Police will be teaching staff at Drive Thru locations how to identify drivers who are impaired and inform the police.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 2nd, 2017



As part of its ongoing #Campaign911 and #MakeTheCall911 initiatives to get impaired drivers off area roads, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) will launch a pilot program in Burlington.

Project Drive Thru (#ProjectDriveThru) is a partnership between police and local restaurants with drive thrus that will educate employees on the signs of impairment and instruct them on how to let the police know what they have observed.

Drive thru

The server gets a pretty up close look at the driver of the vehicle – can they help to keep impaired drivers off the road.

Superintendent Al Albano, Commander of 3 District said earlier today that Burlington has 36 drive thru locations of which 15 are 24 hour a day operations.

“Of the 36 that we talked to” said Albino, “everyone has taken up the opportunity to be part of keeping impaired people off the roads.”

Members of the HRPS will present Project Drive Thru to event attendees and will offer a photo opportunity as well as one-on-one interviews.

Constable Dave Stewart, District Response Unit Officer is identified as the Project Drive Thru creator

The training takes place on Wednesday, May 4th at 9:30 am at the Burlington police detachment.


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Ranked balloting is at least now the practice in one Ontario municipality: London takes the plunge.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 2nd, 2017



Changing the way we elect those who represent us from the current First Past the Post (FPTP) where the person with the most votes is the winner and the number of votes does not have to be more than 50% has been a concern for many.

It becomes possible for a political party to win with as little as 35% of the vote.
The other 65% feel they are not represented.

Ranking the ballots so that the eventual winner has at least 50% + 1 is an approach favoured by many.


Ballot box - elections ontarioHow would it work in practice?  The Ontario government set out an example that explains just what voters do with their ballots and how the results are tallied up.

Single-member election: an election where one candidate is elected

In this election, you are being asked to vote on the kind of fruit that will be served as a snack. 


Ranking the ballot

Ranking the ballot

With ranked ballots you can rank your choices from your most preferred to least preferred option, as follows:

  • Cherry  1
  • Pear   2
  • Strawberry 3
  • Apple  4

Calculate the threshold

Thirty people voted, and only one fruit can be chosen. Sixteen votes are needed for a fruit to be elected (50 per cent of 30 votes is 15 votes, plus one makes it a majority).

Count the first choice votes

After the ballots are distributed according to first choices, the vote count looks like this:

Count the first choice votes

None of the fruits has received enough votes to be elected.

Eliminate the option in last place and redistribute those ballots to other candidates

Your first choice, Cherry got the fewest votes. Your ballot will now be given to your second choice, Pear. (The ballots of everyone else who voted for Cherry as their first choice will also be redistributed to their second choices). 

After the five Cherry ballots are distributed, the new vote count is:

Count 2

After the second round of counting, none of the fruits has received enough votes to be elected.

Drop the last place and redistribute those ballots

Strawberry now has the fewest votes. Your ballot stays with your second choice, Pear.

After the seven Strawberry ballots are redistributed, the new vote count is:

Count 3

Pear is elected with 17 votes. Even though your first choice didn’t get elected, your ballot helped your second choice to win.

The problem was that no one was using such an approach – until Monday evening when London, Ontario’s city council voted to use ranked balloting for their 2018 municipal election.  They are the first municipality to do so in Ontario.

Dave Meslin, Creative Director of Unlock Democracy Canada, said “This unprecedented decision makes London City Council the first and only government, anywhere in Canada, to abandon First-Past-the-Post.

“Ranked ballots are a small and simple change that make local elections more fair, inclusive and friendly” said Meslin. “In an age of increasing political cynicism it’s inspiring to see this kind of leadership. Voters deserve a modern electoral system that delivers fair results, reduces negativity and encourages more voices to participate.”

He added that London has put themselves on the map as the #1 leader of democratic renewal in Canada – a great gift to the country on our 150th birthday!

Recent legislation in Ontario allows any of the province’s 444 municipalities to use ranked ballots, but 443 Councils decided to keep the status quo. Electoral reform is difficult to achieve because incumbents rarely want to change the system that put them into power. What we saw in London tonight was rare: selfless leadership.

Meed Ward H&S profile

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been an advocate for ranked balloting – but has yet to bring a motion to city council.

No one on Burlington’s city council has put a motion on the table giving the citizens an opportunity to debate the issues. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said in a prepared statement that she “commend London for taking this step and will be watching the next election with interest. They are in a bit of a different situation as a single tier municipality than we are, as part of Halton Regional.

Meslin argues that “lower tiers can do whatever they want, but the UPPER tier can’t switch to ranked ballots unless all of the lower tiers switch.

The upshot is that Burlington is not going to even debate the issue. Oakville and Milton appear to be taking the same position – there is just no appetite for a change.

Why mess with a good thing.

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Muir on getting school board closing information - exhausting. But he did eventually get it.

highschoolsBy Tom Muir

May 1st, 2017



Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident who does not have children in any schools, wanted to know why parents in the city of Burlington were being told that two of the city’s seven high schools should be closed. His attempt to get at the real reason behind this decision boggles the mind. Red tape galore – a long but not very pretty story.

Part 4 of a four part series:  Another Chapter in This Saga


Muir making a pointBecause the response to my Freedom of Inforamtion (FOI) request to the Halton District School Board got tied up in the mail, my failure to receive a response to an identically worded FOI request to the Ministry of Education prompted me to contact them. I found the same problem that a Ministry response was in the mail to my home.

I then asked for and received a response by email, and got it April 11.
The Ministry replied that;

“upon review of the records, it has been noted that your request may affect the interests of a third party”
“The third party has been notified that a request has been made for the records, and has been given the opportunity to make representation concerning the disclosure of the records.”
“A decision on whether the records will be disclosed will be made by April 30, 2017 in accordance with subsection 28(4) of the Act.”

At this message, the identity of the third party remained anonymous.

It was obviously concerning because this long delay, with the opportunity for the third party to appeal a decision to release at the April 30 date, meant that the FOI documents from the Ministry might not be released until after the PARC process was essentially over and would be of no use.

This statement and finding begged me to ask numerous questions. For example,

– I don’t know how such an FOI request as mine, involving entirely public business, by public institutions, could involve the interests of a third party other that the HDSB and the Ministry of Education, and employees of said institutions.

– Please tell me how this could be, and what evidence is there that my request may affect the interests of a third party?

– And why are you withholding all of the record?

– I know of some particular parts of the record that have been disclosed by the HDSB, so tell me how this works?

– How could anyone have personal interest in a public process involving only public institutions and public records, have personal interests and information the disclosure of which might constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy?

– It’s all public business, conducted in the public domain, so there is no personal privacy to be invaded, unjustified or not.
Subsequent correspondence with the Ministry included;

– On second thought to my message below, it occurred to me – is the third party considered by you to be the Halton District School Board?

– There are only 3 parties to this FOI request – I (1),sent the FOI to the Ministry (2), and ask about their interaction with HDSB (3), without which the basis for the FOI request has no object to search.

– If it is, then this is a most ridiculous idea, and it fits with my suggestion that the end result of this failure to disclose any of the record is to delay beyond the timeline of the public process for which the FOI is meant to inform about.

– The record involves HDSB in some way so this fits with all the record being withheld.

– It is also ridiculous to think that disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy for HDSB, which is not a person, and staff who are not private persons in their responsible employment with HDSB.

In response to this, the Ministry stated on April 12;

– The information responsive to your request originated from, and was created by, the Halton District School Board.

– In cases like this one, section 28 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) makes clear that if there is reason to believe the responsive record may contain information referred to in section 17 [Third Party Information] of the Act, we are to give written notice to the entity or person to whom the information relates.

– As you will see in the portion of legislation below, section 17 lists harms that an affected party would need to prove relevant to prevent the release of specified information. Third party notice is important, especially when we require clarity as to whether the information shared by another institution, business or person was supplied in confidence to the Ministry.

Here is our update –

– Following our third party notice to the board (affected party) and our advisory letter to you (the requester), the board confirmed that they have no concerns with the release of the records.

– My staff are attempting to reach the board contact and advise them that we will release the records prior to the end of the third party period. This is not a usual occurrence, but given their green light, we will proceed. I understand you are under a time constraint of your own so, with your permission, we can send you the records via e-mail when they are ready for a mail-out.

Since all this Ministry revelation was going on at the same time as my interactions with HDSB it is easily imagined that the upset was doubly disturbing and running on.

My reading of this is that all the information in the FOI response came from the HDSB. This was disturbing as it sounds like the Ministry didn’t provide any of its own records, despite my knowing of several documents in the HDSB response to their FOI that are Ministry documents.

This makes it appear that HDSB did basically all of the Ministry response to the FOI. And since the scoping of the FOI request was identical for both HDSB and Ministry FOI requests, it would be obvious to the HDSB that they are coming from the same person.

Further, according to the Ministry, despite the HDSB indicating they had no concerns, the groundless and purposeless delay till April 30 was kept in place, and the HDSB would have known about this, and knowing the identical text of the FOI request, would have a highly likely knowledge of who it was that the FOI response pertained to. And yet, the Board said nothing and let the time delay stay in place.

Add all this together – Board and Ministry issues and delays – and let me tell you, that your so called “unnecessarily abrupt” email from me becomes both necessary and appropriate.

So, on the same date, April 13, the Ministry got a equally “abrupt” email challenging what had been done and essentially “demanding” their FOI response that very same day as I asked the Board to provide theirs.

Although I did not get my demand, in contrast with the Board’s stone-wall and continued power driven evasive response, this is what I received;

Good morning Tom,

My office’s decision to issue a third party notice, which is a time extension, is permitted under the Act.
My office is preparing a response that is the totality of the records responsive to your request. We cannot create records for an access request; only provide records that exist in our custody and control. The records existed in our Ministry at the time we received your request.

Despite the April 30th deadline, we intend to get the records to you next week.

So there you have it, my promised story about how this email you find so “unnecessarily abrupt”, as to be so offensive to you, that you continue to play the Board’s power trump card to dictate conditions, a bully tactic that I have no countervailing means to respond with.

So you got something like what you give.

In conclusion, I will say that I did not opt out of conversation with your Superintendent of Business, rather she opted out of a conversation with me about what the conversation needed to consist of in order to meet the standards of public institutional transparency and accountability, which are of course, the basis of trust.
I never said I didn’t want to consider a conversation. I still want the information and clarifications I asked for.

Now – what was in the documents Muir worked so hard at getting?  That comes next.

Part 1 of a 4 part series.

Part 2 of a 4 part series

Part 3 of a 4 part series

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The GO BOLD mobility team is rolling into Aldershot on Saturday May 13th.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 1, 2017



Next stop on the Mobility Hub train is in Aldershot.

Saturday May 13th: 10:30 to 12:30, East Plains United Church, 375 Plains Road East

The City is developing detailed plans for the “mobility hubs” around the Go Stations and they want to hear what the good people of Aldershot think about the idea

The public are invited to share ideas on a long-term vision the city is creating for the area around the Aldershot GO station.

Centre ice - fully engaged audience

It was a very engaged crowd with hundreds of questions.

The workshop will be led by City staff and external planning consultants.

The audience that attended the Burlington  GO station event was close to capacity.

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Has a Lester B. Pearson high school alumni done work the Board of Education planners should have done and solved the well over capacity at Hayden and given Pearson the students it should not have lost?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

May 1st, 2017



It is amazing what comes to the surface when a problem is set out before the people it is going to impact.

