Board staff recommendation got just a little less than one third of the dot votes that were available.

The other votes were all over the map.

So – at this point in time – after three meetings the PARC has yet to settle on a choice – things are still quite fluid.

Aldershot is very concerned about what will happen to them if Central is closed and Bateman is getting scarred silly that they might get closed.

Central and MM question at PARC Feb 9

Central and M.M. Robinson PARC members write there comments on whether or not they felt a particular option met or did not meet the Framework outline.

The Board has added another day of PARC meetings and is preparing for the first public meeting.

Given the way the December 8th meeting went and some of the hallway conversations that have taken place between parents and Director of Education Miller – it could get noisy.

Many parents look at the data and the facts that are out there and suggest “we are in this mess because Hayden was built” – and that may be so – but the school was built and it did have a significant impact on the class room capacity. There is nothing that can be done – the building isn’t going to be torn down.

The opportunity does exist for some creative boundary re-alignments – and several parent groups who seem to have more of a grip on the numbers than the Board’s Planning staff have come up with some interesting ideas that are now in front of the PARC people.

What we appear to be seeing at the PARC meetings is each set of parents from the seven schools are beginning to do what they have to do to keep their school open.

Nelson is seen as safe because of its iconic status in the city; M.M. Robinson is going to get more students.
Somewhere in all this there has to be some leadership – from either the board staff or the PARC people.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Aldershot high school PARC representatives Steve Cussons and Eric Szyiko are both adept at speaking up and making their point. They can see a yard full of portables coming their way if Central is closed.

There are some very intelligent people within the PARC – will a natural leader emerge and come up with a recommendation that the trustees can vote for?

Don’t expect to see any leadership from the trustees. That crowd is made up of 8 people who are still learning their jobs and a couple of dinosaurs who let this situation develop. There are exceptions: Donna Danielli, who sits on the PARC as an advisor,  is in a position to give the PARC a perspective they need.

At this point the Central people are putting out a very strong case – and they are being very active.

Sharn Picken confering with a parentr at a PARC

Sharon Picken, brash and bold but she knows what goes on in the schools. She is one of the two Bateman PARC members.

The Bateman people realize that their school is at risk and they are now beginning to organize themselves.

The Pearson people are asking that they be given back the students they once had – those that were sent to Hayden where it is said that students are doing their gym classes in the hallways.

At some point a serious analysis has to be done on how boundaries can be re-aligned so that students are distributed more evenly throughout the buildings that exist.

To add to the mix of issues is the cost of the portables that are apparently going to be needed at Aldershot and the cost of transporting hundreds of students by bus.

Four trustees

The trustees sit on the sidelines taking it all in – their time will come in May.

Somewhere in all this data there is an answer. The Board staff are saying that they have put forward an option – close two of the seven schools.

The parents aren’t buying it – the trustees are sitting quietly on the sidelines figuring out what they will do when crunch time arrives for them.

 

 

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Central high graduate with a son at the school questions some of the data being put forward and asks why some data is missing.

opinionandcommentBy Michael J. Hribljan

February 13, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In my opinion the Halton District School Board (HDSB) projects the appearance of being either incompetent or manipulating the Program Accommodation Review  process, let me explain.

First of all, data in the School Information Profiles (SIP) is changing on an ongoing basis. The original SIP was posted on the HBSB web site with a revision date of November 9th, the table below shows the variance in 5 year renewal costs relative to the most recent SIP of January 24th.

Michael H letter to Ed

 

What is driving the change in these renewal costs, was this in error/incompetence, or is this being manipulated to determine an outcome?

It’s interesting that Bateman costs have come down after option 23 (Close Bateman) was presented at the PARC.

Also, Central’s costs have gone up by almost 400%!

Most recently, the Program Accomodation Review Committee has been told these numbers are not correct and they will be getting new ones, are we to believe the third time the charm?

central-high-school

Just what is it going to cost to keep Central high school up to the required standards – and is the board fiddling with the numbers?

The SIP also contained the 10 yr historical maintenance costs, Central’s maintenance cost over the last 10 years is one of the lowest. I see this two ways, the school itself is cost effective to maintain given it is the oldest school in Burlington. Or, the HDSB has spent as little as possible at Central (and further planned to as per the Nov 4 SIP) given it had tried to close Central in the past and wanted to ensure its closure in this go around.

Are the future renewal costs realistic? If you add up the renewal costs for the last 10 years for all 7 schools from the SIP, this totals $22M, is the board saying it now is going to quadruple that cost as we need to spend $43M over the next 5 years? Has the maintenance of our schools been inadequate over the last 10 years or, are the new numbers being inflated to drive a predetermined conclusion?

