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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Reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we pump out into the environment is what will save the planet - which is our home. It is doable.

News 100 greenBy Jim Feilders

June 6, 2016


City council fully understands the impact climate change is having on us. The storm in August of 2014 brought that point home in a very vivid and expensive manner. More than three hundred residents suffered significant property loss. The city, the Conservation authority and the Regional government realized there were serious gaps in the level of preparedness.

The climate is changing due in part to the amount of carbon dioxide that is being allowed into the environment. Much of the CO2 is the result of the fossil fuels we burn to run our car engines and heat our homes.

The city has a number of plans in place to begin to cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the environment.

Their task is to take specific actions and educate the public.

Burlington Carbon Plans Confusing You?
We have three plans affecting us regarding greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding what they mean can be a little difficult.
Strategic Plan

Council endorsed the Strategic Plan for the next 25 years to 2040 with one of many goals being to be net carbon neutral. It’s a tough call but the right thing to do in my opinion. But what does it mean? The definition in the Strategic Plan is “Having a net-zero carbon footprint refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount not used, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference”.

Talking to City officials, I learned that no one knows exactly how this will be achieved at the moment. Work will be done in the future.

But whatever is done must comply with the triple bottom line philosophy of sustainability. This means any plan must look at environmental and social impacts as well as economic. People have to be on board with the financial and environmental implications.
Province of Ontario

Last year the Province of Ontario announced its targets for carbon reduction to 2050.

GHG emisions 2014-2050

We know where we are and the targets for the future have been set – can we summon the discipline to achieve the targets?

Our Premier says we have to reduce total carbon by 37% in 2030 and 80% in 2050 – from 1990 levels.

Community Energy Plan
We have started to address this in the Community Energy Plan (CEP) that Council endorsed in January 2014; a lot of progress has been made.

The focus of the plan is to reduce energy consumption and cost as well as reduce greenhouse gases and improve local energy security.

The timeframe is to 2030. A report on progress to date is available here

It didn’t relate to 1990 levels. We didn’t track them back then and the closest we have is 1994 of 1.4 Mtonnes – close enough. This shows we met the 2014 target (1.4 – 1.19 = 0.21 or 15%, see below) and probably will meet the 2020 targets (1.4 – 1.1 = 0.3 or 21%). But we’re looking a little shy for 2030, coming in at 27%.

The CEP has set a realistic target of 26% reduction in energy consumption per person over the 15 year period from 2014 to 2030.

Although mention is made of investigating heat pump technologies and electric vehicles, the plan does not rely on switching fuels but reducing the amount we use as well as generating new energy from renewable sources. As a result, the amount of greenhouse gas reduction is the same as the energy reduction. If you drive less and save a 65 litre tank of gasoline and you save 156 kg of pollution. If you switch to an alternate fuel, you can still travel almost the original distance.

The plan does not account for population growth which is predicted to rise from 175,000 by about 30,000 people over this period depending on whether you look at the City’s estimates or the Province’s Places to Grow. This is about a 17% population increase. This tells me that if 175,000 people reduce their carbon by 26% and 30,000 people are added to the mix at the same reduction, the net decrease for the City is 14% to 1.025 Mtonnes from 1.19 Mtonnes.

Putting it all together with the best data I could find, is shown in the chart below. It includes the “What if” we do nothing, called business as usual. You know, keep our heads in the sand and keep doing what we have always done. I’m not saying change is easy by any means.

Burlington GHG emmissions - source

The obvious solution is to make the Community Energy Plan work – problem with that is we don’t know yet how to do that.

Extrapolations for the CEP are less optimistic as most of the behavioural change will have occurred. With our CEP alone, we fall short.

GHG emmissions Burlington tarhet

If we determine what the plan is and then stick to the plan – there is hope for us – but we have a long way to go – and it is not going to be easy.

Enter fuel switching. We need to replace gasoline vehicles with electric and hybrid models and transition our residential space heating and water heating from natural gas to electric inverter heat pump technology – air, water and ground sources.

These technologies are actually less expensive on a life cycle basis than their fossil fuel alternatives. Approaches that use a “hybrid” system of gas furnace and heat pump are available. So we can save the planet and money at the same time.

