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 Meetup.com 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 www.haltoncrimestoppers.com 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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Close to 250 people bring in their personal artifacts that might become part of Burlington’s recoded history .

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 6, 2013  They came to be part of the city’s history.  They brought big items, small items, personal items and significant items.  Everything they brought was photographed, recorded and then pressed into clay from which artist Peter Powning would make a casting out of bronze and place in the Spiral Stella that would sit outside the Performing Arts Centre at the intersection of Locust and Elgin Streets.

The fascinated eyes of children – these two are totally focused on what artist Peter Powning is doing with an artifact they brought in as part of the cultural mulch event held at the Burlington Art Centre.  Artifacts were collected to become part of the Spiral Stella that will be erected in front of the Performing Arts centre in July.

Close to 250 people brought in their “stuff” . Don Graves, a local artist, who happened to be at the Burlington Art Centre last Saturday hosting his first solo exhibit had his wife take his walking cane to have a clay impression made.

Jonathan Smith,  Curator of the Permanent Collection at the Burlington Arts centre,  brought in a pocket watch with a fob engraved with the words St. Andrews College, 1929 in cursive type.  That kind of craftsmanship isn’t seen anymore.

Melanie Booth on the left hands over her Olympic Bronze medal which she won as part of the Women’s soccer team.  Jeremy Freiburger, on the right,  chief cheese at CoBalt Connects, the company that manages Burlington’s public art program registers the medal which was later pressed into clay to make the impression from which a bronze casting will be made.

The stunner for some was Melanie Booth’s Olympic Bronze medal that brought out a very small faux pas from Powning, who to be fair was seeing a lot of artifacts and didn’t realize he had an Olympic medal in his hands.

He asked Ms Booth: “What’s the story behind this” as he arranged a slab of clay to make the impression.  Powning hadn’t read the words on the medal, he was trying to figure out which side he would make the impression from but when Ms Booth said “it’s my Olympic bronze medal given to the Canadian woman’s soccer team” Powning’s head shot up when he replied – “really!”

This is an example, called a maquette, of the type of sculpture Peter Prowning will be doing for Burlington.  Each sculpture he does is significantly different.  The bands wrapped around the first nine feet of the 16 foot sculpture will hold the bronze casting being made from the clay impressions done this past week in Burlington.  It will be a very impressive piece of public art

The way the gold medal for soccer was lost is something few Canadians think much about now.  If it ends up as part of the Spiral Stella it will become part of the visual history of the city.

Powning was holding what he called a “cultural mulch.  An event that had him looking at everything he was given, nothing was turned away if he could make an impression in clay, and at the same time thinking about how each piece might be used.

The bronze castings would be worked into the sculpture which will tell part of Burlington’s cultural past.

One man brought an old, rusted pair of roller skates, the kind you had to strap onto your shoes.

Dan Lawrie, the man who felt there should be some art outside the Performing Arts Centre put his money where his mind had gone and funded a portion of the cost of the sculpture.  Lawrie who paints when he isn’t working had impressions made from some of his art implements.

With 240 impressions made into the slabs of clay Powning now takes everything back to his studio in New Brunswick and begins the process of casting the bronze pieces that will be part of the first nine feet of the 16 foot sculpture.

He will be doing all the forge work at his studio in New Brunswick and shipping the work to Burlington where it will be installed – which will get a little tricky.  With art there are no firm time lines – not quite like making a pie and knowing that it needs 35 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees.

Some excavation work has to be done at the front of the Performing Arts centre to get the base in place. There is a pipeline right underneath that has to be dealt with.  The pipeline people will be on hand to make sure someone doesn’t bite into that line.

And then there is a wedding scheduled to take place at the Performing Arts Centre at that time.  The bride is not going to want to walk down the “aisle” to the sound of a jack hammer.

But it will all come together and sometime during the second half of July the sculpture will be in place and we can expect groups of people to gather at the site for years to come.  One wonders what the Tourism people will do to promote the sculpture.

Johnathan Smith, Curator of the Permanent Collection at the Burlington Art Centre brings in a pocket watch with a fob that has a 1929 inscription on it. Peter Powning presses the fob into clay from which her will later make a bronze casting that will become part of the Spiral Stella that will be erected outside the Performing Arts Centre

Burlington has done some exceptionally good work with sculpture.  There is the magnificent naval memorial at Spencer Smith Park where the bronze casting is more traditional.  Then there are the orchids which are a delight – just in the wrong place – a point that Councillor Taylor commented on at a recent council meeting.  At some point this city just might do the “orchids” justice and put them in a location where they can be both appreciated an enjoyed.  Stuck at the entrance to a railway grade separation is close to the stupidest things the art people in this city have ever done.  Why didn’t someone stand up when that decision was being made and ask: “Are you kidding?”  But we didn’t – we will get there.

A local videographer, Bob Fleck, has been following Peter Powning around and we can expect to see a bit of film at some point.

CoBalt Connects, the organization that manages the city’s cultural plan has been talking to students at Mohawk and McMaster about the idea of doing a three-dimensional video on the sculpture that would allow people to look at the detail and spot artifacts that they contributed.  Good idea.

We are seeing a different approach to how we create, display and promote the arts in this city.  The long-term cultural plan will address some of the concerns local artists have about not being included or taken seriously.  Progress.

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City hall dropped the ball on this one – they’re going to kill what little history we have.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 29, 2013  Did you know that CoBALT Connects is the managing partner of the City of Burlington’s public art program? They are! And they are going to be “on hand this Thursday and Sunday at various Burlington locations with New Brunswick artist Peter Powning as he makes “Cultural Mulch” with the community’s prized possessions, turning those objects’ outlines into the bronze cast that will form the facade of his piece.

Jeremy Freiburger, the media friendly maestro who sent us this information about the Cultural Mulch might be the only person in the room – along with the artist of course,  who we are looking forward to meeting.

The city does not appear to have spent as much as a dime promoting this event.

The Spiral Stella sculpture that is going to be placed outside the Performing Arts Centre is going to be around for at least 100 years – if this world lasts that long.  Tens of thousands of people will look at it and see what we thought was important to us as a community to tell the story of our past.

Powning wants to take artifacts the people of Burlington bring in – make a mold and then a casting that will be used in the sculpture.

There have to be hundreds of people who have “stuff” in the attics or their basements that artist Peter Powning  would like to consider.

Touchstone was above all a collaborative community enterprise. My idea of asking the community to take part in creating it’s own narrative was the germ of the project. By providing me with objects and artifacts that had a part in defining Canmore for them personally, people gave me the source material for the bronze relief that is at the core of this sculpture. I wanted to encourage community involvement.

But if people don’t bring out their artifacts – there won’t be anything to make a casting of and nothing for the public of the future to see.

At some point in the future there will be a tourist standing in front of the sculpture and asking: “Is that all this city has to show us about their past?”

Burlington has this annoying habit of getting the Mayor out there to have his picture taken every time there is a donation or an award being given.  Last night he was at a table signing the Freeman Station Joint Venture document – a project he really didn’t get behind.  At least we didn’t hear him say very much when the Friends of Freeman Station (FOFS) were struggling to find a home for the structure.

Peter Powning on site in Canmore, Alberta where he installed touch stone, a sculpture along the same lines as the planned work for Burlington.

Powning will be in Burlington so dig through the keep-sakes trunk and bring an object that matters to you. It’s a great way to be a part of the artistic process and to either contribute an object, or simply watch the process in action. Objects will not be damaged in the process, and will be returned after the mold is cast (about five minutes).

Sessions are on:

Thursday, January 31st: Burlington Public Library, Central Branch, 10 am to 3 pm

Thursday, January 31st: Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 7 pm to 9 pm

Sunday, February 3rd: Burlington Art Centre, 2 pm to 4 pm



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When Dad goes missing – you’re terrified and not sure what to do next; a useful resource, log in and bookmark this one.

By Staff

BURLINGTON. ON.  January 29, 2013    We see a couple of these reports each month and we can expect to see more as our population ages.  A recent police media release went like this:

Male Missing:  Elderly Man with Alzheimer’s Believed to Be Lost in the Toronto Area

The Halton Regional Police Service and the Toronto Police Service are seeking the assistance of the public in locating a missing elderly male person who is believed to be lost in the Toronto area.

The missing male person is a 82-year-old senior who resides in the City of Burlington in the Regional Municipality of Halton. The missing person has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The missing person is dependent upon certain medications and his health may deteriorate without his prescribed medication, and may appear confused. The male will be reluctant to accept help if approached.

At approximately 10:53 p.m. a member of the Halton Regional Conservation Authority Parks Department was on routine patrol.

In this situation the follow up was a good news story:

A Parks Officer came upon the scene of a single motor vehicle collision on Milborough Town Line north of Campbellville Sideroad in the rural area of MILTON.  Sometime prior to the officer’s arrival a single motor vehicle had left the roadway and struck a tree.

It was determined that the vehicle involved in the collision belonged to Gerard HOOLBOOM, who had been reported as missing to Halton Regional Police earlier in the day.

Mr. HOOLBOOM was found conscious, near the vehicle. The officer immediately rendered first aid to Mr. HOOLBOOM for minor injuries and summoned EMS and police to the scene.

 The Halton Regional Police take these calls, broadcast the missing person to the media and we do what we can to get the message out to the largest possible community.

Because this is such an emotional issue for any family that goes through the experience the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Centre for Information on Missing Adults (CCIMA) have provided a guide that is very well put together.

CCIMA is a bilingual online resource that provides information and acts as a referral centre for Canadian families and friends of missing adults.

The guide provides families with useful and practical information to help cope with the realities associated to having a missing adult.  Bookmark this page – you don’t want to have to search for it if you need it.

The police are behind this: “We wholeheartedly support the efforts of CCIMA in their development of this comprehensive guide for families of missing adults to assist them in what is often an emotionally overwhelming situation,” said Deputy Chief Andrew Fletcher.



