It was a noisy meeting with few people feeling they had been heard - and this is just the beginning of the process that will determine if Central and Pearson high schools are closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 9th, 2106

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There were 263 people clicking little hand held devices that looked like a television remote – the majority of them were in the hands of people from Central high school which sort of skews the information that is now in the hands of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) that met with the public Thursday evening.

The meeting got a little raucous –partly because the parents didn’t fully appreciate what the PARC was doing.

parc-crowd-dec-8-16

Parents basically filled the auditorium at the Gary Alan school Thursday evening. Few went home with a nice warm fuzzy felling in the tummies.

The parents wanted answers to questions.

The Board of Education people were there to gather data that would be used by the PARC in the advice they will pass along to the Director of Education.

The parents need to listen a little more closely and the Board of Education needs to be clearer in explaining the process.

The questions put to the audience were grouped into four themes:

  • Theme 1: Programming and Enrollment
  • Theme 2: Physical state of existing schools
  • Theme 3: Geographical and transportation issues
  • Theme 4: Fiscal responsibility and future planning

The parents are emotionally rooted in this issue – the closing of Central high school will change forever the kind of community that exists in the downtown core of the city.

While Central dominated the room – and they were noisy – they want to be heard. What isn’t yet fully appreciated is that all the PARC is going to be able to do is turn in a report that Director of Education Stuart Miller will use when he writes his report to the trustees.

The people parents of Central high school students need to focus on is the trustees.

four-trustees

The trustees that were elected will make the decision on which, if any, high schools are closed. Three of the four Burlington trustees sat at the back of the room and listened to the discussion. From the left: Richel Papin, Leah Reynolds, Tracey Ehl Harrison (Oakville) and Andrea Grebenc

No matter what the PARC committee produces or what the Director of Education sends to the trustees – it is the trustees that are going to call the shot on this issue.

This is democracy at its very best: you elected these people.

The Gazette doesn’t yet have a copy of the presentation that was used last night – we expect to get a copy of that document later today and then sometime next week have the data that was collected.

One of the questions asked – and was rather telling, was: How did people feel about finding ways to cover the cost of those 1800 plus seats in classrooms that are empty.

parc-engagement

The Board of Education is doing everything they can to listen. An email address has been created that lets parents communicate with the members of the PARC. A single address will get the message to the two representatives from each school. How those representatives are going to manage what might be a torrent of email was not addressed.

School boards get funding from the province based on the number of students in a school. They get funds for just the seats that have a student’s siting in that seat. The board has to cover the cost of that empty seat. One way of doing that is to eliminate the seat – which is what the board staff have recommended.

The Board also get your tax dollars but they don’t cover everything.

There was a lot of very useful data collected. We will provide that data to you just as soon as we get it – our comment section is where part of the debate can take place.

Many people in the audience felt the questions that were asked were designed to get the response the board wants. Scott Podrebarac did admit that some of the questions were not as clear as they could have been. There will be another round of questions for the next public meeting.

scot-p-hdsb

Scott Podrebarac, the Superintendent of Education chosen to chair the PARC. His regular board responsibilities are not within the Burlington community. He lives in the Kitchener Waterloo part of the province and commutes.

This is community building and based on what we have seen from the Director of Education so far – he is genuinely interested in what the community has to say and both wants and needs community input. What the community has to do is be intelligent and responsible as they play their part in this process – and make sure they convey to their trustees what they want.

Realize that every trustee will be voting on this issue – not just the four from Burlington. Have the parents from Central begun to reach out to the trustees from Oakville and Milton – and Halton Hills as well?getting new - yellow

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Public school board re-elects its leadership - gears up for a very full 2017

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 8th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board trustees held their last regular meeting for the year and geared themselves for a very full 2017 when they will tackle at least two formidable challenges.

school-closing-banner

The public school board is doing everything it can to let parents know that every high school in the city is part of a review now taking place. Two school, Central and Pearson were recommended for closure by staff – that’s all it was – a recommendation. Trustees will make the final decision next May.

Does the Board decide that a high school has to be closed and if they do which ones do they close? This evening, Thursday, December 8th, at the Gary Alan School on New Street the PARC – Program Accommodation Review Committee will hold the first of their many meetings.

The Director of Education has to struggle with the way French language classes are going to be offered in the District. They are in the middle of a “breather year” while staff work on different approaches to how French language classes are going to be offered – Core French for everyone once the roll out now taking place is completed and when should French Immersion begin.

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Kelly Amos – re-elected as the Chair of the Halton District school Board

The trustees decided last night who was going to lead the team. Oakville Trustee Kelly Amos was re-elected chair and Kim Graves re-elected vice chair. The first set of ballots did not produce a winner for the chair position – Kelly Amos, Amy Collard and Andrea Grebenc were in the running. When Grebenc was off the list – the job went to Amos.

There is a pretty clear split between those who prefer the Amos style of leadership over what Collard has offered in the past.

Grebenc - expressive hands

Andrea Grebenc tossed her hat into the ring to serve as chair of the Halton District school board. Not for her this time – but this is a trustee worth watching.

Grebenc is the first of the newer crop of trustees to put her name forward for a leadership role on the Board of trustees. The Gazette would have liked to see her in a vice chair role to gain some top level board of trustee experience. This is a trustee to watch.

It was a very full board session – the Gazette will follow up with details later.

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Do You Make These 5 Common Marketing Mistakes? Marketing is a process, not an outcome.

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

December 8th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

The famous P.T Barnum once said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens, NOTHING!” And marketing (or promotion) is all about combating that dreaded ‘nothingness’. The question is… are you doing it right?

Gone are the days where you could open up shop, hang out a sign, and people would beat a path to your door. It just doesn’t work like that anymore (if it ever did). No, these days you’ve got to find a way to ‘get the word’ out, and that’s all a part of marketing.

Advertising is often the most common way this is achieved – after all, many people think that advertising is marketing, and it’s not – it’s just one part of it.

Mistake #1 – Confusing Advertising With Marketing
Marketing is all about marshaling your available resources to assist in the sales process. After all, nothing

Lot of traffic lights at big pole

This is confusing!

happens until someone makes a sale. Marketing is about influencing the buying decision at all points of influence and contact. It covers the way the phone is answered to the way your washrooms look and smell. If you’re not thinking about marketing in this fashion you’re leaving the door wide open for your competitors to slip in and steal your customers away.

Mistake #2 – Running Institutional or Brand Building Adverts
You’ve seen the ads – “XYZ Automotive Service & Repair. The Best Service In Town!” These adverts are a sheer waste of money because they don’t direct the reader, viewer or listener toward any intelligent action or buying decision.

Moreover they immediately cause the prospect to say things like “yeah, sure!”, or “so what!”
Advertising serves one purpose and one purpose only – to sell stuff. Anything else is either vanity, folly or both. Ads are like ‘silent’ sales people – evaluate adverts with the same eye you’d use when evaluating a sales person and you’ll see the difference.

Direct response style advertising on the other hand, makes a complete case for the company, product or service. It overcomes sales objections. It answers all major questions. And it promises results, backing up the promise with a risk-free warranty or money-back guarantee. Direct response style advertising works.

unique-selling-proposition

That one stands out doesn’t it?

Mistake #3 – Not Stressing Uniqueness
Most successful businesses or professional services are built around a USP, or unique selling proposition. It might be reliable post-purchase service, super-fast delivery, convenient hours or a combination of things. Think about what it is that sets your business apart from the rest and then make your USP the engine that drives all your marketing and advertising efforts.

The next time you see your competitor’s adverts; see if you can identify their USP. Take note: if you can’t identify your own USP, you can be certain your customers can’t either!

Mistake #4 – Targeting The Wrong Prospects
Always send your sales messages to the people who are your primary prospects – and ignore the rest. You can’t be all things to all people and attempting this makes you nothing to everyone.

If you wish to reach people over 45, for example, your ad’s headline should say something like “If you’re 45 or over…” And make certain all your headlines and ads are specific and targeted to your ideal prospect – avoid abstractions.

cusomer-knows-what-he-wants

Did you test? Do you know what your customer is thinking and what they want?