Optionn 19 Feb 9

Option 19 – the Director of Education’s choice is not all that popular with the PARC people on the early count of hat should be kept in and what should be set aside as the 14 people work towards what they want to pass on in the way of their views to the Director.

As you observed at the meeting on February 9th, the first presentation by the board was on the operating cost savings associated with closing Central and Pearson. How can the PARC members be asked to remain unbiased and open minded when the board presents this information only for Option 19 and claims it is too much work to do the calculations for the other options?

Has the Board heard of spreadsheets? I could have done the financial analysis for all options in a few hours.

Now for the accuracy of that information, it was obvious to me right away that the board had forgotten to include the cost of the portables for Aldershot which would have significantly reduced the calculated savings.

When asked this question by the PARC, the board representatives danced around the answer eventually saying they would move portables from other schools. The reality is they forgot to include this, Aldershot under Option 19 needs 10 to 12 portables. The portables at Pearson are fixed in place, not to mention 30 to 40 years old, which the board was alluding to, that could be moved to Aldershot. So is the plan to take Central kids out of their building and stick them in 30 year old portables? The reality is the board will need to lease portables at $60,000 – $70,000/year (this cost was sputtered by the HDSB member presenting this information) for 10 portables, or say $700,000 a year!

The board issued an information package to the PARC that contained a summary of course conflicts for all Halton Secondary Schools, with Central shown to be the highest. No support or background, just one page.

The HDSB hired a consultant, IPSCO, to conduct a student survey primarily targeted at programming. At the end of my letter I note the Director’s take away message of “listen to the students”, keep this in mind.

The draft data was briefly presented at the PARC Meeting #1 with no real conclusions, why? Well, if you read each of the questions, the survey was constructed to identify programming issues, and I think the board was hoping to use this information to promote its theory that larger schools are better; and there are significant issues with our smaller schools. If you look at this data closely, and considering it’s the voice of the students, here’s what I’ve observed from this data:

• Central had the highest response rate, suggesting great interest in this process and students whom are engaged.

• The response rate was very similar across all grades, counter to what the Director told the PARC later in the meeting.

• Central scored well below the mean (which is a positive) in response to:

o I moved schools to take a course or program not offered at my home school.

o I moved schools to enroll in a specialty program (e.g. SHSM, OTAP)

• Interestingly, a large school like Hayden showed little difference to the other schools when questioned about class sizes greater than 35 or less than 20 on a percentage basis.

• However looking a little deeper, 1011 students from Hayden responded to the survey representing almost a 1/3 of the respondents, and therefore 200 students from Hayden responded that they had 20 or fewer students in a class, and this has happened 3 or more times to them. According to the board big schools should solve problems like this, no?

• 61 students from Hayden reported that they were unable to make course changes because sections are full, happening 3 or more times. By comparison 18 students had this same situation at Central. On a percentage basis it seems similar, but clearly more students are impacted at larger schools.

• 27 students at Central reported they were unable to make course changes because of course conflicts compared to 40 students at Hayden, 3 or more times. Not to mention that Central was well within the mean on a percentage basis for all Burlington schools.

• 14 students at Central responded that they had class in an alternative class room (e.g. science in a class without a lab or math class in an auto shop) 3 or more times. By comparison, 152 students at Hayden reported this situation occurring 3 or more times, a 10 fold increase! Is this what can be expected if we overcrowd Aldershot?

• 41 Central students responded that Central did not have the variety of courses to satisfy my pathway requirements compared to 71 students at Hayden. Both were similar on a percentage basis and below the overall mean. Is Central satisfying student course needs as good or better than a large school?

• 72% of Central students responded and agreed to the statement that their teachers know something about them (interests, strengths, how I learn best) compared to 56% at Hayden. Hayden was well below the Burlington mean, and the lowest overall. Big school is better?

I could go on, there is much more to be learned from this data, but I think my point is clear.

So, the HDSB hired an outside consultant, spent tax payers money, conducted a survey and put the report aside because it did not generate the results it wanted? But, presented the PARC with unsupported data regarding course conflicts.

I would note that a very relevant student survey focusing on busing, walk-ability, portable class rooms and impact on student life should be conducted. I’m not sure the HDSB wants to hear the voice of the student to these questions.

Let’s talk about the outside consultant hired by the HDSB for this study who was supposed to facilitate the PARC meetings. As a result of feedback from the PARC members and generally poor facilitation skills, the HDSB superintendent is now facilitating the meetings with the outside consultant (being paid by the taxpayers) relegated to a side line position. How was this person/firm hired, what was the RFP (Request for Proposals) process and were references checked by the HDSB prior to retaining his services? Why are we still paying for this?