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Frizzle feature now available to all the “old farts”. Our Burlington responds to a readers request.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 22, 2013  Our Burlington has a new feature that we are calling the Frizzle feature.

It came about as a result of an email we got from Jim Frizzle whose neighbour happens to be Keith Strong – which, if you know Keith Strong, means you are going to get roped into doing something for the community.

Senior of the Year Jim Frizzle tells publisher to “make it easier to read your newspaper”.  Result – the Frizzle Feature.

Frizzle  did so much for the community that he got named Senior of the year – which he thought gave him the right to tell us what to do.

Turns out what Frizzle was telling us to do was a great idea which I took along to my techie and asked – “Can we do this?   The techie said: “ I can do that faster than you can say – Bob’s your uncle” and I said then do it.

This feature, which makes it easier for people who need larger type to read your newspaper on a web site, came about when Jim Frizzle told us he needed it.

Well turns out the techie didn’t have an uncle named Bob and it took a little longer than expected – but because of Jim Frizzle and all the other “old farts” out there,  you can now click on that little box in the upper right hand corner of the story and make the type larger if that’s  what you need.

We are looking for an optician that might want to sponsor that little feature.

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Rural Burlington isn’t quite sure what it wants to be – knows part of what it doesn’t want to be.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 21, 2013  They were all there.  Those that farm the rural part of Burlington; those people that live in the community and don’t want to see all that much change.  The stop the Escarpment highway people weren’t out in force but they were there as well. The politicians that work the territory were in the room.  And loads of staff people

The meeting took place in the elementary school in Kilbride and was part of the public process in figuring out how our Official Plan should be changed.

Every city in the province has an Official Plan that it must revise every five years.  Some of the reviews are a “lick and a promise” and Burlington has had a few of those but this time out the city wanted to do some digging and begin asking the taxpayers just what they wanted their city to look like in 25 years.

The vision for Rural Burlington as captured by a facilitator during the Rural Summit that took place at Kilbride Elementary school.

Burlington is that odd combination of a well-developed suburban community with small patches of urbaness to it and then a large swath of land to the north that is rural.  There are farmers up there that actually earn a living from the land they work.

There are no dairy herds; the last of the all-purpose farms went some time ago but there are people who take off quality hay and the equestrian sector is active.  Strawberry farms do a decent business as well.  But there really isn’t a farming community and while many people talk about reviving that part of the economy it is not likely to happen in rural Burlington.

What is happening is the development of large properties with houses that have in excess of 5,000 square feet and both indoor and outdoor swimming pools.  Some of these properties are built on 15, 25 and 40 acres properties with a portion of the land taxed as residential housing and the rest taxed as farm land – with the land rented out to local farmers who are quite content to take hay off land that they rent.  No long term investment and rents that are quite reasonable.

This is the rural Burlington residents want to keep – walking trails and quiet countryside.

There is a farm on the north side of Dundas that thousands of people drive by weekly without knowing there is a pear farm up there with trees that are more than 100 years old.

For those who live in north Burlington there is always the sense that the lifestyle is being threatened.  There are property owners with holdings on the north side of 407/Dundas who fully expect to sell out to a developer.  There are people in the Burlington Economic Development office who see opportunities to develop the north side of 407.

The Region says that isn’t going to happen and the province says it can’t happen – but things change and over time many believe that they will see encroachments on what are now rural lands.

This is what rural Burlington is all about – large fields, small farms and people wanting to maintain a lifestyle.

The boundary between suburban and rural used to be Dundas Street – the Old Hwy 5.  When the 407 got built that boundary shifted and we saw the Alton Village community develop.

While any Niagara to GTA road is certainly on hold for now – the province has been consistently thinking about where a road can be built to handle all the traffic that wants to get to Windsor and Niagara Falls to cross into the United States.

The bulk of what Ontario produces get shipped to the United States and much of what we consume comes from the United States and heads into that huge GTA market.  To get to and from that American market trucks need roads and the QEW has just about reached its peak.

The people who do the long term economic development thinking look at the Escarpment and think they could run a road through that part of Burlington.

John Taylor who is the biggest asset the city has when it comes to fighting for rural Burlington has taken the position that what comes out of the province in terms of policy doesn’t have to become the law of the land.  He firmly believes that the public can talk back and points to the success with the application to enlarge the Nelson quarry – that application was denied and while the wish on the part of the aggregate people to be able to dig out rock and ship it to Toronto hasn’t had a dagger put through its heart yet – the chances of Burlington ever seeing another quarry developed on the Escarpment are very, very slim.

What the city and the Region – include the province in that – have to do is determine just what they want to do with the existing quarry once it is mined out.  There are a number of long term opportunities here that the rural community can get behind and be very proactive in determining how their community evolves.

Last Saturday some 125 people met and talked; they made notes and exchanged ideas under the guidance of a good facilitator.  What she didn’t do – and many wished she had done was ask people to identify themselves – if not by name then by where they lived.  It helps when one has a context into which they can put the remarks being made.

One woman wanted the community to both empower the agricultural sector and support what they want to do.  The sense I got from listening was that the agriculture community doesn’t have a vision other than to be left alone.  There wasn’t any comment from anyone who identified themselves as a farmer – even though there were quite a few of them in the room.

The orange outline at the top of this topographical map is where the current quarry is located.  That mine is nearing being mined-out.  The smaller outline is where Nelson Aggregates wanted to open a new mine.  The application for a permit to do that was denied – a huge step for the rural community.

Ecotourism was mentioned several times – but other than tossing out the phrase there wasn’t much more meat on that bone.  One lady suggested opening up B&B’s – great idea and there isn’t a thing stopping anyone from putting out a shingle today.  But even a dozen B&B’s aren’t going to make much of a difference to the local economy or the health of the community.  They won’t hurt and if done properly they would introduce more people to what we have and those visitors would speak well of our rural north.

This is the time to do that thinking and at this point there isn’t all that much quality thinking being done. Nemo 7G is in place but other than a large poster that I couldn’t make much sense out of – they’ve not come forward with very much.  They do want to think ahead for seven generations – which is laudable, great if they can do it – but we’re not seeing it yet.

Environmental issues are always on the front burner for the people who live rural lives.  They know what they have and they know how quickly it can be destroyed.  The quarry battle has been fought and won; the Stop the Escarpment Highway battle has been fought to a win – sort of.  One never knows what the bureaucrats are thinking and the people paying the bills are usually the last to know.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor, the person who probably works hardest to ensure that rural Burlington does not get turned into another suburb sit with John Timmis at the Lowville school house.

Taylor wants to change that and he knows that if he can mobilize the community a significant difference can be made.  It takes a lot of work on the part of citizens to attend meeting after meeting and struggle to raise the funds needed to fight powerful interests. PERL (Protect Escarpment and Rural Lands)  is exhausted.  They won the fight to prevent Nelson Aggregate from getting another permit to quarry rock out of their holdings at Guelph Line and Colling Road but in the process burnt out a number of people who were heavily involved in the Joint Tribunal hearings that went on for close to a year.  PERL won – and the community is grateful – meanwhile PERL struggles with debts and have yet to hold a community wide event to celebrate what is a truly astonishing feat.

This business of fighting powerful, well financed interests can grind you down.

One woman thought there was an opportunity to develop an “interpretive centre” on the quarry site while another related a conversation she had overheard in a coffee shop that had the owners of the Mohawk Raceway putting together plans to turn the quarry site into a resort – convention centre with an upscale hotel.  That speaker wanted to see a lot more transparency in whatever gets done.

Some of the people who live in the rural community want more in the way of amenities – “there is no place to walk in Kilbride” said one woman.  There are apparently no trails – just roadways.

Just about everyone wanted clean,  renewable energy – but no wind turbines; solar was acceptable and geothermal was described as the best deal available.

Bike lanes on Walkers Line – a gotta for these people but not so gotta for the farmers who need to move wide equipment up and down those roads.  The Bruce trail needed to make better use of the countryside – too much of the trail is along the roadway in rural Burlington.

Bee keeper showing people on a farm tour how the bees are maintained and used to pollinate pear trees on a farm on the north side of Dundas just west of Guelph Line.  Thousands drive by the place without knowing how big the place is.

Another speaker said there is a strong story to be told about just how economically viable rural Burlington is – with about 2000 homes in the defined area it’s difficult to see an economic core.  The sum of the agricultural interest, the services the equestrian community provides, the traffic that Lowville Park attracts and the number of really small farms don’t add up to much in the way of economic activity.  The biggest job creator has been the quarry.  The golf courses are always busy – but are they placeholders for land that might one day get developed?  Do the golf players spend money outside the grounds?  The Lowville Bistro is business enough during the season and if properly marketed they could extend their season to close to year round.  Is there a reason why there aren’t more decent restaurants in rural Burlington?

Someone within rural Burlington needs to do the homework to tease out the economic base – because it wasn’t at all clear there is one.

The airport can’t be allowed to grow another foot seemed to be the sentiment of the room.  Milton might have something they want to say about that and the people who are building the 3500 and 5,000 square foot homes want to be able to get to that airport and fly in and out.  They have truckloads of money and they want to be able to spend it on the lifestyle they have chosen – which is to live in a quiet community where they can live behind electrically operated gates and do whatever they want.

That didn’t jive with the several comments about the wish for a cohesive community.  The moneyed set don’t want to be part of a cohesive community – they want to be left alone.

The day was divided into two phases with a wrap up session.  City hall Planning staff would then take everything back to their offices and begin to make some sense out of it all.

The facilitator did everything they could to get people into small groups – four or five at each table, where they were asked to listen to each other while each talked about what they felt Rural Burlington would look like 20 to 25 years into the future.

A recorder took notes.

Every 20 minutes all of the people at each table, except the recorder, moved to different tables and went through the same exercise but with different people.  The objective was for people to listen to each other.

With Phase 1 complete everyone had lunch, which was provided.  The facilitator then went through the notes and looked for common themes.  They created spaces around the school gymnasium where they put up posters on each of the six themes they had identified.