Rory Nisan is a Lester B. Pearson alumni. He doesn’t want to see the high school that prepared him for university and the career he has today closed.

However Nisan isn’t moaning about the community losing a school that everyone loves; he has set out a number of options that appear to be sound.

Here is what Nisan proposes: He deserves a hearing;.

(1) Send Kilbride PS students back to Pearson.

Result: 116 students sent back to Pearson, where their older siblings attended. Hayden gets relief; Pearson gets students.

Note: The Director claimed at the Committee of the Whole meeting that Hayden HS was closer to Kilbride than Pearson. In fact, there is a 200 metre difference (14.6 km to Hayden, 14.8 km to Pearson).

(2) Maintain decision to send Alton West students to MM Robinson

Result: MM gets 40 (or more) students.

(3) ‎ Make all of CH Norton a feeder school to Pearson. This unites the public school to a single, nearby high school, and rectifies the unfair catchment boundaries, which currently do not allow Pearson a fair number of feeder schools.

Result: Pearson gets 59 students, CH Norton students get to stay together.

(4) Send any students from the new prospective development at Havendale Lands (West of Brant, South of Upper Middle) to MM Robinson (units TBC)

Result: MM gets students.

(5) Send all Florence Meares students from Hayden to Pearson

Result: Pearson gets 237 students; Hayden gets relief. Meares graduates no longer have to cross Dundas street to reach Hayden.

(6) Send late French Immersion students to MM Robinson from Macmillan

Result: MM gets 156 students

(7) If Bateman closes: MM Robinson receives ESS, Gifted, CPP and Leap programme from Bateman where student is north of the HWY (~110 students). We do not advocate closing Bateman, and we don’t need these students. But if Bateman must be closed to deal with utilization in the South, MM Robinson should receive these students so they do not have to travel too far (as outlined in the Director’s Final Report).

Result: less distance for these students to travel

(8) At a future date, commit to sending an appropriate distribution of students from new developments to the three schools based on updated estimates and location of developments (Adi development: 602 units; Valera road: 400 units; Evergreen Community: 907 units).

Result: Flexibility to re-balance utilization numbers based on changes 1-7 above.

Nisan figure 1

This graphic demonstrates the total number of students at Pearson if Pearson were to have the four listed schools as it catchment, and if late French Immersion were sent to MM, based on elementary school data today (697 estimated). It also indicates how many students MM would add if it were to receive Late French Immersion students (156 estimated).

Nisan figure 2

New catchment boundary for Pearson based on changes (Kilbride not shown). Red = Hayden; beige = M.M. Robinson; blue = Pearson

If Bateman doesn’t close, MM Robinson adds 137 students, plus Havendale Lands Development, plus possible future distribution of other new developments.

If Bateman closes, MM Robinson add 247 students, plus Havendale Lands Development, plus possible future distribution of other new developments.

Pearson adds 266 students, plus possible future distribution of other new developments.

Hayden subtracts 353 students, and then will add possible future distribution of other new developments.

This straight-forward proposal puts all three school in the North at sustainable utilization levels.

What’s killing Pearson is choking the school of its elementary feeder schools.  The Board has never explained any rationale for this decision and the trustee has never asked why it was done.

Will Nisan get a hearing; does he have the support of his school trustee?

Nisan isn’t the only Pearson alumni who has concerns over what has been done to the school.  George Ward attended the meeting at which Director of Education Stuart Miller explained what he had set out to do in his recommendation after which he answered questions.

Ward had some questions of his own but learned hat he wasn’t allowed to ask questions.  That didn’t seem to bother him – he bellowed out a question which led to the Chair of the meeting insructing the trustees to stand and leave the room – the meeting was over.

Ward wanted to know  if the HDSB forecasts are for 10 years and updated yearly then why is the Director of Education recommending the closure of two high schools three years and a few months after the new school was opened?

Ward thinks the Director  based his  recommendation on a  chart showing projected enrollments.

Ward graphis

George Ward has a problem with this chart – he thinks the data behind it are flawed.

Ward thinks the process of forecasting projected enrollment must be called into question – he is not alone in that point of view.  Has the Director of Education  made a recommendation  based upon defective forecasting?

Ward maintains “The process of closing Burlington High Schools is flawed and should be immediately halted and to pursue the action to “Save All Burlington High Schools”.

That decision was never the Director’s to make – it is in the hands of the trustees now.  They will get to hear delegations from the public on May 8th and 11th – 25 delegations each evening – five minutes each.

The Program Accommodation Review was flawed from the day it started; to a considerable degree because the way the province set out the regulations that had to be followed.  This was compounded by the problems the Board staff had with publishing data the public was prepared to believe because it kept changing.

Trustees - fill board +

There is a crisis of confidence in the Board of Education trustees.

There was and still is a crisis of confidence.  Will the trustees sand up for the public that elected them – or will they role over and do what the Director of Education has recommendation.

The trustees are there to lead – when the Chair Kelly Amos chooses to not actually attend the meeting but take part by telephone conference call – one wonders where the leadership is coming from.

If the Chair was ill and not able to actually attend – a simple brief media release could have informed the public.

Of the 11 trustees just the one distinguished herself; Amy Collard had tough questions and when she didn’t get answers that satisfied her – she made sure the Director of education know she was not pleased.

The public now has time to delegate and make a case for a specific decision.  This isn’t the time to complain about one group of parents throwing a school under the bus; this is the time for the leaders of the different schools to meet and come up with a strategy and take it to the trustees.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Ian Farewll could be talked into another meeting and Steve Cusson would still be at PARC meetings if they had let him.

There were some very talented people involved in the PARC process. Lisa Bull from Bateman, Steve Cussons  from Aldershot, Steve Armstrong from Pearson and Kate Nazar from Nelson to name just a few – need to make phone calls to each other. Ian Farewell can be convinced to attend one more meeting.

Bull brought small bottles of wine to the closing PARC meeting to hand out.  Buy a case of the stuff and get the parent leaders in the same room and work it out.

What city Councillor Meed Ward is going to do at this point is anybody’s guess.  She is know to enjoy a glass of wine, perhaps that will stir the leadership gifts she does have.

The current crew of trustees do not appear to be able to do the job – the parents that elected them are going to have to step in and give them some guidance.

There isn’t a lot of time left.




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Aldershot high school students learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 1, 2017



There is an organization called the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation that partners with high schools to teach the fundamentals of CPR and AED.

What do the acronyms mean?

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a combination of breathing and chest compressions. Performing CPR increases a cardiac arrest casualty’s chances of survival by keeping the brain supplied with oxygen until the person receives advanced medical care.

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. An AED sends an electric shock through the chest to the heart to start the heard beating effectively again. Defibrillation given as soon as possible is the key to helping some people survive cardiac arrest.

CPR - doing compressios

Aldershot high school students being taught how to apply CPR and how to use an AED.

There are 28 high schools in Halton taking the training that will result in 7000 students empowered by their teachers with essential lifesaving skills every year. The media event for this program took place t Aldershot High School,

CPR mascot gts involved

The high school mascot gets into the training.

The ACT Foundation is the charitable organization that is establishing CPR and defibrillator training programs in high schools throughout Ontario and across Canada. Mannequins and defibrillator training units are donated to schools and high school teachers are trained as instructors to train all students prior to graduation.

When used in conjunction with CPR in the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest, defibrillation can dramatically improve cardiac arrest survival rates by more than 50 per cent. Providing youth with the tools and confidence to intervene in a life-saving scenario is an important investment that will benefit everyone.

CPR - ready to usse AED

One student does CPR while a second students prepares the defibrillator.

This initiative will see high schools receive training equipment as a result of the Skills4Life Fundraising Campaign which has received the support of many community partners and service clubs. These include lead community partners, AstraZeneca Canada, Amgen Canada, and Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd. Community partners are: Bayer, Halton Hills Hydro Inc., Kiwanis Club of Oakville Inc., Oakville Lions Club, Rotary Club of Acton, Rotary Club of Burlington Central, Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore, Rotary Club of Burlington North, Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar, and Takeda Canada Inc.

More than 700 CPR mannequins are being donated to high schools along with 85 defibrillator training units.

With eight in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring at home or in public places, empowering youth with CPR training as part of their high school education will help increase citizen CPR response rates over the long term.

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Muir: The overall Board performance in handling the PAR, tells me their own deeds indicate that they cannot be trusted.

highschoolsBy Tom Muir

April 30, 2017


Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident who does not have children in school, continues his struggle with the Halton District School Board to get the full story on why Hayden high school was built.  He believed the answer would be in public documents the Board and Ministry of Education have – and he wanted to see those records.

His email correspondence, which began in part 1, continued in part 2 and continues here  in part 3.  The words are taken from email Muir had with different staff at the HDSB and or the Ministry of Education and comments he makes on the process of getting information.

Part 3 of a four part series:

Muir making a pointWhat you are saying is that these staff “interpretations” are not to be challenged or questioned, and will get no written response to such things. I’m supposed to be satisfied with the “words” only of the staff involved.

You do with the FOI what you want to get more time until the PAR process is over.

Why should I take the word of people who will not engage me in writing? Why should I accept interpretations of documents, where the interpretations include statements and words and facts that do not appear in said documents?

I stand by my comments made and questions asked, that Lucy only wanted to talk about, not bear witness in writing. You continue to defy responding to that email – and now you have this one – to prove me wrong with evidence from the documents you provided, where I found my points of contention.

What you might tell me in words only is not relevant to the data and evidence basis of the FOI request and documents.

I have no reason whatsoever to trust the Board from my own experience.

Combining that with the negative public reception of the overall Board performance in handling the PAR, tells me their own deeds indicate that they cannot be trusted.

This timeline shows that Hayden planning was a bungled mistake that lost track of the consequences, and the need to tell residents and parents about them. In fact, these consequences were willfully ignored and put off to an undetermined future, which is here right now.

Then, to double down on this bungled planning, basically the same people and thinking are proposing an even bigger bungled mistake – closing schools because of the first mistakes that were made.

Trusting these people will lead beyond mere failure to learn from mistakes, but to destructive actions for Burlington and education.

Closing schools in Burlington is a train wreck.

To Director Miller, I would say, that if the known consequences of building all these empty seats were not important to deal with back in 2008, then how can they be important now?

If schools do not have to be closed, and money is not the issue, then what’s the hurry now to make irrevocable decisions with tragic consequences?

If it’s truly about the students, and what benefits them, then how can it be important to decide to close schools right now?

It’s just wrong to put such a decision, in such circumstances, to the Board of Trustees, who are mostly inexperienced and under pressure that was not anticipated.

They cannot be expected to deal with this very well, and recommending closures, especially when not needed, will put them into an impossible position.

Personally, I do not want to close any schools, period. But I recognize possibilities, in compromise, to relieve opposing tensions.

You can recommend two tracks. Do not close any schools – because we don’t have to. When not needed, it’s a bad idea.

The compromise is to close no schools now, and take a 2-3 year deferral to consider and deliberate about what we should really do, and can do, about the space situation.

Eventually, all the Board, to varying extents, will come under pressure at some time. We need a much better process and arena to be considerate and deliberate about these matters.

In that period, we can elapse the Trustee term of office, have another election, with what we decide to do about our situation as a key issue. In that period, the Trustees can perhaps better gain their feet and become more adept at this kind of decision-making, and pressure. And residents and parents can perhaps do something similar.

That’s the best compromise I can offer. It will relieve the pressure, but I’m sure has it’s own set of unforeseen consequences. The Board staff might just keep bungling, and not be cooperative.

