BurlingtonGreen hears how other communities do what has to be done to save prime farmland – sound familiar?

November 28, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It has been a banner week for BurlingtonGreen.  They held their annual meeting, installed a very strong board and heard a stirring story about how a quarry proposal in Dufferin County was defeated.  Later in the week after a very bumpy ride through several Standing Committees they got a sole sourced agreement with the city to continue developing the community garden concept that has done so exceptionally well.

Gloria Reid, on the right with her husband – a welcome addition to the BurlingtonGreen board.

Let’s take this one step at a time: The new board is made up of: Todd Mooney, Gloria Reid, Neil Sentanie, Vanessa Warren, Ken Woodruff, Chuck Bennet, Colin Brock, Susan Fraser and Paul Haskins who will serve as president.

Vanessa Warren will add to the already impressive delegation skills BurlingtonGreen takes before various levels of government.

BurlingtonGreen has become the go to community organization you want to be part of in this city.  This year two of the impressively active community leaders joined the board: Vanessa Warren who formed the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that brought the landfill dumping in north Burlington to a grinding halt when she delegated to Burlington and Regional Council and Gloria Reid who brought some impressive thinking  to the creation of a Community Engagement Charter.  We wish Ms Reid had stayed with that project and gotten it out of the clutches of the upper reaches of city hall where is will suffocate from the dust on the shelves it sits on.

The BG AGM brought in Donna Tranquada to talk to them about the successful effort to stop the application for a quarry permit in Melacanhom Township which is north of Caledon and south of Collingwood.

Monte Dennis in conversation with BurlingtonGreen guest speaker Donna Tranquada. Dennis was part of the Pickering airport battle more than 25 years ago. He could tell Tranquada some real horror stories.

What was really interesting and odd was that Ms Tranquada made no reference to the PERL success with the Nelson Aggregate fight – that win paved the way for the change in the way the public reacted to any expansion of  quarries and their development .  The Nelson win was the first time a quarry looking to expand was turned down.  The Food and Water First people knew a good thing when they saw it though: they had Sarah Harmer out to their events as well

Donna Tranquada had a great story to tell.  A year to the day of the BG AGM, a group that was formed to protect thousands of acres of farmland from a planned massive quarry operation learned that the company had withdrawn its application to develop a quarry.  It took more than a year to beat back the proposal put together by an American, Boston-based hedge fund, that was buying up property in the township.

When that company began buying up farm land they said they wanted to create a large, world-class potato farming operation. Property by property they told farmers what they were doing and got to the point where they had purchased more than 30 farms.  “It didn`t take long” Tranquada explained “for word to get out in that rural community that something was going on.”  The company, called Highland had been incorporated in Nova Scotia, and had begun using pressure tactics on some of the holdouts – meeting with farmers and putting a cheque for more than $1 million on the table and saying the offer was good for just 24 hours.  The community began to get uneasy.

Then came the announcement:  Highland had filed an application with the province for the largest quarry in Canadian history on some of the best farmland in Ontario and at the headwaters of five river systems. The mega Quarry would have sprawled across 2,316 acres and would have plunged 200 feet below the water table on a 15,000 acre plateau of Class 1 farmland. The massive open-pit limestone quarry would have put rare agricultural soil and precious water resources at risk in Melancthon Township.

One of the studies showed that the quarry would have to pump out 600 million litres of water a day forever.  You had to be in the room when Tranquada used the word forever.  She is a bit over 5ft 5 inches and she literally spit out the word.

You start with a great location for a public gathering.

Donna Tranquada`s  talk was “meat and potatoes” for the protest movement crowd – it was a crowd like this that stopped the Spadina Expressway in Toronto;  that stopped the extension of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto  through the Beach community and parts of Scarborough.  The same demographic stopped the first attempt to put in an international airport in Pickering.

When Burlington was threatened with a highway being rammed through the Niagara Escarpment close to 400 people showed up at the Mainway Arena on Walkers Line – and the province eventually backed off.  The province will have another go at an Escarpment highway and it will take a different generation to fight that battle.

The  Melancthon Township battle used ideas that pulled together the interests of the rural communities with the needs of the urban dwellers – then used food as the bridge between the two.

Chefs from Toronto and other urban centers made soup, thousands of bowls of soup that was both a fund-raiser and the way to connect  farmland where food is grown and the stomachs of the people in cities who have to eat.  The event became known as SoupStock and it drew crowds in the tens of thousands.

It was a magnificent collection of ideas and dedicated people who showed once again that the public can prevail.  Highland had employed one of the biggest public relations companies in North America who knew they were up against a public that was driven and focused – rarely can that kind of energy be beaten.

That draws great crowds.

Tranquada said that on one Saturday there were 40,000 people who dropped into a large park in the east end of Toronto to hear the story about the quarry application.  If you believe in an idea and you can get your troops out – you can prevail.

Burlington has a fight on its hands that is critical for the city and relevant to every municipality that has a small airport and problems with landfill sites.  While many expect the city of Burlington to prevail through the several levels of appeal that can be expected of the decision that decided the city had the right to have its site bylaw adhered to, the bigger question is – what des the city do with that property once the Court issue is resolved.  There are hundreds of tonnes of landfill in the more than 100 + acres of property and a runway that is in the process of being paved.

Tranquada, surprised some people who asked where they could get one of the signs that she had with her. “I  just have the three “she explained – “that was all I was able to carry on the subway and the GO train.  A high-profile media personality trudging from Toronto to Burlington on the GO train is what they call “waking the talk”.

Tranquada is now part of a group that goes from community to community with the message: “There aren’t a lot of victories these days, but the mood-altering blocking of the monster quarry in Melancthon Township in potato country a year ago was a brilliant model of how to get stuff done. The alliance of urban ecos, farmers, foodies and chefs showed the power of partnering, bridged the messy city-country divide and ulti­mately triumphed over a Boston-based hedge fund… Plus, it made the point with the mass soup-athons, that protests can be jubilant and very digestible – and that determination and positivity are our best weapons.”

And those crowds sign a petition – and with public reaction like that – the company wanting to quarry prime farmland withdraws their application.

With the farmland in Dufferin County saved, the group, known as Food and Water First,  decided to get to the real core issue which was the Aggregate Resource Act – it sets the rules for the extraction of aggregates.  Turns out Ontario has the weakest regulatory environment governing resource extraction in Canada, enabling anyone to pillage the very resources Ontario needs to drive parts of its own economy.

The Food and Water First people have taken the position that the aggregate producers require a “social license”, that is the permission of the wider community, to do what they do.  That concept will be hard for some of the old-timers in the industry to digest but it is a changing world – Global Warming is real and both food and water will become the most critical elements of our society continue to exist.

There is legislation and policy that govern the activities around resource extraction in Ontario.  The Ontario Sand, Stone and Gravel Association (OSSGA) chose to push for keeping things as they are instead of helping to create a document that would lessen rural strife and have them become a responsible corporate partner.  OSSGA members will continue to be challenged by communities in which they want to do business and will have to defend their businesses. Instead of doing better and voluntarily recognizing that prime farmland and source water regions should be off-limits, OSSGA has clearly belittled the efforts of thousands of Ontarians who have so reasonably engaged in this policy development process. The public at large will continue to withhold that social license until there is modernized legislation.

Nothing in the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) review document would prevent another Mega Quarry application tomorrow, destroying forever thousands of acres of our most productive farmland and putting the control of unbelievably vast amounts of Ontario’s fresh water in danger.

Food and Water First wants to see new legislation that recognizes  prime farmland as a strategic provincial resource and  protect source water regions by eliminating industrial extraction in those regions.

These social activists believe that as an engaged public, both urban and rural, we have had all kinds of assurances from MPPs that the thousands of people had been heard. Now is the time for those MPPs to act, not just speak.

A productive board meeting; the story of a community action that saved precious farmland – and the week wasn’t over. BurlingtonGreen went on to get the city behind their community garden project – but that’s another story.


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Understanding the school board: an agenda would have helped. Intern leaves feeling she really wasn’t there.

Milla Pickfield is a Nelson High School graduate who decided to spend a year working in the community, helping her Mother with her business and doing volunteer work before she headed to university.  She volunteered to try writing and did two piece for us; one with the Chief of Police and an interview with the new Hayden High school principal.

Milla’s most recent piece for us is on the school board, that organization that directed much of what she has done for the past ten years.  Her attendance at a Board of Education meeting was a bit of an eye opener for Ms Pickfield.

November 26, 2013

By Milla Pickfield.

BURLINGTON, ON.  I got to my meeting of the Board of Education an hour early; when you have to use public transit or rely on your parents for transportation – your time is not your own

I wasn’t at all sure where I was supposed to go and asked the woman at the reception desk where the meeting was being held – school board meetings are open to the public.

Milla Pickfield is a Nelson High graduate – understanding the proceedings of the school board was not something high school prepared her for.

I was half hoping she could point me in the right direction and expected someone would supply me with an agenda. I was pointed in the right direction – without an agenda.   And I had not brought anything else to read.

Half an hour after I arrived, Dr. Frank J. Hayden and his wife also showed up with Jacqueline Newton from the new high school.  I had already interviewed Ms Newton and was delighted to meet Dr. Hayden and his wife.

When I was doing some research on what school boards do, I came across a quote that put everything in perspective for me. Sir Ken Robinson once said: “Everybody has an interest in Education.”

Those words resonated with me. I know that I am very interested in education which is why I was very excited to go to a Board of Education meeting. I didn’t know what it would be like, I didn’t know what the people would be like, and I didn’t know what they would talk about.  After the meeting, I was left with more questions than answers.

Dr Frank Hayden – spoke to Board of Trustees who had named the new Alton Community High school after him.

It wasn’t a very satisfying experience for me.  I don’t usually need help nor do I willingly accept it most of the time, however I did expect someone to greet me upon arrival at the large room in which the meeting took place. That was not the case. No one greeted me or any of the other three students in attendance.  Everyone was crowded around Dr. Hayden, which was certainly understandable.

No one approached me and asked if they could help and without an agenda I found myself spending most of my time hurriedly trying to write down all I could and hoping to understand a little later from the notes I was taking.   Working without an understanding of what was going on I was forced to pay extra attention to everything they were saying which still did not help. Most of the language used was part of my vocabulary however the fashion in which they used it was not.

I believe myself to be an educated person. I have done everything expected of me; I went to elementary school and high school and graduated from both with relatively high grades, what I lacked in book smarts I made up in common sense, and I can follow many conversations with adults and form and deliver an opinion.   I could not follow the meeting of the Board of Education.

I wondered: if I could not follow the meeting how would other people in Burlington understand the proceedings.  What about someone who just moved here from a different country; someone who just decided (like me) to drop into one of those meetings; someone with very little knowledge of the education system but with a hunger to learn; ever keep up with the meeting?  

The impression I left with was that the meeting was separated into four parts:

First were the speeches which were delivered by Dr. Hayden and a student attending Hayden High.

Second part was passing a whole lot of bills and not talking about any of them.

The third part was mainly focused on speaking about some bills that were to pass and problems they’ve encountered.

