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

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

June 1, 2015


Part 1 of a series.

Public opinion polling is an important tool used by politicians at every level to determine what people think and feel about an issue.
A critical issue for Burlingtonians, besides saying how well they feel they are serviced by the various city departments, – is how involved they feel they are in the decisions made by city council.

The data produced by the polling and the way it is being interpreted by city hall and the different members of council was significant enough for the Gazette to cover that story separately

As city council prepares to begin debating what the strategic Plan should be for the next four years they gather together as much data as they can.
One of the major research projects is polling the public for their opinions on how well their government is doing.

The good stuff will get trumpeted and the not so good gets a quick look – maybe a nod and then they move on.

Some of the questions asked of the public are so self-serving as to be painful – others elicit a lot of very useful information

Let’s take a detailed look at what the city learned about itself.

Forum Research interviewed 771 people. The same firm did the public research polling in 2011.
In a preface to the report Forum said:

With a population nearing 180,000, it is cherished for its small town feel, green city heritage, and a high quality of life. As well, its economic strength and sustainable growth has made it one of the most thriving City’s in Southern Ontario. Committed to open and transparent governance that delivers quality services to its residents, the City of Burlington hired Forum Research to conduct a Community Satisfaction survey to gather resident input for various topics and issues.
Specifically, the purpose of the 2015 Community Satisfaction survey was to:

1: Measure resident satisfaction and importance toward various services offered by the City of Burlington;
2: Measure perceptions toward quality of life improvement;
3: Determine key sources that respondents are using when seeking information about programs / events / festivals happening in the City; and
4: Determine awareness and attitude toward citizen engagement opportunities in Burlington.

The report produced was extensive and we will take you through as much as we can.

The crunch point for a number of people is how well the city is doing on community engagement – the numbers were not good but the current Mayor and a number of members of council somehow found a silver lining in the data.

This research was conducted via live agent Computer-Assisted-Telephone-Interviewing (CATI) of randomly selected residents in the City of Burlington. Respondents were called between 5:00pm and 9:00pm from February 5th to February 12th, 2015. A total of 771 interviews were completed, each approximately 18 minutes in length. The margin of error was +/-3.5, at the 95% confidence interval level.

Place to liveOverall Impression of Burlington as a Place to Live
When respondents were asked to rate the City of Burlington as a place to live, nearly all respondents (96%) said it was at least ‘good’. However, the majority of respondents (86%) said it was either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ (48% and 38%, respectively). Just over 1% of respondents said ‘very poor’. The overall impression of Burlington as a place to live amongst respondents was very positive, and consistent with findings in 2011, as well as in 2008.

Has quality of life in the City of Burlington changed in the past four years? Although the majority of respondents (54%) said quality of life has stayed the same in Burlington, 28% said that it has improved. Less than 10% of respondents said quality of life has worsened.

WEhat they like best about living in BurlingtonWhat Respondents Like Best about BurlQuality of life improvementington
Respondents were asked what they like best about living in the City of Burlington. Top mentions were: access to amenities and services / has everything we need (15%), sense of community / small town feel (13%), it’s safe / low crime rate (11%) and easy access to Toronto / central location (10%).

Agree with the visionRespondents’ Vision of Burlington
This question reads as if it was written to pull a positive response; what was there not to like in the question which asked: whether or not they agreed that the following statement is a good reflection of what the vision for Burlington should be: “A place where people, nature and businesses thrive”. Nearly all respondents (96%) agreed.  How could you disagree with it?

The politicians will be pulling the answer to this out of their bag of tricks for the next six months.

Part two of this series will focus on the delivery of specific services and the public satisfaction.

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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.

News 100 redBy Walter Byj

May 29, 2105


Lucy Veerman (Superintendent of Business Services) presented, for approval on June 3rd, the 2015/16 Capital and Operating Budget.
Revenue was projected to be $686,712,959 and expenses of $674,843,009 which represent an increase of $8 million in revenue and $7 million in expenses over the current fiscal year.

In the upcoming year, the Halton board will have approximately 62,000 student which will represent a 1.2% increase overall which is being driven by increases in Oakville and Milton.

Burlington will experience a decrease of approximately 50 students next year. The 50 page long report will be voted on June 3rd. In the meantime the trustees have some homework to do.

With the budget discussions on the back burner until the trustees have digested all the data the board began to look at French Second Language Teacher Recruitment Primary Core French Update.

The Halton region is facing an uphill battle in hiring proficient French teachers for the French programs being offered in Halton. There continues to be an uptake in French Immersion enrolment and with the success of the Core French program, demand for qualified French teachers, in Halton and Ontario, continues to grow while the supply is limited.

While all the politicians will tell you that Halton area is a great place to live, new teachers face the high cost of living (housing) along with our current traffic that results in a number of them choosing other locations. Jeff Blackwell (Interim EO, Human Resources) did express some concern that despite their recruitment efforts, there might not be sufficient French teachers for the upcoming school year.

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Board of education wants to boost development charges by an additional $500 - residential growth in Milton and Oakville means more schools needed.

News 100 blueBy Walter Byj

May 28, 2014


The Halton District School Board wants to boost the development charge by an additional $500; explains that growth in Oakville and Mississauga will require additional school facilities.

The Board of Education 2014/2015 Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) data that covers new capital initiatives from 2016/2017 to 2019/2020 indicates there are going to be more students than the current schools can handle.

The board administrators seen the need and are disappointed at the public response. Domenico Renzella (Manager of Planning), said there were a total of 1100 hits on the LTAP page on the board’s website which resulted in a 104 survey responses. This seems like a low number for the whole of Halton and begs the question, was the method of advising the community adequate?

Housing Alton community

Halton District School Board wants to add $500 to the development charge it levies for new home construction

Perhaps it was and the community is satisfied with the board. If not, then the communication needs to improve. The LTAP is a solid document and is the result of hard work by the staff and will proceed to the next stage, but the lingering question is, did the public have adequate input.

In part, due to high residential growth in Oakville and Milton and the need for additional schools, the board will be asked to pass an amendment to the current Education Development Charge; the board is being asked to increase the residential charge from $3380.00 per residential unit to $3969.00. For non-residential units, the proposed increase is from $.87 per square foot to $1.02.

Notice has been sent out that public input is requested at a June 3rd meeting to be held at the Halton District School Board at 7:00pm.

The Halton board, along with other boards in the province are legislated to have strategies that cover at least four years. 2015/2016 represents the final year for the current board strategy and Stuart Miller (Associate Director of Education) presented to the board for approval the 2015/2016 strategy. The strategy which encompasses students, staff and systems provided for a thoughtful discussion between Mr. Miller and the trustees.

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Changing the Channel on television set made in Korea in a plant whose energy came from a coal fired generator.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

May 28, 2015


It is easy to become complacent on a sunny spring day in Burlington. It is easy to ignore the cumulative effect that our lifestyle is having on the planet’s climate. But the TV news tell us about the destruction from increasing levels of tornado, storm and flash floods, as we saw recently in B.C. Then there is California experiencing its worst drought ever. It’s all so depressing that you just want to change the channel.

Coal burning plant China

Developing economies use coal because it is available and it is relatively cheap – we eventually all pay the price.

Blame China, Korea and India for their dirty industrialization policies, using cheap dirty coal to fire their economies and take them out of the dark ages and perhaps into a new one. It is ironic and sad that they started burning coal in a big way just as we learned how bad these carbon emission can be for the atmosphere. Of course we in North America, Australia and even Europe still burn coal (though Ontario has eliminated coal power plants). And you can change the channel but that TV was probably made in Korea.

In the last federal budget, Mr. Harper’s election budget, as every other one of his budgets, has ignored our ever increasing contribution to climate change. And we’re not alone. US presidential contenders, Australia’s dinosauric leader and even the leader of once progressive New Zealand have allowed the global commons to slip almost completely off the political page, as they pursue today’s issues without any consideration of tomorrow..

