Downtown residents give their response to some critical questions about the kind of city we build.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The room was full. It was a rainy night but under 100 people showed up for an information session on their vision for the downtown part of the city. The focus was on mobility hubs.

The Gazette will do a more in-depth report – this is a first look at the kind of questions that were asked and the answers given

There were some surprises.

Clicker being used

A participant using the hand held device to record their answer to the question being asked.

There were 12 questions asked.  The question was put up on a screen – the people in the room had been given hand held clickers that they could use to indicate their choice.

We report on two of the questions in this early look at what was an important event.  There will be a follow up meeting in June for the people in Ward 2.

The intention is to hold similar session for each of the four mobility hubs that city has identified.

This is city building at its best.  How it will roll out is going to be interesting to watch.

Transit question

These answers are going to surprise the Bfast people and give Burlington Transit a lot to think about.

There were a number of developers in the room along with just about everyone that mattered from the Planning department.  On the political side – Councillors Taylor and Meed Ward were in the room along with the Mayor who opened the session. More to follow.

Family oriented

So much for the argument that we need more people downtown to make the core the vibrant place everyone appears to want it to become.

 

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Join the bus the Niagara Region parents are taking to a rally against school closures at Queen's Park.

highschoolsBy Staff

April 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington isn’t the only city with school closing issues.

Parents in the Niagara Region have their concerns and have arranged for a bus load of people to attend the Queen’s Park school closure rally taking place April 26th.

If you would like to join that group there appears to be some space on their bus. They’re willing to stop in Burlington, possibly at the Holiday Inn, and it would save people a lot of hassle.

Queen's Park

Rally will take place on the steps of Queen’s Park – join others that feel the same way you do.

They are hoping to get some people from Burlington to join them and reached out to Denise Davy who passed the request along to the Gazette – and we are passing it along to you.

The Niagara people are willing to stop in Burlington, possibly at the Holiday Inn and pick up anyone who wants to take part.

The rally is being organized by the Ontario Association Against School Closures and will be held on Wednesday, April 26th from noon until 2 p.m. on the front lawn at Queen’s Park.

The bus will come through Burlington around 10.30 or 11. Location is still to be decided as the details are being firmed up.

For more information and to book a (free) seat, contact Nicole at: nj.scime@gmail.com or call 905-730-9959.

If you decide to take the trip – let us know – we’d like to talk to you when you get back.

There is more information on the rally on the Ontario Association Against School Closures Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oaasc/

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Conservation Halton issues watershed conditions notice - keep the kids away from the creeks.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Watershed notice March 24-17Conservation Halton advises that a low pressure system is currently moving across the Province and is expected to produce rainfall amounts ranging between 25 mm to 30 mm with the potential for localized thunderstorms resulting in higher amounts. Rain is expected to continue this afternoon and into this evening but will move out of our jurisdiction by Friday morning.

Flooding is not anticipated, however the forecasted precipitation in conjunction with saturated ground conditions may result in higher than normal water levels and flows in local streams.

Water levels in watershed creeks will rise significantly during the weekend. Caution around the edges of creeks - especially with children.

Water levels in watershed creeks will rise significantly during the next few days. Flooding is not expected. Caution around the edges of creeks – especially with children.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to stay away from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts and dams. Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

This Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety will be in effect through Friday April 21, 2017. Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will provide updates as required.

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Muir on his timeline marathon to get information on why Hayden high school was built and more on why the School Board wants to close some high schools.

backgrounder 100By Tom Muir

April 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

This Friday, the Director of Education Stuart Miller will release a report setting out what he thinks the School Board trustees should do in the matter of closing high schools in Burlington.
It is a messy matter,

Many want to know why a new high school was built in the north end of the city when it was pretty clear that there were going to be a lot of empty seats in the immediate to near future.

Tom Muir, a retired federal government researcher, has done some excellent research – poking away at all the darker corners of the educational bureaucracy to find out why the decisions that were made were actually made.

It turned out to be a marathon task that ate up more than three months of Muir’s time.

Muir can be abrasive, he can be abrupt but he can’t be ignored. He sets out for us a Timeline Marathon which the Gazette is publishing in three parts due to its length.

If you want to know why parents are facing what every politician is now calling a very disruptive situation – read on – and think about who you elect as your school board trustees in 2018.

Part 1 of a four part series:

Muir making a point

Tom Muir

I have been trying to get this information and more for more than three months.
– January 15: Submission to Director, PARC, Trustees, City Council. Ask for information and answers to questions. Burlington Gazette runs submission in 6 parts.

– January 18: Director Miller sends me email. Wants to “chat”, not email, or respond in writing.

– January 24: I reply, agree to call, but request follow-up response from Miller in writing to submission and points covered in our call.

– January 24: Miller reply – writes, “no problem Tom”, to my email agreeing to call and requesting written response. Says he shared my submission with staff, confirmed by copy. No consequent contact from said staff.

– February 8: Telcon with Miller. He says he doesn’t want to open up Hayden planning trail for several political sensitivity reasons he states,- says Hayden was a mistake and responsible for the mess, but he wasn’t involved. I asked again for written information on several issues, including paper trail on Hayden, and other matters he raised – he is responsible, is Director, and is in charge.

– February 15: Still no response from Miller to either January 15 submission, or telephone conference call requests.

– February 15: Another submission to Miller, PARC, Trustees, staff, City Council. I request several of the same and similar things again, including the Hayden planning and decision-making paper trail. Gazette publishes this submission.

– February 15 to March 2: No response from Miller, staff, Board, Trustees (except one who said she read it) or PARC.

– March 2: Submitted Freedom of Information (FOI): Due to complete non-response from Director or HDSB.

– March 15: No response from HDSB, so inquire and submit FOI clarification on my own in anticipation. G Gortmaker replies with thanks so they don’t have to ask me for a clarification, but they had not notified me. This makes me wonder why they did not ask me for one, as G Gortmaker response indicates they needed one. I am notified that they can take 30 days. Clarification accepted.

In similar circumstances, my FOI request to the Ministry was identical in text, but they asked for a clarification in one day, and we settled it in two days. The response to this FOI request took a different turn, however, and as of April 16 I still have not received it, for reasons I will describe below.

– April 1 to 6: HDSB FOI response mailed to my house, but I am away as they were informed. I wonder where it is – I thought it would come as email, like all the other correspondence – so I follow-up with inquiry. G Gortmaker scans and sends by email promptly – I receive April 6.

– April 9: I submit a clarification and correction email to G Gortmaker concerning the accuracy of several documents provided in the FOI response, including the HDSB decision letter discussing the documents.
I submit these are not outside the scope of the FOI request as they are directly pertinent to the FOI response documents and do not ask for anything beyond the scope of records responsive to my FOI, but are in fact directly related to the exact records comprising the HDSB response.

– April 10: G Gortmaker replies to my email as follows – “As I relay the responsive records in an FOI search, and provide data as provided to me, I will refer your specific questions to those who are more versed in this matter (and provided me with the data). May I pass along your email to the appropriate staff so we may thoroughly respond to your questions?”

I subsequently reply, “yes”. G Gortmaker then provides staff with copies of my concerns and some relevant documents from the FOI response.