The main idea is to make sure, as best we can, that we don’t make more stupid mistakes by acting with haste when we don’t have to.

Remember, slowness remembers, and hurry forgets.

But we can still act decisively and close no schools. Put this business behind us.

This is a long and at times monotonous series of articles – why publish all this stuff now?   Imagine if the public had had an opportunity to fully debate the opening of Hayden when that took place in 2012?  Imagine if there had been something on the public record accessible to all?

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Reaction begins to set in: parent writes a 21 point letter on what she heard at the school board meeting.

highschoolsBy Dianne Miller

APRIL 28th, 2017


The reaction begins: parent Dianne Miller write about her experience at the meeting where Director of Education Stuart Miller reports to the trustees.

After attending a rally for two schools (I have a teenager at each of the proposed school closure sites) prior to the meeting last night I went from a feeling of wow – so many care – to wondering if it is remembered that two schools are up for closure.

I apologize for the length of this letter, I hope you will take the time to read it.

For three hours, a group of parents, students, and community members, sat and listened both to Stuart Miller trying to defend the most expensive option that he is recommending and to the school trustees who had a chance to ask many, many questions. Kudos to some of the trustees. It was obvious some had read the proposal; reflected; made notes; had very pointed questions; were there to challenge the proposal; hear rational arguments; present alternatives; defend the school they were representing (if up for closure). The difference in those fighting for their school and those who were not was striking.

I have to respond to some things that I heard last night that were in obvious conflict or were not addressed for myself.

1) A gentleman sitting beside Mr. Miller (to his left for those sitting in the community section) (Dom Renzalla) responded to why Kilbride students had been removed from LBP and redirected to Frank J. Hayden High School.

The rationale…it didn’t make sense for them to pass by two schools. Really? Then what justification was reached to have Orchard students “pass by” LBP to head to Nelson and/or Bateman? What justification was utilized to take two new northern community developments (one already decided in a boundary review (prior to the PARC process completion) and another slated to MMR in the Director’s proposal) to pass by LBP (the closer school) to head to MM Robinson?

2) The focus in response to the only question Trustee Papin seemed to ask related to defending LBP related to the decreasing numbers. The response – Kilbride students were only about 80 students (it was closer to 120) and wouldn’t stop the declining numbers. No but ignoring the fact that Hayden was originally meant to have 4 feeder schools but now has 7 feeder school while Pearson has 1.5 feeder schools definitely is relevant. So too is the decision to have the two new developments go to MMR (passing by LBP). A further 2 other proposed developments north of the highway has also been ignored.

No matter what facts/logic that has been put forth – i.e. 1284 of the 1800 empty spaces are south of the highway; 3 years of overcrowding at Frank J. Hayden (that’s okay, we will monitor); and the fact that both MMR and LBP can be the solution to that overcrowding, have all been roundly ignored.

3) Splitting cohorts – this seems to change depending on the situation and which school is being discussed. So the ideal is no splitting of cohorts? Well, C.H. Norton is split to 1/2 to MMR and 1/2 to LBP. No problem. Gifted program – oh well, no problem, in the proposal, with splitting even though already low numbers in this stream that needs to be back-filled. The new development – nope – it cannot go to LBP because then you might have to split the English and French cohort – no can do. Not sure how that decision why reached? Why did they have to be split – given “LBP’s declining numbers” both English and French were able to be accommodated at LBP. Frank J. Hayden – French Immersion – sure no problem – let’s move them from the student body at Hayden and re-route to MMR. Robert Bateman – no problem in tearing apart the different cohorts and splitting between multiple schools. Central, once under consideration for closure, presented the argument that the cohorts would be split (i.e. to Aldershot and to Nelson and suddenly that wasn’t okay. It is convenient how there is an issue with cohorts until it doesn’t suit the narrative being spun.

4) Late French Immersion (LBP) and French Immersion. I haven’t heard the difference addressed once. So, LBP’s Late French Immersion program is going to move to MMR? How is that stream going to work with the FI group that has worked in that stream from Grade 1? Normally one needs to get permission to switch over or needs to be at a level to integrate with the FI stream from Late French immersion. So how is this going to be dealt with? Doesn’t this then exacerbate conflicts?

5) Nursery Co-op at LBP. This item/group has been given little to no thought. LBP was adapted to include accommodation for the Nursery Co-op. A third gym was added with city and community donations. This program has been here for 40 years. Zero mention/zero consideration. Apparently though, per the report, no adaptation is needed with the LBP move. See you later Nursery Co-op program. The “we will have to consider” etc. what to do with this group is not reassuring. Given that you will throw all schools into over capacity, what responsibility will you possibly feel to accommodate this amazing co-op win/win program that has flourished at LBP?

6) The most expensive option. MMR and Bateman from what I understand, have both undergone some adaptations for special needs programming. This costs money. Now we will wipe out one school and all of the money put into those adaptations (including the industrialized kitchen, which is no where else) and replicate them at Nelson. How in any way, shape or form is this showing fiscal responsibility? As a taxpayer I was appalled to hear Mr. Miller state, “12 million dollars may seem like a lot but”. No, stop after the but. It is a lot of money. It is duplicate money when Bateman already has those features. It is sheer irresponsibility on behalf of this board to even consider an addition to Nelson while closing Bateman which already has those features. The justification of having one fully adapted location in the South and North does not warrant this expenditure. You see, it is already in the south. Spend the funds if you want it at MMR only to upgrade.

7) We heard a lot about we cannot remain at status quo. Boundary change will not fix the problem. Let’s address the status quo. So, Aldershot gets to remain at status quo in the Director’s current proposal. Hayden remains at status quo (minus the FI students). The red herring for Aldershot is that it might become a theme school (which the Director mentioned in his report and at the start of the meeting). This plan was then diminished by Stuart Miller himself as probably not workable (as it hasn’t worked in other areas) half way through the night. So why the game? Why the red herring that one is even going to look at this if you are already determining it is going to fail?

Status quo – you have left LBP at status quo (under-utilization) and Hayden at status quo (over-utilization) for 3 years while robbing students in both of a rich, full educational experience.

Re the boundary change – yes, indeed it will address some of the problems. LBP can absolutely be a solution to Hayden’s overcrowding as can MMR. All three schools can become more equitable with boundary change. Add into that the 4 potential new developments and you can definitely have a 3-way win.

Question – if the 90% capacity goal for each school isn’t working – perhaps the 90% goal is in error to begin with. Has anyone ever checked this underlying assumption/premise? Why not 85 or 80%?

8) Closing schools is very short term thinking. Looking at your past projections/reports you were off in those numbers. What is to say you are not going to be off in these projections? Once the land is gone, it is gone. I heard a trustee ask last night about other options. Why have they not been pursued 100%? When I spoke with Eleanor McMahon’s office, they too brought up other options prior to closure. Why is the Director determined to close not one but two schools prior to full exploration of all of these other options and funding available (again as mentioned to me by Eleanor McMahon’s office)?

9) As a community member with a student at LBP, I was disheartened to say the least that no one seemed to care about this school’s potential closure or the impact on the students/community. It was like one school’s closure only was being debated. Does no one care? Why is it so easy or accepted that LBP should close? The perception by the community is this has been planned. That has never been denied. Why will no one stand up, at the board level or trustee level for this group of students? They deserve every bit as much consideration as those at Bateman or elsewhere. By standing up for them I do not mean gutting their school and moving them elsewhere (if that is your response).

10) Questions were not answered last night. The “we’ll wait and see”; “we’ll monitor”; “that is a possibility”; “we will see how this plays out or levels out” inspired zero confidence. Why would anyone put their faith in a report that gave these responses as their answers when challenged?

11) I would love to see the minutes of the meetings leading up to the decision to build Frank J. Hayden High school. I am sure one point included that the community was “growing” and that a “community school” was needed. But you see each community believes the same. While this point keeps being dismissed as this is in the past and we are here now, who gets to be held accountable for spending $32 million for a build that caused the current problem? That decision is going to result in two other schools being axed. This is acceptable how? It also brings into question why the public or even the Minister of Education should trust the current recommendations.

12) A question was asked (and not answered) as to what is an acceptable level of over-capacity. The current reality at Frank J. Hayden (with the we will monitor attitude) is:

Students have classes in the hallway, in the cafeteria and in the community library next door

There are 12 portables currently on site – potentially 18 in the future

A lie was told last night about how students are maybe in the portable for one class then in the school. That is not true. Some students want to leave Hayden as their whole school career has been spent in portables only.

If Hayden is at over-capacity why is it still accepting new students; why is it actively recruiting students for sports teams from other schools?

Surely this is a fire hazard.

The solution to the over capacity – rezoning of the parking bylaws. Really? So the community (for the parks, library, school) are going to fight it out for parking spaces to accommodate potentially 18 portables? More fire hydrants? Yet you have a school (LBP) which has room for expansion without these issues. Yet, zero consideration is given to this obvious solution.

13) In perhaps the height of insensitivity, given the divisive and emotional nature of this process, I cannot believe that the issue of potentially building yet another shiny new school in the south (meaning even more schools south of the hwy would close) came up last night. Seriously, someone really needs to rethink why they are in the position they are in and who votes them in. This is in the student’s best interests how? What happened to, “we are not here to close schools, no one wants to do this.”?

14) Even given all of the proposals some of the streams still may not be where they need to be. Wasn’t that was this process was supposed to be partly about (as well as under-utilization)? May I submit that just looking at programming in and of itself without giving weighting to:
a) ability to participate in sports teams b) clubs c) single lunches (preferred by school admin) d) graduating with those you began Gr 9 with e) being known by your teachers and fellow students f) safety/bullying issues g) social issues – i.e. anxiety, integration, etc. for some all need to be considered.

Take off the narrow focused blinders. Saying that those other issues, or even special needs considerations violates the spirit of the a) under-utilization and b) programming which triggered the PAR is operating in a vacuum. You cannot just look at two facets. Again, to do so, does not take into account a 360 perspective and full interests of the student. It checks a box. It meets a rigid criteria. It is a self imposed rule that is very narrow in its’ thinking.

15) No one has ever answered this question for me. Is the board for or against online courses and other means of learning (i.e. virtual learning)? Throughout this process and in the surveys it was used as a negative and to justify conflicts, lack of options for programs etc. Yet, a gentleman, from the board, spoke last night about how it is increasing, how some prefer it, how they have increased it in younger grades – this made it sound like a positive. Which is it? Are we to presume it will be done away with once we have reach maximum capacity of streams since it is being utilized to point to course conflicts and a justification for moving pupils around?

16) Busing. Never addressed satisfactorily in this process. We already have a problem. The assumption is that the students from LBP all live 1.9 km from MMR. Not true. So what happens then? More busing? Gifted students split -north/south – busing for them? The Director hedged re northern busing for the gifted students. Not okay. This is an on-going cost. Makes no sense.

17) One consideration that was totally brushed off was parents indicating (or students) that to stay at their school, with their friends, they would drop out of French Immersion (Hayden). The Director didn’t give much weight to this. Parents I know, who’s children would go to MMR should LBP close as recommended, already have their paperwork and decision made to move to the Catholic school board system. Those in the gifted program, who have been together since Gr 1-8 (and who are slated to be split) – well, the attraction per the Director is that they would prefer to be closer to their home/community and save 10-20 minutes. Sir, with all due respect you do not know the students. Their friends, not the 10-20 minutes, are their priority. To the parents – the Fraser Report data, the reputation of their current school (over another), their need to keep their child from another at MMR (which is why they are at LBP due to past bullying issues) is what is of importance. I say this not to disrespect the staff and students at another school but to show how it is of concern. The loyalty of the FI students isn’t to FI – it is to their peers at Hayden and to their school. You are under-estimating this sir. If you are wrong, especially with the FI at Hayden you still have an overcrowding issue and then a stream issue.