Finally there was the freelance period of time, or at least that’s how I understood it. In this time anyone was allowed to bring forward an issue they though important and speak about it to the council.

Milla Pickfield started an internship as a journalist interviewing the Chief of Police. She ‘aced’  it – wasn’t able to do as well at understanding what gets done at Board of Education meetings.

I found the second and third parts of the meeting the most confusing. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t have an agenda, so the bills were hard to follow, or maybe it was just the extremely fast pace of the meeting but I have to wonder how someone from the public, like me, would ever follow a similar meeting to that one.

The Board of Education controls a large chunk of our lives, along with a lot of our tax dollars, and we should be able to be a part of the process and understand what’s going on. What I experienced was personally disappointing. I went in with a desire to learn all I could, perhaps understand how our education system works, and see important decisions being made.

I left the meeting feeling as if there was something wrong with me; I should have been able to understand what was going on.  I read, I am informed and I understand the English language.  When I think about the several hours I spent in the Board of Education meeting, I feel like I wasn’t really there. 

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Electric car charging stations being set up at GO stops – Burlington will see theirs in 2014.

November 27, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  The province is doing everything it can to get you into an electric car. Announced this morning at the Oakville GO station –  electric vehicle charging stations are up and running at five GO stations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to make it easier for drivers to use environmentally friendly transportation.

Starting today, Aurora, Centennial, Lincolnville, Oakville and Whitby GO stations will offer charging stations for electric vehicles.

Ajax, Burlington, Pickering, Erindale and Clarkson GO stations will open electric vehicle charging facilities in early 2014.

ChargePoint cards are available now.  why not put everything on the existing PRESTO card

Charging a car will be free for the first month; after that, each charging session will cost $2.50. Electric vehicle users can wave a credit card or a Chargepoint smart card over a card reader to pay for their electric vehicle charging access.

$2.50 a charge?  It cost me $68.74 to fill my tank.

The ultimate electric car charging station: Solar panels shaped like trees with plug-ins for cars – why not fill GO station parking lots with these things?

The provincial government says the new stations are part of a three-year pilot program, which may be expanded depending on demand.

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A wellcome that will not be forgotten – how quickly will the error be corrected? Has it been noticed yet?

November 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  Oh dear, that was embarrassing. Brand new sign, new buildings, one of which is a high school and the wording on the sign has a mistake.  Ouch!

The sign installation wasn’t completed until just after 3:00 am the day of the public opening. How long will it take for someone to spot the error? We missed it – a reader brought the mistake to our attention.

That will get fixed; perhaps someone will be told to sit in the corner and write out the word welcome 1000 times.

The credit for this “expose” belongs to Allan Harrington, who by the way. Has on more than one occasion pointed out some of our spelling mistakes.  Don’t you just hate people like that?

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Two dozen greeters welcome more than 1000 people to the Alton community complex on a cold Saturday morning.

November 25, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  This Saturday the place was wide open.  The complex of buildings in the Alton community: a high school, recreation centre and library that are stitched together into one long structure, held their public opening and even though we saw the first bit of snow in the afternoon the crowds were more than decent in size and the kids were all over the place – along with their parents, some of whom looked lost at times.

Two dozen people donned custom T-shorts to greet the more than 1000 people who walked into the complex on opening day for the community.

The politicians were out in full force. Chris Haber, the man who paid big bucks to have his name put on the building had settled into a table and looked like he was going to set up shop.

New signage makes the complex official.

Kids of all ages were in the gyms, the library was filled with people and there were a couple of dozen people on hand to show you around and ask questions.

These three were prepared to give volley ball lessons to anyone who walked into their gym.

Three young girls wanted to teach me how to play volley ball – they were pretty good players themselves – it was that kind of day – everyone just had the run of the place.

Snappy signage was in place – we were told that some of it got the finishing touches at 3:00 am in the morning – but there were in place with flags snapping away in the brisk breeze.

People were setting in nicely and in time the complex could and should become more of a community centre.  It badly needs a coffee shop and having a small Post Office in the building would be a real convenience for the community.

The complex is the responsibility of the three organizations: Board of Education, Library Board and the city’s parks and recreation department – which means there has to be an oversight committee in there somewhere.

Alton has a very rich diversity that results in a cultural mix some schools don’t have.

It would be interesting to see how much that group is prepared to stretch the envelope and make the location a place where all kinds of services are available.  Could some of the Regional Services be available in the complex.  The police currently have a presence in the building and there are a few commercial services in the building.

There are computers sprinkled throughout the library with units equipped for young users.

One would expect the ward Councillor to begin holding community meetings in the space.  Could the theatre be made available to drama groups that need a place to practice and perform?  Great place for a film club!  The objective should be to use the complex as a safe place for students to grow and play as well as a place for their parents to be at in the evenings.

On Saturday a coffee shop would have been a welcome addition.

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18-30 and looking for work? Wallace sponsors a panel to guide job seekers. New Street Library on the 14th

November 11, 2013

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  MP Mike Wallace will be hosting a seminar for young adults aged 18-30 on Thursday, Nov. 14 from 7-9 p.m. at the Burlington Central Library, 2331 New St.

Employment Options for Young Adults will feature four guest panelists representing the financial, health care, manufacturing and food sectors  will talk about accessing the job market in specific industries and learn about current hiring trends and what they can do to get the competitive edge and stand out from other applicants.

Burlington MP Mike Wallace – flipping burgers at a Chamber of Commerce event.

The Region recently held a Job Fair that attracted  800 skilled and motivated job seekers who met  with 43 employers from across Halton.  Halton Region’s Economic Development Strategy has been successful in attracting new business to Halton but those companies don’t seem to be choosing Burlington as their home base.

The  unemployment rate for the Region in the second quarter of 2013 remained historically low at 4 per cent, markedly lower that the region’s five year average unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent and significantly lower than the provincial rate of 7.5 per cent.

There seems to be a data gap in there somewhere – unemployment at 4% with 800 people showing up at a job fair?

Several of the courses given at the Centre for Skills Development & Training are fully booked months in advance – the students usually know where they are going to be working before they graduate.

Wallace get is right when he says:  “Employment is integral to a healthy economy.”  While job creation has traditionally been seen as a local and provincial responsibility the federal government has come up with a plan that would cost share the training of new people in new jobs.  The provinces are suggesting the federal government turn those funds over to the provinces and let them design programs that meet the specific needs of each province.

At least they are talking about training people.  With technology surrounding everything we do – and that technology changes almost every 90 days – keeping people fully trained and productive as opposed to just employed is a prime concern.

Co-host for the seminar is the Centre for Skills Development & Training.

For information or to register, call 905-639-5757 or email mike.wallace.c1@parl.gc.ca.


Training classes:

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The Alton Village community complex gets taken through a dry run – community Open House on the 23rd – not to be missed.

November 10, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Hayden High was opened to media for a tour – what a collection of facilities: a library, a high school and a recreation centre all set on 15 acres of land.

The partners in this venture will hold an open house Saturday November 23rd.  The city runs the Recreation Centre, the library is operated as part of the Public Library system and the school is run by the Halton Board of Education.

It’s not the kind of high school you were used to – There is a fully equipped kitchen which students learn the fundamentals of food, nutrition and preparation.   It wasn’t clear who did up the pots and pans when the class was over.

Burlington managed to bring in a cool $1.3 million spread out over 20 years from Haber and Associates – which is not exactly chump change, for the right to put their name on the building. It may prove to be the bargain of the decade for the Haber family.

Maureen Berry, CAO of the Burlington Library system talks with Andrew  Haber who turns out to be a relative. Berry didn’t ask if he had a library card.

The library is there for both the public and the high school students at Hayden High where grades nine and ten are now conducted.  Grade 11 will follow in 2014 and grade 1`2 the year after that.

Rather than list all the features one might ask – what don’t they have.  The place is filled with light and uses 20 different types of glass in various colours.

There is a kitchen – that is miles from the home economics classes some of us used.  There is a cosmetics room, a garage that had two cars inside and half a dozen engines for students to work on. 

There is a fully equipped wood working shop with more drills on the walls than you see in an average Home Depot.

Hallways are wide with students plopped down on the flow working over their laptops.  The building has WiFi throughout and all kinds of nooks and crannies where students can talk, work on their laptops or read a text-book.

Thirty six washrooms with 90 toilet stalls – so that problem is well taken care of.  The media tour took place on a Friday which we assume is a “casual dress” day for the school.  Principal Jacqueline Newton wore flame red jeans and had a habit of high fiving a number of her students as she passed them in the some of the widest hallways I’ve seen in a school.

Part of the massive gym set up in the Haber Recreation Centre

The gymnasiums are set up in both the high school and the Recreation Centre with a combined 34,000 sqft of sprung maple gym floors.  The recreation facilities were designed to handle provincial competitions with 38 to 40 foot ceilings and loads of natural light.

Each of the 208 rooms in the building has names, not numbers.  In the high school the names were chosen by the students that opened the place.

The students decided to call it The Forum – it could have been called The Roost – a place where anyone can gather and just sit and watch or talk and kid around. Someone in the media tour suggested it looked like one big detention room.

There is a section set up in one of the hallways – sort of like bleachers at a ball park, where students can just roost like birds.  A lot of use is made of concrete and wood and yet the place doesn’t feel cold or bleak.

The desks in the classrooms are not what most of us are used to.  They are designed to give the word “collaboration” real meaning.  Modular in design they can be grouped as two- three – as many as eight in a configuration that lets students work side by side.

No more desks set out in neat rows. The classroom furniture is now such that students can sit by themselves or in groups of two or three – up to eight. The objective was to create situations where the students learn to work as groups and to collaborate on a problem – question or assignment.

Blackboards went the way of separate entrances for boys and girls.  The rooms now have white boards and make extensive use of visual projections.  The media spent a few minutes in an art history class where students were looking at the works of Salvador Dali, Picasso and MC Esher and learning about the surrealist movement.

The instructor in this class didn’t seem to have a problem with a student using her cell phone during the class. The place is fully wired.

Embedded in the hallway floors are different types of tile and markings that tell a student they are at a decision point and have to decide which way they are going to go.  There is 200,000 square feet of space in the place.

There is parking for just over 400 vehicles, racks for 130 bikes on the property with room for another 100 across the street at Norton Park.

Does the place work as a building?  A little too early to tell but it has all the makings of a different approach to high school that suggest it should work very well.  The building is not yet fully used – there are two more grades to be added – so there is space for different community groups.  The Regional Police have some space, the Regional government has space and a driving school has some space.

The 200 seat theatre is part of the high school with walls that are built to control sound. The place has everything any parent could ever want in a place for their children to get the education they are going to need.

There are two rooms for community groups; a 200 seat theatre, cafeteria and a server operated by a company owned by the school board.  That should cut down on the quality of the food complaints.  Add to the food operation is a collection of vendor machines which Principal Jacqueline Norton said she would certainly like a cut of that revenue.

The library has some of the books on the shelves -but just a  portion of what will eventually be available. Maureen Berry CAO for the Burlington Public Library system explains that furniture is still arriving but that the community has taken to the library very well.

