The three quarter point is just over the hill – we could be there by the end of the week – couldn’t we?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 17, 2012  The number is getting to a level that indicates success is not far off – Burlington is at the 65% level in its drive to reach $2.1 million for the Burlington/Hamilton United Way 2013 Fund raising drive.  There is now $1,360,141 in the bank account for use in the Burlington community in the year we will be going into

Len Lifchus shows CHCH TV personality Sean Cowan how you wrap a Christmas gift

Last week United Way staff worked a gift wrapping counter at the Burlington Mall with local celebrities.  Traffic was consistent, people stepped up and watched United Way president Len Lifchus show CHCH television personality Sean Cowan how to properly wrap a  gift.  He is a nice boy – he got it eventually.

The United Way however didn’t get what it should have gotten and could have gotten from the gift wrapping event – the donation box was sitting on a shelf behind everyone working at the counter.  These things have to be right out front where people can see them and use them.

The task for the United Way for the next month is to be kind but relentless in its drive to pull in the funds that will be needed come January when staff have to decide who will get how much for the year they are going into.

The need is real and it has never been possible to raise as much as is needed.

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Young people and Red Cross want to talk about bullying and respect for each other – and take in a good movie at the same time

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON December 16, 2012  The event doesn’t take place until January but you need to reserve your space BEFORE Christmas – and the event has nothing to do with the Season.  But the event will be of great interest to many parents.

The opportunity comes from the Halton Red Cross’ Youth Action Council.   Peter Hodgson, Chair, Halton Area Branch Council, Canadian Red Cross  asks: “If you are a young person, are related to a young person, was once a young person, wish you are a young person or once saw a young person” , then this invitation is for you! Sign up now and join us on January 12th. And spread the word to your friends and family.

Red Cross Halton Youth Action council presentation.

“Many of us have either been directly or indirectly affected by bullying:, said Hodgson. The Canadian Red Cross RespectED Program aims to prevent abuse, bullying, violence and sexual exploitation.

We are the Canadian Red Cross Halton Youth Action Council. We support RespectED and we would like to invite you to our event to raise funds for this program.  How can YOU help? Come to our Movie Matinee!

The movie: Ice Age: Continental Drift, which will be shown at the Silvercity Oakville Cinemas; 3531 Wyecroft Road, Oakville, Ontario –  Saturday January 12, 2012 –  9 am – 12 pm

If you’re interested please email to confirm attendance, or for more information

This is a Youth inspired and organized initiative. Please support us, as we support RespectED, which supports us all.

So here is what this is about.  The kids came up with the idea; they chose a movie that is popular, a little out of the ordinary, certainly not one of those action packed – how many people got killed? – films that are box office smashes.  Instead the kids picked an exceptionally well done animated film about something interesting, highly entertaining  and at the same times reflects on just where are we going with global warming and how did the continents get formed anyway?

If you’ve got a kid in the house that has gained the capacity to be thoughtful about others – let that young person meet with other young people who hold similar interests.

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Alton Village school expects to have raised $10,000 with their silent auction. Parking spot went for $400.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 15, 2012  They opened in September and held their first fund raising drive last weekend – and expect to have pulled in more than $10,000 – the value of the items that were set out for the Silent Auction amounted to something over $18,000 which is a pretty impressive sum for a new school in a new community, one that still has muddy roads and construction equipment littering some streets.

The Alton Village Public school set out in the northern end of the new community pulled parents into the school gymnasium on a Saturday afternoon and in a few short hours they had achieved their objective.

With more than $18,000 worth of product to choose from there was something for everyone. The Alton Village Public School expects to raise $10,000 from the Silent Auction.

It was perhaps the first time everyone in the community with children in the school pulled together as one.  Many took part in the choice of name for the school but that event wouldn’t have had as many children running around and having a good time.

Mother checks her raffle tickets to see if her number has been called. Not this time.

The organizers of the event made good use of raffle tickets as well as 50/50 draws.

Ross Gligic in the centre with Principal David Purcell handling the microphone get ready to announce there are five minutes left to the Silent Auction at Alton Village Public School.

