Live and Play Guide will be available online August 11. Registration begins on Saturday, August 20

News 100 redBy Staff

August 9th, 2016



The city’s Fall and Winter 2016/2017 Live and Play Guide, featuring listings for recreation, sport and culture programs, will be available in city facilities and online at on Thursday, Aug. 11.

Registration begins on Saturday, Aug. 20 for adults over 19, adults over 55 and those looking to sign up for fitness classes.

Registration for all other programs starts at 11 a.m.

Kids + water = fun and noise - all part of the Halton Children's Water Festival. A full day of fun at a cost of $5 per student.

Kids + water = fun and noise – all part of the summer season.

“We’re not ready to say goodbye to the summer weather just yet, but we are looking ahead to the fall and winter months and all the fun opportunities for play that the cooler weather brings,” said Chris Glenn, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “The online guide is an easy and convenient way for residents to search and sign up for their favourite activities and recreation programs.”

The city’s popular Yoga in the Park program is featured on the cover of the fall/winter guide. The free yoga classes run every Sunday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in a different city park each week starting Sept. 11. Each session features a different, certified volunteer yoga instructor. Participants are asked to wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat, a towel, and water. All levels are welcome.

Hundreds of families used Beachway Park on Canada Day - they had no way of know if the water their children were swimming in was safe to use. That weekend the water to the left of an imaginary line was safe, the water to the right wasn't. There was no signage telling the pubic aboiut water conditions.

Hundreds of families use Burlington parks and beaches.

The City of Burlington offers a variety of registered and drop-in programs for all ages and abilities throughout the city. Hard copies of the guide are available at City Hall, 426 Brant St., Burlington Public Library branches or any city recreation centre.

To receive future copies of the online guide by email, subscribe to the Live and Play e-newsletter at

For details on how to register for fall/winter programs and events, see page three of the guide or visit

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City Councillors abuse the recorded voting process - city decides to buy an electronic vote recording system.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 20th, 2016



Will wonders never cease?

The city is going to move to an electronic vote recording system that will put an end to the cumbersome call for recorded votes that took place at the last two meetings of city council.

Sharman July 2016

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman forced city council to record their votes on everything they did – even the accepting of the agenda. He said he was making a political point.

Councillor Sharman asked for more than a dozen recorded votes at a July 5th  meeting and Councillor Meed Ward asked for almost as many recorded votes at the Council meeting last night.

Those council votes will now be done automatically by having the members of council press a button rather than have to stand up and be physically counted for each vote.

The Staff Direction was to:

Direct the City Clerk to purchase and install an electronic vote recording system in the Council Chambers, the cost to be charged to the capital budget for the Agenda Management solution; and

Hold in abeyance, sections 33.7-33.9 of Procedure By-law 37-2014 until a vote recording system is installed.

The question many have now is – which votes will the technology record?

This city council takes the position that the only votes it records are those taken at a city council meetings which is where everything done is made official.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Council during a recorded vote: Those standing were voting for the motion.

The real grunt work gets done at the Standing committee meetings – there are four different standing committees – Development and Infrastructure; Community and Corporate Services; Audit Committee and Committee of the Whole.

These are the meetings at which the public gets to speak for ten minutes if they delegate and where debate is often boisterous. It is also the meetings at which city staff attend – they speak very openly and inform council on the reports they present.

These are the meat and potatoes meetings – which this Council has decided that the votes taken are not recorded. The minutes of the meetings do say how a vote went – passed or failed to pass. The public report does not say how individual members of council voted.

The city’s procedural bylaw, which sets out how meetings are run and votes recorded has a section that is being waived while the electronic system is put in place. The section being waived says:

33.7 Any member, in Council Meetings, immediately before or after a vote is taken, may require a recorded vote to be taken on the question concerned. Recorded votes shall not be permitted in Committee Meetings.

33.8 When a recorded vote is permitted and required, the Chair shall pose the question and the Clerk will call for those members in favour to rise, at which time the Clerk shall record the name of each Member standing and his vote in favour, and upon completion of the recording, the Clerk will call for those members opposed to rise, at which time the Clerk shall record the name of each Member standing and his vote in opposition. On the appropriate form, the Clerk will also record the number of Members absent and/or abstained.

33.9 On a recorded vote, a failure to vote by a member who is present at the meeting at the time of the vote and who is qualified to vote shall be deemed a negative vote.

The Standing committees report to Council where just about everything is rubber stamped. Many council meetings take less than half an hour. The Mayor has a tendency to race through the meetings – one was pretty close to less than 15 minutes in length.
Public meetings are not the Mayor’s strength.

Meed Ward H&S profile

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward asked for more than seven recorded votes at the most recent city council meeting.

In February of 2013 city council decided that recording all the votes wasn’t necessary Here is the comment made at that time.
“With respect to recorded voting at standing committee meetings, members of Council on the review team expressed differing viewpoints. Acknowledging that recommendations from committee are intended to be a preliminary position on a matter, it was felt that recording a member’s vote at that stage of deliberation could inhibit a member from changing his or her position later at Council should new information become available.

“It was also noted that recorded voting would slow the transaction of business at committee meetings. As the review team did not have consensus on the matter, a recommendation on recorded voting is not included within this report and would require direction from Council. Nonetheless, the sentiment of the review team was that if recorded votes were to be permitted at Committee, these would be restricted to the main motions (and main motions as amended) but would not be applied to amendments themselves or any secondary motions tabled.


Partial view of the Board of Education screen that shows how trustees voted.

The Halton District Board of Education bought an electronic system a number of months ago that is close to perfect. There is one Burlington trustee who gets confused when it comes to determining which button to press but other than that it works very smoothly.

When there is a vote the school board chair turns on the voting system and lights show up. When all the trustees have voted all the light go out – the chair then presses a button and they know in an instant who voted which way.

The system was provide by Hamilton Audio Visual – who will hopefully let the city know what they can do them

We elect our members of council democratically and have a right to know how they vote on every issue. Many council members aren’t very keen on letting the public know how they vote at Standing Committee meetings. They forget that deciding what they are directing staff to do is not about them – it is about the people who pay the taxes – and that would be you.


Sharman asks for recorded votes on everything at a council meeting

Past debates on voting at city council


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City giving the Cenotaph a clean up - will mistakes on the plaque describing the memorial get fixed as well?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2016


We were advised this morning that the errors on the plaque have been corrected.

Ed Keenleyside just might be sleeping a little better these days – The Cenotaph that is tucked beside city hall on Brant Street is getting a clean-up.

Keenleyside with partial monument

Ed Keenleyside at the Cenotaph.

Keenleyside has been researching the names of the 82 casualties etched on the Cenotaph with plans to publish an informative book, which will put faces and personalities to those who died so many years ago.

“I have information on all but one name and that person, J. W. Williamson, is among the 44 World War II fatalities. If anyone can identify this person Keenleyside would be most grateful. Please contact him at at if you can help.

But that isn’t Keenleyside’s biggest issue – he was close to spitting nickels when he say the errors in the small plaque to the rear of the monument explain the memorial.

Within the handful of sentences describing this important monument said Keenleyside DATE are the following mistakes:

1. There are 38 World War I casualties listed on the memorial, not 39.
2. The 38 fatalities listed are soldiers from the Great War (or World War I ), not from the Second World War.
3. There are 44 local service people listed from the Second World War, not 43.

Keenleyside - plaque wording

Ed Keenleyside identified a number of significant error on this plaque.

