Is there a new theatre in town; a new place offering professional performing arts? Ireland House has chosen to be a venue. Check it out.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 18, 2013   Theatre is alive and well in Burlington and Ireland House is showing the city how it can be done.

Sometime ago, Ireland House got a $32,500 federal grant to promote heritage and commemorate the War of 1812 and has decided to use some of that money to bring a live dramatic production to historic Ireland House.

So fitting that a theatrical production focused on the War of 1812 should be performed at Ireland House.  Tickets are a gift at $10.

The 90 minute production will be done in the lower level of Ireland House – sound quality should be very good in a space that is quaint and intimate.  It will be a difficult place for people who have ambulatory problems but other than that – it should be an interesting day.

There will be just the two performances on Friday April 5th: a matinée at 2:30 pm and an evening performance at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are very competitively price at $10 each.  Call 905-332-9888 to reserve your tickets.

The Dora-nominated Toronto theatre company,  Down n’ Out Productions, is bringing  heritage, history and solid drama to locations across Ontario.  If you don’t know what a Dora nomination is – know that is a mark of superb theatre.

The production – When the Ice Breaks is a new play based on life in Upper Canada during the War of 1812. Exploring the inner workings of an Upper Canadian household during the War of 1812, one domestic servant’s personal story of sacrifice and redemption comes alive in this intimately staged production written by Madeleine Donohue and featuring four professional performers with live early Canadian folk music.

Construction of Ireland House didn’t begin until twenty years after the War of 1812 when the community was more settled.  A close to perfect venue though for a War of 1812 production.

The production will run for 80 minutes and is appropriate for audiences ages 10 and up.

If this is as good a production as it sounds – why wasn’t it put on at the Performing Arts Centre?  Is $10 a seat out of the question for PAC?

This is a Museums of Burlington War of 1812-1814 initiative supported by the Federal Government’s “Celebration and Commemoration Program” that brought a $32,500 grant to the museum operation.

Down n’ Out Production approached Ireland House and asked if they could put on the performance in their locale.  Great idea.



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The wheels of commerce start in a workshop – skilled tradesmen make the dies that make the machines that make the stuff we use..

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON – Manufacturing companies in Burlington face a serious shortage of trained workes with skills that relate to tool and die making.

The Centre, an educational organization that is part of the Halton Board of Education structure offers courses in electrical training, renovation skills development and industrial millwright mechanic/machinist  skills.   These are “trades” that pay  well and offer  satisfying work where expertise is built up over time.

The Centre for Skills Development & Training’s (The Centre) gets students trained and earning for career with a future, fast.

Students at The Centre are trained on equipment they would find in any workshop in Burlington.

The Centre is currently accepting applications for the 22-week, full-time program that includes over 70% of hands-on training in over 6,000 square feet of fully equipped shop space. Last year, over 92% of graduates found work in their field. The next start date is March 25, 2013.

Jamie Fierro-Silva on the right and Omar Taylor practice setting up measuring devices for the very exacting work done on tool making equipment at The Centre.

“Today, almost 50% of Canadian companies, regardless of size of location, are facing serious labour and skills shortages. This shortage poses a threat to economic growth; however, it also represents immense opportunity for people interested in working in trades,” said Kathy Mills, Chief Administrative Officer of The Centre for Skills Development & Training. “Our Industrial Millwright Mechanic/Machinist program is comprehensive and includes personalized job search assistance to ensure students land work in industry as quickly as possible.”

Established in 1988, The Centre for Skills Development &Training has two locations in Burlington and Oakville, and one location in Milton and Clarkson. The Centre provides pre-apprenticeship skilled trades training, employment services, services for newcomers to Canada, and customized workplace training and consulting services for companies.

That’s the corporate part of this story; there is a really interesting dynamic going on in the class I watched.  The twenty some odd people in the class I looked in on were guided by Al Hossack who would work one on one with students as they set up a machine or worked to solve a problem.

Hossack was steps away for any student working in a shop that had the kind of equipment these students would work with in any workshop they went to – and the vast majority of these students would be employed once they have completed their course.

Mike Harwood is the Job Developer for the trades department. In a phrase – he is the matchmaker – he knows all the students and knows the needs of the employers in his markets.  His relationship with the employers is such that they tell him what they need and he looks at what The Centre has coming through the system.  Sometimes a student will do a very short placement to see if the chemistry is right.

Harwood refers to his job as “employer dating”.

Al Hossack, a certified tool and die maker takes a student at The Centre through the set up procedures on a piece of equipment. Hands on and classroom time are part of the course.

What the Centre is doing is attracting people who want to learn a trade and then, while training them, are also grooming them for the first job they will go into.  It’s not a slam dunk course explained Al Hossack.  We aren’t like a community college where students wander in whenever they want and wearing their pyjamas if the choose.

The Centre teaches skills and focuses on good work habits; punctuality and reliability.  The students who walk out the door with their certificate in their hands take the reputation of the Centre with them – and that reputation is vigorously protected.  Students toe the line – end up with good jobs, not just decent jobs and are known to have come out of a good school.

Ellen Faraday – den mother to students at The Centre

Ellen Faraday, Senior Trades coordinator for The Centre is sort of the den mother of the place.  She lives and breathes what they do and sees every student as her project.  She knows them all by name and knows where they are probably going to get their first job.  These are “her people” and she is heavily invested in their progress. Ellen will tell you as she leads you from one workshop to another that three of the women who work with Mike Holmes – of Holmes on Homes fame came out of  The Centre and then she rattles off the names.

The course that will start at the end of this month is being sponsored by the Ministry of Training – they are picking up the bulk of the fees.  Great deal, great opportunity for someone who would like this kind of work or who wants to change the career stream they are in.

The Centre – worth looking at.


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The battle took place off the shores of our city – and soon there will be a plaque telling that story.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 13, 2013  Some history might get “righted” and Burlington just may see a plaque somewhere in the city telling the true story about the “Burlington Races”, which despite the name, tell of a critical part, perhaps the most critical part, of the War of 1812 as it related to the Great Lakes.

Many believe that the country that controlled the Great Lakes would win that war.  And the battle that took place in 1813 right off the shores of Burlington and up to the entrance to Hamilton harbour was clearly won by the British.

Rick Wilson, a member of the Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee, points out what he believes is a glaring error on a historical plaque, located in Hamilton overlooking Burlington Bay. Wilson hopes there can eventually be a plaque in Burlington correcting the error.

It’s an exciting story that is seldom fully told – Burlington seems to have that problem with its history.

Local amateur historian Rick Wilson has for some time taken umbrage with a plaque that sits up at the Burlington Heights, which is located in Hamilton, that tells of the naval battles that were a part of the War of 1812 during which the British repelled American efforts to invade the country and who knows what they would have done with us.  Perhaps we would all be singing Yankee Doodle Dandy today.

After years of telling anyone who would listen that this plaque was historically incorrect, Rick Wilson, an amateur historian who has focused on the War of 1812, just may have succeeded in getting the plaque corrected and having a plaque placed in the city of Burlington with the true story.

The offending plaque was put up, Wilson thinks, sometime in the 70’s.  Wilson found that most people agreed with him – that the plaque was wrong – but no one knew what to do to correct the error.

For Wilson the offending part of the plaque begins with:” After a sharp engagement, the British squadron was forced to withdraw toward Burlington Bay where it could take refuge under the batteries on the adjacent heights.  A close chase ensued but by the skilful seamanship, Yeo was able to bring his ships through the shallow channel in the sand bar to the safety of this bay.”

That never happened according to Wilson.  The draft in the channel was such that a ship could not have gotten into the bay.

Wilson would take his story to anyone who would listen.  His persistence paid off when, it is believed, that Councillor Craven brought up the matter up at the Joint Bay Area committee where Hamilton agreed the plaque was incorrect and they undertook to do something about it.