Great sports facilities, a library led by one of the better librarians in the province who, during the tour learned that she is related to the Haber family which bought the naming rights to the recreational centre.  Maureen Beet and the Haber’s are first cousins twice removed or something like that.  For a while it felt like old home week down on the farm.

Jennifer Johnson, city project manager on the site, admits to shooting some hoops in the gymnasium  when no one was round.

Guiding the tour was the city’s project manager Jennifer Johnson, who kept trying to hurry people along – there, was just so much to see.  The Board of Education was the lead on this project with each partner having their own hands on person. Jennifer Johnson was the lead for the city and admits to shooting a couple of hoops in the gym while the place was under construction.

Open House November 23rd – the place will be packed.  Expect to see students from the other high schools prowling the halls of Hayden High drooling with envy.

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Lest we forget




In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



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Environmentalists look to possible city council candidate to argue their case: No to the marina breakwater and save those swans.

November 5, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  BurlingtonGreen seems to be upping their game.  They have an Annual General Meeting later this month – November 21st – starts at 6:15.   Central Library.  One word to describe these things – BORING.

But they have upped the game and are bringing in a highly rated speaker: broadcast journalist Donna Tranquada of CBC fame. Tranquada will share the inspiring story of a successful grassroots campaign that stopped a proposed mega quarry northwest of Toronto. The Food and Water First organization sprung from this citizens’ movement and is dedicated to protecting Class 1 farmland and source water regions across the province.

BurlingtonGreen represents a community that has no reason to be shy about its successes in stopping developments that they believe are harmful to the community.  The win at a Tribunal level hearing that stopped the addition to the existing Nelson Quarry in North Burlington was a major environmental win.  Tranquada should know that she is partying with champions.

Burlington Green delegated at a city council meeting Monday evening arguing that the city should not, at this point at least, put any money into any steps that will advance the construction of a barrier that will make LaSalle Park Marina a Safe Harbour.

LaSalle Park Marine Association (LPMA) Executive Director John Birch has been beavering away to have the marina upgraded with a wave barrier that is needed to prevent damage to boats during rough weather.

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

The marina maintains they are close to being un-insurable given the number of claims their members have had to make.  Upgrading the harbour to give it the wave barrier it maintains it needs was coming along just fine – until Beverly Kingdon took on the fight to save what she believes is the only place the Trumpeter Swans can winter.  The swans were very close to extinction at one point.

Without going into all the details – and there are pages of them, Kingdon believes that the creation of a wave barrier will do serious harm to the trumpeter swan habitat.  Not so maintains the LPMA.

BurlingtonGreen has jumped into the fray and Michael Jones, past president of the Save our Waterfront Committee that Councillor Meed Ward used to propel herself into office has involved himself.  Jones, who is also a sailor – he sails out of the Royal Hamilton Club, delegated at a Standing Committee and asked that the city not put any money into the wave barrier until a Part Two Environmental Assessment that has been asked for is completed.

The marina types argue that the Minister of the Environment hasn`t agreed to calling for a Part Two Environmental Assessment and delays in having the design work done will delay the project.

What we have is a difference of opinion between a significant environmental organization and a marine association – these things happen all the time.

What was different and very significant was the person who spoke for Burlington Green at the city council meeting.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren, who politically came out of nowhere, when she took the leadership of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that brought he city into the Burlington Executive Airpark dispute that has the city fighting a significant course case to determine just who determines where landfill can be dumped.

Warren has proven to be a very able communicator.  She brings energy and a focus to the work she did for the Coalition. The politicians loved listening to her – she has had them close to eating out of her hands at both the Regional and municipal level.

So there she was Monday evening delegating to city council to save the habitat for the trumpeter swan and explained that she was asked to bring “fresh eyes”  to the issue.

Warren brings far more than “fresh eyes”.  BG has two very able spokespeople in Jones and their Executive Director Amy Schnurr.  Would it be unreasonable to suggest that Warren is not so much “fresh eyes”  but a bigger calibre of gun that the swan people feel they need to win this battle?

Or are we seeing the first step into the political arena for Warren who has been asked by a number of people to take on Councillor Lancaster in Ward 6?  Was Lancaster watching the person she might be running against and asking herself – can I beat this woman?

Our political leaders come out of the community – we just may have seen a potential leader poke her head out just a little and tip her toe into the water.

Council didn’t buy the argument Warren put forward – they went for the Staff recommendation which was to Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to report back to Budget and Corporate Services Committee during the 2014 Capital Budget regarding 50% co-share funding for the construction level engineered design for the permanent wave break at the LaSalle Park Marina; and

Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to continue to support the LaSalle Park Marina Association in their efforts to pursue federal and provincial funding

Those two directions were approved without a word of debate or discussion and no one asked for a recorded vote on the item.

The next opportunity for the environmentalists to de-rail the plans to build the wave break will be during budget deliberations.

If we see Ms Warren actively involved in that process assume you will see her name on a ballot come the October 2014 municipal election.  She would be a welcome addition the council we have in place now.

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The New Battle in the Online Payment Sphere: Amazon vs PayPal

October 26, 2013

By James Burchill

BURLINGTON, ON.  Amazon has launched a service called Login and Pay with Amazon which allows partner sites to enable a Pay with Amazon payment button that can process purchases through the Amazon system. This competes directly with PayPal and merchant services and could become a serious competitor for eBay’s payment processing giant. It’s also something that could give Amazon a third income arm to augment the warehousing sales and cloud services it has built its business on.

Amazon moves into yet another sphere of the online commerce world: payment services.

The new Login and Pay with Amazon combines the current Amazon payments services with a new login service similar to Google or Twitter login systems for websites. Together, the combined services offer a one-stop integration for Web payments in a way similar to how PayPal’s payments button works.

This will allow Amazon’s business partners to tap into the 215 million active customer accounts that the company has on tap. According to Tom Taylor, Vice President, Amazon Payments, ‘Login and Pay with Amazon enables companies to make millions of our customers their customers by inviting online shoppers with Amazon credentials to access their account information safely and securely with a single login.’

Until now, Amazon payments services have directed users to Amazon’s website to authorize the purchase – if you’ve invested in Kickstarter projects, you’ve no doubt seen this in action. This new setup works the same way, but doesn’t require the site redirect and can work in a window or directly on the merchant’s site.

On top of the payments option, this new login service also means that websites can accept Amazon credentials as a login, in the same way they use Facebook, Twitter or Google login authentication. This opens up possibilities for a whole cottage industry of services working in and around Amazon’s consumer offerings like streaming video, audio, etc. Since it works through a simple oAuth implementation, developers will have no difficulty adding it to a site. Amazon’s inclusion of their A to Z Guarantee for this authentication service will only bolster consumer confidence.

For those who travel, you’ll see the new Login and Pay with Amazon in action when you use Gogo WiFi in flight on an air flight later this year – the company plans to have it implemented before the big holiday season of flying begins next month.

For its part, PayPal is not sitting on its laurels waiting to be ousted from the market. The company recently acquired BrainTree, a cross-site payments solution, and has unveiled a physical payment option that can be used in brick-and-mortar retail establishments to pay for goods and services. This would allow small businesses to accept payments via PayPal by having their phone or register bill the client or the client can pay and their phone will produce a QR code that the clerk at the register can scan to complete the transaction. A random four-number code can also be produced which can then be entered into the keypad of the credit card reader at the register to complete the sale.

Still, with Amazon now horning in on their core business, PayPal must be worried. Amazon, meanwhile, is poised to take yet another big chunk of the web’s profit potential and add it to their portfolio.

James Burchill creates communities and helps businesses convert conversations into cash.  He’s also an author, speaker, trainer and creator of the Social Fusion Network™ an evolutionary free b2b networking group with chapters across southern Ontario.  He blogs at JamesBurchill.com and can be found at the SocialFusionNetwork.com or behind the wheel of his recently acquired SMART car.

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The city wants your insights – they are going to go electronic and online to get them and spend $100,000 to make this happen.

October 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Governing is all about information.  Power is also all about information.

How does one get that information?  And just what is the information?

Those were questions and concerns that got raised at a meeting last Thursday at the Performing Arts Centre where Burlingtonians got to listen to one of the greatest public polling practitioners this country has ever had.  Angus Reid was in town to talk about Insight Burlington

Surrey, BC resident responding to an online poll. Burlington will be using the same service to learn what 5,000 Burlingtonians think about issues the city faces.

Mayor Goldring explained Insight Burlington as the city’s new online public consultation and citizen engagement community.  It is an online consultation community where participants will weigh in on important city issues by participating in online surveys and discussions via their smart phones, computers and tablets.  Insight Burlington is powered by Vision Critical’s online community platform, connecting busy people with their city via ongoing consultations and engagement, on their time and on their terms. It is expected to launch early next year.

This “engagement community” will be made up of a panel of 5,000 people – perhaps more.  If you want to be on the panel use the link at the bottom of the page to  add your name to the list – when the panel is being put together you will be advised and given a chance to be part of the process.

Well – just what is that process – how will it work and who controls the process.  While Burlingtonians are decent,  polite people they ask questions and want to be sure their interests are being put first.

The city wants to engage its citizens and they know that there has to be something better than the current council delegation process.  Angus Reid told the audience what they already knew:  “We’re increasingly turning to digital and mobile technology, it’s time for public institutions and local governments to engage people where they are spending time: online.

The Mayor gets emails constantly and told of an occasion when he was in bed, reading a book on his e reader when a “tweet” suddenly showed up on the screen.  He had forgotten to turn that feature off.

If 5,000 Burlingtonians had been asked what they wanted the city to do with the Water Street property they recently agreed to sell to private interests – would we have seen a different decision? Is electronic opinion gathering going to make a difference to the way city council decides?

We live in a society where everything is “on” all the time.  People want information – now.  The city would like to know what people think – now, while a decision is being made.

So Burlington is buying into a service that lets the city create a panel of 5,000 people who will get messages asking them what they think about specific issues.  People will be able to respond instantly through their cell phone, their tablet, their lap top or their computer at home.

The city will tabulate the results instantly and know what the prevailing views of these 5000 people are on the questions being asked.

Who is going to choose those 5000 people several in the audience wanted to know.  They won’t be chosen explained Angus Reid – they will self-select.  If you want to be on the panel then you put yourself on the panel.  What if some organization has all its members rush to be on the panel and thereby dominate the responses?

The technology built into the system will catch things like this the audience was told.  So if there I technology involved then someone does have control?

Gets complex and at some point one has to trust the people running the operation.

OK – who will be running the operation at city hall?  Well it won’t be the council members.  OK – who will be running the operation at city hall?  Well it won’t be the council members.  The Insight Burlington process will be run out of the office of the city manager.  Good – we happen to have a first-rate city manager – but he will retire at some point – if we don’t burn him out before he retires.

The city has an Engagement Charter and some thought this information gathering service could be tied into that.  Good idea – one that needs some additional thinking.

Mayor Goldring explained some of the ways the Insight Burlington service would work.  People just don’t have the time to get out to meetings where they listen to a presentation and then stand in line to get to a microphone to make a comment.  We see this all the time with development applications.

Insight Burlington could be used to put up visuals that show what is proposed as a particular development application.  The facts would be laid out and people would get a chance to answer questions. 