18) This was supposed to be about the students. It is not. Those at Hayden have been left in overcrowding for three years. Current solution – move FI -maybe 50% (if others choose mainstream) or 100% and monitor the rest (re overcrowding). Utilize portables. Bateman – it is okay to impact the most vulnerable in our school population with yet another move. You claim to understand how hard this is for them – if you did and really took to heart reports of what change vs. consistency does mean to them – you would not be making this decision. For those at LBP who answered the report that they appreciated and loved the close relationship with the teachers; that being known means a lot to them (vs. a number in a larger school); to having that opportunity to really fit in by participating in a sports program; then you would do everything you could to revamp those numbers to bring them up to about a 600 range of student population. You wouldn’t be separating cohorts at the elementary level and streaming them to two different schools. You would actually listen to them; see their faces; hear their words; read their signs; feel their pain. My daughter feels crushed and invisible in this process. My son feels resigned that this has been the plan all along. I cannot in good conscience tell them otherwise.

19) Has anyone, and I mean anyone, given the rhetoric I keep hearing about optimum programming being at 1200 students per school or even consolidating schools, read the reports/studies (too numerous to mention by professionals in their field) that say that 600-800 is the best number for high schools? If we want to look at the experts and their opinions – why is all of that data, information, input, years of experience, routinely ignored? Or, in fact is this information not even being considered?

20) I felt it was very misleading when a question was asked about new growth in Burlington (in fact we are already at the proposed growth now that the City of Burlington had expected in future years), to hear only about development south of the highway (and mainly condos so it doesn’t really count). The north will have, per Jack Dennison, the final single dwelling units, multiple townhouses, etc. The south will have condos or high density on existing properties that will be rezoned. The city and the board appear to use different metrics. The city has adjusted and realizes, due to financial considerations and cultural differences, that more than one family may occupy a dwelling. This actually caused the explosion at Hayden partially (i.e. incorrect forecast/numbers were projected by the board). What adjustments are you talking about to reflect this reality?

21) What were the results of the survey where the community was asked to input on their choice of options. For many that I spoke with, the 7B option of “no school closures – but boundary reviews” seemed to be the prime choice. Yet, even before your final report, that was being discounted as one that would not work. What then is the purpose of all these surveys – student, parent, community, first meeting (where no questions were answered), if input is ignored?

I have said it before and I will say it again, if you didn’t go into these jobs with the intention of closing schools, then that should be your starting and ending point. You are in the education field – be creative. All of the individuals that are working so hard to save their schools have put hours into coming up with creative ideas, ways to save their schools. Don’t ignore them. Stop seeing the children as a group – as an entity. They are individuals. Work with them, work with the community, to save all of our Burlington schools.

I write this letter for our community schools not just for my daughter and son, but for all the children and future high school students. They are worth it.

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Is poverty just one of those things that every society has and we just learn to live with? Don't say that to Leena Sharma Seth.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2017



There were about 60 – maybe 70 people gathered around 10 tables. They were a pretty representative bunch; there were the professionals, the practitioners and the volunteers – the people in the trenches.

They were there to talk about poverty – something they want to be able to ensure that by 2026 all residents will have a livable income and as a result have access to opportunities, resources and supports to thrive and to fully participate in an inclusive Halton community.

They have their work cut out for them.

Burlington is a city that will admit that there are some serious pockets of poverty in the city and that something should be done – but social welfare is a Regional responsibility. The longest serving city council member wasn’t prepared to try free transit service for seniors on Monday’s on a trial basis.

He was prepared to let them have discounted bus tickets – but there was a sort of means test to get into that program.

The chatter around the city council horse shoe is about everyone getting in on the purchase of property – you can’t lose in that game. Get a starter property and move up the value ladder.

Food for Life

Michael Mikulak, Community Food Network Manager Halton Food Council, Leena Sharma Seth, Director, Community Engagement Halton Poverty Roundtable, Colleen Mulholland, President and CEO Burlington Community Foundation, and Brenda Hajdu Executive Director Food for Life.

This city council doesn’t really understand or appreciate the eco-system that gets food into the hands of people who just don’t have enough money to pay for the food they need.

With housing prices rising – rents tend to rise as well – and the scarcity of rental properties owned by landlords that have no qualms about jacking up the rent as much as they can and then making life miserable for any tenant who chooses to fight back.

Getting to that 2026 target is a challenge indeed.

Some of the ground work took place at St. Christopher’s United Church where the group gathered under the auspices of the Halton Poverty Roundtable.

Each participant was given a sheet of paper with a number of questions on it. How would you have answered these questions?

How do you define poverty? How should it be measured? Are there data gaps that need to be addressed to help improve our understanding of poverty in Canada?

What will success look like in a Poverty Reduction Strategy? What target(s) should we pick to measure progress?

Which indicators should we use to track progress towards the target(s)?
On which groups should we focus our efforts?

Which Government of Canada programs and policies do you feel are effective at reducing poverty? Are there programs and policies that can be improved? What else could we do?

Poverty - Leena-Sharma Seth

Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Roundtable

These people were meeting during the week that the provincial government announced that 4,000 people in Ontario would be put on a guaranteed income program for a period of time to see if with an income that they know is going to be there for a period of time – can they rise out of the poverty they have to lie with?

The Gazette wants to follow what Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Round Table does with this group of people.

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Meed Ward releases a statement on the school closing report sent to school board trustees.

highschoolsBy Staff

April 27, 2017



Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and former member of the Halton District School Board Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) has released a comment on her position on the Report the Director of Education gave the trustees last Friday.

The Gazette asked for a comment last week – Meed Ward released her statement on her ward web site late yesterday. It reads:

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 city Councillor |Marianne Meed Ward was a member of the PARC.

I have taken some time to read and reflect on the report and the process to date, as a parent and as a former PARC member.

Let me start by saying my heart goes out to the Pearson and Bateman communities.The recommended option is undoubtedly devastating news. I toured each of the high schools along with other PARC members. Every school in Burlington is unique and offers something special to its students and communities. No one wants to see a school in their community closed. Any school closure is disruptive and represents a loss.

I came into this process with a commitment to do what is best for all our students, and have an open mind to new information. I have learned there is no perfect solution for the issues faced by the Board, and no solution without some impact on the community – even status quo.

There will be community disruption no matter what the final decision is, including closing no schools, since boundary changes would still be required to address over or under enrolment at four of our schools, effectively “closing” those schools to students who find themselves outside of redrawn boundaries.

Some options are better (or worse) than others, and I have discovered there is no consensus around any option, in the community, at the PARC or at the Board table. This will not be an easy decision for Trustees to make – nor should it be.

Whatever decision the Board of Trustees makes, we must work together as a community to ensure it is implemented with student welfare at the forefront, and ensure it improves the educational experience for all of our students for the long term.

Parents get to delegate to the trustees on May 8th and 11th.

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Hard questions and soft answers were served up at a Board of Education meeting .

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 27, 2017



It was a meeting that ended with the Chair directing the trustees to rise and leave the room.

A member of the public had stood up and called out a question – he was told questions were not being taken. Georg Ward, the man who wanted to ask the question isn’t a man to be shut down easily. We will come back to what George Ward wanted to know.

Stuart Miller, Director of Education sat in front of the trustees, not amongst them this time. He was there, along with Scott Podrebarac, Superintendent, and Dom Renzella Manager Planning, to answer questions the trustees had about the recommendation given them the previous Friday to close two schools and transfer most of the programs at Bateman high school to neighbouring Nelson high school that is less than 2 km to the west.

Kelly Amos, chair of the school board was not in attendance.

Collard - direct into camera

Ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collard

Miller was soundly grilled, for the most part by trustee Amy Collard whose ward the school to be closed is located in. She told the audience in a pretty well packed public gallery that it was going to cost $12 million to replicate what already exists.

Miller’s position was that the issue wasn’t the condition of the school nor the costs involved but that future enrollment was just not going to make the school viable.

There is an International Baccalaureate program at Bateman high school that will be transferred to Central high school, some 6.5 km to the west that was in the first recommendation given to the trustees.

Miller stumbled a number of times in explaining to the trustees why the Board staff made the recommendation they did.

The set up in the Board room where the meetings take place is such that those testifying, and that was what Miller and his colleagues were doing, face the trustees and not the public gallery. The Gazette chose not to attend the actual meeting but to watch the event via the live web cast where the facial expressions and body language of those testifying could be clearly seen.

We were able to note as well that there were never more than 40 people watching the web cast.
Trustee Collard put forward a number of very stiff questions and made it clear that she wasn’t buying most of the arguments Miller had in his report. What wasn’t at all clear was if Collard had the support of enough of the other 10 trustees to result in a decision to keep the school open.

PARC with options on the walls

PARC in session.

When the trustees announced last October that they were going to accept the Board Staff recommendation to hold a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) and create a committee ( a PARC – Program Accommodation Review committee) to look at all the issues related to the Board staff recommendation that Central High school and Lester B. Pearson high school be closed.

The PARC was given a list of 19 possible options to solve the problem of the 1800 empty seats. The closing Central and Pearson option stood during the first few of the seven meetings the PARC held but as different ideas came forward closing Bateman and Nelson were placed on the table.

PAR HDSB Parents at Bateman

First public meeting at which Board of Education explained the PAR process at every high school was very poorly attended at Bateman high school

Up until that point Bateman high school parents weren’t concerned about being closed.
The Central parents were exceptionally active from the first meeting and held rallies, a fund raiser that put $14,000 into a fund the pay for signs and other costs.  Bateman had a lot of caching up to do.
Many felt that having city ward Councillor Marianne Meed Ward representing Central high school on the PARC made the difference for that school.
Our observation was that while Meed Ward certainly wasn’t her usually very much in your face city councillor she was quite a bit quieter at the PARC. Central had a very strong case and they were very good at getting that case in front of anyone with ears.
Central, the oldest high school in the city has gone through having to deal with a possible closure twice in the past. They knew how to organize and make their case.
The PAR process was such that communities found themselves fighting against each other to not be closed.

The process however did bring to the surface data that left a lot to be desired. The PARC was made up of two parent representatives from each of the seven high schools in the city. These people found that much of the data they were being given was suspect and Board staff kept having to make revisions, sometimes on the fly.
There were a total of more than 40 different closure options considered by the PARC, one of which was to not close any schools. That option didn’t get a lot of attention during the questions asked last night.

The problem the school board staff faced was that there are 1800 empty high school seat in Burlington. And that wasn’t a situation that was sustainable – board staff believed that high schools had to be closed.

Protesters PARC

Central parents protested whenever and wherever they could.

Central made the case that closing their school would mean there would be no high school in the core of the city and $400,000 a year would have to be spent to bus students.

In 2013 the Halton District School Board opened a new high school in north Burlington and named it the Dr. Frank Hayden high school.
Many wondered why that decision was made to open a new school was made. It resulted in students being pulled from other high schools which lowered the student enrollment creating the problem of lower enrollments and resulting in the decision to close schools south of the QEW.
Hayden high school is part of a complex that includes a recreational centre and a public library and is very popular.