There are people who still think there is a debate about whether climate change is real, a phenomenon psychologists call being in an echo chamber. They have pre-conceived notions that the environment is a conspiracy, constructed by a ’60’s hippie crowd, to take away their freedom… to pollute – so they just listen to themselves. Why shouldn’t we live the way we always did? These folks are watching the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ channel or something on 100 Huntley Street.

Harper - fists

Making a point; speaking for Canadians – is he saying what we want him to say?

Canada’s environment minister pulled some imaginary emissions targets out of the air. But without a hint of a roadmap there is no hope of getting there – though perhaps that is the idea? Just like a New Year’s resolution, they’re soon to be forgotten the next day. So why even bother? And besides, these new numbers pale in comparison to the imaginary numbers the Americans and Europeans have generated.

The 21st annual United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Paris this coming December. But you can tune out because all expectations are that we’re looking at another failed conference. The only meaningful attempt at global climate cooperation, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, was critically wounded when GW Bush took the US, it’s chief architect and player, out of the deal only a couple of years later. After all, he has oil in his blood. And Canada’s own wanna-be-oil-man, our PM, whited-out Canada’s signature on Kyoto as soon as he had nailed his majority government.

So this year’s meeting is featuring something called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDC). These virtually meaningless theoretical voluntary commitments will be offered up by many of the 194 nations in the global climate change game. But since the national targets will be internationally unenforcible, no party will be held to account. So this meeting in the City of Love will not have much to do with love for the environment, or for our children’s children.

It is the ‘tragedy of the commons’ that brings all these nations together once a year, to keep alive the process that requires nothing short of re-genesis. Whether a common pasture, the oceans’ fisheries or the planet’s atmosphere, the ‘tragedy’ can only be abated or avoided through more governance, not less. And that was what Kyoto was all about. Today we have ISIS and an errant Russia gone rogue to add to the mix, so don’t expect any re-runs this year.

Canada’s excuse is that, despite being one of the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting nations per capita, we are still a relatively small part of the global GHG contribution. That is our echo chamber and we’re sticking to it. Canada rationalizes that doing almost nothing is just OK. Inertia has become our climate change strategy. And business as usual, despite occasional lip service to the contrary, prevails, at least at the federal level.

In fairness, the previous Liberal government did little more than sign onto Kyoto with its ambitious targets, which even they would have had trouble to attain – though the Ontario and Quebec governments did. So maybe targets are important. I’ve always believed that it is better to shoot for a high goal and fail, than to have never shot at all. I mean what kind of hockey player goes out on the ice without the prospect of scoring a slap shot on his/her mind?

Climate change - polar bears on flowsBut Canada’s hockey-author, our PM, is just not into the game when it comes to protecting the atmosphere. He was an ardent climate change denier in his opposition days. And his government has stayed pretty true to form on that count. So even if individual Canadians wanted to contribute to the fight against climate change they are leaderless.

If your national leader is missing in action on this matter, how does a nation mobilize? My New Zealand friend refers to sic critical lost years. We in Canada will have recorded a lost decade, perhaps it is time to change to change the channel.

Background links:

Climate Change Canada

World’s natural Disasters      More Disasters      Climate Change Echo     More Echo

100 Huntley Street      Conference      Tragedy of the Commons      New Zealand


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.

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

News 100 redBy Staff

May 27, 2015


Ontario is introducing new legislation to increase protections for condominium owners, improve how condo corporations are run, and ensure that condo boards are governed professionally.

Four stoey buildings are what Stephen Chen thought the Official Plan was all about - he reads about 17 and 22 stoey builldings and asks if this is the kind of "high rise jungle" citizens want.

One of the many condominiums in Burlington. The rental unit market is, to a large degree, made up of condo’s bought as investments and rented out.

The proposed Protecting Condominium Owners Act marks the first major overhaul of the province’s condominium laws in more than 16 years. It is based on more than 2,200 consultation submissions from condo owners, developers, managers and industry experts during a public review of the Condominium Act.

If passed, the proposed legislation would establish:

Clearer, more comprehensive rules to prevent owners from being surprised by unexpected costs after buying a newly-built condo
• A new Condominium Authority to provide quicker, lower-cost dispute resolution and help prevent common disputes
• Strong financial management rules for condo corporations to help prevent financial and organizational mismanagement
• Better governance requirements for condo boards, including training for condo directors
• Mandatory licensing and education requirements for condominium managers.

Brock Condo

The Brock, controversial when it was proposed, now fits nicely into its neighbourhood.

More than 1.3 million Ontarians live in condos – a number greater than the populations of Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
More than 50 per cent of new homes being built in Ontario are condos.
There are currently 700,000 condo units in Ontario, up from 270,000 units in 2001.  –  51,000 units are currently under construction.
The government received about 200 recommendations for updating the Condominium Act through its public consultation process.

Related story:

Condo management operator arrested for bilking condo corporations of $4 million


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School board doesn't give the city the answer it was looking for: Can schools hold PD days when elections are taking place?

News 100 redBy Walter Byj

May 27, 2015


For reasons that few journalists understand bureaucrats frequently put difficult or contentious items at the end of their agendas. Haltion Public School Director of Education Euale discussed with the board a resolution that was passed by the City of Burlington directing the Mayor to begin corresponding with Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to look into options for amendments to the Municipal Elections Act that allow the use of schools for election purposes while ensuring compliance with the Safe Schools Act.

The City of Burlington offered two options;

Moving Election Day to the last Saturday in October
Mandate all school boards to hold a professional development day on Election Day.

Every politician within a stone’s throw was brought into the picture.  And the trustees had comments as well.

Halton District School Board logoVice-Chair Amy Collard(Burlington) initiated the discussion by stating that PD days timing are a huge undertaking and suggested that if this was also applied to provincial and federal elections there could be chaos.
She was not a fan of Saturday voting as it would have a lower turnout and expressed safety concerns with the public walking thru schools in order to vote. She would not endorse the letter.

Andrea Grebenc (Burlington) followed by stating that Saturday might be a good day as Burlington has many who work outside the city and this would allow them time to vote.

Trustee Harvey-Hope (Oakville) followed by stating that the next municipal election would be Monday October 22nd and with the current lead time a PD day could be scheduled around that time. She did state that this would not solve a provincial/federal Election Day issue. Trustee Oliver (Oakville) followed by concurring with Harvey Hope and she expressed concerns on having provincial/federal elections on a Saturday.

Trustee Gray (Halton Hills) asked if there have been any major problems with voting taking place in schools; she also felt showcasing the voting process in the schools would a positive sign for our students.

Small click here - blackBoth Director Eaule and Assistant Director Miller stated that there were some concerns, but nothing major. Vice- Chair once again reiterated her concern for the safety of our students with strangers in our schools during this process.

This brought on further discussion of using other facilities such as church halls before using school property. Once again the issue of federal/provincial elections surfaced. And on it went. Chair Amos (Oakville) suggested the board put some thought behind this resolution and discuss at the next meeting. Not good enough for Vice-Chair Collard as it does not address the issue.


Burlington Board of Education trustee Amy Collard isn’t keen on the idea of PD days being held so that schools can be used for election purposes.

So the board passed a motion (unanimously) directing the chair to meet with all the recipients of this letter to meet and discuss the options and concerns regarding polling stations at schools.

A letter from the city offering the Ministry some solution to avoid voting at schools during the school hours during municipal elections quickly escalated to federal/provincial elections, school safety and budgeting for security. And meetings with dozens of people.

What was odd is that the people who will be in the schools voting or often the parents on the children in the schools – has the matter of safety been blown out of proportion?

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Strategic Plan team listens to stakeholders - culture seemed to be the common thread in their thinking. No one asked for better roads.

Strategic Plan WorkbookBy Pepper Parr

May 26, 2015


It is starting out as a different Strategic Plan review exercise.

Each term of office city council reviews the Strategic Plan and fine tunes the document to determine if any changes are needed.

In the past – prior to 2010 – the Strategic Plan was a collection of pretty pictures and bland statements. The current Mayor had at that time a Chief of Staff who thought the Strategic Plan should actually mean something and after more than eleven half days of meetings the city came out with a strategic Plan that set out three priorities:

Vibrant Neighbourhoods
Excellence in government

StPlan flip charts

Ideas and points made floated around the room like confetti at a wedding when the 2011 Strategic Plan was crafted – expect this next team to be as active with the flip charts.