Her name is Mia and she thinks she can top up the bidding for the exclusive use of a parking lot for the school year.

The coup for this crowd however was the idea to auction off a parking spot on the east side of the school that would be reserved for the school year to the person who wrote down the highest amount.  Ross Gligic kept pressing others interested in the parking spot by upping the bid by hundreds of dollars at a time – this item wasn’t going to go cheap.

Hockey sweaters were a big attraction at the Alton Village Public School Silent Auction

School principal David Purcell, served as the chief microphone, calling out the winning raffle numbers as both children and parents scanned the numbers on the tickets they held.

Just call it a melt down – it had been a long day and this one had reached her limit. Mommy slowly, patiently and successfully talks her down.

Overall it was a good day for a new school – with just one incident that caused everyone to pause.  Someone couldn’t find their daughter and the principle called out the name of the child and the room went strangely silent until the child was found.

The gymnasium wasn’t huge, the school was in a safe neighbourhood, there were all kinds of parents around – this was a very safe place – the safest of places – wasn’t it?  We don’t live in that kind of world anymore do we?

Waiting patiently to see if he won a draw. Successful Silent Auction at Alton Village Public School.

Perhaps in this safest of places we can learn to look out for each other, be aware of the differences and be a kinder society.

The Alton Village School got off to a great start – let’s see what principal Purcell and his staff do in the next couple of years.

The school has much more ethnic diversity than most I’ve seen in the city.  The colours didn’t matter – it was a room full of people there to support the school that was educating their children.  In Burlington on that Saturday afternoon it was a nice place to be.

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A RESERVED parking spot at a public school – in Burlington? Nope, only in Alton Village.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON December 11, 2012  They are going to do things a lot different in the evolving Alton Village Community.  While the community has a name and is in the process of getting a new high school, library and community centre that will be the envy of other parts of Burlington, the community is still evolving and figuring out how they are going to live their lives.

These are not going to be “slow poke” people.  They are younger, affluent, technically literate and innovative.

There was a time when many Alton Village residents drove along roads like this. Today most of the community is built out and there is a very healthy community working out how it is going to evolve. Their Alton Village Public School fund raiser is one example of how they are going to do things differently.

They are holding a fundraiser for the Alton Village Public School this Saturday and are, get this, auctioning off a private parking space for a parent right beside the school.  Now that is cool and that is innovative.  The group putting this event together don’t say if they talked the principal out of his/her parking spot or not.

This sign can have your name on it – for a parking spot beside the school on the east side – all you have to do is enter the highest bid. will the snow be cleared for the winner as well?

The auction is for one RESERVED PARKING SPOT to the highest bidder (Obviously to a Parent of the school only). Privileges last the entire school year, with a sign mounted on the wall with your Family Name on it. No more rushing, fighting traffic, looking for a spot…. just pull in on the East Side of the school, park and go!

How do you get in on this? Make your bid this week on the bid-sheet on display during any of the four Holiday Concerts (Tuesday to Friday) or at the Silent Auction on Saturday. Highest Bidder wins the spot.  The winner will be announced at the Silent Auction; bidding is open up to Saturday at 3:00 PM.

Our Burlington is in the final edit of a five part series on the Alton Village community written by Gordana Liddell, a resident of her part of the community since the time when there was no grass on the lawns.  Watch for it.


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Are high school students in Burlington out of their classrooms until Christmas? Those at Pearson say they are.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 10, 2012  If there was ever any doubt as to where the students stand on the government’s Bill 115 – there is little doubt any more in Burlington.

Students from MM Robinson; Lester B Pearson, Nelson High and Robert Bateman were at one point during the day out on the streets demonstrating.

More than a hundred students from Lester B. Pearson High school walked out of their classrooms and gathered at the intersection of Upper Middle Road and Headon Rd where they waved their placards and encouraged passers by to honk their horns.

The students are protesting the loss of time teachers  traditionally spend on extra-circulars like sports, the debating club – anything outside the classroom.  They want all this time back and, if the students from Lester B. Pearson are to be believed they are out on the street until Christmas – which is just ten school days away.