– April 11: Lucy Veerman emails me as follows –
Gail Gortmaker has forwarded your email requesting clarification on several points noted in her email. I would be pleased to respond to your questions. I feel that it may easier to review these via telephone, so please feel free to call me at your convenience. I can be reached at 905-335-3665 ext 2217.

– April 11: I reply –
I am away and will not be back for another week, so a phone call is not on.  In any case, this has all been done in writing, and everything relevant is in writing, so I want you to respond in writing.

I also don’t want us to have a misunderstanding from something not written, but only spoken.

I need this done asap as I need it in a timely manner.

Gortmaker understands this.
– April 13: Lucy does not reply and I am concerned with yet another refusal by the Board to engage me in writing for a relevant response to serious questions, and the clock is ticking away on the PARC process and here we have the 4 day Easter Weekend threatening to consume another week.

So in my upset, I sent the following message expressing my frustration with this continuation of what is a 3 month marathon of enduring the continued non-response of the Board to my questions and requests for information – and now to essential and needed clarifications and corrections of your asserted “interpretations” about what the FOI documents you provided actually say in writing, as I outline in my April 9 email.

Lucy,
I have not heard from you on this matter, and this coming weekend is a 4 day Easter weekend with closed offices.

I need your explanations NOW, not in another week that further delay will entail. You know the time sensitivity of this information, so please show some respect to that reality and provide explanations of the inconsistencies I noted.

Please provide that information by email today.
Thank you,

-April 13: To this message, I get the Gortmaker reply below that basically refuses any further written engagement about their FOI response, and continues the marathon timeline, bringing me back to the stone-wall of the Board.

Unfortunately for me, you seem to be able to do and can say anything you want as I can’t directly control Board actions.

This further illustrates the tricky nature of the FOI process.

Part 2 will be published later today; parts 3 and 4 will be published Friday.

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City invites residents to help plant 2,400 trees - kick off is on the same day as the Burlington Green Clean Up Green Up.

News 100 greenBy Staff

April 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

REVISED

A close to Classic example of the left hand not talking to the right hand.

The city announced earlier today their hosting of six tree-planting events across the city in April and May.

BurlingtonGreen is the strongest advocacy group in the city. They have put Burlington on the may environmentally.

BurlingtonGreen is the strongest advocacy group in the city. They have put Burlington on the may environmentally.

Burlington Green is holding their annual Clean Up Green Up event when tens of thousands of Burlington residents take to the roads and ravines and clean up the city on the same day as the first of the six tree planting events.

Planting trees is a great initiative – but why would the city kick off this event on the same day that Burlington Green is doing its Clean Up Green Up.

The tree planting events will be held on:

Saturday, April 22, 2017
- Sherwood Forest Park, 5270 Fairview St.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
- Kerns Park, 1801 Kerns Rd.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
- Paletta Lakefront Park, 4280 Lakeshore Rd.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
- Ireland Park, 2315 Headon Rd.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
- Thorpe Park, 1140 Stephenson Dr.
Saturday, June 3, 2017 – Brant Hills Park, 2300 Duncaster Dr.

In their media release the city invites residents to be a part of adding to the urban forest through these free events by planting a total of 2,400 saplings.

All events begin at 10:30 a.m. with the exception of the planting event on May 6 at Paletta Lakefront Park, which begins at 9 a.m. No pre-registration is required but attendees are asked to register upon arrival at the event.

This event is great for families.
• Saplings are in one-gallon pots that can be easily carried to planting spots
• No experience is needed. City arborists and planting experts will show attendees what to do.

What to wear/bring:
• Check the weather and dress for the conditions. We will be outside and will plant rain or shine.
• Wear sturdy footwear – no sandals or flip-flops, please.
• Bring your own work/gardening gloves.
• Bring your own snacks and beverages, and plenty of water, especially if it’s hot.
• Bring your own shovel, if possible.
• Consider going green to the planting; walk, bike, carpool or use public transit.
• Bring your volunteer hour form if you’re a high school student looking for volunteer hours.

Burlington Green tells its side of the story:

I just saw your latest posting and wanted to let you know that not only is BurlingtonGreen  fully aware of the City’s great community tree planting events taking place this Spring but we have been actively promoting them and will be participating as well, including having a few of our volunteers joining in the fun at Sherwood Park this Saturday.  We are very happy they are hosting a tree planting event this Saturday and the City kindly consulted with us before including the April 22nd opportunity in their line up of event dates.  It will be wonderful to have people both cleaning up our communities while others plant some trees.  Those planting trees will be wrapped up around noon with plenty of time to head over to our Eco-Fair Celebration to have some fun there too.

Hope to see everyone on Saturday.  Bring some sunshine please

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Trustee Collard covers all the bases in her response to the question: What are the values she will bring to the school closing decision she makes?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A number of months ago we asked the Halton District School Board trustees to rank the values they would bring to the decision they will have to make on June 7thy – do they vote to close any of the high schools in Burlington – Nelson, Bateman, Pearson and Central have been named for possible closure in June of 2018

Option 19 short

The original recommendation to the trustees was Option 19 – to close both Central and Pearson. In the first round of selections by the PARC members many held to that option. When Nelson and Bateman were put on the table the numbers changed.

Option 7 - short

Not closing any of the schools was not the favoured option (#7) amongst the PARC members.

Not closing any of the high schools was also listed as an option and came out as the preferred option for the majority of the members of the Program Accommodation Review.

The Gazette wanted to let its readers know what values the trustees would bring to the table.

Our first request to the trustees didn’t result in very much other than Board Chair Kelly Amos saying the trustees did not want to attempt to influence that PARC in any way. Fair enough – but the PARC has now been dissolved. We again asked: Could the people who elected the trustees know where those trustees stand on the following:

Fiscal prudence
Academic offerings
Community

One isn’t better than another – the intention was to get some understanding as to what the values were of each trustee so that when people delegate they can put forward arguments that would resonate with the trustees.

This time, to date, there was a response from Ward 5 school board trustee Amy Collard. She said:

amy-collard-hdsb-trustee

School Board trustee Amy Collard

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.

As a safe political statement it doesn’t get much better than that.

Sharman July 2016

Ward 5 city council member Paul Sharman.

Collard is said to have political aspirations and an interest in taking a run for the ward 5 seat on city council. With comments like this she will be a welcome replacement for the blunt, brusque statements current council member for the ward Paul Sharman makes.

Director of Education Stuart Miller will release his recommendation to the trustees on Friday at 6:00 pm. The Gazette will analyze the report and look for feedback from key people in each school’s parent group and report to our readers.

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Police will use education and enforcement strategies to reduce the speed of vehicles travelling on residential roads.

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Halton Regional Police will continue to run two traffic initiatives across the City of Burlington throughout 2017.

The most common contributing factors to traffic accidents are inattentiveness, distracted driving (cell phone use), failing to yield, driving too fast for road conditions, following too closely and disobeying traffic light signals.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner talks with Sgt Davies, the man who heads up the accident reconstruction unit. The two of them would really like to see fewer accidents.

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner talks with Sgt Davies, the man who heads up the accident reconstruction unit.