Those three, as limited as they were, amounted to the best council could do at that time. They were led by one of the best Strategic Plan facilitators in the country who asked them at their first meeting what they had as a BHAG – the room was silent.

BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – the city didn’t have one and the best the team that was crafting the Strategic Plan could do was talk about the things they wanted the city they ran to be able to do and achieve.

Magi McKeowen Lancaster look at day's poster work

Making sense of all the notes and the different ideas left a lot on the table – crafting a strategic plan of this scale was a first time event for several members of council.

Be friendly, be prosperous and have decent government. At the session Tuesday the staff and members of council talking part in crafting the 2015-2018 plan heard that we aren’t as friendly as we would like to be and that the prosperity isn’t all that well distributed.

How good a government are they? They all got re-elected – that must mean something – that the majority of the people surveyed did not think their government listens to them says something else.

This Council now has a full term under their belts and they know a lot more about civic government than when they started crafting the 2011 – 2014 Strategic Plan.

The Tuesday session was listening to numerous stakeholders – all the way from the Cycling Committee to the Art Gallery of Burlington and more than a handful in between.

The trend in most of the thinking is that being a “smart” community making use of technology and ensuring there was a strong cultural base was the best way to reach the goal that everyone wanted – even though that goal was never spelled out.

Noack interview - city culture days 014

Culture was the brightest thread seen during the Strategic Plan session that listened to the Stakeholders.

The “automobile” and good roads and lower taxes didn’t get very many mentions. The tone was that if we can become more diverse, have a strong sense of cultural well-being people will want to move to Burlington and corporations will want to locate here – and if those two things can happen – we will be a prosperous community.

The delegations made were for the most part very solid. There were a few that said they got very short notice which suggests there are some snags to be worked out in the flow of things – but they crew setting out the Strategy for the next three years is off to a good start.

Taylor with Black smiling

Georgina Black of KPMG facilitated the 2011 Strategic Plan workshops and grew this council much more than they expected. Bringing her back would be a smart corporate move.

The delegations need some thought before they can be reported on in any depth – we will get back to you with that.

No BHAG yet – and this |Council may not yet have one on them. Time will tell that part of the story.

As yet there is no facilitator in place – staff report that they are negotiating with someone – they said that more than a month ago.

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Learn how to manage the collection agencies and set up a budget to get out of debt.

News 100 greenBy Staff

May 25, 2015


Burlingtonians don’t like to talk about poverty or personal debt. It doesn’t fit with the way the city sees itself.

We don’t see poverty on the streets – I was stunned when a fellow going through a tough time asked if I could give him bus money – he assured me he wasn’t a drinker.

I was stunned for a moment and admit to fumbling through my pockets for some money. It was close to the last thing I expected to experience on a Burlington street.

Bottle collector

In Burlington? Definitely.

I do see a number of people who make the rounds on garbage days looking for beer bottles and aluminum cans that they redeem.

There are other levels of poverty that we don’t see on the streets – personal debt hounds more people than we are prepared to admit and the collection agencies are merciless. While they are regulated – that doesn’t stop the more rapacious debt collectors.

Banks don’t work out debt problems with their clients – they send the debt along to collection agencies and you work it out with them.
Those $300 for $20 pay day Loan companies that are located throughout the city are close to usurious with their interest rates. But they are often a last resort for some people.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is now accepting clients who live in Burlington. CA:P is part of a national charity that works with a household to work out a five step debt reduction plan for people who are in way over their heads.

5 Step Plan to be DEBT FREE

1. Home Visits
After you make the call CAP, a Debt Coach and Support Worker from the local CAP Debt Centre will visit you in your own home.

2. An effective budget
Our trained Debt Coaches then work out a realistic budget for you, negotiating affordable payments with each creditor.

3. CAP Plan
You will get a FREE CAP Plan. You make regular payments into it and CAP will then distribute this on your behalf.

4. Severe Debt
If you are in severe debt then we can support you through insolvency options.

5. Debt free.

You use your CAP Plan to pay your bills and debt repayments and you will be supported by CAP until you are debt free.

You can call the organization at their toll free number – 1-855-214-9191. Their service is confidential and it is free.

They are not going to pay your bills for you but they will help you work out something with your creditors and teach you how to better manage the money you have.

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Ron Foxcroft and his wife Marie charm the Queen who now owns two Classic Fox40 whistles.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 25, 2015


Ron and Marie Foxcroft went to London to see the Queen. More correctly Ron went as the Honorary Colonel of the Argyll’s to be presented to the Queen who is the Honorary Commander in Chief of the Argyll’s.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel) at Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel) at Buckingham Palace in London.

Foxcroft was there to accept the condolences from the Queen on behalf of the Regiment over the dearth of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo last year in front of the National Memorial in Ottawa.

Being presented to the Queen is a very formal affair – for most people. Ron Foxcroft is not most people.

He and the Queen just hit it off is the best way to put it. What is normally a five minute event spun out to more than 40 minutes during which the Queen told Foxcroft that she believed the Canadian reserve troops were the best their was and that her regiment, the Argyll’s were as good as it gets.

The Day the Foxcroft’s met the Queen started out with Ron and Marie leaving their hotel in a taxi for Buckingham Palace which a short trip away.

Traffic was heavy and it looked as if they were going to be late so they got out of their cab and began walking to the gates of the Palace where there were long line ups.

They got to the guards and explained they were there to be presented to the Queen and were let through and told to head for a second barrier.

Marie Foxcroft explained that there were a number of barriers they had to get through and the guards at one barrier would call forward to the next until they found themselves in front of a door that let them into the Palace

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace was taking place at the same time which meant large crowds.

“We were just directed from one barrier to the next until we were in front of a door and we went in – and there we were inside Buckingham Palace where everything was so spacious” said Marie

Foxcroft - Palace large rooms

The rooms were massive with one room leading into another – it was easy to get lost.

One of the spaces was the size of a football field with these huge rooms everywhere.

Marie noticed that there wasn’t much in the way of vegetation but the grounds outside were spotless. One of the large outdoor areas they had to walk though was covered with small stones – almost like gravel that was raked several times each day.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Hatfield (Commanding Officer) at Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Hatfield (Commanding Officer) at Buckingham Palace in London.

The purpose of the visit was to present Foxcroft and Colonel’s Kennedy and Hatfield to the Queen and accept her condolences over the death of Cpl Nathan Cirillo. These two officers were, as Foxcroft described them “lifers” were there with their wives as well.

“The Queen didn’t look a day over 70 said Marie Foxcroft – she is very quick and at times there was a devilish look in her periwinkle blue eyes.”

The procedure followed had the “officers” of the Regiment meeting with the Queen in a private audience while their wives waited in the Empire Room to be “buzzed” in.

Foxcroft - Palace massive rooms

The rooms were massive – the Lady in Waiting said she often got lost in the place,

The wives spent the time with one of the Queen’s six ladies in waiting who chit chatted with them and explained that the Palace was so big that she at times got lost in the place.

The Queen asked where they were staying while they were in London and Foxcroft replied that they were at the Goring – to which the Queen replied “lawteedaw” which wasn’t language Marie Foxcroft wasn’t expecting from a lady she had curtsied before when she was introduced.

Then the Queen added that she was going to an event that evening and would meet Big Dave Goring – at which point the Queen put her arms out to indicate the Mr. Goring was a man of considerable girth.

“She was just so normal” said Marie –“it was if I was talking with my Mother.” “She has these periwinkle blue eyes and is so elegantly dressed” added Marie. The Queen’s two Corgis were in the room during the close to an hour visit “and she didn’t sit down once”.

Foxcroft Buckingham palace  gardens

Royal gardens at the rear of the Palace – Queen has her own John Deere grass cutter and Canadian geese who foul her lawns and hiss at her Corgis.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives (from left) Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel), Lieutenant Richard Kennedy (Honorary Lieutenant Colonel) and Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Hatfield (Commanding Officer) at Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives (from left) Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel), Lieutenant Richard Kennedy (Honorary Lieutenant Colonel) and Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Hatfield (Commanding Officer) at Buckingham Palace in London.  Marie Foxcroft commented on the numerous framed pictures on the tables.

