One more day added to Professional development days for teachers

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 14th, 2016


The Halton District School Board is adding an Professional Activity Day to the school calendar – Friday, April 8, 2016 is the day you will have to find something else for the kids to do.

April 8The additional day is part of the negotiated terms bargained between the Ministry of Education and the federations representing Ontario teachers.

Schools will be closed to students and there will be no classes on Friday, April 8, 2016. This date has been added to the School Year Calendar posted on the Board’s website.

The Easter holiday is at the end of March.

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Public board of education trustees seem to want to get paid more - want to hire more educational assistants as well.

News 100 yellowBy Walter Byj

January 13th, 2016


The Halton District School Board started the year with an agenda that had few action items but a number of” For Action “and information points. This was going to be a quick, quick meeting

The first item was Trustee Collard’s (Burlington) Ombudsman motion which passed unanimously.

Collard Amy

Burlington trustee on the public Board of Education Amy Collard.

Be it resolved that the Halton District School Board trustees and staff review the current internal process for public complaints in light of the Office of the Ombudsman new mandate to investigate public complaints regarding school boards and report back to the Board by the second meeting in April, 2016.

This was in response to the recent mandate by the province to allow the Ombudsman’s office to investigate complaints within the school system. This motion will attempt to find a solution whereby the local board would have a role in the process.

This was followed by the board unanimously passing the “Board Recognition Program”. The policy had been posted on the board website for the required 25 days. This program will recognize those individuals within the Halton board that show exemplary contributions. It is open to students, staff and the community.

The board then passed on to the” For Action” portion of the meeting. This usually gives notice of motions that will be acted on in following meetings.

Be it resolved that the Halton District School Board approve the revised Trustee Honoraria to reflect the adjustment to the enrollment amount per Trustee Honoraria Policy.

This motion will be voted on at the next meeting.

The next motion was the recommendations of the striking committee (They recommend which committees trustees will sit on)

Be it resolved that the Halton District School Board approve the trustee committee appointments as outlined in Report 16003.

Although this was to be voted on at the next meeting, the trustees unanimously agreed to wave the rules and voted on the motion which was passed unanimously.
The next item concerned the hiring of additional Educational Assistants for the Halton Board.

Be it resolved the Halton District School Board authorize the Director to allocate 35 additional Educational Assistants to the system to address the special education needs of students, AND THAT the expenditure of approximately $775,000 (February 1-June 30, 2016) be funded through Contingency funds and anticipated 2015/16 Surplus funds
During the budget planning for this year, the decision was made to maintain the same level of staff as the previous year. However, a large amount of unanticipated students with special needs entered the Halton system and this necessitated an increase in EA.

Grebenc - expressive hands

Andrea Grebenc represent Burlington on the public board of education.

During the discussion period, Superintendent Zonneveld said all 35 would not be needed immediately but that 25 would start right away. Chair Amos requested that the rules be waved so that this motion could be voted on today. Trustee Grebenc (Burlington) was cautious in waving the rules as she felt the public might want some input on this motion. However, when the vote to wave the rules was taken, it was unanimous.

The following discussion brought up a number of points;

How can the Educational Assistant funding process be improved
Where will the Educational Assistants come from?
Monies need to be built into the budget for next year
Should additional funds come from the provincial government?
We should analyze the types of needs that are presented

The motion then went to a vote and was passed unanimously.

Director Miller, on behalf of Superintendent Dyson, presented a brief overview of recruitment for French Immersion teachers. The Halton Board will continue to attend Career Fairs in an ongoing effort to hire enough teachers for the growing French Immersion uptake in Halton. With fewer education graduates next year, the future is somewhat grim. Some graduates prefer to stay close to home (most schools are not close to Halton) while other boards hire at the fair while Halton hires later. This, coupled with a high demand from other boards will make the recruitment process difficult.

Hammil + Miller

Director of |Education Stuart Miller, on the right, chats with MM Robinson teacher Dave Hammel

Director Miller then added a few of his own comments. He noted that the board website is in the initial stages of an overhaul. Slight improvements to date have made the site more user friendly and there is a more easy flow in accessing information. Videos of the recent Program Viability presentations are available along with a questionnaire wanting public input on English/French programming in Halton.

Miller pointed out that the board will now be entering the second phase of program viability by getting public input and that they have met with the company that will conduct the focus groups.

One hour and eleven minutes after the start, the meeting concluded.

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High school students begin their six week race to build a robot as part of a North American competition.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 12, 2016


There were hundreds of them. The kept streaming into the room and immediately headed for the table that had hundreds of donuts of every imaginable flavour laid out.

Donut table

Tough to make a donut choice from a table like this.