Two police cars kept station at Headon Road and Upper Middle Road as students protested the loss of their extra-curricular time at school.

We have seen student demonstrations before in Burlington but this is the first time we have seen a police presence.  It was also nice to see senior school staff on the streets as well; watching over their students, and doing their best to keep them in line.

It was pretty clear what this group of students wanted to say.  Senior staff from Lester B. Pearson watched over the crowd of more than 100 students that took up station on the north and south sides of Upper Middle Road.

Neither traffic lights nor the flow of traffic seemed to bother this student which is probably why police cars were attracted to the scene.

These are high school students; they get rambunctious and noisy and at times lose a bit of their common sense.  They are all good kids upset with what they are not getting.

Some teachers are blaming their union for getting them into this predicament.  Others are hard line union types and do not want the government trampling on their rights.

That’s a battle the students don’t have much time for; they want their clubs and other organizations to be there for them.

There are a lot of parents upset as well.

Bit of a predicament for both the teachers and the school administrators – but this could become one of those “teachable moments”.

What if the senior school staff asked all the students to gather in the auditorium and asked if they would accept the support of the school staff for their demonstration IF the students would enter into debate and discussion on the issue.

Have someone set out just what the issue is from a teacher perspective?

What is the government doing?  Do they have a right to do what they are doing?

Do the students have a case?  What is that case?

Let the students demonstrate, teach them something about the history of public demonstrations.

There are opportunities here to teach and at the same time let the students express their views.

That’s what a professional teacher would want to see.  I saw at least two professionals out on the streets with their students.

Asked how long this would last and what it would take to get the students back in the classroom one senior staff member commented: “Some freezing rain would help”


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Are teachers being fair to their students? Can parents talk about the strike problem without fear of retribution?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 9.2010  This from a parent that does not want her name used for fear that her children will be treated unfairly by their teachers – how did we get to a situation where teachers and parents are on different sides of an argument with the kids stuck in the middle.  Sounds like a messy, emotional, irrational divorce doesn’t it.

“And btw the teachers are telling the students it’s the union not them AND they will be teaching units that students will miss if they attend the walk-out. Always nice that the teachers have the leverage to walk out when they want but not the other way around. No wonder students are frustrated.”

Our parent, a well-educated, informed and successful business person actively involved in the evolution of our community goes on to say:

In a free society anyone can stand up any time anywhere and say what they think.  Can parents who want to talk about the plans teachers have to walk out of their classrooms really do that in Burlington?

“Someone needs to remind teachers that with e-learning their days are numbered. Teachers count on the fact that parents need “baby-sitters” for their kids so they need the education to happen within walls that keep the students safe. With e-learning it won’t take someone long to figure out how to fill the gap between child care, socializing, tutoring, education and bring them all together. Only the best educators will be in demand – the rest can go retire.”

Our parent with the post graduate degree continues: “Another bee in my bonnet – the latest trend by teachers – the students mark each other’s work since the teachers don’t want to spend their evenings marking (guess that counts as extra-curricular).

And that was where this parent left it adding: “Please don’t use my name, I don’t want it to impact our two kids.”

OK – off my soapbox. Thanks for letting me vent.

Our Burlington, a newspaper on a web site, allows any reader to respond instantly.  The response we got from a person we presume to be a teacher elicited the response above from a parent with two young people in high school.

“If I can respond in a civil manner to the comment on your article I will – but right now her comment “we have agreed to a wage freeze due to a situation we didn’t create”  is just far too annoying. They certainly weren’t offering to help when the rest of us in the private sector were struggling from 2009 to 2011. They were nicely protected by their collective agreement.”

There will be more in the way of comment.


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Will high school students be in the seats or on the streets Monday morning?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2012   Parent of elementary school students are ticked over the now more than probable possibility that the people who teach their children will go on a one day strike.

The province’s high school students are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” and plan to take their own actions.

Will Nelson high school students be on the streets next week?