At one point the Queen pulled back the drapes and showed the group the garden she would use to host a garden party. Foxcroft asked how many people would be at the garden party – 8000 replied the Queen who then pointed out her John Deere grass cutter.

The Queen then pointed to the Canada geese that fouled her gardens at which point Foxcroft produced two of his Foxcroft whistles and said he thought these would help.

Foxcroft poppy Queen Presentation

The framed replica of a |Canadian poppy was set out on an easel during the presentation to the Queen.

The Queen accepted the whistles – which seldom happens – and while she didn’t blow one at the time – Foxcroft is pretty sure she will eventually use what is part of a special production run of the Fox40 Classic whistle that has the crest of the Argyll’s stamped on the side. The Queen thought the men that rode what she called scooters beside her car should have these – scooters were where what we would call motor cycles

The Palace wakes up at 6:00 am but you never see any of the staff explained Marie. There is very ornate furniture all over the place and the rooms for the most part are very large – except for the room they met the Queen in.

What both Ron and Marie spotted was a table with dozens of framed pictures of family members.

Foxcroft asked if he queen had seen the new baby and she responded that she has “seen Charlotte the once but she was sleeping and I never wake a sleeping baby”.

I expected that Marie Foxcroft would have curtsied before her Queen – and wondered how elegant a curtsy it would have been. It took a little prodding but Marie Foxcroft, looking elegant in a pair of jeans, did her curtsy and immediately began to blush.

The day she married Ron Foxcroft she had no idea that she would one day stand with him before her Monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel) at Buckingham Palace in London.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, receives Colonel Ronald Foxcroft (Honorary Colonel) at Buckingham Palace in London.  Foxcroft steps right up to shake the hand of his Monarch.

The protocol is for people meeting the Queen to first address her as Your Majesty and after that you refer to her as Mam. “Ron couldn’t get it right said Marie – he kept calling her Your Majesty.

“I was terrified that I was going to screw it up” added Foxcroft who said “there was perspiration dripping down his arms.”  Ron wasn’t the only one nervous yet during the interview with the Foxcroft’s in their home Marie referred to her time as “kibitzing” with the Queen.  Ron certainly got her going – they were having a fine time talking about ”her” regiment and how proud she was of the way they had served in Afghanistan.

When the audience with the Queen was over, Commander Andrew Canale, who is Equerry to the Queen wondered “what were you talking about” Audiences with the queen do not last very long. Ron Foxcroft seemed to have gotten through to her.

When asked if he managed to make a mention of his Fluke Trucking fleet – Foxcroft dropped his head a bit and said: No, I didn’t.

Queen Elizabeth has long fond memories of Canada and the Canadian she met last week certainly made an impression on her.

It was the trip and experience of a life time “but you know” said Marie, “it is nice to be home.”

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Regional police cracking down on distracted drivers - asking for public to help.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 25, 2015


On Friday May 22, 2015 between 6:00am and 6:00pm, officers from the three regional District Response Teams collectively worked together to target the Big 4 driving behaviours that are responsible for placing road users at most risk, namely;

impaired driving
 distracted driving
 aggressive driving
 failure to wear a seatbelt

Officers focused their efforts along the Dundas Street commuter route in the City of Burlington and the Town of Oakville.

Small click here - blackDuring the one-day education and enforcement project, a total of 197 Provincial Offence Notices were laid. The majority of these charges consisted of speeding and distracted driving offences.

Officers also provided several warnings and cautions regarding driving behavior.

Halton Regional Police would like to remind motorists that holding a cell phone when driving a motor vehicle is likely to become the leading cause of traffic fatalities by 2016. As such our Service remains committed to targeting motorists who commit this offence and doing all that is possible to ensure a safe commute.

The next Regional Safe Commute initiative will take place in the Towns of Milton and Halton Hills.

Anyone can report a traffic or driving concern by visiting our website and making a ROAD WATCH complaint.

ROAD WATCH is a community driven program encouraging anonymous reporting of incidents involving dangerous and/or aggressive driving. This program is an opportunity to bring an aggressive driver to our attention. Be the extra eyes and ears and learn more here:

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How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property with the respect they deserve and ensure that their property rights are protected?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 23, 2015


How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property in the downtown core with the respect they deserve and ensure that their rights as property owners are protected?

Burlington has lost a lot of it heritage properties. The city seems to have a problem with wanting to keep buildings that reflect the character of the city as it went through its various development phases.

It was the citizens and two members of city council (both first term members) that saved the Freeman station from becoming kindling for a fire place.

The city has a deep rich history as the “garden of Canada” that many people are unaware of and something that is never celebrated.
That history could be used to create a more acute awareness of the past and use that to build an identity that is more than a magazine’s definition of Burlington as the best mid-sized city in Canada.

Burlington city councils’ have always had difficulty with fighting to save properties that have heritage value.

Studio - Ghent farm house - bigger view

View of the old Ghent farmhouse from Brant Street at the corner of Ghent Street.

There is a property on Brant Street that has very significant historical value that is part of a small land assembly. The property is currently on the municipal registry of historically significant properties and has been given an A rating.

The owner of the property wrote the planning department advising they wished to have their property removed from the registry. Sixty days after such a request the city has to either seek to have the property designated as historical under the Planning Act or issue a demolition permit if one is requested.

The question becomes – is this property significant enough to be designated?

Ghent house - bigger view

A wider view of the former Ghent Farmhouse and its neighbours today.

A Staff report put on the May 11th Development and Infrastructure agenda but pulled when the issue it was related to was withdrawn by the owners of property at 795 Brant.

The Planning and Building Department received a written request to remove the property from the Municipal Heritage Register to allow the demolition of the farmhouse. If the city does not take a position within the 60 day period, a demolition permit must be granted.

Council must make a decision as to whether to designate the property pursuant to the Ontario Heritage Act in order to protect it from demolition or to remove the property from the Municipal Register to allow its demolition.

Ghent farmhouse - rear view

A rear view of the former Ghent farmhouse – numerous additions have changed the look of the building – have those additions made the structure any less significant historically?

With the request to have the building taken of the municipal register withdrawn the matter is moot – but this issue will be back before Council in the not too distant future.

This request is being made to facilitate redevelopment of the subject property in conjunction with 789 Brant Street.

The Staff Direction set out in the report that was withdrawn makes it clear where the Planning department wants to go – that may not be where city council wants to go – and it is the elected officials who make the final decision.

Burlington City Council Group

The developer assembling the property and representing the owner is reported to have lined up at least four council votes. Which of these four are onside for the destruction of the house?

People acting for the property owner are believed to have lined up the four votes on council they need to vote against the Staff recommendation.

Staff asked that the city “State an intention to designate the house and property at 795 Brant Street, Burlington, pursuant to the Ontario Heritage Act.

“Authorize the City Clerk to present the Designation By-law to Council to designate the property at 795 Brant Street, Burlington, pursuant to Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act if there are no objections to the statement of intention to designate in accordance with Section the Act and

“Authorize the City Clerk to take necessary action in the event that there are any objections in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.

The property has always been seen as historically significant. It was given an “A” grade when it was evaluated by Heritage Burlington in 1995, and later re-evaluated with the same “A” grade in 2003.

Ghent Gillies Maple Lodge 1902

Maple Lodge was built in 1854 by the Bent brothers, Jabez a brick maker, George a mason, and James a carpenter. George Ghent and his family lived for many years at Maple Lodge. The non-designated 161 year old historic home is in jeopardy of potential demolition, due mostly in part to the intensification policy of the Ontario Government. Maple Lodge is located at 795 Brant Street on the south east corner. This is how the home looked in 1902. Today, it is a commercial property.

Additionally, in 2014, Heritage Burlington retained a consultant to conduct a review of all formerly graded “A” properties on the Municipal Register to determine if they still belong on the Municipal Register. The recent review of the subject property by the consultant provided a grade of 82/100 (based on Heritage Burlington’s newly created “Evaluation Criteria”), and it was recommended it remain on the Municipal Heritage Register.