Because there cannot be two plaques in the province about the same event in two different places, the Burlington Heights sign has to come down and then a Burlington plaque can go up.  The expectation is that Hamilton will put up a new plaque with the correct information.

Wilson has been fighting this issue for a couple of years.  He said he “got blown away” by  MPP Jane McKenna, who was no help at all.  And while he got all kinds of support from MP Mike Wallace, there was not much Wallace  could actually do.  The plaque is provincial and Wallace explained to Wilson that federal people never intrude on provincial historical stuff even though the federal government poured a tonne of money into War of 1812 events.  Figure that one out!

Wallace did get Wilson an invitation to an event being attended by the Prince of Wales at Fort York in Toronto.  There wasn’t an opportunity to chat up the Prince explained Wilson.

Burlington now has to find a location and work with the provincial branch that handles these things.  To the surprise of everyone, and to the absolute delight of Rick Wilson, the project is moving faster than anyone imagined.

There doesn’t appear to be any animosity with the Hamilton people,  who have agreed their sign is factually incorrect.  The Heritage Committee expects to ask for a Staff Direction to get this project moving on our side of the Bay.

Where would a plaque telling the story be placed? Wilson thinks somewhere in Burloak Park would be about right but no one really knows where that critical battle took place.  All we know is that it did take place and the British won it.



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He`s back in town for his annual nightly performances: The Jefferson Salamander shuts down roadways again.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON Burlington, Ont., March 12, 2013 — The slimy little creature that brought a halt to the opening of a second quarry on the Escarpment is expected to begin his migration to his breeding ponds between the middle of March and the middle of April.  The city of Burlington shuts down parts of King Road while the little creature slithers across the road.

Details on the King Road closure.  Dark line at the base of the mountain brow indicates where traffic cannot use the road for about a month.

King Road will close from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to  Mountain Brow Road, March 18 to April 8 to allow the endangered Jefferson salamander safe passage during its annual migration to lay eggs.

In Canada, the Jefferson salamander is found in Southern Ontario in a few small pockets of deciduous forest; mostly  along the Niagara Escarpment. Burlington is home to one of those small pockets.

Now an endangered species and the mascot of the environmental community in Burlington.

Jefferson salamanders spend the winter underground, then seek temporary ponds formed by spring run-off, sometimes crossing King Road to do so. They lay their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. By midsummer, the larvae lose their gills and leave the pond and head into the surrounding forest.

The Jefferson salamander is a protected species and is a nationally and provincially Endangered Species at Risk.

Conservation Halton is committed to preserving native biodiversity and protecting species at risk through activities such as protection of natural heritage systems, the creation of wildlife corridors, and increased public awareness through education, outreach and partnerships with local organizations.

In 2012, the city closed the same section of road completely for a three-week period. “The closure was a success last year. There is evidence to make the city and our partners believe that the Jefferson salamanders were able to travel safely across the roadways,” said Bruce Zvaniga, director of transportation services.

“The reaction was positive towards the road closure last year and shows how the community will support steps to protect the local environment,” said Rick Craven, Ward 2 councillor.

“Conservation Halton commends the City of Burlington for once again undertaking a full closure of King Road. It is also encouraging to note the support of area residents who are keen to help ensure the long-term survival of the Jefferson salamander, by taking steps to protect its habitat,” said Ken Phillips, Conservation Halton CAO. “Our studies showed that last year’s road closure was a tremendous success allowing the salamanders to safely traverse the roadway on their way to the breeding ponds.”

Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds in mid-March or early April during wet rainy nights. They show strong fidelity to their birth pond and can be very determined to reach it.

The salamander played a much larger role in the community effort to stop the opening of a second quarry on the Escarpment.  Burlington heroine Sarah Harmer was a significant part of that effort when she testified at the Joint Board hearings that made the decision not to issue an additional mining permit.

Harmer saw her first salamander in the basement of her home on an Escarpment side road when she was a young girl; little did she know then of the career she would have in the future and the role that slimy little guy would have on the community she was raised in.

PERL, Protect Escarpment and Rural Lands, of which Sarah and her mother Isabelle were a large part, went on to oppose the quarry application and saw the Tribunal that heard the arguments come down in favour of the environment citing the endangered status of the Jefferson Salamander.

The legal costs for the city of Burlington were $2.1 million.  PERL is still believed to have a significant legal debt.  Time for a big fund-raiser; Sarah get the guitar.

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First Jamie Adkins and then The Gruffalo at the Performing Arts Centre; great time to be a kid in Burlington.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 12, 2013  If you haven’t filled in the days of Spring Break week yet – there is an event at the Performing Arts Centre that is not only fabulous entertainment for the young ones but the price is actually comfortable.  Jamie Adkins and his Circus Incognitus is taking place at the Performing Arts Centre March 14th.  The man is an absolute delight and the younger kids will roll in the aisles laughing.

And there are still plenty of seats left.  This event should really be a SOLD OUT production.  The illustration below shows what was available at 10:oo am on Tuesday.

The dark blue dots are the seats still available.  The site lines are excellent in the Main Theatre.  No need to be up close for this production.

We are beginning to see some cross promotion between the Performing Arts Centre and local commercial operations.  The Different Drummer Bookstore has announced a contest that gives the winner four tickets to The Gruffalo which takes place at the Centre on April 13th at 2:00 pm in the afternoon.

“Jolly sing-alongs, visual gags and a license to roar in raucous fashion sets the seal on this successful comedy for everyone over three” was the way one reviewer described the production.

The Different Druimmer is holding a contest for a set of four tickets to The Gruffalo – nice bit of cross-promoting.

Programing for children is a subtle game – get it right and the kids are theatre goers for life.  Get it wrong and they are lost for a long time.  Jamie Adkins and The Gruffalo are close to as good as it gets in terms of programming for the young ones.

The Centre is toiling away at building a young audience – they are also still open to hearing from anyone who feels they can serve on the Board that has some vacancies.  One Burlington resident sent an email asking: Please send me information regarding board seats.

While the request didn’t offer much in the way of background and qualifications from the person asking for information, the response from  Ilene Elkaim, the Board member apparently responsible for new Director recruitment didn’t offer much encouragement.

The information regarding the board is on our website You can find the information on the Board of Directors page.

Hope this helps.

 Ilene Elkaim

On behalf of the Board Recruitment Committee

It is critical for the Board to get it right during the fiscal year the Centre is going into.  It is now evident that the Board is going to have to be much more involved and prepare itself for a rigourous business plan review that Budget & Corporate Services committee chair Councillor John Taylor has said is a condition of his going along with the funding requested for this year.

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Top rated public opinion polling expert to speak at library about the shift in political alliances in Canada.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 9, 2013   The Mayor of Burlington wants to Inspire and holds four events each year when he brings in good guests speakers – he is pretty close to SOLD OUT in terms of the audience he gets.

Ian Elliott over at the Different Drummer wants to engage you and while he doesn’t draw sold out crowds he packs his shop on Locust Street and draws a decent audience when his events are held at the Library.

Darrell Bricker: pollster and author.

The next ‘engaging” event  from A Different Drummer Books is seismic in scale.   Darrell Bricker, leading Canadian public opinion analyst and CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, introduces The Big Shift, a startling portrait of the current state of social and political engagement across our nation.

Bricker to speak at library on his book.

THE BIG SHIFT: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business and Culture and What it Means for Our Future.  That’s a pretty heady title – almost alarmist.  Bricker had John Ibbitson of the Globe & Mail as a collaborator on the book which gives it a little more oomph than just the words of a numbers cruncher.

Written by Bricker in collaboration with The Globe and Mail’s Chief Political Correspondent John Ibbitson, and based upon comprehensive survey and research, The Big Shift boldly engages with the concerns of Canadians in a provocative and compelling analysis.

The Different Drummer, in their promotional piece describes Darrell Bricker as a renowned worldwide consultant, writer and speaker who shares his extraordinary findings and discusses their import in a highly stimulating presentation.

