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

News 100 greenBy Staff

December 2, 2016




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.


#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



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


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.


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



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.


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.


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.”


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.


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



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.


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.


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



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.


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



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.


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



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 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 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.


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.


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.


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



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%.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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



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?”


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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Board staff do an on-line Q&A with anyone who wanted to lob in a question - no fire works.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2106



After an hour and a half of Question and Answer done on line – does the public, and particularly the parents with children at Pearson and Central high school, know any more than they did when they woke up in Monday morning.

Not really. Everything Director of Education Stuart Miller and his Senior Manager Planning, Dom Renzella said was already public.


Director of Education Stuart Miller looking just a little tired after telling his story for the umpteenth time.

What did come through, even though Miller didn’t say so in so many words was that the Board of Education wants to hear what the community thinks should be done.

Miller has explained that given the information they have the recommendation that went to the trustee was what they felt was best. Of the 19 recommendations that were worked up – # 19 was seen to be the best one to go forward with – and as Miller has said time and again – it is a recommendation that he is fully prepared to have rejected.

It’s a starting point.

Miller agreed that there is a good case to be made for closing Bateman – it’s a couple of km away from Nelson. What wasn’t heard all that clearly is that Bateman is a newer school with better program offerings than Central and that for the educators it’s all about the programs for the students.

Community is not the focus for the Board of Education and it is on this issue that the divide is going to take place.

Central needs a lot of work – it is an old school that has fallen behind.

There was the additional issue that if Central is closed the PARC process will have to be done all over the for elementary classes given in the building – but that wasn’t an issue for Miller or Renzella.


Dom Renzella, supervisor of planning for the Halton District school board.

Miller got taken to task for advocating bigger schools – the 1200 student level – he agreed that there was merit in the argument for small schools but kept coming back to the need to offer as much subject selection as possible to the students.

What hasn’t been seen, so far, are any totally out of the box suggestions from the community. If anything out of the ordinary is going to be done with our high schools it is going to have to come from the public. That kind of thing is not going to come from this Board and its numerous Superintendents.

We did learn that the Board currently has 300 portables in use and that at some schools there are students who have every class in a portable.

Someone (there were no names attached to the questions that were read out) asked why on line and not live for the Q&A. Miller said he didn’t think there was a location that could hold all the people that would want to talk – and when you go live with hundreds of people in the room – it does get messy.

Miller doesn’t like messy and his colleague Renzella shudders at that idea.

Miller kept trying to get across that there was a lot of opportunity for people to get answers to questions they have. And that is true – but it was clear from many of the questions asked that there is a trust issue.

The two were asked why Hayden was built and the answer they gave wasn’t all that convincing. Except for the fact that there wasn’t a high school in that north east part of the city where a lot of growth had taken place.

Hayden High, Burlington's newest high school built as part of a complex that includes a Recreational Centre and a public library with a skate park right across the street.

Hayden High, Burlington’s newest high school built as part of a complex that includes a Recreational Centre and a public library with a skate park right across the street.

Early in the 90’s the planners at the board could see that growth in Alton and the Orchard was going to require a high school.

Boards of education don’t just get to build a high school because they think one is going to be needed. They have to put together a business case and convince the province that the need is real.

One of the unique and really interesting aspects of Hayden high school is that it includes a public library and a recreation centre. In that sense it is probably the high school in the city with the most “community” in it.
If the decision the trustees make ends of requiring more busing – that is something they are going to have to deal with. Miller admitted that there is a shortage of bus drivers – it is a problem that will have to be dealt with – he didn’t have an answer – he was just confident that I would be worked out.

The implementation of whatever decision is made would be in 2018 – effective at the start of the school year in September – which is when the trustees will be running for re-election. Watch for an interesting set of contests at the board of education level.

That might draw a higher turnout that would inevitably impact city council results.

What happens to the property should a school be closed?


Lester B. Pearson students demonstrating when teachers were on strike.

On that Miller covered all the bases. It isn’t going to go to a developer – or if that eventually happened it would be because no one else wanted it.