The Police continue to encourage residents to report traffic complaints by going to the Halton Regional Police Website and submitting the required information on-line.

Operation RISC (Reducing Intersection Safety Concerns) has been in effect since 2015 by officers from 30 Division, in order to maximize police visibility and increase the public’s perception of safety while driving.

Collisions at intersections have a high risk potential of serious injuries or even death, making intersection safety a priority for the Halton Regional Police.

The Police have also continued the Residential Traffic/Stop Sign/Speeding (RTSS) Initiative in order to deliver a clear message to drivers that our residential roads are not raceways. This traffic safety initiative was designed to increase compliance of stop signs. Police have utilized education and enforcement strategies throughout 2017 in order to reduce the speeds of vehicles travelling on residential roadways and to promote safer driving habits.

One tactic is to park a police cruiser close to the side of a road – there seems to be this automatic interaction between the foot on the gas pedal and they eye seeing a police cruiser – the eye apparently forces the foot to apply less pressure to the gas pedal.

During the first 3 months of 2017, officers in Burlington conducted 6,495 traffic stops, issued 4,576 Provincial Offences Notices and handed out more than 1,000 warnings to drivers. Halton Police spent a total of 3,628 hours dedicated to these two initiatives throughout Burlington.

As a result of this initiative; during the first three months of 2017, property damage motor vehicle collisions were down 9% and personal injury motor vehicle collisions were down 2% from 2016.

Police will continue to focus their efforts at locations that pose a higher risk to the public based on past collision analytic data. “Our officers will continue to educate drivers about their behaviour behind the wheel. Road Safety is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to do our part behind the wheel to ensure our roadways are safe for everyone” said Sgt. Jared McLeod, District Response Unit.

Police will continue to focus on drivers who are driving impaired, distracted and aggressive behind the wheel in order to protect and ensure the safety of all residents.

These measures and others are part of the Service’s broader Community First policing philosophy that focuses on incorporating the four pillars of (community) safety and well-being into service priorities: Emergency Response, Risk Intervention, Prevention, and Social Development.

If any citizen would like to report a traffic concern they can do so by visiting our website and submitting an online traffic complaint.

 

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A chance to roll up your sleeves and get your ideas on what the downtown could-should look like and how the new Official Plan can make it happen.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is another one of those opportunities where ward 2 council member Marianne Meed Ward invited people to a meeting where they could roll up their sleeves and put some of their ideas on paper.

Goldring makes a point at Downtown Destination event May 2015

Mayor, on the left talks to citizens about plans for downtown development during a Downtown Destinations event put on by ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

The meeting – this Thursday at the Lions Club – at 6:30 is a continuation of the Destination Downtown series of meetings that began in 2015

At that time the city was working on a re-write and update of the Official Plan. Since that time the decision was made to scrap the Official Plan we had and start all over again.

The DRAFT of the new plan has been released and will be going through a series of public meetings.

There is an opportunity for the Planning department to explain what an Official Plan does and does not do.

Burlington has this huge fear of a development application coming in – finding that it isn’t all that keen on what was put in front of them but worried silly that the developer will appeal a city decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Molinaro-Robert-two-people1-728x1024

Robert Molinaro explaining the plans for a development in ward 2 during a Downtown Destination event.

The good news at that level is the province is currently reviewing the OMB and its role.

Early signs are that the public might see a vastly different OMB role – one that would limit what developers can do.

The problem with that is one ends up with a municipality that gets the NIMBY (Not in my back yard) infection and nothing gets built.

Finding a balance is the challenge.

Members of Council are beginning to voice their views and concerns – so far they have been talking about the issues within their wards – the Plan is a city wide document. Are we seeing early signs if NIMBY?

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Arts Council is formally launched - now the real work begins.

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Will the evening be remembered as one of the historical moment in the cultural life of the city of Burlington – or will it be just another non-profit organization that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Only time will tell but the Arts and Cultural Council of Burlington (ACCOB) was launched in the lobby of the Performing Arts Centre on April 18th, 2017.

ACCOB board

The formative Board of the Arts and Cultural Council of Burlington, ACCOB: Left to right: Kim Verrall, Teresa Seaton, Robert Mayor, Rob Missen, Ancilla Ho Young, Donna Grandin, and Tim Park at the microphone.

There was a city council meeting that evening and just about every member of Council was in the lobby of the PAC up to watch the momentous occasion. There were enough of them in the lobby to form a quorum – they could have gathered in a corner and conducted the city’s business on the spot.

There weren’t just members of city council in the room. A local youth choir sang and a lovely young girl from an Orchard community school played her violin flawlessly – giving the audience a rendition of a Vivaldi Concerto. Yoanna Jang was a delight to listen to.

ACCOB - Ancilla

ACCOB vice chair, Ancilla Ho Young

Getting an Arts Council set up is an organizational matter. They now have to determine what their mandate is and how they want to execute on that mandate.

This all started back in 2013 when Trevor Copp stood before city council and said he wanted to be able to work in his home town and not have to toodle along the QEW to earn a living.

The irony of the evening was that Copp could not be on hand – he was out of town doing a show.

There were a number of arts community stalwarts – Teresa Seaton, Tim Park, Rob Missen

Mayor Goldring and former Mayor Walter Mulkewich were on hand – Goldring might have been thinking through how much ACCOB was going to want in the way of funding.

The important point is that the organization has moved beyond an idea – now it is up to them to lobby the city; seek funding and advocate for the Arts.

Will they mount programs of their own?

Will they find people within the city that will support the arts in general?

Will they hold the well-funded Performing Arts Centre the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Museums to account?

Burlington doesn’t have an arts or cultural profile even though the city has produced and been home to some very significant talent. The late Gordy Tapp lived here; the Spoons came out of this city, Walk Off the Earth has roots in the city. Robert Bateman worked from Burlington for some time.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized trhe arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum's operation listens.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized the arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum’s operation listens.

There are countless others. What Burlington has not been able to do – yet – is pull the history and the story of Burlington into focus and draw people to the city.

Burlington has relied on the Sound of Music and Ribfest to draw the multitudes – both are looking a little warn and have not managed to achieve a refresh and create a new life for themselves.

In the past Burlington has been a place where things happened. There is a spot along the waterfront, in Spencer Smith Park that is referred to as “pebble beach”. It is a collection of large stones – but, as Councillor Jack Dennison will tell you – if you look closely you might see some of the old pilings that once held up the Brant Inn – which in its day was a jumping spot – the place to be.

Many of the black musicians would take the train to Burlington and play in a place where they could eat, sleep and work in the same building and not be treated as second class citizens.

The city has not managed to build on that illustrious and colourful past.

ACCOB has its work cut out for it – the good news is that there are some very good people on that board – they could make it happen.

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City council holds to the position of not getting involved in the closing high schools matter.

highschoolsBy Staff

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The matter of the city getting involved in the closing of high schools got itself in front of city council again last night – the outcome as the same. The city is going to sit on its hands.

Denise Davey at council April 3

Denise Davy

Denise Davy, a community advocate delegated to city council and made comments that are worth repeating and sharing.

She said:

Last month, Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter reminded School boards and municipal councils that they are required to work with and consult with each other on the impact of school closures and how they will affect the community.

