2015 – Year in review – top story second quarter – Flood victims get financial support.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 29, 2015


What happened to our city during the 2Q (April, May, June) of 2015?  Click on the link for the full story.

April 2015
Population shifts suggest there might be some consolidation, especially at the public elementary school level

Mayor assures audience that intensification will not impact traditional communities – Tyendaga golf course seems to be safe.


THE Ice Storm

Province gives the Region the balance of the $2.8 million promised to cover part of the cost of recovering from the ice storm December of 2013.

Community Foundation distributes $897,000 to groups in the city – highest level ever for the organization.

Strategic Plan deliberations begin – intensification and where people are going to live appears to be the question that will shape the conversation.

City and region give Transport Canada their views on how the regulations regarding public input on air park development can be changed. Progress – finally.

11,970 people take part in the 2015 CleanUp GreenUp of the city.

Transit advocates issue a short report with recommendations – will city council react?

Who are these people? They have been nominated as amongst Burlington’s Best.

Aldershot residents feel they aren’t being told the whole story – It’s not right and regrettable as well.

Councillor Dennison’s OMB hearing to overturn a Committee of Adjustment decision begins Tuesday.

Air Park entrance uly 2013

Air Park berm – built without a site plan

City and the air park are back in court – city manager proving to be a man of few words when it comes to explaining what the city is doing.

Public gets a look and a listen to the plans for upgrading Brant Square – developers hope to have it done by 2018.

Early designs for the Windows on the Lake appear to get public support – local residents don’t seem to be as impressed.

Burlington’s former Miss Canada has her sights set on the House of Commons – bye bye city hall.

Public gets first look at the design for Beachway Park: it is almost five character parks strung together

Head of the culture and heritage in Grande Prairie coming to Burlington to lead the AGB – wait till he sees the cost of a house in this city.

Foxcroft in London

Ron Foxcroft – on hi way to met the Queen.

Royalty is the next stop for Burlington’s most famous high school drop out.

Plans for rebuild of Lakeshore Road are shown lots of discussion to take place on this one: road to be raised a metre in some locations.

Province to publish graduation rates: Halton Board released numbers yesterday.

May 2015
It is going to cost $686 million to educate 62,000 students in the public school system – they might have to get by with fewer French language teachers.

Province reviewing Municipal Elections Act to give municipalities more choice in municipal elections; ranked ballot under consideration.

Ontario plans to increasing protections for Condo Owners; little late for the $4 million that was taken from a number of Burlington condo corporations.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Council during a recorded vote.

Vote on Code of Conduct deferred – Dennison wasn’t able to attend the meeting.

Does the Ghent house on Brant Street at Ghent matter historically? Should it be saved and if it should how can a city do that?

Beachway Park will cost $51 million includes everything – even the cost of removing the hydro towers.

Public will be able to take city council behavior complaints to an Integrity Commissioner once the Code of Conduct has been passed.

Test kitchen - Pop Up from the store side

The Test Kitchen Pop Up seating on Brant Street.

Pop Up Patio on Brant opens – 21 tables where two cars normally park – interesting menu and a fun place.

Mayor returns after week long trip representing Burlington in Holland during historic 70th anniversary celebrating the end of WW II

There just might be some life in the Skyway Plaza in the east end of the city – proposals and ideas are being kicked around.

Community Foundation is ready to close the file on flood relief claims $2.97 million will eventually be distributed.

June 2015
Community Foundation brings their Disaster Relief Fund drive to a close – 38 of the 310 claims were denied; $2.7 million distributed.

Residential re-sale prices brisk; up 17.7 % year over year.

Aldershot residents get an up close look at Masonry Court project “not very imaginative” was one comment.

Director of Education has failed twice at retirement; thinks he can get it right on this his third attempt – expects to leave in August.

Windows St Paul concept 2

Design for a Window on the Lake the public can actually get to.

More than respectable Windows-to-theLake designs approved by a Council Standing Committee.

Art Gallery of Burlington raises $60,000 at its Parisian themed Art Auction

Board of education does a quickie and approves spending for both capital ($62.6 million) and operating ($685.7) spending in minutes – also says it will be going along with the new sex ed curriculum .

Conservatives in new Oakville North Burlington federal riding choose Effie Triantafilipoulos over Blair Lancaster.

New Burlington riding chooses Oakville Councillor as their candidate: Pam Damoff will run for the federal Liberals in Oakville North Burlington.

What Burlingtonians told market researchers they liked and did not like about living here – what’s not to like?

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Fiorito: I wish I could end this story on environmental issues on a positive note, but I can’t. A Year in Review: The Top Environmental Stories of 2015.

News 100 greenBy Vince Fiorito

December 27, 29015


2015 was a big year for the environmental movement. It was a year of historic agreements, milestones, diversions, sensible policy making and oversights.

Justin at climatechange-summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Climate Change talks in Paris.

Internationally, the biggest environmental story was the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris which will be remembered both for its achievements and failures. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna as well as the rest of the Canadian delegation deserve recognition for their efforts to negotiate the historic Paris Agreement. As the Paris delegates were debating, atmospheric CO2 levels passed the 400ppm milestone, which is a 42% increase since the start of the industrial age only 150 years ago. The last time the earth’s atmosphere had this much CO2 was two million years ago. Back then, the earth’s climate was 6C warmer, the arctic was ice free and sea levels were about 30M higher than they are today.

If all Paris Agreement signatories respect their voluntary self imposed, non-binding limitations, CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere should stabilize near the same level they were 45 million years ago, when Greenland had crocodiles and palm trees. While the Paris agreement is most likely too little, too late to prevent extreme weather events and catastrophic environmental disasters over the long term, at least most of the world now agrees that climate change is a serious problem requiring action.

Most of the world has now pledged to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2070. Since this pledge is non-binding and voluntary, its achievement is highly unlikely. Paris Agreement signatories have agreed to meet every 5 years to review their progress (or lack of progress) and hopefully sign new agreements which may actually include mandatory limits and punitive measures for non-compliance. The Paris Agreement also includes a mechanism for countries hardest hit by climate change associated disasters to receive international aid and calls on developed countries to voluntarily share green technologies with less developed countries. The Paris Agreement isn’t much, but it is progress in the right direction.

Nationally, the biggest environmental story was the election of a new Liberal majority government, which appears to be far more aware and concerned about environmental issues than the previous Conservative majority government. As the Green Party candidate for Burlington in the last election, I must admit that I was dismayed that environmental issues which threaten to make our planet uninhabitable took a back seat to trivial debates over the clothing choices of some ethnic minorities. For most environmentalists, the words of the Justin Trudeau government are like a breath of fresh air. Hopefully the new government’s actions will prove to be equally refreshing.

Provincially, the Ontario Government finally passed three important laws to help protect the environment and environmental advocates. First, the Great Lakes Protection Act is intended to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin and create opportunities for stakeholder participation in efforts to protect, preserve, restore and create habitat. Second, the Ontario Invasive Species Act creates a framework to criminalize the possession, trafficking and release of problematic alien species which threaten Ontario’s native ecosystems.

Great Lakes System Profile Map

Great Lakes Protection Act is intended to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

Finally the Ontario government passed the Protection of Public Participation Act, which will help protect free speech from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Unfortunately this new law is not retroactive and comes too late to protect local residents Pepper Parr, Vanessa Warren, and Monte Dennis from a $100,000 Burlington Airpark libel lawsuit.