This will bring us close enough that industry can make up the remaining gap.

BIG PICTURE AAHalleluiah! We can do it and get our gold star from Kathleen living the life she depicts below.

To now go for carbon neutral may not seem impossible.

Feolders with unitJim Feilders is an engineer by training and an environmentalist by choice.  He drives a hybrid car, heat and air conditions his house at a cost of of approximately $375 a year. The views expressed here are solely his  own and not necessarily those of the various organizations with which he is associated.


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Finally the full story on the automobile accident last March - it is tragic - a young man now has to work at re-building his life.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 4, 2106


This story gets more and more tangled – it can now be ended

The accident took place in March.

Charges were not laid for 90 days. Names were not released.

The police eventually lay charges – still do not name the person charged.

They then release the name of the person charged.

Still no reason for the delay in the laying of charges.

The Gazette learns from a usually reliable source that the person who was eventually charged had been in a coma since the accident and that he had become conscious a few days ago.  Charges were then laid.

Was there not a better way to manage the flow of news?

Confidence in the integrity of the police service is critical. We have to know we can believe them at all times.

This situation is truly tragic – driving while under the influence of alcohol, runs a stop sign, crashes through a metal road rail, is seriously injured and in a coma for several months. To then come out of the coma and then be charged by the police.

This young man has some serious problems ahead of him.

The police were in a position to be both sympathetic and at the same time carry out their duties and use the opportunity to drive home the message – you can’t drink and then drive.

The consequences are disastrous.

Young David Dren now has to rebuild his life – we wish him well.

The Halton Regional Police Service do strive to keep the public informed – they might use this situation as a case study on how to inform the public and at the same time keep driving home the message – you can’t drink and drive.

The full story line:

Original story.

Police release the name of the driver.

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Burlington MP speaks of electoral reform in the House of Commons

News 100 redBy Staff

June 3, 2016


The Member of Parliament for Burlington rose to speak on the House of Commons about the matter of electoral reform – changes to be made in the way Canadians elect their Members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to participate in this important and historic debate on the establishment of a special all-party committee on electoral reform. This is an issue that affects all Canadians, and I am glad to see such strong principles proposed in the amended motion to guide this committee’s study.

I wish to spend my time today discussing some of the changes to our electoral system that have been introduced over the past century; changes that at the time were seen as rather dramatic alterations to our system.

Many of these reforms, however, are now looked back upon by Canadians as moments of true progress in the history of our great democracy.

Burlington - federal boundaries

Boundary for the constituency of Burlington

The electoral system we have today is the product of almost 150 years of evolution. The election we saw in October was quite different from elections upon Confederation, when only a fraction of Canadians, namely land-owning men, had a say in our democratic institution.

Our government’s pledge to replace the first past the post system is just another step in this historical evolution to a more inclusive, efficient, and stronger electoral system for all Canadians.

Allow me to begin in 1920, over a half century after Confederation.

After 50 years of elections in this country, Parliament established the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. It was not until 1927 that the Chief Electoral Officer was appointed by the House and not the government. These were seen as quite major changes at the time, but they are ones we can all look back on, knowing they have helped lead to nearly a century of trusted and independent electoral administration in this country.

It was not until 1964, nearly a full century after Confederation, that Parliament introduced independent electoral district boundary commissions to draw riding boundaries, bringing an end to gerrymandering. Prior to this, the government could simply decide who got to vote where, with little recourse for individuals, communities, or opposition parties. This is another instance of what was once proclaimed to be a fundamental change to our electoral system. In hindsight, we see that this reform has helped build trust among Canadians that our electoral system has integrity, that it is fair, and that all communities have a voice.

Wallace and Gould

Karina Gould accepting congratulations from former MP Mike Wallace the night of the last federal election.

In our ever-evolving system, parties only began registering with Elections Canada in 1970, and they only became subject to election spending limits in 1974. After a century of elections, Parliament significantly altered our politics by removing the role of big money in our elections. I truly believe our democracy is stronger because of that, but once again, it was an area of contentious debate at the time. Today, the idea of unlimited spending in an election would be quickly dismissed by Canadians as a barrier to the level playing field we hold dear for free and fair elections. We are proud that our elections are based on ideas and debate, and not simply dollars.