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes – seldom more. Putting questions about the budget on-line and letting a panel of 5,000 people respond would give city hall a much bigger picture. They may not like the response they get – then what do they do?

Typically a city meeting might get as many as 10 delegations from the immediate area – city hall would like to wider response and going electronic gives them that opportunity.

This kind of technology is not however without its downside.  Who decides what the questions are going to be?  City Manger’s office? What if city council wants a question asked and the city manager doesn’t think it’s appropriate?  City managers serve at the pleasure of a city council; could get a little sticky down the road.

Burlington has a public affairs department that isn’t exactly stellar. It looks as if they will be kept to putting out press releases ad getting City Talk into your hands.

Angus Reid pointed out, as most people who have anything to say about the public thinks already know: Local is what matters most to people.  That might be true but that isn’t reflected in the way people vote at municipal elections.  The voter turnout is low – at times abysmally low.  In some situations Board of Education trustees are acclaimed.  If there is anything that should matter to parents it is how we educate their children.

Burlington is the first city in eastern Canada to climb aboard this service and will be signing a three-year contract that will come in at about $100,000 a year – more if the city takes up some of the analytical service offered.

Data in itself doesn’t provide answers – it is the analyzing of the data and what it really means that is important.  On that level what the city learns from the tea leaves is only as good as the people doing the tea leaf reading.

Part of what this process is about is pulling the public into the public square.  That public, according the Angus Reid falls into one of four segmentations.

16% of us fall into the “angry activist” segment

23% fall into a “young and ambivalent” segment.  This group tends not to like the old way of communicating.

35% of us are defined as retiring skeptics

26% are called happy campers and tend to be families that are busy and happy with the way things are going.

Just over 50 people took in the presentation given by a speaker who did not give short answers.  The city has made the decision to use the service and on the surface it looks like a good idea – it will certainly allow more people to have a say in what gets done.

Julien Marquis  enters his name on the list of people who would like to be part of the city’s panel.

What wasn’t clear was just how transparent the flow of information is going to be.  No one will ever know who responded – all the city will know is that that they live in Burlington and there will be just one response possible from each person.  The city will know what percentage of the panel responded and one has to assume they will know which ward and perhaps first three letters of their postal code.

Close to the end of the evening someone asked who would be accountable for what was being done.  There was a long pregnant pause, the Mayor didn’t say a word, Angus Reid didn’t say a word.  The question sort of hung in the air.

“Citizens”, explained the Mayor, “want the ability to choose how and when they engage and provide feedback to us, More than that, they want to know how their input is being used by the city as we make decisions.”  That is what the Mayor expects Insight Burlington to provide.

 The City of Burlington is the first Ontario community to join Surrey and Vancouver in British Columbia, where residents are using the technology to have their say through the service.    

We will let you know how this works out for Burlington.

Getting you name on the list: CLICK HERE

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Burlington artists now know where the cookie jar is – can they get their hands into the thing?

October 24, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  You know that culture has some traction in Burlington when city council members ask what a Poetry Slam is and when Councillor Jack Dennison suggests the he might even drop by the Black Bull on Guelph Line and hear how Tomy Bewick, a construction worker delivers his message.

Bewick runs the Burlington Poetry Slam, an event most Councillors knew absolutely nothing about; yet it is an organization that has been given a Canada Council grant to bring together Slam poetry artists from across the country.  In Burlington, whoda thunk?

After a close to brutal session at the Regional offices in Oakville where council members took part in a vote that marked the beginning of the end of the Beachway Park community, council met in Burlington to discuss the basics of a Cultural Action Plan and then decide what they wanted to do.

Teresa Seaton, center, organizer of the Art in Action Tour, thinks through a response at one of the Cultural Action Plan sessions. She is one of 250 people organized as an Arts and Culture Collective in Burlington.

They didn’t make any decisions – it was far too late and everyone was far too tired to be able to make sensible decisions, but Burlington did get to see the outline of a community that few really knew existed.  The Arts and Culture Collective, a group of more than 250 people organized on-line,  didn’t really know each other but they have become a voice and they want a seat at the table where the decisions are made.  Nine of their members delegated and laid out their aspirations for a Cultural Action Plan.  They have certainly “informed” the plan the city wants t create but there is still some distance between the bureaucrats and the artists.

The Collective had done their homework – they knew what they wanted – now to actually get it – that’s their challenge.

The delegations were listened to, heard and engaged.  This is not something that happens for many delegations at our city hall.  All too often Council members sit there close to mute as people take their case, their concerns and their hopes the city’s leaders.  That wasn’t the case Wednesday night.

Organized as the Arts and Culture collective in July the thing grew from some 20 people who took part in the first meeting to the 250 people who exchange thoughts and ideas on-line and have learned how to deal with city hall and bring about changes.

The process began a couple of years ago when the city hired Jeremy Freiburg to prepare a report on just what Burlington had and didn’t have going for it in terms of culture.  Everyone knew about the newly minted Performing Arts Centre and everyone knew about the Burlington Art Centre but few of the many ever went to the place to look and see and feel the art over there.

Freiburger’ s  report dug up all kinds of data on where Burlingtonians spent their cultural dollars – far too much of it gets spent outside the city.  He mapped where people go and how much they spend.  He told us what people wanted in terms of culture.

What he revealed was a city that really didn’t have a solid cultural tradition.  We saw a city that chooses to go elsewhere for its culture and entertainment, partly because, they feel, there isn’t anything they like here.

Some thought Freiburger was going to deliver a set of recommendations on what the city should do next – but he chose not to do that.  Instead he gave them the data they needed to begin to figure out what they want to do.

And that is when the Collective began to form.  The people who met, first wanted to be able to do their art here in this city and not have to go to Hamilton or Toronto – but there was no place, no space, nor any expectation, that there was indeed a local arts community.  The city didn’t know they were there and they didn’t know each other.

The group – the Collective – had surfaced and is telling the city that they are here and they want to be involved.

The artists came from every possible discipline. They met to talk through what the city should include in its Cultural Action Plan – then they had to figure out how to actually control that plan once it’s established.

Artists don’t march to the same drummer that the rest of us do – schedules and rules aren’t their strength and it was difficult for the collective to pull together a large number of people.

Because many of the artists were working by themselves they didn’t know many of the people who were doing the same thing.  Trevor Copp, who ended up being the leader/spokesperson for the group came up with the idea of holding a Speed Dating event at a local pub.  The idea was that people would gather and sit with others for a couple of minutes and then move on to another table and meet someone else. Such is the state of relationship building in this world.   It was a good idea, novel and it had the potential to work.  But very few people showed up.  Copp didn’t miss a step – he chose to see the upside, the bright side and pulled together a meeting that saw less than a dozen people talk about what they wanted in the way of an arts community.

That conversation will get reported on at greater length at another time – what we saw was a group that is thinking this through and while the plan is still in the formative stage city hall now has to work with people who are the arts community – we just didn’t know they were there.

Bureaucrats being bureaucrats they decided to have Copp become part of the Steering  Committee that was to fashion a plan out of the data the Freiburger report provided and once a plan is in place,  put together a schedule and time frames to implement it.

One of the major beefs the artists had, was that there were no artists on the steering committee.  The addition of Trevor Copp and Rosanna Dewey to the Steering Committee that had people who administer funds but didn’t “do” art was a significant step.  The challenge now is to ensure that Copp and Dewey don’t get co-opted and turned into bureaucrats.  Power can be very seductive.

Dewy is an artist in her own right and part of the Burlington Fine Arts Association, which has a temperament quite a bit different from that of many of the members of the “collective”.

That there is a change taking place in the cultural temperature of the city is evident.  Freiburger maintains that the change began with the unveiling of the Spiral Stella outside the Performing Arts Centre – debatable. One of the occasions that signaled the change was the “No Vacancy” event that took place at the Waterfront Hotel.

This was “avante garde” for Burlington and while the event lasted less than four hours and experienced a small loss it brought out people who hunger for depth and maturity in their cultural menu – the No Vacancy – which will take place again next year, showed that it can happen in Burlington and is happening in Burlington.

Performing Arts Centre Brian McCurdy makes a point with the Mayor. He is making points all over the city as he brings about a different working relationship with the Centre and the city.

City Hall and the Tourist people see the arts as something that could perhaps attract people to the city.  The Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre has been in town long enough to have figured out what we have and don’t have and has already shown that his institution is able to be flexible with the performance community.

All good signs – but like a great recipe, there is something to the way you flick the rest to get that meal on the table and make an occasion to be remembered.

Council will meet early in November to get down to the nitty-gritty of spending money – and at the rate this council is spending the artists had better move quickly or there won’t be any left.

With a little luck the artists will be at the table helping people whose experience is in parks and recreation learn how to move beyond swimming schedules and volleyball games to events that stir the soul.  Mind you, watching Maurice “The Rocket” Richard put another one past a Toronto goal tender is certainly something to stir the soul.



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A ‘flu shot’ is not the only way to beat the bug. Naturopaths recommend herbal medicines to combat flu.

October 18, 2013

By Dr. Jeremy Hayden.

BURLINGTON, ON   In light of the looming cold and flu season, I am interjecting with a brief mention of a promising, true and tested approach to improve one’s health (and I’m talking about thousands of years here folks, not a time frame to take lightly). Granted traveling south for the winter may be the most attractive option, running from those pesky winter viruses and bugs won’t ultimately fix what may already be broken. We all should know that a whole person approach to a healthier more robust system should be first and foremost, yet it’s often quite evident that what we know is best for one self, due to lack of time, motivation, commitment and effort, is, for some, sometimes a lot easier said than done…


Reference to fighting a cold or flu is often a primary focus for many. The immune compromising winter season is one which too often places unnecessary and  undue stress on our bodies. One may argue that getting sick or catching colds build the immune system and is beneficial, which to an extent may be true. However wouldn’t you prefer to reap the same benefits by doing so without ever needing to get sick? Within the Naturopathic Medical (and Natural living) realm, the realization of this can be achieved, and often with simple ease; strengthening our innate and adaptive immunity whist keeping happy and healthy throuOne may argue that getting sick or catching colds build the immune system and is beneficial, which to an extent may be true.gh it all. Why position ourselves to have to fight these bugs, when we can utilize and take advantage of their unwanted effects to better our overall health?


Herbal medicine is a practice that will help achieve this common goal


Herbalism is utilized to incorporate the vaccination stimulating effects of cold and flu viruses in order to ramp the immune system while simultaneously building immunity to those pesky cold and flu season bugs. Think of it similar (relative perspective here) to getting a vaccination shot; the bug or virus enters the body, provides a stimulus to our immune system, enough to create a resistance to its current and future presence, yet without the effects of making us sick. Enter the herbal medicine perspective; Cold and flu bugs are inhaled and enter the body day-to-day from those around us who may be infected by a cold or are sick. Specific herbs taken prophylactically allow the body’s immune defenses to become stimulated and build immunity to various cold and flu strains, yet due to the stimulation and balancing effects of concentrated herbals, the immune system is strong enough not to allow these ‘bugs’ to take over and make us sick.


Herbal medicines are not injected – they are swallowed.

Basic facts about herbal medicine for a better immune

Most immune herbals are safe when used as outlined on the bottle.