In addition to the embarrassing errors on the plaque, Keenleyside wonders why the Korean War Veterans are recognized at the base of the Cenotaph but the Afghanistan War Veterans are not recognized.

Ed Keenleyside can’t understand why the plaque that explains the history of the war memorial he is standing beside has so many errors on it.

The Gazette hasn’t had an opportunity to check and see if the piece of metal with the errors inscribed has been replaced. We expect to hear from Keenleyside on this matter.

The cenotaph was dedicated in April 1922 by Lord Byng (Govenor General of Canada) and was originally located in a park setting on the downtown shore of Lake Ontario. The memorial was moved to its present location after the construction of the new City Hall in 1962.

Remembered, respected

Remembered, respected. Now to ensure that it is accurate and up to date.

The Cenotaph consists of five pieces of granite, stacked in a plinth and is topped with a sculpture of a World War I soldier cast in bronze. The names of 38 WWI fatalities from Burlington and Nelson Township are engraved on both sides of the column. On the back of the column the names of 17 key WWI Canadian battle locations such as Vimy Ridge, Arras, Mons, Ypres and the Somme are engraved. On the front of the column is a large bronze plaque four feet by three feet in size, with the names inscribed of 44 service people from this area who died in WWII.

Repair work will include: removal of loose corrosion products and accumulated dirt from the bronze statue, plaque and granite base; application of hot and cold wax to the bronze statue and plaque; filling in small bronze losses with wax; surface cleaning the bronze plaque and replacing missing hardware; replacing iron hardware with copper or stainless steel hardware; re-coating the lead lettering with black paint as required; replacing failing mortar on the granite base and surrounding pad.

Keenleyside spots errors on plaque describing the war memorial.

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Member of Parliament wants to hear what you have to say about climate change - Tansley woods on the 20th.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2016



Damoff with big wide open smiles

MP Pam Damoff will lead a consultation on climate change at Tansley Woods on the 20th

Member of Parliament Pam Damoff is holding a climate change consultation on July 20th at 7pm at Tansley Wood.

Vince Fiorito urges people to “to show up and speak up in support of an ambitious national climate strategy.”

Vince Fitorio

Vince Fiorito. Steward of Sheldon Creek has been a climate change advocate for years.

A number of months ago Fiorito made a very trenchant observation when he said: “The planet it going to survive – there is no certainty that the human race will survive if they keep on behaving the way they do now.”

It is our planet – we actually get to decide what life on this planet is going to be like in the next 50 years.

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Conservation Halton calls for call for a voluntary cutback of 10 per cent by users taking water from wells or surface water sources.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 8th, 2106


Conservation Halton has declared a Level I Low Water Condition for its watershed.

The low snow accumulation over the winter combined with below-normal rainfall amounts over the last three months (April, May and June) has resulted in reduced water flows and levels in local streams.

Bronte creek

Bronte Creek is part of the Halton Region watershed – water levels are low.

Conservation Halton’s data for the month of June indicates that like much of south central Ontario, the Halton watershed has received below-average precipitation. The watershed received an average of approximately 23 mm of rain, which is only 30 per cent of the normal June average of 76 mm. The three-month average for April to June was approximately 37 mm or 47 percent of normal for this time of year. Further, the current data suggests that a number of our streams are below, or are approaching a Level II Low Water Condition threshold.

“The combination of lower snowfall amounts in winter and below-average rainfall over the last three months has resulted in the streams in the Halton watershed being lower than their typical levels for this time of the year.” said Conservation Halton Manager of Watershed Engineering Services, Janelle Weppler.

“The current situation is similar across a majority of our neighbouring watersheds and much of eastern and southwestern Ontario is in a Level I Low Water Condition with some watersheds at a Level II Low Water Condition. In light of the current conditions, our monitoring has increased and follow up discussions are being scheduled with our Low Water Response Team. ”

Under the Level I Low Water Condition, water users in the Conservation Halton watershed are asked to voluntarily conserve water with the aim of reducing overall consumption by 10 percent. The Low Water Condition is based on criteria set by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF).

well pump

If you are drawing water from a well on your property the Conservation Authority wants you to cut back by at least 10%

Water users which rely on municipal sources are not subject to these cutbacks at this time, however municipal governments, such as Halton Region, may implement water conservation measures. Conservation Halton’s watershed was last in a Level I Low Water Condition in 2012 for just over 6 months (from June to December).

The Conservation Halton watershed is comprised of the Bronte, Grindstone, and Sixteen Mile Creek watersheds that encompass portions of Puslinch, Hamilton, Halton Hills, Milton, Mississauga, Burlington and Oakville, as well as a number of smaller urban creek watersheds located in Burlington and Oakville.

Grindstone creek

Grindstone Creek also has low water levels.

A Level I condition triggers a call for a voluntary cutback of 10 per cent by users taking water from wells or surface water sources. Major water users, such as golf courses, aggregate extractors, farm irrigators and others are asked to implement or continue their water conservation programs to reach the 10 percent target. Rural water users can lower the demand on the watercourses and aquifers by pumping water at a lower rate, storing it in ponds or by staggering their pumping times in conjunction with neighbours to lower peak demand.

Conservation Halton, in partnership with the MNRF, monitors local water level and precipitation amounts. In the event of water shortages or a drought, Conservation Halton works closely with local water users and other government agencies to coordinate water conservation efforts and try to reduce demand.

Under the Province’s Ontario Low Water Response strategy, local water users and managers establish Water Response Teams (WRT) in areas experiencing low water conditions so the local community can carry out actions to reduce and better manage water use. The Low Water Response Team, coordinated by Conservation Halton in its watershed, consists of representatives from the Province, Municipalities, Conservation Authorities, local water users and industry groups. There are four levels of Low Water Conditions:

Normal – Normal Conditions are within normal limits.
Level I – First indication of potential water supply problems, primarily a warning level – key focus is on voluntary conservation of water
Level II – Indicates a potentially serious problem – conservation of water is extended to restrictions on non-essential uses
Level III – Indicates a failure of the water supply to meet demand – key focus is on conservation, regulation and enforcement of non-essential uses.


Halton’s Outdoor Water Restriction Level 1 – Blue –  Careful Use

    Voluntary odd/even day lawn-watering in effect.

    The following outdoor water uses are allowed:

        Water newly planted seed or sod.

        Water trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens.

        Sprinklers for recreational use.

        Splash pads.

        Fill swimming pools and hot tubs.

        Fill garden ponds or fountains.

        Wash cars.

        Wash building exteriors (i.e. sheds)

Burlington fire chief issues fire ban:

The city of Burlington has banned fire pit and chimineas in the city due to hot weather.




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Burlington Fire Department issues fire ban - includes fire pits and chimineas, controlled brush burning and recreational burning.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 6. 2016


The Fire Department has issued a fire ban, effective immediately, prohibiting all outside fires in Burlington, including open air burning, controlled brush burning and recreational burning.

brush fire

Brush fires start with a single spark – and in this hot, dry weather they spread very quickly. Wild fire means just that – a fire that has gone wild.

“Brush fires tend to occur during hot, dry weather especially when there is a lack of rainfall as we have been experiencing during the past few weeks,” said Chief Fire Prevention Officer Joe Wintar.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the fire danger rating is high for the Burlington area and the forecast of hot weather with limited rainfall is expected to continue in the upcoming days.


Open fire pits are banned uni the Fire Chief lifts the ban.

“Open air burning, including fire pits and chimineas, poses a risk to nearby combustible materials such as sheds, decks and landscape materials, which can increase the risk of brush fires,” said Wintar.