To quote, Minister Hunter said, “our school boards and municipalities must make every effort to work together to ultimately support positive experiences for our students and the communities they live in.”

In an interview with CBC radio on March 29th, Minister Hunter repeated this statement that municipal leaders and school board leaders should be working together when it comes to making the difficult decisions around closures.

To quote from that interview, Minister Hunter said schools are the heart of a community, “That conversation (between school boards and councils) needs to be happening.”

This did not happen in Burlington and I believe it is a solid reason for city council to ask the province that this process be suspended.

Central High school

Central high school

Schools are a critical component of our city and we need to know the social and economic impact of what these closures will mean. Some municipalities have written to the province requesting a moratorium of the closure process while others have asked for staff reports to study the impact of those closures.

Sarnia’s city council did an extensive Community Impact Assessment Study that helped determine how the school closures fit in with their strategic plan.

Toronto Council voted unanimously to ask the city manager for an inventory of city interests in schools and also sent a request to the TDSB and province asking to change the school funding formula and review its approach on school closures.

The list of municipalities which have called for a suspension of the process is long so I won’t read all the names but I have printed it out.

What I want to make absolutely clear is that the high noise volume around this issue isn’t just an emotional outpouring because parents don’t want to see their child’s school close. Parents get that there are empty seats, they understand the issue of population decline just as they understand there is only so much money in the education pot.

The emails and calls you’ve been receiving are not about that. It’s about the process.

PARC crowd Dec 8-16

Parents at a public meting on high school closures

As one of the hundreds of parents who have had a front row seat to this process, I can tell you not only from a procedural viewpoint it is deeply flawed, it has not followed ministry guidelines and worst of all, it has moved at such a breakneck speed that many critical questions have been left unanswered.

The closure of some 600 schools across the province is being called the largest and fastest sweep of school closures in the history of this province. And it’s all happening in communities like ours in a matter of months.

Consider that Bateman and Nelson were only officially added to the possible closure list in early February which means there will have been two and a half months to study all of the pitfalls of closing of the schools.

There have been no in-depth reports or studies detailing the short and long-term impact these closures will have on students or on the city nor has there been any detailed reports on dollar costs.

Case in point is the city pool attached to Bateman. Both Gerry Cullen, the board’s Superintendent of Facility Services and Director Stuart Miller told me in face to face separate interviews that they had no idea what would happen to Centennial pool should Bateman close nor did they know the cost of construction to separate it from the school.

centennial pool - inside

Centennial swimming pool.

Even if the province provided funding for this type of work, the pool would see far fewer people use it because it would no longer be used by students during the day, this is after some $2 million were spent on upgrading it. This is an example of how the closures would impact the city.

Central parents have asked for months about the grade 7 and 8 students who are in the high school and from what I know, they haven’t yet received an answer to that.

I came to this experience as a parent but I also brought a journalist’s perspective where I covered council meetings, OMB hearings, human rights tribunals and seen the inner workings of many processes.

I can tell you without any reservation the PAR has been the most disorganized, irresponsible and unaccountable process I have ever witnessed. Bar none.

We’re not talking about closing a strip plaza here. We’re talking about schools filled with hundreds of students and yet it’s being decided in less than three months.

Pic 2 Freeman Station 1906

The Freeman Station

Your council took longer to decide the fate of a heritage train station than a decision which will have far more ramifications.

Lastly, I want to address a concern that was raised about it being too late to step forward and that the motion would likely have no impact. I have to respectfully disagree on both points.
Your vote to support a suspension of this process could be the tipping point and even if it isn’t, it would send a message to tens of thousands of constituents that you understand their concerns.

monkeys

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Kaleidoscope of the arts exhibition and sale takes place this weekend; Guilds will be strutting their stuff for a month.

artsorange 100x100By Staff

April 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Art Gallery of Burlington is excited to present the third annual All Guilds Show (April 22 – May 21, 2017) in conjunction with the Kaleidoscope Exhibit and Sale on the opening weekend.

Each guild has presented their best work related to the Garden theme. This annual exhibition will celebrate the works of members from the guilds:

Kaleidascopt logo - April event– Fibre Arts Guild
– Burlington Fine Arts Association
– Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild
– Latow Photographers Guild
– Burlington Potters’ Guild
– Burlington Rug Hooking and Craft Guild
– Burlington Guild of Sculptors and Woodcarvers,

The Kaleidoscope of the Arts Exhibition and Sale takes place on:

Friday April 21 – Friday: 5pm – 7pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday April 23, 2017 12pm – 5pm

In the Art Gallery of Burlington (FREE PARKING)

There will be no shortage of hands-on activities for kids (of all ages):

Wood Carvers & Sculptors Studio – Wood Carving
Fine Arts Studio – Create a Painting
Fine Arts Studio – Art Card Exchange
Pottery Studio – Raku Firing
Weavers & Spinners Textile Studio – Weaving & Spinning
Community Corridor – Fibre Arts
Darkroom – Create a Photograph
Lakeshore Rotary Room – Rug Hooking

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What will life be like for students who may have to take a bus to school if the Board of Education decides to close some high schools?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What are the issues facing the eleven members of the Halton District School Board as they review the information that is going to be fed to them by Board staff and the delegations that are made by parents who do not want to see the school their children attend closed?

There are currently about 550 high school students taking a bus to get to school.

Using the different high school closing options the following is the projections that was given to the PAR committee.

Busing increases:

Nelson closes – add  364 students to the busing number

Bateman only   add 262 students to the busing number

No schools close   add  131 students to the busing number

Central and Pearson close add 602 students to the busing number

Bateman and Pearson close add  286 students to the busing number

Central and Pearson close add  615 students to the busing number

The projection is that more than 1000 students will be riding a school bus if Central high school is closed where a reported 92% of the students walk to school.

The cost of transporting those students is said to amount to $400,000 per year.

The amount of money aside – the real issue for the Board is going to be finding the people to drive those school buses.  The Board doesn’t actually have to find the drivers – the company they contract with has to find the drivers – but it all boils down to the same thing – school bus drivers don’t get paid very much

schoolbus-stop-signEarly in this academic year there were desperate pleas from the HSTS – Halton Student Transportation Service for people to apply for a part time job driving a school bus.

School bus drivers get between $55 and $75 a day; there are no benefits and they get paid for just the days they drive a bus.  A source told the Gazette that school bus drivers are amongst the highest users of Food Bank services in Halton.  This is an operation that is ripe for unionization.

The HSTS is a corporation owned by the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board and is operated on a cost recovery basis.

The French Catholic School Board was at one time part of the consortium but they dropped out.

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, the Director of Education, has said that his Board has no idea how the manpower problem will get resolved in the event that the trustees decide Central high school should be closed. He has not said if there are any contingency plans being developed.

No one, apparently, taken a look at what student life will look like if 1000+ students are riding school buses to get to their classes.

What happens to sports teams?

What about student clubs?

What about their social life – how do they hang around and chill out and learn from each other?

The environmentalists will talk about the tonnes of CO2 the buses will pump into the air and they won’t do much for traffic congestion either.