Currently, the property is within the boundary of “Downtown Growth Area” in the Official Plan; and zoned as “MXG” – “Mixed-Use Corridor Zone”.

The Planning department maintains that the “Maple Lodge” or “William Ghent House” or “Bray-Ghent Farmhouse” is a good example of an early vernacular style farmhouse; and is associated with the early farming in Burlington. “The house is significant as it provides the evidence of Burlington’s past. In addition, it has other important contextual, historical / associative, and physical/design values.”

One of the first families to settle in Brant’s Block was the Ghent Family. They had originally come to North America from Wales, settling in Maryland, then moving to North Carolina. As sympathizers with the British during the American Revolution, they were severely persecuted.

Ghent Gillies Rev David Ghent

The Reverend David Ghent was a brother to George Ghent and another son of Thomas Ghent and Elizabeth Davis. Rev. Ghent was instrumental in aiding William Lyon Mackenzie’s escape to the United States. Historically that was a very significant event. If this were the United states the house would have been saved years ago.

Thomas Ghent came to Canada with his wife’s family, the Davises, and was one of the early settlers in Saltfree Township. In true pioneering spirit, he purchased land from Joseph Brant in 1804, and became one of the founding families at Wellington Square. For 150 years, members of the Ghent family farmed continuously in Burlington.

The two-storey brick farmhouse was built in 1854 by Jabez Bent, who is also believed to have constructed the wall around the Union Burying Grounds and the Calvary Baptist Church (1446 Ontario Street).  Bent sold the house and its farm to Frederick Bray in 1859, and in 1896, the property was bought by William Ghent, who was the fifth generation descendant of Thomas Ghent. In 1909, Ghent divided the farm, including Ghent Avenue, into parcel lots. This house and its lot were bought by Edward Harmon and his sons in 1909. The house was a residence for the Alphonse Brooks family from 1935 to 1975, when it was converted to commercial use.

The Planning department describes the house as the last farmhouse in the area and is a landmark along Brant Street. The house is on its original location; and is a familiar structure in the context of the neighbourhood and downtown. The house is now surrounded by mix of land uses, such as, residential, commercial and mixed-use developments, and various architectural designed buildings.

“The “William Ghent Farmhouse” is a two-storey solid brick structure with end gable roof, and features symetrical three-bay façade and rear additions.

“The multiple rear additions were likely added over the years as the family grew. The rear and side additions feature gable roofs. The central door at the front façade has a detailed wood surround. Other architectural elements of the house include brick chimneys at the two ends of the gable roof of the original house; wide overhanging eaves and paired brackets under the eaves of the original house; and wooden window frames on the ground floor front façade and on both floors of the north-east side façade highlighted by wooden voussoirs.”

“There have been minor changes to the heritage attributes but the original character is retained. Visible changes to the building include painting of the brick façade, asphalt roof shingles, commercial signs, and windows and shutters have been replaced by aluminium framed single-hung one over one windows.

“Additional chimneys and skylights have been added. The rear yard of the property has been entirely paved to accommodate parking spaces and a driveway for commercial use, with the exception of shrub and coniferous trees to the side yards and lawn immediately in front of the house.

These are not minor changes by any stretch of one’s imagination.

The planners argue that “architecturally, the front façade and north-east side of the “William Ghent Farmhouse” is the most significant.

From a historical or associative perspective, the property satisfies the criteria for designation. Staff is of the opinion that the house is historically tied to its surroundings as the development around it (including Ghent Street) was part of the original farm.

“Staff does acknowledge that the house has been converted from its original purpose as a residence to commercial use. Nevertheless, they are of the the opinion that despite the alterations to the building and site, the property has retained much of its original character and fabric.

“The demolition of this unique style farmhouse would mean a significant loss of the property’s historic and cultural heritage values. Each heritage property that is lost incrementally undermines the city’s ability to understand and celebrate its past through tangible physical resources.

Hotel on lower Brant Street

Lower Rant Street with two of the downtown core’s most historically significant structures. Would these two buildings ever be asked to meet with a wrecking ball?

Burlington’s Official Plan contains a number of policies related to the conservation of cultural heritage resources calling for the city to protect, improve and manage its cultural heritage resources in a manner that furthers the heritage objectives of this Plan and sets an example of leadership for the community in the conservation of cultural heritage resources. Cultural heritage conservation planning shall be an integral part of the land use planning process in the City of Burlington.

There are apparently other options. Staff suggests there is a third option which is to enter into discussion with the property owner and recommend that the request for demolition be withdrawn until such time as a comprehensive review of options including the demolition, conservation and incorporation or partial conservation of the house be explored.

City staff recommended that the property not be removed from the Municipal Register to facilitate demolition and that Council state its intention to designate the property. With the withdrawal of the request to be removed the municipal registry those suggested discussions can now take place.

If the property were to be designated it would be eligible to apply to the Community Heritage Fund for eligible restoration project. This would cover up to 25% of eligible project costs to a maximum of $15,000.

Burlington’s Heritage Property Tax Rebate program could also be available to the owners of the property. Currently, the program is only for residential uses in accordance with the recommendation of Heritage Burlington in its 2012 report, A New Approach to Conserving Burlington’s Heritage, a commercial component will be explored for the 2016 tax year.

Clemens Jim - Heritage

An opinion on what to do with the property will be sought from the Heritage Advisory committee. Chair Jim Clemens will have much to think about with this one.

There apparently isn’t going to be a formal public consultation, however, both Heritage Burlington and staff visited the property and it is on the |Heritage Advisory committee’s agenda.

Should Council eventually accept staff’s recommendation to state its intention to designate 795 Brant Street, the Ontario Heritage Act requires that notice of the intention be given to the City Clerk, and that notice be served on the owner of the property; the Ontario Heritage Trust; and published in a newspaper having general circulation in the City.

What does all this mean to the people who own the property and want to sell it and take their profit and move on?

What does this mean top the developer who is assembling the property and planning a project that will fall well within the Official Plan and the applicable zoning bylaw?

How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property in the downtown core with the respect they deserve and ensure their rights as property owners are protected?


The history of the Ghent family and their significance to the development of Burlington.

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

backgrounder 100By Pepper Parr

May 19, 2015


After numerous meetings the city finally has a draft of a Code of conduct that will have close to the force of law and which if seriously violated could result in the suspension of a member of |Council.

Meed Ward at kick off

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward takes the position that she has the right and the responsibility to involve herself in any issue in any ward. Her belief is not shared by all members of Council.

The most contentious issue during the discussions is whether or not a member of council can involves themselves in issues outside their wards. Ward 2 Councilor Marianne Meed Ward has taken the position that she is responsible for ward 2 issues but can involve herself in matters that are city wide and has done so in the past.

Ward 1 Councilor Rick Craven feels that ward 1 is his turf and no one should intrude on his territory. Councilor Dennison felt that as a courtesy a council member should at last inform fellow members of Council when they are involving themselves in an issue in a ward that is not their own.

The document is not what you would call an easy read. The Gazette will publish the version of the Code of Conduct that gets passed by Council on the 25th.

The portion of the draft code was revised at the Standing Committee with the removal of the part that had to do with how and when a council member can involve themselves in matters outside their ward.  That section read:

General Integrity

• Members of Council are committed to performing their functions with integrity, accountability and transparency.
• Members of Council are responsible for complying with all applicable legislation, by-laws and policies pertaining to their position as an elected official.
• Members of Council recognize that the public has a right to open government and transparent decision-making.
• Members of Council shall at all times serve and be seen to serve the interests of the municipality in a conscientious and diligent manner and shall approach decision-making with an open mind.
• Members of Council shall avoid the improper use of the influence of their office.
• Members of Council shall not attempt to influence or interfere with, either directly or indirectly, financially, politically or otherwise employees, officers or other persons performing duties under the Provincial Offences Act.
• Where a member of Council is involved in an issue outside the Member’s own ward, the member will inform the ward Councillor of such involvement.