Mistake #5 – Failing To Test
Finally, if you don’t test prices, headlines, offers, advertising copy, and all your verbal and non-verbal sales messages, you’ll never know what the market wants, or what it will pay. You’re just guessing – which can be financially disastrous.

Marketing is a process, not an outcome. Eliminate these five marketing mistakes from your business and you’ll see positive results – guaranteed!

 

 

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that helps local business connect and network.  He also writes about digital marketing, entrepreneurship and technology and when he’s not consulting, he teaches people to start their own ‘side hustle.’

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Public meetings to determine just how many high schools the city will have begin Thursday evening.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is almost as if each side was talking about something very different.

The Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller is explaining why some high schools have to be closed while parents feel their community will be torn apart if that happens.

miller-stuart-online

Director of Education Stuart Miller during a phone in Q&A session – it was not an easy night for him.

Miller’s job is to deliver the best high school experience he can to every student. And by best he means course selections that allow a student to take the courses that will prepare them for the work force, community college or university.

There are many more course offerings available these days but the number of hours a student can spend in a classroom has not changed.

In larger high schools there can be several course “session”. A court session is the number of times a subject can be offered. Grade 10 Algebra can be offered several times in a large school so that students who have an interest in some other course at the same time as one grade 10 algebra course is being offered can take the class at another time.

Setting up these schedules is a mammoth undertaking which the Board seems to handle quite well. The problem is that in order to offer a particular subject at several different times there has to be teachers available; in order for there to be teachers there have to be students – and enrollment at several of the city’s high school is decreasing.

Miller has a serious problem, and as Director of Education he was required to advise the publicly elected trustees that he “has a problem”.

Miller did that and the trustees decided to do a Program Accommodation Review.

Miller’s ability to deliver the program he believes is necessary is impacted by a number of factors

The availability of the required courses
Ability to schedule courses so that students can access them
Variety of course types – this refers to the different pathways a student decides to take through their high school experience
The variety of optional area courses
The variety of classroom activities – extracurricular

Courses are more likely to be taught by teachers with subject specialization
And access to the supports and services needed to deliver program

Miller explains that with larger schools there is greater variety of courses and pathways possible, and he
recognizes there are benefits to smaller schools where the staff are able to get to know students better.

There are teachers at Bateman High that would like to see this much effort IN the classroom. The football players take their message to the streets.

Bateman high school students protesting when it looked like their football season was going to be cancelled several years ago.

Students have a better chance of making it to one of the sports teams; there is less pressure on physical space – gym, library.  There is a higher ratio of service staff to students for Guidance, Special Education, and Library which Miller points out increases the Boards costs.

Parents expect all the things Miller is required PLUS they want a school that is more than a collection of classrooms – they want and expect the school to be an integral part of the community.

At the high school level in Burlington this is really pronounced with Nelson and Central. Would anyone dare close Nelson high school in this city? Not if they wanted to live a full life.

Central wears its history proudly – it is on every wall in every hallway that isn’t taken up with lockers.  It is a school complex where a child can go from kindergarten to high school graduation in the same location.  There are some that don’t see this as a plus.

trophy-wall-central

Central high school’s history is spread throughout the building.

Some fluff off this ”neighbourhood” part of a school as an emotional attachment to the parent’s student days and it is to some degree that is true. It is also cultural – and without culture you don’t have a community.

One of the things that makes the Burlington Teen Tour band the success it is goes back to the days when the parents were in the band. The number of couple that met in BTTB and later married is astounding. This is family to them and explains a large part of the success of that organization.

High schools are quite a bit bigger and require more in the way of management skills.

What seems to be lacking is a fuller, shared understanding on the part of the education bureaucrats as to just what the issue is – and unfortunately there is now some “us against them” creeping into the dialogue.

The Board hasn’t helped when it dumped a 147 page document, School Information Profiles that tells you more than you will ever want to know about any of the high schools on parents. The document has data on the schools condition; its utility costs, walking distances and courses/programs offered at each school.

Great data – but where are parents supposed to find the time to do the review and analysis needed to get a fix on just what it is they are dealing with? It is a pretty safe bet that the school board trustees don’t have a full grasp of the data that relates to the school they are responsible for.

terry-ruff-former-hs-principal-bchs

Former Central high school principal Terry Ruff explaining to parents what the review was like when he went through one in 2000.

What the Gazette is seeing is a very focused and committed group of parents from Central high school organizing at several levels – with little seen at the other high schools so far. What they have not fully grasped is that every high school is at some risk.

Thursday is the first of the seven meetings of the Program Accommodation Review Committee that will take place during this long drawn out process are:

PARC Working Meeting #1
January 26, 2017

PARC Working Meeting #2
February 2, 2017

PARC Working Meeting #3
February 9, 2017

Public Meeting #2
March 2, 2017

notes-large

Notes taken during one of the early parent meetings at Central high school.

PARC Working Meeting #4
March 23, 2017

Director’s Report to Committee of the Whole
March 29, 2017
J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line

Public Delegation Night
April 18, 2017
J.W. Singleton Education Centre
2050 Guelph Line

Presentation of Report to Board of Trustees for Decision
May 17, 2017
J.W. Singleton Education Centre

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Joe Dogs to host a Silent Auction to help keep Central high school alive. December 13th

Event 100By Staff

December 6th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tuesday, December 13th from 7-11 pm – Joe Dogs!

save-central-joe-dogs

It could well be a night to remember!

Central high parents are working with the guys that run Joe Dogs to host a silent auction to raise money to support the parents with their fight to keep Burlington Central High open.

They would like as many people as possible to join them to show your support; invite all your friends too! Let’s make this the best fundraiser ever!

There will be a special appearance by singer Dania Thurman and guitarist Anesti K who will be providing entertainment so come on out, bid and enjoy!!

Thanks again and hope to see you all soon!

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Lawn signs, petitions, parades and several committees digging out data to present to the PAR Committee December 8th. Central high - fighting for its life.

News 100 greenBy Staff

December 5th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sometimes a local merchant will support something a local group is doing. But you don’t often see four of the major local watering holes saying they are behind you and then agree to take in your petition so people can sign the document while they are in the bar

#centralstrong, the Central high school parents group that wants to convince the school board trustees that Central high school should remain open did what any group does – put together a petition and go door to door to get it signed.

You miss a lot of people and there usually isn’t time to double back.

#centralstrong came up with the idea that they would ask local hospitality operations if they would take a copy of the petition and let people sign it.

central-peoplw-with-sign

They are certainly getting the message out. Central high parents and students in front of the provincial legislature.

Here is how the spokespeople, Dania Thurman and Lynne Crosbie put it: “A big thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who hit the pavement collecting signatures for our petition. If we missed you and you would like to sign the petition, I have some great news! We have some fantastic support from some of our downtown businesses who have offered to have our petition available for you to drop in and sign.

We are hoping that you will support these businesses like they are supporting us by stopping in for a drink or a meal when you are there sign the petition and show these establishments some BCHS love!

Remember to say thank you!

Details

Queen’s Head – just one of the local watering holes that keeps a copy of the Central high school petition ready for you to sign.

Joe Dogs

Home

The Dickens
https://www.thedickens.ca/

The Queens Head
https://www.thequeenshead.ca/

Wendel Clark’s Classic Grill and Sports Lounge
https://wendelclarks.com/getting new - yellow

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Chief of police has issued a get tough order - wants the drunk drivers off the road.

Crime 100By Staff

December 5th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Only days after the launch of the province’s annual Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) Program, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) reports that it continues to respond to impaired driving incidents in Burlington, Oakville, Milton, and Halton Hills.

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Halton Regional Chief of Police Stephen Tanner cracking down on those who drink and drive.

Chief Stephen Tanner once again explains that “Impaired driving is a direct threat to the safety and well-being of all road users. We continue to take an aggressive, zero tolerance approach to dealing with it and strongly encourage members of the public to do the same.”

Signs of an impaired driver may include:

– A vehicle moving too fast, too slow or that fluctuates greatly in speed;
– A vehicle being driven erratically or that is not maintaining its lane;
– A vehicle whose driver blatantly disregards traffic signals or other rules of the road.