The property has to be offered to other school boards, colleges and universities that might have an interest, then the municipality. If one of them take up the opportunity it then goes on the market and sold at fair market value.

Miller was emphatic that the board does not have the ability to sell the land to anyone.

Miller seemed to flip flop a bit on involving the students; first the listeners were told that they were not going to be involved until February so they could concentrate on their exams in January but a survey is going to be sent out to the students in December.

What is his whole process going to cost? The Board allocated $100,000 in its budget.


Stuart Miller and Dom Renzella taking questions from an on-line audience Monday evening.

Miller admits that this process is having an impact on both staff and students. “I can see it in their eyes” said Miller and “we get that”.

Miller described the PARC as the process that lets the community gives its input – the Director of Education uses that input to give his final recommendation to the trustees.

The trustees make the final decision – and it is not just the four Burlington trustees – all 11 trustees get to cast a vote on this one.

There was one issue that was not clear to this listener and that was the PARC would not be making a direct recommendation to the Director. Then what will they be doing. I want to get some clarification on that point.

I am sure that holding the Q&A online seemed like a good idea at the time and there was nothing wrong with the way the process went Monday evening.

But it was a little like having plastic covers on the chesterfield – it just didn’t seem right.

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On-line question and answer session about high school closings this evening at 7 pm.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 21, 2016



The Halton District School Board will be holding their public Question and Answer session Monday night on-line at 7 pm.

The protocol is set out on the Board’s web site. It isn’t easy to find – the Gazette will endeavour to get the exact url to log in.


Director of Education Stuart Miller addressing parents at Central high school.

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller made a presentation at every high school – some were very poorly attended. He is now holding an on-line Question and Answer session to answer questions.

The staff recommendation is to close both Central and Pearson high schools.– that is just a recommendation
The provincial government rules for closing a school require that the Board produce a report which they did.

They were not required to provide a recommendation, however they did.

The decision as to what is eventually done is made by the school board trustees.

Going forward the Board will take questions regarding this Program and Accommodation Review; send them via email to: BurlSSPAR@hdsb.ca.

The process to close a school is long and involved. Here are the steps that will be taken. Remember – it is the school board trustees that will make the final decision.

Formation and orientation of Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC)
December 1, 2016 –m This will be a closed meeting

Public Meeting #1
December 8, 2016

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

PARC Working Meeting #4
March 23, 2017

Director’s Report to Committee of the Whole
March 29, 2017

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

What many people do not realize is that every high school in Burlington anywhere near that 65 utilization number at risk. Hayden high school is not at risk – the place has only be operational for three years.

The parents at Central High School have been working diligently at doing everything they can to ensure their school is not closed.

The community based team is now leading the effort to Save Central. The group has a leadership and strategy team and a data team as well. They have a web site and a twitter account.


t-shirts-central-strongT-shirts and lawn signs are part of the campaign. Central has been down this road before.  Their spokesperson said they have an excellent process and structure in place.

And they have a long list of questions they want to ask the Director of Education. Here are some of those questions:

At the meetings where the Director spoke he assured the public that expenses would not drive the decision it would be equitable opportunity for all students , can the board outline what goes into determination of equitable , is it course offerings, student success, or other things, what exactly is considered ?

What is the point in having a PAR Committee that can’t hear opinions from the relevant schools, doesn’t hear from the Trustees of the relevant schools and won’t allow the Committee to make recommendations at the end?
Why did you not consider alternate options prior to engaging in the PAR? There is nothing in the Report to indicate this was done, as required by the Ministry guidelines.

Why are teachers not allowed to talk about this or have opinions? This does a disservice to both them and their students who naturally want to talk to them about it

Why did the board spend nothing on maintaining older schools for years, and remove students from Pearson only to put them at Hayden which caused the overcrowding? It appears this was all done so that Pearson and Central could be targeted for closure

central-save-street-signWhy do you keep saying 1200 is an optimal number of students in a high school? This is only optimal based on dollars and cents. It is widely recognized in multiple studies that optimal numbers are actually in the 600-900 range. Where is your data to support this number?