Bricker speaks at our next Engaging Ideas lecture and discussion evening, presented by A Different Drummer Books in partnership with Burlington Public Library, on Monday,  March 18 at 7pm in Centennial Hall, Burlington Central Library.

We got this from a usually reliable source: “The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the West and supported by immigrant voters in Ontario. So what happened?

Great global migrations have washed over Canada. Most people are unaware that the keystone economic and political drivers of this country are now Western Canada and the immigrants from China, India, and other Asian countries who increasingly are turning Ontario into a Pacific-oriented province. Those in politics and business have greatly underestimated how conservative these newcomers are, and how conservative they are making our country. Canada, with an ever-evolving and growing economy and a constantly changing demographic base, has become divorced from the traditions of its past and is moving in an entirely new direction.

In the Big Shift, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue that one of the world’s most consensual countries is polarizing, with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban, immigrants versus old school, coffee drinkers versus consumers of energy drinks. The winners—in politics, in business, in life—will figure out where the people are and go there too.”

Bricker will be speaking at the same time the Mayor presides over a city council meeting.  In the past those council meetings have been blessedly short – you just might be able to get to both the same night.  If you have to make a choice – go to the library; you can always catch the Council meeting on Cogeco Cable.

To reserve seats, please contact us at (905) 639 0925 or

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Getting foreign environmental professionals out into the woods to make use of their skills.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 7, 2013  When men and woman with professional credentials from a foreign country come to Canada they often have difficulty finding the work they want because they don’t have any “Canadian experience”.  In some instances this is really a racial trick played on people from diverse backgrounds but in many situations an understanding of Canada’s history, its geography and the social mores are necessary.

Canada has an approach to its environment that is totally different from any Asian or African country.  How do foreign trained professionals learn how we handle our environment?

Conservation Halton and Future Watch have taken an interesting and proactive first step in the New Canadian Stewardship Course that offers training  for foreign trained environmental professionals.

Conserving the environment and making room for foreigners with environmental training is part of a new Conservation Halton initiative funded by a Trillium Grant

The course, which starts in April, is an intensive, eight-week certificate workshop series by Conservation Halton for New Canadians in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville. It is designed to help participants gain valuable, introductory knowledge and enhance their employment opportunities in the community environmental sector. Expert speakers will deliver a weekly workshop on topics such as:

Planning and Environmental Management

Local Ecology and Biodiversity

Forestry Management

Natural Hazards Management and Source Water Protection

Recreation Management and Risk Assessment

Governance, Communication and Social Media

“Conservation Halton is delighted to be working in partnership with FutureWatch EDEP on the Natural Connections program to introduce new Canadians to Halton’s green sector,” said Hassaan Basit, Director of Communications Services for Conservation Halton. “The new Canadian Stewardship Course will allow participants to see how their energy, experience and skills can help protect our local environment.”

Ensuring our environment will always have a safe home – for fowl like this to keep an eye on us.

“The course also has a second, equally important objective”, continued Basit, “it promotes our environmental and recreation programs and services to new and ethnically diverse residents within the watershed. Rather than broadcast our messages through traditional media channels and hope that one-size-fits-all, we are aiming to instead have a tailored conversation about our programs by engaging with the various ethnic communities that are taking shape within the watershed”.

What can we learn from people from other countries about how to better manage our environment?

“Natural Connections is promoting environmental engagement at many levels in the community: to families, to diverse newcomer communities, and to internationally trained professionals,” said Eduardo Garay of FutureWatch EDEP. “The New Canadian Stewardship Course provides a great starting point for foreign-trained professionals, who have tremendous knowledge, to get involved with local community initiatives while gaining as well as sharing their expertise.”

Spaces in the course are limited; interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter by Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by e-mail to the program coordinator at, or by mail: Natural Connections Coordinator, 2596 Britannia Road West, Burlington, ON L7P 0G3.

The course is free except for a registration fee of $15 for candidates who are admitted to the course. Successful participants will receive a certificate of completion at a formal graduation ceremony during the Conservation Halton Awards of Excellence on June 13. Please visit the Natural Connections website, for more details.

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Karmel Sakran, former provincial Liberal candidate, takes chair of Halton Learning Foundation

By Staff

BURLINGTON ON – Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) , the charitable foundation supporting students and schools within the Halton District School Board, has named Karmel Sakran, of Green Germann Sakran Law Offices, as Board Chair, replacing Jamie Schumacker, President of I’m Inspired, who has completed his term.

Karmel Sakran, chair of Halton Learning Foundation

New appointments to the HLF Board include Jim Collins, CFO & Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Oakville Hydro Corporation;  Carol D’Amelio, Community Member;  Peter Sarvos, Sales Manager – Global Sales, Outotec Shutdown Services ; and, Melissa Thompson, Investment Advisor & Financial Planner, RBC Wealth Management, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. .  These appointments took effect at the Halton Learning Foundation Annual General Meeting, held February 28, 2013.  The addition of the new Directors will further diversify the outstanding talents and wide-ranging experience of the Board.

Karmel Sakran, on the far right, is the newly appointed chair of the Halton Learning Foundation.

“Each year, Halton Learning Foundation provides emergency assistance to students-in-need through the Eliminating Barriers Fund, as well as in-school enrichment funding and scholarships – all in an effort to increase student engagement in school and to level the playing field for students region-wide.   Our Corporate and Individual donors have partnered with Halton Learning Foundation to improve the educational experience for all students, thus enabling Halton Learning Foundation to grant, to date, over $2.775 million to Halton District School Board  students and schools.”, explains Pat Wright, Executive Director, Halton Learning Foundation.

Karmel Sakran, the newly installed Board Chair and a former member of the Joseph Brant Hospital Board as well as the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election said: “The most important resource for our community is our youth.   The Halton Learning Foundation provides an essential building block to ensure that our children, particularly those in need, participate fully in the variety of learning opportunities existing in our schools. Healthy and strong children reflect well on our community.  I am very encouraged to see the tremendous support from our corporate and individual donors and look forward to my term as Board Chair as we continue our mission to make an even greater positive impact in the educational experience of Halton students.” 

The Halton Learning Foundation is the means for everyone in the community to support quality education for Halton District School Board students by providing emergency help for students in need, as well as providing enrichment funds and scholarships.

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Philanthropy is about more than writing big cheques; it is about taking the calls, attending the meetings and doing the work.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. March 6, 2013   We are being asked to think hard about the kind of city we are and determine who the real leaders are.  The Clergy use the word ‘discern’ when they want to think deeply and make decisions that are not the simple everyday decisions we made.

The Burlington Community Foundation (BCF) is seeking nominations from Burlington residents for the 2012 Philanthropist of the Year. This is your opportunity to nominate a philanthropist who merits community-wide recognition for their contribution.

A philanthropist is a person who gives voluntarily to promote the common good. This person, or family, may give financial resources, time, expertise and/or products, and has likely given over a long period of time. This award offers the  community the chance to publicly honour and thank a noted philanthropist for their contribution both to Burlington and the wider community.

Most people probably see philanthropists as people with a lot of money who write big cheques The people the BCF are looking for are those who can write a cheque but more importantly can also show up for a meeting, spend the time needed to make something happen.

Is Burlington a city where many of the men and women in their late 40’s early 50’s could be seen as philanthropists?  Are we going to define ourselves as a city that understands what money can do but knows that hard work is what makes things happen.  Money alone will never make the difference.

The 2012 Philanthropist of the year will be the fourth that Burlington has chosen to recognize.  The first three, Don Smith, Kevin Brady and Doug Leggat were certainly well-known, successful  business people but more importantly they were known for the work they had done.  And for the personal experiences that shaped their lives.

Don Smith, 2009 Philanthropist of the Year

Were you to watch the video done on Don Smith you would see how hugely he was impacted by young boys in Sierra Leone who just wanted a soccer ball and the chance to play the game.  Don was taken aback by such a simple need; it was a transformative experience for him.  But he didn’t stop at that – he made phone calls and got colleagues to buy thousands of soccer balls and probably paid for many of them out of his own pocket.