Municipally, the biggest environment story of 2015 in Burlington remains the Cootes to the Escarpment EcoPark System. In June 2013, local government and non-profit organizations in the Burlington-Hamilton area agreed to cooperatively manage nearly 1,900 hectares (4700 acres) of natural lands in Burlington and Hamilton to protect and restore what is arguably Canada’s most biologically rich and diverse ecosystem. This globally significant, environmental award winning urban park stretches from Hamilton Harbour, through Cootes Paradise to a 10-kilometre section of the Niagara Escarpment. The Cootes to the Escarpment EcoPark is the only part of escarpment not separated from Lake Ontario by a 400-series highway. The Cootes to the Escarpment EcoPark system is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s wild plants and more than 50 species at risk.

15 hectares (37.2 acres) of land in North Aldershot that was donated by Mr. John Holland and will become part of the Cootes to Escarpment park system.

Part of the Cootes to Escarpment park system.

The park’s scientists and technicians are an important source of local environmental knowledge and expertise. I highly recommend participating in their educational and stewardship events. On May 30, 2014, Mr. John V. Holland generously donated a 15 hectare (37-acre) natural area in the Cootes to the Escarpment EcoPark system to the City of Burlington in honour of his wife Eileen to be managed as the new Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary. On December 15, 2015, partners of the Cootes to Escarpment Ecopark System were able to finance the purchase of nearly 40 hectares (100 acres) of natural lands situated in the Greenbelt in Hamilton. Hopefully the Cootes to the Escarpment Ecopark system will continue to grow and inspire local landowners near the park to be responsible stewards of this biodiversity hotspot.


Has Burlington found a way for wildlife and we humans to share the apace we both occupy?

A second important local story is the City of Burlington’s new and improved approach to managing urban wildlife. The issue of urban coyotes especially has been emotional with many strong feelings on all sides of the issues. Councillor Jack Dennison and City of Burlington staff deserves credit and recognition for their successful effort to create wise and sensible city policies and by-laws to manage Burlington’s urban wildlife. They took the time to listen to all points of view, consulted the Ministry of Natural Resources experts, local environmental and citizens groups to develop a rational and sensible approach to managing Burlington’s urban wildlife in a way that reduces conflict, promotes greater understand and also stewardship. Burlington’s new by-laws and policies will reduce the risk to people from urban wildlife and at the same time reduce the risk to urban wildlife from people. Other municipalities would be wise to adopt Burlington’s rational and reasonable “Coyote Response Strategy.”

Holocene extinction event

As roads penetrate into the Amazon Rainforest, fires and deforestation follow. This image from August 5, 2007, shows scores of fires burning along roads and at the edges of already cleared areas of the Amazon in southern Para and northern Mato Grosso states in Brazil. The image and fire detections (marked in red) were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

The biggest environmental story of 2015 remains the relatively unknown Holocene Mass Extinction Event. Five times in the past, something has happened which killed off most of the life on earth. These events are known as Mass Extinctions. Each past mass extinction event required millions of years before new species evolved and the earth recovered to its former level of biodiversity. The last mass extinction event happened 65 million years ago, wiped out the dinosaurs, gave rise to the dominance of mammals and eventually the appearance of modern humans.

While most biologists have been warning that a mass extinction event was likely underway, they lacked empirical evidence that could quantify the current mass extinction’s scale and timeline. In 2015, a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, published in the journal Science Advances, based on empirical peer reviewed evidence which proves that species are disappearing much faster than the historical background rate. The study’s best case scenario is that 75% of all species on the planet will become extinct within 2000 years, with most of the rest ceasing to play a significant role in the natural services which scrub CO2 and pollutants from the air, clean the water and rejuvenate the soil. The study’s worst case scenario predicts that 75% species will become extinct in less than 200 years. Exponential human population growth with increased per capita consumption has altered or destroyed natural habitats and ecosystems. The main human impacts were caused by

• Land clearing for farming, logging and settlement
• Introduction of invasive species
• Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification
• Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems

Mapleview Mall parking - south west side

A parking lot today – it was once part of some of the very best farmland in the province from which produce was shipped around the world.

Residents of Burlington need not travel far to see the evidence of the Holocene mass extinction event. All of Burlington used to be as richly biologically diverse as the Cootes to the Escarpment EcoPark System. Today in Burlington, most of the Carolinian forests have been cut down and most of the prairies have been paved over. Nearly every tree, shrub, flower and grass in that people in Burlington deliberately cultivate is an alien species. Nearly every ornamental garden in Burlington has at least invasive species that will soon be banned by Ontario’s new invasive species law.

Our urban natural areas are mostly overrun with alien invasive species which have escaped our ornamental gardens and our urban creek floodplains filled with hundreds of tons of trash in the form of tires, couches, car batteries, television monitors, plastic, broken glass… I know because I have literally removed a few tons of trash myself. Our local habitat loss problem is part of the global habitat loss problem and can’t be blamed on anyone else but ourselves.

I wish I could end this story on environmental stories of 2015 on a positive note. But I can’t. We are obviously ruining the planet and most people don’t care. I am certain that in the future, our grandchildren and their grandchildren will look back to this point in time and wonder how we could be so irresponsibly destructive and uncaring about the future of the earth’s biosphere. I wonder too. If anyone is reading this article 100 years from now, I’d like to apologize to you. We could have and should have done much better, but we were too distracted by a few people’s clothing choices and too busy in our daily lives to give the future of the earth any serious thought or consideration.


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Are we satiated beyond our needs, and can dispose of food we don’t want, without a care?

opinionandcommentBy Carol Gottlob

December 27, 2015



It was Boxing Day, a day traditionally reserved for ultra-consumerism. Stores were being ransacked for “unbelievable deals”, and mall parking lots were over-flowing. If the retailers didn’t show a profit by this time, we’d likely not see their store fronts next year at Christmas.

I was walking my dog along the Centennial Multi-use Pathway, when I observed a bright coral-coloured mass in the grasses adjacent to the pathway.

Shrimp - Gottlob

How did these shrimp land on municipal parkland here in Burlington?

On closer observation, I came across approximately 20 partially frozen shrimp, the kind you buy ready to serve at supermarkets. There was no packaging. Just dead shrimp. I stood puzzled by this (as was my dog). I took a picture and asked myself, “What is wrong with this picture”? I continued to walk along the path, and on my way back, upon seeing the shrimp still there, I realized, there was so much so very wrong with this.

To begin, the practice of cultivating shrimp in faraway places such as Thailand is ecologically unsound and unsustainable. Furthermore, the labour used to harvest these massive quantities of shrimp is akin to slave labour. Not to mention the toll on the environment by distributing these shrimp all over the world by the plane load, so that they are readily available before their Best Before Date, not only on special occasions, but on any given day of the year.

We don’t necessarily think about it when these delicacies are offered to us at 30% off the regular price, and guests are coming to the house, and we want to make sure we have something to offer them. The holidays bring out all kinds of justification for excessive spending, eating and drinking.

So how did these shrimp land on municipal parkland here in Burlington? My guess is that someone felt bad about simply throwing them in the garbage or the compost, and setting them free in a natural setting somehow made them feel better about it.

Maybe they were sharing Christmas with the creatures of the neighbourhood. Perhaps they simply didn’t like shrimp, or the shrimp had gone bad, and they hoped someone would take pity, rescue them and protect them in a good home. Who knows?