As a Standing Committee chair, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is as good as it gets.  Handling delegations and accepting the ideas of other people - not as good.  But he wins elections.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven takes the view that he is responsible for the concerns and issues in his ward and that other council members should basically mind their own business.   He lost that argument.

Deleting it from the code passed on a 4-3 vote.

In 2006 the Municipal Act was amended to provide municipalities with enhanced accountability powers including the ability to establish a Code of Conduct and appoint an Integrity Commissioner to administer the Code of Conduct.

Burlington’s city council began work on a Code in December 2013 as part of their governance review. Currently, there is a Code of Practice that was adopted in 1996. The Code of Conduct would replace this policy.

Any failure to comply with the code of conduct can have serious and significant consequences. “Members of Council shall adhere to the provisions of the Code of Conduct. The Municipal Act, 2001 authorizes Council, where it has received a report by its Integrity Commissioner that, in his or her opinion, there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct, may impose either of the following penalties:

• A reprimand;
• Suspension of the remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a member of Council or a local board, as the case may be, for a period of up to 90 days.”

It would be tough to get re-elected were a council member to be suspended for any period of time.

There have been four workshops held with Council to draft the code that was presented.

At the January workshop, Council received an update from the City Solicitor on Bill 8: Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014. Bill 8 significantly expands the role of the provincially-appointed Ombudsman in the affairs of municipalities. This includes oversight over the investigations conducted in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

In some cases, municipalities may forgo the appointment of an Integrity Commissioner and leave the oversight to the Ombudsman. It is staff’s view that despite the oversight from the provincial Ombudsman, it would still be prudent to hire an Integrity Commissioner at the local level. At this point the regulations on Bill 8 have not been released. Those regulations will likely include details on procedures for investigation and any related costs to the municipality.

Following approval of the Code of Conduct, staff will retain an Integrity Commissioner on a fee for service basis. The plan is to share an Integrity Commissioner on a fee for service basis with the Town of Milton. The Town of Oakville already has an Integrity Commissioner in place. The expectation is that the cost will come in at about $20,000 a year – which of course depends on how many complaints get sent to the Commissioner and how well our Council members behave.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman has in the past come perilously close to crossing some of the lines set out in the Code of Conduct.

One section of the Code of Conduct spells out very clearly that:
Members of Council shall not:

• Maliciously, falsely or otherwise inappropriately injure the professional or ethical reputation, or the prospects or practice of staff;
• Compel staff to engage in partisan political activities or be subjected to threats or discrimination
for refusing to engage in such activities; or
• Use, or attempt to use, their authority or influence for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding or influencing any staff member with the intent of interfering in staff’s duties.

That requirement has not always been fully met in the past.

Free tickets to events have been a problem in the past – the rules were never very clear. They will be clear when the Code of Conduct is passed by city council.

“Members of Council are expected to represent the public and the interests of the municipality and to do so with both impartiality and objectivity. The acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality can imply favouritism, bias or influence on the part of the Member. At times, the acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality occurs as part of the social protocol or community events linked to the duties of an elected official and their role in representing the municipality.

“Members of Council shall not accept gifts that would appear to be in gratitude for influence or to induce influence. For these purposes, a gift, benefit or hospitality provided with the Member’s knowledge to a family member or to a Member’s staff, that is connected directly or indirectly to the performance of the Member’s duties is deemed to be a gift to that Member.

Members of Council are not precluded from accepting:

(a) compensation authorized by law;
(b) such gifts or benefits that normally accompany the responsibilities of office and are received as an incident of protocol or social obligation;
(c) a political contribution under the Municipal Elections Act;
(d) a memento of a function honouring the member;
(e) where a member is speaking or attending an event in an official capacity, the food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by provincial, regional and local governments or political subdivisions of them, by the federal government or by a foreign government within a foreign country, or by a conference, seminar or event organizer;

(f) food and beverages consumed at banquets, receptions or similar events, if:

1. attendance serves a legitimate business purpose;
2. the person extending the invitation or a representative of the organization is in attendance; and
3. the value is reasonable and the invitations infrequent;

(g) communication to the offices of a member, including subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals;
(h) gifts of a nominal value (e.g. baseball cap, t-shirt, flash drive, book, etc).


Some ward 6 residents felt their Council member, Blair Lancaster was just a little too close to the owners of the Air Park.

In the case of exceptions claimed under categories b, d, e, f, g, h where the value of the gift or benefit exceeds $25, or if the total value received from any one source during the course of a calendar year exceeds $25, the Members shall within 30 days of receipt of the gift or reaching the annual limit, list the gift or benefit on a Councilor Information Statement in the prescribed form and file it with the City Clerk. This information will be posted on the website with Councilors expenses.

Members are permitted to receive up to two tickets to a dinner or a fundraising event, as long as the Member is attending only one such event as a gift from the same individual or corporation within any calendar year.

Fundraising, Community Events and Donations are also clarified in the code.

This Code recognizes that as community leaders, Members of Council may lend their support to and encourage, community donations to registered charitable organizations and not for profit groups. Monies raised through fundraising efforts shall go directly to the groups or volunteers and chapters acting as local organizers of the group. This Code recognizes the important work of Members of Council in supporting charitable causes and the need for transparency in Members involvement.

This Code sets the following additional guiding principles for Members of Council

(a) Members of Council should not directly or indirectly manage or control any monies received relating to a charitable, not for profit or community-based organization’s fundraising in their capacity as a member of Council.
(b) A Member of Council or a third party acting on behalf of the Member shall not solicit nor accept support in any form from an individual, group or corporation with a pending matter, such as but not limited to, a planning or demolition application, partnership agreement, tender or Request for Proposals before Burlington City Council.
(c) With reference to Member-Organized Community Events, Members of Council must keep a record of the names of all donors and the value of their donation that supplements the event and file it with the City Clerk.
(d) Donation cheques shall not be made out to a Member of Council. Nothing included herein affects the entitlement of a Member of Council to:
• Use their office expense budget to run or support community events subject to the terms of the Councilor Expense Policy.
• Urge constituents, businesses and other groups to support community events and advance the needs of a charitable organization;
• Play an advisory or membership role in any organization that holds community events.

Once passed the Code gives the public a process to complain. Complaint of a Violation of this Code

Any individual that has reasonable grounds to believe that a Member has breached this Code, may file a complaint with the City Clerk.

The Integrity Commissioner shall be responsible for investigating such complaints and if the parties are in agreement, the complaint may be resolved by way of mediation.

If either party does not participate in the mediation process, if the complaint is not resolved through this process, or the matter is not appropriate for referral to mediation, the Integrity Commissioner shall assume responsibility for investigating the complaint in accordance with the procedures established by Council.

In the case of a complaint of discrimination or harassment, the complainant may file a complaint directly to the Human Resources Department under the City of Burlington Respect in the Workplace Policy. The complainant will also be advised of his or her right to advance an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

The procedure for filing a complaint includes an informal or a formal complaint

The formal procedure is as follows:

Any individual who has identified or witnessed behaviour or activity by a member that appears to be in contravention of the Code may address their concerns through the formal complaint process set out below.

1. All formal complaints must be made using the Complaints Form prepared by the City Clerk and/or Integrity Commissioner and shall be dated and signed by the Complainant.
2. The complaint must include an explanation as to why the issue raised may be a contravention of the Code and any evidence in support of the allegation must be included with the Complaints Form.
3. Any witnesses in support of the allegation must be identified on the Complaint Form.
4. The Complaint Form must include the name of the member alleged to have breached the Code, the section of the Code allegedly contravened, the date, time and location of the alleged contravention and any other information as required on the Complaint Form.
5. The complaint shall be filed with the Clerk who shall confirm that the required information is complete. The Clerk will forward the complaint form to the Integrity Commissioner who will determine whether the matter is, on its face, a complaint with respect to non-compliance with the Code and not covered by other legislation or policies.
6. The Integrity Commissioner may request additional information from the complainant.

Dennison and partner on the trail

Councillor Jack Dennison felt it was just common decency to advise a fellow council member that he was talking to people about a project in their ward.