Later in the day when this small hoard of young people had to be fed the pizza was brought into the rooms on small trolleys.

How did the Board of Education manage to get more than 500 young people out early on a Saturday morning? They were there to get the details on the robotics competition that Burlington students have been part of for 19 years.

It is one of the city’s best kept secrets – the crime is that it is a secret – the event gets next to no media coverage.

Hall full of students

They were an attentive audience – they were there to get the instructions they needed for the competition they were going to engage in. This was serious stuff.

The daylong event took place at the Gary Allan High school and had participants from throughout the Region.

The starting point was the broadcast of a video that was shown across North America to students in auditoriums who wanted to get the fundamentals of the robotics challenge.

Hammil + Miller

Dave Hammel from MM Robinson and Director of Education Stewart Miller exchange a laugh during the first phase of the North American robotics competition.

Under strict rules, limited resources, and the guidance of volunteer mentors including engineers, teachers, business professionals, parents, alumni and more, teams of 25+ students have just six weeks to build and program robots to perform challenging tasks against a field of competitors. They must also raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and perform community outreach. In addition to learning valuable STEM and life skills, participants are eligible to apply for $25+ million in college scholarships.


The challenge in the 2016 First robotics competition was to breach the castle stronghold of the other team – using robots to do the breaching.

FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff. The new game and playing field are unveiled and teams receive a Kickoff Kit made up of donated items and components worth tens of thousands of dollars – and only limited instructions. Working with adult Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the Regional and District events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

The Gazette intends to follow the robotics team from Burlington Central High school and M M Robinson high school. Our first look at these two groups was an amazing time – we saw some of the brightest young people we have come across in this city.

Stay tuned.

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Friends of Freeman show the community what transparency and accountability are all about. Good on them - will others follow this sterling example?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2016


Transparency and accountability are words that flow out of city hall – every organization uses the words – it is often difficult to see any meat on those bones.

There are also a number of organizations that get funding from various sources; grants and donations seem to be the biggest sources.

FoF Mello with stone

John Mello with one of the Whinstone stones that are a part of the history of the station – there is a work day coming up when the things have to be moved.

The Friends of Freeman station have produced a report that sets out what they brought in in terms of funds and how they spent them.

This level of transparency and accountability is a model for all the non-profits in the city – the public has a right to know what you are doing with the funds that you get.

For Friends of Freeman – here is their story.

Consolidated Financials: To date we have raised about $260,000 which represents about 50% of the estimated cost to restore the station and make it a viable asset to our community.
The following is summary of our budget expenditures to date:

Construction materials, including lumber, paint, hardware, tools….. 11%
Preparing building prior to move and the move…. 25%
New Roof ….4%
Hydro Installation……3%
Removal of Hazardous materials….4%
Grading Excavation and back fill …23%
Basement (foundation)….17%
Publicity and public relations, including Web site, email services, postage, bank charges, permits, insurance etc…..3%
Storage rental…..2%
Acquisition of artifacts…..8%

FoF Aasgaard with sample pictures

John Aasgaard with some of the pictures that are in the Freeman Station collection.

FoF station masters office

Grill being fitted into the wicket of the Station Master’s office.

Our organization is 100% unpaid volunteers.

Things slow down a little in the winter – but donations and volunteers are always accepted – the xxx stones are going to get moved soon – strong backs needed for that task.

Set out below are the chores that are waiting to get done along with some meetings. when the Missus wants you out of the house the Station is a pretty good place to scoot over to.

January 13th – 7 PM – FOFS Board meeting – City Hall – all members welcome
(We meet the second Wednesday of each month same place and time)
January 16th – 12 Noon – BDRC team meeting
– the Burlington Diorama Railway Club regular planning meeting
— Frank Rose room, Burlington Public Library
January 23rd – 9 AM – Whinstone moving day –
for this volunteer work day, strong hands needed, gloves,
steel-toed boots if you have them
January 30th-10 am-4 pm Train Show St Johns Church Hwy 5 Burlington
January 31st-10 am-3.30 pm Marritt Hall 630 Trinity Rd S, Jerseyville, ON
February6th Heritage Day Burlington Central Library 10 am-2 pm

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Halton District School Board welcomes Syrian refugees; 12 students have been welcomed to the area since December 2015

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 7, 2015


The Halton District School Board has welcomed 12 Syrian students in Milton, Oakville and Burlington since December of 2015.

The Board has been advised an additional 13 students are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. While Halton Region is not among the seven communities designated to receive federally-sponsored Syrian refugees, the Board anticipates more refugees will be arriving in the coming months as Halton is a location of choice for many privately sponsored refugees.

Syrian children

Syrian children at a refugee camp in Jordan learning something about Canada.