No more desks set out in neat rows. The classroom furniture is now such that students can sit by themselves or in groups of two or three - up to eight. The objective was to create situations where the students learn to work as groups and to collaborate on a problem - question or assignment.

The real issue is the empty seats – there are 1800 0f them and that is a situation the Board stall tell the 11 trustees is not sustainable.

Lester B. Pearson didn’t get all that much in the way of discussion during the three hour meeting.

The Gazette will publish additional material later in the day.

Parents now get to delegate to the trustees on May 8th and 11th. There are strong emotions and strong cases being made against closing Pearson and Central.

There are also those 1800 empty seats and a demography that suggests they may not be filled in the near future.

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Downtown visioning part two- a closer look for those who did not attend the event.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 26, 2017



By 2031 Halton will have a population 1 million people; its population today is about 550,000.  That is the kind of growth the Region is going to experience -and Burlington is going to get a significant share of that growth.

While Burlington doesn’t yet know exactly how much the city’s population is going to have to grow; the current population of 183,000 is expected to grow beyond 210,000 within 25 years. Some see that as a conservative number.

The urban boundary is set – nothing significant is going to be built north of the 403 – Dundas line except for mall small pockets of development in Lowville and Kilbride.

The rest of the population growth is going to be located south of the 403 Dundas line that separates the rural from the urban.

Study area visioning

Study area with the many precincts the planner created.

City hall no longer talks about Burlington being suburban; we are an urban city and our growth is going to have to be up because there isn’t any significant land available to grow out for residential development.

The Downtown visioning exercise that took place at the Lions Hall last week, and on which we reported on in some detail yesterday, was in part to learn what the public feels about different aspects of downtown development.

The city has a Downtown Core commitment that sets out its vision for the core; there is a precinct system that sets out specific neighbours and applies specific zoning for those precincts.  The (BDBA) Burlington Downtown Business Association (what has seen its border move north quit a bit, that has its policies and objectives. and there are policies for what the city wants to see in terms of the street-scape – wider side walks, benches or people to sit on and retail at the ground level

The Planning department has released a draft version of the Official Plan. The Plan that is in place now was first crafted 23 years ago. Efforts to revise that plan were abandoned by the new Director of Planning, Mary Lou Tanner who has been with the city for HOW LONG.

She joined the city at a point where staff were doing a revision of the existing Strategic Plan, a document that is created by each Council that sets out what it wants to do during its term.

Close look

The audience paid close attention to the material that was on display.

Somewhere along the way council and the planners decided that instead of a four year plan they would craft a 25 year Strategic Plan and spent a considerable amount of time engaging the public to review the document. Council has Burlington as one of the citys’ with the best level of citizen engagement in the province and uses every opportunity to tout that claim.

Centre ice - fully engaged audience

Groups of people gathered to ask questions of planning staff or the consultants that were in the room and to exchange opinions as well – and there were a lot of opinions.

There was indeed very significant public engagement but one would be hard pressed to find five out of every thousand residents who can tell you what the four pillars on which the Strategic Plan is based actually are.
City council seems to believe that if they say the city has the best public engagement policy then it must be so.

In this part two article on the event, we have set out a number of the visuals the audience was shown to give people a sense of all the variables the planners are looking at; the audience was then asked: The question the audience was then asked  was :

“What’s here? What’s not? What’s missing? What would you add? How would you make it better?”

Study area 1

The mobility hub is the black dotted line; the pink line demarcates the primary and secondary WORDS

Study area 2 - parklands

The study area boundary is demarcated by the pink line – the straight green line on the right is where the Elgin promenade will be located – that will link the downtown core to the Centennial trail.  Each graphic builds on the previous one.

Study area 3 - parlands + environmental

The environmentally sensitive areas are added.

Study area 4 all + heritage

Heritage buildings get dropped into the picture.

Study area 5 all + landmarks

Existing landmarks and cultural features are added.

Study area 6 all _ corridors

The significant site lines to the lake are shown – don’t think people realize just how few corridors with a direct look at the lake there are. We just assume that every street shows the water when it is really just Maple, Brant and Burlington.  Elizabeth isn’t indicated on the graphic.

Study area 7 All + tall buildings

In a development proposal that will get its public statutory meeting in the very near future the planning consultant they hired advocated using Brant Street as the spine that would be the location for many of the tall buildings that are expected.  The orange marks show where those tall buildings are now.



This is your city – this is what you have to work with. What do you want to see done?  The Planners are looking for feed back from the public; they appear to be open minded and ready to listen.

Getting a closer look

Getting a close look.

The information they gathered last Thursday evening will be compiled and blended into a second presentation that will take place  June 21st. The public will get to see just how well the planners have listened.

MMW with mob hubs in background

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward listening intently.

It was an active meeting – small crowd given the importance of the event – but it was a rainy night and the room couldn’t have held many more people.

The audience was told that there would be little in the way of changes to the existing employment lands.  Meed Ward explained that developments pop up and get presented to the Planning department and added “you want to be in charge of that”.

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Pilgrimage passes through Burlington - walking to Parliament in Ottawa.

News 100 redBy Donna Flemming Zaffino

April 26th, 2017



On my way to run errands I spotted a group of people walking with banners and signs eastwards from the downtown core on Lakeshore Road. As an amateur photographer I saw a terrific photo opportunity, quickly turned my car around, caught up to the group who were now past Seneca Rd on Lakeshore.

They’re quick.

When asked if I could take a photo and what their message was I was met with bright smiles and a glowing welcome. A conversation started.

The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights (PFIR) is a group of dedicated walkers on their way from Kitchener, ON to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to call on all members of Parliament to vote yes to enact Bill C-262 – “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”.

Zaffino picture - walkers

A stop in Burlington for those walking a pilgrimage for the rights of the Indigenous people. They are walking from Kitchener to Ottawa.

The private member bill was drafted by Romeo Saganash (Cree Nation) the NDP MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou. The Bill was tabled in the House of Commons on April 21, 2016 for First Reading where it still sits today.

The group consists predominantly of Christians from various churches. Their mission “we are seeking to make right our relationships with host peoples in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.” PFIR reports there is a total of 50 registered walkers. Not all will be taking on the entire challenging journey.

This group of 21 walkers had just had a lunch break at Spencer Smith Park and were on their way to Oakville.

A van followed them with supplies and acted as a safety vehicle. They have a busy schedule each day. At night they have arrangements with various churches along their route. The church provides them dinner, a place to sleep, breakfast and then they are on their way again.

Their excitement was contagious.

Their message is important – do all of us understand what we did to the indigenous people of this country from the late 50’s to 1985? It wasn’t something to be proud of – there is a need to make those mistakes right.

Terry Fox once ran through Burlington – look at the difference he made – the rest of us are in a position to do something equally as important.

Something to remember.

Donna Fleming Zaffino is a Burlington resident with a camera and a passion to capture images of important events.

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What the downtowners think should be done with the downtown core -

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2017



The Mayor opened up the event with a short overview of the changes taking place in the city and how the need to intensify and create an Official Plan that would deliver on the promises made in the Strategic Plan.

The audience of something under 100 people on a very rainy night filled the Lions Hall where people were told that what people enjoy about living downtown is:

1.The Waterfront (29.85%)
2.Restaurants and Cafes (18.62%)
3.Walking (18.11%) …

Research told city planners that the first  transportation choice was Walking (37.78%)

The meeting was to have people take part in a Downtown Mobility Hub Visioning Workshop.

Mobility hubs were defined as:

Neighbourhoods within a 10 minute walking distance of major transit stations that will support new residents and jobs in a transit, pedestrian and cycling focused environment.

Clicker being usedWith those pieces of data in front of them the audience was asked to use small hand held devices they would record their responses to questions shown on a large screen.

There were interesting with surprising results.

Appreciate that these were ward 2 people for the most part answering questions about the downtown core.

The Planners intend to take this road show into every community that will have a mobility hub.  The workshops will see a return visit to each community once the Planners have had a chance to evaluate the data they collect.

The initiative will take about  six months to cover each of the four mobility hubs.  The next session for the downtown hub is scheduled for June 21st.

Time line mob hubsThe event was framed as a visioning exercise during which ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward explained that developments pop up at the Planning department and they have to process every application that is filed. “You want to be in charge of that process” said Meed Ward.

2 - Enhanced cycling

The strong agree support doesn’t appear to align all that well with the opposition to bicycle lanes on New Street.


1 - waterfront protected

No surprises here.

3 - commercial on Brant

Very mixed views on this question.

4 - daily needs transportation

Vehicles were not included in the question.

5 - downtown growth - where

The street names don’t show up on this map – the white box is the mobility hub area.

6 - downtown transit adquate

This view – from what was a ward 2 crowd contrasts with what the Bfast people think. More thinking to be done on transit matters.

7 - new development family orientated

Compare this with the question on more affordable housing.

8 - affordable downtown

A mixed view here.

9- afforable downtown - more

This response comes as no surprise.

Following the formal presentation the audience was invited to take part in the four information stations where planning staff were on hand to answer questions. The groups that clustered around the information stations were at times intense – in a positive way. They had a lot of questions and the planning staff took a lot of notes.

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner and Anne McIlroy, the consultant the city has hired to guide this process watched and listened intently.

Close look

All the charts and data set out got very close inspections.

There are two parts to this feature article on the visioning exercise. The second part which will follow tomorrow reviews the visuals on the elements of the downtown core and what the planners have to work with.

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Director of Education gets to defend his report to the trustees Wednesday evening - what kind of a witness is he going to be?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 25th, 2017



The Director of Education Stuart Miller was not able to visit with staff at Bateman high school Friday afternoon to tell Principal Mark Dudley and the rest of the staff that the school was recommended for closure in the Director’s report to the trustees.

He sent Associate Director David Boag in his place.

The Gazette has heard from several of the trustees, We now know part of the reason Miller gave advice to the chair – as Secretary to the Board Miller is obliged (his words) to advise the trustees when they have questions.
In isn’t clear just what the role of the Secretary of the Board is – advise; to counsel; to direct. It occurs to us that there is a bit of a conflict here.

Miller expects to be in front of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday to defend the recommendation he put forward. Is Miller defending a position to the people he is required to advice and counsel?

In essence Miller is testifying as a witness to the trustees on remarks he wrote in the report they are considering.

What kind of a witness is he likely to be?  That depends on the kinds of questions thw trustees ask.  Will they be real defenders of the public that elected them?

A “hostile” witness at common law is one who is “not desirous of telling the truth”. Such a witness may be cross examined to the extent that the judge sees necessary to do justice, which can include a broad area of topics such as all facts in issue, the witnesses reliability and credibility on the circumstances of the case.

Is Miller a hostile witness?

Don’t expect the Chair to take exception to anything the Director of Education has written. Expecting the Chair to take a strong hand is expecting too much. This chair, Kelly Amos, does not lead. She does not treat her Director of Education as a person that is accountable to the Board of trustees. There is a comfortable (too comfortable) working relationship between the Chair and the Director of Education.

We don’t feel the Director of Education is to be faulted – he has a large (the largest in the Region) organization to run and has to work with a provincial government that can change the rules of the game at any point in time.

The rules and procedures for the Program Accommodation Review that is taking place now is considerably different than anything school boards have had to work with in the past. There is close to unanimous agreement that the process if flawed and at some point the Ministry of Education will make the required changes. Little comfort there for the people at Bateman and Pearson.

There are a few trustees that, while still growing into their roles, may summon the courage to speak out and ask the difficult questions.