What I do know is that in order to do such a thing, we must be living in a pretty affluent community. Shrimp, even shrimp on sale, is expensive. But to throw them out, uneaten, tells me we are satiated beyond our needs, and can dispose of food we don’t want, without a care.

For whatever reason this came about, the problem then extends even further. Leaving organic matter in parkland attracts urban wildlife (coyotes, racoons, rats). I’ve seen bread, cookies, meat bones and various fruit and vegetables spewn alongside the path at intervals, but never shrimp.

Each time I open the local paper, I read about people feeling uncomfortable, even threatened, having these critters in their neighbourhoods, and beseeching the authorities to remove or cull them. Does this even make sense? “There are too many of them”, they will say.

“Well who invited them?” is the question I would ask.

If we allow ourselves to ignore the excessivness we are responsible for, how are we to establish balance in our existence?

I continued home, my little dog looking back and licking his lips at the thought of what a delightful treat it would have been to savour such tender morsels. Alas.

Gottlob smile tighter cropping

Carol Gottlob


Carol Gottlob is a ward 4 resident who ran for municipal office in the last election.  She teaches English as a Second Language and walks her dog daily – when she isn’t riding her motorcycle.

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The reason for the season ...

By Staff
December 25th, 2015

The kids have been up for hours, the gift are unwrapped and you are settling in for a comfortable day or perhaps visiting with family, or food for family that will arrive soon.

Santa For-unto-us-1024x473You are enjoying the holiday.

Remember, if you will, what we are celebrating – and the why of it all.

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My Grown Up Christmas Wish - Let There be Peace - Ray Rivers

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 24, 2015



Sorry folks, there’ll be no postcard winter wonderland for us this year. And this is not what we ever meant by the phrase ‘going green’. If there still are climate change doubters/deniers unconvinced by this weather we’re experiencing, the latest scientific research coming out of the Paris climate change conference should give them pause.

Robins and snow

This robin is both cold and confused – for those of us in Burlington we are just confused over the weather we are getting.

I saw a robin the other day and our trees are starting to bud – Mother Nature is obviously convinced we are having an early spring. Hey, looks like we missed winter altogether. And I decided to buy new snow tires this year. Hopefully the ranks of climate deniers have crumbled to a few grumpy old men (and women). These are the folks who wish we could go back to the good old days.

But it was how we lived in the good old days that has rewarded us with this new reality. A consequence of global warming is weather volatility, so we may still see snow and cold later this winter, despite the forecasters. I feel sorry for those robins though. Despite the feathers, I’ll bet they’ll feel the chill, when it finally gets cold.

What really is giving me the chills these days is the way every country seems to be beefing up its armaments. It is scary and, though I wasn’t around prior to WWII, it sure looks like history repeating itself. This is not supposed to be happening. Over the last quarter century we’d got used to relative peace, but the doomsday clock now sits at three minutes to midnight. That is only one minute more than it was in 1953, when the US was contemplating nuking China during the Korean war.

It’s Russia and its macho leader, Vladimir Putin, who has challenged the world order and unrepentantly set the planet on this dangerous course. Vlad may seem rational but he is an extreme egotist who openly regrets having seen the demise of the USSR, calling it the worst tragedy of the 20th century. It’s about protecting Russian values from western decadence, and especially the permissiveness of homosexuality, he says, that turns him on it seems.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, on June 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow. 

But it’s really about power, as it always has been with old Russia. They have arguably the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and Putin has no hesitation to remind people that he could use them at will. And indeed he could since, unlike previous Soviet leaders constrained by the communist party, he is a law unto himself with a compliant Duma to rubber stamp his every wish.

And he hasn’t finished with Ukraine yet, having re-supplied his troops there recently and positioned them for a new assault when they think the time is right. But perhaps most worrisome are Putin’s flirtations in Syria, supporting Syria’s ruthless Dictator Assad under the guise of fighting ISIS. His attacks on western supported Syrian rebels contributed to NATO member Turkey’s shooting down one of his war planes. And a hurt and embarrassed Putin is just waiting for an opportunity for revenge.

And that part of the world is getting a lot of air traffic these days. The Brits, French, Americans, Jordanians and Canadians (still) are bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Russians are hitting the Syrian rebels and the Turks are focusing their bombing for the Kurdish populations in Syria and Turkey. And ironically Turkey’s NATO allies, including Canada, are arming and training the Kurds.

The Iranians and Hezbollah are fighting with Assad’s forces. And Israel, is taking opportunistic shots at Hezbollah leaders when it can. One has to wonder how long will it be before the next incident among all these players brings us to a brink. With only six planes in play, compared to the US with 150, Canada’s contribution to the military conflict is insignificant.


It was former Prime Minister who convinced the United Nations to create a peacekeeping force that is still in place in some parts of the world. Is the world now beyond peace keeping?

Lester Pearson won a nobel prize for his efforts at resolving international conflict. And we could play a much more significant role as honest brokers to help bridge the gap between the parties making war there. Of course we’d have to bring our planes back first. It is hard to negotiate between warring parties when you are one of them.

And it’s not just eastern Europe and the Middle East where military tension is building. Asia has seen a massive buying spree of weapons, including ships, planes, anti-ship and anti-plane systems. Populous India and China are each buying the same sophisticated Russia weapons systems to potentially use against each other. And little Vietnam, with a history of fighting the Chinese, is trying desperately to keep up with them, when those resources could be better spent on economic development and its people.

Japan rearming

The Japanese are now rearming to a level we have no seen since the end of the second world war. These are not cruise ships.

Japan, wary of its more assertive neighbour, China, has embarked on a massive re-armament program unseen since the great war. And Germany is considering revising its pacifist constitution. The US and China are playing tag in the South China Sea, along with the Philippines, Vietnam and the Koreas. And speaking of Korea, that Kim clown in the north is doing his best to make Putin look almost reasonable.

I apologize that this is not a very cheery outlook given the time of year and the season of peace we are entering. But ignorance won’t make us any safer. So it’s a big ask. But maybe if we all join our voices this Christmas they’ll get heard. Stop the arms race everywhere. Stop the aggression. Let there be peace. It’s better than the alternative.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. Rivers is no longer active with any political party but he still has a membership card.

Backgrounds links:

Russian Aggression     Putin’s New Year      Russian Society        Doomsday Clock

Optimistic Public Service

India Arming

What’s with the weather? 

How the Russians are arming themselves.

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The first of the new Canadians from the Middle East arrive at a resettlement centre in Hamilton; some may start their new lives in Burlington.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 24, 2105



How many will there be? We have no idea, said Gillian Kearns, interim director at the Wesley Urban Ministries in Hamilton, one of the re-settlement points for those people who have been sponsored by the federal government.

We are gearing up to get ourselves to the point where we have 150 places we can house people – which we figure will allow us to handle up to 450 of these newly minted Canadians who have come to us from the war torn Middle East.

There are currently 17 people at the Wesley office in Hamilton where there are 36 rooms in what was once a senior’s home.

Wesley Urban Ministry

Once a Seniors’ residence this Catherine street building in Hamilton is where the bus with new Canadians stops and where the process of re-settling people from the Middle East begins.

This is the first intake point and where we begin the process of orienting them to life in Canada, said Kearns who has been working with Wesley Urban Ministries (WUM),  for three years, an organization that has been around for more than 60 years. We help them open up their bank accounts, get them used to transit in Hamilton and walk through Jackson Square with them.