Tourism, Agriculture, Natural Environment, Transportation, Sustainable growth, Cohesive Community.

People were then invited to take their chair to the theme that interested them the most and get into a conversation with others on what the theme meant to them; what Burlington is actually doing now; what will future generations say we have achieved – then,  what are the big ideas – the possible projects.

And that was about as much as one could expect from 125+ residents who met on a cold Saturday to talk about what they wanted their city to include in the next version of its Official Plan.

The city had hoped to complete its Official Plan before the end of the current term.  Councillor Taylor has suggested the job may not get completed before the end of the current term of Council.

The “retirement” of a key staff member has called for a number of adjustments that were not planned.

Nisha Shirali. an environmental planner and Alison Enns, the Acting Senior Planner on this project and Andrea Smith, Acting Manager of Policy and Research now get to go back to their offices and figure out what it all means and how to work it into the review of the Official Plan.

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Fire department looking for volunteers – tough training program.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 21st, 2013   The Burlington Fire Department is looking for individuals who are interested in a challenging opportunity to serve their community as a volunteer firefighter. Applications are now available.  The submission deadline is 11:59p.m., Feb. 1, 2013.

There are a lot of gotta’s with this opportunity.

You must be a Burlington resident and be at least 18 years of age.

Meet the volunteer firefighter requirements as outlined on the city’s website

Be prepared to volunteer your time to training, firefighting and other related duties

The Fire Department consists of both professional and volunteer firefighters. Being a volunteer firefighter is no ordinary job; the work is varied and challenging. New recruits will be assigned to Fire Headquarters, Station No. 1 located on Fairview Street or Fire Station No. 5 located in Kilbride based on where the applicant lives. The Kilbride station covers the rural areas of Burlington, mostly north of No. 2 Sideroad.

For more information about requirements, preferred qualifications and how to apply online.

While firefighting can be dangerous the men and women who do this work are exceptionally well-trained.  Burlington firefighters did very well in a recent extraction competition.

In the past Burlington firefighters have been recognized for their bravery and public service.  It is well paid work with a great group of people.


These Burlington fire fighters were recognized by the province for their bravery and excellent work.

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Non-profits in Halton region will get together to network with the Region picking up the tab.


When citizens, be they people involved in non-profit organizations or on civic committees get together – things happen.  The Region is sponsoring an event that will pull together all the non-profits to  Talk and Connect.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 17, 2012 The Region of Halton is going to host networking series for non-profit sector to create opportunities for conversation, networking and learning to strengthen relationships within the non-profit sector.

The “Let’s Talk…Let’s Connect” series starts Wednesday, February 13, 2013 with a session facilitated by Paul Born, president of Tamarack: An Institute for Community Engagement and author of Community Conversations.

The session takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (registration and light breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m.) at the Milton Sports Dome (605 Santa Maria Boulevard, Milton).

“Through many different initiatives, Halton Region regularly partners with the non-profit sector,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr.  ”As part of our commitment to working with the sector, we are bringing people together to build strength in the non-profit sector to achieve their organizational goals.  Building “capacity” supports the sector to manage services now and in the future.”

That “capacity” words might be working at the Regional level but Burlington is struggling with just what it means as it works it’s way through the creation of an Engagement Charter between the city and its citizens.

Building capacity in the non-profit sector is an action in the Citizen’s Priorities – Halton Region’s Action Plan for 2011 – 2014.

The “Let’s Talk…Let’s Connect” series seeks to connect people and ignite conversations about opportunities for collaboration that will help the sector achieve its goals.  Paul Born’s session on February 13 will explore the power of multi-sector conversations for creating social and economic change in Halton.  Participants will hear about Halton initiatives that began as conversations and are currently creating change in our community.  The session is a great opportunity to share ideas, resources and discuss current trends.

All sectors are invited to participate in this networking series.  Government, the non-profit sector, the private sector and funders can all make important contributions to these conversations.

To register for the first session or to learn more about the series please dial 311 or register online.

Sessions two and three for “Let’s Talk…Let’s Connect” will take place in June and October 2013.  Topics will be determined based on discussions at the first session.


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We haven’t had Valentine’s Day yet – but planning for March break is already underway.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 17, 2013    The folks at Ireland House and the Joseph Brant Museum have finalized the details for the March Break programs they offer

Ireland House one of the places every child should spend some time at – that and Mt Nemo and they can be known as real Burlingtonians.

This year’s camp theme at Ireland House Museum will be “Pioneer Pastimes” learning all about what life was like during the Pioneer days. They will be doing different themed days such as, “Around the Farm”, “In the Kitchen”, “Spring Cleaning”, “Spring has Sprung”, and “Fun and Games”!

I suspect many parents will look askance at that session on Spring cleaning – getting their kids to just put their stuff away is a chore – but it’s worth the effort – I suppose.

The Brant Museum has always offered solid programs for parents that want to add to what their children get in their classrooms.

At Joseph Brant Museum the theme will be “Kreative Kids” learning all different arts and crafts with technique and creativity as the guide! We will be doing different themed days such as, “Paper”, “Textiles”, “Paint”, “Clay”, and “Mixed Media”!

Somewhere in the hallways or perhaps the stairs of the Museum,  the Spirit of Joseph Brant will wonder whatever happened to him: doesn’t anyone care anymore?

The Museum people expect to have their brochure online soon, soon, soon.

The programs are designed for children between 5 and 12 years of age.  It will cost you $25/child per day or $100/child for the week.  Program runs from 9:30am – 3:30 pm each day.

Contact  Ireland House Museum at (905) 332-9888 or Joseph Brant Museum at (905) 634-3556 for more detail if that’s what you need.  Both Ireland House and the Brant Museum offer solid programs.  The small amount of space allows for more interaction between the kids that large venues.  And a day at Ireland House is an experience every child in the city should have.


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Did Burlington take a first step into the future last Monday? Bike lanes on both sides of Lakeshore go in for a 6 month pilot.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 16, 2013  While the part of Lakeshore Road that has the heavy traffic, and on which the city wants to paint lanes for exclusive bicycle use, is not in Ward 1, Councillor Craven assured a Workshop talking about how to better engage the community, – that there will be letters galore on how stupid an idea bike lanes on Lakeshore is.  A view we must add which the Councillor does not share.

The different views on bike lanes on Lakeshore Road got trotted out at a four-hour meeting Monday evening at which council heard 12 delegations that basically broke into two camps – those who believe fervently that we will be healthier and the environment will survive if we can get cars off the road and those that believe they have the right to make left hand turns off Lakeshore into their driveways.

Issues like this are the bane of every politician – they can’t win.  At least half of their constituents are going to be unhappy.  This is the time when the politicians have to rise above their local interests and go for the better good.  And on Monday night – they,  for the most part, did just that.

It would have been one of those 4-3 votes that used to plague Burlington but with Councillor Taylor away it came in at 4-2 with Councillors Meed Ward and Sharman voting against the six to nine month pilot project city staff has proposed.

While there were solid arguments from intelligent people on both sides what was evident was the split in thinking.  Great idea said Councillor Meed Ward – just not on Lakeshore Road,

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, the only one without a helmet, doesn’t that tell you something, is an avid cyclist who has put his money where his mouth is.  His popularity will be tested when the lines get painted on Lakeshore Road.

Jack Dennison, who lives on Lakeshore Road and is the Councillor for that part of the city explained very carefully that this was just a pilot project, but the intention is to eventually provide bike lanes for the full length of Lakeshore Road – from the canal on the west end all the way to the Oakville border.

The cyclists and the environmentalists believe the time has come to take serious steps to lessen car use and Monday evening they got past the first hurdle.  Council committee instructed the Director of Transportation Services to conduct a trial re-marking of Lakeshore Road between east of Seneca Avenue and Guelph Line to provide on the road bike lanes and to report back to Council in the Spring of 2014 on the results of the pilot.

There are some complications in that the Region is digging up part of the road and exactly when that work will be completed isn’t certain.  When you dig a hole in the ground to get at a water pipe – you never know what you are going to run up against – so timing gets a little iffy.

Some of the residents along Lakeshore brought good arguments to the table – but nothing they said was reason enough not to do a pilot.  Right now all we have are a lot of strong feelings on both sides.  Some data will help.

The city ran into the same problem when it put in the bicycle lanes on Walkers Line and Appleby Line south of New Street.  The world was going to end – but it didn’t.  There haven’t been any problems – however, there hasn’t been a huge increase in bicycle use along those stretches of road either.

Does it need more time for the city to know if the Appleby and Walkers bike lanes were a good idea that is being used by citizens?  Probably too early to tell and it will take some time to learn if the volume of traffic on Lakeshore Road can accommodate bike lanes on the north and south side of the road, and if it is truly safe as well?

The cyclists believe it can be made safe while the people who live along the road or adjacent to it can only see long lines of cars backed up while someone waits to make the left hand turn into the street they live on or their driveway.

Jim Barnett, who lives on Shoreacres said that he has faced occasions where he has had to wait for more than five minutes before there was a chance to gun his engine and slip across the oncoming traffic.  Dr. Margarett  Ackerman spoke for herself and a number of residents and said that it was always very difficult to make the left hand turn into her hone when she was returning from the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital where she is an emergency surgeon and told of a situation when an obstetrician was not able to get to the hospital on time to handle a delivery.

Mention was made of back-ups that are 50 cars in length that sit waiting for the person at the front of the line to be able to make that left hand turn.

There were exaggerations all over the place.  Ken Love, the first person to speak spoke of the damage that cars do to our individual health and the environment; but what he had to say and his bombastic approach was so far over the top that he didn’t do much to advance the argument for adding bike lanes anywhere in the city.

One of the few occasions you will see Councillor Meed Ward or Mayor Goldring on a bike.  Councillor Dennison bikes, roller blades – big on physical stuff.  Photo op promoting the two Car Free Sundays Burlington held in 2012

Councillor Sharman spoke of his concern for some of his elderly residents in Ward 5, who might die while in an ambulance that got tied up in traffic.