Will there be two classes of high school students: one social class that uses a school bus and is limited in what they can do extra-curricularly because of the school bus schedule and another class of student that can walk or ride their bikes or have their parents act as chauffeurs?

These are all serious and significant issues – someone should be thinking about what the impact is going to be or will be looking at unintended consequences once we are six or seven months into a new school bus program?

The answers to the questions – or at last some kind of a projection should have been prepared by Board staff so that both the trustees and the parents have some idea of what the consequences are if a lot of high school students have to catch that bus every morning – and every afternoon.

What would a day in the life of a high school student look like if they were attached with close to an umbilical cord to a bright yellow school bus?

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Where will Councillor Meed Ward position herself when the Director of Education releases his report to the trustees on possible school closings?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) has been wound down and thanked for the superb job they did. The community now waits to see what impact their deliberations will have on the report Director of Education Stuart Miller delivers to the public and the trustees this Friday.

The report is to be published on line by Board Staff at 6:00 pm on Friday. (Hopefully the web site will manage to handle the demand for the report.)

PARC Jan 27 full group

Halton District School Board PARC committee meeting while public observes the deliberations.

It was a committee that required a couple of meetings to find itself – many of the people did not know each other very well or at all.

Many of the people on the PARC had serious concerns with the process that was being used. Central high school parents challenged the Board on the approach it was taking to what was a new process put in place by the provincial government. The high school parents lost that argument.

Add to this the significant concern with the Central high school choice of Marianne Meed Ward as their nominee to the PARC. Being the member of council for ward 2 and agreeing to serve on the PARC did not sit well with many.

Sharman July 2016

Ward 5 City Councillor |Paul Sharman. Bateman high school is in his ward. He had to be seen going to bat for them.

Burlington city council was firm on not getting involved – that was until Bateman high school was listed as a possible school closure – that brought Ward 5 council member Paul Sharman into play. He strode into one of the PARC meetings to observe for he now had political skin in the game.

He then brought a motion to have the city write a letter to the Minister of Education to bring a halt to the PARC that was meeting in Burlington. That vote at city council lost 5-2.

But Sharman had shown that he would go to bat for his people – which was his purpose from the get go.

Meed Ward has always been a feisty member of Council – she was one of the more active delegators to city council before she was elected and she was the member of council who asked more questions than any other member of council once she got herself elected in ward 2.

She would call for recorded votes frequently and on one memorable occasion she had her colleagues on their feet five times for recorded votes. It was at that point that we saw just how much the members of Council could roll their eyeballs.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more "mayoral" than the man who wears the chain of office.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with the Mayor in Spencer Smith Park.

Many hoped the same “in your face” Meed Ward would be seen at the PARC meetings. For the most part that Meed Ward didn’t show up.

She was active, she asked solid questions and was supported by a parents group that did some fine research and supported her with demonstration after demonstration.

But the voice we heard at the PARC meetings wasn’t what many had expected.

Was Meed Ward curtailed at all by the objections to her being one of the Central high school PARC members? Curtail isn’t a word one would normally apply to Meed Ward.

Her colleagues on city council weren’t the least bit pleased – they have never been pleased with the way Meed Ward does politics in this city.

Some felt that if Meed Ward could lead the charge to save Central high school she would be seen as a shoo in for Mayor when the 2018 municipal election takes place.

The woman who has led many charges at city council wasn’t seen that often – if at all – at the PARC meetings. Admittedly she wasn’t in an environment she was familiar with – but then none of the PARC members knew much about the workings of the school board.

During a meeting of Central high school parents Meed Ward reported to them and said that while she was basically an optimistic person – she was concerned about the direction the discussions were going in.
Shortly after that meeting at the Lions Club – an at first subtle shift began to take place within the PARC and the option the Board Staff put forward to close both Central high school and Pearson began to lose to the idea of not closing any of the high schools.

That option was the clear choice of the PARC committee when it was disbanded.

The Director’s report will be released Friday – if the recommendation Director of Education Miller makes to the trustees is to not close any of the high schools the PARC will get much of the credit – Meed Ward will be seen as just another member of that committee.

If Miller, no matter how reluctantly, recommends closing Central, that community will erupt. What role will Meed Ward play in that eruption? It is not going to be pretty. She is no longer a member of the PARC – there is no PARC – it was disbanded.

She will certainly protest as a parent but the clout she had as a PARC member will have evaporated.

There were several members of the PARC that were exceptional in the way they moved the agenda; at times they came close to taking it out of the hands of the PARC Chair, School Board Superintendent Scott Podrebarac.

Burlington aerial

What impact would the closing of the downtown high school have on the city? Much bigger than most can even imagine.

It will be interesting to see just how Meed Ward handles herself when the report is released on Friday.
Everyone will be reading the report carefully – we do know that it is going to be a lengthy document with every department at the School Board having a significant impact.

Burlington can expect to see two things during the weekend: what kind of a Director of Education is Stuart Miller going to choose to be and how will a candidate for the office of mayor position herself on the most significant decision about the health and long term welfare of the city we have had to face in the last 15 years.

It will be interesting.

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Can the Halton District School Board trustee speak now?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is now down to the eleven trustees – they will determine if any of the high schools in Burlington are to be closed.

The Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) that was created did some superb work – the Board Staff were taken aback a bit at how persistent and diligent they were.

Option 7 - short

During the first occasion when PARC members were asked to rank their choices # 7 – Don’t close any high school was not all that high on the list. That changed and it now appears to be the option the PARC would prefer.

Option 19 short

Option #19 – to Close both Central and Pearson was the Board Staff recommendation and the one that the the PARC members ranked higher than the option to not close any of the high schools. Option # 19 is no longer on the list of options that the PARC left on the table.

The option of not closing any of the schools was barely on the table when the PARC process began and at the early look at where the PARC members stood what was known as Option # 7 didn’t rank all that well – but sentiment for that option grew and by the end of the PARC process it was the clear preference, with the trustee serving as an advisor to the PARC asking how not closing any of the schools could be made to happen.

That question could have and should have been put to the Board staff – they are the people well paid to run the educational system for the Region – which is something that can be looked at in the future.
For now – the voters are going to have to coax their trustees to act in the interests of the community and not be taken too far by the preferences of the Board staff.

A number of months ago the Gazette asked the eleven trustees to rank the following in terms of their importance to the individual trustee.

Kelly Amos

Board chair Kelly Amos

At that time Board Chair Kelly Amos said the trustees did not want to attempt to influence that PARC in any way. Fair enough – but the PARC has now been dissolved. Could the people who elected the trustees know where those trustees stand on the following:

Fiscal prudence
Academic offerings
Community

One isn’t better than another – the intention was to get some understanding as to what the values were of each trustee so that when people delegate they can put forward arguments that would resonate with the trustees.

At a recent parent council meeting at Lester B. Pearson high school a small audience held trustee Papin’s feet to the flames when they asked her to tell them she was going to support their school.

LBP Rachelle Papin 2

Burlington’s Ward 4 school board trustee Richelle Papin

Papin was in a difficult spot – two of the schools in her ward are amongst the options for closing. Both Pearson and Nelson are in ward 4. That is what they call a “sticky wicket”.