Chimeneas are banned until the Fire Chief lifts the ban.

Residents are being reminded to be cautious when using outdoor candles and other backyard items that may produce heat or flame.
People failing to comply with open air burning regulations in the Ontario Fire Code and Burlington’s open air burning bylaw may be fined. The City of Burlington has set a cost-recovery charge of more than $450 per responding vehicle for the fire department to respond to a location where open air burning is not approved.

All burning permits are suspended until further notice to protect public safety. No burning can take place during smog alert days and open air burning bans.

If you are unsure if a ban is in effect, contact the Burlington Fire Department at 905-637-8253 or visit for more information about open air burning and safety tips.

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Second Bay Area summit will go down as the beginning of a new form and level of municipal cooperation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 22, 2016


It was a success by any standard.

It was well run, tightly run even when the politicians went too long.

The Premier spoke – she nailed most of the points she wanted to make

There were plenary sessions, breakout sessions and a load of data put up on screens.

The Gazette will report in detail on as much of the daylong event as possible.

Here is a rundown on what took place:

World Economic Trends, by Helmut Pastrick, Chief Economist, Central Credit Union 1
North East Ohio: Inspiring Stories of Regional Collaboration, Bethia Burke, Director of Grantmaking, Evaluation and Emerging Initiatives, Fund for our Economic Future

Toward an Innovation Supercluster: Moderator: Bill Mantel, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation with Dr. Patrick Deane, President, McMaster University, Ron McKerlie, President, Mohawk College and Avvey Peters, VP Community Relations, Communitech

Concurrent breakout sessions:
Magnet Cities: A Global View of Local Opportunities; Steve Beatty, Head of Global Infrastructure, Americas and India, KPMG

Mary Lou Tanner

Mary Lou Tanner – Burlington Director of Planing

Investing in Mixed Use Transit Hubs; Moderator: Ryan McGreal, Editor, Raise the Hammer, Richard Joy, Executive Director, Urban Land Institute, Suzanne Mammel, Executive Officer, Hamilton – Halton Home Builders’ Association, Mary Lou Tanner, Director, Planning and Building, City of Burlington, Lorna Day, Director, Project Planning and Development, Metrolinx

District Energy: Now’s the Time: Moderator: Martin Lensink, Principal in Charge, CEM Engineering Inc., Dean Comand, President and CEO, Hamilton Utilities Corporation, Robert Marzetti, Director of Business Development , Hamilton Utilities Corporation, Gerry Smallegange, President and CEO, Burlington Hydro and Lynn Robichaud, Senior Sustainability Coordinator, City of Burlington

Planning Culturally Can Unlock Bay Area Growth: Presenter & Moderator: Gail Dexter Lord, Co – President, Lord Cultural Resources; Shelley Falconer, President and CEO, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Robert Steven, President and CEO, Art Gallery of Burlington, Rob Zeidler, Partner, The Dabbert Group

The New Analytics: Harnessing the Predictive Power of Big Data for a Healthier Community. Moderator: Heather Chalmers, Canadian General Manager of GE Healthcare, Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences, Dr. David Higgins, President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Patrick Horgan, VP Manufacturing, Development and Operations, IBM Canada

Ingrid Vandebrug - landscape planner

Ingrid Vanderbrug, Landscape Architect, City of Burlington

Human Wellbeing Element in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. Moderator: Terry Cooke, President and CEO, Hamilton Community Foundation Dr. David Galbraith, Head of Science, Royal Botanical Gardens, Maria Fortunato, Executive Director, Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association, Wayne Terryberry, Outdoor Recreation Coordinator, McMaster University and Ingrid Vanderbrug, Landscape Architect, City of Burlington

Helping Bay Area Businesses Grow: Moderator: Karen Grant, Director, Angel One Investor Network, Scott Boutilier, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Scott Mackey, VP Customer Success, Adlib Software, Julie Ellis, Chair, Innovation Factory

Bay Area Manufacturing Strengths
Moderator: Dr. Greig Mordue, Chair in Advanced Manufacturing, McMaster University, Tony Valeri, VP Corporate Affairs, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Irene Hassas, Director, Strategic Planning and Partnerships, Aslan Technologies Inc., Terry McGowan, President & CEO at Thomson Gordon Group

Economic Coordination in the Bay Area, Dr. David Wolfe, Co-Director of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems, University of Toronto

Leading Change in a Regional Age: Moderator: Dr. Ishwar Puri, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, McMaster University, Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction, Matt Afinec, Chief Commercial Officer, Hamilton Tiger Cats, Denise Christopherson, CEO, YWCA Hamilton, Ian Hamilton, VP Business Development and Real Estate, Hamilton Port Authority

Investing in our Bayfront: Presenter & Moderator: Sheila Botting, , National Leader, Real Estate, Deloitte. Bill Fitzgerald, VP Operations, Hamilton Port Authority, Chris Phillips, Senior Advisor for Planning and Economic Development, City of Hamilton

The Talent Imperative: Workforce Development in the Bay Area.
Moderator: Judy Travis, Executive Director, Workforce Planning Hamilton, Bronko Jazvac, Director, Health & Safety and World Class Continuous Improvement, ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Member, Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Taskforce on Workforce Development, Louie DiPalma, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Director of SME Programs Magnet, Kelly Hoey, Executive Director, Halton Industry Education Council (HIEC), Shari St. Peter, Executive Director, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Management Board

IBM and its development plans in Canada: Dino Trevisani, President, IBM Canada spoke a little longer than he might have wanted but he did thank Premier Wynne profusely for the province’s cooperation.

Summit - lunch line

Attendees at the Second Bay Area Summit were well fed.

Keanin Loomis and Keith Hooey, from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce worked together seamlessly. The digs were between the two Mayors – the business guys stuck to their knitting and made it a solid day.

The RGB setting was great – there was plenty of food and snack tables on the go all day.

Will there be a third summit? You can bet on that. The task now is to build on what has been achieved so far and set out some deliverables for the next couple of years.

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Burlington - Urban and Rural; Romanticism versus Social Commentary. Bateman makes a strong statement.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Riley

June 22, 2016


The Art Gallery of Burlington is presenting a visual discussion on the duality of the urban and rural aspects of Burlington. Chief Curator Denis Longchamps, along with the Burlington Fine Arts Association, developed the theme to celebrate the BFAA’s fiftieth anniversary.

There was also a Call for Proposals on this theme, broadening it to a multidisciplinary exhibition. Sixty-six art works were selected, with a very wide range of sizes.

This is a more cohesive exhibition than the All Guilds’ group show in 2015, but it still has challenges to overcome. With this curatorial theme, it has improved the unity of presentation. This exhibit presents an uneven quality of artworks.

This theme gave opportunities for the artists to express their opinions about how the urban and rural co-exist in our city. One of the roles of artists is to raise issues within the culture they inhabit. There are few cities that (philosophically and culturally) declare protection of a rural culture, geopolitically combined with an urban culture the way Burlington has – it was actually the province that imposed that requirement on us.. Many artworks spoke of romantic places, with a varying degree of success.

Longchamps hung the Urban Rural exhibit capably, by tying together themes of content, aesthetics and scale.

Batemans Progress

Robert Bateman, Progress, 2015, acrylic

Robert Bateman was invited to exhibit. I found it noteworthy that Bateman and Donna Fratesi’s themes dealt with destruction of Burlington’s historic architecture.