Meed Ward said bike lanes were a good idea – just not on Lakeshore Road. New Street or Fairview was her choice for bike lanes.  Meed Ward does not use a bicycle.

It was hard to tell, while listening to the delegations, which way this council was going to vote.  The Mayor will usually always side with the environmentalists – but you only see him on a bike during a photo-op.

Councillor Craven surprised us when he voted for the pilot project as did Councillor Lancaster when she voted to try it.  Lancaster tends to identify with the hard-core Tory crowd along the Lakeshore and doesn’t usually go out on a limb.  Her vote was the one that made the difference.  Councillor Taylor was not able to attend the council committee but made it known that he did not support the pilot.

Dennison, a very active cyclist, takes the view that car drivers do not own the road – the road is there to be shared by cyclists and car drivers.

The bicycle crowd put forward some pretty solid data and they brought forward enough good argument to make the trial worth talking a chance on.

The issue for the cyclists is “quality of life”.  They know that Burlington is not going to be like our sister city Apeldoorn, in Holland, where a very large part of the population does not use or own a vehicle – Apeldoorn is basically the same size as Burlington and about as far away from Amsterdam as we are from Toronto.

The Dutch will be in Burlington sometime in the not too distant future to open up a commemorative park – might be a good idea to put them all on bicycles and listen to what they have to say about bicycle use in a municipal setting.

The cyclists believe that if you build it they will come.  Which is just what the Lakeshore resident fear – that the cyclists will come and muck up the flow of traffic, making it worse than it is now.

“If you add bike lanes more people bike; cyclists go out of their way to use bike lanes.”  That kind of statement sends shudders along the spines of those who live along the Lakeshore.

“We are all much healthier if we bike and get the exercise we need,”  say the cyclists.  “We agree” say the Lakeshore residents “and the city has all kinds of bike trails where you can do just that”.

Who uses a bike in Burlington? There are the Strong and fearless (1%) – you see them on the road in the middle of winter.  There are the enthused and confident; people who use their bikes frequently and would like to use them more – 5-10% of the cycle crowd.  Then there are the no way, no how people, you will never see them on a bike, they make up 30% of the demographic.  It is the 60% who are interested in using a bike but concerned about their personal safety.  This is the target market and these are the people the cycling committees want to see on Lakeshore Road.

The bike people want less hysteria, more facts and measurements.  They would like to see the left hand delays measured; they want to know just how many bike car accidents there have been as well.  During the Council committee the audience was told that there had been four accidents involving bikes over the last four years in the stretch of the road where the pilot is to take place.

Councillor Sharman, who is strong on data, gave Vito Tolone, one of the city’s traffic experts, a very tough time over the lack of data.  Tolone didn’t deserve the punching around he got; there was no need to manage him quite as aggressively.  It’s an approach Sharman chooses frequently – one hopes that when the data is available he will make good use of it and not exploit it shamelessly to convince his constituents that he is doing a good job on their on their behalf.

Lakeshore Road is between 9.6 and 9.75 metres wide from Seneca to Guelph Line.  It widens to more than 10 metres east of Guelph.

The pilot will run from SENECA, not Torrance, east to Guelph Line.

The pilot plan is to reconfigure the road and mark it so that there is a bike lane on each side that will measure 1.3 metres in width.  There will be two traffic lanes 3 metres in width.  These two traffic lanes will be separated by a lane – NOT a turning lane – that will be between 1 and 1.15 metres wide.  It is a lane that cars can edge into when they want to make a left hand turn.

Can it work?  We won’t know until we try. Will traffic still back up?  Of course, we’ve done nothing to decrease the amount of traffic on the road.   That’s a traffic engineering problem; a traffic management task – bicycles are not going to make a difference to the number of cars on the road.  The proposed plan will reduce that turning lane and that might result in a line of cars building up behind the car that is trying to make the left hand turn.  If the turning lane were made 5 metres wide – it still would not change the volume of traffic nor would it allow cars to make left hand turns any faster.

Those arguing against the creation of dedicated bicycle lanes are not looking at the bigger picture – which is to reduce the number of cars on the road.

The bicycle people argue that the world has changed in 20 years and that the youth of today are not jumping into cars the way previous generations did.  They point to a study that has younger people not buying cars and that demand will be down by 2 million units a year.

They point to data that has the percentage of 20-to-24-year-olds with driver’s licenses at 92 % in 1983 but currently at 81%; that could well be because this demographic can’t get jobs and have too much student debt to manage –but the fact appears to be that there are more younger people who have chosen not to drive a car.

The right decision, say the cyclists, is to widen Lakeshore Road – that option has a $9 + million price tag attached to it – which is half what the pier is going to cost us.

The next best, from the cyclists point of view, is to add segregated bike lanes to the existing road.

Burlington created two Car Free Sundays last year.  The one on Appleby Line was successful but the one on Brant Street was close to a disaster.

Nevertheless, there is a core commitment on the part of this city council to get more people on their bikes.  The pilot made it past the council committee stage.  Council member phones will be ringing; the emails will flood the in boxes of every council member.  Will they stand their ground or will they buckle – they are politicians.  The ones to watch are the Mayor and Councillor Lancaster.  We just may see what they are really made of.

Why is traffic on Lakeshore such a mess?  Where do the cars come from and is there anything that can be done to divert traffic?  If one wonders what traffic on the QEW is like all you have to do is check out the flow along Lakeshore.  When the QEW is basically “stop and go” in spurts at that – traffic will cut south to Lakeshore where there is at least some movement.  Is there some way to keep the traffic on the QEW and prevent it from drifting south the Lakeshore?  That’s something traffic engineers have to work out.

Concrete poured when the road was upgraded in the mid ’30’s. Known then as The King’s Highway it was THE route from Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Lakeshore Road was originally known as the King’s Highway – Hwy #2 to many people.  Construction began in 1917.  In the mid 30’s the road went through a significant re-build.  It is now a nice easy road through perhaps 50 communities between Windsor and Gananoque.

The old Highway name is now a decorative item for one of the homes along Lakeshore Road. What it becomes in the next 25 years will be at least as interesting as the last 25 years.

It’s no longer a major highway.  It many small towns it runs along the main street; in places like Burlington it is a road that could, if we let it meander along the edge of the lake where some magnificent homes have been built.  It’s a wonderful drive through smaller, picturesque communities.  We seem to have forgotten that in Burlington and see it as a road we should be able to zip along and at the same time treat as a street where we can turn into our driveway and not have to wait more than 10 seconds.

Change does not come about easily.  For years most of us smoked; for years many of us never used the seat belt and for the longest time we felt it was OK to “have one for the road” and got behind the wheel of our cars when we really weren’t able to drive safely.

Times changed.  Gas was cheap, we lived in sprawling suburbs where a car was vital – and they were fun to drive.  You came of age when you had a car and the open road was all yours.

Now we are aging.  For many that are in their 60’s their night-time vision isn’t what it used to be.  Most of us know that there will come a time when our family doctors will have to tell the government we should not have a license.  But we will be able to ride our bicycles for those small errands –and city council wants to have those safe cycle paths or lanes in place for that close upon us aging society to use.

Rob Narejko spoke to the Council committee as Chair of the Cycling Committee and said the information he was using was factual, with references to studies from accredited universities, government agencies who specialize in health and transportation. “You know my delegations are generally short and to the point”, said Narejko, “I regret, for both of us,” he added “that today’s delegation is much longer.”

For Rob Narejko – this is the only way to go – slow speeds and roads with bike lanes.  It is what he considers a quality life style.  He drives a car as well.

To put his remarks in context Narejko mentioned the value of strategy for continued viability of the City, the value of an active lifestyle and the value of the lines on the road.

“Nothing fails like success”, a quote attributed to many people and used by Narejko to show people have become comfortable with the way life is now.  “They forget the work and tough decisions that got the city to where it is now and become complacent.  The city gets stagnant, unable to attract business investment. Taxes rise, residents become disgruntled and before long, a once prosperous city is in decline” said Narejko.

Many people believe Burlington is a success. In this snapshot in time, it definitely is. But there are signs that show we are not keeping up.

Narejko pointed out that “Cars are a significant part of our city because we have designed our cities around the car. Cars are definitely needed as a method of transportation, due to the design of the city; just under 80% of people use their car for their daily trip to work.”

If it’s about “quality of life” this is probably what they are talking about.  The Car Free Sunday on Appleby Line south of Fairview.  One part of the city’s longer range project to get people using their bikes.

“A city is about people: says Narejko. “People make the city work, not cars. Bikes, walking, public areas, green spaces are about people. It takes a crisis for most people to adopt change. Smart leaders don’t wait for a crisis. They create a vibrant plan for the future, through consultation with experts and the general public and then they carry through on that plan. If you don’t act on the plan, why go through the effort of creating them, taking up people’s time, spending money on experts and then shelving the reports?  Do you want to be known as Councillors who kick the can down the road for the next Council to deal with when we are deep in trouble? Or do you want to be known as leaders who guided the City to the next level?

Rob Narejko, Chair of the City’s Cycling Committee rides a bike, a motorcycle and drives a car.  Does he ever take the bus?

Rob Narejko maintains that Council was not elected to maintain the status quo. He isn’t going to get the level of agreement he expects with that argument – there are many, perhaps most people, in Burlington who are quite happy with the way things are – and they don’t want much in the way of change.

“Look at this issue” implores Narejko: “look at Guelph Line, Brant St, Walkers’ Line, Appleby line where changes were made:   It is amazing to me how much people complain about minimal, positive change prior to it coming and then where do they go afterwards? Not a peep.”

“Has there been any negative feedback from any of the Guelph, Walker’s or Appleby projects? To my knowledge, gathered from City staff, no there have not.”