Little to no contraindications exist when using these herbs (contact a licensed natural health care practitioner if and when in doubt or if complicated health issues may exist)

·        Herbal tinctures (liquid herbal form) are often the best option for many people as they concentrate the active constituents of a herb and allow for better therapeutic effect.

·        Immune herbals often have long-lasting therapeutic immune effect.

·        Liquid herbals are considered food type medicine; they are in whole form, grow naturally, and are unadulterated, but concentrated naturally, so our bodies recognize and utilize them best

·        Herbals work well as individual (single herb) extracts, however will work to a greater synergistic effect when combined together

·        Look for Canadian companies that represent true certified organic, pure herbal tinctures (all are not created equal!)


        Top immune prophylactic herbals are:

Astragalus root, Siberian ginseng,codonopsis, schisandra, reishi and licorice root.

 Look for herbal liquid tinctures that contain some or all of the above immune herbals. Effective herbals exist for acute immune compromise as well (existing cold), so don’t hesitate to use an Andrographis, Baptisia, Echinacea, Thuja herbal combination to ‘beat the current bug’ (discontinue other immune herbals until the acute virus has been eradicated). A minimum of three-month prophylactic treatment is always best, however supporting your immune system at any point will help your body remain healthy, build immunity and prevent that nasty cold or flu.

Finding a supplier that is reliable is not always easy in a market that is not that tightly regulated.  People in the naturopathic field are always very comfortable recommending products from St Francis Herb Farm

What is a naturopathic doctor?  Where an MD focuses more time on pharmaceutical medicine, NDs also study pharmacology and its drugs, however extensive training in natural medicine (such as botanical, Oriental, nutritional, physical, and homeopathic medicine as well as lifestyle, counseling and herb-drug interactions) is adjunctively studied as well. In Ontario, a naturopathic doctors is considered a primary care physicians. NDs cannot prescribe pharmaceutical medications in Ontario as MDs are able to, and are only covered under extended health plans and not OHIP billing, however they are able to employ conventional laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging as necessary.

Jeremy Hayden, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND).    ND is a professional medical designation earned following an undergraduate pre-medical degree and four years of post-graduate medical training at a fully accredited (CNME) naturopathic medical college. All licensed Naturopathic Doctors practicing in Ontario have been fully regulated under the Drugless Practitioners Act.

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“Cool” – school announcements not broadcast – tweeted to students instead. Hayden High is different.

October 16, 2013

By Milla Pickfield

BURLINGTON, ON.  New technology, new furniture, new teachers, and new students; everything about Hayden High is new! I sat down with Jacqueline Newton, the principal, to discuss what makes Hayden High so special.

 When I first arrived at the school I was skeptical. It’s such a large school with few students, and last year the school I attended lost some really great teachers to Hayden High.

Hayden High School – named after a prominent Burlington citizen, is part of a three purpose complex that includes a recreation centre and a library.

 It is always hard when a new school is built. Students leave their friends, legacies are lost, and favorite teachers are taken from many different schools. It’s hard but it also leaves room for change… and change they did.  Hayden High is not just different because of its impressive layout or the fact that the morning announcements are done through twitter.  Not different because it is attached to a community center which allows them to use the eight large gyms or the library until nine o’clock at night.   Hayden High is different because it’s highly interactive with its students.

Every week a poll is organized on one matter or another to get feedback from the students on how they are finding school, how they would like to design one area of the school, or what they want their gym uniforms to look like. Getting feedback from the students is very important to Jacqueline Newton. “We want the kids to build school their way.”

Another way  Hayden High is different is the fact that students can rent a Chrome book from the library if they need a device to use. Gone are the days of worry whether your parent’s laptop is free for a school project, schools today provides you a device to work on.

Student cafeteria with table settings that allow for large groups or just two people – the room looks out over the playing field.

But the coolest place in the whole school would have to be the cafeteria! Set up much like a café with varying sized tables, this eating spot allows the students to sit with large groups or with just the one friend.  So if you’re feeling like you just want to talk to your best friend and no one else you could choose a two person table instead of a ten person group table.    

Of course the school is only as good as its teachers but no worries there, Jacqueline Newton and Michael Gallant interviewed every one of them! “We wanted to make sure that they (the teachers) were excited to work at a new school.” “It was necessary that they knew how to use social media. We even asked the students what questions they wanted to be asked during the interview and used those questions.” Really?  How often do teenagers get asked their opinions? Not that often.

Jacqueline Newton took last year to really study in depth how to use social media to her full advantage and that is exactly what she is doing. How many high school students really listen to the announcements (especially when half of them don’t relate to you sometimes)? Now instead of listening to them every morning you can go onto twitter and scroll through them.

Not only is twitter frequently used but so are cell phones, computers, and iPads! When was the last time you heard your teacher tell you to take out your phone in a lesson (for something other than writing down your homework)? Definitely a foreign thought! But at Hayden High this is a regular occurrence. Everything is paperless which means everything is on technology. Textbooks, announcements, even group assignments! You can use Google Docs to all edit a page at the same time!

Technology is there to help us innovate, not just help us do old things in a new way. Jacqueline Newton and others on the Board really wanted the students to feel comfortable and happy coming to school. Creating a place where kids can be creative and excited was one of their top goals, and I think they succeeded. Even the classrooms are different! There are no rows. The desks are deliberately placed in semi circles or other configurations in hope that this encourages the students to participate and feel more like a community than a sole individual. Getting the students to voice their opinion and feel as if they run a part of the school really sets this high school apart from others.

Gone is the old way of teaching; the new way is through technology and it’s a lot more fun. It reminds me that technology is there to help us innovate, not just help us do old things in a new way.

New is cool, new is frightening, new is possibilities. Possibility is exactly what the staff at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School have accomplished; the possibility of a new start.

Milla Pickfield is a graduate of Nelson High school who is freelance writing as well as improving administrative skills before she starts university.  The principal of the new Hayden High school was a teacher at Nelson when Pickfield was a student there.


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Air line security and knitting needles – is there a connection?

October 14, 2013

By Gordana Liddell 

BURLINGTON, ON.  Travel has been different since the tragic attack on New York and Washington in September of 2001.  Public safety took on a whole new meaning as airlines in particular increased security which meant a much closer look at the people who boarded air[planes and what they carried on with them.  The rules imposed at times seem confusing and some feel perhaps a little silly.  Well  just what can you take aboard a plane and what should you pack and not pack?

Asha of Burlington asked:

Harmless in the hands of your sweet Grandmother – but how does security know she’s a sweet little old lady?

Recently, my 80-year-old mother’s knitting needles were taken away at airport security.  I think it’s ridiculous.  She’s a senior citizen.  What do they think she is going to do with knitting needles?

Dear Asha,

The first thing to remember is to not take it personally.  The airlines and airport authority are only trying to do all they can to ensure passenger safety.  They have rules they need to follow – without the option of discretion.  It’s safest that way.

Think of it this way if you like:  it’s not assumed that passengers will do nothing.  Even your 80-year-old mom.  This thinking is, what if this person is a psycho?  Or what if the person sitting next to her is a psycho and gets a hold of those knitting needles?  Or what if she drops them and they roll down a few rows into the hands of the psycho sitting in 3B?  Yes…in order to ensure the safety of all those passengers enclosed in that metal tube darting through the sky…everyone is viewed as being a potential psycho.

You just never know what anyone is going to do at any given moment.  And normally, people just go about their lives without going ballistic.  But if they do go off, it’s usually easy for us to gain some distance.  Up in the sky however, this is not possible, and so it is imperative to completely avoid any potential danger.

I realize it seems silly to you, and we are all aware that your mom intended to use the knitting needles to knit.  But when she is on an airplane, think of them as eleven inch metal spikes rather than crafting tools.  It’s not a public space where we are free to do as we please.  There are rules set in place that we must follow and to try and dispute them is pointless.

I once had an enraged passenger come to me because security had turned her away.  They would not let her bring her bullwhip on board as carry-on and she was just outraged.  She told me it was ridiculous and screamed at me, “What do you think I am doing to do on a plane with a bullwhip?  Whip someone?!”  I was almost speechless; struck by the simplicity of what she just said…but what had obviously escaped her.  I did manage to get out an, “I have no idea.”

And that is the truth.  You have no idea what anyone will do, and on an airplane, it’s just best to prohibit any item that might pose any possible danger.

That September 11th changed the world and certainly changed airline security procedures. Box cutter, bombs in a diaper and a bomb in a shoe are the attempt we know about. Knitting needles in the wrong hands would be lethal.

Look at an item in terms of its basic form…not in terms of its use.  There is no difference between trying to board with knitting needles or a bullwhip, handcuffs or fuel or box cutters or any number of potentially dangerous things people try and innocently carry onto planes on a daily basis.  Nobody thinks the person carrying them WOULD use them for ill intent.  But for the safety of others, the WHAT IF must be considered and general rules must be made and enforced.

The next time you or your mom travel and plan to do some knitting on the way, check with the specific airline you are travelling with.  Every country and airline has their own security guidelines, and these are constantly being updated. 

The smaller, rounder tipped needles as well as the circular knitting needles are usually okay.  The smaller and the more blunt they are, the more likely they will pass through security without a problem.  Anything sharp and pointy should be avoided as a general rule.  Common sense goes a long way. 

Once again, don’t take it personally.  They are just looking out for everyone’s safety as best they can. 

Gordana Liddell is our resident travel writer.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, a travel industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience as a freelance travel writer, and most recently book editor. She is fortunate enough to live right here in Burlington with her family.


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Eat this, don’t eat that! Wow – all these rules. Will they make a difference?

October 8, 2013

By Dr. Jeremy Hayman

BURLINGTON, ON.  On the heels of my last submission on food as medicine and its real impact on all aspects of health, I now find it necessary to give readers a glimpse into food as choice and exactly what it is we are feeding ourselves, our children, and our loved ones each day. I’m not lecturing those of you who chose to eat a certain way, or those who consume certain foods by what I refer to as “dietary default”. My intention rather is to put what we know about food, on the table, and remind us all about the importance, impact and value of not only what we put into our bodies, but what we ultimately leave out.

I’m referring to those who consume foods without truly thinking about what or why they consume the foods they do. The term “dietary default” refers to a multitude of references when it comes to our association and relationship with food. Within the context of this discussion, I’m referring to those who consume foods without truly thinking about what or why they consume the foods they do. And out of fairness, it also stoutly refers to foods the average population so simply shy’s away from and leaves out. To delve into this even further, it refers to those who almost automatically follow a routine eating regimen, eat the same foods week to week, and most importantly, rarely, if ever, truly think about the impact of what they eat, or how it will ultimately consume them in the short and long haul with respect to health.

Advertising plays a large role in what we decide to east.

It has become glaringly obvious that societal impact grossly influences the choices and food we ultimately serve on our plates. Yet, with the ever so abundant “way of life” when it comes to our choices (or lack of) with respect to diet and food, the unmistakable contrary reflection also positions itself just as clear and states: “those who do choose what and how they wish to live in harmony with food, do so with absolute clarity and passion, and make it a way of life in order to maintain and pursue continued improvement toward better health”.