Speak now or take it in the ear at the October 2018 election.

The trustees also want to direct some of their questions to staff – the planning department has not served the citizens well, staff changes needed there.

The Superintendent of Facilities needs a job performance review.

The Director of Education is going to have to get tougher with his staff. He is new to the job – far too many people at the top decision making level are new to their jobs.

Time to hunker down and get it right this time.

It was done very very wrong when the decision was made to build Hayden. That mistake could have been lessened by a fairer approach to the boundaries that were created. What is in place now is close to the kind of gerrymandering American politicians do to create constituency boundaries that assure a political party can win.

Parents in Burlington are now angry – some at an emotional level, others have looked at the issues logically and put forward some very sound comments – they deserve a haring and answers to the concerns they raise.

Lisa Bull from Bateman has made comments that cannot be ignored or brushed off. Rory Nisan from Pearson has written a refutation on the decision to close Pearson that the trustees need to pay attention to and arrive at their own conclusions and not rely on the Secretary to the Board of Education to advise them.

And where is city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. She spoke passionately and with great confidence on her decision to accept the role as a PARC member. Why is she now close to mute?

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Open Letter to the Board of Trustees: Evidence does not justify closing Pearson high school.

Open Letter to the Board of Trustees About Closing Pearson High School: A line-by-line refutation of Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report

News 100 blueBy Rory Nisan

April 25th, 2017



Dear Trustees of the Halton District School Board,

This has been a long process, now coming to a head with the Director’s Final Report recommending closing Pearson and Bateman high schools. As a Pearson alumnus, I am writing to refute the arguments made for closing Pearson in the Director’s Final Report. I have addressed every argument in Recommendation 2 below.

The Director’s Final Report portion is shown in red bold italics, my comments are in standard type.. I have aimed to present Recommendation 2 in full without any deletions or other changes.

Rationale: Recommendation 2 – Lester B. Pearson High School

“Lester B. Pearson High School has been experiencing a decline in enrolment for several years and that is projected to continue to 2026 and beyond.”

This is an unfair, obtuse characterization of enrollment at Lester B. Pearson High School. The Director’s Final Report fails to mention the reason for this declining enrollment: a reduction in the number of feeder schools for Pearson, in order to prop up Hayden High School, leaving Pearson with only 1.5 feeder schools compared with seven for Hayden. This was not by accident, but a deliberate decision taken by the HDSB when Hayden opened.

One need only observe the change in enrollment since Hayden came online to see how this gutted Pearson’s numbers. Before Hayden opened, Pearson lost only 10 students from 2010-2011 (see Figure 1, from the Director’s Final Report). Furthermore, the change from 2015-2016 is only 11 less students, because the Hayden transition has ended. It is inappropriate to close a school on the basis of a reduction of 11 students year-over-year when there are many options available to boost utilization.

Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report’s is wholly based on “low and declining enrolment” as the basis for closing Pearson, ignoring the fact that the low enrollment is entirely of the HDSB’s own making.

Figure 1

Figure 1  English Programme enrollment at Pearson as shown in the Director’s Final Report, demonstrating that Pearson would not have an enrollment issue if not for students being sent to Hayden.

“Lester B. Pearson High School is also the only school in the Halton District School Board that provides Extended French at the secondary school level. The students in this program begin extended French in Grade 7.”

This is correct but extended French is only one of several one-of-a-kind features of Pearson High School. The co-op nursery is correctly mentioned further below in the Director’s Final Report. The natural surroundings of the forest allow for unique learning opportunities. The third gymnasium increases sport opportunities. Pearson’s lower capacity gives it unique, well-established strengths, such as less bullying, better social bonds, more opportunities to play on a sport team and/or join other competitive clubs.

Indeed, the student survey (contained in the Director’s Final Report) indicated that Pearson ranked #1 for percentage of students who agreed that their teachers knew something about them (e.g. interests, strengths and how they learn best), #1 for having an adult they could connect with, and #2 in participation in extracurricular activities.

It is therefore no surprise that Pearson regularly punches above its weight in the Fraser Institute rankings of secondary schools. Pearson has the second highest average score over the past five years among Burlington public secondary schools. This is not despite its small size; it is because of it.

“The result of this low enrolment is a diminished ability for the school to provide the same breadth and range of programs for the students as other schools in Halton.”

Nobody doubts that Pearson has low enrolment (though its utilization rate is higher than that of M.M. Robinson). However, as explained above, the Director’s Final Report fails to properly explain how this came about.

Equally important is that he has not given the trustees simple solutions to this low enrolment that do not involve closing Pearson. The simple, obvious answer: redesign the catchments and feeder schools to ensure that (a) Pearson has its fair share of students, (b) Hayden, which is bursting at the seams, is brought down to a proper utilization of 90-100 percent, and (c) M.M. Robinson also sees an increase in students, including from Bateman High School should it be closed (though this is not being advocated), or through redistribution that allows students to go to their closest high school. Figure 3 shows the current feeder schools, demonstrating the imbalance that can be easily fixed.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Feeder schools to the high schools in the north — note the lopsided distribution favouring Hayden while starving Pearson.  (There is no figure 2)

“In order to take specific or desired courses, many students have resorted to online offerings.”

The Director’s Final Report contradicts itself here, as it references in an appendix the student survey which indicates that Pearson has the second lowest percentage of students among Burlington public high schools needing to take online offerings, well below the city’s average (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4 – percentage of students taking online courses

Regardless, this argument is invalid as there are more than enough students in the north of Burlington to fill Pearson’s hallways and provide more course offerings.

“Second, this situation will be exacerbated as it is expected the number of students attending Lester B. Pearson High School will decrease by an additional 70 students by 2025.”

Once again, this assertion rests on the assumption that Pearson would not be given any more students while Hayden bursts at the seams and M.M. Robinson takes on students from Bateman and the Evergreen and Alton West developments.

Perhaps most worrying for parents and students in North Burlington is that the Director’s Final Report fails to take into account (a) turnover in North Burlington as more baby boomers sell their homes to young families; and (b) that there will be more development in the north than that which is noted in the report: the Adi proposed development is over 600 residential units, and the Valera road development is expected to have 400 residential units. Furthermore, North Burlington has seen a trend of multiple families moving into singly houses, leading to having twice or more the number of high school students per household.

“Another issue occurring as a result of low enrolment is the impact on the students’ pathways. At present, the numbers reflecting Lester B. Pearson High School students’ pathway choices are as follows:

Figure 5

Figure 5 The Director’s Final Report emphasized low enrollment for applied students in Grade 9, neglecting to mention the reason why enrollment is so low: Grade 9 students being sent to portables in the Hayden parking lot.

“Unfortunately the low number of students and staff has prevented the school from providing the same breadth of programming offered in other Halton District School Board schools. This is most evident given the low number of students in applied programming and subsequently the college pathway, resulting in these students having fewer options or little flexibility in selecting courses they can take.

“Schools are required to provide a pathway to graduation for all students. This means the school will have some smaller classes (for example, 11 students in Grade 9 Applied), and in order to be compliant with staffing formulas and provincial mandates, will have some larger classes to offset the smaller numbers. Consequently, not only is the range of course selection not available to students but there is also a greater disparity between class sizes.”

This entire section is based on the false assumption that there aren’t enough students available in North Burlington to bring Pearson back up to better utilization levels. The arguments made above make clear that this is not only possible, but an excellent option for managing overcrowding at Hayden and the new developments, as well as the fast rate of turnover in North Burlington communities.

Again this is likely to be exacerbated as the projections indicate a continued decline in enrollment.

Again, these projections are based on the inaccurate assumption that there aren’t any students available to bring to Pearson. The above statement seeks to create urgency where there is none.

“Lester B. Pearson High School is 1.9 kilometres from M.M. Robinson High School. Students who currently attend Lester B. Pearson High School are within the walking distance to M.M. Robinson High School. A closure of Lester B. Pearson High School will not result in an increase in bussing costs for the Halton District School Board.”

This is technically correct yet misleading. If Pearson were to stay open and the catchment areas appropriately reshaped, there would be less students bussing, meaning a cost savings for the Halton District School Board.

Regardless, HDSB representatives have stated on several occasions that it’s about the students, not the money.

“At present there is a nursery school located in Lester B. Pearson High School. This is a longstanding relationship between the City of Burlington and the Board, and since the mid-1970s has become part of the fabric of the Lester B. Pearson High School community. If the recommendation to close Lester B. Pearson High School is approved, the Halton District School Board will engage with the appropriate municipal partners to investigate available options for a continued relationship with the Halton District School Board.”

The promise to “investigate available options” should be interpreted as the Board has not undertaken sufficient consultation on this important issue up to this point, and is not making any commitment to maintain the co-op nursery.

Furthermore, the Director’s Final Report is recommending keeping Hayden as an over-capacity mega school, and turning M.M. Robinson into an over-capacity mega school (see Figure 6 below). It does not take into account new growth in North Burlington, nor the aggressive turnover in Headon Forest and Palmer neighbourhoods, which will take Hayden and M.M. Robinson to unsustainable levels.

Given that these schools will be filled to the brim, are we to believe that there will be space to maintain the co-op nursery?

Figure 6

Figure 6 – Mega schools projected for the north if Pearson closes (before taking into account increased enrollment due to new developments and residential turnover)


“Lester B. Pearson High School has served its students and community very well for the past 40 years; however, its enrolment has been in decline for some time. It is currently less than 65% of capacity, and by 2025 it is expected to decline to 55%.”

Having read this far, trustees already know that Pearson would only decline to 55% if catchments weren’t appropriately reshaped. To assume that Pearson would decline to 55% is to assume that Hayden would be at 140%, which is the status quo prediction for that school in 2025. Everyone knows that Hayden’s over-utilization is unsustainable, and that Pearson has space to accommodate those students. Therefore, the conclusion of Recommendation 2 of the Director’s Final Report is misleading.

“Based on the two identified criteria for a program and accommodation review (PAR):

“1. The school or group of schools has/have experienced or will experience declining enrolment where on-the-ground (OTG) capacity utilization rate is below 65%.


“2. Reorganization involving the school or group of schools could enhance program delivery and learning opportunities.

“Lester B. Pearson High School meets the criteria for a PAR, and subsequently is recommended for closure.”

Pearson would not have met the criteria for a PAR if it weren’t for the redistribution of its students to Hayden High School.

In conclusion, trustees must question the validity of the evidence brought forward through the Director’s Final Report to support a closure of Pearson High School.

Two final questions for trustees as they make their decision on whether to close Pearson:

(1) Is it in the best interests of students and the community to close Pearson, leaving North Burlington with two schools with over 1300 students, already over capacity before taking into account new developments and residential turnover?

(2) If trustees decide to close Pearson high school, will they, in 10 years’ time, receive a Director’s Final Report requesting $35 million to open a new school in north Burlington, and on what land will that school sit?

I respectfully submit that you must, given the evidence, decline Recommendation 2 and ask the Director to provide options for redistributing Hayden’s student population to Pearson and M.M Robinson.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by delaying a decision on closing Pearson until the true enrollment figures are clarified after a redistribution of Hayden (and possibly Bateman) students, and the new developments in the North are completed.

The Director’s Final Report has not met the burden of evidence for a closure of Pearson High School.