Next the HDSB issued the Facility Audit Report to upgrade the schools for accessibility to the PARC members.

The HDSB has known about this requirement in our schools for years, and it now decides to retain an architectural firm to prepare estimates. The report has not been reviewed nor checked by the HDSB, and only an executive summary is presented to the PARC. Central is shown to be the most expensive to upgrade at $3M with the other schools around $1.5M. So the obvious conclusions by the PARC members are, “wow, Central is going to be expensive to upgrade”. Did the board hire the right consultant this time?

PRAC putting up their notes

PARC members putting their views as to whether or not criteria for closing a school were met or not met.

The HDSB could qualify the this information by saying (but it does not):

• These are only estimates and there are is an accuracy range of each of these, and we need to do a thorough review, so take this with a “grain of salt”.

• Keep in mind that Central is “ESTIMATED” to be $1.5M higher than the other schools, this is a small difference, think of it as only 3 years of bussing costs of Central kids if we close Central.

• Some of this work was completed at other schools in the past so the costs are lower now, we need to be fair to all schools.

So, to recap:

• the HDSB presents to the PARC new higher renewal costs for Central;

• shows over inflated annual savings associated with closing Central and Pearson;

• presents unsupported data on course conflicts;

• ignores relevant voice of the student data on programming;

• presents an Audit Report for accessibility showing Central higher than all other schools with no qualification nor without a thorough review.

PARC with options on the walls

Options 23 b and c were put up on the meeting room wall but the original option 23 wasn’t – staff said they “forgot” to put it up.

Now the HDSB expects the PARC members to act in a fair and unbiased way as it evaluates options that determine the school life of 1600 Burlington students, and coincidentally forgets to put one of the options up on the wall for evaluation, Option 23 Close Bateman.

A number of the PARC members request that more time is needed, perhaps a 5th or 6th PARC meeting given the new and changing data. The HDSB is very reluctant to do this and provides a “let’s see” answer.

Why the rush to determine the lives of students and families in Burlington for the next 20 or 30 years!? The HDSB is under significant pressure for a new high school in Milton and needs additional provincial funding. The housing market is booming, interest rates are low and developers are making handsome profits.

Hayden was built for $34M in 2013 as a result of poor planning by the HDSB, and was not needed based on student enrollment. Interestingly, the distance from Hayden to the South-West side of Milton is 12 km or a 12 minute drive according to Google Maps. By comparison it is 6.1 km between Central and Aldershot and 11 min drive time. So it’s the same travel time by car (likely much longer bus ride due to traffic congestion in Burlington ) to transport Central kids to Aldershot, compared to transporting Milton kids to Hayden. Why is this option not being looked at!?

The board can then use the $35M – $45M saved to upgrade older Burlington high schools that have had the minimum level of maintenance done on them over the last 20 years.

Miller engaging a prent at Central - ugly

Director of Education Stuart Miller with a parent at a Central high school meeting.

Director Miller likes to explain that when we started this process the HDSB had a small amount of information and through the PAR the board is gathering much more information through this process. That is all fair and good, helps to justify the countless corrections to information, but quite frankly is an extremely flawed approach. Opinions and solutions crystalize in people’s minds at an early stage in the process which are then hard to change with new incremental information. Also, the way in which new information is presented comes in to play with respect to the formation of opinions and solutions. The HDSB should have conducted a year or two of information gathering and vetting before any decision was proposed.

The “icing on the cake” occurred at the end of the meeting when Director Miller invites a student council member to speak to the PARC meeting, which we later learned was a Bateman student. Why not a Pearson or Central student from one of the schools he recommended for closure!?

Student at Feb 9 PARC

Bateman student Oubaida Ikharbine asking the PARC members to “listen” to the students” The committee members asked why a students was being presented to them now when they had been asked not to communicate with students. The rules seemed to be getting changed on the fly.

The take away message from the Director in his closing remarks to the PARC is “think about the students, listen to the students”, if I were on the PARC I would quite frankly be insulted. As a parent and former grad, I’ve talk to my son and his friends, and all I can think about the friendships that are going to be broken up by taking the 600 high school kids at Central and sending some to Aldershot and some to Nelson, the extra hour per day they will spend on or waiting for a bus, not to mention the 450 kids at Pearson, the 275 grade 7 and 8 kids at Central, the 250 7/8’s at Aldershot that are being ignored in this process, and the 300 kids at Aldershot that will have to attend school in portables for next 20+ years!

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but it’s clear to me how the “dots are being connected”.