Kevin Brady 2010 Philanthropist of the Year

Kevin Brady suffered a serious medical situation that left him with an appreciation for life he did not previously have – and he knew then that he was here to do more than make money.  Name the organization that has a need and Kevin Brady will have had his hand in it someway.  Sometimes these men write cheques but more often they show up at meetings and provide experience and energy to community problems.

Doug Leggat 2011 Philanthropist of the Year

Doug Leggat gets into his car, it is fitting to see the film footage of him driving around town,  – to the Nelson Youth Centres to help a needed community facility source the resources it needs.  Sure Doug can, and does write a cheque, but more importantly he is attending the meetings, making the phone calls and asking the questions.

Tom Dobbie, a former Burlington city manager who certainly understands the needs of the city serves as the President of the Burlington Community Foundation and will tell you that “it takes awhile to fully understand just where the needs are and then think about how they can be met.

The BCF holds an Annual Masquerade Ball where everyone has a lot of fun and it takes more than chump change to pay for the tickets.  The event produces the funds needed to cover the operating costs, the ticket price is $250.

There are two things to take away from this story.  Do you know of anyone who serves the community the way Don Smith, Kevin Brady and Doug Leggat have and do you see yourself as a philanthropist?  It isn’t just about money – it is about serving.  Listen to what past philanthropists have had to say about their experience – you might see philanthropy differently.

Giving, and these men do give, substantially.  They give of their time, their energy, their expertise and their experience.  All are successful business people, and several have known personal grief and harm.  They were down, they had been hurt but they struggled and recovered and know that they are here to serve and they do so day in and day out.

For a city the size of Burlington to have such depth in character; for a city this size with a rural background that can remember when the land around Dundas was orchards and Plains Road was a highway to somewhere and not the main street of a community.  They have been a part of the city’s growth, have prospered because of it but have never forgotten who they are and what they were fortunate enough to have given to them.  They have made giving back a part of the life they live each day – and ensured that their children grew to follow their lead.

Next October, the community will gather at the Convention Centre to celebrate and formally recognize the 2012 Philanthropist.  The event is called the Masquerade Ball and they do it up real fancy and use the event at the prime fund-raiser to cover the $200,000 operating budget for the BCF.

The funds that are raised to be used in the community are never touched for administrative purposes.  The BCF currently has $6.5 million in assets under administration.  They use the interest from those assets to met the needs of different community organizations.  The report setting out who they support is HERE

The nomination forms are HERE.

The deadline for nominations is March 15th: Nominations due at BCF by midnight. Please submit by mail, fax, email, or deliver in person.

Late March/April 2013:  Past BCF Philanthropists of the Year and BCF senior staff review nominations and select finalist.

May: BCF announces 2013 Philanthropist of the Year.

October 26th:  Award and honouring of Philanthropist of the Year at BCF Masquerade Ball.

If one were to be just a bit critical – positively critical, the same organizations are the beneficiaries of the philanthropic efforts.  The YMCA got mentioned by all three men nominated in the past (time for a woman to be nominated folks); everyone was involved in the hospital and the United Way.  Those are the core groups – there are literally hundreds of others that serve the community and at times need some help.

Later this year the community will nominate the next person to be recognized and honoured and then added to the list.  How many of these philanthropists do we have?  More than we imagine.  Appreciate those who have been recognized.

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New fire chief named; Bavota will lead the brigades and wrestle with the city for more funding.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 6, 2013  The city  has a new fire chief – Tony Bavota will take on the role of chief of the Burlington Fire Department, effective immediately.

Tony Bavota appointed Chief of the Burlington Fire department.

Bavota has been a deputy fire chief with the Fire Department since 2009 and is in his 18th year of employment with the City of Burlington.  His progressive responsibilities within the department include acting platoon chief, fire captain, acting captain, firefighter and infrastructure project manager. Bavota also gained extensive corporate experience while working in the city manager’s office on a job rotation as the assistant to the city manager.

Bavota is going to have to rely heavily on his city hall experience to get the fire fighters he feels he needs and to prepare Burlington for a different kind of preparation.  In the next five years the city will see a 22 storey structure on Lakeshore Road and, if the way the city manager is talking, we can expect to see more in the way of high-rise structures.

High rise buildings create different challenges for fire fighters. This multi-storey building on Maple was completed recently and the 22 storey development on Lakeshore Road mean different, expensive equipment and time to train the men who will man it.

The Strata on Maple Avenue is an example.   These buildings require different kinds of firefighting equipment – and the stuff isn’t cheap.  Then firefighters have to be trained in how to use the equipment.

Before joining the Burlington Fire Department, Bavota worked with the Guelph Police Service, as a constable and tactical response unit member.

Bavota earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario in 2011, and holds a diploma in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts-Economics Degree.

Acting Chief Dave Beatty will return to his role as deputy chief.  “We thank Acting Chief Beatty for his continued leadership. The fire department management team continues to work effectively together throughout the transition period and I sincerely appreciate their collective efforts,” said Phillips.

The fire department has a combined urban and rural area covering 189 square kilometres that has to be covered. They provide public education, fire prevention, suppression and emergency response in Burlington.  The Burlington Fire Department currently has 202 full-time staff and a complement of 65 volunteers serving the community.

The previous fire chief left the Burlington fire department for greener pastures where he didn’t have the ongoing battle with city council for the resources he felt he needed.

Firefighters in Ontario are exceptionally well-organized and aren’t shy about showing their muscle to make their point.  In the last provincial election they made it very clear they were supporting the government.  They have been known to attend city budget review meetings as a group and to attend at Council meetings sitting as a group in Council chambers. .

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A bigger blue box – did a former Miss Canada jump out of one at the formal unveiling?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. March 4, 2013  Your tax dollars are hard at work – and you can now avail yourself of a larger Blue Box and there is more “stuff” that you can now put in that Blue Box.

Monday, April 1, 2013 (hold it – that’s April Fool’s day isn’t it – are they pulling a fast one on us?) will mark the start of new changes to Halton Region’s waste collection program, including larger Blue Boxes that will help residents recycle a number of new acceptable Blue Box materials.

The changes are part of the Region’s Solid Waste Management Strategy with a goal of  reaching  a 65%  residential waste diversion rate by 2016.

“Halton Region residents are already among the best in the province when it comes to participating in waste diversion programs like Blue Box recycling,” said Gary Carr, Halton Regional Chair. “Currently, 95 %  of single-family homes place a Blue Box out for collection every week.”

Members of Halton Regional Council show off new larger Blue Boxes available for pick up free of charge starting in March.

Effective Monday, April 1, 2013, Halton residents can add more items to their Blue Box, including clear plastic clamshells (e.g. berry and lettuce containers), single-serve yogurt cups, plastic plant pots and trays, empty metal paint cans (lids removed), and cardboard cans (e.g. frozen juice cans/chip cans). A complete list of new acceptable Blue Box items can be found at this web site.

You can use the print feature on this website to print out the list and put it  on the fridge.

To help manage these new materials, larger Blue Boxes (22-gallon capacity vs. 16-gallon) will be available to residents for pick up at eight different Blue Box Pick-up Events

Saturday, March 9th: 9-3 pm

Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary

School, 5150 Upper Middle Road, Burlington


 Mohawk Racetrack (Parking Lot)

9430 Guelph Line, Campbellville


Saturday, March 16th : 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Acton District High School, 21 Cedar Road, Acton

Halton Regional Centre, 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville


Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Burlington Closed Landfill, 291 North Service Road, Burlington

Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Road, Oakville


Saturday, March 30, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Robert C. Austin Operations Centre,

11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown

Milton GO Station, 780 Main Street East, Milton


Starting March 11, 2013

Halton Regional Centre    1151 Bronte Road, Oakville, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Halton Waste Management Site (Scalehouse), 5400 Regional Road 25, Milton, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Robert C. Austin Operations Centre            11620 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown,  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Residents can also continue to use their existing Blue Boxes.