Thank you,

Rory Nisan
Lester B. Pearson Alumnus (class of 2001)

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Elements and Expressions: elementary student art show to take place April 25-27 at the New Street Education Centre.

artsblue 100x100By Staff

April 25, 2017



For the 12th year in a row the Halton District School Board is presenting the elementary art show, called Elements and Expressions, from Tuesday April 25-Thursday April 27, 2017.

The popular event will showcase the artistic flare of Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 students, as all kinds of artwork will grace the Brock Room at the New Street Education Centre, located at 3250 New St. in Burlington.

AGB kids withj art

These two tykes were showing what they produced while at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The school board exhibit will open at the New Street Educational Centre on Tuesday.

The mediums include paintings, sculptures, puppets, paper maché, crayons, pastels, ink, fabric, 2D and 3D pieces. The exhibit pieces are selected by the classroom and art teachers to highlight art curriculum expectations.

The purpose of the art show is to showcase student artwork and to share it with peers to hopefully inspire and encourage others in their creative endeavours. Nearly 2,500 students are expected to visit the New Street Education Centre to tour the works of art. Throughout the three-day exhibit, professional artists from the Burlington Art Centre will be demonstrating various art techniques such as pottery, weaving, spinning, photography, fine art and more. The artists will give students hands-on opportunities to show them that art can have a place in their future.

“Elements and Expressions provides an opportunity for students to share their work with visitors in an art-gallery like setting” said Kevin McConvey, the Board’s Instructional Program Leader – The Arts, K-12. “The art displays show the tremendous amount of work and effort students have put into the creative process. Exposure to a wide variety of creative approaches, from paintings to papier maché, is a great way to broaden the horizons of student artists and spectators alike.”
Students’ artwork will be on display during the following times:

• Tuesday April 25: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Wednesday April 26: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
• Thursday April 27: 9 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

New Street Education Centre


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The tricky nature of the FOI Process; Muir's marathon in navigating it all. Part 2

backgrounder 100By Tom Muir

April 24th, 2017


Few people in Burlington could understand why the Board of Education staff decided that some of the city’s high schools had to be closed.  They also had difficulty grasping why the newest high school was at over 150% capacity while other high schools below the QEW had a total of 1800 empty seats in the high school classrooms.

Tom Muir decided to dig into the official record.  In part 1 of this four part series he sets out on a mission to find out how the Halton Board of Education managed build a new school that resulted in Burlington having more high school capacity than it needed which brought about the need to recommend that some schools in the southern part of the city be closed.

Part 2 of a four part series:

The Tricky Nature of the FOI Process:
In his lengthy communication with the people who have the task of providing information under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request Muir continues –

First, you get to decide what records you will provide to fulfill what you say is the scope of the FOI request. You can send what you want, and refuse further.

Second, you get to make assertions about what you want to say these records mean – your “interpretations”.
Third, if I have questions or disagreements about what you say things mean, or want clarifications, you ask me; May I pass along your email to the appropriate staff so we may thoroughly respond to your questions?”

Muir making a pointThen, to my abrupt surprise, this thorough response from staff apparently consists of a refusal to provide written responses – say you will only talk about it – and further, if I persist, tell me, and I quote; “Our offer to assist you in further interpreting those documents or clarifying their intent was made as a courtesy, and exists outside the timelines and parameters specified under the Act, as it goes beyond the scope of records responsive to your FOI request.”

Along with this declaration you restate a disingenuous assertion of one point, with no planning history or context – that Ministry funds paid the entire construction cost of Hayden.

You also state that the use of future proceeds of disposition (POD) was prohibited by the Ministry on August 31, 2011, however, there is no language in the record, Appendix 7, provided by you to support any notion of “prohibition”, or changes in the funding formula for Capital that would lead to the same result. I asked for clarification of this, but this was ignored and denied too.

Note:  Muir refers to a number of appendices: There were nine of them they are part of the response Muir received.

Only the assertion of the full Ministry funding was given, with no context of how this was rationalized provided. Even the text referred to in Appendices 7, 8 and 9 was not elaborated as support.

Appendix 7 contains no language of prohibition import, or even other cautions on the use of PODs, and this includes the page 4 you noted as pertinent to Burlington, and the records of Appendices 8 and 9.

These last Appendices are the approvals of the final Ministry funding as a top-up provision for additional costs for which future POD projections were deemed to be delayed, or uncertain in timing of receipt, to cover, thus possibly creating a cash flow risk according to the Ministry message. Each Appendix allowed the Hayden school to proceed without the use of projected future PODs, with the Ministry willing to provide additional funding. Appendix 8 provided $3M more, and Appendix 9 an additional $2.2M.

Appendix 9 notes that the top up funding is approved, “To allow the project to proceed to construction in partnership with the city and the library, … .” This partnership was and is a community collaboration program and policy of the Ministry and the provincial government.

There was no mention of any a prohibition of future PODs, or any mention that there were no realized PODs in the overall funding. Clearly, PODs remain a source of funding to the Board, whether realized and in cash reserves, or as possible future PODs held in surplus physical assets.

Make no mistake, if this PAR decides to close schools, these schools will become surplus assets that can be sold, thus providing a funding source from PODs.

In any case, and this is key, if schools are closed they become a definite and very big cost to Burlington, regardless of whether the Ministry paid the cash construction cost of Hayden when they did.

Having the PAR now, almost 6 years after the Ministry approval to fund the school, means that this surplus seats cost was just deferred in it’s reckoning, and, if schools are closed, then the idea that the Ministry paid the full cost of Hayden will be a Big Lie.

This point of the Ministry paying for construction of Hayden was not the object of my FOI, but it is what you used during the public and PARC meetings, and are continuing here, to try a red herring to evade, and divert attention from, my longstanding issue that the construction of Hayden is what created this mess of surplus seats, by the Board, with the knowledge of foresight, and resulted in this PAR, that may result in school closures to eliminate the surplus seats created.

Given this mess, and Board responsibility, this PAR should have been held back in 2008-2009 or so, when Hayden was planned. Instead, the board did just a boundary review.

In my FOI request, I explicitly asked for records pertaining to consideration of any OTG surplus pupil places that might or would be created in the overall HDSB of Burlington by the approval and construction of Hayden.
And at the same time you ignore anther point I raised for clarification, that is central to my FOI, and proof of my central issue above – that Hayden was planned and rationalized with a Ministry Growth School Application (FOI response Appendix 6) within the same Planning Area, SRA 100, as the other 6 schools in Burlington that are now the subject of the current PAR, and are threatened with closures.

This Appendix 6 clearly shows that the construction of Hayden, and the transfer of students to Hayden from several of the other schools, created surplus seats at these schools, declines in their utilization, and declines in the overall utilization of the schools in the planning area. These results are the mess we are in.
Specifically, this Appendix 6 shows Hayden was planned with a Ministry Application based on historical and projected enrollment for the planning are SRA 100, in which they included Hayden.

Appendices 1 to 6 show: (1), the Board’s intent to build what is now Hayden; (2), the inclusion in the LTAP; (3) terms set by the Ministry for funding approval, including part payment from Disposition of Surplus Assets, and Trustee resolution approving these terms; (4) funding sources for new schools including Hayden, including Disposition; (5),Trustee resolution approving the terms in (3); (6) Board submission of Growth School Application to Ministry.

SRA 101 as at 2015

SRA 101

SRA 100 as at 2015

SRA 100

This application reduced the 10 year projected average enrollment utilization at MM Robinson from 93.2% to 53.4%; at Nelson, from 108.7% to 95.6%; and at Bateman from 94% to 43.9%. Overall application SRA utilization declined from 88% to 74%.

It also reduced projected 2022 enrollment at MM Robinson from 1268 to 669; at Nelson from 1460 to 1311; and at Bateman from 1273 to 454. The overall transfer of students numbered 1567.

You totally ignored this data, my request for clarification as to when and how Hayden later turned up in a new SRA 101, and how is this inconsistency to be explained.

Instead, you emphasize the Ministry funding all the construction cost of Hayden, like that means there will be nothing for Burlington to pay in some other form, like closed schools. The Ministry decision to fund Hayden construction didn’t come until May – July 2011, but the closing of schools, pursuant to that, is here in our face right now.

Is this really what you mean when you say; May I pass along your email to the appropriate staff so we may thoroughly respond to your questions”?

Part 1 of a four part series.

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Lisa Bull implored the Director o Education to look at all the options.

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2017



Is there anything a parent can say that will change minds?

The democratic process we celebrate on both Canada Day and Remembrance Day doesn’t always get reflected when citizens go to the polls to select their city Councillors and school board trustees – expect to see a much bigger turnout in 2018 – we hope? Vainly? We hope not.

PARC with options on the walls

The 14 members of the PARC and the several advisors took part in seven meetings.

There were some very talented people serving their communities on the PARC that met for seven meetings.
These people got nothing for their efforts – the Board did provide coffee and donuts. The parents brought in treats for each other including small bottles of wine to celebrate the work they did – not always as a team pulling in the same direction – there were parents who pulled for their schools and at times some of the language was less than civil. That’s what happens when emotions are aroused.

Lisa Bull was on the PARC representing Bateman high school. She earned a Masters of Education degree and chose to work in the private sector. The PARC experience for her was more frustrating than anything else. She felt that there was a solution that would serve the needs of not only Bateman but if the wider community as well.

Bateman student population

Student population numbers for Bateman high school prepared by the Board of Education.

Several days before the Director of Education released his final recommendation Lisa Bull wrote Stuart Miller with what was a reasonable request.

Her letter was signed by

Lisa Bull, PAR Parent Rep, Robert Bateman High School                                             

 Steve Armstrong, PAR Parent Rep, Lester B. Pearson High School

Sharon Rhys-Jones Picken, PAR Parent Rep,  Robert Bateman High School  

Rebecca Collier, PAR Parent Rep, Nelson High School   

Cheryl Delugt, PAR Parent Rep,   Lester B. Pearson High School   

Steve Cussons, PAR Parent Rep, Aldershot High School.

Kate Nazar, PAR Parent Rep, Nelson High School                        

Here is what they had to say:

As former members of the Burlington Secondary Program Accommodation Review Committee, we are writing to express our strong concerns about the decision to move forward with high school closures in Burlington. We realize that you are just days away from releasing your report to your Board of Trustees, however we are making one last request that you recommend to the Board that that they defer any closures as we do not believe that the Halton District School Board has fully and completely explored all non-school closure options. It is the responsibility of the HDSB to do whatever it takes to keep all high schools open in Burlington and we have not, to-date seen concrete evidence that all avenues have been thoroughly and exhaustively explored.

Hard working people PARC

The PARC members put in a lot of time on behalf of the community.

Throughout the PAR process, our Committee was guided to review Options for school closures designed to address the low utilization rates of the high schools in Burlington. We participated in six Committee meeting, multiple public meetings and, except for when a Committee member raised the Option of keeping all schools opened, the possibility of exploring alternate strategies for solving the HDSB’s utilization and programming challenges were not raised. In fact, it wasn’t until the Committee requested a seventh meeting that our group began to explore and recommend non-closure Options. Why did it take us so long to get this this point? Simply put – the challenge presented to the PAR Committee was framed as ‘which schools should be closed’. We were never challenged to explore alternative solutions.

As detailed in the Preamble of the Ministry of Education’s Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline (2015) ‘when a school board identifies a school that is projected to have long-term excess space, a school board would typically look at a number of options such as:

– Moving attendance boundaries and programs to balance enrolment between over and underutilized schools;

– Offering to lease underutilized space within a school to a coterminous school board;

– Finding community partners who can pay the full cost of operating the underutilized space; and/or

– Decommissioning or demolishing a section of the school that is not required for student use to reduce operating costs

Again, other than reviewing attendance boundaries and programs, none of the other options as detailed above was raised in any meaningful way with the PAR Committee. When the Committee raised a number of the above strategies in our final meeting, we were told that some had been explored by the HDSB but with all due respect, the efforts presented seemed limited at best.