I have spoken briefly of some reforms to the electoral system itself, but I would like to turn now to the increasing franchise over the years; a clear example of how far our electoral system has progressed since Confederation.
Allow me to return back to the 1920s, when elections in this country were decentralized and run under a hodgepodge of provincial statues.

In the 1920s, the federal legislation deferred to the provinces in allowing disqualifications on the right to vote for “reasons of race”. This provision worked to disqualify many Canadians, including those of Chinese, Japanese, and Ukrainian descent, among others. However, it was not until 1948 that Parliament deleted references to disqualification on the basis of race. It was not until 1950 that Parliament allowed the Inuit the right to vote, and it was not until 1960 that Parliament allowed first nation people the right to vote without forcing them to give up their status or home on a reserve.

Expanding the franchise was divisive at the time. Today, however, we look back and simply wonder what took Parliament so long to recognize the rights of all Canadians in exercising their vote.

3 things - Gould with adult

Karina Gould listening to a constituent.

Women were not able to vote until legislative changes were enacted in 1918.

Those individuals living in poor houses or the homeless were not able to vote until 1929. War objectors were not able to vote between 1938 and 1955.

It was only in 1970 that the voting age was lowered to 18 from 21.

What I am trying to get at is that, when we reflect on these developments without the partisan frames in which they were originally debated, we see reforms that uphold and correspond to our values as Canadians; we see reforms that uphold the rights of all Canadians; and we see reforms that strengthen the bond between the people and the government and that instill trust that the government is formed by the true democratic will of all Canadians.

It is almost incomprehensible that we could ever exclude a full 50% of society from the franchise, that we could exclude indigenous peoples, ethnocultural minority groups, and those who dared to express different beliefs from those of the government of the day. While I am certainly not proud of the history of disenfranchisement in Canada’s electoral history, I am truly proud of how far our democracy has evolved into a more inclusive system for all Canadians.

Electoral reform is the next step in this evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results, one that motivates Canadians to take part, one that reflects our collective values of fairness, inclusiveness, gender equity, openness, and mutual respect. To get there, the process leading to reform must also embody these values.

Parliamentarians will need to set aside partisan interests and engage in a thoughtful and substantive dialogue with each other and with citizens.

CFUW Gould with voter

Karina Gould during the federal election debates in Burlington.

I strongly believe that stepping away from the first past the post system and embracing a new system that can reflect these values and the values articulated in this amended motion would be another milestone in the history of Canada’s elections. I suspect future generations will look back at the reforms proposed in this motion and reflect on them, as I have done today with past reforms. I suspect they will note this is yet another example of how our electoral system has evolved to further increase the inclusion of all peoples, to better reflect the will of voters and the representation of the House, and to work toward a system that produces a House that looks more and more like the faces of Canadians.

I hope all members will join me and support the creation of this committee.

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Doug Mays will demonstrate his watercolour techniques at Gallery [2]

eventspink 100x100By Staff

June 3, 2017


Doug Mays, award winning artist, will be demonstrating his watercolour techniques at Gallery [2] on June 8th from 7pm to 9pm.

Doug Mays - artThere will be a Q&A session.

Light refreshments will be served. Tickets: $15. Contact Gallery 2 on their website at

Dou Mays H&S

Doug Mays

Gallery 2 is one of a couple of galleries that have taken space yards away from the Royal Botanical Gardens on Spring Garden Road. They are almost a bit of an outpost –away from the downtown core – not part of the Village Square that was once the home, the equicentre for local artists, in Burlington

They are part of the Art in Action crowd, a group that found and felt that the Art Gallery of Burlington, formerly the Burlington Art Centre, was not meeting their needs.

The Seaton Gallery – stained glass – is right next door.

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District school board budget tops $700 million -

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 2, 2016


Are you ready for this?

A budget of $705 million for the Halton District School Board.

That is a whopper of a number and much of it comes out of your wallets. The province provides a significant amount – but that too comes out of your wallet.

Total operating graph

This is how that $705 million gets spent.