We know food affects health. We are also becoming more and more aware of which foods are most important, which are not, and which of the same foods contend as healthier choices over others. Some of us default to the convenient way and eat within the “fast food peril” of life. While others, albeit a smaller, yet ever-growing movement of people, place food and its nutritional value as one of  the most prominent elements in life. These people live “against the grain” in terms of what society dictates we should eat. These are the people who won’t simply surrender to the “conveniences” of today’s living, and make it a true effort to do what is necessary in order to preserve the short and long term health of themselves as well of those they love. What do I mean by this? Well let’s serve it up in the most simple, succinct, digestible way…

... you can and will feel better, stress less, live healthier ...With the overwhelming amount of mass media making use of its privilege to feed us its messages on what/what not to eat, how to eat, when to eat, why to eat, where to eat etc., it’s no wonder there’s an endless endeavor to try and figure it all out. Let alone pressures from others on our way of eating, we end up living in a whirlwind of relentless persuasions about what is best for ourselves and others.  I’m here, as a Naturopathic Doctor, within a profession strictly to support and better the health of those that can be reached, and without alternative motives, to do what I can to lay it out, in plain English, what it is we need to begin allowing our lives to let in, in the most natural and least invasive way.

There is almost no limit to the food that can be bought at a Farmers Market.

We’re all aware that balance in life is a precious gift, and one we, at some level, strive for (some more than others) each day. However, today’s message is that food, and food alone, can and will impact that balance to a more positioned and eloquent equilibrium. There’s no question many of us know what to eat and what not to eat, yet most of us either don’t know how or are lost in terms of where to start. Well, the truth is that it’s not always easy, there’s not one simple answer, and we’re all moving at various paces and levels within the food-life conundrum, yet by recognizing a few simple and effective “food-life rules”, you can and will feel better, stress less, live healthier, and learn that food truly is one of our most precious resources. We all need to treat food as food, and as a living entity, not as a product, a skew, or packaged commodity. So here’s where we’re at, a simple, realistic checklist of where to start, and a reinforcement to those that are already there:

·        Follow the Dirty Dozen Plus & Clean 15 when it comes to buying conventional and organic.

·        Become aware of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) and which foods contain them (use 1 less GMO per shopping trip per month – a GMO pepper is proving much riskier than a non-GMO organic pepper)

·        Add one new vegetable per month (to start), preferably organic, into your meal routine

·        Eat a vegetable (you know, that stuff that grows from the ground?) at most meals

·        Try an outing to a local farmers market. Local food is great, however local pesticide, herbicide and anti biotic free is even better. You and your children will enjoy the excursion.

·        Eat less meat. And spend the money on more healthy, clean meats

·        Make more of an effort to drop in at your local health food store. They’re local small businesses. Do your duty and provide your support

·        Realize that fast food and eating out essentially supports only your busy, unplanned schedule, it adds no value to your life. It will catch up with you, unless of course it already has

·         Drink organic herbal tea. It curbs cravings and adds endless benefit to your health

·        Begin thinking of food in terms of its nutritional impact. To eat for the simple value of being hungry or for calories is like living in terms of simply “eating to survive, not thrive”

·        If you are not happy with your current weight, either accept you will remain like this and continue to allow your health to regress, or stop making excuses and commit to the effort of making a change

·        Figure out a way to realize that spending more on healthy food now costs you much less than fighting for your health in the years to come

·        Combine lean protein, vegetables and healthy fat within each meal

·        Plan for goodness sake. We’re all busy, yet some of us still make time for our health. It won’t take care of itself

·        Seek out support if you don’t know where to begin. You’re spending enough on unhealthy choices already, it’s time to commit to putting that spending money toward better value

·        Naturopathic Medicine and other natural health professionals are here to help. Our ultimate goal is to make our planet and those within it healthier.

·        Drink clean water. 2L minimum per day to start

·        Make yourself proud. Do something for your health that in the way of better food choices that most wouldn’t have the nerve to try. Trust me, everyone will admire you in the end, yourself included.               


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Burlington takes a big step to fully recognizing its role in the War of 1812. Took long enough.

October 2, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was a bright sunny day, one of those last reprieves summer sometimes gives while suggesting there is an Indian summer still ahead of us before the harvest season is over.

The bikes were out on the trails along the edge of the lake, Doors Open, the event that has historic and interesting places opening their doors for people to walk through and look around.

Rick Wilson, back to camera with War of 1812 enactor Robert Williamson talking over details of the desperate battles that played themselves out off the shores of Burlington 200 years ago.

A small group of people, some dressed up as re-enactors,  were gathered on the promenade jutting out from the Naval Walk at the western end of Spencer Smith Park.

A classic photo-op that is drenched in Burlington history. The design of a plaque that will be installed on the Naval Walk commemorating a battle that was later seen as the turning point in the War of 1812. That stony stretch of beach in the background is where the Brant Inn was located. It was the jumpingest place in town in its day. People traveled from across Ontario and the United States by train t hear the great bands of the time.

The 50 square yard space was just drenched with history.  Looking to the west is Burlington’s Bay, the entrance to one of the most industrial harbours in the country where tons of ore is  brought in to fire the furnaces of the steel plants.  A couple of yards from where an interpretive plaque that tells the story of a War of 1812  battle that took place out on that lake – out there in front of us is a stretch of stony beach that was once the location of the Brant Inn.  It was a place that put Burlington on the map for many.  In those days Burlington was a “jumping” town. 

On this Saturday morning – exactly 200 years ago an event called the Burlington Races took place.  The name come from a magazine article published 100 years ago that mis-represented what was happening with ships under full sail firing their cannons at each other was really all about.

It was a war that taught the Americans that Canada could perhaps be invaded but could not be conquered.

If the lakes were won said the better history books of the time, the war of 1812 was won.  The British brought superior seamanship and better ships to the battle.  The commanding officers of each fleet both held flag rank – Commodores both.  

Burlington`s Mayor and the council member for the ward took part in the unveiling of a design that replicated the plaque that will eventually be put in place. 

A great painting, full of dash and energy but the scene it depicts never took place. The artists didn’t know that when the work was done.

To commemorate the event and give it a level of legitimacy there were War of 1812 enactors on hand; Commodore Yeo of the British Navy and a  British Royal Navy captain circa 1810 played by Gill Bibby.

Yeo was represented by Robert Williamson a Canadian Navy Commander who served as a Reserve officer, one time Commanding officer of HMCS Star in Hamilton. Williamson was a high school history and geography teacher.

Rick Wilson was the Burlington resident who used the research done by others to advocate for the removal of a plaque at the Burlington Heights in Hamilton which has been proven to be historically incorrect.

Robert Williamson was doing research on the Scourge and the Hamilton,  simple merchant ships that were pressed into service for the American Navy just prior to the War of 1812. They went down in a gale and now lay at the bottom of Lake Ontario.   

It was while doing this research on the Hamilton and the Scourge that Williamson accidently came across the existence of the log of HMS Wolfe which revealed facts that no one knew about. In is correspondence with Burlington Heritage Planner Jenna Paluto, Williamson set out the bigger picture:

“After the American naval victory on Lake Erie by Commodore Perry on September 10, 1813, a powerful United States fleet comprising ten ships under the command of Commodore Isaac Chauncey appeared off York (Toronto) on the morning of September 28, 1813. Their objective was to complete the American bid to gain control of the Great Lakes or at least create a diversion allowing the shipment of American troops from the Niagara frontier to the St. Lawrence River for an attack on Montreal.

“The  smaller British fleet of six vessels, commanded by Commodore Sir James Yeo, was in the harbour but on the approach of the enemy, set sail to attack. After a sharp engagement the British flagship, HMS Wolfe, having  suffered sail damage limiting her maneuverability, led the British squadron to a convenient anchorage in view of the present day City of Burlington. Commodore Yeo then had his squadron anchor close in shore with springs (heavy ropes) on the (anchor) cables allowing his ships to pivot and present powerful broadsides from  a strong compact defensive unit that could not be enveloped from behind. The American fleet, having suffered battle damage as well, recognized the strong British position and withdrew to the protection of Fort Niagara, leaving the Royal Navy to quickly repair the sails and mast of their flagship, but still firmly in control of the lake.

“Control of Lake Ontario was essential to the British for the defense of Upper Canada (Ontario). By preserving a formidable presence on the lake, the British squadron was able to capture Fort Oswego in May 1814 and transferred General Drummond with 400 British reinforcements and supplies to the Niagara frontier in July to defeat the United States Army at Lundys Lane, the last invasion of Canada.”

It was that superb seamanship by a British naval officer off what Williamson believes was Bronte Creek that sent the Americans back to their home port.

Magazine writers who paid more attention to imaginative thinking than to historical fact

Williamson set out to correct the record which he did with a number of excellent papers. 

Rick Wilson, the citizen who agitated and advocated for a correction to a grievous historical error.

Rick Wilson, a history buff, got hold of the information and began to agitate for a change that would correct the historical errors.

Wilson knocked on any door he could find – meeting with Burlington’s MP Mike Wallace who, while intrigued, had to back away because the plaques were a provincial responsibility.  Wilson was able to get exactly nowhere with the office of Jane McKenna but he persevered and with the help of the Heritage Advisory Committee the city took on the task of creating a plaque.

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Remember the Happy Gang? “We’re happy, we’re healthy – the heck with being wealthy.” Well we are certainly wealthy.

October 1, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It wasn’t hard to figure out what the major message was behind the 2013 version of Burlington’s Vital Signs report is: there are many in the community who just don’t have enough – and it isn’t just the “poor” people that are going without.

The Burlington Community Foundation, around since 1999, released, along with 26 other communities across  Canada, a report that touched all the usual bases and added in a significant push on the pressing needs for better access to mental health services.

The Vital Signs report is data driven and uses graphics very effectively to make the point.  The cartoon cover page is Burlington: there’s the gazebo (I met my wife for the first time there) there’s Pepperwoods, there is  Benny’s and the gas station.  The drawings are all in colour and attractive in their own way.  Cute – it isn’t until you get to the second page that the point is made.  Well – compare the two versions and you know in an instant what the report wants to talk about.

The report is the second published by the Community Foundation.  The 2013 report covers eleven key areas of focus, including physical and mental wellness, poverty, youth, and seniors.

 “This year’s report again emphasizes that Burlington is a city of contrasts. We are a prosperous community, with higher than average levels of income and education, with remarkable environmental features such as our escarpment and waterfront. Yet, there are people struggling in our community, in ways that are often unseen, as we drive and walk through our neighbourhoods”, said Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) President and CEO, Colleen Mulholland.

Who are the people that collect all the data and tie the different strands that are woven into the tapestry that is our city?

Established in 1999 as a centre for philanthropy, Burlington Community Foundation is a local knowledge broker and one of the most reliable partners in the non-profit sector. They collaborate with donors to build endowments, give grants and connect leadership. Responsive to their donors, the  grant making experts help people give, build legacies, address vital community needs and support areas of personal interest. The Foundation helps people, agencies and corporations improve the city’s vitality.

Cover: 2013 Vital Signs report commissioned by the Burlington Community Foundation.