The social media within the high school sector is abuzz with plans to just not walk into the high schools on Monday of next week.  There is no one spokesperson for the movement; there doesn`t appear to be a focus but that`s the way today`s youth works; they have their own network that runs beneath the radar screen.  They organize themselves differently.

But what if all the high school students at Nelson High and  Robert Bateman High on New Street just lined the sidewalks holding  hand written placards saying we won`t be students until you guys behave like teachers!

Could Robert Bateman students join Nelson High students in a city wide high school students walkout?

Imagine seeing two groups of a couple of hundred students asking that teachers just do the job they are paid to do, rather well paid we might add.

High school students have taken to the streets in the past to make their point; in this situation the Robert Bateman High School made their point.

Could be interesting.  If you see crowds of students on the sidewalks on Monday – honk your horn in support,  This mess within the educational system has to be resolved – teachers do very, very well and need to understand the economic reality the province faces.

The McGuinty Liberal government was very good to the educational system when times were better.  Class sizes were reduced; all day kindergarten was  put in place.  McGuinty was an “educational” Premier.  Time for the teachers to take a break and let someone else stick their snouts in the trough.



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Ireland House puts on an event that was hard to beat in terms of interest: A Taste of Christmas Past.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2012  You will have missed the event this year but you will not want to miss it next year when Ireland House, part of the Museums Burlington operation puts on their Taste of Christmas Past event.

The event was as close to sold out as you are going to get and when those who were at Ireland House last Friday evening tell their friends, Barb Teatero, Executive Director of the Museum’s operation,  is going to want to schedule the event for at least two evenings next year.

All the food was made on the premises using recipes from the period of time the Ireland Farm house was built.

It was an evening to sample different Christmas foods as you strolled from room to room.  There was not only food but period beverages as well.  The Figgy Pudding was delightful and you are not going to get to taste Parsnip Soup this good anywhere in this city.

Later in the week we will publish the recipes; the smarter restaurants in town will be snapping those up.

As soon as you entered the 1840”s farm house you were served a glass of wine and then guided to either the Interpretive Room where Michelle Gatien told you more than you ever wanted to know about a Christmas Dinner.

When you got to the farm house you were treated to Cayenne Cheese Crackers, Sugar cookies, Hot Rum Toddies and Mince Tarts.  Scones with a carrot jam that was very interesting.

There was sherry, brandy, Festive Wassail and Mulled Cider.  The place was packed yet it was still relatively easy to get around.

A group of young people played Christmas Carols in the basement kitchen; one couple used the occasion to dance to the music, it was that kind of an evening.

All the food items were from recipes researched by Brianne Crites, Brant Museum curatorial assistant and from the period during which Ireland House was built.  Several of the recipes came from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management 1861.

The gowns were absolutely gorgeous; the music on a period instrument was very different and pleasant as well.  The singing was as good as it gets.

There were several youths in the basement kitchen playing their violins as well as a superb group upstairs, the Pearls of Time who sang and played period instruments.  The two woman, Judy Morphet and Susan Snelley, will be at the Different Drummer Bookstore on December 16th – 3:00 pm.  Call the bookstore to reserve a ticket.

Father Christmas was on the farm house porch inviting guests to reach into his gift bag.

The Tasting event is the best thing Ireland House has done this year.  The staff have every reason to be extremely pleased with how well it went.

This is going to be a “premium event” next year.


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Here’s a rich one for you; Paletta named BEDC Entrepreneur of the year while the family firm fights city hall on major developments.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 8, 2012  The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) has named Pasquale Paletta as the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Paletta founded Paletta International, a Canadian-owned and family-managed company, in 1951.

Pasquale Paletta, named Burlington Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneur of the year for 2013.

“I am very thankful and honoured to be named the 2013 Burlington Entrepreneur of the Year,” Paletta said. “Burlington has always been home. Burlington has grown together with me and I look forward to our future growth and continued partnership with the city to continue its growth and achieve our combined dreams. I hope I can do more for Burlington.”

Paletta came to Canada as an Italian immigrant after the Second World War and moved his family to Burlington in 1964 and started a 10,000-square foot meat packing plant.

Today, the family has a facility of more than 200,000 sq.ft. and exports to more than 17 countries worldwide.