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Giving it your best shot takes on a whole new meaning for the ONE event being held for Breast Cancer Support Services.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 4, 2013   Here’s a different one for you.  A group is putting on an event for a local charity,  Breast Cancer Support Services.  The city certainly has its share of charity events.

But this one is different with a unique angle.

Kimberly Neale, a young go-getter we met some time back, had created a service for people with more money than time.  She called her business “I’m On It” and was available to do things that called for promptness and quick thinking.

We got this media release from her yesterday.  What the group she is part of has come up with is a photo session that has a local model posing for 12 different photographers.  The concept came from Derrick Van Der Kolk  who pulled together a group of photographers who would be given a camera, a roll of colour film, a couple of props and a model to photograph.  The photographers would all use the same studio and have one hour to complete their shoot.

A simple naturally lit setting for the twelve photographers taking part in the ONE event. The setting along with a pink boa, a pink mask and a pink scarf was all each photographer had to work with. They all had to use the Hasselblad camera with Fuji colour film that will be developed and mounted by a professional film processing company.

The camera – a Hasselblad – not too shabby – and 120 Fuji Colour film with an ISO of 400 would be used in the warehouse space using the same the same props: a pink boa, a mask and a pink ribbon.

That’s it.  There is also a make-up artist,  Courtney Nevins available to the photographers.

The studio space they used offered some interesting lighting opportunities.  It sounded interesting.

“I hope this email finds you well” said Kimberly Neale in the email she sent us. “I wanted to let you know about a unique charity event taking place at Spencer’s at the Waterfront in Burlington March 28th to help support Breast Cancer Support Services.  Now the relevance of the pink scarf became evident.

We gave Kimberly as call and learned more.  The 12 photographers were chosen a couple of months ago by Derrick Van Der Kolk .

The photographers were given the film and camera – Fuji Colour film (ISO400) – that’s about all there is in terms of colour film – yes film – not digital.  Kodachrome  bit the dust about a year ago.

Each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased, displayed and will appear anonymous at the Gala event March 28th at Spencer’s on the Waterfront.  Each photograph will be framed in the same manner.  The film will be processed with no retouching and of course no Photo Shopping – this is real film, the old stuff, the original stuff.  The photographers will use 120 film – didn’t know they still made the stuff.

Each print will be blown up to 36 x 36 inches and then framed.

The prints will be judged and then sold at the March 28th event.

ONE will feature the creative talent of 12 photographers and showcase the artistry of film photography while raising funds for an amazing, local charity.

The showing of the photographs is the culmination of the event.   At the final event on March 28, 2013, at Spencer’s, where each photographer’s ONE best shot will be showcased and displayed. Photo Media Décor is doing the framing with World of Lighting  putting just the right amount of spotlights on the pictures to show them all at their very best once they are hung. The photographs will not have the names of the photographers on them.  Three judges will then declare the winning photo. Traditional film photography will be used and photos will not be altered after the development process.  Film processing is being done by  Duncan & Wright.  At the conclusion of the voting, the winner is announced and a silent auction will be held for each photo with all the money raised going to Breast Cancer Support Services.

This is a ONE of a kind event taking place in a beautiful location, featuring the artistic abilities of talented, local photographers!

Kimberly tells, in a breathless voice that their “Facebook page has reached 78,463 people in just ONE month and we continue to see this number rise.”

Almost too much – but it in an interesting take on modern photography.

The idea came out of three minds that managed to meet. Derrick Van Der Kolk came up with the concept and recruited Neale and Chris Sakai (Sakai Promotions) to assist with organizing, hosting and promoting the event.

ONE was created to bring the true art of true photography back in to the forefront.  As a talented and  passionate photographer, Derrick wanted to give photographers a platform / competition where the true skills that a group of photographers could be challenged.

The twelve chosen include both professionals and amateurs and one as young as fourteen.

“Van Der Kolk had the idea but he needed help in promoting and getting it to actually happen. He approached us with his idea and how to bring this to life.  The three of us saw an incredible opportunity to tie it all together; creative art (showing local talent), local charity and an opportunity to showcase / promote local businesses – community, art and business all in one location”, says Kimberly. The venue, the Discovery room at Spencer’s, is as good as it  gets. The Killin’ Time Band playing an acoustic set will be there as well!

Tickets are only $25.00 online / $30.00 at the door and can be purchased on the website or by emailing

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Forget the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised you – put up the big bucks and have your name in lights in Alton Village for-ever.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 2, 2013  Burlington, Ont., March 1, 2013 – The City of Burlington is looking for sponsors and a name for the new recreation facility in Alton, opening this fall. The new facility will support Burlington’s sports community and will be a destination for regional and provincial sports tournaments and events.

A sponsorship package for the naming rights to the facility and the amenities inside is now available to the community and businesses.

The Library Board now has the funding for the staff to work the new Library – now to buy the books, train the staff and get ready for the Grand Opening.  Will there be a “get it all done at once” opening or will there be three different events?  What do you think – can those politicians turn down a chance to mug for the media?

To assist in the development of the naming and sponsorship program, the city worked with a consultant and conducted a national assessment of municipal naming rights practices. The research indicated that more than 60 per cent of 41 municipalities surveyed were actively involved in seeking naming rights sponsors.

“Like many other cities across Canada, the City of Burlington is looking at sponsorship as a viable way of reducing a potential burden on the tax base by generating new funds to help with the future repair and renewal of facilities,” said Rob Axiak, manager of recreation services.

The concept of sponsorship and naming rights is not new to the city.

“We have several city facilities that carry the names of community sponsors such as the Dofasco Waterjet at the Waterfront, Paletta Mansion and various rooms inside Tansley Woods Community Centre to name a few,” said Axiak.

The new recreation facility in Alton includes 53,886 square feet (5,006 square metres) of space and is connected to a new high school and public library branch. The high school and library will be pursuing naming options separately.

All it needs now is some landscaping and a name that someone with a ton of money and a hankering to have their name in lights and the place will be ready for the public. This fall is the planned opening date.

Background:  Located on the north side of Dundas Street, east of Walker’s Line beside Norton Community Park, the Alton facility is equipped with amenities to support basketball, volleyball, badminton and disabled sports tournaments and other sporting events.

The recreation facility boasts four 40-metre-high competitive-size gymnasiums, change rooms, two multi-purpose rooms, a meeting room and an indoor sports square designed for award ceremonies.  This unique facility is fully accessible for athletes and spectators with disabilities and is the only facility with eight competition-sized double gyms west of Toronto in the Greater Toronto Area.

The high school, with a classroom capacity for 1,200 students, is equipped with four 38 metre-high, competitive-sized gymnasiums, a 200-seat auditorium, art rooms, an illuminated artificial sports field and an eight-lane running track.

The Burlington Public Library branch will combine with the school board’s library to create a joint, integrated library that serves both students and the community. The library’s design provides for multi-generational use and includes flexible space that will take full advantage of new and emerging information technology.

Now that the Library Board has their funding for staff – can you imagine – there were people thinking that the library didn’t need new money to pay for the seven new people needed for the new facility – maybe it could sponsor a search for a new name and then work with the community to find a sponsor.

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Inspire the audience please – but don’t talk the Mayor into a new dream; he’s still working out the last one.


We erroneously reported that the $50,000 cost of the Mayor’s One Dream event was paid for bu Emshih Developments.  The event was paid for by 12 organizations of which one was Emshih Developments whp donated $5000.  The Molinaro Group, another developer with projects before the city also donated $5000.

Our apologies to the Mayor for the mistake we made.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 27, 2013  We are back into Inspire mode with the Mayor announcing there will be a series of speakers during 2013.

This next speaker Dr. Pamela Blais to speak to us about  Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl.