Total instruction exp

The bulk of the school board budget is spent on teaching students – here is a breakdown of that spending.

Key expense items:
Classroom Teachers

The $17,870K increase includes the addition of 17.5 Elementary Teachers and 38.1 Secondary Teachers due to enrolment growth, 1.25% across the board salary increase and removal of the delay in grid movement per the central labour agreement. This is partially offset by the reduction of 17.5 Elementary Special Education Teachers to reflect change in delivery model.

Supply Staff

The $1,350K increase reflects the impact of projected rising trends in usage and the impact of the central labour agreement.

Educational Assistants

The $2,200K increase includes the addition of 35 Educational Assistants and 1.25% across the board salary increase per the central labour agreement.

Early Childhood Educators

The $617K increase includes the addition of 1 Early Childhood Educator, 1.25% across the board salary increase and removal of the delay in grid movement per the central labour agreement.

Textbooks and Supplies

The $1,014K increase includes the addition of a new decentralized school budget supplement based on the School Needs index and transfer of Education Program

Computers The $806K increase reflects the acquisition of school technology funded through the Technology Learning Fund 21st Century Learning EPO.

Professionals, Para- professionals & Technical The $1,242K increase includes the addition of .5 Child and Youth Counsellor, 1 IPRC Clerical Support, 1 Applied Behaviour Analysis Trainer and 1 Social Worker for International Students and Refugee Support. This increase is also reflective of central labour agreements.

Library and Guidance

The $1,006K increase includes the addition of 2.5 Elementary and 3 Secondary Library and Guidance Teachers due to enrolment growth, 1.25% across the board salary increase and removal of the delay in grid movement per central labour agreements.

Staff Development

The $260K increase includes professional development and training to increase teacher capacity specifically related to special education.
Department Heads

The small increase of $15K represents the increase of department head allowances based on shifting enrolment between secondary schools and impact of the central labour agreement.

Principals and Vice-Principals

The $643K increase includes the addition of 1 Elementary Vice-Principal and estimated impact of the central labour agreement once finalized.

School Office

The $982K increase includes the addition of 5.2 Clerical Support Staff due to enrolment growth, 1.25% across the board salary increase per the central labour agreement and increase in administrative computer replacement.

Coordinators and Consultants

The $42K decrease includes turnover and job classification savings, partially offset by implementation of central labour agreements.
Continuing Education The $51K increase includes the impact of central labour agreements as well as addition of International

Language Supervisors.
Administration The $420K increase includes the impact of central labour agreements and the upgrade of financial system software. Also included is the continued support for Records Management implementation.


The $702K increase reflects an increase in operator costs per contractual agreements and projected service delivery.

Interesting that the Board of Education chooses to show their numbers as $702K – that K actually means 1024 and not a round 1000

Director of Education Stewart Miller expressed some concern over how well the public understands the way education is funded and said he wanted to create a committee that would take on the task of getting a deeper explanation o education funding into the hands of the public.

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Special athletes’ track meet to take place in Milton this year - 300 students to participate.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 31st, 2016


On Friday, June 10, 2016, students from the Halton District School Board will participate in the 29th annual Special Athletes’ Track Meet at Craig Kielburger Secondary School, 1151 Ferguson Drive, Milton. The track meet for athletes with physical and developmental challenges will take place from 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

HDSB logoWhen the event initially began, 29 years ago, there were only 12 special athletes participating. Coaches, school staff and home school peers, friends, family members and volunteers provided support and encouragement for the athletes. This year, more than 300 special athletes are expected to participate – a remarkable increase in participation during the event’s 29-year history.

The Special Athletes’ events will include 50m/100m/400m races, softball throw, slalom – wheelchair or ambulatory (non-wheelchair), long jump – wheelchair (independent) or ambulatory, precision throw beanbag, precision Bocce, T-ball, traditional Bocce and Frisbee.

This event provides Special Athletes with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and celebrate their successes with fellow students, friends and family.

getting new - yellowThe Optimists Clubs of Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville and Burlington will once again be donating and serving hot dogs, hamburgers, cold drinks, and freezies at the meet.

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Burlington Green continues to plant new flora in the Beachway community.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

May 31st, 2016


It will be decades before people fully realize and appreciate what the planting of trees BurlingtonGreen has been doing along the Beachway.