Papin could have very easily said she was for Option # 7 – keep all the schools open and direct staff to find a way to pay for it. The Director of Education has already said this was not a money issue and that the Board did not have to close any of the schools.

Papin didn’t seem to be able to assure the Pearson parents – her response was that she didn’t yet have all the information yet.

Four trustees

Four of the eleven Halton District School Board trustees sitting in on one of the public meetings.

The trustees need to be decisive and represent the interests of their communities using the values they hold as a guide. Is fiscal prudence more important than community? Is the academic offering more important that fiscal prudence? Tough questions – there is no right or wrong answer – it is a question of individual values. The 11 trustees are going to make a critical decision for the city of Burlington – what are they going to base that decision on?

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For the Director of Education it should have been a reflective weekend - he has a critically important document to submit to the public on Friday..

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The weather could have been better but that didn’t matter all that much for Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board, Director of Education – the top position in a school board; he was busy thinking through the report that will be made public Friday April 21st on which, if any, high schools in Burlington should be closed.

Millers report to the Board of Trustees last October was that both Central High school and Lester B. Pearson high school need to be closed because the board has 1800 seats that do not have students in them.

When the report was released to the Trustees they had to make a decision, which they did – that was to create a Program Accommodation Review which called for the creation of a committee.

PARC with options on the walls

The 14 members of the PARC and their advisors.

That committee was created and met on seven different occasions to look at the facts and serve as a communication channel between the Board and the community.

The flow and quality of the information from the Board of Education became suspect quite early in the game – and it didn’t get any better. The quality of the members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) surprised the Board of Education staff. These 14 people (two from each high school) were not going to go quietly into the night. The Board Staff came up with 19 options. That climbed to close to 40 which the PARC people whittled down to five.

They were:

Do not close any of the high school – re-work the existing boundaries to balance the high school students more evenly.
or
Close Robert Bateman in June 2018.
or
Close Nelson in June 2018
or
Close Central and Pearson in June 2018
or
Close Lester B. Pearson in June 2018

There are a lot of provisions and conditions attached to each of these closure options. The Gazette published a detailed list of the options CLICK HERE

danielli-trustee

Donna Danielli asked – pleaded – with the PARC members to come up ways to keep all the Burlington high schools open.

Donna Danielli, a Milton based Board of Education trustee, sat on the PARC as an advisor. During the last meeting of the PARC she asked, it was really more of a plea, for the PARC members to come up with a way for the Trustees to keep all the schools open.

The process and procedure schedule is as follows:

Wednesday April 26, 2017 – Director’s Final Report will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the Committee of the Whole meeting.

Monday May 8, 2017 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night.

Thursday May 11 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night.

Wednesday May 17, 2017 (7 pm) – Board meeting. Final Report to Board of Trustees for “information”.

Wednesday June 7, 2017 (7 pm) – Board meeting. Final Report to Board of Trustees for “decision”.

Trustees - fill board +

The eleven members of the Halton District school Board will decide how many, if any, of the high schools in Burlington are to be closed in 2018

However, anything that happens from this point forward is in the hands of the trustees – they can do whatever they wish. If they don’t like what they are given they can instruct the staff to take the work they have done so far and rework some of the options.

amos-kelly-trustee

Chair of the Halton District School Board Kelly Amos

Halton unfortunately does not have much in the way of leadership at the trustee level. Eight of the 11 woman on the Board have just over two years’ experience. Kelly Amos, an Oakville based trustee, has been close to mute while the PARC meeting were taking place. Many argue that this is what she should have done.

One is pressed to recall a situation where the Chair actually guided her Board. It is a one vote per trustee operation and Burlington has just four of the 11 votes; six are needed for Burlington to keep all its high schools open.

It all comes down to the content of the report Stuart Miller submits.

Will it be a mish-mash of all the data that has come in; will it be based on his core belief that the academic offering is the most important issue or will he consider the role of community in the placement of high schools?

Miller has already said it is not a money issue and he has also said that the Board does not have to close any of the high schools. It was the level of the utilization rates that triggered the Program Accommodation Review. Miller is on record as having said this process should have been done a number of years ago.

Hammil + Miller

Stuart Miller on the right at a Robotics information session that attracted more than 400 students.

Stuart Miller is a passionate defender of the quality of the academic offering his Board offers the students. He wants every school to allow every students to study want they want to study, which is what drives his preference for large schools with student populations of well over 1000.

Miller has been Director of Education for more than a year; he was appointed in September of 2015.

He is a relatively young man who does not appear to have career aspirations that would take him to the Ministry of Education at some point in his career. He is at heart a high school teacher who can recall the first name of most of his past students. It is not unusual to see him out at a student event on a Saturday morning. He is proud of what his Board offers and while Halton doesn’t get the level of funding other boards get Halton has always ranked well on how its students fare in academic standings.

The challenge before Miller this weekend is the biggest he has faced as a senior Board staff member. He has another challenge that will follow right behind the school closing issue and that is the matter of French Immersion classes.

Joey Edwardh + Stuart Miller

Joey Edwardh, president of Community Development Halton and Stuart Miller

Miller is a practical man – he also has a sense of humour. At a recent Board of Education meeting he gave his report entirely in Gaelic – to the astonishment of the Chair. He didn’t give an interpretation of the Gaelic either. So he has a sense of history, heritage and community values.

Is he capable of realizing and understanding that even the very best academic offering is not of much use if it is delivered in an environment that is devoid of the community it takes place in?

Miller does not live in the Region; his home is in the High Park part of Toronto but the bulk of his academic career has been with the Halton Board.

He has listened too many in the community, however there are those that argue he does not hear what they are saying. He is one of the most accessible bureaucrats this reporter has encountered.

For the sake of the people of Burlington one hopes that Stuart Miller took several long walks during the weekend and began to get close to deciding what kind of a Director is he going to be.

From the left, WArd 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster sitting in for MAyor Goldring who had to remain at Regional Concil to assure quorum, as she signs the 20 year $1.3 milion naming rights deal with Chris HAber in the Centre. Chris Glenn on the right is pleased with that much casj

From the left, Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster signing the 20 year $1.3 million naming rights deal with Chris Haber in the Centre. Chris Glenn on the right is pleased with that much cash. The Haber Recreational centre id part of the Hayden high school complex.

One hopes that he proves to be better than the past Directors of Education who let things slide so badly that we now face the mess we are dealing with.

Both past trustees and past Directors have a lot to be ashamed about. The creation of Hayden high school, the newest in the city, which is now over crowded – at a 150% plus utilization, may be a decision that kills the downtown core of the city.

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Rules for the selection of delegations to the school board on the possible closing of high schools in Burlington

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 13th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are going to be two evenings set aside for delegations to the school board on the matter of the Program Accommodation Review the board is currently conducting.

The plan is to hear 25 delegations each evening with the delegator given five minutes to make their case. Five minutes are allocated for the trustees to ask questions or seek clarification.

Dates and times for both registering to be a delegation and dates on which people will be heard have been published.

At a Parent-school committee meeting at Lester B. Pearson high school earlier in the week there was considerable confusion as to just what the process was going to be for the allocation of the delegation slots.

LBP parent school meet april 2017

Parents at a Lester B. Pearson high school – parent school meeting.