Blais  is a city planner and principal of Toronto-based Metropole Consultants. Her professional focus is in creating better cities by integrating planning, economic and environmental thinking in the analysis of urban issues, urban design and the development of innovative policy.  She is particularly interested in understanding key forces that drive urban development patterns, and how to shape urban form so as to maximize its ability to effectively meet current and future trends.  Her approach to urban development issues aims to be strategic and integrated.

Will we hear some really good ideas from Pamela Blais at the Mayor’s Inspire event?  In the past a number of his council members have been notably absent from these events.

In her twenty year career as an urban planning consultant, her work has included reurbanisation strategies and research; long-term regional growth planning; municipal economic development strategies; innovative land use policies for industrial areas; urban regeneration strategies; sustainable urban form, community design and infrastructure; and research on the impact of technology on urban form.

Blais has a Master of Science degree in Planning from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in urban economic geography from the London School of Economics.  She is a Registered Professional Planner, and a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Those are pretty good credentials.  Blais will be the eighth speaker in what is a very impressive series – the mayor is to be congratulated on this initiative.  By sponsoring these events he has upped the quality of debate and discussion in this city – something that was badly needed.

There is a concern however.  When the Mayor Goldring brought in Lance Secretan that encounter resulted in what was at first called a Defining the Dream initiative that then got renamed to: One Dream – which appears to have died – at last we’ve not heard anything since the Mayor announced he would be getting back to the community late in January.

The initiative appears to have died after some $50,000 was spent pulling together some 30 people who weren’t able to get past square one.

All that full day event saw was our MPP, Jane McKenna going after the editor of the Burlington Post for the way she handled news items.  Had former Mayor Walter Mulkewich not been in the room and managed to get a grip on the way things were going the meeting might well have melted down.

The Mayor put out a bit of a report and said there would be more in January – so far not a word.  We now learn that more than $57, 500 was spent on this event – with a portion of that amount coming from two developers ($5,000 each) with major interests in the city.  Not a healthy place for any politician to be – especially the mayor, who by the way had not publicly announced where the funding came from.

Hopefully we will hear a solid presentation on some of the follies that get attached to development charges and approaches municipalities take to taxing their residents.  Hopefully Blais will inspire the audience and get the Mayor and his council thinking about new approaches to how we manage the growth of a city that is at a crucial point in its growth.  Please – no more cock-a-mammy ideas Your Worship.


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Mohawk Gardens Public School broken into; kindergarten classroom completely ransacked.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. February 21, 2013  Shortly after 2:30 a.m. on February 18th, 2012, unknown suspect(s) broke into the Mohawk Gardens Public School at 5280 Spruce Ave.

Kindergarten classroom trashed when punks break in. When caught, and they will eventually get caught, a Judge might find a tougher school for them

The suspect(s) smashed a window to gain entry to a kindergarten classroom on the northeast side of the school. Once inside, suspect(s) completely ransacked the classroom by overturning desks, chairs and rummaging through the contents of the closets. The ceiling and fluorescent lights were also damaged.  The total damage and clean-up was estimated at $1,500.

Might these suspects show up at the next school reunion?

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS (8477), through the web at or by texting “TIP201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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Longest serving council member in city’s history to be given the Queen’s Jubilee medal for his service. Well deserved.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 18, 2013  He is the longest-serving member of the current city Councillor.  He is certainly the strongest liberal thinker this council has and is the most passionate member of this council as well.

John Taylor was first elected in 1988, he was actually acclaimed, and has been representing the interests of Ward 3 which includes since Brant Hills, Mountainside, Kilbride and rural communities west of Walker’s Line.  His eighth term on City Council began in December 2010.

John Taylor, has served on city council longer than any other individual.

John Taylor’s official biography will tell you all about the things he has done – and it is impressive – but working at it for 25 years ,what else should we expect.

We wanted to dig a little deeper and tell you about the John Taylor that you don’t see every day.  The man who knows more about the city than any other council member and frequently wears his heart on his sleeve.

John has lived in Brant Hills for the past 37 years along with his wife Kathie and their son Ian who has recently moved to develop his professional career in finance.

His “official”  biog tells of his 24 years of management experience in the private sector where he gained extensive and diversified skills in both the packaged consumer goods and pharmaceutical industries. He also holds an honours degree in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia.

That chemistry degree was evident when the public relations people from Enbridge Pipeline were in town recently trying to convince the 85 people in a city hall conference room that there was no problem reversing the flow of a pipeline that runs through John’s Ward.  John knew enough chemistry to ask some rather pointed questions to which he really didn’t get answers.

John Taylor strongly believes that municipal government works best through the active involvement and participation of the city’s residents.

When John holds a community meeting it is more like a club meeting.  The first event at which I watched him interact with his residents he was at a table with four other people playing a game that involved checkers.  People would drop by, sit down and chat about an issue and then move on.

John Taylor sitting at the side of the room while a loyal constituent, John Timmins takes in the meeting.

On another occasion, in Lowville when the changes to the park were being discussed, John sat at the side of the room and people came over to talk to him.  He seldom goes to the front of the room to take the microphone – unless the public is talking about putting a highway through the Escarpment and then John Taylor is front and center.

John Taylor won’t always be with us – and there doesn’t appear to be anyone that will carry the torch as high and as consistently as he has.

As City and Regional Councillor for Ward 3, John is committed to continuing work in partnership with residents to build on past successes and tackle the urban and rural challenges facing Burlington and Halton this term.  such as:

The city’s media release points out the John continues to fight for a more affordable multi-year financial and organizational plan that will result in no more than a 3% annual City tax increase.  That one is going to be a challenge for John – but he has some ideas up his sleeve that will get put before his fellow council members later this month.  John will want to move more funds into infrastructure repair – which is more than $10 million short.  One does need to point out that John was on Council for the past 25 years when the shortfall took place.

Taylor in full campaign mode greeting a voter.

Our Burlington has a good photo file for John Taylor but we wanted pictures from his early years in politics and maybe even some of John with a full head of hair.   There are pictures of John in a suit canvassing door to door.

Kathie adds that “John had always been interested in politics and this seemed like a great fit for him. He is definitely a committed individual and the opportunity to serve the community was just up his alley. It gave John an interest outside of work and as it was considered a part-time position, it would not impact the family dramatically. We  had no idea what we were getting into!” She nevertheless  welcomed the idea of John becoming involved in Municipal politics.

“When John first ran for public office there were two Councillors per ward – one at the City level and one at the Regional level. John took over a position for the City. One Council meeting and a few reports to read was my understanding. Boy was I wrong!”

Joan Little, who sat on Council with Walter Mulkewich and was once his campaign manager, now writes a by-weekly column for the Spectator, didn’t know John Taylor all that well but will tell you “that he faithfully attended every council meeting in the months before the municipal election in 1988  – took it all in, the way he does now. I just remember John being very informed.”

When Nelson Aggregates bought the land shown in the small orange rectangle it was John Taylor alerted the community to what this could mean to north Burlington.  That was the first step of a seven-year fight to have the application for a quarrying permit turned down.

\"It was John,\" explained Joan Little, \"that told a rural meeting in 2002 that Nelson had bought the land across the road, from the quarry they were operating and waking them up.  I also recall him spearheading the Mid-Pen fight right from the time the province (I think Mike Harris himself) made a presentation in the Niagara area, and that’s been his baby ever since.”

The city’s media release says Taylor “has been described as the hardest working member of Council since his election 25 years ago. He is passionate about fiscal responsibility and has a broad perspective of his responsibilities, devoting as much time to Regional issues as he does to City concerns. He has been a strong voice for Burlington at the Region and has frequently bridged gaps between the two.”

The people at the Burlington Art Centre will tell you of the ideas he brings to Board meetings over there.  John at one point thought the Art Centre might be moved to the parking lot on Elizabeth Street that was once going to be the home of the McMaster University DeGroote School of Business.