Graffitti parking lot Hamilton

A parking lot with graffiti all over the walls of a building across the street from the Wesley Urban Ministry offices is what greets the new Canadians who arrived last week – no grass and not a tree in sight – but the rooms are warm and the food is good.

Wesley Urban Ministries is right in the middle of that part of town where there aren’t’ a lot of trees and the closest park is a couple of blocks away. One has to look hard to see any grass. An abandoned bus terminal is steps away from the entrance to the WUM door and a parking lot across the street with some very impressive graffiti. You’ll never see anything like that in Burlington – over here we call it public art and pay artists a pretty penny to put it in place.

Wesley is now in the throes of hiring intake case workers – there were four and now there are ten; just about everything else has scaled up at the same rate explains Kearns.

Kearn’s doesn’t know if any of the government supported new Canadians will get to Burlington. “The biggest issue is the cost of housing – the funds these resettled people get can barely pay for housing in Hamilton and as everyone knows housing in Burlington is much higher.

Immigration poster

Canada has grown to a significant degree from immigration – there was a time when the railways and steamship companies advertised for immigrants. This poster is part of the story told when times were very different.

Those that get to live in Burlington will be part of the group that came into the country as private sponsorships – there is no link between the government sponsorships and those that are privately sponsored.

There are about 20 groups in Burlington that are working on private sponsorships.

Individuals and faith groups have banded together to support families – to do so the group has to show that is has $30,000 committed to supporting the family for a year. We don’t know at this point what kind of oversight there is for these private sponsorships.

We do know that the rest of the world marvels that Canadians pull together and help these people financially, emotionally – they almost adopt them.

Canada has brought in around 7,000 immigrants each year with about 300 of them starting their lives in Hamilton, so we have quite a bit of experience explains Kearns – this wave however is made up of people who had to make decisions very quickly and they left conditions that were pretty miserable.

Of the 25,000 the federal government has said will come to Canada about 10,000 will be private sponsorships.

Wesley has an offsite kitchen that prepares meals for several of the Wesley operations. Their chefs know how to prepare the diet Middle Eastern people want.

Each day begins with breakfast which the immigrants prepare for themselves in the small kitchen in the building, the other meals are brought in.

The first group haven’t been here a week yet and we don’t know when the next group is going to arrive. The general public know about as much as we do. When the aircraft land in Toronto or Montreal decisions are made at that end as to where people are going to be sent. We get a call telling us that a bus is on the way with a certain number of people and we take it from there.

Dec 1 audience 400 +

Hundreds of Burlingtonians gathered at a public meeting early in December to learn what they could do to support immigrants who were about to arrive in Canada.

We have no idea what is coming our way and the people on the bus know very little about where they are going – just that they are now safe, that the sheets on the bed are clean and they have a future to look forward to in a country that has welcomed them.

The hardest part of the task for the people doing the day to day work is always being “brain tired”. The problems just keep rolling in. Our case workers explained Kearns hear stories that are horrifying every day – we have to ensure that both our case workers and the people they are helping get the support they need as they do what is difficult work.

We create a profile for each immigrant so that we can figure out what they need to learn in terms of life skills; what they have in terms of work experience and education. They are in our care for as much as a year. The objective is to get them started and let them figure out what they want to do – they can basically go anywhere they want. They are permanent residents of Canada and in five years they can become citizens.

Helping hands exchanging information Gillian Kearns

Gillian Kearns, on the right, exchanges information with Burlingtonians at a public meeting early in December. She works with a team of people at the Wesley Urban Ministries helping the immigrants that have arrived re-settle themselves.

Our job is to know as much as possible about each person so we can help them resettle themselves.  We bring in people to do a full medical checkup – we look for signs of serious emotional stress and guide people who have come from half way around the world to a place they knew very little about adjust. The work is exciting Kearns added but there is just so much to do.

Clothing for everyone; answering the questions they have and helping them keep in touch with those they left behind. Getting the children into school and ensuring they can adapt.

At a time of year when the rest of us are celebrating a major cultural and religious event, at a time when we usually have snow, we too have to adapt to a change and at the same time help those in our care adapt to the massive change in their lives.

It is exhilarating and at the same time it is tiring, adds Kearns  – but if we get it right we will have brought to this country people who will add to what we are – a caring, giving people who made a place for them in this world.

There is a small reception office on the ground floor of the Wesley Urban Ministry on Catherine Street where a cheerful well informed woman answers the phone and keeps in touch with staff. From time to time someone will quietly walk in and place an envelope on the counter. The receptionist smiles and asks – “would you like a receipt?” No – you can mail it, thank you.

That’s the way it works in this country.

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City hall closes on Wednesday for an 11 day break.

notices100x100By Staff

December 23, 2015


They head for the hills at around 4:30 tomorrow and for the most part we will not see the 700 plus people who work full time for the city until they return eleven days later.

The essential services will either be in place or on call – set out below is a detailed listing of who is doing what for the eleven day break.

City Hall BEST aerial

City hall closed

City Hall: City Hall is closed on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, reopening on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.

FreeP December FNL ParkingParks and Recreation Programs and Facilities: Activities and customer service hours at parks and recreation facilities including city pools, arenas and community centres vary over the holidays. Please visit burlington.ca/calendar for a complete listing of drop-in program times including swimming and skating and burlington.ca/servicehours for customer service counter hours.

Roads and Parks Maintenance: The administrative office will be closed Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015, reopening Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Basic and emergency service only will be provided Dec. 24, 25, 28 and Jan. 1, 2016.

Burlington Court House

Court House closed

Halton Court Services: Provincial Offences Courts in Milton and Burlington will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 28, 2015, and Jan. 1, 2016.

Parking: Free parking is available in the downtown core at all meters, municipal lots and the parking garage during the month of December 2015 and on Jan. 1, 2016.

NOTE: The Waterfront parking lots (east and west) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.

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The Fire Chief wants you to make sure you have both a fire alarm and a Co2 detector in your residence.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 22, 2105


The sound of a fire engine is something we recognize instantly and we look towards the sound that dulls the heart and brings prayers to the lips of those who hear the sound.

This little girl got out of the house - the tragedies are when people don't make it out during a fire. Plan an escape on FAmily Day

This little girl got out of the house – the tragedies are when people don’t make it out during a fire.

The sound of a fire engine on Christmas Day terrifies.

Many fires are preventable – simple care and sensible precautions PLUS the use of both fire alarms and Co2 alarms, which are now required – you can b fined for not having a Co2 alarm in your residence.

Families are together during the holidays, children and pets are in the house – when a fire starts people scramble to get out of the house and stand in the yard or the street while fire fighters haul in their equipment.

Bavota and Wendy - fire station C02 fire alarm

The Fire Chief doesn’t sell these devices but he sure want you to make sure you buy one.

Fire Chief Tony Bavota spends hour after hour telling people – make sure your fire alarm has fresh batteries (change them once a year) and install a Co2 detector.  “Combined” said the Fire Chief, “both can be had for less than $50.” He adds that it is one of the best personal safety investments you will ever make.

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Public Board of Education prepares for Ombudsman who will have the authority to review and investigate any complaints in January.