The selection of the delegations is not being done on a “first come – first served” basis.

All the delegation applications are given to a staff member who prepares a list which is then given to the Chair who will determine who speaks and when they speak.

The concern at the Board staff level is that people provide enough information so that the selection of delegations is based on information. If your application to delegate is not clear – expect a phone call from the Board staff member handling the documents. The Board staff are asking delegation applicants to be as detailed as they can.

Trustees - fill board +

The eleven school board trustees will make the final decision on whether or not a high school(s) is to be closed and if yes – which one(s).

There has been a view that the Board might want to limit delegations from one of the high schools. The staff member handling the applications is just shuffling paper and passing it on to the Chair of the school board. The staff member would like to ensure that what she passes on has some detail so that the chair can make fair decisions.

There are going to be literally hundreds of parents who will want to delegate and plead with the trustees to not close the school that every member of the family for several generations has attended and that they all love dearly.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Director of Education Stuart Miller listening to high school students.

While such a delegation may make the person speaking feel all fuzzy and warm – it will do little to inform the trustees or the Director of Education.

There are many voices in the community that do not trust the Board of Education to be fair in the allocation of the 50 slots. It is not the Board staff that will be determining who gets to speak – it will be the trustees you elected.

The Gazette has been given to believe that if there are far too many delegation requests to be heard in the two evenings that have been set aside – additional time might be made available.

The desire, as explained to the Gazette, is to give people a chance to make their case so that the Director of Education can make a recommendation that includes what he hears at the delegation meetings and can arrive at a recommendation that includes the views of the parents.

The trustees need to hear viewpoints that are more than an emotional plea.

In fairness to the schools that are under threat of being closed it is vital that they be given an opportunity to delegate fully. One would think that the trustees would look for a way to ensure that each of the four high schools: Central; Bateman; Nelson and Pearson could be guaranteed a minimum number of delegation slots to make their case with the trustees.

And the allocation of those guaranteed slots should be assigned by the members of the The PAR committee who have worked very hard and know the case that is being made for their school extremely well – the Chair must ensure that they be guaranteed time to speak and not be squeezed out by the running of a clock.

There are some fundamental principles of fairness in play here and the trustees need to be extremely sensitive to the anxiousness in their communities.

amos-kelly-trustee

Board of Education Chair Kelly Amos: lead in a fair and impartial manner.

The Chair of the Board needs to show some leadership and assure the community that they know they were elected to lead and then to do so in a fair and impartial manner.

This is the time for those people deeply concerned about what happens to ensure that the trustees know what you expect of them.

If the trustees fail to more than adequately meet the needs of the parents who have something to say – there will be an opportunity for the voters to show their appreciation in the June 2018 election.

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Tens of millions of phony email messages about personal bank accounts are sent out every day. They are all attempts to steal your money.

Crime 100By Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They are relentless.

Millions, tens of millions of email like the one below get sent out to lists of email addresses.

When you get one – read the address it came from very very carefully – they are all false, phony messages sent to you in the hope that you just might click on the message.

 

Royal scam

Read the address this phony email came from. The name between the < > is the sender – not the Royal Bank. If you don’t recognize the name of the sender – don’t open the email.

When you do that they have got a bit of a hook in you and they will slowly try and reel you in to the point where they have enough information to begin stealing your money.

The recipient of this message does not have an account with the Royal Bank

Dear (name erased to protect the recipient)

ID theft screen

When these computer hackers get enough information from you – they can access your bank account and remove funds.

During our usual security enhancement protocol, we observed a payment was placed on pending status due to the recent upgrade in our database. In order to receive this payment you are required to verify your account from our secure verification link.

To Receive payment kindly click :

Log on to www.royalbank.com/cgi-bin/rbaccess/rbunxcgi

Remember,RBC Royal Bank is committed to your security and protection. To find out more, take a look at our

Information Security section under Privacy and Security on the Web site.
© Royal Bank of Canada Website, © 1995-2017 All rights reserved.

Banks in Canada do not use email to advise you of any problems with your account.

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Trustee Papin gets a rough ride at Parent School Council

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

REVISED and CORRECTED

It was a regular Parent School Council meeting at Lester B, Pearson high school where principal Loraine Fedurco was taking the audience through what had been happening at the Board of Education where Staff had put forward a recommendation that, if voted for by the trustees, could result in the closing of the school in June of 2018.

Lester B. Pearson high school, named after a former Prime Minister, is the newest of the four high schools that are named in the five options on closure choices that will go before the trustees later this month.  It is also the smallest high school in Burlington.  One of the five options is to not close any of the high schools in the city.

LBP Rachelle Papin 2

Ward 4 trustee Richelle Papin

The School Board trustee Richelle Papin was in attendance – they gave her a rough ride.

LBP George Ward

George Ward

George Ward, a resident was blunt and direct – are you going to vote to keep this school open – Yes or No.

Papin didn’t give a yes or a no answer – she said she wanted to wait until she had all the evidence.

Ward asked again – he asked a total of five times but never got a direct answer

Papin said she wanted to hear what the delegations had to say and she wanted to read what the Director of Education had to say in his report that will be released April 21st.

Unfortunately for Papin she didn’t have an answer ready for the audience. Their question – are you going to support us – was one that had to be expected.

The difficulty for Papin is that she is also the trustee for Nelson high school and there is amongst the five options now before the Director of Education a recommendation that Nelson be closed.

Richelle Papin

Trustee Papin in a tough spot – two of the four schools that have been named for possible closure are in her ward.

Papin is in the very uncomfortable position of having two schools in her ward that could be closed. Tough spot to be in.

This is Papin’s first term as a trustee – it may well be her last. It all depends on what the Director of Education puts forward.

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Battle lines for the next provincial election are being drawn - PC's appear to have decided to make high school closing their issue in Burlington.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The battle lines are being drawn.

Homes in the downtown core got a mail drop recently setting out where Progressive Conservative candidate Jane McKenna stands on the issue of closing high schools in the city.

McKenna flyer side 1

Side 1of a flyer dropped off at homes in Burlington.

McKenna side 2

Side 2 of a flyer dropped off at homes in Burlington.

City hall may have been reluctant to get involved but the smell of blood in the water has Jane McKenna focusing her efforts on turning minds in ward 2.

The facts need not bother getting in the way – there is an opportunity to exploit and it doesn’t appear it is going to be missed.

There was a debate in the provincial legislature and the Liberal party did vote to take no action at this point in time.

MMW with T - shirt

Ward 2 city Councillor Meed Ward who is a member of the Program Accommodation Review Committee took part in a media event at Queen’s Park with Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown. Meed Ward has always identified herself at a Liberal in the past.

PC leader Pat Brown held a media event the day of that vote with Burlington’s ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward at the microphone appealing to the provincial Liberals to do something about the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) taking place in the city.

Meed Ward and most of the parents involved in the school closing issue believe that the PAR process being used is badly flawed and that the quality of the information the school board is feeding the public is both not reliable and subject to frequent changes.

The Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) has completed its work and the matter is now in the hands of Board staff who are pulling together the numerous documents that Director of Education Stuart Miller will use in preparing the report he will deliver to the trustees and the public on April 21st.