The report does not state why Option 19 was recommended in comparison to other options and alternatives. Simply saying “we think this is the best option at this time” means nothing. Why was it the best option at the time?

Why in Option #4 would you say you could move the IB program from Pearson to Nelson which would then have Nelson’s utilization at 113%? Why would you not move it to Central or Pearson?

front-page-web-siteIt should be an interesting hour and a half of community engagement.

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Burchill on education - system is still producing

opinionandcommentBy James Burchill

November 20th, 2016



In 1860, due to continued pressure from the various employers, the government developed the first education system: to create literate employees.

The employers of the time were finding it progressively harder to find employees who could read and write.
So bowing to capitalistic pressures the government created a system of public education with the sole intent of creating “literate employees”. Like the modern army where we train people to become soldiers, the education system was created to create “factory workers”.

This was 155 years ago and nothing much has changed since. In fact the education system is still producing “literate employees” – not free thinking, creative types, but human ‘worker bees’ or drones.

The education system instigated testing to measure advancement and learning but now the testing is often more important than the skills they try and train. In fact, most students only focus on how to “ace the tests”. What good is that?

After school the students go on to “higher education” – there is another oxymoron as research shows only a few post graduate students actually end up using their degrees in their careers.

Why spend all that time, energy and money only to not use the degree?


It’s a job!

When asked why they went to University, or why they got a degree the student answers were frighteningly similar – “to get a job”.

We have created a system were the apparent need to get a job is so great that people will spend about four years and $50,000 on a degree for the sole purpose of ignoring it later and using it to apply for jobs!

In conclusion, we create “literate employees” who now feel so compelled and “must” get a degree to apply for a job (which we all now know has no security anyway) to enter a social and economic environment where they are ill equipped to handle the majority of ‘free-agent’ type thinking (remember this creativity was eroded during school years during the mania with testing and NOT creativity) and did I mention that the cost of this education was over $50,000 (I can’t bear to add in the time before University and the lost opportunity costs.)

My point? Simple, if you have children remember this about the system, firstly it is a system and it is antiquated and there solely for the purpose of creating ‘literate employees’. Know that there is no law (at least here in Canada) that says your children MUST go to school – you can home school.

That the training they are receiving is not going to be very helpful in years to come as the work place is becoming more fragmented and a free-for-all-free-agent place (remember school does not train and create entrepreneurs only ‘workers’) and finally that you and I came from this same training and we need to remember what we most likely think about or world is probably wrong.

How we perceive our environment is a function of how we think about it, and how we think about our environment was ‘trained’ into us by the early educators we were exposed to (school, the place where ‘literate employers are created)

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that meets regularly in Burlington to allow networking and relationship building.  He also writes and trains people about how to make technology work for them.

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Director of Education to hold a live Q&A on-line Monday the 21st.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



The closing of a high school is significant and disruptive.

The Director of Education wants to give the public every opportunity to be informed and ask questions.
Burlington has seven high schools where there are 1800+ empty seats – and that isn’t, as Director of Education Stuart Miller points out is not sustainable.

To add to the situation – Burlington has a high school that is at 115% of capacity and has had to add portables – for a school that was opened three years ago.


Director of Education Stuart Miller preparing to talk to Central high school parents.

The high school capacity in Burlington is south of the QEW – the population is north of that line.
Something had to be done to fix this imbalance. The Board of Education staff put forward a recommendation – one of 19 different possible recommendations to close Central and Pearson high schools.

While not required to get out into the community and explain the full story – some school boards pass the task along to the trustees and let them deal with the mess – Miller decided to hold at meeting at every high school and pass along to them the information he has.


One of the five people in the picture is the high school principal. Parent participation was dismal.

Some of those meetings were very well attended – others, sparse would be being polite. The parents just didn’t show up at Bateman high school which is a school that is very much at risk. That it wasn’t the staff recommendation doesn’t save Bateman. It is the trustees that will make the decision and there were 19 recommendations – and Bateman has a low and falling registration.