Halton, and Ontario, are home to one of the most diverse populations in the world, where generations have come to build new lives. According to the Halton Multicultural Council (HMC Connections), approximately 100 refugees are welcomed to Halton on an annual basis. The current commitment to resettle Syrian refugees will increase the number of those settling in Halton in 2016.

To date, the Halton District School Board has supported the settlement and inclusion of refugees into our elementary and secondary schools and communities through our Welcome Centre, located inside Gary Allan High School in Milton (the former E.C. Drury High School) at 215 Ontario St South.

“We are pleased that in our own small way, we are contributing to the much needed aid of those who have lived through and continue to face great challenges in their homeland, says Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support our Federal and Provincial governments in this humanitarian cause.”

Refuge fund - city hall

City hall staff refugee fund very close to its target.

The following actions are being taken by the Halton District School Board to ensure a successful transition for Syrian refugees:

• With support from, and in consultation with, the Ministry of Education and the Federal government, the Halton District School Board will help settle Syrian refugees and integrate them into our communities, through our Welcome Centre, and into our elementary and secondary schools.

• All students who are new to the Halton District School Board and who speak a language other than English as their first language visit the Welcome Centre as their point of entry to receive settlement supports and academic assessments.

• The Halton District School Board’s School Programs department is developing English Literacy Development (ELD) and English as a Second Language (ESL) programming and instructional supports and resources for teachers.

• ESL instructional program leaders, in coordination with the Welcome Centre and schools, will support classroom learning and co-curricular experiences in academically appropriate and culturally responsive and relevant approaches. Examples of some resources developed include Q&A scenario-based documents, lesson plans appropriate to English Proficiency Assessment levels and entry points within the grade and subject curriculum, Arabic specific teaching tools and lessons to include all students in literacy learning through Arabic/English translation.

• A central resource teacher will be assigned to assist with the process of coordinating support for schools for ESL and ELD students. Based on volume and levels of language proficiency, schools may need assistance in integrating refugee students.

• School administrators will attend professional learning sessions with their ESL/ELD teachers to learn about targeted and focused supports for welcoming students and families, engaging newcomer families into school life, and developing a support network to enhance and enrich the learning experiences and inclusion of all newcomers in their communities.

• Ongoing support for all newcomers to the Halton District School Board includes orientation programs about the Ontario educational system and requirements. Newcomers are also provided information about the processes and programs specific to the Halton District School Board, the provision of interpretation services, as well as the translation of Board and school documents. Furthermore, information about parent and student engagement through Community Connects programming is available to promote academic success and social and emotional health.

• Many schools are engaged in initiatives to support Syrian refugees as they arrive and continue to grow and learn and become members of our Halton communities. For example, Oodenawi Public School in Oakville has developed ‘play kits’ to provide to students when they arrive at the Welcome Centre. The Halton Learning Foundation provides donations to students in need, including Syrian refugees.

The city of Burlington staff have created a fund to support a refugee family – they are very close to their objective.

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Pain, tactility, and thermoception are guides in this maze - a 35 minute video installation at the AGB

artsblue 100x100By Staff

January 6th, 2015


Arms Reach is a video installation by Jenn E Norton that depicts a haptic labyrinth.

Norton at AGB video installation

Jenn E. Norton, Arms Reach, 35 minute, video installation, 2016.

Pain, tactility, and thermoception are guides in this maze that can only be solved through touch, accompanied by a haunting score by musician Bry Webb of the Constantines.
Jenn E. Norton’s Arms Reach on now at AGB until January 31, 2016

The work is in the RBC Community Gallery.

Jenn E. Norton, Arms Reach, 35 minute, video installation, 2016.

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Halton students get refurbished computers from Siemens - software licenses included.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 6th, 2016



Siemens Canada recently provided $155,000 worth of refurbished computer laptops and programming licences, as well as volunteer support towards educational activities for the Halton District School Board.


Laptops donated to Halton students – software included.

Siemens partnered with Corporations for Community Connections (CFCC), a Canadian charity specializing in the refurbishment and charitable distribution of donated decommissioned corporate computers, to provide 140 refurbished laptops to the Board. All donated laptops were prepared and tested during CFCC workshops, primarily staffed by Siemens volunteers at the end of November.

Laptops will support elementary and secondary schools. Eighty of them will be used in the elementary Robotics program in 16 elementary schools while the remaining 60 laptops will be used to support Technological Design courses and upcoming Robotics projects at secondary schools. The laptops will also assist in preparing students for the Architectural and Mechanical CADD competitions in the Halton Skills Competition.

Dave Lewis, Coordinator, Instructional Program Leader for Technological Education for the Halton District School Board said “ “We are excited for the Siemens contribution as the laptop donation will support STEM learning at elementary and secondary school levels,”

“We also look forward to using the Siemens-provided software in our classrooms and hope to explore new possibilities in 3-D design.”