The family is believed to be the largest holder of undeveloped lands in Burlington and has in the past number of years fought the city on almost every development project it has started.

Paletta International head office in Burlington

His family has developed thousands of residential units, constructed more than 500,000 sq. ft. of buildings, developed hundreds of acres of property for retail and employment, farmed thousands of acres and expanded into film, media and entertainment.

Over the past eight years, BEDC has inducted the following acclaimed business people into Burlington’s Business Hall of Fame: Harry Voortman (Voortman Cookies), Mark Chamberlain (Trivaris), Michael Lee-Chin (AIC Ltd. /Portland Holdings), Michael DeGroote Sr. (Laidlaw/Republic), Ron Joyce (Tim Horton’s), Murray Hogarth (Pioneer Petroleums), Ron Foxcroft (Fox40 International) and Reginald Pollard (Pollard Windows Inc.).

Each year a call for nominations is sent out to the business community. Then a nominating committee made up of BEDC board of directors chooses the entrepreneur by using stringent evaluation criteria.

“We have been very fortunate to have had some of Burlington’s most successful entrepreneurs inducted into our Business Hall of Fame, Mr. Paletta is an ideal choice for this significant accomplishment,” said Alf Zeuner, chair of the BEDC’s board of directors. “It was with great interest to review the achievements of all nominees. Making the decision of the final recipient was not easy as Burlington is home to many outstanding entrepreneurs.”

The award will be presented at BEDC’s annual signature event, which will be held on Thursday, June 6 at the Burlington Convention Centre.

The Paletta International head office operation is massive and includes the poultry packing operation as well as administrative and property management divisions.

The Paletta interests were   instrumental in an attempt to bring the Hamilton Tiger Cats  to Burlington   and  make the city their “home” town.  Mayor Goldring, new to the office of Mayor at the time didn’t champion that idea.

Several of the Paletta developments before the city are tied up in differences of opinion or before the Ontario Municipal Board.

Angelo Paletta, Pasquale Paletta’s son, was one of 35 people chosen by Mayor Goldring to be part of the group involved with the Mayor in defining the dream for Burlington.

The Paletta family donated a large sum to the restoration of a mansion on Lakeshore Road now known as the Paletta Mansion.



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Snappy video hides the loss of the Official Plan review leader; Gummo turns in his security pass.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 7, 2012   – Today the city launched a video called “We’re Growing in Place” to help educate and engage residents about its Official Plan review project.  The video has a nice upbeat piece of music that Councillor Taylor expects to be whistling along to for the next few weeks.

The video exceeds anything the city has posted in the past and was done by True Essence Media.  Keep that name in mind if you want something truly creative.  Kudos to whoever at planning chose these people.

Alan Gummo, Manager of Policy and Research

That’s the good news; the bad news is that the planner who has headed up the Official Plan Review, Alan Gummo is leaving his post.  Gummo brought a different set of lenses with him and we were beginning to see a much different approach to the reviewing of an Official Plan (OP), something the city has to do every five years but something that is often done rather poorly in many municipalities.

The word “disappointing” was used by one senior city hall staffer when asked to comment on Gummo’s departure.  Nothing was said about where Gummo is going or why he chose to leave at this time.  Tough lick for Burlington; Gummo was going to do a superb job.

The purpose of the video is to let the community know what the Official Plan is; why it matters and to encourage public participation. The video features interview clips with Burlington residents, inspiring imagery and digital animation.

It’s sometimes difficult to get people to tell you what they think.  The city’s Planning Department went into the community and posed very specific questions: what do you think about?  Here are some of the responses.

An Official Plan is a statutory document required by the province that describes a city’s land-use strategy over the next 20 years.  It addresses the location and form of new housing, industry, offices and shops as well as anticipated needs for infrastructure.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn’t a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

An Official Plan has to adhere to a number of provincial Policy Statements and sets out the vision, the direction we want to grow in.  Zoning by-laws are the rules that the city uses to create and allow the growth that is set out in the vision.