Take away the good stuff, the nice stuff and the picture is that of a different Burlington – not one we all get to see.

The report argues that “connections are critical to community vitality” but how do you do that?  You’ve heard it before and with a municipal election just over a year away you will hear it again from every one of the rascals running for office: – Burlington is ranked as the top mid-sized city in which to live in Canada.

We drive – everywhere, in part because local transit has yet to develop to the point where it serves the community as well as it is going to have to. Biggest reason – we like our cars.

And we drive our cars – to everything.  79% of Ontarian’s commute to work by car, truck or van.  That number is 86% for Burlington where we have an excellent, frequent train service that has three stops in the city with plenty of parking – free. 

We vote – in the last federal election 66.5 of us voted while the  Ontario average was 61.5%.  Didn’t do much for us in terms of the quality of our elected members though did it?

We have one of the best educated populations in the province.

We are a well-educated community – check out the charts.

Burlington is doing better at both the number of people with jobs and the number that are unemployed.  But there are other indicators that reveal serious problems.

Our people are employed – they need to be – our housing is amongst the most expensive in the province and rental accommodation is not easy to come by.

Median household income levels are 24% higher in Burlington than the provincial average but according to Statistics Canada, almost 1 in 10 youth under 18 lived in a low-income household.

In 2012, 36% of all items circulated by Burlington public libraries were in the child or youth category. Attendance at children and youth programs at Burlington libraries was 35,195.

Overall, the age profile of Burlington is getting older and more so than the Ontario average – in 2011, there were 29,720 seniors 65 years of age or older living in Burlington, comprising 16.9% of the population vs. 14.6% in Ontario.

Young people in Burlington are preforming well in school compared to the Ontario average but there are some opportunities for improving the lives and outcomes for our youth, starting as early as kindergarten. Some issues we need to tackle  as a community are obesity, bullying and mental health.

Burlington residents are better educated than the population of Ontario and Canada. 67% of Burlington adults 25 years of age and over have completed some form of post-secondary education, compared with 60% of the population of Ontario.

Among Burlingtonians 25–64 years of age, 95% have completed high school – this is a big positive change in a 10 year period: in 2001, 79% had completed high school.

In 2011, there were 143,510 people 15 years of age or older in Burlington. Within this age range, 93,030 people were employed and 5,755 were unemployed for a total labour force of 98,785.

Burlington has stronger employment statistics than Ontario as a whole. The employment rate among people 15–64 years of age was 65%, compared to 60% for Ontario. Burlington’s unemployment rate was 6%, compared to 8% for Ontario.

For the past 10 years, the rate of unemployment in Burlington has been consistently lower than elsewhere in Ontario and in other communities across Canada.

Here are some quick facts about jobs and businesses in Burlington, according to the Halton Region 2012 Employment Survey, released in June 2013:

The City of Burlington has 4,638 businesses providing 74,216 full and part-time jobs.

While Burlington accounts for 35% of the 15–64 year olds living in Halton Region, jobs in Burlington accounted for nearly 40% of Halton’s total employment.

Approximately 80% of jobs were in the service-based sector – the leading ones  being  the  retail  trade, professional,  scientific  and  technical services, and health care and social assistance.

Can we blame the air quality problems on Hamilton?

Air quality good – but could be better

Burlington has good air quality, compared to downtown Hamilton. Hamilton has more poor to moderate air quality days (22%) than does Burlington (16%).

However, Burlington’s location in southern Ontario – in Canada’s manufacturing heartland and downwind from the industrial centre of the U.S.   – increases the number of poor to moderate air quality days relative to more northern parts of Ontario and cities in other parts of Canada. For example, in each of Sudbury and Ottawa only 8% of the days in 2012 had poor to moderate air quality compared to 16% in Burlington.

Price increases are great if you own property – tough market to get into for first time buyers.

The average price of a home in Burlington in the first half of 2013 was $486,669 – up 7% from 2012.

Similar increases were seen in the neighbouring cities of Hamilton (+6%) and Oakville (+7%), with Burlington housing costs continuing to be intermediate between these two cities

Burlington’s rental market is tight – far too tight. The city thought it had a hope recently with close to 100 affordable units coming on line – but that one got away on us.

People looking to rent – particularly those with more modest incomes – can find it difficult to find affordable rental housing in Burlington. In fall 2012, Burlington’s rental vacancy rate was 1.3%. For reference, a vacancy rate of 3% is considered necessary for adequate competition and supply. By comparison, Hamilton’s vacancy rate was 4.2%, and in Ontario as a whole it was 2.5%.

In 2011, Halton had a higher percentage of households (4.6%) on waiting lists for affordable, rent geared-to-income housing than was the case for Ontario as whole (3.2%). Further, the demand for this housing greatly exceeds the supply, as only 0.5% of Halton households were living in affordable, rent- geared-to-income housing in 2011.

In Halton, between 2010 and 2011 there was a 47% increase in households waiting for rent-geared-to-income housing. Families with children are the hardest hit.

The kids think they are getting the exercise they need – caution, this is “self-reported” data.

Residents of Halton are more likely to rate their overall health as “very good” or “excellent” (72%) compared with Ontario residents as a whole (61%).  Moreover, positive health ratings increased from 2011 (66%) to 2012 (72%).

Over 75,000 Burlington residents 18 years of age and older are overweight or obese based on their self-reported height and weight. That’s just over half of the adult population who have an increased risk of certain health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain cancers.

Mental health is now at least being talked about – it isn’t something we hide the way we used to – that was an improvement for the better.  Now we have to address the problem and it is not going to be cheap.

“Mental health concerns cut across all socioeconomic levels, all races, both genders and across all age groups in our culture. In fact, 70% of all mental health disorders experienced in adulthood have their onset before the age of 18.”  The Canadian Institute for Health Information tracks the performance of  over 600 health care facilities across Canada on a variety of indicators of effectiveness of treatment, patient safety, appropriateness of treatment, and accessibility. JBH is either at or better than the Canadian average on all of  the indicators.

Seniors need different services. The city currently has one Seniors’ Centre and at least five high schools. Will we need additional Seniors’ Centers that can be converted to high schools 30 years down the road? There are some significant problems to need solutions and we don’t have a lot of time to find the answers.

Canada’s age profile is getting older, and this trend will continue for several decades into the future. For example, the proportion of people 65+ years of age in Ontario is expected to grow from 14.6% of the population in 2011 to over 23% by the year 2036.

Burlington’s age profile has historically been older than that of Ontario as a whole, and the difference has been increasing over time. As of 2011, 16.9% of Burlington’s population was 65 years of age or older, compared to 14.6% of Ontario’s population.

Burlington has more of the Region’s senior population – do we have well thought out plans to meet their needs?

Based on Statistics Canada measures of low-income from the 2006 census, 5.6% of Burlington seniors have low-income after tax. However, the prevalence of low-income is particularly acute among female seniors in Burlington: this prevalence is higher than the Ontario average, and higher than other Halton region communities.

In 2006, about 1,800 senior households in Burlington spent 30% or more of their total household income before tax on mortgages, electricity, heat and municipal services. Of these, almost 500 spent 50% or more of their income on housing, which leaves very little money for food, medications, or other necessities.

In the Age-Friendly Communities Forum: A Seniors’ Perspective – an initiative of the Elder Services Advisory Council In Halton Region – the Burlington participants identified a need for affordable housing as one of the top 3  issues for seniors in Burlington, and noted that “some people are moving out of the community as they cannot afford to live here.”

We love the place.

Burlington residents tend to see the quality of life in the city as improving: 27% said the quality of life in Burlington has improved over the past two years, compared to only 11% who said it has declined.

Survey respondents were asked which factors had the greatest impact on quality of life in their city. What set Burlington residents apart particularly was the importance of a low crime rate, and a strong sense of community.

In a survey of Burlington residents, 76% said culture is “essential” or “highly important” in their daily lives. There are many types of cultural experiences. For Burlington residents, the top 6 are festivals (86%), museum & local history (81%), art galleries (78%), going to the theatre (75%), public art (69%) and family heritage & traditions (69%).

Benefits to Burlington from community cultural organizations include:

624,000+ visits to local festivals, events, productions and exhibitions

89,000+ hours of cultural programming offered to all ages

Burlington residents spend 37% of their cultural time in Burlington, and the remaining time in other cities such as Toronto and Hamilton.

These numbers are the reality for many.  A person cannot live on the minimum wage – it has to be close to doubled – and that’s not something a municipality can do.

Ontario has a legally mandated minimum wage of $10.25 an hour. However, a person working full-time at the minimum wage rate will be living in poverty, as they will earn less than Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-off.

The concept of a “living wage” is motivated by the following question: What does a family working full-time (37.5 hours a week, year-round) need to earn in order to pay for the necessities of life, to enjoy a decent quality of life, and to be able to participate fully in the economic, political, social and cultural life of the community?

 The answer to this question depends on family composition and on where you live. Community Development Halton has tackled this question for the Halton Region, including Burlington.

What is included in a living wage, and what is excluded? “A living wage isn’t extravagant. It doesn’t allow families to save for retirement, to save for  their children’s education or to service their debt. But it does reflect the cost of affording the basics of life – something the minimum wage doesn’t do,” states the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Community Development Halton considered three types of Halton households: a family of 4 (two parents, two children – a boy age 10, and a girl age 14), a single-parent family (mother age 30 and a boy age 3), and a single person (male age 32). In each household, each adult is working full- time,  year-round.  The  calculation  of  living  wage  reflects  the  typical  costs  in Halton, as well as taxes and benefits.

The number of youth have grown since 2006 but the senior population has grown more.

The number of youth in Burlington has increased since 2006, but at a slower rate than older age groups. As a result, the overall age profile of Burlington is getting older.

Burlington is an affluent community, but not everyone is well off. In the 2006 census, 7% of all residents lived in low income households. However, this was greater for youth under 18, where 9% – almost one in 10 youth – lived in a low income household.

This is what students have said they did in terms of getting the physical education they need for balanced growth.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, youth 12–17 years of age require at least 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per day.

In the Halton Youth Survey, two–thirds of Burlington Grade 7s claimed to meet the 60-minute-per-day guideline, but only just over half of Grade 10s claimed to meet the guideline.

Girls in the Halton region were much less likely than boys to report meeting the physical activity guideline, with only four in ten Grade 10 girls meeting the guideline.

This is not a healthy number.  Why in a community where genuine financial need is not pervasive?

The Halton Youth Survey, conducted by the Halton Our Kids Network, developed an indicator of involvement in criminal activity based on four self- report questions asking about vandalism, carrying a weapon, selling drugs, and group or gang involvement, and these define what is meant here by “criminal activity”. Note that because this is based on self-report, it includes not only youth accused of crime but also youth who “got away with it”.

Our girls are at very serious risk: do we understand why and do we have programs to help them deal with the depression they are experiencing?

One in five people in Ontario experiences a mental health problem or  illness. Because mental illness can affect people in all walks of life, this is as important an issue in comparatively affluent communities like Burlington as it is in other less affluent communities. When you take into account family members and friends, almost everyone is affected in some way.