Follows are examples of impaired driving occurrences officers have processed region-wide in recent days:

1 District (Milton and Halton Hills): On November 26, a citizen reported a vehicle travelling erratically in Milton. The vehicle was located parked in a nearby lot a short time later. There, officers observed a male slumped over in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition. Numerous attempts were made to rouse the 39 year-old man before he woke up and was instructed to exit the vehicle. The driver displayed multiple signs of impairment. Results of breath tests indicated a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 3.5 times the legal limit. He has been charged with Care and Control while Impaired and Care and Control – Over 80mgs.

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RIDE program – it works as much as a deterrent than anything else. Calls from the public really help.

2 District (Oakville): On November 27, a citizen contacted HRPS to report a suspected impaired driver. Responding officers located the vehicle in the drive through of an Oakville restaurant. The 25 year-old driver displayed numerous signs of impairment, and was transported to the station for a breath test which revealed a BAC of close to double the legal limit. He faces charges of Impaired Driving – Over 80mgs.

3 District (Burlington): On November 29, police received numerous calls reporting that a vehicle had struck a fence and fled the area. The vehicle was located a short distance away and the driver was arrested for impaired driving. Subsequent tests revealed that the 26 year-old driver had a BAC of 1.5 times the legal limit. He was charged with Impaired Driving – Over 80mgs.

Notice that all these situations are the result of vigilant citizens calling the police – keep it up.  They are also the result of someone somewhere serving someone far too much alcohol.

The public are reminded that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime in progress and to call 9-1-1 immediately to report a suspected impaired driver.

The police service’s Twitter and Facebook accounts should not be used for this purpose; they are not monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Details on the public meeting about possible high school closures in Burlington.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 5th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is the first time the public gets to have a say on what the Board of Education has to decide next May – which is: Do high schools get closed and if yes –which high schools get closed.

central-high-school

Burlington’s Central high school has been targeted for possible closure. A very strong community push is taking place to keep it open – they are up against a structure that is dated and needs a lot of help to be brought up to standard.

The Halton District School Board is hosting the first of several meetings at which the public gets an opportunity to speak

The meetings are a part of the Burlington Secondary School Program and Accommodation Review (PAR) which will take place on Thursday, December 8, 2016. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the New Street Education Centre, 3250 New Street, Burlington.

gary-allan-school

Gary Allan school located on New Street just west of Cumberland. Watch for the entrance to the parking – easy to miss.

The meeting is open to the public; they would appreciate your pre-registering so they can plan for this meeting.

The Pre-registration Form is posted on the Halton District School Board website: https://bit.ly/2gFUT5Z

The focus of this public meeting will be to gather individual input on the framework, which is organized around the following four themes:

Theme 1: Programming and Enrolment
Theme 2: Physical state of existing schools
Theme 3: Geographical and transportation issues
Theme 4: Fiscal responsibility and future planning

pearson-high-school-sign

Very little is being hard from parents at Pearson high school. It’s almost as if they have thrown in the towel. The loss to the community is a day care centre that is second to one in the city.

The meeting will be interactive. A presentation from the Board will be followed by a questionnaire divided into four 20-minute segments focusing on a distinct topic. Each attendee may offer input through use of an electronic ‘clicker’. Each segment will conclude with a discussion.

The 25+ members of the PARC met as a group last Thursday. That meeting was closed to the people. The objective of the meeting was for the participants to get to know one another – most of these people had never met each other. They were introduced to the Chair Scott Podrebarac and met the person who is going to facilitate the meetings.

high-school-locations

While Central and Pearson high schools were recommended for closure by Board of Education staff there are other schools that are at risk. Those not at risk are Aldershot, Hayden, Nelson.

The Board of Education hired people from Ipsos Reid, a leading market research firm to do the facilitation – and market research is really what these meetings are about. A tough decision has to be made – there are more than 1800 empty seats in the high school classrooms in Burlington. That is not sustainable – the Director of Education has to prepare a report which he will submit to the trustees and they will decide what gets done.

Between now and that decision date next May  2017, there is a lot of work to be done and the Board of Education staff – and the trustees, want to know what the public has to say.

Meeting agenda:

6:45-7:00 p.m.- Arrival and check in
7:00 p.m.- Opening remarks and explanation of the event
7:05 p.m.- A Presentation by Chair of the PAR Committee (Scott Podrebarac)
7:15 – 8:15 p.m..- Electronic questions, and discussion based on themes.
8:35 p.m.- Further discussion led by attendees
8:50 p.m.- Summary
9:00 p.m.- Event concludesgetting new - yellow

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Mayor gives what Councillor Meed Ward calls a political responsibility to the city manager.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 2, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Halton District school Board Director of Education Stuart Miller delegated to city council a while ago and explained why his organization was recommending that two high schools in the city be closed.

It was a polite delegation – none of the council members asked much in the way of questions. He had made his point and that was that.

Miller did explain the process that is used when a school is going to be closed. At the time he didn’t mention that the city is asked to provide a representative on the PAR committee.

Once the PARC was formed the city was then asked to select a representative.

A PARC is a committee to Program Accommodation Review.

In a report to council earlier this week the Mayor recommended that city manager James Ridge be appointed as the representative to participate on the PARC, in an advisory role, to be a conduit of information, and to provide meaningful input and feedback concerning the proposed solutions.

The Board of Education initial preferred option includes closing both Burlington Central and Lester B. Pearson secondary schools.

The Mayor said that James Ridge has been consulted and is supportive of fulfilling the appointment to the Halton District School Board PARC.  The fact is that Ridge volunteered for the task.

In a report that was submitted under Mayor Goldring’s signature it said:

Flood Goldring with chain of office

Mayor Goldring speaking to media wearing his Chain of Office which identifies him as Mayor – a political role.

“There is obviously a great deal of concern in our community, especially with teachers, parents and students and within the areas located in close proximity to both Central and Pearson. It is only natural that many residents would want Burlington City Council to get involved in this issue.

“Recognizing that it is the Halton District School Board that makes the final decision, it would be inappropriate for council to take any sort of official position on this issue. I do understand, however, the interest in members of council wanting to get involved simply as residents.

“I am of the opinion that James Ridges will be an excellent representative of the City as a community partner on the Halton District School Board PARC. In this advisory role, I am confident that he will effectively communicate a clear and objective perspective concerning the proposed solutions that will be part of the PARC discussions.

During the council meeting the Mayor said he had received a note from a citizen saying they thought the Mayor should represent the city because he was unbiased, fair, thoughtful and objective.  The Mayor then said that those words applied to city manager James Ridge but that in his case these words were squared, a mathematical term, and that Ridge had the “big picture” as well.

James Ridge - looking right

City manager James Ridge will represent the city on the Board of Education Program Accommodation Review Committee – a group that many see as very political in that it speaks to the interests of parents who want to keep their school open.

Apparently the Mayor was having some difficulty deciding what to do and Ridge volunteered to sit on the PARC.

It is doubtful that the city manager has ever been in one of the city’s high schools – if he has – it was part of a tour.  He would not know the character of the different high schools – what makes Nelson the school that it is and what makes M. M. Robinson the high school that it is.  Ridge has been in Burlington for about 18 months and while he may see himself as a quick study understanding a city and and its character takes years.

Rick Goldring attended both elementary and high school in Burlington  – he is a product of Nelson and know the rivalries that exist between the high schools and having raised children in this city he understands fully what the high schools in this city mean to the parents.

Ridge has children that he and his wife saw through high school – but those schools were not in this city.   What Ridge will bring to the PARC is the view of a bureaucrat not a citizen with a deep understanding of the city and its needs.

Meed Ward responded to the Mayor’s decision with the comment that she had approached the Mayor privately and asked that he represent the city and that she was disappointed in his decision to recommend Ridge.

Meed Ward believes the closing of a high school is a political issue. She pointed out that one of the pillars of the Strategic Plan focuses on healthy communities and the walk-ability of the community centres was important.