One of the dumber ideas Narejko suggested was that if traffic commute time is a priority on Lakeshore Road, then the city should pass a by-law that would permit only cars that belong to, and are driven by Lakeshore residents between the hours of 5:00 and 6:00 PM, Monday to Fridays.  Narejko, who normally has useful argument, might want to pull that one.

Cycling, Narejko pointed out, is an accepted, legal and critical mode of transportation in all cities in all countries around the globe.  He added that he could hear the nay-sayers piping up with: ‘yes, but not in Burlington’

Narejko and his colleagues point out that there are strategies developed by expert and rigorous processes to guide thinking at all levels of government which Burlington Council seems to ignore. There are five provincial initiatives (Places to Grow, Big Move, Strategic Cycling Plan (draft), Healthy Eating Active Living, Complete Streets) either in place or being developed as well as two Regional initiatives (Active Transportation Master Plan (under way), Active Halton) and then the city’s Cycling Master Plan and the Strategic Plan.

“It is very frustrating as an invested citizen in this community” said Narejko, “to have to fight for what should logically be done based on strategies and advice already in place.”

This initiative did get past a Council committee – all it has to do now is get through Council at the end of the month – without another dozen delegations please, and let’s get on with the six to nine month trial and see what the data tells us.

But it isn’t going to be quite that easy – is it?




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Driver of car that struck a 5 year old at a school crossing charged.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 16, 2013  On December 5th 2012, the Halton Regional Police Service Collision Reconstruction Unit commenced an investigation into a motor vehicle collision outside Maplehurst Elementary School on Plains Road East in Burlington.

A five-year old kindergarten student had been struck and seriously injured by a motor vehicle that also struck the school crossing guard.  Both parties had been on the crossing at the time, and both are now recovering from their injuries.

Location of the motor vehicle accident where a car struck a kindergarten student and a crossing guard.

As a result of this investigation, David Paterson, an 80-year old Burlington resident, has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act with Fail to obey school crossing stop sign – Community Safety Zone.

Mr. Paterson is scheduled to appear at Burlington Provincial Offences Court in March.

As Burlington population ages, and the city is expected to have an elderly population greater than those in neighbouring communities, this kind of accident is going to take place more frequently.  Seniors will insist on being allowed to drive.  Public transit is such that people can only get where they want or need to by driving a vehicle.

At some point most of us will have to turn in our driver’s license – painful and many of us will fight it.  But there comes a time when we should not be behind the wheel of a car.

That child was five years old.


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Burlington Community Engagement Charter - Version two.

Burlington has engaged in the creation of an Engagement Charter, which was one of the recommendations in the 2010 Shape Burlington report.

The creation of the Charter has not been an easy task and the document has yet to be approved by Council and made city policy.

The document set out below is the second version of the Charter put forward by the Engagement Charter Team after considerable discussion with senior city hall staff.

This document is expected go through additional revision.

  Burlington Community Engagement Charter – Version two

  1. 1.   Introduction

 The Burlington Community Engagement Charter is an agreement between and among the City of Burlington Council (City Council) and the citizens of Burlington concerning citizen engagement with city government. It establishes the commitments, responsibilities, and fundamental concepts of this relationship, based upon the City Council commitments set forth throughout this Charter.

This Charter’s overarching objective is to bring meaningful citizen contribution and insight to city decision-making by enhancing communications and access to information for citizens, and to facilitate and enable meaningful citizen engagement.

Details of the charter actions are presented in the Burlington Community Engagement Charter’s Action Plan and Staff Guide.

The Burlington Community Engagement Charter does not supersede existing laws, by-laws, statutes or acts.

 3. Charter Vision and Mission Statement


Burlington aspires to become increasingly more engaged and connected with its community.


To provide Burlington citizens, members of City Council and City staff a plain language, living, policy and procedural document that guides and promotes active and meaningful citizen engagement in the City of Burlington’s planning, policy-setting and decision-making processes.

4. Burlington City Council Commitments:

To fulfill the vision and mission of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter, City Council makes the following commitments:


The City of Burlington will be responsible to its stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions. [1]


The City of Burlington will actively encourage and facilitate stakeholder participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the City of Burlington’s decision-making process is open and clear to the public.[2]

Early and Widespread Notification

The City of Burlington will provide early and widespread notification to citizens about proposed developments, policies, initiatives, and municipal projects.[3]

Delegation Process

The City of Burlington Council’s delegation process, which allows citizens to address Council and Standing Committees on issues, will be respectful and welcoming.[4]

Clear Language

The City of Burlington will use plain and clear language in documents and public communications that is more engaging and understandable for citizens than technical language and jargon.[5]

Openness and Access to Information

The City of Burlington will provide open data and information to the public in recognized and useable formats to facilitate healthy discussion of city issues. The City of Burlington will provide a variety of ways, including routinely available information in on-line formats, print material, and face-to-face opportunities for citizens, city staff and Members of Council to share information and, discuss ideas and options.

Community Feedback

The City of Burlington will inform citizens how their input was considered and used or why it was not used in City projects, initiatives and policy development.

Capacity Building

The City of Burlington will support citizens and community groups to develop their skills, ability, and confidence to participate effectively with respect to decisions that affect their community and lives. This support will involve education and information about City processes, initiatives, and policies, as well as supporting citizens’ ability to connect with other citizens on city issues.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

The City of Burlington’s public engagement processes will involve and enable the participation of the full range of its diverse population. [6]

Adequate Resourcing

The City of Burlington will provide adequate resources including staffing and budget to achieve the goals of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter and to implement and realize its recommendations.[7]

Measurement, Evaluation and Review

A public process will be established in which The City of Burlington will measure and periodically review the effectiveness of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter. Improvement based on the evaluation of the success of public involvement processes will ensure that the Charter is a “living document”.

Conflict Resolution

Regardless of the best intentions of all involved, conflict can arise in the course of an engagement process. Depending on the type of conflict and the issues involved, different resolution mechanisms will be appropriate. Conflict resolution is described in appendix “A”.

 6. Public Participation Spectrum:

 Five levels of engagement, referenced from the IAP2’s Public[8] Participation Spectrum will be used in City of Burlington community engagement activities. A more complete description of the IAP Spectrum of Participation appears in appendix “B”.

7. Bringing Charter Commitments to Life

 The Charter establishes important citizen engagement commitments by the Burlington City Council.  This section summarizes City of Burlington practices and procedures to both define and implement those commitments and to bring to life citizen engagement.

Early and Widespread Notification:

The City of Burlington will have an early notification system that provides early information about planned policy development, projects, issues, meetings, and events.  This system will include notice posted on the City website about topics to be considered by Standing Committees and City Council at least two months prior to the relevant meetings.  The notice will include staff contact information for citizens who may have questions or wish to provide early input.

To ensure that notification is as widespread as possible, the City will use a multi-media approach including local print media, the City of Burlington website, other relevant websites, on-line digital communication, social media, as well as reaching out to groups that might have an interest or would be affected by decisions.  The City of Burlington will establish a direct notification system to which citizens and groups can sign up for early notification through email, social media, or other means.

Staff Reports:

When citizens have been engaged on a city initiative; prior to submitting the staff report to committee or council for decision, staff will check with citizen participants to ensure the report accurately reflects citizen input. This is especially important for major issues and long-term planning, with the noted exception of the city’s development section of the Planning and Building department. Usually this will be done through a response summary document or report section.

 Talking with Council – The Delegation Process:

The City will publish a document outlining the delegation process as a guide for citizens.

 Staff Training and Performance:

Public engagement training will be provided to all staff who will be engaging

citizens to ensure consistency in the engagement process.

Community engagement practice will be reflected in staff performance expectations, and measured in the same way as performance of any staff core competency.

Communication and Outreach:

Relevant and important information will be available through the website and social media, making information accessible to citizens when they require it.

Making relevant information available in print form, including newspapers, the City Talk publication, and special mailings, remains of great importance for many citizens and stakeholders

Full use should be made of all available sources and reference copies should be available at city libraries and community centers.

Inclusivity and Accessibility:

Enabling participation requires removing barriers to enable citizen participation. Examples of enabling actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Meeting the needs of persons with disabilities; the city relies on the City of Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee; the Burlington Accessible Customer Service Guide: and the expert advice of City of Burlington Accessibility Coordinator. For more information on accessibility.
  • Using language that has been verified as being clear/plain;
  • prearranged, language translation; transportation; child care
  • options for participating online/digitally
  • Public involvement processes will consider ways to enable participation.

Citizen Advisory Committees:

Citizen Advisory Committees should provide both City Council and staff with a valuable array of experience, knowledge, skills, and community contacts, as well as being a source of informed advice on issues related to their Terms of Reference. For more information about Citizen Advisory Committees and enhancing their role and effectiveness, see appendix “C”.

 Capacity Building:

Capacity building will focus on increasing the number of participants, the frequency of participation, and knowledge, ability and skills of those involved to meaningfully participate in engagement processes.

Budgeting / Resourcing:

The City of Burlington will support implementation of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter by providing sufficient resources to ensure its success. These resources include:

  • Hiring of a full-time engagement coordinator at a senior level to manage the implementation and ongoing performance of the charter and related costs to support this function, and
  • Providing resources to implement the actions in the charter’s section – Bringing the Commitments to Life,  the charter’s outreach processes and the strategic actions described in the Burlington Community Engagement Charter’s Action Plan

Charter requirements will be met by city staff in their engagement work, and also by outside consultants or contractors hired by the city. Staff managing consultant-supported work will ensure that all external consultants are informed of Burlington’s engagement requirements and then advised on how to meet them. Advice will be provided by the city’s public involvement coordinator.

Measurement, Evaluation and Review:

Measurement and evaluation  will comprise a two-step process. Each community engagement plan will set out: its objectives; the steps to reach those objectives; and, specific and objective measures to determine success. At the conclusion of each project, staff will prepare a brief evaluation report assessing to what degree the success measures were met. The public who have participated will be asked to provide their assessment of the engagement activities as they are delivered, and these views will also form part of each evaluation report.