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Dates for the public meetings on the Strategic Plan corrected

Strategic Plan WorkbookOooops!

It happens.
Mistakes get made.
Some of the dates for the public meetings on the Strategic Plan were changed – and we missed updating our data base.
Earlier today we published a list of dates that were incorrect.
Sorry – the correct dates are set out below.


Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016
Robert Bateman High School
5151 New St.
7 – 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016
Burlington Senior Centre
2285 New St.
Multi-purpose Room
7 – 9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
LaSalle Park Pavilion
50 North Shore Blvd. E.
Main Hall (upper level)
7 – 9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
Mountainside Recreation Centre
2205 Mount Forest Dr.
Community Room 2
7 – 9 p.m.

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Halton students to be given the 2016 robotic challenge - then have six weeks to show what they can create.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 5, 2015



Another FIRST!

The Halton District School Board will be hosting its 2016 FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology this Saturday, January 9, 2016.

Robotics NOT canada

Will it work? The level of concentration is intense.

Approximately 450 students, teachers, community mentors and parents are expected to attend the Saturday, January 9, 2016 kickoff, starting at 9:00 am at the New Street Education Centre (3250 New Street, Burlington). Students and mentors will receive this year’s robotic challenge and will have six weeks to build their team’s robot before taking it to competitions across North America.

During the January 9 event, Siemens Canada, a key sponsor of the Halton District School Board’s Robotics program, will be recognized for its continued involvement.

robotics - not COB

These are the students that are going to come up with the ideas that will make this planet a better place to live on – won’t they?

The Board will also unveil a new partnership with ArcelorMittalDofasco, on a new Advanced Manufacturing program that will start in September 2016 at M. M. Robinson High School. The program is aimed at encouraging students to consider employment in the skilled trades, and engineering and technologies sectors.

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Public invited to comment on the draft version of the Strategic plan - the document matters.

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2016


The city is getting close to having a Strategic Plan it will take to Council for approval.

Strategic Plans are created by each Council which they use to set out what they plan to do during their tem of office.

Strategic Plan WorkbookTraditionally a Strategic Plan is to cover the term of office for the city council that created the document.

This time around council has stretched the document to cover a twenty-five year time frame – however any future council I not committed to anything a previous council put in place.

The 2011 Strategic Plan was a relatively strong document, especially when compared to those done previously which were not much more than a collection of nice pictures and a lot of fluffy rhetoric.

Strat Plan meeting part of crowd

Members of city council, staff and people from the Region took part in the discussion and debate on the several drafts of the Strategic Plan that the public now gets to comment on.

The draft plan which has gone through a number of drafts with significant changes made at each version. Much of the creation of the document this time around was done by the consultants. KPMG, the city hired to work with them. The consultants would listen, prepare a document and bring it back for solid discussion and debate.

The version the public will see is the draft that members of council are content with for the most part. Now they want to hear what the citizen’s wants to say about the document.

Residents from across Burlington are invited to attend one of four upcoming open houses; the first has already taken place. There are three scheduled for January:


Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016
Robert Bateman High School
5151 New St.
7 – 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016
Burlington Senior Centre
2285 New St.
Multi-purpose Room
7 – 9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
LaSalle Park Pavilion
50 North Shore Blvd. E.
Main Hall (upper level)
7 – 9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
Mountainside Recreation Centre
2205 Mount Forest Dr.
Community Room 2
7 – 9 p.m.


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Fewer arrests for driving while under the influence; more warnings given. Are people getting the message?

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 5th, 2016


Halton Regional Police take impaired driving very seriously.

Impaired driving by both alcohol and drug is a costly risk many drivers continue to take. Officers take an aggressive approach to combat impaired driving throughout the year and work in close partnership with M.A.D.D. Halton Region Chapter to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere.


Police doing RIDE checks. Arrests were lower this year.

In the month of December, during the busy festive holiday season, impaired driving education and enforcement was increased in an effort to keep our roads and our communities safe.

Throughout the Halton Region, 31 impaired driving arrests were made in December 2015, a number down 45% from the previous year which resulted in 56 impaired driving arrests.

With just over 15,000 vehicles checked through our RIDE stops, there were 46 three-day suspensions issued, which is a result of blowing a “warn” on the alcohol screening device. This is a 65% increase from 28 in 2014.

Impaired driving arrests are down; people driving within the warning range are up. Are people getting the message?

The Regional Police did not provide a breakdown of the charges that were laid in each municipality.

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Pedestrians being given more time to get to the other side of the road - how will the police enforce this one?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2016


Speeding and aggressive driving are the top complaints by residents in the Halton Region, according to the Regional Police.