The Mayor doesn’t appear to share that view – but he didn’t explicitly say so. He did say “we are all very interested observers of the process” and he felt the city manager could do the job that was to be done.

mww-craven-taylor-body-language

The body language tells it all – Councilors Meed ward and Craven sit beside each other at Council meetings because they represent wards 2 and 1 respectively and council members are seated in numerical order with the Mayor in the chair. The two don’t like each other and share very few viewpoints.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven had no such hesitation in saying what he thought. He said he totally disagrees with Meed Ward and the position she has taken. “We need to stay out of the work the school board trustees have to do. I am quite uncomfortable with this”… “but it is not something I have control over.”

Meed Ward explained that she has a son who attends Central high school and a daughter who attends Aldershot high school and it is her belief that what happens to a high school impacts the community and that is the business of a city council.

Of note is that there is not a structure for the Board of Education and the city to meet to discuss shared concerns.

The Chief of police has in the past delegated to city council to discuss public safety matters; the hospital boat will send their president to city hall to provide updates. The Dean at the McMaster DeGroote School of Business attends council to delegate.

Politics is doing the business of the people and the school board close to the largest employer and the recipient of a very large slice of the tax revenue pie. They need to work together on issues of shared concern – and if this city council doesn’t understand or appreciate that the closing of a high school is not a major political concern we are indeed in serious trouble with the city council we have.

The Gazette hears the phrase “this is a dysfunctional council” from far too many people who are admired, respected and the recipients of Burlington’s Best awards.

For a Mayor to avoid sitting on a committee that will prepare a report that goes to the Director of Education which he uses to prepare his report to the trustees who will make the eventual decision, this is almost a dereliction of duty, which is defined as “the shameful failure to fulfill one’s obligations.”  That pretty well sums it up – doesn’t it?

central-strongThe parents committee at Central are delighted that Meed Ward accepted the request that she sit on the PARC. Dania Thurman, spokesperson for the parents group said: “Marianne was the right choice for our School’s council representative because she has a son at Central AND a daughter at Aldershot.

“This gives her a unique perspective that most of us do not have. She also has extensive experience sitting on different committees and is used to working with others to find solutions to complicated issues.

“As a group we wanted to choose the person who was best qualified and could work well under the pressure of being on a committee like this. Marianne is very well spoken and more than capable of sharing our concerns clearly and thoughtfully. As a parent of a student at our school she qualifies to be a member on the PAR just like any other Central parent.

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The gift that brings a smile to your face because someone else got the benefit.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 2, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It happens every year.

What do you get the person who teaches your children?

How much do you spend – what is appropriate and are you going to buy them another cute coffee mug they don’t want or need?

Gifting a classroom teacher is a good thing; the parents get a chance to say thank you; the student, especially if they are very young, just love the idea of giving a gift to someone who is a very important person in their life.
Teachers appreciate the recognition.

25-dollar-participation-packBut what to buy? It can’t be too expensive – can it be relevant? Some teachers have little collections, we knew one who collected elephant figurines – her student’s loved adding to the collection.

Teachers know where the help is needed in their classrooms – they see the kid wearing sneakers when the streets and wet and slushy; they see the threadbare coat and they are often able to call the Halton Learning Foundation and ask if there is some help available.

The Foundation has come up with a way for helping to be made easier and quite direct.
They have created on-line catalogue that people can browse through and choose the level of gift they would like to give.

A backpack full of school supplies seems simple and attainable, but is out-of-reach for many Halton families. Your $25 gift can ensure students have the basic tools they need to participate in learning

Many children and teens have no choice but to brave cold, wet temperatures in ill-fitting or poorly insulated coats and boots. Worse, some kids miss school days because they do not have appropriate gear for the weather. Your $75 gift can help a student stay warm and dry on the trip to and from school.

Many students miss out on the experience of field trips that enhance classroom learning because their families simply cannot afford to send them. Your Growth and Confidence gift can allow at least 10-15 students to be included in hands-on, experiential learning provided by field trips. An education isn’t limited to text books; the social skills learned while mixing socially with other students is vital.

250-ability-booster-lunchThe person buying the gift gets to have a card sent along to the person who the gift is being bought on behalf of.
A household can go on-line and decide they want to pay for the Fresh Start gift and have it given on behalf of a classroom teacher. The teacher gets the card saying a gift as given on their behalf by a specific student.

There are people who get gift they forget about in a month. This special kind of gift tends to be remembered for a long time. Isn’t that part of the purpose of a gift?

The catalogue is on-line – have a look.

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800 and counting - Central high school parents group is papering their community with lawn signs.

News 100 greenBy Staff

December 2, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

central-peoplw-with-sign

The #centralstrong crowd took the GO train to Toronto, got themselves to Queen’s Park and let the provincial government know they wanted their school saved.

The kind of problem every community organizer just loves to have.

“We are currently out of signs – again. We will order more in mid-December.

#centralstrong the community based group that is fighting the battle to keep Central high school open had a couple of hundred lawn signs made up.

They ran out of the first batch – had a second batch made up – ran out of the second batch.
They are at 800 signs and counting.

The easiest way for our amazing volunteers to keep track of your requests is when they are received via the website; this sends them directly to a master list.

central-save-street-sign

#Centralstrong has sold more than 800 signs. That figure will get to 2000 before the end of this battle.

If your sign was stolen or you need more than one then please email or call because you cannot order more than one sign through our web page.

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Committe that will provide recommendations to the Director of Education on how he resolves his high school capacity problem is announced.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 30th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thursday morning a relatively large group of people will gather under the direction of Scott Podrebarac, who is the Halton District School Board Superintendent of Education selected to chair the Program Accommodation Committee that was formed by the school board trustees to study the recommendation that came from the Director of Education Stuart Miller to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

portrait of Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac, a Halton District School Board Superintendent who will chair the PARC that holds its orientation meeting on Thursday.

The Thursday meeting will be an orientation meeting that will be facilitated by a representative from Ipsos Reid, a company that described itself as “committed to working with clients to identify the right solutions for their specific challenges.” The Halton District School Board and the parents who have children in the seven high schools certainly have a challenge.

When the planners at the HDSB realized they had more than 1800 empty seats in the high schools they knew and were required to take some form of action. The province just doesn’t let a school board continue to operate that much excessive high school capacity.

It is fair to ask why the HDSB has waited until this late date to come forward with a recommendation – the data available to them has made it pretty clear that there was going to be a problem. But that is another issue – the HDSB appointed a new Director of Education and that problem has fallen in his lap. That Stuart Miller has spent all of his academic career with the Halton Board does raise the question: How did this happen?

The school board trustees – at least those who have been there for the past six years – have to share the responsibility for this situation – which is now spilt milk.

The problem is now on the table and it has to be dealt with – which is why the PARC was created

miller-prep-at-central

Director of Education Stuart Miller

What is this committee, known as a PARC going to do? The PARC does not write a “public” report; they will make suggestions or recommendations that are forwarded to the Director of Education for his consideration in his Final Director’s Report which will be a public document.

The work of the PARC is captured in the Community Consultation part of the Final Director’s report.
Podrebarac points out that “There is no document or procedure that speaks directly to the reporting of the PARC to the Director other than those outlined in our Program and Accommodation Review procedure.”

 

portrait of Donna Danielli

Donna Danielli – Halton District School Board trustee for Milton

They have their work cut out for them. Along with Burlington City Manager James Ridge and Milton school board trustee Donna Danielli the following people will serve on the committee that will meet frequently between now and May of 2017.

Each of the seven high schools in Burlington gets to have two representatives on the PARC; one of the two is chosen by the parent council for the school, the other is selected from a list of people who expressed an interest in serving on the PARC.

meed-ward-at-council

Marianne Meed Ward, member of city council for ward 2 where Central high school is located.

Steve Cussons, Aldershot High School
Eric Szyiko, Aldershot High School
Ian Farwell, Burlington Central High School
Marianne Meed Ward, Burlington Central High School
Tricia Hammill, Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School
Nawaz Noormohamed, Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School
Steve Armstrong. L. B. Pearson High School
Cheryl De Lugt, L. B. Pearson High School
Dianna Bower, M. M. Robinson High School
Marie Madenzides, M. M. Robinson High School
Rebecca Collier, Nelson High School
Kate Nazar, Nelson High School
Lisa Bull, Robert Bateman High School
Sharon Picken, Robert Bateman High School

Included in the PARC are the principals from each high school.