Amy Collard, school board trustee for the ward Bateman high school is in attended the sparsely attended meeting.

With Nelson high school just a couple of km away – Bateman parents want to listen up – carefully.

Miller has decided to go one step further and hold an on line Q&A on Monday, November 21st between 7:00 and 8:30 pm

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Car drivers are not stopping when school buses let students off - and not every high school has appointed their representatives for the PARC.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller made two comments at the regular board meeting last night that deserve a closer look.

He commented on a report that school bus drivers were having problems with cars that did not obey the rule that they must stop behind or in front of the bus while students are embarking and disembarking.


Hard to miss the intent of this sign – some car drivers are not getting the message.

Each bus has a small barrier that is lowered when a bus has stopped – close to impossible to miss that signal. Why would a car driver choose to take a chance and drive around the bus?

The Gazette will be following up on that problem.

The other item in the Director’s report was equally disturbing.

The Board is about to launch the PARC (Program Accommodation Review Committee) that will review the staff report that recommended closing both the Lester B Pearson and Central high schools.

Miller has pointed out every time he discusses this process that the recommendation is just that “a recommendation. There are other high schools that could be closed instead of Pearson or Central. The decision as to which school should be closed is one that will be made by the trustees once the PARC has delivered its report.

Every high school in the city gets to have a person on the PARC – there is apparently one high school that has not yet provided its nominee to the committee.

This is serious stuff for a community whose high school is at risk.

The PARC will hold its first meeting December 1st – that meeting, and only that meeting will be closed to the public. The justification is that the committee will need some time to work out the rules and norms that will apply and have an opportunity for the 20+ people on the committee to get to know each other. Every high school in Burlington has two representatives on the PARC.

The full committee will consist of:

Trustee from outside Burlington
Superintendent from outside Burlington
Principal or designate from each affected high school
Two parents/guardians from each affected high school

The Board is waiting for all the applications from people who have expressed an interest in serving on the committee. Friday November 18th is the closing day for those expression of interest applications. It is going to prove to be a big job – not for the faint of heart.


Not exactly a large crowd is it? Bateman high school parents apparently missed the message.


The Central high school parents understand the issue – they are very well organized.

Miller advised the Board that he and staff have attended information meetings at every high school and “given them the information we have”. Some of those meetings were very poorly attended.

There is going to be one additional meeting that will be done via the internet – Stuart and staff members will take questions electronically and answer on a live streaming board web cast November 21st at 7:00 pm.

portrait of Scott Podrebarac

Scott Podrebarac

Superintendent of Education Scott Podrebarac will chair the PARC.

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Interesting opportunity with the school board for an experienced bean counter.

News 100 greenBy Staff

November 16th, 2016


Now here is a volunteer opportunity for a retired bean counter.

The Halton District School Board is seeking a community member with financial expertise and business knowledge to serve on its audit committee for a three year term ending December 2019.


A retired bean counter at work – wants to know where the money went.

The audit committee is comprised of three trustees and two independent members drawn from the community at large. The Committee meets at least three times a year, plus ad hoc meetings as required, including day time meetings.

The primary role of the audit committee is to assist the Board of Trustees in fulfilling its duties related to governance and oversight. The duties of the audit committee fall under the following key areas: the financial reporting process, internal control framework, risk management practices, performance and function of the board’s internal and external auditors and the Board’s compliance with its obligations under legislation. Candidate eligibility includes:

Applicants must have sufficient accounting, senior financial management or other relevant business experience to understand public sector accounting and auditing standards.

The applicant must not be a current employee or Officer of the Board or of any other district school board or school authority.

The applicant must not have a parent, child or spouse currently employed by the Board.

Candidates must submit a letter of interest and resume by 4 p.m. on Friday, December 23, 2016 to:
Lucy Veerman, Superintendent of Business Services & Treasurer, Halton District School Board
PO Box 5005 STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON, Canada, L7R 3Z2

Candidates who are short-listed will be requested to attend an interview conducted by the Audit Committee’s selection committee.getting new - yellow

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Halton Learning Foundation gets a $10,000 boost from Siemens Canada.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 15th, 2016



The Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) held their Benefit Bash last week and gratefully accepted a donation of $10,000 from Siemens Canada in support of students of the Halton District School Board.