Officers work diligently to educate drivers about the dangers of bad driving behaviour and conduct enforcement to ensure people are getting the message. The province’s Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act requires drivers to be more patient and alert when driving through busy pedestrian intersections.

On January 1, 2016, drivers in Ontario will have to wait until a pedestrian has reached the other side of a designated school crossing or designated pedestrian crossover, or face a fine between $150.00 and $500.00 and three demerit points.


The driver of this car would be subject to a stiff fine were the police to have been on hand. New rules are now in place.

Drivers will have to stop and yield the entire width of the road to the pedestrian, instead of half the road as was previously the case. Cyclists must follow the same rules as drivers under the Highway Traffic Act, and thereby must stop and wait or face the same fine.

These rules apply at pedestrian crossovers identified with specific signs, road markings and lights – the new rules do not apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, unless a school crossing guard is present.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure our roads are the safest they can be. Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians must share the road and look out for each other. Make 2016 your safest driving year yet!

Good luck on getting the cyclists to adhere to this rule.

A number of months ago, perhaps it was last year, we recall hearing a police officer tell city Councillor’s that the people they stopped for speeding on a residential street were usually found to be people who lived on the street.

Human nature – it will eventually be the end of us.

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Public school board would like all kindergarten registrations to be completed no later than February 5th.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 4th. 2016


The Halton District School Board is accepting registrations for Junior and Senior Kindergarten for September 2016.

Kindergarten -firstday-390x285You start the process by dropping by or calling your designated elementary school to find out which dates have been established for Kindergarten registration. Parents are asked to register their children by February 5, 2016. Access to the school library is provided after a student is registered.

Please bring the following original documents when registering:

Proof of address (any two of the following current documents): lease or deed, car registration, property tax bill, utility bill, residential telephone bill, moving bill, health card, bank statement, credit card statement, correspondence with a government agency
Proof of age: birth certificate, passport or baptismal/faith document for your child.
Proof of citizenship: birth certificate or passport or Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Permanent Resident card.
Proof of immunization, or philosophical or religious exemption forms – (completed medical authorization where necessary).

If you are not the child’s parent, or if you have sole custody, please bring proof of custody (court order).

To register for Fall 2016, Junior Kindergarten children must be 4 years old by December 31, 2016, and Senior Kindergarten children must be 5 years old by December 31, 2016.

To determine your designated home school, access our website, and click the ‘Find A School’ button located on the right-hand side of the webpage.

If you require language assistance registering your student for school, please contact the Halton Multicultural Council at 905-842-2486. Parents should contact the

Principal/Vice-principal if they require accessibility accommodations in order to register their child for Kindergarten.

To learn more about the Halton District School Board’s Full Day Kindergarten program, visit or click here.

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Getting your children ready for that first year of real school - grade 1, the beginning of their first career choice.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 4th, 2016


Every school in the Halton District School Board with Grade 1 classes will be running  parent sessions in January to provide information about Grade 1 programming.

Parents of Senior Kindergarten students are encouraged to check with their child’s school for specific dates. These information sessions will enable parents to learn about the transitions from an early learning environment to a Grade 1 classroom.

HDSB sign with flagDuring these information sessions, principals and teachers will share information about the classroom learning approaches used for reading, mathematics concepts and French language instruction in Grade 1.

Understanding the reading and writing learning expectations for Grade 1 students is important information for all parents as it supports them in helping their children at home. Parents will also learn more about the school activities and support systems available for students.

Information evenings are as follows:

On January 12, 13 or 14, 2016 English Program, Single Track Schools will run their information sessions (Parents are asked to check with their child’s school for dates).

On January 12, 13 or 14, 2016 English and French Immersion Dual Track schools will run their information sessions. (Parents are asked to check with their child’s school for dates).

On January 20 or 21, 2016, French Immersion Single Track schools will host an information session.

Grade 1 French Immersion registration begins on January 22. Forms are posted on arents must submit their registration forms to their home school no later than Friday, Feb. 5 2016.

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Halton District Public School Board: a 2015 review.

opinionandcommentBy Walter Byj

January 1, 2105


The six new trustees elected to the Halton District School Board, out of a total of 11, had to accelerate get through a steep learning curve when they found themselves faced with a number of issues that were the legacy of previous boards.

As in the past, the HDSB trustees were model administrators and conducted day to day business in an efficient manner. The introduction of the new Health and Education Curriculum was carefully studied by both the trustees and staff and with the assurance of proper training for the teaching staff the new curriculum was introduced to Halton students with little fanfare.