Each City department and the Engagement Coordinator will share responsibility for reviewing these evaluation reports as part of the continuous improvement process and create best practices to be shared and shortcomings to be addressed on an ongoing basis.

Evolution: The Charter and its implementation will be reviewed every year in the first two years, then every two years thereafter. This second level review will assess overall compliance and results, how to better the practice of engagement management, and the relevance of new factors, such as changes in technology and demographics that may influence the practice of citizen engagement.

These reviews will seek input from citizens, staff and members of city council and may include peer review. A key action in delivering continuous improvement will flow from the feedback provided to the community. Anticipated improvements will include using new technologies, engagement methods, the growth of staff competency, and the increasing capacity and participation of Burlington’s citizens.

The City will use a web-based reporting mechanism, similar to a report card, to inform the public of the City’s engagement performance in relation to the measures established by the Charter. Reporting will occur annually and the results will be posted to the City website.

Version 1 of the Charter


[1] Definition from City Council Procedural By-law 93-2010

[2] Definition from City Council Procedural By-law 93-2010

[3] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[4] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[5] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010

[6] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April 2010, and the Report of the Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee, June 2010

[7] Based on the Shape Burlington Report, April, 2010

[8] Note: The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) uses the term ‘public’ to refer to what the charter calls citizens, ‘community’ or ‘stakeholders’.


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Talking Turkey: Lots of Turkey. Really. I’m talking about turkeys here which could include public art.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON. January 14, 2013  I have been watching and listening with a great deal of interest over the past few days to the ‘Idle No More’ movement that has erupted across Canada. There are many issues on the table, not the least of which is the desire by the people of the First Nations to be treated as Nations by the current Harper regime governing in Canada. In the midst of this activity – that had me thinking a lot about Canadian colonial history – I received a note from OurBurlington’s publisher, to remark on the recently announced winner of the Public Art Commission for the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. His note to me read, “Can you comment on this in your next column? Be fair, but be very direct as well”.

I read the attached press release.  Peter Powning, from far-off New Brunswick, has won, with his design, Spiral Stela.  Included in the City of Burlington’s press release was an open invitation to the public to add ‘objects of significance’ or “cultural mulch” to his sculpture. “The artist will make a mould of the object, which will then be cast in bronze and added to a large band that encircles the sculpture.” Three times and two locations were provided so the public can participate:  Jan 31, 10-3 pm at the Central Library and 7 pm-9 pm at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, and also February 3rd at the Burlington Arts Centre from 2-4 pm. The final session will include an artist lecture and ‘creating session’.

The proposed sculpture: Spiral Stela, by Peter Powning, from far-off New Brunswick.

Well, here’s my opinion about all that. (Remember I’ve just been listening, watching and learning from the Idle No More movement … )

I agree to participate in the ‘cultural mulch’ ceremony that will ‘imprint’ objects of significance – presumably from Burlingtonians – onto this foreign object, for posterity. To that end, I will bring a swatch of plastic grass to commemorate the winter of 2009 when our City Elders sold out a piece of our irrefutably unique natural heritage, now known as City View Park in North Burlington, at Kerns Road and Dundas Street, to the Pan Am Games organization of Toronto.

The DESIGN for this largest parkland area in Burlington, supposedly protected under the Greenbelt Act and the Niagara Escarpment Commission, was transformed in the 11th hour by City staff and members of our previous – and current –  City Council into a ‘sports tourism destination’ without any public consultation with immediate residents, or an Environmental Impact Assessment that analyzes how tons of plastic grass will impact this environmentally sensitive era. Thems the facts.

Initially conceived as a “recreational” diverse ‘natural’ parkland area for ALL to enjoy, this park has – and will – become a ‘member’s only’ fenced-in facility geared towards ‘tournament grade’ soccer.  In short, WE, the tax-paying public, have lost OUR park, an important local natural heritage ROOT.

There MAY be an opportunity to regain this park after the Pan Am Games in 2015 when the toxic artificial turf carpets must, by law, go to a hazardous waste facility. (Plastic grass expires every 5-8 years. Two of the plastic carpets were laid in 2011. The ‘tournament’ field and flood-lit stadium will be installed in the fall of this year, or spring of 2014. So, somewhere around 2020, that toxic gunk will have to come out.)

City View Park: Before plastic grass installation, this once-living landscape had to be scraped ‘clean’ and made pan-cake flat.  Photo by Margaret Lindsay Holton.

At that time, it will be up to the NEW City Council to determine if taxpayers funds will be utilized to re-carpet this smothered ground again with million dollar plastic turf, OR, alternatively, whether they will finally have the good sense to rejuvenate this slowly dying eco-system with real growing grass, and, by so doing, provide an essential ‘natural habitat’ for animals (including humans), birds, insects and earth-churning worms. If so, they will also have the opportunity to remove the restrictive fences. This action alone would once again allow all forms of life to freely traverse across this unique open landscape. Living creatures could once again forage within this distinct portion of our section of the designated UNESCO Biosphere, known as the Niagara Escarpment.

Will they do it? Who knows.

Perhaps, years ahead, when Burlington has become the utopian Jersey Shore of the Golden Horseshoe, with electric light-rail transit zipping through the landscape powered by solar and geo-thermal energy, and the old-time ‘locals’ are long dead and buried, newly arrived residents will wonder aloud about the lunacy of previous City Elders who covered their ever-diminishing living-giving-breathing Earth with Life-defying plastic, especially in a ‘protected’ PARK. They may wonder why these turkeys so deliberately eliminated a vital and tangible connection to our communal Burlington natural heritage, the Niagara Escarpment. That is, of course, if they know how to wonder at all.

It is a very real possibility that this on-going eco-travesty will just be forgotten.   Taxpayers will duly pay the exorbitant replacement costs for a PRIVATE ‘members-only’ tournament soccer facility in a PUBLIC park, and the wildlife that does still roam and roost throughout North Burlington’s escarpment terrain will just quietly die off … A dull robotic monoculture of humans will survive on imported genetically modified foods. Tax-enslaved workers will buy FRESH water from off-shore nations who did FIPA-like deals under Harper’s regime. Children will learn programming before they can speak. And ‘play’ itself will become a forgotten IDEA buried under intense competition to host tournament-sport ‘tourism’.

Still, I have hope.

On the first dawn of this New Year I looked out the frosted windows at the farm in North Burlington and watched as twelve robust wild turkeys emerged from a conifer stand and slowly began to forage across the snow-covered yard under the bright winter sun. It was a stately, near sacred, sight to see.

Where had they come from? Where were they going? And why did there seem to be so many?

I had to do some sleuthing.

Author tracks multiple wild turkey tracks.  Photo by Margaret Lindsay Holton.

 Wild turkey was originally native to Ontario, but they disappeared at the turn of the last century due to rapid colonization, habitat destruction and unregulated hunting by settlers.  In brief, we killed off the species.

But, in the mid 1980’s wild turkeys were re-introduced at 38 different release locations in southern Ontario through a program to “restore our natural heritage, provide fowl for hunting and viewing recreation, and derive economic benefits.”  (Ministry of Natural Resources). Begun in 1984, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, launched a reintroduction program that began with just 274 birds.

Stock from the wild turkey populations of New York, Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee were often ‘swapped’ for wildlife species from this province: moose for Michigan, river otters to Missouri and Nebraska, and gray partridge to New York state. Today, wild turkeys have adapted to our agricultural farmlands totaling somewhere between 60 to 80,000 wild birds.

Turkey hunting season officially began in 1987, and was initially restricted to a spring hunt. But in 2009, a fall hunt was introduced.  Only bearded toms, (mature male turkeys), are allowed to be harvested. ‘Turkey season’, (April 25th, after the peak breeding season, until the end of May), has now been established in most rural areas in Ontario. This hunt is also open to hunters from outside the province.

Wild turkeys are known as promiscuous breeders. Most individual adult males will mate with multiple females. Hens lay a clutch of 10-12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. Young males are commonly called ‘jakes’ and young females are ‘jennies’. They consume a wide variety of wild foods, including hard mast (acorns, seeds), soft mast (wild grapes, raspberries), green vegetation, and insects. In areas where natural habitats have been replaced by agriculture, turkeys may also feed on domestic grains, like corn, buckwheat, alfalfa and/or soybean. Young turkeys (poults) feed almost exclusively on insects for the first several weeks of life. Insects provide poults with the high-protein diet that they require for rapid growth. A 2-3 week old turkey can eat several thousand insects a day. As you can see, wild turkeys, like all wild critters, need a diversified  living habitat in order to survive.

Wild birds die after ingesting bright bits of PLASTIC, mistaken as FOOD.

Other predators, besides humans, such as coyote and raccoon, are capable of snatching young turkeys, but most are no match for a mature fighting tom. Wild turkeys can run up to 40 km per hour and fly as fast at 90 km per hour. They can cover over 20 miles per day in search of food. A male tom can be up to 4 feet tall (!), and weigh over 30 pounds. Females are, on average, about half that size. Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day, but can hardly see at night. They roost high off the ground, usually in trees, at dusk. Conifers often provide thermal protection for roosting turkeys so they can conserve energy under extreme cold and windy conditions.

Wild turkey roosting in trees at night fall.

The sale of turkey licenses per annum contributes over $250,000 to wildlife management programs in Ontario. The annual spring and fall hunts generate economic activity for the province worth $2.3 million. (So says the Ministry of Natural Resources).

As of 1999, the use of live decoys, electronic calls and baiting for the purpose of hunting wild turkeys was prohibited. Finally, only a landowner, with a valid firearm license, may shoot wild turkeys that are damaging or about to damage their property.

Obese domestically raised 20 pound turkey carcass in a kitchen sink.

Can wild turkeys hurt you? Any wild animal when cornered or harassed may attack. So, if concerned, call in an expert. Note, only a registered turkey hunter or landowner (with a valid firearm license) can shoot wild turkeys.