The existence of an Integrity Commissioner gives the public some recourse to behavior they feel is wrong or unbecoming a member of a city council. However the authors of the code were aware of the possibility that someone might want to exploit the process in an election year. They covered off that possibility.

Burlington City Council Group

By the end of the month of May your seven members of Council will have to adhere to a Code of Conduct that allows for the suspension of a member of r up to 90 days of they stray from the rules.

The Integrity Commissioner shall not make any report to Council or any other person after the last Council meeting in June in any year in which a regular municipal election is to be held. Any reports would proceed to the first Council meeting after the Inaugural meeting of the new Council.

Any guesses as to how long it will take for someone in the city to file a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner and who the complaint will be against?

The Gazette will publish the code of Conduct in its entirety once it has been passed by Council.

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Is Premier Wynne coming clean on her plans for Hydro One? Joe Gaetan doesn't think so.

opinionandcommentBy Joe Gaetan

May 16, 2015


By Joe Gaetan is like a dog with a bone – he just isn’t going to let it go until he has ever last bit of meat on it.  Gaetan has been tracking the progress of the province’s “discussions” and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s statements on any plans to sell Hydro One.

According to a March 10, 2015 CBC report, “Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she hasn’t made any final decisions yet on asset sales, but she did not dispute a report that she is planning to sell shares in Hydro One”.

Hydro transmission lines

There are thousands of Ontarians who don’t think selling Hydro One is a very smart idea. The Premier appears to have already made up her mind. Have you?

Fellow Ontarians, in spite of her waffling, Premier Wynne must have been planning something big, because it’s now called Bill 91, The Building Ontario Up Act (Budget Measures), 2015. It’s Current Status, “The Bill has been Ordered referred to Standing Committee pursuant to the Order of the House Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs”.

The purpose of the Act is to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various Acts. If you feel like reading the lengthy document you will come across sections such as Schedule 1 that deals with making Ontario a more beer friendly province, containing folksy language such as hectoliters, standard bottles of beer, microbrewers, beer, wine and wine coolers.

To pave the way to sell off Hydro One, Wynne apparently knew she had to change a slew of acts such as, The auditor General Act, The Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, The Co-operative Corporations Act, The Financial Accountability Officer Act, The Financial Administration Act, The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, The Commodity Futures Act and most importantly The Electricity Act, 1998.

Wynne H&S tight

Premier Kathleen Wynne – is she ready to say definitely where she stands on the possible sale of Hydro One?

For someone who wasn’t sure on March 10, Premier Wynne sure was busy doing a lot behind the scenes in anticipation of making her final decision found in B91. The piece de resistance of B91 is, Section 48.2 subsection (5), the section that deals with Restrictions on Province’s sale, etc. and specifically where the province,” shall not sell, dispose of or otherwise divest any common shares of Hydro One Inc. if the sale, disposal or divestment would result in the Minister on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Ontario owning a number of common shares that is less than 40 per cent of the outstanding number of common shares of Hydro One Inc.

Premier Wynne “what is it you can’t face”, maybe the truth about selling 60% of Hydro One all along?


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Sex education, core values and the role of the family in teaching values; is this something a government should be doing? If the parents are not - perhaps.

backgrounder 100By Pepper Parr

May 14 2015


We asked staff at MPP Eleanor McMahon’s office to provide us with some background material on the Health and Physical Education curriculum – referred by many as the “sex ed” course and were given and referred to the following material that clarifies some common misconceptions about what the curriculum will be teaching our children – including addressing concerns about the age-appropriateness of the content.

It also serves to explain that many parts of the curriculum are currently being taught as part of the 1998 curriculum.

McMahon at podium

McMahon comes from a family with strong core values and social convictions – she believes government has a role to play in ensuring our young are given the information they need to make informed decisions.

The safety and wellbeing of Ontario’s students is our government’s top priority, and we believe that students need to have the best information possible so they can make informed decisions.

The revised curriculum documents for Health and Physical Education, Grades 1 to 8, 2015 and Health and Physical Education, Grades 9 to 12, 2015, are available on the Ministry of Education website and can be accessed by the public (www.edu.gov.on.ca)

Most parents don’t have the time or the inclination to spend hours wading through at times turgid government reports. They want to know, in simple language they can understand and easily grasp – ‘what are teachers telling my children’.

Well-being is a core component of the government’s renewed vision for education and we are committed to the success, safety and well-being of every student and child. The Health and Physical Education curriculum that is currently being used has not been updated since 1998 – this is over 15 years old – and the world has changed. Technology concepts such as Smartphones, “Snapchat” and sexting were not familiar to anyone, let alone children and teenagers.

In our increasingly interconnected world, students often get information from unreliable and inaccurate sources. The classroom is a safe place for children to learn, and Ontario teachers are professional trained to teach sensitive material. Our students deserve a curriculum that is current, relevant and age-appropriate to give them the best information possible to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

McMahon at BMO wondering when the provincial money is going to arrive

McMahon: a capacity to listen.

The revision of these curriculum documents is the result of work done through an extensive review process. This process was guided by research on current instructional approaches specific to this discipline, expert advice from academics, benchmarking and comparisons of the curriculum with that of other national and international jurisdictions.

It involved extensive consultation with parents, students, teachers, faculties of education, universities, colleges and numerous stakeholder groups including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Ontario Public Health Association and the Ontario Healthy Schools Coalition. More than 70 health-related organizations submitted reports for consideration, and thousands of parents provided their input.

That means a parent in every elementary school across Ontario, representing all four publically funded school boards, was provided with an opportunity to provide input.

Parents and educators play critical and complementary roles to support student safety and well-being. Recognizing this, our government has begun developing a series of resources for parents, which provide information on the Health and Physical Education curriculum and ideas for supporting learning at home.

McMahon at Up Creek - side view - smile

McMahon is in the community and of the community where she has to stick handle some awkward issues – how is she doing so far?

Eleanor McMahon believes that parents should still have their own conversations about sexual health with their children, particularly when it comes to personal values. Nothing can replace the love, care and concern of a parent. But she also believes the best way to ensure our children are getting the most accurate, fact-based, up-to-date and age-appropriate information is through a Health and Physical Education curriculum that has been informed by experts, research, educators and parents together.

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City looking into having a plaque made up to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 13, 2015


North America will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope on July 13, 2015.  Terry Fox  visited Burlington during that first event.

The Terry Fox Run to Cure Cancer people were out trying to attract and involve people from the LAton Village to take part in the event in September,

The Terry Fox Run to Cure Cancer has been a Burlington event from the beginning 35 years ago. Last year the organizers of the event set up a booth in the Car Free Sunday in Alton.

The city has been  approached by the Burlington Terry Fox organization requesting a plaque or monument be installed along the waterfront, on the border between Wards 1 and 2, to mark the 35th anniversary.

Terry Fox ran along Spencer Smith Park during his cross Canada run, and the annual race takes place in Spencer Smith/Beachway Parks.
The city is exploring the idea further, and will be presented the following staff direction at the May 12, 2015 Community & Corporate Services Committee meeting:

Direct the Manager of Arts and Culture to consult with the Burlington Terry Fox Foundation in the design of a monument to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run with funding provided by the Terry Fox Foundation for implementation;

Direct the Executive Director of Capital Works to consult with Halton Region on a location of the monument in alignment with the Beach Master Plan; and

Direct the City Clerk to write a letter of support for the project to the Burlington Terry Fox Foundation.

The tension between Councillors Meed Ward and Craven is close to measurable,  Neither has ever been a fan of the other and on Monday evening the feelings got spilled onto the horseshoe of the Council chamber

The tension between Councillors Meed Ward and Craven is close to measurable at times. It will be interesting to see how they manage to cooperate at the unveiling of the plaque the city is considering. ,

It will be interesting to see how the Councillors for wards 1 and 2 manage to co=operate on this event.  They are not known for the conviviality of their relationship.

The plaque itself is a wonderful idea – Burlington has been a consistent supporter of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope since its earliest days.

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Latest bank scam - be vigilant, pay attention - and if in doubt - don't.