News 100 blueBy Walter Byj

December 21, 2015


It looked like a pre Christmas agenda, relatively short with a quick adjournment so that one could finish their holiday shopping. Alas, meetings have a way of stretching – -the thought of last minute shopping quickly vanished.

ombudsman logoThe first major discussion point was in regard to the Ombudsman of Ontario who now, through legislation, has the authority to review and investigate any complaints dealing with the educational sector and is not required to inform or include the local board in the investigation of any complaints. This would run parallel with the board’s own investigative procedure, “Process for public Concerns” which is their internal process for resolving concerns.

A. Collard (Burlington) presented the following recommendation so that there would be a more collaborative policy with the provincial Ombudsman.

“Be it resolved that Halton District School Board trustees and staff collaboratively develop a policy and an administrative procedure regarding our internal process for complaints made via the office of the Ombudsman and report back to the Board by the second meeting in March 2016.”

After some give and take by the trustees, it was resolved that the motion would require some rework and would be presented again in the first meeting in January.

Student trustee S. Schneider and Director Miller spoke of the recent presentation that Miller did to the Student Senate in regard to the Program Viability study. Both said that the students had some positive feedback and this would be made available in an upcoming report in January.

After reviewing a number of policies that have been posted to the web for public input:

• Program and Accommodation Review Policy
• Director’s Performance Review Policy
• Board Recognition Policy

The board turned its attention to a presentation and interim report on” Active and Sustainable School Travel” by S. Burwell(Environmental Sustainability Co-ordinator).

The Halton school board has committed itself to increase active school travel (students travelling to and from school under their own power) as the most recent data shows that Halton has one of the highest automobile mode of transportation in Ontario.

Hoops - exercise - students

Getting the early teenagers off the couch and onto a playing field.

Active transportation has decreased by 13% for 11-13 year age group and 14% for 14-17 year age group over the years of 1986 and 2011. Citing studies that show where physical activity in the morning contributes mental and physical well being, the board will continue collecting data and prepare a number of recommendations that will encourage more active school travel. In a give and tack with the trustees, it was mentioned that some students who are constantly transported by automobile, do not have a strong sense of their communities physical layout; not knowing the streets around them.

Director Miller started his Director’s report by stating that there will be no glossy annual this year as it will be modified and will be online only. This will cut done on costs and it will be available quicker and will be more accessible. The assumption is that this will go hand in hand with an enhanced website.

He then stated that the board will be seeking to hire an additional 35 Education Assistants for next year. This will be on the agenda in January. Associate Director Boag will provide in January an update of the community consultation and input to the Program Viability Committee. Miller also thanked the trustees for their participation in a meeting with local Muslim meetings. There was no elaboration of the discussions that took place.

This was followed by a slide presentation by Superintendent Eatough that highlighted the visit of two privately sponsored Syrian families to the Board’s Welcome Centre and presented what was done within the Halton board to help the students/families. This was followed up by a show and tell by Chair Amos where she filled a backpack with all the utensils each student would need and then challenged all those in attendance to do the same. Hopefully all of our students have the same type of backpack.

This was followed by the board reconvening to a private session and back to a public session where they resolved that the board ratify the Memorandum of Settlement with the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario-Elementary Occasional Teachers the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Both were carried unanimously and are subject to ratification by the unions.

And they all went home for their holiday!

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Mayor scoots about town in an all-electric BMW loaned to him so hydro can collect data.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 20, 2015


The parking spots outside city hall are not actually assigned to specific members o council but they each have habits and the Mayor tends to take the one closest to the building – he also tends to back is car in.

Late last week the Mayor was scooting across the parking lot while I was having a conversation with Councillor Taylor. The Mayor didn’t head for the car the city provides him as Mayor for the city – he headed for a small but very smart looking BMW.

BMW hydro vehicle

Smart little BMW being loaned out to people that will allow Burlington Hydro to collect usage data. Mayor was one of the earlier experimenters.

Councillor Taylor mentioned something about getting to use the car sometime in the future – that was when the Mayor explained that the car was the property of Burlington Hydro – it was an all-electric vehicle that was being loaned out to various people to learn more about their driving habits. Along with the all-electric car there was an EV charging station where the user of the car could “fill-up”.

Burlington Hydro realizes that electric cars are becoming more popular and they need to ensure that the electricity grid that feeds hydro to our homes can manage the additional load that electric cars will place on the system.

Dan Guatto, a vice president and the COO for Burlington Hydro explained that each transformer on the streets of Burlington could probably handle as many as seven electric cars if the owners had EV charging stations in their homes.

And that is where hydro expects people to get the electricity they need into those cars.

BMW hydro EV charging device

Electric vehicle charging station in city hall parking lot.

The EV charging stations however are not just a big battery that put electricity into a car – they are actually “smart” EV chargers that are tied into the North American electricity grid with enough computing power to be programmed and managed the flow of electricity into the electric car and to manage the flow out of the car as well.

Guatto explains that the managing of the electricity is a significant challenge – the grid that we have in place wasn’t built for this added demand. So we have to manage the process of charging all those cars – ideally he added we would like to use nuclear generated electricity that we call upon late at night when it is least expensive.

The task right now is to determine what the demand I going to be – and the start of that process is to have the Mayor and other members of council driving the BMW while all the data is recorded and analyzed.

The Gazette doesn’t recall getting a media release from the city on this really interesting initiative – had we not spotted the Mayor getting out of the BMW we would never have learned about the program.

The city did have an EV charging station installed at the city parking lot on Locust Street and there was one of those infamous photo-ops done.

What has us scratching our heads is – why wouldn’t the Mayor want the citizens of the city to know about the program. It certainly fits into the Community Energy Plan that the Mayor loves to talk about.

One political wag suggested the Mayor didn’t want to have to explain to the public why he was driving a BMW leased by hydro. The Gazette would love to see the Mayor championing this initiative – it a great one.

The Gazette did suggest that its publisher might be able to help with the gathering of useful data if he had access to the BMW for a period of time – there was no response to that idea.

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Catholic school students have their art on display at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 18, 2015


Children at local elementary schools were challenged with designing an engaging poster around the theme of the RBC Blue Water Project. Launched in 2007, the RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year global charitable commitment of $50 million to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations.

RBC and Art Gallery of Burlington teamed up to spread awareness of this project while instilling values of environmentalism and creativity in our future generation.

AGB env RBC pictures“We all know that a picture can tell a thousand words and then some. At RBC, we believe in the power of art to enrich our lives and enhance our communities. We are proud to support the Art Gallery of Burlington and the RBC Children’s Exhibition which encourages students to explore their creativity through visual art,” stated John Lever, Regional Vice President of RBC Halton South.

There were 119 entries; all from Catholic schools.

RBC announced the winners of the environmental-themed children’s art contest at the Art Gallery of Burlington earlier this week. The winners of what the bank calls it’s Leo’s favorite” award were:

Grade 8 – Holy Name of Mary School – (group ) Ariana, Giuliana, Kasia, Natalie & Renata
Grade 6 – St. Gabriel School – Candice
Grade 2 – St Mark School – Lilyanna

All the artwork is on display at the AGB until December 23rd. The event was a curated Kids’ Exhibition

RBC will also be making a donation to the Environmental Charity of choice for the winning participants.

The winners were each awarded with a bag of art supplies from the Art Gallery of Burlington. Additionally, each of the three schools will receive an in-class art instruction from one of our educators.

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Cultural community wants to survey its members to learn what they need in the way of professional development.

artsblue 100x100By Staff

December 19, 2015


Some people call it ACCOB, some people call it the Collective – its real full name is The Arts & Culture Collective of Burlington – it was formed about two years ago and came out of a delegation that Trevor Copp gave to a city council Standing Committee at which he pleaded for more support from the city for the cultural community.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized trhe arts into a Collective makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum's operation listens.