The zoning by laws, and there are more than you want to know, are in place to reflect the Official Plan.  Zoning by laws get changed.  There is an H zone, it stands for hold – it’s a place holder.

Many people get severely upset when they see a zoning by law being changed; they are supposed to be changed to reflect the changing nature of the city.  Our planner, Bruce Krushelnicki, surprisingly, has all his hair and it isn’t solidly grey yet – it should be with the pounding he often has to take at city council committee and public meetings.

Planners asked what people wanted to see in their Official Plan – not sure this is what they expected.  Guess one has to be careful what they expect.

Planning isn’t all that complex but it does have some fundamental rules that apply and as Krushelnicki points out again and again: the Official Plan trumps everything locally.  The bylaws are put in place so that builders and developers can do their work within the Official Plan.

But time after time people appear at Council to speak against a change that is taking place without fully understanding the relationship between the Official Plan, which goes through a continual process of amendments and the zoning levels applied to every blessed square inch of the city.

Krushelnicki hired Alan Gummo to oversee the OP review; the two go back some distance.  The decision to leave that review of the Official Plan at this stage can only be seen as a disappointment and a loss to the city.  We were in the process of seeing a significantly different approach to the review.

Burlington has a very smart planner; a lot of people don’t agree with Bruce Krushelnicki, usually because he has chosen not to see things their way, but for the most part , he is fair, direct, honest and passionate about what he does.  He tends to get beat up by just about every delegation that appears before council.

He’s urbane, actually speaks Latin and would probably love it if the rest of the world used the language as well.  He also knows the best tailor in town.

Krushelnicki knows when and how to delegate, both at the most formal level and at the staff level.  This province has a number of young planners who spent time in a Krushelnicki session (they are often more like seminars) learning how planning is done.

Kirk Koster, founder of BurlingtonGreen, looks over parts of the current Official Plan. It’s not exactly bed time reading.

Gummo was to take the city through an Official Plan Review the likes of which this city has never seen before.  He assembled a team of young people who would bring an open, fresh look to new ideas and approaches.  Gummo found upon doing a thorough  review of the Official Plan that the word neighbourhood never appears in the document.   The word is a major part of the city’s Strategic Plan.  Gummo realized that there was a serious disconnect and arranged for a special council workshop to look at just what we meant by neighbourhoods.  It was an interesting exercise and shed fresh light on how we see neighbourhoods.  With Gummo turning in his security pass the city has lost a mind that was going to do it differently. Andrea Smith is serving as Acting Manager of Policy and Research

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Crossing Guard and young Girl struck on Plains Road, student stable, gurad released from hospital.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2012  A little before 4:00 pm a school crossing guard and a student were struck by a vehicle   on Plains Road at Maplehurst, in Aldershot.

The crossing guard was handling student traffic at Maplehurst Public School.

Halton Regional Police described the accident as serious involving  a car striking a young student and a crossing guard in front of the school. The student, a 5 year old female Senior Kindergarten was being directed by a male crossing guard

Kindergarten student and crossing guard struck by vehicle in front of Maplehurst Public School.

The 5 year old female Senior Kindergarten student was crossing with a male guard when a westbound Nissan Altima struck them.  The little girl was thrown several metres forward and the guard was struck down and fell within the marked crosswalk.

Halton EMS arrived and took the girl to McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton where she remains in serious but stable condition.  Her parents are by her side.  The crossing guard, a 77 year old Burlington man, was taken by EMS to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital where he was treated for unspecified injuries and released.

The driver of the car, an 80 year old Burlington man, was not injured.  He attended the Burlington 30 Division police station to provide a statement and was cooperative with the investigation.  He was later driven home by police.

Due to the seriousness of this incident, members of the Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) attended the scene and have taken carriage of the investigation.  Reconstructionists and Forensic Identification Officers spent 5 hours collecting evidence and measuring the scene.  Westbound Plains Road was completely shut down to traffic during the at-scene investigation.

The Halton District School Board has been notified and officials there are being updated on their student’s condition.   Several witnesses have come forward but any others are asked to contact the CRU at 905.825,4747 ext. 5056 or ext. 5065.