The donation kicks off HLF’s “No Student Left Behind” holiday appeal which is raising funds to ensure the estimated 10% of students of the Halton District School Board who live at or below the poverty line can access emergency funding or student subsidies to help them stay in school and focused on learning.


Ann-Marie Koumettou, Sr. Communications Consultant, Siemens Canada; Lesley Mansfield, Executive Director, Halton Learning Foundation; Ann Adair, VP, Communications and Strategy, Siemens Canada; David Grant, Board Chair, Halton Learning Foundation.

A key component of the No Student Left Behind appeal is a gift catalogue that enables people to purchase gifts that students need, such as warm winter coats and boots, athletic equipment, healthy snacks and lunches, or fees to participate in field trips.

“If you’re searching for a holiday gift for your child’s favourite teacher, or that hard‐to‐buy for relative, consider giving a No Student Left Behind gift,” says Lesley Mansfield, Executive Director of the Halton Learning Foundation.

“For a society to grow and be sustainable we need to ensure children have a strong educational base,” said Robert Hardt, President & CEO, Siemens Canada. “I personally believe it is the duty of the private sector to add value to society by, among other things, supporting educational goals.”

This is the second year in a row that Siemens worked with HLF to ensure that no student in our community misses out on their education because they don’t have the money to fully participate in school,” Mansfield said.


Olympian Mark Oldershaw

An avid supporter of Halton Learning Foundation, in addition to supporting No Student Left Behind, Siemens Canada also provides mentoring for Halton District School Board high school students, field trips to Siemens facilities and donations of funds towards STEM programming at Halton schools.

Olympian Mark Oldershaw –sponsored by RBC — spoke about the importance of mental wellness to an athlete.

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Region and Town of Milton do a joint emergency simulation exercise - what would happen if a tornado hit Milton?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 11th, 2016



This story took place in Milton but it is relevant to Burlington – what do we do in the event of an emergency?

Who takes the lead and what does each different part of the civic administration do? And where does the public fit into all this?

In 2014 when Burlington experienced an unprecedented flood there were people who were up to their knees in water and people a couple of streets away who were grilling burgers totally unaware that there was a major catastrophe taking place.

Flood Fairview plaza

The 2014 flood saw 199 mm of water dumped on part of the city over a four hour period – but it was so local that many people were not aware of what had happened until it was over.

The different public services were not immediately fully aware as to just how bad the situation was. At the time every senior civic official save one was out of town.

The flooding was so local that few people knew what was going on.

In an effort to be better prepared the Region took on the task of doing annual exercises to practice what might happen and how the municipality would respond.


Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and Halton CAO Jane MacCaskill review the tornado’s path.

On November 9, 2016, Halton Region and the Town of Milton staged a joint emergency exercise to evaluate their respective emergency response plans. The exercise included response and recovery activities related to a fictional tornado that damaged homes, businesses and community infrastructure in Milton.


Halton Region Paramedic Services Superintendent Tom Stirling oversees EMS support for affected residents.

“Testing our emergency preparedness strategies helps ensure that we are ready to respond,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “We work with local partners to minimize the risks, coordinate response efforts and reduce the impact of emergency situations. By training, rehearsing and preparing together, we improve our ability to keep residents safe and increase the resilience of our entire community.”

The exercise engaged Town and Regional staff, as well as representatives from the Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Paramedic Services, Burlington Fire Department and Milton Fire Department. This collaboration provided a realistic image of how community agencies would work together in the event of a real emergency.

“We know the potential for weather-related emergencies is very real and it is important that we come together with local partners to practice our response,” said Milton Mayor Gord Krantz. “This emergency exercise serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared for the unexpected.”


Town of Milton CAO Bill Mann and Fire Chief Brian Ellsworth assess the tornado’s impact.