Trevor Copp, the Burlington actor who mobilized the arts into a Collective, makes a point on leadership while Executive Director of the Burlington Museum’s operation Barb Teatero listens.

“I want to be able to do my work where I live” said Copp at the time “and not have to become a GO train commuter. That delegation opened the eyes of many members of council who had no real appreciation for how robust the non-organized part of the cultural community is.

The Art Gallery has its Guilds, and there are a few other organized arts and culture groups but the energy that exists within the younger people wasn’t on the radar screens the politicians look at.

The Collective has had a very significant impact on the development of the Cultural Action Plan the city seems prepared to implement – much of that the cultural community gets will depend on how the budget deliberations go – there isn’t going to be enough money to cover everything on the want list.

The Collective isn’t waiting for the city to give them a handout – they are currently doing a survey on what the cultural community believes they need in the way of professional development. The creators of the survey are encouraging every discipline to take part – they want to hear what anyone and everyone in the cultural community thinks they need in terms of professional development.

ACCOB logoThe Arts & Culture Collective of Burlington (ACCOB) will be surveying Burlington artists (all disciplines) and cultural workers on what they believe to be their professional development needs.

The survey is anonymous and only one reply from any one particular computer.

Some possible professional development workshop/panel choices are:

Auditioning Tips
Avoiding Exploitation as an Artist
Copyright & the Internet
Grant Writing Tips
  Improving your Portfolio and Proposals
How To Fund Raise
How Artists Successfully Work with Businesses (bars, restaurants, galleries, sponsors etc.)
Marketing yourself as an Artist
Professionalism (Best Practices): cross discipline panel discussion
Writer Tips

The Collective will be supported on this project by the Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, KooGle Theatre Company, Open Minds Respect Events (OMRE), No Vacancy, Teresa Seaton Studio & Gallery, Tottering Biped Theatre and others.

The mission of the Arts and Culture Collective of Burlington is to advocate for the arts and culture of Burlington and to increase appreciation, support and involvement with arts and culture in the community.

Prime contact at the Arts & Culture Collective of Burlington is Jim Riley – 905-979-9583 or by email at artscultureburlinton@gmail.com

Click HERE for the survey.


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Halton Police R.I.D.E. Checks in Full Force - You can lose a lot more than your licence.


News 100 blueBy Staff

December 15th, 2015


The month of December is a time of holiday parties, work get-togethers, and family celebrations. Most events include the consumption of alcohol. The Halton Regional Police are well aware and ready to ensure people make the right decision through education and prevention or pay the price of being arrested for impaired driving.


Regional police doing RIDE checks – four arrested in Burlington so far this season.

The first week of our Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) spot checks ran from Sunday December 6, 2015 to Sunday December 13, 2015. Over 3500 cars were stopped in R.I.D.E. checks. 11 impaired driving arrests were made throughout the Region.

Milton/Halton Hills: 6
Oakville: 1
Burlington: 4

On Thursday December 10, 2015, just before 7:00am, a woman drove herself to the Georgetown District Hospital to get medical attention for an injured finger. After being release four hours later, and ignoring the physician’s advice to not drive as she appeared to be intoxicated, police located her in her vehicle in the parking lot of the hospital. A 50-year-old woman from Halton Hills has been arrested and charged with care or control over 80 mgs.

On Saturday December 12, 2015 at 10:00pm, Milton officers were conducting R.I.D.E. checks on Main Street in the Town of Milton. A vehicle was stopped and police detected a strong odor of fresh marihuana coming from the vehicle. In addition to a small package of marihuana concealed on his person, a further investigation revealed a large duffle bag with 202 grams of marihuana and a significant amount of cash. A 20-year-old man from Milton was arrested and charged with possession for the purpose. A good example that RIDE stops don’t only catch impaired drivers.

On Saturday December 12, 2015 at 4:40 pm, a motorist and his 13-year-old son were driving westbound on Dundas Street near Sixth Line in the Town of Oakville. The motorist observed a white Dodge Ram that was also driving westbound, swerving in and out of the westbound lanes. After narrowly missing the motorist’s car several times, the Ram truck accelerated quickly and attempted to change lanes, ultimately colliding with the vehicle occupied by the father and son.
A 34-year-old man from Burlington was arrested and charged with impaired driving and driving with more than 80 mgs of alcohol in blood. The driver had not been drinking that day; his level of impairment was a residual of drinking the night before.

On Saturday December 12, 2015, just before midnight, a motorist called police to report an erratic driver on Walkers Line in the City of Burlington. Officers located the vehicle and discovered both passenger side tires were flat and the vehicle was being driven on its rims. A 27-year-old woman from Burlington was arrested and charged with impaired driving and driving with more than 80 mgs of alcohol in blood. The woman had a blood alcohol concentration of over three times the legal limit.

Halton officers will be out in full force the remainder of the month working diligently to reduce impaired driving everywhere.

If you see a suspected impaired driver, please call 9-1-1. Officers will respond immediately to ensure the driver is investigated and dealt with accordingly.

The advice and direction is simple: “Don’t drive impaired, you can lose a lot more than your licence.”

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Beer will be sold in supermarkets - but not in Burlington supermarkets - not yet. Does the city have a temperance society?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2015


The government is delivering on its promise to allow beer sales in grocery stores by announcing the first 58 locations across the province where Ontarians will be able to buy beer.
There won’t be one in Burlington this time around – the closest will be in Oakville and Hamilton – Longos will have the Oakville location. Their Fairview location in Burlington happens to be in a plaza that already has an LCBO and a Beer Store.

Beer - locations mapPremier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa announced the 13 independent grocery stores and 45 stores owned by large grocers that are now authorized to sell beer.

This is the first round of Ontario’s commitment to make it more convenient for people to buy beer. Ultimately, beer will be available at up to 450 grocery stores province wide — roughly the same number of locations The Beer Store currently operates in Ontario. Beer in grocery stores is part of the biggest shakeup to beverage alcohol retailing in the province since prohibition was ended in 1927.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which visited all 58 locations as part of the authorization process, will now monitor them to ensure that they adhere to laws on the safe retail of alcohol. These include designated sales areas and hours of sale, limitations to package sizes and alcohol content by volume, and rigorous social responsibility training for staff.

Premier Wynne’s comment that LCBO locations would be ideal for the sale of marijuana is a testament as to just how far Ontario has come. There was a time when the then Premier of the province would not allow news photographers to take his picture if there was a glass of beer in his hand.

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Engaging the public - a report to city council is probably the first time people even knew what was being done - not the usual definition of collaboration.

By Pepper ParrNews 100 blue

December 10th, 2015


Getting a different, more effective level of community involvement with what city hall does for the taxpayers began with a committee that was put together by former Mayor Cam Jackson back in 2009 when he formed a committee and asked the late John Boich and former Mayor Cam Jackson to chair it. They put out a report – Shape Burlington.


Walter Mulkewich, co chair of the Shape Burlington committee.

Once an active Tory, Boich left that political party when he could no longer live with what then Premier of Ontario Mike GArris was doing to the education system. Boich got involved in Liberal politics and became an advisor to Mayor Jackson. He died in March of 2011 and was made Citizen of the Year and had an elementary school named after him. He was co-chir of the Shapre Burlington report.00

The late John Boich, co chair of the Shape Burlington report – the document that started the process that is intended to improve citizen participation.