New schools were built in Oakville and Milton and even though lead time was far from ideal, the schools were built on time with few inconveniences. With the Close the Gap project, the board continued to upgrade older schools so that students would have the same classroom benefits the newer schools have; air conditioning and better access to wifi and library services.

Through the Long Tern Accommodation Plan, they reviewed the status of the various schools within Halton and realized that although Halton as a region had a growing population with the requirement of additional schools, there were areas, such as the south of Burlington, where school attendance was falling and consolidation of schools may need to take place.


Pineland Public School

There were other issues that although identified in 2015 that will be resolved 2016 if not later.

The first thorny issues the trustees faced was the decision that Pineland school be converted to a totally French Immersion school thereby disrupting the ideal of having a community school that served the needs of all those in the neighbourhood. Instead, Pineland was to become a school that was now serving a large swath of students in the south of Burlington who were bused in while those in the immediate neighbourhood would now need to go to a school that was originally outside their boundary.

A numbers game was played justifying the change, but the numbers game were in part a reflection of previous decisions when the French Immersion program was introduced in Halton. No one can ever predict the success of any program, but French Immersion has exceeded expectations to the point where it is now negatively affecting the English program at the elementary level.

The board has formed the Program Viability Committee to fully review and with input from the public provide a solution for upcoming years. As noted before, this will not go down easy in parts of Halton.

Getting to and from school has become problematic within the Halton region. After ceding to the various demands such as larger, friendlier parking lots and curved laneways from both the municipality and public, our schools have become extremely car friendly, resulting in congestion on a regular basis. Combined with one of the more liberal school busing programs, the board is now reviewing how it can encourage more students to use active transportation (walking and biking) as a method of getting to school.

This will continue to be a hot issue for 2016 with potential of much debate.

In January, the board faced the issue of start times for elementary and secondary students. Reviewing studies that stated that school times for secondary students, in some cases are starting too early, the board wanted to alter the start times of secondary students so that the students could have a later start time. However, after much debate and research change would not be easy.

School busses - winter

Any change in school start times would be a logistical nightmare for the bus schedules

With many students (elementary and secondary) using school transportation, any change to school times for secondary could affect the start times of elementary students.

Also, the HDSB shares school busing with the Catholic board. A change for one would require the co-operation of the other or face the possibility of going alone. To date, no changes have yet occurred.

The board did question the viability of using public schools as polling stations for the various municipal, provincial and federal elections. The potential for harm to students was the genesis of this review. It is currently in the embryonic stage but ideas such as potential weekend voting have been raised. Any solution would require all three levels of government so do not expect any quick solution on this one.

Eaule David

David Euale gives retirement a third try – seems to have succeeded this time.

In February, after five years as Director of Education, David Euale announced his retirement, effective August 31st, much to the chagrin of the board and staff. With the mandate of finding the best possible replacement, the board started a provincial wide search for a new director. At times like this, some argue that new blood from outside is at times necessary to stimulate and add a different perspective.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller; Director o Education, Halton District School Board

The board decided to promote within and Associate Director of Education Stuart Miller was hired as the new Director of Education. Director Miller is highly respected by both staff and the board and is highly qualified to face the challenges of 2016.

In a thriving democracy, people who are voted into any office are there as representatives of the total population and bring the voice and desires of the mass to an elected body. This would include the highest level in the country, the Canadian Parliament, to elected members of our various school boards. These bodies set out to create policies for not only the immediate future, but also for years in the future. These decisions can lead to the success or potential problems if issues are not properly vetted. So how does the Halton District School Board stack up?

In Burlington, one of the trustees, Amy Collard, was acclaimed while two others, Andrea Grebenc and Richelle Papin received 12% and 13% of registered voters. Leah Reynolds received 17% of registered voters. Based on the number of votes cast, all three were close to or over 50%.

MMW + Leah Reynolds

Is one of these two going to follow the other? Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and school board trustee Leah Reynolds. There is a “geezer” in ward 2 who would like to upset that apple cart.

The low turnout is not their fault, they elected to run and it may not be the public’s fault as they themselves may not be familiar with the issues. However, we are electing a group of people to oversee an annual budget of close to $700 million and yet do not vet our candidates. The trustees themselves are not representative of the community as all are female, a rarity in Ontario. This in no way disqualifies them, but once again is not representative. In addition, the majority of trustees are not reflective of the population base within parts of Halton.

There are many within Halton, specifically Burlington that no longer have children attending school. This includes the growing senior’s population. Trustees communicate often with parents within the system but one wonders how often those without children have any input into the decision making process of the board.

With the province of Ontario in a huge deficit position, the flow of money to the public is being reduced and all organizations will need to be creative in finding solutions to limited funding and all citizens need to be included in the process.

Walter Byj

Walter Byj: education reporter.