Burlington green - girl planting shrubs

Plants that are known to grow in the sandy soil that make up much of the Beachway are carefully placed and then nurtured by Burlington Green volunteers.

The soil is very sandy, and it shifts and because no one has been looking after the land all kinds of invasive species have settled in and gone wild.

The invasive plants often choke out the plants that should be growing in that part of the city.

Beachway has gone through a number of evolutions – it was the part of the city where Joseph Brant started building his house in 1789 and in 1803 he moved into the house which was described “commodious”. Aboriginals camped in the area. In the late 1800’s there was a pretty well defined community along that part of the lake.

It was seen as a very tony part of town. At one point there was a vibrant community with more than 200 families living in the areas.

They had their own stores and Lakeshore Road was once the way to get across the canal.

The old Grand Trunk Railway had a single line into the city – that got doubled when the amount of produce that was exported from the Vineland area and Burlington required more in the way of rail capacity.

The Freeman Station that a group of citizens work tirelessly to ensure was not cut up for kindling, is a vital part of the Beachway story.

That the station isn’t within the actual Beachway is unfortunate but at least saved from the wrecking ball.

Burlington Green - invasive removed - waters edge

Grasses and shrubs that are invasive and crowd out plants that should be in the soil. The red markers define areas that are to be cleared.

The Beachway is now going to begin a new phase and be developed as a large park that is being designed by the Regional government. The intention is to eventually remove all the homes left in the Beachway – 25 at this point.

The design appears to have reasonable public acceptance but the removal of the houses is still very controversial and we certainly haven’t heard the last of that argument.

Burlington Green - planting bushes in sandy soil

Carefully potted.

Burlington Green - Gloria Reid

Gloria Reid pulls invasive plants.

Burlington Green focuses on ripping out all the invasive stuff they can find and planting trees that will keep the soil in place. The work done for the past three years is beginning to show results.

Each year they use a half day when 100 volunteers show up to pull the unwanted plants and patiently plant new ones.

The trees going in are white oak, bur oak and trembling aspen: 125 were planted this year. Chokecherry and heart leaved willow shrubs were planted along with five different kinds of grasses.

It is hard but satisfying work – and in the years to come it will have been well worth the effort.

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School board puts a new schedule for French immersion before the public - trustees get less than five days notice of a major shift.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 30th, 2106


In a daily newspaper report Halton District school board chair Kelly Amos said she was only made aware of the report on Friday (May 27th) that was going to debate a significant shifts in the way French Immersion is managed within Halton schools.

Stewart Miller, Director of Education has been faced with a task that apparently cannot be resolved – it has to do with the number of students wanting to be enrolled in the French immersion program and the number of qualified French teachers that are very difficult to find.

Stuart Miller

Stewart Miller – Director of Education Halton District School Board

Add to those two problems the difficult this has with class sizes in some schools. Miller said several months ago that he found himself faced with situations where there were less than ten students in a regular class (a non-French immersion class) which from a teacher student ratio just wasn’t something he could afford to do.

Staff worked up a report and set out a series of motions that were published in the agenda for the boards June 1st meeting.

The Board created a Program Viability Committee (PVC) that has been in existence for just over a year to review both English and French program viability in HDSB elementary schools. Considerable stakeholder consultation was done and feedback was brought to the PVC for review, analysis and recommendations.

After careful analysis of the feedback provided, the PVC identified a number of options. The one they are recommending will provide an additional year for parents to understand their child as a learner prior to making a decision to enter French Immersion, it provides a relatively early entry point as preferred by stakeholders and provides for a greater intensity in the first two years of the program which supports French language acquisition. The recommended model also requires few if any additional boundary reviews, maintains our current dual and single track school configurations and as such will provide for a simpler and less disruptive implementation plan and transition to the new model.

The Gazette has not had an opportunity to study the report that trustees received on Friday. We are providing the outline that was published without any comment or analysis.