Exercise “Vortex” activated a wide range of resources and procedures established by the Region and Town to address emergency situations. Participants coordinated search and rescue, evacuation, temporary shelter and service restoration, directing simulated response workers to support residents affected by the tornado. Staff from all agencies identified strengths, challenges and areas for improvement immediately following the simulation.

Halton’s annual exercises simulate severe weather events and significant crises that could occur based on the community’s environmental features and hazards. Emergencies can happen anytime, and emergency preparedness is a joint responsibility—the Region reminds residents to plan today so they are protected tomorrow.

What the really disturbs the Gazette is that, to the best of our knowledge there was no media involved in this exercise.


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Parent gets no response from council members after her delegation.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 7th, 2016



Dania Thurman made her first delegation to city council yesterday. It was not that pleasant an experience for her – even though she gave a strong, informed presentation.

Council didn’t ask her a single question about what is perhaps one of the most important issues about the kind of downtown the city is going to have in the future.

Thurman argued that closing the Central High school would damage the downtown core community.


Dania Thurman – vice chair of the Central High School parent group.

Thurman is the Vice-Chair of the parent group opposing the closing of the high school. She was delegating along with another parents the same time that Halton District School Board, Director of Education Stuart Miller was explaining to council the why behind why high schools had to be closed.


The T-shirt tells it all – for the parents – it is about the community.

Central Strong, the working name of the parent committee, was formed to organize and inform the downtown core residents, parents, alumni and business owners who will be impacted by the Halton District School Board’s proposal to close Burlington Central High School explained Thurman.

They have 2000 people a week going to their Facebook page and the 500 lawn sighs printed have been snapped up

Thurman said: “Burlington Central High School is the heart and soul of our downtown community and generations of students have attended and excelled there. Our Central Strong team is committed to keeping our school open so the students can benefit from the true community spirit of our school. This includes everything from dedicated staff (many of whom are also alumni), unique programs (like robotics, theatre and theatre tech), and the joy of walking or biking to school every day (which has also been proven to increase student focus and overall success).

“We truly hope that the recommendation to close the Central and Pearson schools is indeed only a starting point for discussion as was indicated by the Director of Education and the Chair of the Board of Trustees.


Central High school corridor – the place reeks of local history.

“Our group’s mission is to provide as much accurate information as we can to aid in finding alternative solutions. Our opinion is that Burlington Central is not the right choice to close and we will work as a community to find creative alternatives to the issues the board may face that don’t involve the closure of Burlington Central High School. We believe that alternatives exist and would be healthier for the students, families and the community than a school closure.

“In addition to this, the Central Strong Community group has officially aligned itself with the growing uproar from the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures, who are calling on the government for an immediate moratorium on school closures. The Ontario Alliance Against School Closures represents 27 school groups across the province. It also has the support of “The Community Schools Alliance” which represents 33 municipalities and approximately 350,000 residents.

Thurman argues that the Ministry’s Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline, as it is currently written, is both damaging and undemocratic. It fails to take into consideration, the value of a school to its community, municipality and local economy. Close to the entire student population at Burlington central can currently walk to school. The physical and mental health of our students impacted by these closures and consolidations is completely disregarded. The municipality should also be concerned as this will ultimately result in increased busing.

“Our environment and an already congested infrastructure will only further deteriorate. You should also be deeply concerned about the narrow vision of the Pupil Accommodation Review process and how it will affect our city and Burlington’s Strategic Plan.”

Thurman was direct, brought up strong arguments but didn’t get a single question from city council.

Michael Kukhta, also a member of the parent group delegated. He was asked a lot of questions which we will cover in a seperate story.

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Watching the American election

News 100 redBy Staff

November 5th, 2016



It is the best show in town for the political junkies – and it seems that tens of thousands of Canadians are fixated on what our southern neighbours are putting themselves through.


A graph that updates almost every 10 minutes. One of the best data site on the American election.

There is a web site that provides exceptionally current data.

Link to the site:



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