In addition, in a letter dated March 6, 2017 Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter and Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli outlined how the provincial government is calling upon school boards to find solutions that meet ‘both local needs and the educational needs of Ontario’s students’.

Minister Hunter states that ‘communities and the Province expect Ontario’s four school systems to maximize the opportunities of co-locations’ and that ‘It is our government’s strong preference that school boards fully explore joint accommodation arrangements with coterminous boards’. Further, ‘…the Ministry states a preference for these joint-use projects committing to review these proposals before any others.’ In addition, the Ministry has committed $600,000 to assist school boards in pursuing joint-use school opportunities between school boards.

Why was this Option not fully and completely explored by the Halton District School Board? Given the Minister’s strong preference for this approach and the available funding, the PAR Committee and the community of Burlington should have been presented with evidence that both the public and Catholic boards have completely explored all possibilities for partnership. We were not.

Ministers Hunter and Chiarelli also remind school boards that according to The Ministry of Education Community and Partnerships Guideline, boards are meant to host at least one meeting annually to engage the broader community and relevant stakeholders. “It is imperative that these meetings involve all relevant stakeholders and facilitate real dialogue boards and the involved communities”. Further the Guideline states that “to be effective, these meetings require community engagement and attendance and a spirit of real partnership from all parties”.

As community members, we saw no advertising alerting us of any HDSB partnership meetings. I gather that some community agencies were invited to attend (if they asked to be on a contact list) but what of the broader community? What of partners outside of Burlington? What of “regular” citizens who might be interested in volunteering to bring their expertise and contacts to such an opportunity? Most members of the PAR Committee expressed an interest and a willingness to work with the HDSB to identify, recruit and work with agencies and organizations to build lasting partnerships which could impact both utilization of space and enhance student programming.

Pubmeet politicians BL-JT-PS

The politicians were certainly interested – three from Burlington city council attended one of the public meetings. The Mayor was not seen at any of the meetings.

Further, we were extremely surprised when, during our final PAR Committee meeting (which was not scheduled, but rather strongly requested by the members of the Committee) that the Manager of the City of Burlington, James Ridge requested that he (on behalf of the City) be given first notice regarding available space within schools. Did the HDSB not work with the City to explore all possible partnership and joint-use opportunities prior to the PAR process? Why has the HDSB not been working more closely with the City prior to the secondary school PAR?

We’ve also been disappointed that, despite the expectation ( as outlined in updates to the 2015 Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline) that municipalities and community partners impacted by PARs are engaged in meaningful ways and that ‘full input and feedback from the municipalities, including local economic and community impacts where relevant are reflected in the final staff report and advice to trustees” the City of Burlington’s involvement in the PAR process appears to have been limited to having Mr. Ridge serve on the PAR Committee. As a PAR Committee member I was provided with no information on behalf of the City about the economic and community impact of school closures on our neighbourhoods. Again – should this not have been information that was thoroughly explored and shared with the PARC prior to us making our final recommendations?

Finally, Ministers Hunter and Chiarelli have outlined how the government has been considering how they ‘can use public property in a manner that takes into account the best interests of local communities’. To that end, the government is exploring the concept of community hubs – ‘a school, a neighbourhood centre or other public space that offers co-ordinated services such as education, early years support, health care and social services’ – and is encouraging school boards to work with communities to explore this option. Further, the government is supporting these kinds of initiatives financially by offering funding such as Capital Funding for Community Hub School Retrofits ($50 million).

In her March 6th letter, Ministers Hunter and Chiarello acknowledge the challenges of forming community partnerships quickly/easily and offers boards who are exploring the option of a Community Hub with a school involved in an accommodation review to advise the Ministry of Education’s Capital Policy and Programs Branch and the Ministry of Infrastructure’s Community Hubs Division prior to May 1st.

Centennial pool - outside

City and school board work together on the operation of a swimming pool.

We strongly believe that this is an option which deserves consideration in Burlington. Robert Bateman which has an existing partnership with a city pool facility, a YMCA daycare facility, a broad range of technical and trade facilities, and which is located in a community without a community centre already serves as a community hub for seniors’ groups, families, community organizations and more. Lester B Pearson High School has been partnering with the Pearson Co-op Nursery School for over 40 years. This partnership offers a Dual Credit ECE Program with Mohawk College and a Health and Wellness SHSM: Family and Child Services pathway for Pearson students. Programs such as these could be expanded and enhanced and would address multiple opportunities for these schools and communities.

Robert Bateman

Robert Bateman isn’t the least bit impressed with the idea of closing a school with his name on it.

In closing, we recognize that you and your team are facing an extremely difficult situation. We recognize that you and the Board do not take your responsibility to the students and families of Burlington lightly. That’s why we implore you to take a stand as the leader of the HDSB and recommend that the Board of Trustees halt this process until comprehensive work and more thorough exploration can be conducted.

Lisa Bull reports that she “got no response from” Miller.

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A very disturbing chain of email correspondence. What did the Director of Education think he was doing and why did the Board of Education chair feel she had to get directions?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 23, 2017



We are beginning to hear from the trustees on the values they bring to their task as trustees

We have heard from Amy Collard who said


HDSB trustee Any Collard. She represents the Bateman school.

“You have requested that trustees determine a ranking for our decision-making priorities for the PAR. For me, this is a bit like asking us to determine if the mind, the heart or the soul are the most important parts of a person. All of these parts are necessary, and if one part is lacking the person does not function well. In addition, there are many other parts that may not be considered vital, but that increase a person’s quality of life.

“I will be looking for a solution that provides all of the students in Burlington with equitable access to the programming that they need to be successful in their chosen pathway, while honouring their ties to their communities and being mindful that we must be fiscally responsible.

“As you know, this is a difficult proposition. I will be listening to the students and their families, as well as reviewing all of the data that has been compiled, and trying to find a way to balance all of the perspectives. I remain hopeful that the Director will present a recommendation that trustees – and the Burlington community – will be able to support.

Donna Danielli, Milton trustee said she was “not comfortable ranking one value higher than another at this point and I will attempt to explain why.

Protest outside board office

Cold winter night outside the Board of Education offices – Central and Pearson protesters were out on the street.

“A number of years ago, there was concern amongst wine makers. There was a reviewer of wines who was well renowned and whose reviews were considered the epitome of wine reviews. Many bottles of wine were sold according to his recommendations.

“The difficulty came when the wine makers began to change their wines to reflect attributes he found favourable in wines. They stopped creating the wines they had always individually crafted and instead made wines they knew he would give a good review to.

Donna Danielli

Milton school board trustee Donna Danielli

“My concern with providing a rating system with which I will view the PAR recommendation is twofold – I am concerned that whatever aspect I give the most weight to will be the one that delegations will focus on. I won’t hear the true spirit of what I need to hear on the delegation nights but rather one tailored to meet what people may think I want to hear.

“The other concern is that there is no magical formula to share – I will be reading the report, re-reading all of my PAR materials, re-reading all of the emails and letters sent this far and listening diligently to the delegations. I feel that to try to list my values and how they will weigh my vote would be to do a disservice to those who are waiting to delegate the board.

“It is my intention to listen to every one of those delegations whole heartedly and take their feedback as part of my overall decision.”

Then the waters got muddied. A trustee appears to have asked the Director of Education how she should respond to the Gazette’s request.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller at a Robotics competition briefing.

In the email trail that came our way Stuart Miller, the Director of Education said: “First I saw it was Kelly’s e-mail. I’ll try to connect today with Kelly.

“My initial thoughts are to quote the mandate of the Min of Ed – Trustees primary focus is student achievement and fiscal responsibility. But I’ll chat with Kelly.”

Halton Hills Trustee, Jeanne Gray got into the conversation with: “Kelly – thanks for connecting to Stuart on our behalf. I will not be responding to Pepper Parr’s this request at this time.”


HDSB Chair Kelly Amos.

On Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 9:19 AM, Kelly Amos Trustee Wards 5 & 6 <amosk@hdsb.ca> wrote:
“I am sure we all received this email. As the PAR process is not over until the vote, I believe we should exercise caution about responding to this email. I speak to Stuart about this will try craft something to respond to this on behalf of all trustees.”

This all started when the Gazette wrote each trustee:

“A number of months ago the Gazette asked each of you to rank the values that are a part of the decision making process for you.

Chair Amos told us that the trustees were not going to involve themselves in the PARC process and, with one exception, there were no responses.

The PARC process has ended and that committee no longer meets.”

The Gazette didn’t feel that that asking the trustees to rank the three values was involving yourselves in the PARC process – but that is moot at this point.

The public has a right to know something about the values that drive a trustee.

Would you rank the following:

Fiscal prudence
Community – by which we mean the role a high school plays in a community
Academic offering

Please rank these three – you may have other values – add those as addendum if you wish.

Leah Reynolds, Burlington trustee for Wards 1 and 2 said:

Leah Reynolds

Burlington Wards 1 and 2 school board trustee Leah Reynolds.

The driving force behind entering public office is my passion for education as evidenced by my long-serving school volunteerism through reading club, breakfast club, chairing school councils, participating in community discussion of elementary school closing and helping lead numerous school capital fundraising enhancements and initiatives. These experiences equipped me with the skills to navigate the school board and I realized that I could be helpful to parents and community.

I also understood that there were population challenges and should a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) be held, I wanted to be a part of the conversation because schools are the heart of the community.

Reynolds pointed out that “this is a full time job, serving parents and families days, evenings and often weekends, one that trustees gladly take on in service to students and their education.”

Trustees attend far more meetings than city Councillors do.

Reynolds said her “top priority and philosophy is focused squarely on what is in the best interests of students.” She did make clear that “schools are the heart of the community”.

Her decision matrix, said Reynolds will consider more than the three factors the Gazette set out. Her considerations include the 13 factors identified by the PAR policy which are:

I. Range of mandatory program
2. Range of optional program
3. Viability of Program – number of students required to offer and maintain program in an educationally sound and fiscally responsible way
4. Physical and environmental state of existing schools
5 Proximity to other schools (non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
6 Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms
7. Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and underutilization of buildings.
8. Expansion and placement of new ministry or board programs.
9. Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent boundary changes
10 Cost effectiveness of transportation
11 Fiscal responsibilities
12 Existing and potential community uses and facility partnerships
13. Goals and focus of the current multi-year plan

“There may be additional factors that bubble up as a result of the PAR committee’s discussions. But the lens through which all these factors will be viewed is what is best for students at our schools.”

Every person added Reynolds “has an opportunity right now to make their voice heard to help shape the options that emerge for trustee consideration in the spring.”

What parents expect is an open look at a significant issue. The public want and need to be aware of what the trustees think – not what someone who is accountable to them thinks they should be saying.


Director of Education Stuart Miller during a web cast Q&A

It is not appropriate for the Director of Education to direct the thinking of the trustees nor is it appropriate for the Chair to say she will “will try craft something to respond to this on behalf of all trustees.”

Has the Director of Education given the trustees what they need to be able to vote? Looks that way.

This is a very disturbing chain of email correspondence. The public has a right to know why their elected trustees would behave like this. One might ask also ask the Director of Education what he thought he was doing.

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