2_ Donna Fratelli, they paved paradise , 2015 acrylic

Donna  Fratesi’s they paved paradise , 2015 acrylic


Both are accomplished technical painters. Bateman was clearer in his thesis than Fratesi’s “They Paved Paradise”. Fratesi seems timid about her message, but evokes a warm memory of the intersection of Pine and Pearl streets. It is a romantic reminiscence of downtown Burlington. Although Bateman relies on text, he creates a clear criticism of Burlington’s treatment of its historic buildings. He focuses on the United Empire Loyalist Fisher house being replaced by a parking lot. Both artists explore their connections to the urban downtown environment, but Bateman’s “Progress” is more directly critical of how we handle it.

3_ Lorraine Roy, The Palace, textile, 2015

Lorraine Roy, “The Balance”, textile, 2015

Lorraine Roy’s “The Balance”  is one of the stronger works in this exhibition. Her textile work not only functions well on a compositional level but demonstrates the “pull and push” between urban and rural ecosystems. The wrapped, uprooted tree balances precariously be-tween the two worlds as it searches for a transplant space. Will it survive? Roy’s imagery is strong with rich tones suggesting a Tim Burton-style nightmare quality. It is intriguingly executed, done with textile rather than paint.

4_ Helen Griffiths, After A Day in (the country), oil, 2015

Helen Griffiths, after a day in (the country), oil, 2015

Similarly, Helen Griffiths’ “After a Day in (the country)” uses her well-developed painterly skills, but also teases the viewer to ponder why she is showing a wild skunk sniffing at a beautiful bundle of roses. The artist statement refers to wild animals invading her neighbourhood. Like Griffiths’ reference to wildlife,

5_ Victoria Pearce, Lost Between acrylic 2016

Victoria Pearce, Lost Between acrylic 2016

Victoria Pearce’s “Lost Between” uses images of Monarch butterflies, and the surrealistic imagery of an urban-rural coyote. The coyote is nestled in grasses as it floats over a grid of urban streets. This may be suggesting that a clash between natural and urban worlds is imminent. Certainly, the coyote making itself comfortable in the urban environment is a new reality for Burlington. All three artists successfully combine content and painterly aspects in their art practice.

6_ Vanessa Cres Lokos, Moving Forward, 2016, mixed media

Vanessa Cres Lokos, Moving Forward, 2016, mixed media

7 Dawn-Hackett-Burns & Michelle Lynn, Home Grown

Dawn-Hackett-Burns & Michelle Lynn, “Home Grown”, ceramic.

Vanessa Cres Lokos, “Moving Forward” and Dawn-Hackett-Burns & Michelle Lynn, “Home Grown” were hung one over the other. Cres Lokos’ expresses her viewpoint on rural and urban issues by placing cows marching along the Burlington pier with a forewarning, overcast sky. Hacket-Burns’ and Lynn’s ceramic artwork explores residential homes overwhelming rural buildings and cattle.

The artwork is placed on a low plinth so that the viewer can hover and oversee the battle.

8.1 Rossana Dewey, Jan Kendrik and Grace Afonso

Jan Kendrick, Rossana Dewey, Grace Afonso group image

Jan Kendrick’s, Rossana Dewey’s, and Grace Afonso’s paintings were hung side by side. All three artists are skilled painters. They use a similar colour palette and their paintings are emotive and sensually compatible. Their artist statements refer to issues: mining the escarpment, the Greenbelt Plan, the mid-peninsula highway and the vanishing rural landscape.  Their images speak of a vast rural environment, but do not deal clearly with the issues expressed in their artist statements.

9 Kathy Marlene Bailey, Sanctuary Between, oil, 2016

Kathy Marlene Bailey, Sanctuary Between, oil, 2016

Kathy Marlene Bailey, “Sanctuary Between” uses curving movement in a watery world of reflections that suggests a more rural, natural aspect of the theme. Her artist statement refers to city planners facilitating a residential invasion of natural sanctuaries. There is beauty and mystery in Bailey’s painting. There is a hint of the escarpment and a house, but the focus is on water. The painting’s message is some-what ambiguous, in comparison to her artist statement.

The Lee-Chin Family Gallery is a large space. Area around the art-works, and the scale of the various artworks, present a challenge. Petit artworks in such a large space are difficult to notice, given the works nearby that are ten feet high. Longchamps creates space and separation for the intimate works.

There may be too many works in the exhibition for a viewer to comprehend, beyond surface aesthetics. I think this is a group exhibition in which less would actually be much more. However, there are many artworks not mentioned here that you should view, to decide on your own.

The exhibition runs until September 5, 2016
Lee-Chin Family Gallery at Art Gallery of Burlington
1333 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington.

AGB Hours

Monday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tuesday – Thursday 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 5:00 pm

Jim Riley is a Burlington, ON, based arts writer, independent curator and a visual and media artist. His recent art practice involves public art and gallery video installations. Riley has a BA from Brock Uni-versity. He has exhibited his art for thirty years in Canada and the United States. Some of Riley’s video art is represented by V tape Distributions, Toronto. Website:



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Burlington Youth to screen a video on the way they see Syrians leaving that war torn country and coming to Canada.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

June 20th, 2106


Burlington Cabinet Minister Eleanor McMahon wants you to understand that she believes fervently that young people play a vital role in building our community.

Syrian children“To better understand issues impacting youth across the province and right here in our city, I organized a group of engaging Burlington high school youth to gain their perspectives”, said McMahon in a media release

“One of the issues the group is passionate about is making Syrian refugees feel at home when they arrive in Canada. As part of their effort to welcome these families, they’ve created a video that tells their story about coming to Burlington.”

A year in the making, this video explores the idea of what “home” means and highlights the emotional challenges faced when leaving behind the home you know and having to build a new one in an unfamiliar community.

The video will be screened at Burlington central Library June 28th, 7:00 to 8:30 pm

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MP Gould encourages organizations to submit applications that will engage seniors in the community through the mentoring of others.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 20, 2016


Liberal MP Karina Gould released details today on a federal government program that will empower seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experience with others and support communities by increasing their capacity to address local issues.

Organizations are being invited to apply for funding for projects that address one or more of the program’s five objectives:

1. promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations;
2. engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others;
3. expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
4. supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors; and
5. providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.

3 things - Gould with adult

Karina Gould, Liberal MP, listening to a senior.

Eligible applicants include: not-for-profit organizations; coalitions, networks and ad hoc committees; municipal governments; research organizations and institutes; educational institutions, public health and social service institutions; aboriginal organizations; and for-profit enterprises.

Projects that received funding during the 2015-2016 proposal call year included the Burlington Baptist Church’s Circle of Friends and Community Development Halton’s Senior Connector Program.

More information on how to apply is available at or contact MP Gould’s office directly at 905-639-5757.

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Marina to hold an open house June 26th - no mention of the swan problem in the announcement.

eventsred 100x100By Staff

June 20, 2106


Is it part of a public relations offensive?

marina LaSalle Park marina

LaSalle Park Marina.

The LaSalle Park Marina / Burlington Sailing & Boating Club announced a public open house for Sunday June 26, 2016 – 10am – 5pm at LaSalle Park Pier

The public will be able to tour the City’s Open Public Marina; Boat Club; & Sailing School.

As part of the daylong event the Blue Flag, which is significant in sailing circles, will be presented to the LPMA Environmental Defence Canada.

There will be comments made on different initiatives related to the bay area and sailing.

Trumpeter swan - magnificent creatures that many think need the marina space at LaSalle Park to survive the winters. Nonsense according the Marina Association.