The document put a lot of noses at city hall out of joint. But the process of change began.

The city hired a consultant on a two year contract to meet with the public and come up with what was referred to as a Community Engagement Plan.

That didn’t work out all that well – the consultants contract came to an end – and things remained quiet for a period of time.

The city got a new Mayor (Rick Goldring defeated Cam Jackson in 2010 – then the city got a new city manager and there was a sudden, refreshing gust of fresh air and energy at city hall

ChAT got formed – it was to be the Charter Action Team that was going to put the Community engagement Plan into action.

City Council approved the Community Engagement Charter in April 2013.

In April 2014, City Council received the Charter Action Plan developed by the Charter Action Team (ChAT), which included tasks to be completed over the coming year.

In the early stage the ChAT had four citizen members: Steve Surya, Gloria Reid, Yvette Dhillon, John Searles. Reid an Surya are leaving the committee; their replacements will be announced in the near future


Community engagement gets significant lip service from city council – in their hearts they believe they are there to do what they think is best – they believe the voters put them in place to make decisions.

Michelle Dwyer, then with the City Manager’s Office, Donna Kell (Clerks Department); Sean Kenney (Planning and Building Department); Angela Paparizo (Parks and Recreation Department, [member until fall 2014]); Kim Philips (General Manager, Senior Management Team champion [until fall 2014]); Doug Pladsen (Parks and Recreation Department, [since fall 2014]); James Ridge (City Manager, Senior Management Team champion -since spring 2015). Jeff Crowder, Carla Marshall and Sharon Will (ad hoc members, Clerks Department).

The team was in place to work collaboratively to put in place the Charter Action Plan, aiming to make public involvement part of everyday practice for City of Burlington staff.

They were to provide pre-consultation advice on public involvement issues or opportunities prior to launching a formal public involvement plan or activity


The people who worked long, long hours to put together the draft of the Community engagement Charter at a debriefing session.

They were to provide input on specific public information material before it is distributed.

Provide advice and insight to the City of Burlington’s citizen advisory committees, City Council and staff on city policies, services and programs related to public involvement

• Share information, best practices, trends, opportunities and challenges regarding public involvement

• Promote public involvement to increase the number of residents who take an active interest in city decision-making and can participate in engagement activities when they choose

• Participate in related meetings and training opportunities to stay informed of new and emerging public involvement practices
• Provide input on monitoring and measurement to ensure that the city maximizes public involvement opportunities in its policies, services and projects

• Report annually to City Council and the community regarding the status of involvement using defined metrics.

Community Involvement Activities in 2014 through Fall 2015

Lakeside Village visioning - Kaitline with man sneaky look

City transportation planner, on the right, working with a citizen at a public meeting that attracted more than 300 people. There wasn’t a word said about ChAT – they apparently organized the event. If ChAT has a story to tell they certainly didn’t tell it at this meeting.

ChAT provided advice to staff on the following topics (brackets provide information on community uptake of associated Insight Burlington and Let’s Talk Burlington tools):

1. City Services Catalogue (Insight Burlington: 252 responses)
2. Service Based Budgeting/the 2015 budget (Insight Burlington: 514 responses)
3. Parking Signage / On-street Parking (Insight Burlington: 1,047 responses / Let’s Talk Burlington: 818 responses)
4. Food Trucks (Insight Burlington: 815 responses / Let’s Talk Burlington: 68 responses)
5. Strategic Plan – process, engagement plan and as an active group presenting to council and workbook submission (Insight Burlington: 535 responses)
6. Community Trails Strategy (Let’s Talk Burlington: 219 responses)
7. Community and Neighbourhood Development opportunities
8. Coyote Management
9. Trumpeter Swans at LaSalle Park
10. Sponsorship, donations and naming
11. Chilly Half Marathon
12. e-Government project – a number of projects- the website, the public involvement portal/landing page and the “Get Involved” calendar (Insight Burlington: 296 responses)
13. Burlington Fire Department consultation – accreditation process
14. Public involvement metrics and measures
15. Preferences in communicating with the City of Burlington (Insight Burlington: 311 responses, Dotmocracy: 200)
16. City Talk magazine (Insight Burlington: 251 responses)
17. Election satisfaction (Insight Burlington: 183 responses)
18. Playgrounds (Insight Burlington: 242 responses / Let’s Talk Burlington: 359 responses)
19. Transforming commercial areas in the city (Let’s Talk Burlington: 202 responses
20. Transportation Master Plan (Let’s Talk Burlington: 438 responses)
21. Community Energy Plan (Let’s Talk Burlington: 160 responses)
22. Public Art (Insight Burlington: 308 responses, Let’s Talk Burlington: 41 responses)
23. Community Gardens (Insight Burlington: 318 responses)
24. Emergency Preparedness – raising awareness and communications
25. Business Plans
26. Intensification (Insight Burlington: 544 responses)

ChAT has been involved in or had an outreach activity at:

1. Citizen Committee recruitment Open House event (November 2014 and October 2015)
2. Culture Days 2014
3. Three Car-free Street Festival events
4. Canada Day 2015
5. Promoting Love My Hood initiative: 11 Love My Hood events occurred in the community

Chat plaque

Fifty of these plaques were ordered – expect to see them wherever people congregate.

ChAT and City Staff Members have:

1. Created the Community Engagement Charter – many citizens played a big role in the creation of the Charter in 2013
2. Created the Charter Action Plan
3. Created the first ever website portal for all things related to public involvement with the City of Burlington
4. Created and held the first ever “marketplace” for staff to showcase the tools, techniques, resources and principles to help with their public involvement efforts within the community
5. Created two videos to inform about and encourage participation in public involvement—one video with interviews and one animated
6. Asked to represent Burlington by making a presentation at the 2015 IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) North American Conference (September 2015)
7. Taking a seat on the Board of Directors of Great Lakes IAP2 Chapter
8. Launched an online bylaws search tool (September 2015)
9. Included instant polling responses option for Insight Burlington surveys

One of the more telling figures in the data the ChAT team provided was this:

Just 18% of the people surveyed were aware of the Engagement Charter

• 85% knew they could attend a City Council meeting
• 64% were aware they could become a member of a Citizen’s Advisory Committee
• 61% were aware they could make a presentation at a council meeting
• 39% were aware they could participate in an online community panel

There were problems with community perceptions.  People felt their voice is not important, as City Council has already made a decision; that residents’ concerns are ignored.

The delegation process in place is a one way street – people are not allowed to ask questions of their council members in an open public session that is webcast.  Frequently; all too frequently, a delegation is made and not a single question is asked of the person making the delegation.

Work Plan/Next Steps/Deliverables for 2016

ChAT wants to increase the number of people participating on the Insight Burlington Panel and Let’s Talk Burlington, our online tools.

Increase the number people that are aware of their rights and responsibilities in the Community Engagement Charter and are aware of public involvement opportunities.

Create and use more standardized public involvement tools for staff to better track community engagement opportunities, satisfaction levels and results.

Expand ChAT by creating a larger community-based group that can help build capacity, share insights in terms of public involvement opportunities and replace citizen members of the core ChAT team.

Work with the larger community-based group to update and create terms of reference for the both the larger group and core ChAT team.