John does manage to get some time for himself and his wife.  He once came close to apologizing to council for being away on a cruise with his wife and asked if a matter that was on a future agenda could be moved until he got back.

John manages his files – how shall I put this, in his own unique way.  Paper work has never been his strong point – but details seldom gets past him.  He has been around long enough to know where the strengths are at city hall and where the level of accountability could be stronger.

If there was ever any doubt as to his political affiliation the smile Taylor wears as he sits at a desk in a replica of John George Diefenbaker’s office answers that question.

He is also the best link the city has between our city hall and the Regional offices.  Not a strong player at the provincial level – and one is never quite sure which side of the political spectrum John favors, he will go where he has to go to get what he wants.  For John Taylor it is all about Burlington – he is just an actor in a production he wants to see go on forever.

Taylor joined a Council that was led by Roly Bird. Joyce Savoline was a member of that Council as was and Walter Mulkewich, who went on to become Mayor.

Mulkewich says he “first met John Taylor when he was a citizen activist lobbying myself and City Council on the subject of then controversial subject of market value assessment in the mid nineteen eighties.  As a citizen activist he was knowledgeable, tenacious and committed to evidence based research.

“John brought those characteristics to his work as an elected Councillor for the past twenty-five years.  Most significantly, he carried into his role as a member and leader on Council,  his citizen roots, a strong sense of community,  a belief in fairness, and an ability to frame specific issues within a larger picture of where the city needs to go to continue to maintain an excellent quality of life for its citizens.”

Those who work with John will tell you of his approach to problems.  When the Bethany Residence had some problems – John was there; when the owner of the Phanton House in Kilbride had some problems, John was there.  When the fight to prevent Nelson Aggregates from getting an additional permit to quarry land in the Escarpment was really tough, John was there.

You will frequently see John meeting with someone who heads up a community group and slipping a cheque into their hands.

When the politicians want to do something John feels is fundamentally wrong council solidarity get tossed.  There was one occasion when Burlington’s city council wanted to go into a closes session to discuss a city salary matter and John said that if they did he was going to leave the council chamber and stand in the atrium of city hall and tell anyone who would listen, what council wanted to talk about in private.

The city’s solicitor recently wanted council to go into closed session to talk about (wait for it) the pier and John said he wouldn’t go along with that one – not until the report with the numbers in it was in his hands.

John reads the reports he is given and scoots around city hall to talk to staff and dig a little deeper.  He’s been doing this for 25 years and staff knows  he has done his homework.

John can be impish at times.  He can also be very impatient as well.  When Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward once called for a recorded vote on five – might have been six – matters, Taylor who sits beside her,  rolled his eyes and stood up each time to vote against her motion.

While John was a true believer when it came to getting the hospital upgraded he wasn’t about to just turn over $60 million to the hospital.  In the early stages of the negotiations John argued strongly against the city putting up the money that was going to pay for a parking garage.  John wanted a bit more than that for $60 million.

There he stands, in the center, with members of the British Peerage, Lord and Lady Acton on the left and Regional Chair Gary Carr on the right.  They all got along just fine.

While Region likes to believe Burlington has an agricultural base John fully understands what there is north of Dundas.  He was part of a Regional tour more than a year ago during which he met the fifth Lord Acton.  Burlington seldom sees members of the British peerage in the city – but there he stood.  John Acton, a pig farmer who got along with those farmers on the tour, that is until Acton told the farmers that he loved all the pigs he had – about a dozen – and he knew the names of every one of them.  The room immediately saw a different farmer in front of them.

John Taylor stood beside the man whose forbearer, the first Lord Acton who in 1887 gave us the phrase: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”.  When you talk about Burlington – you have to talk about John Taylor – and the power he had – he didn’t allow an ounce of it to corrupt him in any way whatsoever.

We are fortunate to have him.

Councillor Rick Craven on the left recomended John Taylor for the Jubilee medal. The two of them are the city’s strongest committee chairs.

Councillor Rick Craven put John Taylor’s name forward.  Other medal recipients are: Thomas Dykes, Dr. William Charles Procter and Officer Cadet David Brennan.

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Forty years of continuous service to a camera club that went on to become a Guild and part of the Burlington Art Centre.

By Jim Hamilton and Frank Myers

BURLINGTON, ON  February 18, 2013  In the spring of 1973, Bill Warren joined a new camera club being started in Burlington. The group,  named the Latow Camera Club, met once a month in the general meeting room on the second floor of the Burlington Mall.  Latow was understood to be a native word meaning ‘beam of light’.

Latow Photographers Guild President Tom Stephens congratulates Bill Warren on 40 years of continuous and outstanding service.

That was forty years ago and Bill Warren is still an active member – 40 years of continuous membership is quite an accomplishment.  However, Bill has not just been a passive member of the club; he has been a very active and key member of the Latow Photographers Guild for that whole time.

Over the years, Bill has mentored many Latow members.  He has served in executive and committee positions and was President for two separate terms.  Due to his love of black and white printing, the darkroom has been one of Bill’s favourites.  He has either obtained donations or built much of the equipment in those facilities and he has looked after its maintenance for years.

It was Bill’s idea to hold an annual photography seminar, an event that has made the Latow Photographers Guild known not only in Ontario but in New York and Quebec. He has served as its Chairman and did practically everything from obtaining speakers to almost single-handedly managing the event for many years.

It is this annual event that continues to fund much of the photographic equipment enjoyed at Latow today.

Bill was recognized a few years ago for some of his service to the community and participation in photography by being voted as Burlington’s Art Person of the Year.  However, Latow had never really officially honoured Bill to the extent he deserves, so it was felt that Bill’s fortieth year of continuous participation and service in the club was the right time.

In the back row from left to right:  David Craig – President 1976 – 79, Bill Shotton – President 1996 – 97,  Johan Wigt – President 1985 – 86,   Peter Young – President 2001 – 02, Joh Friedrich – President – 2005 – 07,  Tom Stephens – President 2011 – 13,  David Gruggen – President 1986 – 88,  Arnold Koopman – President 1973 – 74,  Jim Hamilton – President 1988 – 90,  Toni Browning – President 2002 – 04 & 2009 – 11,  Brian Hickey (never has been President but “old-time” member).  In the front row middle:  Bill Warren – President 1979 – 81 & 1992 – 94 

At Latow’s  monthly general meeting recently , the club made a presentation to Bill and announced the naming of the Burlington Art Centre’s darkroom and finishing room area “The W.J. (Bill) Warren Darkroom and Finishing Room”. Fifteen former Presidents attended to share in the occasion to honour Bill’s contributions.

Latow President Tom Stephens says, “There is no one who has been more giving of his time or has promoted Latow to a greater extent over the years than Bill Warren.  We’re very pleased that he continues to volunteer for many duties in service of Latow, even today.” In typically modest fashion, Bill replies that he feels he is the one who benefits from volunteering because he derives so much pleasure from it.

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Local business promoter moves his gig to a more fashionable address for a one night stand.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  February 15th, 2013.   The theory is that if you invite a celebrity to your event more people will show up – and that would apply in Burlington if you invited Walk off the Earth.  Inviting the Mayor of the city to open an event – don’t think that is going to pull the crowd James Burchill, wants for his Spring into Business event – nevertheless the Mayor is going to deliver the opening remarks at the “Spring Into Business” Networking & Trade Show Event to be held at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre March 21st.

If you are an independent business operator mark that date on your calendar – actually you probably don’t have to – Burchill has the best list of smaller business operations in the city.  The one thing Burchill does exceptionally well is promote himself and his ventures.

The BiB – Burlington in Business crowd at the Waterfront Hotel where they meet once a month.  Founder James Burchill has moved his gig to the Performing Arts Centre for a March event.  Great bar over there – can they handle 500 + thirsty people?

He held a mini-trade show at the Beaver and the Bulldog a couple of months ago – the room was packed which led Burchill to believe he could move to a larger, brighter venue and put on a bigger event.  He might be right – it was certainly worth the risk.