FIRE Bateman principal at siren

Mark Dudley, principal at Robert Bateman high school

Maria McLellan, Aldershot High School
Kelli Pfeiffer, Burlington Central High School
Nick Varricchio, Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School
Loraine Fedurco, L. B. Pearson High School
Andrea Taylor, M. M. Robinson High School
Karen Hartmann, Nelson High School
Mark Duley, Robert Bateman High School

There is no remuneration for those participating on the PARC.

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Citizens get to keep a right they have had for more than 25 years.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It wasn’t a hill worth dying on was the way Councillor John Taylor put it as city council debated a staff report that suggested delegation time be reduced from 10 minutes to five minutes.

The vote to not reduce the time allocation was a 6-1 with Councillor Craven voting against.

It wasn’t the hill these seven people were focused on – it was the ballot box.

The debate, which was one of the lengthiest this council has experienced – actual city council meetings have been as short as 15 minutes, was also an occasion when citizens made their voices heard in some of the best language this reporter has ever heard at city hall.

Jim Young, John Searle, Gareth Williams and Tom Muir did the city proud when they spoke up for your rights.

dennison-sharman-lancaster

Councillors Dennison, Sharman and Lancaster during the time allocation for delegations debate.

There are some serious time management concerns that were brought to the attention of council. There are 26 different development proposals on their way to city council and planning staff are concerned there may be problems getting the reports through Standing Committee in time to ensure the city doesn’t run into that hard 180 day wall that allows a developer to scoot over to the Ontario Municipal Board if their request isn’t dealt with within that time frame. The city currently has such a situation on hand – and it is costing a pretty penny.

Much of the debate was focused on how this council manages its time. Councillor Meed Ward made one of the more important points: the problem is not with how long the citizens take to speak – it is the amount of time council members take up as they shilly shally all over the place and tend to work at making debating points rather than ask well thought out questions.

During the debate one Councillor made a little Burlington history when he uttered one of those “fuddle duddle” phrases.

Councillor Lancaster said that if citizens could think through what it is they want to say and discipline themselves they should be able to keep their delegations down to five minutes – the Mayor had to bring the Council member to order pointing out that Lancaster had gone over her five minute allocation.

For a period of time it looked as if council was going to set the length of time at five minutes and give people ten if they asked for additional time.

Lancaster said this council would never refuse a citizen the additional time if they needed it.

What a bunch of hypocrites. Anne Marsden, a long time delegator to city council, asked for additional time and was denied – and she had information council should have heard.

angela-morgan

City Clerk Angela Morgan

It was suggested that people approach the Clerk requesting additional time when they filed their notice of wanting to delegate. Was the thought that the Clerk would be seen as fair and favourable to citizens? There are more than a handful of fine people who have delegated to city council and have few kind words about this Clerk and how she treats citizens.

John Searle, who is a citizen representative on a group called CHAT – something you have probably not heard much about; partly because while they exist you don’t hear much from them pointed out to Council that what they proposed to do was contrary to the purpose of the charter.

Searle, a lawyer by profession made a very important point when he said: “it is not about you” to the council members, it is about a principle and those principles are set out in the city’s charter.

The Burlington Community Engagement Charter is an agreement between and among Burlington City Council and the citizens of Burlington concerning citizen engagement with city government that establishes the commitments, responsibilities, and fundamental concepts of this relationship.

At the core of democratic government are two pillars that also form the basis of effective citizen engagement:

• That government belongs to the citizens within its political boundaries, and

• That the inhabitants of a city are “citizens” with the rights and responsibilities of citizenship based on justice, human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law.

Engaging people on issues that affect their lives and their city is a key component of democratic society. Public involvement encourages participation, actions and personal responsibility. The goal of community engagement is to lead to more informed and, therefore, better decision-making.

People are going to want to get their point across and five minutes is just not long enough. Searle went on to point out that what council was proposing to do was against the very charter they had approved. “What you are doing here today flies in the face of the charter.”

mww-craven-taylor-body-language

The body language kind of says it all – doesn’t it. Councillors Craven, Meed Ward and Taylor during the time allocation for delegations debate.

The Charter Searle referred to makes it pretty clear what is expected:

Citizen: For the purposes of this Charter, the word citizen refers to a resident of the City, entitled to its rights and services and with a responsibility to take an active part in community decision-making. The words citizen and resident can be used interchangeably.

Citizen engagement: The right and responsibility of citizens to have an informed say in the decisions that affect their lives though a dialogue of mutual respect between government and citizen.
Community engagement: The process by which citizens, organizations, and government work collaboratively. It includes information sharing, consultation, and active involvement in decision- making.

Decision-making: The process followed by the City of Burlington‟s City Council to reach decisions on those items that are presented in staff reports.

Meaningful engagement: Citizens and stakeholders have the opportunity to access information on the engagement topic that is timely, relevant, constructive and substantive. Their resulting input to decision-makers is expected to meet similar standards and is intended to ensure that a balance and range of public perspectives is available for consideration in the decision-making process.

Tom Muir made, as he inevitably does, points worth remembering.

muir-delegating

Tom Muir, a citizen who has been delegating for more than 25 years.

“I would hope that Council votes in favor of the 10 minutes unanimously, as a show of good faith. I will say that a vote to reduce to 5 minutes is something I see as an insult to citizens and their possible contribution to what we do as a city – our city.”

“Further, if Councillors still want to vote down the 10 minutes, I say this. If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit. I mean that, and will not forget how this vote goes tonight. “

“This Council is not your Council; it is the people’s Council.

“And these Council Chambers are not your Chambers, but are equally, the people’s Chambers. All the Councillors and Councils hold these offices and chambers in trust.

“So to vote to reduce the people’s time to speak in these chambers is to fail in that trust, in my opinion.
I ask therefore; herein fail not.”

The vote went 6-1 with Councillor Craven voting against ten minutes for Standing Committee delegations.

It was a good day for the citizens of the city.

Jim Young laid it out for them.

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Jim Young declares: Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 28th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City council and the few that attend city council meetings along with the even fewer who watch what council does on the Cogeco live broadcast are in for a treat this evening.

Hearing a true democrat (note the small D) explain the rudiments of what it means to live in a democracy.

Jim Young will explain to members of city council (hopefully the staff will have their ears open as well) when he explains that:

Sometimes democracy frustrates us. Sometimes it completely fails us. Democracy is messy and unpredictable. But its inherent frustrations are still preferable to its failure.

Yes, it grinds ever so slowly through elections; committees; consultations, delegations, votes, amendments then back through the whole messy, frustrating process again.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating.

And yes, those slow, tangled procedures can tempt us to short circuit the process in the name of speed in the name of efficiency to get the good works we have in mind into action.

The democratic processes of our city demand that qualified, talented professionals like the city staffs and managers, we are fortunate to have in Burlington, apply themselves to a certain vision of the city.

That they nurse that vision through the often tortuous process to council for approval and implementation, only to have someone like me, a citizens delegate, put a flea in council’s ear, a spoke in staff’s well-oiled wheel and force a review all of their efforts and the inevitable delay that brings.

Democracy is indeed frustrating and the temptation to limit those small interferences, those small interruptions is great.

Sometimes it may seem as if we delegates are the enemy of the process. That we somehow stand in the way of the great works and plans you all have in mind for the city.

dfer

Marianne Meed Ward delegating.

But that begs the question, for whom are these great works and plans intended? Are they for the benefit of council? I prefer to believe council is bigger, nobler and above that self-interest. Are they for the benefit of Staff, I think not, indeed with all due respect many very dedicated staff members are citizens of other municipalities and even then their professionalism puts them above that.

No, the big plans and great works are for the citizens, those very same people who come here to delegate to advise council, to say please consider me, my family and my neighbours when you contemplate these great plans and great works for the future of my city, the future of our city.

We live in a time when even the best efforts and endeavors of all levels of government are looked upon as “elitist”; are perceived to serve special interest groups and appear to ignore Jane/Joe Public until election time rolls around.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren delegating.

Limiting the input of citizens only feeds that perception, gives voice to the unreasonable because the reasonable voices feel stifled, limited, ignored.