We are going through a bit of a quiet time while that report goes through what will probably be several drafts before it is placed in the hands of the trustees and the public on April 21st at 6:00 pm; a Friday on the Board of Education’s web site.

All the senior people at the board will have quietly driven out of the Board parking lot and headed for home – no one wants to be around for whatever the backlash to that report is going to be.

The report will get discussed at a school board trustee Committee of the Whole on Wednesday April 26, 2017 starting at 6:00 pm.

Between now and then everyone with any skin in the game will do everything they can to influence the outcome of the debate and discussion that will now take place in front of the 11 school board trustees.

The literature that went out to households in the high school catchment areas across the city might be just the start.

Politics, especially local politics are called a “blood sport” for a reason.

The Burlington Progressive Conservatives are fully funded for the next provincial election. Former city Councillor and Member of Parliament Mike Wallace is running the McKenna election campaign.

Wallace wants and needs to win this campaign if he is to get back into local politics; his eye is believed to be on the office of Mayor for Burlington.

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Maps, data and details on the five school closing options.

highschoolsBy Staff

April 5th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board has whittled the 30 plus options that were put before the PARC down to five.
The Board set out a rationale for each option and provided maps showing what the boundaries will be for each of the five options

The Gazette has pulled together the five maps along with the rationale and make them available to the public.

Nelson high school closes in June 2018

3c Nelson closes3 c detailsRationale:

To be an English only school.
Burlington Central HS: Catchment expands east to Walker’s Line.
Burlington Central HS: Utilization rates increase to 93% by 2020, then expected to increase.
Nelson HS: Closes in June 2018
Robert Bateman HS: English – catchment expands west to Walker’s Line. FI catchment extends to Guelph Line. (Current Nelson HS catchment)
Robert Bateman HS: FI program added.
Robert Bateman HS: Utilization rates increase to 104% by 2020, then declines4 rationale.

Robert Bateman HS: Closes in June 2018.

4 Bateman closes4 detailsRATIONALE: Staff generated option.
Staff modified based on PARC comments:
To create suitable facilities for SC
SPED and Essential at Nelson
Food Service program to be relocated from Robert Bateman HS to Nelson HS
Extend Lester B. Pearson HS catchment to increase enrolments.
ISSUES:
Lester B. Pearson HS to gain the IB program and Gifted Secondary Placement Program.
Low enrolments at Aldershot HS and Burlington Central HS
Low Utilization at M.M. Robinson HS
NOTES
Aldershot HS: Utilization rates increase to 87% by 2020, then expected to decrease.
Aldershot HS: No change to the Aldershot HS catchment. Enrolment is under 500 students.
Burlington Central HS: Boundary expands to include areas east of Guelph Line.
Burlington Central HS: Utilization rates increase to 74% in 2020 and continue to increase until 2024.
Nelson HS: SC

SPED and ESS programming (both under SC-SPED) and Food Services added. New facilities to be constructed.
Nelson HS: ENG catchment expands to include Robert Bateman HS.
Nelson HS: Utilization rates expected to increase to 112%, by 2020, then are projected to decline in 2023.
Robert Bateman HS: Closes in June 2018.
M.M. Robinson HS: ENG boundary to expand to include Kilbride PS.
M.M. Robinson HS: Utilization rates remain under 65%

No schools closed – catchment boundaries are revised.

No closures - Hayden boundary7 no closures detailsRATIONALE: Staff generated option.
Staff modified based on PARC comments:
Removed capping from Dr. Frank J Hayden HS and reduced catchment.
Extend Lester B. Pearson HS catchment to increase enrolments.
ISSUES:
Lester B. Pearson HS to gain the IB program and Gifted Secondary Placements.
Low enrolments at Aldershot HS, Burlington Central SS, Lester B Pearson HS and Robert Bateman HS
Low Utilization at M.M. Robinson HS
NOTES
Aldershot HS: Utilization rates increase to 87% by 2020 , then expected to decrease.
Aldershot HS: No change to the Aldershot HS catchment. Total enrolment is under 500 students.
Burlington Central HS: No change to the Burlington Central HS catchment or enrolments.
Burlington Central HS: Utilization rates increase to 69% in 2020 and continue to increase until 2024.
Nelson HS: No change to the Nelson HS catchment.
Nelson HS: Utilization rates expected to increase to 84%, by 2020, then are projected to decline in 2024.
Robert Bateman HS: No change to the Robert Bateman HS catchment. Enrolment is under 500 English and IB students.
Robert Bateman HS: Utilization rates are expected to decline to below 50% from 2022.
M.M. Robinson HS: ENG boundary to expand to include Florence Mears PS west of Walker’s Line.
M.M. Robinson HS: Utilization rates remain under 65%.

 

Close Central and Pearson: The original recommendation

1919 detailsRATIONALE: Director’s Recommendation
Staff modified based on PARC comments:
ESL Program to Aldershot HS
Specialty programs Robotics to be transferred to Nelson HS.
Transfer empty space from Aldershot Elementary to Aldershot Secondary school
Additional students to Robert Bateman HS catchment
ISSUES:
EXTF program added to M.M. Robinson HS.
FI program added to Robert Bateman HS.
PAR will be required for the Burlington Central elementary communities.
NOTES:
Aldershot HS: Boundary to expand east to Brant St.
Aldershot HS: 210 empty pupil places at Aldershot Elementary PS to be added to the Secondary school OTG. Currently not included in the 558OTG.
Aldershot HS: Utilization rates increase to 142% by 2020, then expected to decrease. Utilization rates will decrease with the addition of available pupil places from the elementary facility.
Burlington Central HS: Closes in June 2018.
Nelson HS: Boundary is to be expanded west to Brant Street.
Nelson HS: Utilization rates increase to 80% by 2020, then expected to decrease.
Robert Bateman HS: ENG boundary expands to include all of the Frontenac PS catchment.
Robert Bateman HS: FI program added and includes students east of Appleby Line and south of Upper Middle Rd and Frontenac PS students

Pearson closes
2319 detailsRATIONALE: Based on a PARC Request. Staff modified based on PARC comments:
To balance enrolments north of the QEW.
To create suitable facilities for SC
SPED and Essential at Nelson

Food Service program from Robert Bateman HS to Nelson HS
ISSUES:
SC-SPED, ESS programs relocated from Robert Bateman HS to Nelson HS.
International Baccalaureate (IB) program relocated from Robert Bateman HS to Burlington Central HS.
FI program removed from Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS.
Nelson HS exceeds Total Capacity.
Low enrolments at Aldershot HS
EXTF program added to M.M. Robinson HS.
NOTES:
Aldershot HS: Utilization rates increase to 87% by 2020, then expected to decrease.
Aldershot HS: No change to the Aldershot HS catchment. Total enrolment is under 500 students.
Burlington Central HS: Boundary expands to include areas east of Guelph Line.
Burlington Central HS: International Baccalaureate program to be added.
Burlington Central HS: Utilization rates increase to 90% in 2020 and continue to increase until 2024.
Nelson HS: SC-SPED and ESS programming (both under SC-SPED) and Food Services added. New Facilities to be constructed.

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