Walter Byj has been the Gazette reporter on education for more than a year. He is a long-time resident of the city and as a parent has in the past delegated to the school board.

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What happened the last three months of last year? Some pretty good stuff actually - and one more small pier story.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 31, 2015


The last quarter of the year – what mattered most?

There was some movement, finally, on the Strategic Plan; the school board finds itself taking a very hard look at the level French will be taught; intensification is getting good discussion. Many think we have already reached the intensification level the province will expect us to grow to  in terms of population increase the subject got a lot of public discussion.

Showtime AGB - poor lighting

Walt Rickli’s sculpture – Showtime at the AGB.

Rickli sculpture unveiled at the Art Gallery – donated by Dan Lawrie.

Active transportation: Never heard of it ? You will – a Burlington school board has some ideas she wants to see become policy.

Bylaw prohibits feeding of wild animals – including coyotes – does not go into effect for one year. City wants to educate people particularly around Fairchild Park.

Summer school enrollment increases in public secondary schools – grew by 15%

Tom Muir wants to know why the city missed a 180 day deadline on a major project opposed by almost everyone.

Geraldos at LaSalle Park and Spencers on the Waterfront asking for lease renewals – one of them wants to lock in parking spaces for 15 years.

Parking to get a serious review: what do we have – what do we need? Consultants being hired.

Mary Lou Tanner

Mary Lou Tanner – city’s new Director o Planning.

City snags a planner from the Niagara Region: Mary Lou Tanner to head up Planning for the city.

Council finds the city manager’s Work Plan a little on the ambitious side and lacking prioritization.

The province wants to put more money into off road bike paths where would Burlingtonians like to see those paths built?

Public meeting to learn what the board thinks it should do with the French and English programs at the elementary levels.

Planning department creates drawings to show what parts of the city could look like with intensification in specific locations.

Public hears what the HDSB thinks could be done to manage the trend to increased interest in French immersion.

Grade 9 math test scores for Burlington public high schools release: Robinson and Pearson don’t rank all that well. Why?

First glimpse of the draft Strategic Plan for the balance of this term of office – some rash deliverable dates were put on the table.

Burlington is now represented by three women in Ottawa: Gould, Damoff and Raitt

Public school board posts policy documents on its web site – not that easy to find – Gazette provides instructions.

Henrys pier #1

A smaller pier.

The pier – a footnote.

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A visual map that is worth looking at - Burlington has an amazing amount of public art.

theartsBy Staff

January 1, 2016


The cultural community that we saw come to life in 2012-13 has great expectations for 2016 – that may or may not happen – depends on how much money the city has to spend on the cultural file or is prepared to spend on culture and that should be known by the end of January.

In December the city unveiled six interesting pieces of public art that seem to have been well received. There was some exceptional art that was made public that got very little in the way of public reaction – to the chagrin of the artists that created the work.

The Gazette came across a visual map the city has created of the public art that exists. The production values of the map leave a little to be desired and for some reason that is hard to fathom the map shows every blessed bike rack that has been put up – the bike racks are a delight to look at – they are so attractive that many people fail to realize they were meant to be used to secure a bicycle.

The map is worth spending some time on.


Click for the map.

The six latest pieces of public art.


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Make it the kind of year you want it to be!

Happy New Year 2016

It is a brand new clean slate – how much of the baggage from 2015 you want to drag into this New Year is you choice.

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What was the best thing that happened to city in 2015; What was the worst thing that happened to us in 2015 and what was important but got totally ignored?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 30th, 2105


What was the best thing that happened to city in 2015; What was the worst thing that happened to us in 2015 and what was important but got totally ignored?

IGNORED in 2015
The province announced earlier in the year that municipalities were going to be able to change the way the votes cast in municipal, Regional and Board of Education elections were to be counted.

The province is reviewing the 1996 Municipal Elections Act, to explore how ranked ballots could be implemented by municipalities across the province. Ranked ballots allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference instead of voting for a single candidate. The option to use ranked ballots would give municipalities an alternative to the current municipal voting system.

CORRECTED election results iconThe review will also assess whether the rules about electing municipal leaders are clear and simple and whether the Act reflects how modern campaigns and elections should be run. To that end, the review will evaluate the current effectiveness of rules about campaign financing, third party advertising, enforcement and accessibility in municipal elections.

A working group made up of municipal clerks, municipal representatives and ranked ballot advocates will provide the government with advice on how to make ranked ballots work best in Ontario.

The Mayor said he was onside for this one – he usually is onside for anything that is progressive – the problems is with his follow through – and to the best of the Gazette’s knowledge nothing has been done. It is now probably too late to get any change in place before the next municipal election is called.