Be it resolved that effective in the 2014-15 school year, the Halton District School Board introduce 40 minutes/week of Primary Core French beginning in Grade 1 in 24 Halton District School Board schools, with a commitment for a full roll-out by 2017-18, with an annual review of the roll-out to be brought back to trustees each year, and;

(a) THAT schools selected for the initial phase of this program represent a variety of school organizations
(K-8, K-6, Dual Track, Single Track English, large and small enrolments) across the four geographic areas within the Halton District School Board, (Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville, Burlington).

(b) THAT students in these schools will receive the following minutes of Core French instruction between Grades 1- 8:
40 minutes / week Grades 1-3
120 minutes / week Grades 4
 160 minutes/ week Grade 5
200 minutes / week Grades 6-7-8 (Appendix 5)

(c) THAT no later than June 2018, the Halton District School Board will assess the impact of this Primary Core French experience in relation to student engagement, student attitude, English proficiency and the impact on Grade 1 French Immersion uptake associated with these schools.

HDSB logo(d) THAT under the leadership of the System Principal for French Second Language, School Programs and Human Resources, the Halton District School Board will develop a long-term recruitment and staff development plan to ensure the Halton District School Board hires and retains the highest quality French teachers available and that this plan is shared with the Board of Trustees.

(e) THAT the Halton District School Board continues to provide staff development programs that include teaching strategies, modifications and accommodations to address students with diverse learning needs and students who arrive in Halton without prior experiences in either French Immersion and Core French.

(f) THAT the Halton District School Board develop and implement a 5-year plan whereby all Halton District School Board elementary schools with Intermediate Divisions have one classroom dedicated for the teaching of Grade 7-8 Core French whereas if it will not require additional portables.

Be it resolved that effective in the 2014-2015 school year, wherein a triple grade configuration has been possible (due to 23 or fewer students enrolled in three consecutive grades), the School Superintendent will assess the impact on the learning environment and opportunities for students and will consider and recommend for Board approval one of the following strategies;

staff as a Grade 1-2 blended class;
staff as a Grade 1-2-3 blended class;
redirect the Grade 1 students to a neighbouring school for their program and;

Wherein a triple grade configuration has been possible (due to 23 or fewer students enrolled in three consecutive grades for two consecutive years) the School Superintendent will consider and may recommend for Board approval a boundary review.

Be it resolved that effective in the 2014-2015 school year the Halton District School Board:

a) establish and communicate a consistent Grade 1 French Immersion February registration deadline for current Halton District School Board families, with a review of the effects of this procedure be undertaken by September 2014.

b) allow students who have not been in Senior Kindergarten within the Halton District School Board, register in Grade 1 French Immersion up to the first week of school.

c) communicate and implement the assessment and admission procedure for students with French proficiency arriving in Halton after the registration deadline.

d) All elementary schools that offer Grade 1 programming must host a Grade 1 Information Evening that includes information about English program, French Immersion program and Special Education placements. If the home school does not offer French Immersion, the school their students would be directed to for French Immersion cannot host their Grade 1 Information Evening at the same time. The Special Education presentation is to be scripted by the Board’s Special Education department, to include a description of all elementary Special Education placements.

Be it resolved that the Halton District School Board present the following options for the delivery of French Immersion to the public in the Fall of 2015 for the purpose of receiving feedback, considerations and comments. Feedback will be brought to the Board for consideration in the delivery of French Immersion programming:

1. Option 1: Grade 1 (early) French immersion remains a 50% French 50% English delivery model, but entry to FI would be capped. The method of capping would be determined at a later date.

2. Option 2: Grade 1 (early) French Immersion remains at 50% French and 50% English, however all FI programs would be delivered in single track FI schools. French Immersion would be phased out of dual track schools and no new dual track schools would be considered. The location of the single track schools would be determined at a later date.

3. Option 3: French Immersion would commence at a later entry point (mid entry); Grade 4. This would result in the delivery model of FI moving from a 50% model to at least a 80% French Immersion model. In addition the delivery of FI would occur in dual track schools only.

4. Option 4: French Immersion would commence at a later entry point (mid entry); Grade 4. This would result in the delivery model of FI moving from a 50% model to at least an 80% French Immersion model. In addition the delivery of FI would occur in single track FI schools only.