Identity theft - many faces  By Staff

  May 12, 2015



It looks like it could come from the Bank of Montreal – and we all make little goofs logging in. Did I make that many I might ask.

BMO scam - failed log ins

It might look legitimate – it isn’t.

This kind of scam is an attempt to get you to click on the link they want you to go to – then they begin to gather information. It doesn’t take them very long to get to the point where they have enough information to begin sucking money out of your bank account; your credit card or any number of places where you have funds that are accessible on line.

The sent from address used is a little confusing – this isn’t from a bank.

The basic rule is always be vigilant and if in doubt – don’t.

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Jeff Rubin returns to Burlington to talk about the carbon bubble - well worth listening to - appears at Central Library May 25.

Event 100By Staff

May 7, 2015


One of the most gifted and at times controversial writers on important public issues, Jeff Rubin returns to Burlington to mark a major event in publishing and in fiscal and environmental analysis–the release of his new book The Carbon Bubble.

Jeff Rubin Engaging IdeasA compelling, forthright author and speaker, recipient of the National Business Book Award and author of two momentous works of economic forecasting, Why Your World is About to Get a Lot Smaller and The End of Growth, Jeff Rubin is in great demand in all media for his cautionary insights and startling predictions.

“If the world is changing, those willing and able to change with it will be rewarded. For a high-latitude country like Canada, whose average temperature is expected to rise a multiple of the global average that change points to a fundamental rethink of our national economic priorities.” –from The Carbon Bubble

Small click here - blackThe Diffeent Drummer, is hosting Jeff Rubin in partnership with Burlington Public Library on Monday May 25 at 7pm in Centennial Hall at Burlington Central Library, 2331 New Street.

Tickets are $10, available at the bookstore and at the third floor Information Desk at the Library.

To reserve seats in advance, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com.

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Jane Mulkewich to talk to Americans about slavery practices in Canada

Event 100By Staff

May 7, 2015


Jane Mulkewich, a full-time career as a lawyer for the Ontario Nurses Association and daughter of former Burlington Mayor Walter Mulkewich, spends her free time researching, writing and speaking about an American slave girl named Sophia Pooley.

jane mulkewich

Jane Mulkewich practices law and will be speaking to the American Women’s Club about a salve once owned by Joseph Brant

Sophia was the first non-native resident of the Halton area, and was stolen and brought to Canada from New York in the late 1700’s, and belonged to the Joseph Brant family. Mulkewich will be telling this fascinating story to the American Women’s Club who will be holding their 38th Annual May Luncheon at Paletta Mansion,on May 14th at 4250 Lakeshore Rd in Burlington. The event is from 11am until 2 pm, and will include the Annual General Meeting for the AWCO,

Small click here - blackFounded in 1977, the American Women’s Club of Oakville is a non-profit organization, and membership includes U.S. born and naturalized citizens, both men and women, with the majority residing in the Halton, Hamilton and Peel regions of Ontario. The purpose of the club is to provide fellowship and social activities among Americans living in the area, and to encourage participation in service to the community, both civic and philanthropic.

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Meed Ward convinces developes to meet with the community and talk about what they want to do with their downtown property holdings.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper ParrSmall click here - black

May 7, 2015


Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has always believed that citizens should be engaged much earlier in the decision making process than the city’s current policies require.

When changes are being made many people feel that the die has been cast and the politicians just want the voters to say they like what has already been decided upon.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about – civic engagement

That is the style we see from Councillors Craven, Sharman and Lancaster. Councillors Taylor and Dennison tend to show some flexibility.

The Mayor tends to sit between the two groups. He gets keen on an idea and sticks with it – but when there is significant blow back – he backs away. Bicycle lanes on Lakeshore Road is perhaps his worst example – taking the wind turbine was another.

Burlington’s approach to civic engagement hasn’t gotten far beyond approving, unanimously, the Shape Burlington report and putting an “in principle” community engagement document in place but then never acting on it.

Vanessa Williams + Woodruff Budget meet

Vanessa Warren on the right wanted to know why residents were not permitted to have real input on the creation on the city budget – she didn’t like the idea of reading through a document with decisions already made set out for her.

During the public budget deliberations in 2013, Vanessa Warren, who was just beginning to come to the attention of the public, asked at a meeting at the Art Gallery, why the public wasn’t seeing the numbers when they were being put together. She objected to having to look at numbers and get to make a comment and then go home – with nothing changing.

Meed Ward wants to do it differently. Her first reference is usually to her constituents – who meet almost as community council. She listens, is frequently surprised at what she hears from her constituents and then makes changes.

Attend a ward 1 or a ward 6 community meeting and watch the flow of information and ideas – they go in just the one direction. These are the fundamental differences in how Councillors Sharman, Meed Ward and Craven see their jobs.

The older members of the population are content with leaving everything in the hands of the politicians – that was their experience and they are comfortable with that approach.

There is a younger generation that doesn’t buy into that top down approach. They are comfortable with searching out their own information and will debate with their council member.

The two groups in ward 5 who were very unhappy with the way their Council member represented them with the sewer back up problems that did serious damage to their homes made their views known frequently.  They didn’t believe they were being heard and went off on their own.

Sharman for his part was very sincere in his efforts to do something for his constituents – it was a matter of very different operational styles. Sharman prefers command – the residents prefer collaboration – not Mr. Sharman’s strong point.

Meed Ward has invited residents to participate in a series of workshops that will see major downtown land owners, city staff, businesses and residents meet to discuss the future of their downtown.

Big on providing services. Political enough to be on the winning side?

Meed Ward used up her postage budget for the year in her first three months as a Council member.  Her style is to get information out to people.

What Meed Ward has managed to do is pull the people who own the land into the discussion – let them hear what residents would like to see. The smarter developers listen to residents and bring them on side – it does away with loud, noisy contentious public meetings.

The Molinaro’s learned the hard way with their Brock Street condominium that it is better to work with residents than fight them. When they moved forward with their Fairview Road – five tower – Paradigm project they worked with the community and with the residents – guess what – no noisy contentious public meetings.

The ADI Development Group decided from the GetGo that they would bull their way through the city planning department and city council and get themselves before the OMB where they think they have a better chance of getting a 28 storey tower on a plot of land less than an acre in size approved.  They just might be right.

Meed Ward arranged for a public meeting on the expansion and significant upgrade to Brant Square Plaza. The project met all the zoning requirements; they could have asked for more height but chose not to.

Meed Ward takes the view that all the decisions and as much information as possible should be run by the citizens. Petty power politics isn’t her game.

The workshops will allow participants to provide input into what they think the downtown should look like in the future.

The first workshop takes place on May 13 at Burlington Lion’s Club Hall beginning at 7 p.m. and will have city planners sharing information about existing city policies and what’s up for review.

Participants will also start to map out principles around design, compatibility, height, density, heritage, jobs, and more.


Citizens at a public budget meeting – they get to comment – they don’t get to demand that changes be made.  The meetings are more of a public relations exercise.

“Residents want to be involved in downtown development early on,” said Meed Ward. “This approach brings together all stakeholders to collectively and collaboratively shape the future of our downtown.”

Seating is limited for the May 13 workshop. For more information and to register, please contact Georgie Gartside, Assistant to Councillors, at georgie.gartside@burlington.ca or 905-335-7600, ext. 7368.

This is an approach that most of Burlington doesn’t benefit from – with the exception of Councillor Taylor who has a long standing working relationship with his community.

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Halton public school board learns that elementary school teachers could strike on May 11th

Newsflash 100By Walter Byj

May 6, 2015


Although by the usual standards, it was a quick meeting with the public adjournment at 8:35 pm., the potential fireworks was announce by Director of Education David Eaule near the end.

Small click here - blackHe stated that he was in possession of a copy of a letter that was sent to the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals and Michael Barrett, (President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association) that was sent by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

The letter stated that EFTO was giving 5 days notice for a possible strike in Halton elementary schools beginning May 11th.

At this time there is no indication of the type of strike, possibility a work to rule or walkout. Director Euale stated that there would more substantial information either on Thursday or Friday.board

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