We live in a time when the Rob Fords and Donald Trumps of this world lend false voice to the anger and frustration of those ignored and overlooked voters. Those brash populist voices, who defying common sense and reason somehow hold sway over electorates.

Not with wisdom, not with policy, not with vision but with the false promise that they will listen while whispering that the “Elitist, Mainstream Incumbents will not”.

When those voices hold sway, democracy fails us.

I urge council: Do not open that door to those small minds and loud voices.

We live in a city rated the best place to live in Canada, the best country in the world. That makes Burlington truly special. That enviable place in the world has been was achieved not just by the excellence of our city staffs, the guidance of dedicated councilors, of every political stripe, but also by a citizenry who love their city and who have participated in its plans and success over many years.

Our 25 year strategic plan very boldly calls for a city that engages its people, I urge council not to let that ambitious goal be tripped up at this, its first hurdle.

When you deny constituents the reasonable opportunity to advise you during council term at meetings such as this, you leave them no other option but to voice their frustrations through the ballot box at election time.

werf

Monte Dennis delegating.

Look at recent election results, where voters vented their frustration at the perception that politicians are not listening, do not provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, a perception that has given voice to the Fords, the Trumps and the Brexiteers who, bereft of policy or vision or even civil discourse, at least pretend to listen, pretend they will be the voice of the people.

Then proceed to undo all the good that has been done, the community that has been built by that slow and frustrating democratic process.

So far this delegation has taken about 5 minutes, and with more to say, I hope you can understand how limiting 5 minutes can be.

I will finish by challenging each of you who wish to limit the participation of citizens in the affairs of our city:
Will you please explain to this gathering tonight how limiting delegations to 5 minutes is good for our democracy, good for our city?

Will you then publish that explanation in your Newsletter for all your constituents to see and to judge for themselves?

Will you stand at your regular town hall gatherings and tell the people of your wards why you want to silence their voice?

Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

If you cannot, in conscience, address your constituents on this issue, then you have accept an amendment to rescind that decision and restore the full 10 minute allotment for citizen delegations, or better still do the right thing and propose such an amendment yourself.

Your constituents will thank you for it. Burlington will thank you for it.

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Gareth Williams feels vindicated by US decision to audit internet votes.

News 100 redBy Gareth Williams

November 27, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has certainly been an interesting month in politics, especially south of the border. Many were surprised by the victory of the Republican candidate despite polling results showing his opponent with a strong lead. Mrs. Clinton conceded once it was clear to most that her path to victory was closed, something Mr. Trump long refused to say he would do.

Voters going in door

Burlington does allow on-line voting – a small proportion of citizens used that service. The voting machines the city uses are not on-line.

This past week however, a few media outlets published an alarming story based on comments attributed to computer scientists from some of the nation’s leading academic institutions. They urged candidates to request audits of the election in a handful of states. Their reason being that it appeared results in counties which rely solely on computerized voting machines demonstrated a statistically different result as compared to counties where paper ballots alone were used. Had the election been ‘hacked’?

Further analysis of the data revealed that there were other explanations for the statistical differences. Those computer scientists – cautious as most scientists are – clarified their position. There was no proof the election machines had been tampered with, but they maintained their push to have an audit performed to ensure the integrity of the voting process.

Thanks to an 11th hour fundraising effort by US Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, a recount is now underway in Wisconsin. However, major concerns have been raised based on the fact that in those counties where computerized voting machines were used, there is nothing to count. The only recourse is a computer forensics audit of the equipment.

Internationally renowned computer security expert Bruce Schneier commented on the situation this week. He pointed out that “computer forensics investigations are not easy, and they’re not quick. And in the end, we might not even get a definitive answer.”

On Thursday CBC Radio’s As It Happens featured an interview on the subject with former IBM researcher Dr. Barbara Simons, an expert on election security. Dr. Simons recently testified before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) in Ottawa. In her interview Dr. Simons warned “if you want to have the elections hacked in Canada, the best thing to do is have internet voting.” Internet voting is basically computerized voting machines on steroids.

A few weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece on an upcoming decision by Burlington City Council on the use of internet voting. The comments in the Gazette confirmed I was not alone in my concern. At Standing Committee, the recommendation was put forward (with a 6-0 vote) to accept the staff recommendation and continue to offer internet voting in Burlington in the 2018 Municipal Election. Staff defended their position based partly on the specious argument that “everyone else is doing it.” Convenience had won the day over concerns surrounding ballot secrecy and security.

Last week two other Ontario municipalities considered this issue. The City of Waterloo, home to one of the country’s leading University computer science programs, decided (once again) that internet voting was not worth the risk. Their decision was guided by advice from one of the University’s computer science professors, as well as an engineer with a leading technology security company based in the region. On Twitter Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell thanked Waterloo Council for “showing that you are really tech savvy”. Which is to say, rejecting Internet voting doesn’t show that you are backward-looking, it shows that you actually understand the technology, and the risks.

The Clerk for the City of Toronto also put forward a damning report on internet voting, and recommended not to proceed. The report cited among a myriad of issues a lack of liability on the part of third-party internet voting system vendors. They highlighted the fact that “the internet was designed to share information, not to secure it”. They rightly observed that voting is a unique service, very unlike other services offered by a municipality. It is not the same thing as paying a parking ticket and should not be looked at from the same perspective. This recommendation will be considered by Council there in the coming weeks.

voting-machines-us

If these voting machines were connected to the internet the belief among many experts is that the results they give could be tampered with.

Back to that US contest for a moment; the result of the election has been called into question, thanks in part to electronic voting machines. Mr. Trump has decried the audit process now underway a ‘scam’, despite months of claiming the system was ‘rigged’ – when it looked like he would lose. To quote Mr. Schneir again, “Elections serve two purposes. First, and most obvious, they are how we choose a winner. But second, and equally important, they convince the loser ­- and all the supporters ­- that he or she lost. If the election system fails to do the second, we risk undermining the legitimacy of our democratic process.”

This situation is likely only to further deepen divisions and polarize the electorate. Do we really want the potential for a situation like this here in Burlington, or in Canada for that matter?

Hopefully our Council will reconsider their earlier decision and give this direction some sober second thought.

gareth-williamsGareth Williams is a graduate of the Political Science program at McMaster University. He works in Information Technology in Hamilton with 18 years in the field.  Gareth lives in Brant Hills with his wife and their dog Misty.’

 

Background links:
Simons, an expert on election security

Experts urge Clinton to challenge the us presidential race results

Williams told Council he thought they were making a mistake – they went ahead and made it anyway.

 

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Canadian laws regarding the sexual abuse of children need to change.

opinionandcommentBy Merron Vermeer

November 27, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I think we can all agree that this is a much more urgent issue than hydro bills or housing prices. Let’s put some effort into protecting our most vulnerable.

Right now, if an adult has sex with a child, the minimum sentence is 1 year in jail. For “less serious” sexual crimes against children, six months is a possibility. These sexual predators can get out early on good behaviour. Nobody who violates the sanctity of a child’s body deserves to be rewarded for good behaviour. They have demonstrated behaviour that destroys a child’s trust in adults, a child’s right to be safe, a child’s sense of belonging in a just community. There are many addictions that hurt the addict.

But the sexual exploitation of children traumatizes the innocent with wounds that never heal. No one who uses a child to satisfy a physical urge and then walk away without remorse should get any free pass for good behaviour. The behaviour is abhorrent. Unfortunately, it is easier than ever for this depravity to continue. There is a growing community of child abusers who work together to satisfy their destructive urges.

pedophile-silhouette

A pedophile is mentally ill. They are a danger to the public, especially vulnerable children. Jail is not the only solution.

I know bad things happen in this world, and I can usually read about it, worry about it, and then hold my own children close, while trying to move on. But this? This is too absurd to me. How is this not the MOST punishable crime in Canada? The longest jail sentence. Right alongside murder. Have you ever talked to a victim of sexual abuse? It’s a life long sentence. A struggle to rise above the despicable acts that were performed on them in their most vulnerable stage of life. Trust in humanity is broken.