In the report made to city council the vision going forward is: To get “staff’s engagement skills, confidence and reach will continue to grow and that citizens’ appetite for involvement and willingness to get involved also continue to grow. Going down this road requires continuing support for staff and means placing more emphasis on making a public involvement call to action with residents. This is how democracy is strengthened.”

It is an impressive list of accomplishments – problem is that this is the first time the public has had a chance to learn what was being done on their behalf. The team is driven by staff – the public portion is far too small.

The detail in the document matters – no so much for what was done – that is why these people are employed. The collaboration seems to have been between the numerous people at city hall – they have failed to understand that the public needs to be at the table participating as equals – it is their money that is being spent.

Full text of the Community Engagement Charter

City Council workshops the idea of community engagement; takes it with several grains of salt.

City Council unanimously approves engagement charter.

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Six pieces of public art - one in each ward have been completed and are now in place - five to 10 thousand each.

artsblue 100x100By Staff

December 8, 2015


The Gazette erred – big time – on the original version of this article, we put a price tag on the public art that was just plain wrong – and we apologize for the error.  The correct numbers are now in place.

The public art that came in at between $5,000 to $10,000 each for the six wards was officially unveiled last week.

It is worth looking at – some of it is drive by and not that easy to actually see – others you might not get to.

The Gazette is pleased to show you both the art and the artist.

The local artist mural initiative is a new public art program designed to tell local stories using local artists. This year’s program commissioned six small to medium-scale murals throughout the city. These commissions were open exclusively to Burlington, Ont., artists. Free professional development opportunities were offered to assist artists with the application process and project development.

The city’s public art adviser ran a juried competition and the following six people were selected:

• Judy Mayer-Grieve: King Road Underpass, Ward 1
• Claire Hall: Freeman Station, Ward 2
• Teresa Seaton: Amherst Park, Ward 3
• Hannah Sell and Liam Racine: Port Nelson Park, Ward 4
• Tamara Kwapich: Orchard Community Park, Ward 5
• Donna Grandin: Ireland Park, Ward 6

King Road

Judy Mayer-Grieve did the mural at the King Road Underpass. There was a time when the King Road was often just a line up of vehicles waiting to cross the rail line. The underpass was a huge improvement – which the mural celebrates.


Clair Hall did the mural on the side of the Freeman Station. While the station is some distance from where it once served Burlington which was then an agricultural community, the restoration of the station is one of the best examples of citizens moving in and taking on a project the city could never manage to make happen.

Seaton at Amherst

Teresa Seaton did the art work that is in Amherst Park park next to a community garden. The art has been tempered and will easily withstand the winter weather.

Couple coloured box

Hannah Sell and Liam Racine did the art work that is located in the small Port Nelson Park where it will be seen by thousands. There was a time when tonnes of timber was shipped from a wharf at the foot of the park.


Tamara Kwapich did the mural in Orchard Community Park; once the location for some of the best apple orchards in the province.

Four pieces

Donna Grandin did the four pieces that are at Ireland Park. Each reflects a different part of the city.

The Gazette was fortunate to be able to watch Teresa Seaton do her art work – she provided a number of pictures that she grouped as “the process”.

Worktable Seaton

One of the stained glass pieces being assembled.

StudioLife_DSC6264 12.48.19 PM

Teresa Seaton at her work bench.

Seaton advises that the “better photo-graphs” were taken by David Galway

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Online Payments for Parking Tickets and Dog Licenses Experiencing Technical Issues

notices100x100Online Payments for Parking Tickets and Dog Licenses Experiencing Technical Issues

The City of Burlington’s online payment system for parking tickets and dog licenses is currently unavailable due to technical issues. We apologize for the disruption. We are working to restore the services as soon as possible.

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Regional police putting officers trained in crisis intervention in cars; Community foundation sponsoring Wellness Wednesdays radio program.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 9, 2015


Mental health is getting much more attention – the Regional Police are partnering with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to develop a Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT).

This new initiative adds a layer of additional police response to mental health calls and crisis intervention. Teams will consist of a registered Healthcare Professional coupled with a specially trained uniformed police officer. Two teams will join our rotating platoon shifts each day, and will be specifically available to respond to calls involving persons in crisis.

HRPS crestThe four officers selected as part of this one year pilot project have a background in mental health response and have experience working with our C.O.A.S.T. program (Crisis Outreach and Support Team). The mental health workers are comprised of two registered nurses and two social workers who all have extensive previous mental health experience. The four teams are currently receiving further crisis intervention training with a focus on risk assessment, Safe Talk training, and Assist training. The teams need to know when to intervene, how to deescalate and how to control a situation.

These Rapid Response Teams will be available and trained to defuse or deescalate crisis situations, advocate for the person and families in crisis, ensure mental health assessments are completed and will be better equipped to provide resources, help and support for everyone involved.
The teams will work seven days a week and will be dispatched to mental health calls throughout the Region of Halton.

“Front line officers are responding to mental health crisis calls on an increasing basis. Our new Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams will enhance our ability to deliver specialized services to people in those circumstances. Partnering with healthcare professionals is a progressive approach to providing timely and quality service to those struggling with mental health. “ Deputy Chief Duraiappah.

The Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams began patrols on Monday.

As police officers are increasingly the first point of contact for persons in crisis, the deployment of highly trained officers with the support of expert mental health workers is a large step in improving the interaction and relationship between police and people living with mental health challenges.
Having front line people available is one part of handling people under stress and not able to manage their mental health.

Wellness Wednesday graphicA second, equally important part, is educating the public and those with mental health issues to start removing the stigma that often surrounds this issue.
Wellness Wednesdays, sponsored by Burlington Community Foundation is a weekly national award winning radio show hosted by Ted Michaels, News Anchor with AM900 CHML that will be broadcast in January.

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Ten year old Eleeza with the 300 Beannie Boos that were purchased with the $1300 she raised; toys for Syrian children expected in Canada next week.


People just kept giving her money – she collected $410 at the public meeting and went on to raise $1300 to buy toys for Syrian children expected in Canada next week.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 8, 2015


So what happened people ask – with that ten year old who was buying toys for Syrian children that are due to arrive in Canada sometime next week?

Young Elleeza raised $1300 in just 10 days – this worked out to over 300 Beanie Boos which will be given to Syrian Children.

Eleeza’s mother in an email said: “We are waiting to hear a final decision if we will be going to Pearson to distribute the toys or if we will be distributing them to different organizations to give directly to Syrian families.

Eleeza with Beannie Boos

300 toys on display – to be given to Syrian children when they arrive in Canada.

“The generosity of the Burlington community has been amazing. Not only was everyone willing and happy to donate, many community members turned this into a learning and teaching opportunity for their families and children.

“One family told us that part of the children’s holiday money was being donated to this cause.

Other parents took their children to the stores to actually purchase the Beanie Boos and explain to their kids who the toys were going to. So many wonderful people contributed in many ways.

Some would give Eleeza high fives as they dropped off their donations, others would offer such motivational words that Eleeza is already thinking about the next cause that she can be involved in.

So that’s what has happened – so far.

Their might just be more to this story.

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Public school board has tentative agreement with occasional teachers.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 4th, 2015


Someone at the Halton District School Board is working overtime the board has been announcing tentative agreements with their unionized employees.

This week the Halton Elementary Occasional Teachers Local, representing more than 900 occasional elementary teachers put their thumb print on a tentative deal that now must be ratified by both the Halton local members and the Halton District School Board.

Terms of the tentative agreement remain confidential until the ratification process is completed.

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