Trumpeter swan – magnificent creatures that many think need the marina space at LaSalle Park to survive the winters. Nonsense according the Marina Association.

The LPMA has been in an ongoing battle with the Trumpeter Swan Coalition that is committed to ensuring that no harm comes to this species that has made Burlington their home. This struggle has been going on for some time.

There will be speakers talking about how the bay and the fish stock are being restored. Kelly Pike of the Bay Area Restoration Council will talk about advances in Remedial Action Plan to clean Up of the Harbour.

Dr. Christine Boston will talk about the Walleye/Pickerel Restoration Program.

The Sea Cadets will be on hand, the Hamilton Beach Rescue Boat – Coast Guard Auxiliary will be there to show the public wat they do.

Halton Regional Police Marine Unit will be cruising about – and – the Burlington Fire Department will have one of their fire trucks on display.

The option the LaSalle PArk MArina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due MArch 2013.

The option the LaSalle Park Marina Association wants this design for the re-configuration of the boat facilities. 

John Birch, title, has pulled out all the stops on this one – the struggle to get all the funding in place for a marina that will allow the boaters to safely tie up there craft.

The Burlington Sailing & Boating Club (BS&BC) was established in 1975; the LaSalle Park Marina (LPMA) was completed in 1981.

Able Sail, a separate charitable organization was established in 2000

BS&BC and LPMA are self-help, volunteer, not-for-profit organizations.

Both organizations are committed to providing family-oriented, quality yet lower cost recreational boating activities, together they form Burlington’s only boating and water-access facility.

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A trip down memory lane - what do you remember about the old Freeman train station?

Event 100By Staff

June 17th, 2016


Now this is a real trip down memory lane.

The people who are in the process of refurbishing Freeman station – now that they have saved it from a wrecking ball – are holding a railway nostalgia workshop as part of Seniors’ Month.

The event will take place at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre Tuesday, June 21st, 1:30 – 3:00 PM

It will be a chance to share personal stories about traveling through the Burlington Junction Station.

Freeman station with locomotive

Can you date this picture? The car might help.

They would love it if you brought any pictures you might have.

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The unanimous vote was the easy part - school board will now launch a communications initiative looking for a way to lower the number of parents who want their kids in French Immersion.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 17th, 2016


With a unanimous agreement to accept the staff recommendation on just when French Immersion classes should start attention now has to be given to just how this might work out and the processes that need to be put in place to monitor.

Both Director Stuart Miller and Associate Director David Boag responded to trustee questions regarding the entry point to the program, the intensity of immersion, role of instructional staff in assisting parents to make an informed decision regarding entry to the program, special needs students and supports for their success.

We speak french hereMiller confirmed the French Advisory Committee will be reconstituted to look at implementation and ongoing issues. Two minor but related motions were passed.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller on the right.

One was to ensure that an annual report be added to the report schedule (starting in 2018), outlining the percentage and number of Grade 1 students in each elementary school that have registered for French Immersion or English programs for the following year, and that this report highlight any schools where fewer than 20 students have registered for the Grade 2 English program and that any school where registration percentages for French Immersion have increased from prior years and provide an action plan to address the enrollment in those schools.

The trustees resolved that additional minutes be added to the Core French Program. A recommendation will be brought back to the Board.

With the decision to introduce French Immersion at the grade two level and not do so until the 2017/18 year the board has time to prepare and to put processes in place to measure the changes.

During the discussion Wednesday evening Director Miller advised the board that the current uptake of French Immersion could not remain at the current level. He said it was not sustainable and that he felt a reduction in the order of about 7.5% was needed.

The gamble for the board is that the decision they made Wednesday evening will allow parents to rethink how French Immersion is going to be managed in Halton.

It will be a challenge.

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Burlington partners with Hamilton for a second Bay Area economic summit; Premier Kathleen Wynne will speaking; feds will be in the room to hopefully get specific about infrastructure funding.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 17th, 2016


They are going to try it again – and maybe this time produce more in the way of results.

The Hamilton and Burlington Chambers of commerce are holding their second Bay Area Economic Summit, to promote strategic cooperation between the two cities to advance their respective regional economic development, prosperity and quality of life.
Burlington should be grateful for letting Hamilton allow us to hitch our little wagon to the freight train they have pulling their economy.

Aerial view - skyway bridge

No reason why this shouldn’t be a relationship made in heaven – does it need an office dedicated to nurturing the relationship?

While Hamilton city council seems to be waffling all over the planned LRT that gets loads of mention they do have a smoking economic agenda and is now the place to move to for all those Torontonians who were not able to convince their bank managers to go along with the size of the mortgage needed to buy a home in that city.

Hamilton is literally bristling with economic development.

Burlington outsourced its economic growth to an Economic Development corporation that said at its inception it needed time to gather meaningful data on which it could base their decisions.

Lots of data – but not very many decisions – they did put out an interesting graphic that WORDS.

BEDC art from web site

Art work used by the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. Did it manage to sell anything?

The Economic Summit is taking place at Royal Botanical Gardens, half of which is in Hamilton and some in Burlington, on Tuesday June 21, 7:30 am-5:00 pm, followed by a leadership reception.

Premier Wynne will be speaking – she might want to avoid explaining why Burlington now has two Cabinet Ministers because she convinced old war horse Ted McMeekin that he could live life better by doing less.

The Liberals now own the political landscape in Burlington – but Hamilton is the city experience healthy economic growth.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, will play key roles in the proceedings – Eisenberg has the better jokes. There will be an update from the federal government on stimulus funding opportunities available to the Bay Area community – that will keep both Mayors paying close attention.

The media release spoke of building “on the momentum” of last year’s inaugural intercity summit; the recommendations were cited in a post-event discussion paper.

“This year, we’ll focus on significant opportunities of mutual interest ranging from regional transportation and growth management to big data, workforce development and environmental stewardship,” said Keanin Loomis, president and CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “It’s all about responding to the needs of our stakeholders and building a bay area partnership required to strengthen teamwork, and attract talent and investment.”

The agenda, built around the tagline Leading Change in a Regional Age, will dive into three interrelated themes of interest to decision- and policy-makers on both sides of the bay and beyond:

The evolving role of the Bay Area in a growing regional and international economy
Strategies and tactics to position the Bay Area for long term success
Priority planning and actions to drive collaborative change

Mayor Rick Goldring with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Will she get re-elected before he faces the electorate and will he win when he does?

Mayor Rick Goldring with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at Burlington’s Rib Fest. She visits the city frequently but doesn’t sprinkle any pixie dust.

In addition to morning and noon hour plenary sessions that provide a platform for key messages and announcements, the agenda will include 12 interactive breakouts on topics ranging from regional superclusters and transformations in healthcare to waterfront development and mixed use transit hubs, to name a few.

The summit will wrap up with the release of a communique crafted by event leaders that outlines a commitment to key actions moving forward.

The first summit set out some early steps for an organization that would continue the dialogue that began in 2015.

Feedback during and after BAES 2015 demonstrated great enthusiasm for the initiative and a desire to do it again in 2016. The boards, members and staff of the Hamilton and Burlington Chambers of Commerce are therefore committed to reconvene all stakeholders in June 2016 and to advance (in the interim and beyond) the shared agenda that has emerged from our efforts.

The most important commitments required at this time are from the Bay Area Subcommittee and the Cities of Burlington and Hamilton, including both Mayor’s Offices and Economic Development Departments. We are looking for involvement and investments at the same levels as 2015.

Rationale: The summit provides an existing high profile, multi-sector platform to advance informed thinking and action on the subject of Bay Area cooperation.