The Mayor may have a team of people burrowing away in the back ground sussing out what the issues are and what the challenges are going to be. Mayor Rick Goldring tends to be media adverse for the most part. From time to time he does a dilly – the posting of that selfie the day he took the bus to work wasn’t his brightest idea.

When he was given an all-electric car to drive around so Burlington Hydro could begin to gather data on just what the electricity requirement might be for a busy person who chose to use an electric vehicle there wasn’t a word from the Mayor’s office. The Gazette literally bumped into the story in the city hall parking lot.

The selling of the three lots of land on the edge of the lake between Market Street and St Paul. The city, along with the Ministry of Natural Resources,  owned the land – there was no reason to sell it. However, staff did list selling the property as one of the possible the options. The other options were to lease the land or turn it into a Window on the Lake.


The land shown as parkette was sold to the abutting property owners.

When the owners of property that abutted this land became aware that selling the land was an option they moved quickly to purchase the property, which they had every riht to do. They hired Peter Rusin to research the muddied history of the property and he produced a report that apparently justified the sale of the property. The Rusin report was never made public.

The Mayor said publicly that selling the land was showing leadership. What he did was sell one of the crown jewels – the land is likely to never come back into public hands.

When more than 350 citizens gathered at the Mainway Recreation Centre to talk about what they could do to help the thousands of people who had fled the Middle East where their homes were ravaged and war torn.

Dec 1 audience 400 +

The Mayor opened the meeting and had every reason to be proud of the hundreds of people in the room. It was the city at its best. 

There wasn’t one single remark about not helping. More than 30 people spoke up and explained hat they were doing and where they needed some help.

The concern that the meeting could go terribly wrong was evident with the number of police at the back of the room including a deputy chief and the Superintendent of the Burlington station. They weren’t needed.

The Mayor opened the meeting and had every reason to be proud of the hundreds of people in the room. It was the city at its best and probably the best thing that happened in the city in2015

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2015 in review - July, August and September - some significant appointments made.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 29, 2015


The year in review – July, August and September – how did the city do?

July 2015
Union wage settlements of 4.25% and 6.95% negotiated by CUPE.

Burlington Transit asking its riders what they want

HOV lanesWe get to use HOV lanes with two occupants in the vehicle – as we prepare for the day when we have to pay to use that lane with just a single occupant in the car.

Burlington’s federal Liberals launch their campaign; they sense a victory in the air.

Changing the culture at city hall; bringing in the department leadership needed – and getting a Code of Conduct in place for the politicians.

Federal government decides the CN Milton Logistics hub needs to benefit from the eyes of an independent panel. Truck traffic impact on Burlington roads worrisome.

Messy council debate refers the Code of Conduct to the city manager.

Flood Fairview plazaCommunity Foundation closes it books on the Disaster Relief Fund – $2.72 million distributed.

Is the Food Truck a fad, a new phenomenon or the shape of things to come?

Is there a future for the oldest farmhouse in the downtown core? Could be if the city planners and the developer get creative.

Premier plans to make room for more politicians in the legislature.

An electric vehicle charging station will be installed in downtown Burlington at the parking garage on Locust Street.

The Flood – It was small in area and it hovered in the one place and just kept pouring – dropping almost as much rain as Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

August 2015

Can we pull it off? The potential is significant and it will certainly change the city in a rather positive way.

Premier tells Ontario Mayors they will get a better deal next time there is a localized disaster.

Suzanne HainesBurlington imports a new executive director for the Performing Arts Centre from Richmond BC; Susan Haines starts September 1st

Rebuild of the Freeman station is coming along nicely – they still need help with a lot of the work. Get in on it now – when this thing is done it will be something to be able to say you were a part of.

Where do we put 35,000 people in the next 25 years? And what will the city have in place in the way of roads and transit to move these people around?

September 2015
Hydro cuts the ribbon on a micro co-generation turbine that has the potential to contribute significantly to the city’s Community Energy Plan

Is there an Arts Council in the city’s future? Should there be one? Does anyone care?

Stuart_Miller___GalleryStuart Miller appointed Director of Education for the Halton District School Board

A fourth GO station for Burlington? It is in the works.

City Clerk opens the kimono just a little and lets you see how Council voted on recorded votes.

Most of the community and corporate affairs discussion at council was be behind closed doors – six confidential items on the list.

City challenges residents to Think Outside the Car – the process of changing the car culture has begun

Transportation Minister explains what the provincial government is going to do with rail transit – catch up and keep up!

Harper in Burlington sept 1 - 2015Prime Minister in town with a promise to build an Advanced Manufacturing hub – if he is re-elected.

The full year:

Ist quarter – January, February and March

2nd quarter – April, May and June.

4th quarter – October November and December.  To follow.

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