All in all, the reintroduction of wild turkey in this province has been a success. Wild turkeys are thriving once again in Halton County in rural North Burlington. Due to human initiative and determination, this formerly extinct species has re-established a solid toe-hold in this, our home and native land. Their reintroduction has, as promised, added to the natural heritage of Ontario. The growing populations are providing viewing as well as hunting recreational activity and, as such, they are adding revenue to our economy.

If we, as humans, can do that over the short course of twenty odd years, surely we can a) improve our dialogue with Canada’s First Nations, and b) bring back City View Park to a ‘natural state’ for future generations.

I wonder what plastic grass looks like when it’s cast in bronze …

Margaret Lindsay Holton is both an environmentalist and a community activist.  She is an artist of some renown and the designer of a typeface.  She is also a photographer and the holder of opinions, which are her own, that she will share with you in an instant.   She appears as an Our Burlington columnist every two weeks. All photographs are by MLH unless otherwise indicated.

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Public art jury got this one right. Intriguing piece of art in a great location. Kudo’s to Dan Lawrie for putting up the cash.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 14, 2013   It took long enough, but the best of the three finalists in the most recent public art competition was announced today.

Peter Powning’s work, Spiral Stela, has been selected as the winning design for a public art installation at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Powning, of New Brunswick, was selected from a group of 119 artists from around the world who submitted designs for the project.

This Cooke-Sasseville piece had a lot of energy and colour and a level of detail that isn’t apparent from a photograph this size.   Was there a concern that the colour would fade over time?

This piece by Aaron Stephen was to be installed at the side of the Performing Arts Centre where it would not get the  exposure that was hoped for.  There was an immense amount of detail for the public to take in but the height on the piece on the side of the building might have made it difficult to fully appreciate.

A jury of local residents and cultural arts experts short-listed applicants to three finalists. More than 500 residents gave feedback, online and in person, on the three designs. After reviewing public comments, the volunteer jury selected the winner.

The jury included: Ian Ross, Executive Director of the Burlington Art Centre; Emma Quin, Executive Director of the Ontario Craft Council and Trevor Copp, Artistic Director of Tottering Biped Theatre

Because Burlington has difficulty with artists who don’t “come from here it might be a useful exercise to show all 119 applications – let the public understand what the jury had to work with.

The spiral will be 16 feel tall and will be outside the Performing Arts Centre for many,many years.  How will Burlingtonians take to the piece and how will the artist decide what to “decorate the piece with?

The nature of the Powning piece of art is such that Powning now needs to meet with the community and solicit objects that can be included in the final fabrication.  This is a truly exciting aspect of the design.  Clearly there will be lots of WW I and WW II medals brought forward for inclusion but what else will the residents of Burlington come up with?

We are about to see just how imaginative the residents of the city can be.  Whatever is selected will be part of the sculpture that will be outside the Performing Arts Centre on Locust Street for many, many years to come.  Hopefully the city will promote the daylights out of this and use every possible media and not just their favourites.  If there was ever an event that could put social media to the test – this is it.  City hall doesn’t understand social media and is to some degree afraid of it – this could be their opportunity to see if it will work for them

The artists might have a budget to get his need out to the public and the  Performing Arts Centre could, hopefully, turn its promotional guns on this one.  Whatever gets brought forward and used in this sculpture will be around for a long, long, long time.  At least as long as the Pier and we are going to spend $20 million on that sucker.

The objects in this illustration are examples of what have been used on other sculptures – this is an opportunity for Burlington to put its memorabilia on display and have it become a part of the public record.  A spike from the old CNR line that ran along the edge of the lake?  A can from the cannery that used to be on the water’s edge.  The only limit is our imagination.

Will someone put in a call to the Historical Society and get them involved?

Powning is calling the meetings at which residents bring in their objects “cultural mulch”.  The artist will make a mould of the items chosen. There will be a significant number of items used.  The molds will them be used to form the bronze castings that will be part of the final sculpture that is expected to be installed during the late summer of 2013.

There will be three “cultural mulching” sessions at the end of January and early February.

Central Library

2331 New Street,  Holland Room  Thursday, January 31 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Burlington Performing Arts Centre

440 Locust Street,  Main Lobby – Thursday, January 31 – 7 to 9 p.m.

Burlington Art Centre

1333 Lakeshore Rd., Lakeshore Room – Sunday, February 3 – 2 to 4 p.m.

Drop by one of the sessions below with an item to contribute to the project.  See it as something like one of those Antique road shows that are televised – but this time you’re not selling something or learning what its value might be you – you are becoming a part of the city’s history.

After his lecture in February Powning will be looking at objects people have brought in and. according to a statement from the city, casting the objects that day.  People are asked to bring in just one object each.

Powning is not new to Burlington.  His work is represented in the Burlington Art Centre’s Permanent Collection with five pieces.  The city also saw some of his work during the East Coast Potters exhibit.  His work is not currently on display but one can expect that to change.

Powning will give a short lecture about being an artist, whose work ranges from vessels to large-scale public art.  He will talk about his experience responding to RFPs and working with municipalities/developers.  An opportunity for Burlington artists to hear what a commercially successful artist has managed to do.

Spiral Stela continues the successful career of Powning who has completed several public art projects across the country and whose work can be seen at solo exhibitions worldwide.

This sculpture came to be when  long-time Burlington resident and successful business owner Dan Lawrie, decided the Performing Arts Centre should have something outside the building and offered to fund a portion of the cost.  Some members of city council wanted a bit more than Lawrie was prepared to put up, and the $37,500 cheque he did write isn’t exactly chump change.

The work is scheduled to be installed in late summer of 2013.

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What happened to the 72 hours’ notice? ask parents. Burlington Museums do their bit.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  January 10, 2013   When the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (EFTO) announced they were going to hold a day of protest and not report for work the Halton Board had no choice other than to announce that schools would not be open.

The Board put out its notice which gave parents a scant 48 hours to find a place to put their kids for the day.

The protest on the part of the EFTO decision comes close behind an Ontario government decision to use Bill 115 (Putting Students First Act ) to impose contracts on teachers and education workers.

The teacher protest is against the Bill which was used by Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten at the start of 2013 to impose contracts on teachers and education workers.

This is what classrooms across the Region are going to look like Friday morning. Hopefully it will be bitterly cold while the teachers tramp up and down the side-walk outside.

The teachers appear to be saying ‘we don’t give a damn’, we are angry and we want the public to know it.   There will be all kinds of ‘toing’ and ‘froing’ about how irresponsible the teachers are while their union goes on about losing their democratic rights.

“The minister made a deliberate and provocative choice to wipe out the democratic rights of tens of thousands of educators rather than work towards a respectful solution,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond, in a news release.

“She could have taken our olive branch and waited for a new leader to try to find solutions, but she chose not to.”

Meanwhile parents scramble.

Museums Burlington is doing their bit to help out by opening up their community resource and offering their Museums as a program facility and service for learning and play on Friday January 11, 2013.  They quite correctly called the service a Strike Camp – useful helping hand on the part of the Museum people.

Their program day would take place from 9:30am to 3pm at Joseph Brant Museum at a cost of $20 per child, not including lunch or refreshments.

You can get more information at 905-332-9888.







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Sharon McGregor has a message for you – she wants to tell you about her son Matthew.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  December 20, 2012  The past few days we’ve all seen the television news and watched saddened grief stricken parents bury their children – after a senseless brutal shooting spree that an apparently disturbed young man went on at an elementary school in his community.

We wonder why things like this have to happen and we struggle to understand.

Sharon McGregor understands the hurt, the loss and deals with the hole in her heart every day of her life

During the upcoming holiday blockbuster movie season, thousands of people enjoying a night out at the movies in Halton will get to see a powerful 30-second video highlighting the painful consequences of impaired driving on an Oakville mom.

The video alternates between smiling images of 17-year old Matthew McGregor and heart-wrenching statements from his mother about how his sudden death has impacted her and her family.

Matthew victim of a drunk driving a car.

“The powerful testimonial of Matthew’s mother, Sharon McGregor, will hopefully make people pause to stop, think, plan ahead and not drive impaired,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “We want Halton drivers to feel safe on our roads. Road safety is a top priority for Halton Regional Council and by partnering with the Halton Regional Police Service, we’re working together to make sure this holiday season is a safe one for everyone.”

The video, created by Halton Region and the Halton Regional Police Service, will be shown to more than 125,000 movie-goers in theatres.  A three-minute companion video featuring more details about Matthew’s story and what people can do to stop impaired driving will soon be available on the Region’s web site. 

“Matthew’s story is a tragic and unfortunate real life example of what can happen when alcohol and driving mix,” said Halton Deputy Chief of Police Bob Percy. “It demonstrates that tragedies have occurred in our own backyard and are not simply some random clip we see on the news. We need to commit to ongoing attention to road safety to ensure everyone has a safe holiday season.”

Through the Halton Drive SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone) program and the Safe Roads…Your Call campaign, drivers can see signs throughout the Region reminding them to call 911 if they see a suspected impaired driver on the roads. Impaired driving is a crime in progress and one call could save someone’s life.

Most residents are also familiar with the Holiday R.I.D.E. (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign conducted by the Halton Regional Police Service. During last year’s campaign from December 1-31, 2011, Halton Regional Police stopped 17,396 vehicles; administered 564 roadside breath tests and made 37 arrests for impaired driving.

There is a dedicated police team that has a crew out on the roads every day and night between now and the first days of January.  The police know where the hot spots are and, this year, much like last year and the years before that – the police will arrest people who should not be behind the wheel of a car.

Drink if you wish but before you reach for your car keys – think of Sharon McGregor and the day she had to bury her son Matthew.  That accident didn’t have to happen.  You, yes YOU can prevent the next death by calling a cab or asking a friend to drive you home.

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The Nutcracker, Walter Byj and the Burlington Performing Arts Centre

About two years ago Brenda Heatherington was hired to run the Performing Arts Centre which was under construction when she had her first business cards printed up.