The Halton district school board has approximately 63,000 students in 86 elementary and 18 secondary schools. This enrolment projection results in an overall increase of 1.5% as compared to the 2015/2016 school year.

Kelly Amos

Board chair Kelly Amos expressed some disappointment at the short amount of time trustees have been given to review the recommendations and discuss concerns with their constituents. The trustees had less than five days to review a complex document.

What the board appears to be suggesting is that the roll out of French Immersion classes be cut back to create some time for parents to think about just what it is they want to do and then allow the board the time it needs to make it all happen.

It is messy – but there is some progress.

getting new - yellowStewart and the trustees that direct him have their hands full. It may not be that quiet a summer on the education front.

The Board will vote on this recommendation on June 15th. The board expects there to be a number of delegations – there will be a special delegation night on June 13.


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What do they do with all the funds raised? Plenty!

artsorange 100x100By Pepper Parr

May 28, 2016


The annual Art Sale raises a lot of money. As an event is draws a piece of work from Robert Bateman – he has donated a piece of his art every year for the past 38 years.

What do they do with the funds raised?


In 2015..


There was a time when art was taught in schools – not any more. If a child is to get an art education and the sense o accomplishment that goes with it – they head for the art gallery.

2,751 school’s children’s horizons were expanded
1,374 participants in course found fulfillment during 24,108 participant hours
1,383 participants delighted in art through outreach to 86 community groups
94,837 life enhancing excursions in the sanctuary of art and culture
Over 400 artists contribute to the culture of our community, while making their own dreams come true.

Important initiatives:
School outreach programs, affordable art classes and camps, art therapy for seniors with dementia and children/adults with developmental disorders

Over 20 regional, national and international exhibitions a year, as well as the world’s largest collection of Canadian contemporary ceramics.

Wallace with Wale George Dir Programs at BAC

Former Member of Parliament Mike Wallace on a tour of the kilns at the art gallery.

Add to that the Annual Soup bowl event.

And of course the Art Gallery is home to the Guilds that were the reason the place came into being.  There are over 300 volunteers in a building that has had pieces added to it over time – it is quite easy to get a little lost.

Johnathan Smith

Johnathan Smith, curator of the permanent ceramics collection watches artist Peter Powning making clay impressions of artifacts.

The Art Galley was the place Peter Powning took clay impressions  of objects brought in by citizen that were later cast in bronze and placed on the spiral Stella that stands outside the Performing Arts Centre

The gallery is open seven days a week – and there is no admission.

The city provides just under $1 million as a grant to the Art Gallery each year.

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Region begins the process of protecting the public from West Nile virus.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 27th, 2106


The pests will be back soon – mosquitos.

That bite is a quite a bit bigger than most people realize.

As part of its commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of residents through public education and preventative programs, Halton Region has begun its annual larviciding program to reduce the risk of West Nile virus (WNV) in the community. This program is implemented in public property locations across Halton Region.


This is how the West Nile virus gets transmitted.

Larviciding is the process of applying pesticides to objects such as catch basins, where mosquito larvae have been found. Larvicide is applied when other attempts at reducing mosquito breeding sites haven’t worked to minimize the risk of West Nile virus and is usually applied either in catch basins or in large bodies of standing water on public property. This preventative program reduces the adult mosquito population, helping to stop mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus that are often found in standing water.

“West Nile virus continues to be a concern in communities across Canada which is why Halton Region remains committed to monitoring and implementing programs to prevent and protect residents against this disease,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr.

“By working together with the community, we will continue to reduce the risk of West Nile virus and keep our community safe and healthy.”

“Larviciding is just one part of our West Nile virus prevention program which includes public education, monitoring and surveillance, eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and larviciding,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health. “By eliminating standing water sites and by covering up outside at dusk and dawn and applying DEET or lcaridin, we can reduce the occurrence of West Nile virus in our communities.”

Halton residents can help reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes by removing objects that may hold water, such as bird baths, plant pots, old toys and tires. If residents see standing water on public property, they can report it to Halton Region by emailing or dialing 311.

Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

• Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
• Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.
• Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
• Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET or Icaridin.
• Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.

A map showing the locations of standing water sites on public property where larvicide is applied is available at For more information about West Nile virus, please visit or dial 311.

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