The childhood, teen and young adult years are a critical period for the onset of mental health problems. The number experiencing mental illness peaks at over one in four young people during the teen years and among people in their 20s.

Mental illness affects people at all life-stages. However, one of the most significant characteristics of the onset of mental health problems is that, unlike many other illnesses, they are more likely to first emerge and affect people early in their lives.

According to a Mental Health Commission of Canada report, the potential negative effects of mental illness on the lives and prospects of young people are considerable:

“Mental disorders are the most common medical conditions causing disability in young people. Most mental disorders begin before age twenty- five and tend to be chronic, with substantial negative short and long-term outcomes. They are associated with poor academic and occupational success, economic  burden,  personal,  interpersonal  and  family  difficulties,  increased risk for many physical illnesses and shorter life expectancy.”

Early detection and treatment of mental health problems is vital for the young people in our community and for the future health of our city.

 “Recent research in areas like diagnostic imaging and immunology point increasingly to the biological nature of mental health disorders. In other words, mental health disorders are truly health disorders similar to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, etc.”  Access to youth mental health services is not what it needs to be

Only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them.

71% of family physicians ranked access to psychiatrists in Ontario as fair to poor.

While mental illnesses constitute more than 15% of the burden of disease in Canada, these illnesses receive only 5.5% of health care dollars.

ROCK reports that due to mental health funding gaps, as of March 2013, youth and families were waiting for just over 1,000 various services they offer. Wait times for these services range from months up to 2 years.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in Canada. One of the most important causes of youth suicide is mental illness – most often depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.

The effects of youth suicide go beyond the deceased, impacting those who survive their death – their parents, friends, peers, and communities.

Do our students feel their schools are safe?

A survey conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that in response to the question, “In the last 12 months, did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide?”, 7% of Ontario Grade 7s and 12% of Grade 12s answered “yes.”

The Halton Youth Survey asked a somewhat different version of the question, focusing on teens who “sometimes, often or always” had thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months. While the question is somewhat different the results are similar: one in twenty (5%) Grade 7s in Burlington had thoughts about suicide in the past 12 months, increasing to over one in ten (13%) by Grade 10.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense negative emotions and feelings, that negatively impact on people’s lives leading to social, educational,  personal  and  family  difficulties.

The Halton Youth Survey created an indicator of being at risk for depression, based on a person saying they “always” or “often” had experienced the following four emotional states in the past week: feeling sad, lonely, depressed, or like crying.

 The percentage of Burlington students at risk for depression increases from Grade 7 to Grade 10, and by Grade 10, one in 10 teens are at risk for depression.

This increase in risk for depression from Grade 7 to Grade 10 is occurring primarily among girls. By Grade 10, one in seven girls is at risk for depression.

In the qualitative research project, Halton Youth Voice Road Show (2011), participants suggested the following causes for depression in youth:

Being bullied, which was seen to lead not only to depression but also suicide

Different social groups within a school bullying one another

The fact that sometimes youth were just mean to each other

Technology, since youth don’t actually need to connect to each other on a personal level any more

Images and expectations portrayed in the media

The pursuit of material possessions, with participants saying that it would be better if youth just spent time hanging out instead of shopping


Not having friends

Being pressured to do drugs

 Youth mental health trends at Joseph Brant Hospital

Trips to the hospital emergency department because of a mental health issue represent the tip of the iceberg for youth mental health and substance abuse issues in Burlington. Emergency department visits can occur when mental health or substance abuse issues are undiagnosed, or are untreated, or treatment is not working. Youth visits to the JBH emergency department because of mental health or substance abuse problems show:

Emergency department visits for mental health or substance abuse issues spikes upwards for youth 18–24 years of age.

The annual number of youth under 25 years of age going to JBH emergency because of mental health or substance abuse issues has increased 30% over the last 3 years.

The rate of increase has been even higher among the subset of youth under 18 years of age – showing an increase in emergency visits of 43% over the past 3 years.

JBH operates the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation Clinic, which provides support to children/youth under the age of 18 years. The case load for the Clinic increased by 16% from 2010–11 to 2011–12, and the average wait time for assessment increased by 31%, to 47 days.

The Community Foundation serves us all well – now the community has to look at the data, talk about it and figure out where we can shore up the weak spots and ensure that we continue to do what we have done well.

Collen Mulholland plans to hold a Roundtable on Mental Health early in 2014.  How about ensuring that every grade 10 student in the Board of Education’s high schools be given a copy and make it the focus of a civics class.

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What happens when you cross breed twitter with stealth? A better investment opportunity? Time will tell.

September 27, 2013

By James Burchill

BURLINGTON, ON.   There has been a lot of talk about the “stealthy” initial public offering (IPO) that Twitter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A lot of the buzz is that this is somehow a “circumvent” of the otherwise open system used for filing to be publicly traded in America. Most of those reports can be discounted with one simple fact: “stealth” initial filings for an IPO are legal, though new, they have a real purpose.

The ultimate press release – and it didn’t cost them a dime. Talk about the power of social media!

When a company filed an IPO before the new rules took effect this month, that company had to fully and publicly disclose all of its filing paperwork. This meant that the press, potential investors, and the company’s competition now had access to information that may have been proprietary, was almost assuredly preliminary, and that was subject to change as negotiations with regulators commenced before the actual IPO launched. This process often takes months.

Under the new rules, the filings with the SEC, up until paperwork is finalized, can be kept confidential and not be publicly disclosed. This means months of disclosure is lost, but it also means that the initial stumbles, mis-interpretations, and months of being wide open to the competition are no longer there.

During the draft stage of the IPO prospectus, under the new rules at the SEC, this information is kept private so that the company can continue to operate normally and with the secrets it might hold from its competitors intact. This change came with the JOBS Act that was signed into law as part of the overall economic boost efforts being made by Washington, D.C. for the U.S.

This is when the public loves the stock market. But remember Bre-X Mining, it is not always gold in what you think you see.

Twitter is using this provision with its IPO to shield it from unwanted scrutiny during the initial phases of the S-1 filing. It’s smart to do so. Companies like Facebook, Google and others would love to see how the financials within Twitter, as well as their future plans for boosting revenue, are being implemented. Under the old system, this would have given them several months in which they could craft competing options or even usurp Twitter’s plans altogether by offering something better, sooner thanks to that foreknowledge.

Now, they won’t know that information until Twitter wants them to, or is ready to go public.  Their time window will be far smaller at that point and so they’ll be less likely to be capable of acting on the information gleaned.

This provision also gives companies like Twitter, who may not be sure about the timing for an IPO, the opportunity to delay or even cancel going public until it’s ripe and to do so without losing face or looking weak.

Should Tweet go public – will this be another one of the Apple public issues that goes bananas?

Chances are, Twitter is serious about going public and plans to follow through with this IPO, but in the information technology field, especially social media right now, every moment is a chance to win or lose at the game. Things change almost daily, so keeping information close to your vest is an important part of the game.

As it is, when the information is made public, there is still a three week window (or so) before the IPO actually happens and investors can start offering money for shares of Twitter.

Overall, this new idea is a good one and will make companies in the U.S. more likely to use the process of going public through an IPO sooner instead of later. That’s good for the economy overall, even here in Canada.

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Hard, dogged work by a local history buff results in plaque to mark a major War of 1812-14 event played out on Burlington’s waterfront.

September 26, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  If there was ever an example of one man making a difference – look no further than Rick Wilson, a Burlington resident and a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee as well as a serious history buff.

This federal government plaque, erected at Burlington Heights, overlooking Burlington Bay, got it wrong and Rick Wilson wants it changed and the public record corrected.

Wilson works in the field of finance but his passion is history and when he came across what he believed to be a significant error in the way local history was being told he mobilized and did he best to right the wrong.

Those efforts will bear fruit on Saturday morning when the city unveils a plaque that tells the full and true story of an event that has come to be known as the Burlington Races, which sounds like a sporting event but there was nothing sporting about the battles between the British and the Americans on Lake

Rick Wilson isn’t certain as to exactly where Commodore Yeo  situated his ship but he believes it might have been close to the foot of Brant Street. That location would certainly have given the British ships the angle and the advantage they needed to defeat the American ships and force them further west along the Lake.

Ontario, right in front of Spencer Smith Park.

The battle that will be commemorated with the plaque took place on September 28, 1813 when six-ship British flotilla out-manoeuvred a fleet of ten   American warships and took  anchor in a highly defensible position off the shore of modern-day Burlington.  The battle was described by eye witnesses as a sort of military yacht race where the British and Americans jockeyed for superior position – hence The Burlington Races.

 The battle was a turning point in the War of 1812 as the British asserted naval dominance over the Great Lakes.

Commodore Yeo’s ships never entered Burlington Bay.  Records prove that the water was far too shallow of any ship to enter to Bay.  The real victory for Rick Wilson will be when this plaque in Hamilton is taken down and a correct plaque put in place.  For the time being the plaque in Burlington will be the one to tell the true story.

 “I believe it is important to celebrate Burlington’s rich history,” says Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Our city was a strategic location during the War of 1812. The Burlington area was known as a safe haven, a place of trade, a crossroads, and a resting point. Contributions by local citizens and volunteers were important and we are proud to acknowledge their efforts with this plaque.”

The plaque unveiling takes place near the west compass in Spencer Smith Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 – 200 years to the day of the battle – and will feature an on-shore celebration of re-enactors in period costume.

It is rather unfortunate that city hall could not find it within themselves to recognize Wilson’s efforts.  For the past three years, perhaps more Wilson has bent the ear of anyone who would listen to explain where the historians got it wrong.  If anyone pulls a velvet cord to reveal the plaque that tells a magnificent story – it should be Rick Wilson.

The wording on the plaque will read as follows:

 After a United States naval victory on Lake Erie by Commodore Perry on September 10, 1813, a powerful American fleet of ten ships under Commodore Isaac Chauncey appeared off York (Toronto) on the morning of September 28, 1813. Its objective was to gain control of the Great Lakes or at least create enough of a diversion to allow American troops from the Niagara frontier to slip down the St. Lawrence River to attack Montreal.

 A smaller British fleet of six warships under Commodore Sir James Yeo was in the harbour and quickly set sail to attack. In a sharp engagement the British flagship, HMS Wolfe, suffered sail and mast damage. With limited manoeuvrability, the Wolfe led the British flotilla to safe anchorage in view from the shore of present-day Burlington.

 Yeo anchored his squadron with springs (heavy ropes) on the (anchor) cables, close to shore and pivoted his ships to present powerful broadsides from a strong compact defensive unit that could not be flanked. The Americans recognized the stronger British position and withdrew to the protection of Fort Niagara, leaving the Royal Navy firmly in control of the lake.

By out-manoeuvring the Americans that day, Yeo saved the fleet and preserved a formidable British presence on Lake Ontario – key to the defences of Upper and Lower Canada.

 Eventually, Yeo’s fleet helped capture Fort Oswego in May 1814 and also delivered General Drummond with 400 British reinforcements and supplies to the Niagara frontier in July 1814 to defeat the Americans at Lundy’s Lane, the last invasion of Canada.

At this point we don’t know where Rick Wilson will be in the civic ceremony – but we certainly know where he should be.

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