One of her objectives was to introduce Burlington to performances it had not seen in the past.  Quality programs were available in Hamilton and Toronto, which is where parents would go year after year with their children to see the Nutcracker.  

Heatherington wanted to introduce Burlington to the classics and to bring in popular groups she would use to develop an audience in Burlington.  How is she doing so far?  Too early to tell – creating an audience is a slow process that requires an ability to read the interests of the community and at the same time know when you can push them a little and offer something they’ve not been exposed to before.  That takes time, it means taking some risks and hoping you get it right more often than you get it wrong.  The public tends to remember just the clunkers – not the productions that do close to sold out business.

Heatherington is going to need three full years before the city is convinced she got it right. During that time funding requests will be higher than city council is prepared to swallow and that’s when the tension between city hall and the Performing Arts Centre becomes measurable.

Heatherington relies on box office sales and feedback from the public.  She never has any difficulty with the naysayers, who describe the building as a “nice to have”.  She doesn’t get too many occasions to hear from the people who try something for the first time and leave the building pleasantly pleased.

A few weeks ago Walter Byj wrote us and asked if he could review the Nutcrakcer that was coming to the city.  BAJ had absolutely no experience reviewing and knew nothing about ballet – all that became evident when he submitted his review which appears below with very little editing.

Byj’s efforts reflects the growth of different audiences in Burlington for artistic productions that have not been available until the Centre opened October 1, 2011 when Royal Wood took to the stage for the first “tickets for sale event.  Prior to the first performance, Denise Walker, the first person to appear on the stage thanked the public during two “Thank you Very Much events when the public got a chance to tour the building, have a drink and chat with friends at tables set out in the Family Room.  It was the first part of the soft launch the theatre board decided to use to introduce the public to the place. 

By Walter Byj

BURLINGTON, ON  December 19, 2012   How does a sports fan prepare when planning to attend his first ballet?  Being open minded would be the first step followed by some preparation.  The initial step would be to know exactly what a ballet is.  You would not ask a novice to watch a sporting event without first describing a brief overview of the sporting event. The same can be said when attending an artistic event.  So, it is time to learn something about ballet.

A classic Christmas performance that has introduced millions of children to the world of ballet.

The word ballet originated with the Greek word ballizo which means to dance, to jump about.  Ballet originated in the 15thcentury in Italy during the renaissance.  The style then spread to France and Russia and evolved into a performance or concert dance which is intended for an audience.  There is much more background, but this is a good start.  Next, you would need to pick a ballet.  Well, being the Christmas season, there is a ballet that is synonymous with the Christmas season, The Nutcracker. The name is familiar as it is advertised annually in the entertainment pages and some of the music has become a Christmas standard.  Also, the music was written by a musician that we have all heard about, P. Tchaikovsky. Now that I have determined the title of my first ballet, I then need to pick a location.  Although it is playing in Toronto during the Christmas holidays, I opted to attend the performance at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre which featured the State Ballet of Russia performance of the Nutcracker. It was close to home, 15 minutes away, and the parking was free.

The soldiers were smartly dressed in the uniforms strutting about the stage.

I am now sitting in the theatre which by the way is quite pleasant. An intimate theatre with 718 comfortable seats, it offers everyone good sightlines.  The curtain is now rising and the first act is to begin.

Having read the program prior to the beginning of the show, I am aware of the story that envelopes the ballet. That is a good thing as there is no speaking during the performance and you need interpret what is happening via the dance moves.  This is like watching a live silent movie in colour.  And speaking of colour, there is plenty of that both in the sets and the costumes.  I could go into great detail as to the story in the first act, but I prefer a quick overview.  It takes place in a rich man’s house with a bunch of kids being entertained by a magician. He brings to life a number of mechanical dolls who dance for a bit until their mechanism is exhausted.  He then presents another toy, an ugly nutcracker that only the resident girl (Masha) seems to enjoy.  After the frivolity has ended and everyone goes home, the little girl of the house, Masha falls asleep and has a very strange dream.  Her mansion is attacked by a horde of mice that are lead by the Mouse King.

The drama, the melancholy – somehow we never tire of the performances – and when we see enough of them we get to the point where we can be critical and compare.  The Performing Arts Centre is growing just that kind of audiences.

But do not fear, the mice are eventually driven away by the Nutcracker and his army of tin soldiers although it was a great thrown shoe by Masha at the Mouse King that helped the Nutcracker claim victory. In fact, he was so happy and grateful that he turned into a handsome prince and Masha changed from a young girl into a beautiful lady. Shortly thereafter, the first act ended.

The second act is comprised of celebratory dancing which encompasses Spanish, Chinese and Russian dancers.  It is here where the Sugar Plum Fairy appears.

However, as daylight approaches, Masha awakens and is now a little girl again and her prince has vanished.  The ballet is over.

A tug of war over someone’s affections?

Did I enjoy The Nutcracker?   I did.  Was it worth attending?  It was.  The music was entertaining in a peaceful sort of way.  There is no doubt why the music of Tchaikovsky has lasted for over 100 years and will continue so for the next 100 years.  It is easier to comment on the quality of the music as I hear various types of music on a constant basis and am able to discern what I believe to be good music.  As to the actual performance of the dancers, it is much more difficult to comment as this is the only ballet that I have seen.  Is this troupe as good as the Bolshoi Ballet?  I don’t know.  I am not sophisticated enough at this moment to observe intelligently.  Did they put on a show that I enjoyed?  Yes they did.  Did the rest of the audience enjoy the performance? It appears that they did although one member of the audience was spending a certain amount of time on her smart phone.  Was she bored or was she texting everyone as to how great the show is?

Millions of little girls around the world dreamed of being a Sugar Plum Fairy – and then there they were on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre.

Would I go to another ballet?  It is hard to say, maybe Swan Lake, another Tchaikovsky ballet.

This production was slightly less than two hours including intermission although I have read that some performances can be up to two and half hours.  This performance timeline is appropriate for a novice as any much longer might start to be monotonous.  If the Nutcracker comes around again next year, by all means do attend. It is a unique event and any new experience is an experience worth having.

Brenda Heatherington has a new customer.  How many more Walter’s does she have?  She knows and in time the rest of us will know if Heatherington and her staff have managed to develop the several audiences that exist in the city but may not know what it means to have a professional, high quality performing arts centre in their city.  Walter Byj knows.

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Do the teacher’s have a tenable position? Have the students and parents been left in the lurch by teachers?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON.  December 18, 2012  The province released a statement earlier today setting out, from their perspective, just what the issues are in the current labour differences between the province and the Elementary School Teachers Federation of Ontario as well as the Ontario Secondary Students Teacher’s Federation.

The province is just one side of the story.  We have had email from several dozen parents with view points but there has not been an article they could comment on.

Here is the province’s position as sent to us by the Liberal Party of Ontario.

Appreciate that the Liberal Party is in the midst of a leadership contest and that the candidates will jockey for position and favour from those that have registered as members of that political party.  It will be interesting to see what we get in the way of comment from the teaching profession.

I will bet a decent lunch that we hear from Cory Judson within an hour of publishing.

Elementary school students in the public system have shut down schools for a day as they rolled out their strike action across the province.  Do they have a tenable issue?


Since 2003, we’ve worked together with our teachers to raise student achievement — test scores and the graduation rate are way up and our schools have been called the best in the English-speaking world. When people talk about excellence in education, Ontario is part of the conversation along with places like Singapore, Finland and South Korea. This progress for students and parents was achieved in partnership with teachers — and that’s why we raised teacher pay and improved working conditions more than any previous government. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Thirteen years of NDP and PC governments left Ontario’s teachers under appreciated, undervalued and underpaid. When we had the privilege of forming government in 2003, we made a commitment to improve teachers’ working conditions. And we did.
  • Prior to 2003, teacher compensation had not kept pace with their contributions in the classroom. That’s why over the last nine years, teacher salary rates have increased by 22 to 25 per cent.
  • Prior to 2003, teachers did not have enough prep time. That’s why over the last nine years, teachers have been provided four hours of paid prep time outside the classroom, up from about 2.5 hours.
  • Prior to 2003, teachers did not have the support they needed to provide individual attention to our students. So we hired 13,400 more teachers to make class sizes smaller and 11,745 support staff to help. There are also 4,500 more specialist teachers now working in elementary schools, helping with music, drama, art and physical education.
  • As some teachers now engage in one-day legal job actions aimed at our government, it’s important to note that the legislation they protest is the same legislation that will protect their wages, prep time and jobs for the next two years.
  • The recession has left Ontario with a deficit, and the global economy is still uncertain, so we need to make wise choices, while protecting these gains in education. We choose to increase spending in the classroom and keep full day kindergarten while freezing teacher pay for two years.
  • In February 2012, as we sought negotiations with teachers on a new collective agreement, we asked for a two-year pay freeze and an end to the practice of paying out up to 200 banked sick days upon retirement. It was a tough negotiation with one union taking their leave from the table after less than an hour of negotiating, never to return.
  • Others persevered and the government reached negotiated Memorandum of Understanding with our Catholic and French teachers and some support staff. And as the school year got underway, we introduced the Putting Students First Act, Bill 115, which is based on these negotiated agreements.

The Hudak PCs have been clear — they’d cut full-day kindergarten, firing teachers and sending 4- and 5-year olds home. The NDP would give teachers a pay raise — they can’t say “no” to their union supporters, and that means they’d have to take money out of the classroom.

For the past nine years we’ve supported our teachers with real tangible things that they asked for — higher pay, more professional development time, better working conditions and increased time to prepare. We made things better for teachers and that’s made things better for students.

Now — as Ontario families and businesses work hard to overcome a tough global economy — we need to be fair to all Ontarians in recognizing what we can’t afford right now. And our government looks forward to working with teachers on the goals we share: building an education system that’s better for our students, better for our teachers and among the best in the world.

That’s the provincial governments position – what’s your take on all this?

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