Achieve and Promote Early Successes: We will work with our partners to help advance signature Bay Area initiatives that are ripe for success, for example:

  • Help secure formal provincial recognition of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System as Ontario’s first “urban biosphere park”
  • Help support the exchange of local best practices related to planning and intensification — a topic of growing importance to Hamilton and Burlington
  • Help ensure the growth of “women in leadership” initiatives throughout the Bay Area

Rationale: Early successes in the advancement of the Bay Area will provide proof points and generate momentum moving forward.

Assign Dedicated Resources: If there is a desire to maintain the momentum and take advantage of the opportunities associated with further collaboration, we see the need to establish a part-time office dedicated to providing an interim organizational structure for intercity cooperation in the near and long term. Funding for the office would be provided by a consortium of stakeholders, including the City of Hamilton and City of Burlington.

Two immediate priorities for the office:

Form an intercity, multi-sector task force to investigate and report on proven partnership models that could be implemented locally to structure, fund, mobilize and sustain Bay Area cooperation over time. The task force would share its findings and recommendations at future summits.

Help local groups and organizations committed to Bay Area cooperation advance their shared initiatives — e.g., joint events, research, advocacy, planning, etc. A particular focus would be placed on helping achieve select “quick wins.”

Rationale: A dedicated office co-funded and supported by key Bay Area stakeholders would ensure that sufficient time and resources are applied to the important work of coordinating and driving the advancement of the Bay Area as a hub for economic development and quality of life.

This amounts to yet another office that will churn out reports and keep mid-level bureaucrats employed.

The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System isn’t going to create jobs that add to the wealth of the community – money will be transfered from one pocket of the bureaucracy to another.

Burlington has significant residential development underway – part of the drive to meet intensification targets that had already been met.  The city is posting house price increases year over year in the 12% plus range – something that isn’t sustainable and makes the city too expensive a place for people who might find jobs in the city.

Ridge and Chris Murray - city managers

Can the guy on the left negotiate a better deal than the guy on the right ? James Ridge, city manager for Burlington wants to convince Chris Murray, city manager for Hamilton to sell some water lots.

What Burlington needs is a stronger employment base – that hasn’t been forthcoming despite a significant reset at the Economic Development Corporation.

There is one deal that could be closed at the summit – settling on a price for the water  lots at LaSalle Park – any bets on who is going to get the better of that deal?

getting new - yellowTo register or learn more, visit or contact Whitney Eames at or 905-522-1151 x 100.

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Trustees opt for the staff recommendation - French Immersion will begin in grade 2 - program will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 16, 2017


They settled it pretty quickly. There wasn’t a lot of serious or significant debate.

There were a lot of questions to staff on details and trustee Oliver from Oakville wanted to ensure that there was some rigid monitoring to see just what registration in the French Immersion program was looking like as parents register for the 2018-190 school year.

The trustees went with the Staff recommendation for the implementation of a French Immersion program that will start with students in grade two and begin in the 2018-19 school year.

Between now and then the board has to scramble to find the resources they will need to make it happen.

Trustees - fill board +

The trustees voted unanimously to accept the staff recommendation for the rolling out of the French Immersion program. No one knows yet what the unintended consequences of hat decision might be.

The gamble – and it became very clear during the discussion that the choice is a gamble

Staff is hoping that enough parents will decide that French Immersion may not be for their child and have their child remain in the core English program.

Director of Education Stuart Miller said that the recommendation has to reduce the number of people who want to put their children in French Immersion by at least 7.5% – he added that he would like to see that number reduced by 20%.

Stuart added that if the uptake for French Immersion does not come down by at least 7.5% “we are in trouble”

The Board faced a situation that has a huge number of people opting for the French Immersion program and that is putting pressure on the board at two levels:

Finding enough qualified French teachers
And leaving them with English classes with as few as five students – and that isn’t sustainable.

The choice the board has made is to move French Immersion as a program that begins in grade two where all instruction will be in French during the first year and decrease in grades three and four to the point where French takes up 50 of the class time.

Boag David

Associate director of Education David Boag – he got to carry the ball and explain all the ramifications to the trustees.

Looking for a solution to a two pronged problem was a 15 month process that started with Stuart Miller and got passed along to David Boag when Miller was appointed the Director of Education.

There were 14 different options before the committee that was struck to delve into the problem. The committee whittled the 14 down to four and later added two as the process went forward.

The choice as a compromise for what everyone described as a “complex issue”.

Staff put their recommendations before the Board June 1st and gave the trustees three inch binders filled with data. Public delegations were heard on June 13th, there were just ten of them which one trustee said was a sign that the public was basically on side with the staff recommendation.

Notable was the board’s decision not to webcast the public delegations. Recording those delegations would have given the public an opportunity to see the breadth of public thinking – an opportunity lost.
Miller told the trustees that the decision they made will allow viable programs in both languages, and result in very few, if any changes in boundaries.

Students who are currently in a French Immersion will be grandfathered.

The trustees seemed to want to have a system where there is a core French program that introduces students to the language along with a French Immersion program for parents who want a richer French language experience for their children.

Many people look upon French Immersion as an approach some parents to give their children a bit of a leg up in getting a quality education and ensuring that their children are in classes where the quality of the education they get meets the child’s ability.
Miller told the trustees that there are currently 22 schools in the system that have less than 15 students in grade 1.

School busses - winter

Busing students to schools where the class size is sustainable is no an issue the trustees want to even think about.

Those small classes go forward year after year – which is something the board cannot afford. To get larger class sizes busing becomes an option – and for those trustees who are advocates, passionate advocates, of students going to school in their neighbourhoods this wasn’t something they wanted to even talk about.

In setting the tone for the meeting, Miller pointed out that French Immersion is an optional program – that had grown to the point where it was seriously de-stabilizing the board’s ability to deliver programs in what trustee Reynolds (Burlington) pointed out is an English language board of education

Miller said they could not have an optional program impede the core English program.

The staff recommendation was expected to resolve the problem – that recommendation had a lot of crossed fingers attached to it.
The Board just does not know what parents are going to choose – the one year delay will, they are hoping will give parents a chance to do some re-thinking.

There is however a very strong well organized lobby for French Immersion The CPF – Canadian Parents for French has chapters all over the country and receives significant funding from the federal government. Their objective is to have the educational system produce bilingual students.

David Boag, Associate Director of Education is very clear when he says the French Immersion programs the Halton board offers does not produce bilingual graduates.

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller didn’t miss an opportunity to let the trustees know what he wanted in the way of a decision on the French Immersion question. They went along with him.

A student can earn a Certificate of competency in French – but that is a long way from being bilingual.

It is an ongoing situation – one that the board has to manage logistically and at the same time work with parents on both sides of the divide that sees passions rise from time to time.

What the parents want is the very best for their children – realizing that every child is different and that all should have the same opportunity with the limited resources available.

getting new - yellowThis one isn’t over yet – the trustees bought some breathing time. Miller mentioned on a number of occasions that there might be some unintended consequences coming out of the decisions. He can almost bet the ranch on that observation becoming very real.

The trustees might manage to slip through the 2018 election because we probably won’t know the full impact of the decision by then.

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Garden clubs of Ontario hold their triennial show at the RBG

eventspink 100x100By Staff

June 16, 2016


We apologize for not getting this news to you earlier – it did not come to our attention until late this afternoon.

Looks like an interesting event – the organizers appear to have slipped a little in getting the word out to the media.