The event is a joint venture between all the Social Fusion Networking groups and hosted by the beautiful Burlington Performing Arts Centre, this event will cater to approximately 500 people and showcase 25 local business vendors from 5pm through to 7pm.  Admission is free and has already attracted over 350 businesses from far-afield as Niagara through to Toronto.

Social Fusion Networking is the creation of James Burchill who launched the first event in January of 2012. To date these networks have attracted many thousands of local businesses seeking a new way of networking.  “It is my understanding that SFN is the largest independent B2B group in Halton because it exceeds 2500 members.” said James Burchill

With consistently high turnouts each month, SFN events integrate the best of modern social media and combine it with classical face-to-face networking. The results and feedback has been nothing short of amazing with James’ efforts being publicly acknowledged by as a “Top 10% Network.”

James Burchill, on the right, announcing the winner of a door prize – a session with a hypnotist.  Interesting.

Social Fusion Networking ™ was developed by James Burchill after he noted a series of problems with current B2B networking approaches. The punitive clauses that restricted members to one or few groups, the punishments for failing to attend, the caps and limits on how many people could participate encouraged Burchill to create a new way of networking with No Fees, No Pressure and No restrictions. Meeting monthly at local venues and available always online, SFN integrates a mixture of channels allowing people to connect and communicate in a manner and fashion that suits them best. SFN events are sponsored and advertising supported in lieu of membership dues.

The group has an interesting web presence and has in the past met on Wednesday’s at the Waterfront Hotel where they take up all the space at the best watering hole in the hotel.  The Mayor made an appearance there once – that didn’t do anything to attendance.


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Halton educational assistant arrested for possession of child pornography.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON. February 15th, 2013  A Burlington man , employed by the Halton Catholic District School Board, faces a charge of Possession of Child Pornography following an investigation by the Halton Regional Police Service – Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

On February 14, 2013, Gary O’Brien, 64 yrs, was arrested at his residence and held for a bail hearing scheduled for today at Milton Provincial Court.

The accused is an Educational Assistant at Notre Dame Catholic School in Burlington and has been suspended from his duties by the Halton Catholic District School Board.

The Halton Regional Police Service is committed to the thorough investigation of child exploitation incidents.  Any person with relevant information on this or any related matter is encouraged to contact the Internet Child Exploitation Unit at 905 825-4747 x8984, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).



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She saw herself as a “loyal opposition” and served her city very, very well. Jane Irwin dead.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 8, 2013  A tireless fighter who saw herself as part of a “loyal opposition” when she spoke to a city council committee Monday of last week – Jane Irwin died Thursday evening.

Jane was a force to contend with who did not go quietly into the night.  Monday evening she addressed a committee of city council and began her talk by telling members of council that while they were sitting in comfortable seats there were delegations who had to shift their cane from side to side and stand as they spoke and answered questions.

Jane Irwin’s husband Richard, gives her an affectionate pat on the arm as she prepares to delegate to a city council committee on why cultural heritage value matters.

Jane was speaking to council about heritage homes; one of the passions of her life.  Her husband Richard reached over and gave her an affection pat on the arm as she rose to speak to the Infrastructure and Development Committee that was considering a report from Heritage Burlington, the city’s Advisory Committee on heritage matters.  They wanted to remove immediately all the homes on the much maligned “B” list, which is part of the city’s Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Resources.   The B list was part of a Registry the city maintains of homes that are felt to have some historic or cultural value to the city.

Irwin believed the city was getting rid of close to one-third of the properties in the city with significant cultural heritage.

Any home on the B list of the Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Resources could not be demolished without going through a 60 day waiting period.

Many home owners and several council members felt this wait requirement was a financial encumbrance on what a property owner could get if it were put up for sale.   The real estate community likes to perpetuate that point – that having to wait 60 days would lessen the amount a property would fetch on the open market.  There is no evidence, other than the word of real estate agents who are looking for a listing, that a 60 day wait impacts the value of a property.

The disappearance of the B list would mean close to one-third of the homes that have historic cultural value would be taken off the Registry could then be demolished by anyone who wanted to apply for a permit to do so, and that was why Jane Irwin stood, for what turned out to be the last time, before city council, imploring them to fully understand what they were doing and to perhaps re-think what she fully expected them to do.

“Why is it” asked Jane Irwin, “that the city of Burlington has a reputation for being boring?   A good many interesting people have lived here and a lot of interesting people still live here.”  Burlington’s reputation had not kept up with the change and growth of the city, she maintained.

“Burlington is not the most fascinating, the most interesting place or the most inspiring city on the planet – not even in Halton.  In fact it is called BORINGTON.  Is that news to any of you?”  she asked, while Mayor Goldring sat glumly in his seat.

She spoke passionately, she told city council that Burlington was known as BORINGTON and that the city lacked character and colour. she told them that cultural heritage matter and that without it the city would be “hollowed out”. None of it mattered – they voted to get rid of what Irwin maintained was one-third of the properties in the city and on the Registry, with historical significance,

“There is no question why we are perceived as a bland place, there is nothing special, nothing unique about us – we lack character and have no sense of identity”, she said

“We are not a real place, not a place with any interesting character”, she added.

Irwin said she was reminded of a comment an American author made about the city in California she lived in when she said: “There is no there, there.”

Irwin though that perhaps the author’s home town was too new to have a history but then realized that the history it did have, had probably been hollowed out and that is what Irwin thinks has happened to Burlington.

“Every place on earth has a history, a past, character and a story to tell.  “I’m suggesting” said Irwin “that something comparable has happened to Burlington – our past, our history, has been hollowed out.  Identity for both people and places can be hollowed out”, she added.

Irwin explained that “People lose their sense of identity from the inside when they lose their memories, places lose their identity when their history is lost when their places are lost, when the history turns into amnesia – you’ve heard some examples of that here tonight.”

“The outside characteristics of personal identity are lost when the physical reality of their identity, the quirkiness and the scars of their life are forgotten, either because they were in a witness protection program or they had cosmetic surgery”, explained Irwin.

“Places lose the visible reality of their identity when their historical built structures and streetscapes are erased or replaced. Those of you who have been listening to me will realize that I am talking about what planners call cultural heritage value.

Some think cultural heritage value is an academic term dreamed up by people who do not live in the real world.

Cultural historic value is what I’ve been talking about; a sense of identity, a sense of something authentic, something real.  It is a part of our experience of everyday life – it is rooted in our common experience.”

“People feel this” maintained Irwin, who went on to explain that while cultural heritage value may not be a term many understand or are comfortable with – “ but it is really the same as quality of life,  which we do understand, advocate and promote.  Heck it’s even in the city’s Strategic Plan

They will feel that, they will experience that and so cultural historic value is what we know as quality of life. – a term that is accepted”.

Jane Irwin, at her very best.

Irwin’s concern was that while there are thousands of people in Burlington who live in the homes that were built in the 1910’s and 1920’s – removing the 350 on the B list has the potential to put those buildings at risk.

There is a limited supply of these buildings and your vote today vote will, if this council votes true to form, will remove 350 properties – one third of our heritage.

“These B properties” explained Irwin, “have not been re-evaluated, none have been re-inspected and we don’t have adequate information on which to make decisions”.  She went on to say that “we are throwing out the babies with the bath water.  People are being told that heritage homes don’t count.”

“Perhaps this is a time-saving exercise – remove these 350 homes from the Registry and you never have to deal with them again.”

“You ignore your staff reports” said Irwin, “you often deride them.”

In the end – it didn’t matter.  Council in committee voted to keep ten properties on the Registry until the end of June when the evaluations are complete and a decision can be made as to what stays on the Registry and what can be removed.

What was certain however was that the B portion of the Registry is now “history”, literally.  Councillor Craven summed it up when he said after six years of bitter, nasty debate, compromises have to be made.  “While I regret losing the B’s” he said, “I am prepared to give them up.”

Council in committee voted to accept the report.






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