Hiribljan and sonMichael Hribljan has lived in Burlington for 54 years; he graduated from  Central High School in 1981 after which he went on to earn a Bachelor and Master’s degree in chemical engineering, leading to “a fantastic position, making a difference”, with a  major global technology company.  His son Peter currently attends Central where he is one of 40 students on the Central Robotics Team – 2386.

 

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Are red herrings being put in front of the PAR committee that is preparing a report on high school closings for the Director of Education?

opinionandcommentBy Peter Menet

February 13th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Last Thursday the Program Accommodation Review  committee was not presented with a 150 page report on AODA prepared by Snyder Architects. They were given a brief outline of approximately six pages. The full report is to appear on the Board’s website. Let’s wait and see where the devil lies.

The asbestos issue was handled very poorly by Board staff. It is my understanding that since the mid 2000’s all Boards in Ontario have tested for and documented the location of asbestos in their schools. My understanding is that this is a requirement of OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). It is also my understanding, having previously been employed at unionized facilities where I was tasked with removing asbestos material, that there will be detailed reports of any occurrence where asbestos has been disturbed and reports of the remedial actions taken.

So the location of asbestos in all the schools appears to be known and well documented.

Asbestos is not an AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) issue, it is an OHSA issue. Now we get into the meat of the issue which is friable and non-friable asbestos, but we have to wait to see what the full AODA report says.

It is unfortunate that the Board has presented asbestos as an AODA issue. It is not, it is an OHSA issue.

Public gallery Feb 9

Parents from high schools that are at risk of being closed listen intently to what the PAR committee members are saying and what staff is telling them.

A considerable amount of work has been done in the province to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Again, we must wait to see the full AODA report to see if the Board’s staff did a disservice to the public by raising fears and a disservice to the PARC committee process.

We have to wait for the full AODA report to be posted on the website to confirm if the architects had been given access to the asbestos documents prepared in the 2000’s and to see how these documents were used to estimate asbestos removal costs.

Asbestos is a hot button and was very poorly handled by Board staff.

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Rivers braves the cold Canadian winter air to protest - all in vain.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 13th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

If I were Donald Trump I’d have to say that it was the largest crowd ever. There were more people assembled at Nathan Phillips Square than at former US president Obama’s inauguration. And all those white spaces between the people… well that was just snow.

Seriously, there were only a few thousand brave souls who turned out on a bone-chilling February mid-day at Toronto’s city hall this past Saturday. They had assembled to protest Trudeau breaking his promise about how we elect our MPs. And it was a pretty good crowd for such an event given such short notice. Besides, there were as many as twenty of these protests being held across the nation.

Rivers protesting

Gazette columnist Ray Rivers publicly protesting the decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made to abandon his election promise to never again hold an election where the First Past the Post was the winner.

The organizers seemed pleased with the turnout. After all, electoral reform is not top-of-mind for most Canadians. No doubt that was what the Liberals found out recently after polling convinced them that they could safely kill the electoral reform promise. And the whole matter is complicated, filled with unfamiliar terms like first-past-the-post, single transferable vote and mixed-member proportional representation. You won’t find that kind of language every day in the sports section.

The faces in the crowd were mostly young – a generation of first-time voters, once convinced not long ago that Mr. Trudeau was just one of them – that new kind of politician, offering a better political deal for Canadians. Better representation might make politics more relevant to this generation and even the one before, the Gen-Xers, who had largely shunned politics and left voting to their parents.

But there was this proverbial elephant in the midst of the protest. If it was this easy to cancel one promise, what about all the other promises the PM made? Can we have faith that he’ll deliver on any of those other promises now? What about legalizing pot, for example? Or will that be the next domino to fall, because someone in the PM’s office has decided there is no consensus on that issue either?

Dalton McGuinty balanced some budgets - but budgets weren't his downfall - the gas plant fiasco did him in.

Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty did try to reform Ontario’s electoral system.

But wait, weren’t these the same political staffers who once convinced Dalton McGuinty to reform Ontario’s electoral system a few years ago? Yes, they engineered a process so fair and discrete that when it came time for the referendum, most voters had little idea what they were actually voting for – a process designed to fail. Was that benign neglect? Or were they disingenuous or incompetent?

There were voices in the crowd on Saturday yelling out liar, liar, pants-on-fire. But it seems unlikely this is a case of unbridled mendacity. I mean what rational politician would set out to raise expectations in an election, planning to break his word following the victory party? And why, especially when he knows full well the ultimate consequence – the shedding of all those voters who had delivered him his majority government?

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Electoral Reform –   More Electoral Reform –   Even More

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