Those images and feelings of violation and helplessness never leave them. There is unwarranted guilt. Embarrassment. But most painfully, abandonment of community. We, as a society, allow their predators back out, to walk the streets, enjoying a freedom that victims will never feel.

As well, since most of these crimes are perpetrated by men, women start to distrust all men. It’s not fair to the good men that are just as passionate about the safety and well-being of children as any woman. My dad. My husband. My son. But sadly, when the media reports the details of yet another pedophile, it weakens the trust we have in men. Human decency demands that men and women work together to strengthen the laws that protect our most vulnerable.

Currently, the Canadian courts can offer a lighter sentence to pedophiles who agree to medication or chemical castration that will help to manage their sexual impulses. But they cannot force them to continue treatments indefinitely once the sentence has been completed. Physical castration is considered the most severe and controversial response to sex crimes. But, you know what? It would be a pretty effective deterrent!

I am a mother and a kindergarten teacher. I am particularly invested in, and connected to our most innocent community members. I will take every one of these stories of twisted, self-indulgent pedophiles to my grave. I will n.e.v.e.r understand how a human being could take pleasure in the sexual violation of babies. It is brutal and cruel and there is NO excuse.

With the increase in demand for child pornography, child prostitution, and other forms of child exploitation, I hope there will be appropriate consequences that send the message to pedophiles that they are NOT okay. Their actions will be punished. They will be judged harshly. No second or third or fourth chances. I get it that they are sick. Most times they ADMIT this in court. They’re mentally ill. But in these cases, they must be held criminally responsible. If that means castration, so be it. I need to know that the children on my watch can play in the park without fear. That, as a community, we will judge sexual predators harshly and demand the kind of punishment that will deter them.

Speak out against this insidious behaviour before it threatens even one more innocent life. Children trust us to keep them safe. I want the legal system to reflect this by getting tougher on sexual crimes against children.

Merron Vermeer is a mother and a kindergarten teacher with the Halton Board of Education. She shares her personal views.

cosaEditor’s note: Every pedophile was at some point in their early lives abused. It becomes a self-perpetuating circle. There is a way to break that process: Circles of Support and Accountability – a process that allows the community to take responsibility for the damage that was done. No one was born a pedophile – the society they were raised in got them to the point where they damage others.

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More on what it is that Brock University wanted to see happen at the Art Gallery of Burlington

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

November 25th, 2106

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is now a little bit more to tell about the conversations that have taken place between people at City Hall, the Art Gallery of Burlington and Brock University.

In a previous article we said: “Turns out that Brock University, headquartered in St. Catharines, has been sniffing around the Art Gallery of Burlington to see if some kind of a deal can be put together.”

There are a number of different pieces that need to be pulled together to get a clearer picture of what might be taking place.

We know that Brock University people have been talking to people in Burlington. At the time we didn’t know quite what the Brock agenda was. Nor did we know who at City hall was having the conversations with Brock – was it on the administrative side or the political side?

We do know that the discussions put the president of the Art Gallery of Burlington in an awkward position.
We are now pretty sure those conversations were with the Office of the Mayor.

What was the connection between Brock, the AGB – that we did not know.

Some context.

martin-and-daughter-von-zan

Martin von Zan and his daughter Kayla of Interkom Smart Marketing

Martin van Zon of Burlington based Interkom Smart Marketing prides himself on the work he has done for the St. Catharines Performing Art Centre where we understand he has helped them with fund raising. Van Zon was always disappointed that the Burlington Performing arts centre didn’t avail themselves of his services.

We know that Martin van Zon has had discussions with Mayor Goldring about being involved in the Mayor’s re-election campaign. We suspect he has asked von Zon to play a major role in his 2018 re-election campaign.

We know that Kayla , Martin’s van Zon’s daughter, is deeply embedded in the Mayors Millennial Advisory Committee. she was part of the committee, along with a Kimberly Calderbank, Christopher Reuse and Tyler Freeman who presented their subcommittees co-created critical success factors for the work plan at the May meeting of the Millennial Advisory Committee.

We know as well that Martin van Zon has been hired by Brock University as a consultant to help the University decide what it wants to do with the Rodman Collection.

How do all these pieces come together?

rodman-hall

Rodman Hall Art Centre – part of Brock University in St. Catharines has a highly rated collection.

In 2003 Brock University bought the Rodman Hall Arts Centre for the token fee of two dollars, and the agreement that no assets or holdings would be sold off for 20 years.

In 2015, Brock University VP Finance and Administration Brian Hutchings said Brock is “looking to reduce its subsidy to the Rodman Hall Arts Centre by 50%”. He is reported to have added that they needed to determine where Rodman fits in Brock’s orbit which was something to be studied. The university then went looking for an external consultant.

They ended up hiring van Zon for a reported $50,000 to hold four discussion meetings in St. Catharines about the Rodman Hall Arts Centre.

Those meetings did not go all that well. We will return to them
A little more background.

In 1955, St. Catharine’s residents began to develop an interest in a cultural centre. They saw many advantages from the coordination of activities among the cultural groups active in St. Catharines and region and decided to hold a conference to explore some ideas.

From that meeting came the idea that an arts council be formed. With that objective set – the group set out to find a building and facilities to provide workshop and studio space for activities of the member groups and a gallery for art exhibitions. They did that during 1957-58.

In early 1959, the nascent Arts Council approached Mr. T. R. Merritt, then the owner of Rodman Hall, and learned that Mr. Merritt was not only willing to sell his property, but was pleased at the prospect of his family home becoming a civic cultural centre. An agreement was reached quickly, on price and conditions, and the Arts Council was ready to proceed with property purchase and arts centre establishment.

welland-canal

St, Catharines is bisected by the Welland Canal. The Rodman home was built for one of the sons of the man who built the first canal.

St. Catharines is bisected by the Welland Canal – the route that let ships pass from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. William Hamilton Merritt (1793-1862) built the first Welland Canal. The accomplishments of the various members of the Merritt family are so significant to St. Catharine’s that the city declared November 27th a “Merritt Day.” which marks the anniversary of the first passage of a vessel through the Welland canal.

Rodman Hall became Rodman Hall Arts Centre on September 17, 1960

From 1960 through to 1975 the Hall grew adding to its collection and to the size of the property. It was seen as one of the best preservation efforts in the province.

New facilities provided by the 1975 expansion qualified Rodman Hall as a “National Exhibition Centre” with the principal function of providing exhibitions of fine art which may be seen by the people of St. Catharines and Niagara Region. Being designated a National Exhibition Centres was significant; it meant that quality work could be displayed from the most important galleries in Canada including the National Museums of Canada International Exhibition Programme.

culture-day-installation-at-rodman

An installation at Rodman Hall

From 1975 until the end of 1981, 125 exhibitions have been presented. Attendance has increased 50 per cent in the last ten years. By the end of 1981 the collection numbered 375 works valued at $550,000.
Rodman Hall flourished.

By the end of the 1990s however accessing public funds was becoming increasingly difficult for the Rodman administration

Brock University stepped in and bought the place in 2003 when they were flush. Rodman Hall continued to operate as a public entity distinct from the university.

Brock’s financial contributions toward running the facility and maintaining the building and property rose considerably over the past decade. The university calls the costs for ongoing operations and needed capital upgrades “a growing concern.”

A recent Rodman Hall budget of $840,000 Brock kicked in $576,000.

Brock needed a way to cut its contribution in half, and asked Rodman Hall’s citizen advisory committee to offer suggestions by early summer on how to achieve that goal.

When Brock University bought Rodman Hall for two bucks, the sales agreement stipulated Brock couldn’t sell off any property or assets for at least 20 years.

The flush days of 2003 had clearly come to an end.

kids-day-at-rodman

Rodman Hall Art Centre – outdoor art classes.

All other facets of the university’s operation have been recently scrutinized, said Brock’s top finance official Brian Hutchings, and Rodman Hall is no exception.

Many thought Rodman should be self-sufficient. Those of us who look at the cost of running the art Gallery of Burlington and the Performing Arts centre know better.

This is where van Zon enters the picture. He has a $50,000 contract from the university to hold discussions with the St. Catharines community. He reports to the Brock University board of trustees.