Art through the Ages - RBG

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Reader offers yet another view on the role of French language instruction - trustees will decide which direction the Halton Board should take on Wednesday.

opinionandcommentBy Graham Fraser

June 14, 2106


One of  the things I like about this job, that pays me less than nothing,  is the responses we get from readers. Elise Box wrote and chided me for what she felt was my giving space to just on side of the French language instruction argument that Halton school board trustees are wrestling with. “I thought since you were in the “pinching,” from the Globe and Mail, you might consider pinching an article that is actually researched based.  Perhaps you could assist in sharing the whole picture to the public.”  I wouldn’t refer to this as “research based”; it is an opinion from a man I know personally and have a lot of respect for – however it is just an opinion.

For years, I have been listening to the arguments of ill-informed critics of French immersion. The time has come to set the record straight.

Some critics use the percentage of Canadians who are bilingual to argue that French immersion has been a failure. However, percentages are misleading; with Canada welcoming 250,000 newcomers each year, some of whom speak neither official language, it’s not surprising that the percentage of bilingual Canadians has dropped, even though the actual number has increased by more than half a million over the past 10 years.

Others complain that French immersion belongs to a particular chapter of Canadian history. Contrary to what many critics claim, French immersion is not a product of the Trudeau years, but began in the mid-1960s in Quebec, before Pierre Elliott Trudeau was even elected to Parliament. Its goal was to help children acquire language proficiency through the use of French as a language of instruction.

The allegation that it is an elitist program that filters out the children with behavioural problems and special needs is also profoundly unfair. The fact is that when a child in immersion has any kind of learning or behavioural problem, the first response of some schools is to pressure the parents to take their child out of immersion, regardless of whether or not the learning problem has anything to do with the language of instruction. Yet there are studies that show that children with learning problems do just as well in immersion as they do in the English stream.

HDSB logoSimilarly, many schools and school boards actively discourage immigrant parents from enrolling their children in immersion, even though studies show that immigrant students – who often speak a third language at home – adapt smoothly to immersion. Some immersion programs, however, boast a high percentage of children of immigrants, as their parents recognize the value of being able to speak the country’s two official languages.

Moreover, critics often refer to the drop-out rate from immersion. This is partly due to students choosing other specialized programs that are not available in immersion, and partly due to other factors. Some 15 years ago, Edmonton Public Schools was concerned about the dropout rate from immersion. By bolstering support for the teachers, improving communication with parents and establishing comparative evaluations of students’ language skills, the dropout rate diminished dramatically. Edmonton Public Schools is now recognized as having one of the best immersion programs in the country.

Some of the disenchantment with immersion comes from unrealistic expectations. Immersion doesn’t – and isn’t intended to – produce graduates who speak French with the fluency of native speakers. What immersion does provide is an important building block on which graduates can develop their language skills. Language proficiency is both an intellectual and a physical activity; without practice, it diminishes dramatically. I hope that the 150th anniversary of Confederation will see an increase in the number of opportunities for students to spend time in an environment where the other official language is dominant.

One of the problems that the immersion system has faced for a number of years has been a shortage of teachers who fully master French. To address this issue, a government program could be useful in breaking down some of the barriers that prevent exchanges between teachers. It is still easier for a teacher in Quebec to have an exchange with a teacher in France than with a teacher in Ontario, and easier for a teacher in Ontario to exchange jobs with a teacher in Australia than with a teacher in Quebec. This, to put it mildly, makes no sense.

Trustees - fill board +

Halton District School Board trustees. Senior staff sit in the second row and are on hand to answer questions and provide detail.

The immersion experience can be life-changing. When Jennifer MacIntyre was a child in a small town in Cape Breton, she insisted on going into immersion, overcoming the reluctance of her unilingual parents. Her reason: she wanted to be able to work at Cape Breton’s National Historic Site, the Site Fortress of Louisbourg. The experience broadened her horizons. Now, several decades later, she is Canada’s ambassador to Switzerland. “Without French, nothing else would have been possible and my dreams would have been much smaller,” she told me recently.

Canadian parents – thousands of whom are themselves graduates of immersion – want their children to have the experience that French immersion offers. It has enriched the lives of millions of Canadians. It is unfortunate that an ideal of perfection is being used to criticize one of the most successful Canadian educational experiences available.

Graham Fraser is Canada’s commissioner of official languages.


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School board trustees to hear delegations and then make a decision - what do the pundits think about where French Immersion is going?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 13th 2106


Halton Board of Education trustees will this evening hear from citizen delegation on what they would like to see in the way of a French immersion program for the 2017-18 school year.

Staff have recommended:

Grade 2 Entry into French Immersion at both dual and single track schools with 100% intensity for the first year and reduced intensity after that as shown:
Gr 2 – 100% intensity
Gr 3 – 80% intensity
Gr 4 – 50% intensity

David Boag

David Boag, Associate Director of Education for Halton Board of Education – the man carrying the ball and gathering research for th trustees.

“Delaying entry into immersion till Grade 2 and having kids learn French the whole day instead of half when they start. That way, officials hope, parents will think more seriously about whether to put their kids in the program. It’s a sensible idea that could help ease the bandwagon effect – gotta do it or my kid will lose out – that is overwhelming boards.


French immersion Tom Thomson

Of the 57 Grade 1 kids at Tom Thomson Public School in Burlington, Ontario, 53 are in French immersion. The remaining four are in Ms. Amanda Heilesen’s split Grade 1 and 2 class. KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/for The Globe and Mail

This is one of the few occasions when staff does not direct the elected trustees. Many meetings were held, lots of discussion and a three inch binder of research and the trustees were told – they were on their own.

Halton is trying to figure out how to meet the demand from parents along with the limitations on the school/classroom structure and the difficulty in finding the number of qualified French language teachers. Their problem isn’t helped by the price of housing in Burlington – that much touted Best mid-sized city in Canada isn’t going to do anything for us either.

What do the pundit think? There were two exceptionally good columns in the Globe and Mail recently from which we have pinched shamelessly.

Margaret Wente, a regular columnist at the Globe had this to say:

No wonder Canadian parents have gone crazy for French immersion. Who wouldn’t want to raise a bilingual kid? Across the country, demand is soaring through the roof. Schools are scrambling to cope. In some districts, 25 per cent of the primary-school kids are in French immersion. School officials say there would be far more if they could only find more teachers.

Trustees - Papin - Oliver - Grebenc

Trustees Papin, Oliver and Grebenc

Just one problem. Well, several, actually. For many parents, French immersion is a way to game the system. It filters out the kids with behavioural problems and special needs, along with the low achievers. In short, it’s a form of streaming. Most French-immersion students are from affluent, high-achieving families that work hard to give their children an edge. And who can blame them? It sure beats forking over $27,220 a year for the Toronto French School (and that’s for kindergarten).

Unfortunately, this selfish but entirely natural parental tendency is at total odds with the gospel of the Canadian school system, which strives to be equal and inclusive above all else. For schools, “streaming” is a dirty word. We are constantly assured that high-performing kids actually do better in classrooms that include all those other kids. And vice versa.

This tension between the school boards and the parents has created an impossible dilemma. Some schools’ English-language programs are being hollowed out. In dual-track schools, they now have a much bigger ratio of disadvantaged, behavioural, etc. kids than the French programs do. The schools are being accused of entrenching inequality. As one immersion advocate told Maclean’s, “If we’re going to offer this program, how can we justify it if we don’t give kids – from whatever background – the tools they need to succeed?”

Today, the idea of French immersion as a magic smart pill is virtually unquestioned.

Sadly, there’s not the slightest shred of evidence that French immersion has accomplished any of its lofty goals. After 40 years of ever-expanding immersion programs, the percentage of Canadians who can speak both official languages has dropped. At two of the Greater Toronto Area’s largest school boards, half of French-immersion students bail out by Grade 8. By the time they graduate high school, only 10 per cent achieve proficiency in French (which is not the same as fluency).

The reasons for this miserable success rate are no mystery. Their entire world outside the classroom immerses kids in English. They play in English. They live in English. Everybody they know speaks English. If you want them to be bilingual, you’d better take them to live in France or Quebec – or at least make sure you’re married to a French speaker.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Trustees Gray, Reynolds and Collard

The downsides to French immersion, though seldom mentioned, are also real. Kids who struggle with English will also struggle with French – and who needs that?
Yet the dream lives on. As enrolment shrinks, school boards are desperate to keep parents happy so that they don’t defect from the public system. Like all-day kindergarten – which was also supposed to make kids smarter – French immersion turns out to be too good to be true. But too many people have too much invested in it to say so.

Marcus Gee who also writes a column had this to say:

French immersion is a wonderful thing in theory. Plunge kids into French in their early years, when their brains soak up language like a sponge, and they will emerge as confident French speakers. That will be good for them, making them more rounded people and giving them a shot at jobs where being bilingual is an advantage, and good for the country, helping bring the two solitudes of French and English together.

Trustees Ehl Harrison, + +

Trustees Harrison, Harvey-Hope.  Associate Director of Education David Boag is on the right.

In practice, it hasn’t quite worked out that way, for several reasons. First, kids in immersion aren’t really immersed. The moment they are out the door and into the playground, they are speaking English, not French. In a city such as Toronto – or Edmonton or Vancouver or just about anywhere outside of Quebec – there just aren’t that many opportunities for most kids to use their French outside of school. Even in the classroom, few teachers can enforce a French-only rule at all times.

Second, it’s hard to find French-immersion teachers. The shortage is chronic. Schools scramble to fill immersion teaching posts and end up with a lot of teachers who can’t teach, can’t speak very good French or can’t do either.

Third, many students drop out of immersion as the years pass, some because they aren’t thriving in the French stream, others because they are going to specialty schools that don’t offer immersion. Even those who stay often don’t acquire good French. A surprising number do French for the whole 13 years, from senior kindergarten to Grade 12, and still can’t have more than a halting French conversation when they graduate.

That points to another problem with immersion: It has become a privileged island in the school system, populated disproportionately by kids from better-off families. It is the more educated, more involved parents who tend to choose immersion for their kids, hoping to give them an advantage within the hit-and-miss public system. Immersion classes tend to be whiter than the norm, with fewer students from immigrant families. In some schools, people come to view the English stream as second-rate, a place where poorer kids or kids who struggle in school end up. It’s the kind of division that a multicultural city that prizes equality wants to avoid.

Trustees Miller, Amos - Graves

Director of Education Stuart Miller, Chair Kelly Amos and Vice chair Kim Gervais

You can’t blame parents for wanting the best for their children. You can’t blame school boards for wanting to accommodate them either. The goal of French immersion – to give more students command of the country’s other official language – is still a noble one. Knowing a second or third language, a commonplace for Europeans, is an obvious asset in the age of globalization (though Mandarin might be a smarter choice). All my kids say that, whatever the ups and downs of immersion, it gave them a good grounding in French and broadened their horizons.

But the whole program needs a good hard look. Enrolment in immersion is soaring. School boards are struggling to meet the demand. It’s a good time to examine whether it is working as it should.

Will the trustees from Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills find a way to meet the mushrooming demands of the parents, the needs of those children who are not cut out for French Immersion and the and at the same time be able to see the bigger picture?

This is not what any of them expected when they ran for public office. They are going to be fully tested with this issue. Fortunately there are a number of wise women on the board. There are enough of them to make the right decision.

They will decide what they want to see done at a meeting on June 15th, after they have heard all the delegations.

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If a picture is worth 1000 words - take a look at what 2000 would do for you!

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 12th, 2106



We hear about it every day.

There are still those who think it isn’t happening.

It is happening – the two pictures that follow make that clear enough for the most doubting.

This isn’t a theory – these are facts.

CBC Chang 1917

Alaska’s Pedersen Glacier has retreated steadily over the past century, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This photo, taken during the summer of 1917, shows a lagoon filled with icebergs. The bottom photo, dated August 2005, shows the same lagoon now filled with sediment, grasses and shrubs.

CBC Change 2005

Alaska’s Pedersen Glacier has retreated steadily over the past century, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  This photo, dated August 2005, shows the same lagoon now filled with sediment, grasses and shrubs.

The projections are dire: glaciers will continue to shrink, heat waves will be more frequent and the oceans will get warmer and more acidic. A large majority of environmental scientists warn that if global temperatures rise by more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels, the consequences will be severe and, in some cases, irreversible.

By the end of the century, the panel says, CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions must register near zero — a mighty feat that some observers say is simply not achievable.

What happens then?

Vince Fiorito, one of the most committed environmentalists we know once said to me: Pepper, don’t worry about the planet – it will survive. It is we human beings hat may not be able to survive on the plant we create because of our poor stewardship.

CBC has published an interactive WORD on their web site

CLICK HERE to get to it.
Every household in the city would be well served if they spent half an hour on this instead of watching a television show. At this point it is still our world – do we get to keep it and pass it along to our children and their grand children?

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City sets up three community meetings to engage seniors and their ideas to make Burlington an age friendly city.

News 100 redBy Staff

June 9, 2016


The city wants citizen input on designing an age-friendly future for Burlington. They are hosting three discussion forums for the community to share its thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

Feedback provided at each session will be used to help develop the city’s Active Aging Plan, which aims to help keep older adults active, healthy and engaged in their community.

The Mayor is out close to every evening each week. His ward is the whole city and every one wants a piece of him. Not a healthy life for a man with daughters that need face time.

The Mayor discuses an issue with a senior citizen at a ward 4 meeting.

“If you are a resident 55+ or the care partner, friend, neighbour or family member of someone 55+, who cares about building an age-friendly future for Burlington, the city encourages you to attend one of these forums,” said Rob Axiak, the city’s manager of Recreation Services.

“The discussion forums are your opportunity to tell us what you think would help to make Burlington a city that reflects the needs of its older adults. Your input is instrumental in helping the city to design the Active Aging Plan.”

Mayor Rick Goldring has his membership application processed at the Seniors' Centre - filling another of his campaign promises.

Mayor Rick Goldring has his membership application processed at the Seniors’ Centre.

At each forum, a brief presentation about the Active Aging Plan will begin the session, followed by small discussion groups focused on five key areas:

• Recreation and leisure
• Information and communication
• Accessibility, diversity and inclusion
• Volunteering and employment
• Transit and transportation

A speaker’s corner will also be set up at each forum to help capture ideas on video.

The Active Aging community forums will take place on the following dates:

Tuesday, June 21 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Tansley Woods at Schlegel Village –  in the Town Hall room
4100 Upper Middle Rd.

Wednesday, June 22 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Geraldo’s at LaSalle Park Pavilion
50 Northshore Blvd. E.

Thursday, June 23 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Burlington Seniors Centre
2285 New St.

Refreshments will be served.

Residents who require assistance with transportation to one of the forums can contact 905-335-7888, ext. 6343.

There is more information about Burlington’s Active Aging Plan on the city web site:  CLICK HERE

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