The meetings van Zon held didn’t go very well – in fact they went rather badly.

The buzz in St. Catharines is that Rodman will be “given” to a “newly formed non-profit” in the summer of 2016, whose mandate will be to then sell the parkland and building. This money will then be the base of a larger fundraising campaign to build a new public gallery in downtown St. Catharines.

Interkom Smart Marketing was said to be “re-evaluating Brock’s relationship to Rodman Hall Arts Centre”. This was not going down very well with the St. Catharines arts community. van Zon was getting a very rough ride.
van Zon appears to have come up with a solution – make a deal with the Art Gallery of Burlington that has them taking on the Rodman collection with perhaps some of the funding coming along with it.

BAC aerial

Did Brock University want to convince the Art Gallery to take their collection.

What a feather that would be in the Mayor’s cap – nice wave to ride an election win on.

The Rodman collection has a far superior reputation than the Art Gallery of Burlington collection.

Would it be less than logical to conclude that Martin Van Zon believes he can deliver a big one for the Mayor by having the Art Gallery of Burlington accept the Rodman collection? Are we certain? No – for the most part this is speculation. But if you look at the record and all that has taken place, it is not too far from a logical conclusion.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a statement from the Office of the Mayor

 

What got this story started?

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Central parents demonstrate outside Queen's Park - parent writes open letter to the Premier.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 23, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Michelle Taylor is a parent with children in Burlington schools. She was deeply involved in the problems at Pineview  school and no she is angry with what she feels her provincial government is letting happen to the closing of schools in the province.

Burlington is currently about to embark on a Program Accommodation Review – a process that gets put in place when the number of seats being used in a school drops below 65%.

central-team-on-the-way-to-qp

They were all smiles – glad to be doing what they were doing.

While one of the Burlington schools is not below that 65% number the cold hard fact I that the city has one and a half too many high schools.

There are more than 1800 empty seats in the city’s seven high schools.

The PAR process is controversial and it does put the parents who don’t want a community school closed at a disadvantage in that they don’t have the time frame to work within that a school board has had.

The Halton Board has seen this coming for some time. They delivered a report to the trustees and suggested that a Program Accommodation Review Committee be created. The trustees dutifully voted for that and the process now begins.

On Monday a group of people took the GO train into Toronto to demonstrate outside Queen’s Park. Michelle Taylor wasn’t able to make the trip – she wrote the Premier instead.

Despite being unable to attend yesterday’s Queen’s Park rally against your Pupil Accommodation Review process in person, I was closely watching for any useful reaction from the decision makers. I am very disappointed at the complete lack of respect you showed for those attempting to express their genuine and critical concerns to you on behalf of their communities. That combined with your arrogant and dismissive attitude when responding to the same from your fellow MPPs in Question Period is a huge disservice to every concerned parent and tax-payer across Ontario.

central-people-in-front-of-qp

There was never any doubt who they were or why they were there.

As Premier of this great province, you and your ministers are short-changing your electors at every turn. You show no visible consideration for what matters most to those who pay your salaries, not even having the decency to reply with thoughtful answers instead of text-book form responses, if at all. For someone who pretends to be such a believer in “government for good”, you are shaming the democratic process time and time again.

STOP passing the buck back to school boards for a process that YOU CREATED.

STOP pretending that communities across Ontario are positively engaged in the very process that threatens to DESTROY them and their schools. Any participation has been at gun-point, out of fear for their future.

STOP dispensing platitudes for this rigged PAR process, pretending that it will provide the best results for Ontario students- “Every student deserves the best education possible. School consolidation is a tough decision for boards, but gives access to better programs”(Direct quote from your Twitter account, Nov. 21). NOBODY is buying it.

STOP assuming that you are the fountain of knowledge when it comes to education in this province. LISTEN to those representing and living in the communities you are threatening.

central-peoplw-with-sign

It as the first cold day of the month – but that didn’t dampen their spirits.

STOP the slow death you are inflicting on rural Ontario. THINK about the permanent and far-reaching implications of shutting down the agricultural back-bone of this province.

As a concerned parent, I started the SOS Pineview movement against the illogical closure of my village school. I also joined the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures, a hard-working group whose members took time out of their lives to protest at your doorstep yesterday. Along with a rapidly-growing list of others, I will continue to encourage all Ontarians to raise their voices against your government. You will hear our strong objection a thousand times over. We are not going away. We will only get louder. We will not stop until you give us back what is rightfully ours- a deciding say in the future of our communities. Don’t forget- we are all vocal campaigners and unrelenting voters in EVERY election.

centrasl-flag

Almost like a flag – centralstrong.

You have a small window of opportunity before rising for the holidays on December 8th to show clear consideration and respect for the value of rural Ontario communities. I’m calling on you and your government to put a halt to the Pupil Accommodation Review process immediately, in favour of a new process that honours true public engagement and community value.

 

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Learning Foundation has distributed $35,000 so far this year to needy students - average is $715 a day.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 23, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

That Indian summer that stretched into November was nice – but it’s snow tires and winter coats for the next while.

What if you don’t have a winter coat? And there are people who don’t have winter coats.

This is seen at the public school level – classroom teachers notice that a student is wearing running shoes when solid winter boots are needed.

These needs are spotted at the school level – thank goodness for that. The Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) is in place to provide the funds needed to pay for some of the essentials so that a student can concentrate on their studies or enjoy a full academic life and not always be on the margins.

halton-learning-foundation

Head office for the Halton Learning Foundation – nothing fancy here – pretty bare bones; a portable in the Board of Education parking lot. . But as an organization – it works

The HLF distributes an average of $715 a day to students in need. So far this year they have distributed $35,000 in cash reimbursement and gift cards.

The requests for funding comes to the HLF from teachers throughout the Region – they report that the distribution is pretty even throughout Halton.

A donation of 400 winter coats from Mountain Merchandise will arrive soon – the HLF expects to have them on hand early in December.

The need at the student level is seen by the classroom teacher who sees the student every day. They notice when running shoes are being worn when the snow is deep. They see the student who doesn’t have a coat when they open the locker in the hallway.

Some teachers see more of a student than their parents do – which is no reflection on the parents. Teachers are the front line – and while they aren’t social workers they know that a students who hasn’t been properly fed is a student that is very hard to teach.

The HLF is putting together the final pieces of an innovative program that lets people get a seasonal gift for that person who has almost everything and it tough to buy for – we are going to tell you more about that in the days ahead.

The HLF will tell you that 10% of Halton District School Board students live at or below the poverty line. These are the students who can access emergency funding or student subsidies to help them stay in school and focused on learning.getting new - yellow

 

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The True Cost - an eye opener of a film.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

November 23, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thursday evening, November 24th, BurlingtonGreen, in partnership with Burlington Central Library and Halton Green Screens, will present the fifth acclaimed film of their 2016 Eco-Film Festival series, The True Cost.

This documentary tells the story of the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the clothing industry has on our world. The links between declining clothing prices and increasing human and environmental impact are forged as the audience gets a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. The True Cost is a revealing film that compels us to ask, “who really pays the price for our clothing?”

true-cost

If the price is right – what is the true cost?

All areas of the industry are explored and exposed, from production of raw materials, to manufact-uring, to international shipping and retail networks, to the ultimate disposal of massive quantities of clothes. In particular, the film examines the damaging effects of “fast fashion”.

Similar to many other environmental realities facing our planet, the clothing industry follows the pattern of exploitation of people and the environment in the developing world, in order to feed the insatiable appetites of those in the developed world. This film project was initiated by people within the clothing and fashion industry itself, who have witnessed the grim reality of the situation firsthand.

In attendance during this film screening will be Kale Black of BurlingtonGreen, who will briefly share with the audience how he makes a positive difference through the informed purchasing choices he makes.
For those who make the time to see the film – it will be an eye opener. Unfortunately, the people who need to see the film are probably not going to be there.

The film trailer.

When: Thursday, November 24, 2016. Doors open at 6:30 pm with film beginning at 7 pm.
Where: Centennial Hall, Burlington Central Library, 2331 New Street.
Cost: $5 per person (free for BurlingtonGreen members).graphic02

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