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The RBG hosts the “Mechanical Botanical” Exuberance of Paul Busse. All aboard!

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON  December 6, 2012   When we were young, my father built-up a landscaped train set on a ping pong table in the basement for my brother and me (and him) to play with. We tinkered away at it for several years: adding scenes, rail cars, quaint little buildings and funny little critters (my speciality!). There is something intoxicating about crafting miniature anything that suits all imaginations.

Unhappily, all came to a rather untimely end when one exuberant younger member of our family decided to pull out all the wires from the switching box when no-one was looking. These were ceremoniously given to dad with an enthusiastic ‘Choo! Goo! Choo!’ Dad never did get around to re-wiring the set, and that was that. Nonetheless, I have always had a fond attraction for the intricacy and sophistication of ‘toy’ model trains. It is an enthusiasm shared by many, included most of  those of the Burlington Model Railway Club.

 “Our intent is to create the illusion of a REAL train, not a TOY one!” huffed one gray-haired veteran of the Burlington Model Railway Club.

These dedicated elders, in conjunction with the Central Ontario Garden Railway Association

And the RBG, have invited Paul Busse, principal ‘tinkerer’ of Applied Imagination

from Alexandria Kentucky, to their annual Model Train exhibit at the Royal Botantical Gardens.   In opposition to their more conventional exacting efforts, there is nothing very ‘real’ about Paul’s ‘toy’ trains. Rather, his fanciful sets appeal to all ages. In a word, they delight.

 In recent years, Paul Busse has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease,but that has not stopped his son and a crew of 15 crafting up another of his signature ‘mechanical botanicals’ train-scapes for the RBG.  Imaginative landscapes and iconic provincial buildings have been built using an exotic array of native and non-native flora. This ‘Canadian’ set took 2500 hours to assemble using 7 tons of cedar slab, 3000 pounds of rock and 250 feet of 45 mm-wide track. Hand-hewn cedar, sliced berries, carved-out walnuts, peeled birch bark and hand-sculpted wooden bears adorn the site. Pungent narcissus and ruby red poinsettias punctuate the topography. Altogether, this Holiday set is a festive feast for the eyes, ears and nose.

Detail of miniature throne made from sliced walnut husks and seed pods.

Now up and running, you will find whimsical interpretations of the Parliament Buildings, a Saskatchewan grain elevator, Haida Gwaii totems, crafty igloos, the Canadian National Railway HQ, and some very fanciful interiors, like an illuminated ‘bee depot’ inside a honey comb, (with a wacky walnut husk throne and a mysterious miniature sword placed on that wacky throne…)

CN Tower presides over all.

High bridge gives illusion of train terrain.

Freight train barrels thru cedar slab mountain.

Covered Bridge with Caboose.

A majestic CN tower presides over it all. Below, an assortment of colourful G-trains swoosh continuously around the loops, tunnels and covered bridges.

  This is Applied Imaginations’ first border crossing into Canada and, to be sure, it is an elaborate extravaganza  To my mind, it is conceptually similar to Cirque de Soleil’s ‘over the top’ gymnastic inventions. Busse sure has taken ‘model TOY trains’ to a whole new level.

Busse’s Railway Station. Will Freeman Station tart up as nicely? 

 Judging by the all age enthusiasts in attendance over the past weekend, the Freeman Station in Burlington, once restored, will easily become a solid Burlington attraction. It may not be a miniature, but it does embody the history of real trains rolling through the region. Busse’s Railway Station could well act as inspiration for the Friends of Freeman Station.

 As a sidebar, it seems a pity that the Friends of Freeman Station, the RBG and the Burlington Model Railway Club didn’t coordinate a simple fund-raising effort to compliment the restoration of Freeman Station, a citizen-led initiative. ‘Tis the Season to Give and all that. It would have been a natural fit.

For those who are interested in supporting that restoration, go to the Friends website:    Better yet, join the Friends of Freeman Station at their Annual General meeting 6:30pm, Thurs. Dec. 6, City Hall, Council Chambers. The meeting will feature: election of board members; progress updates on preserving the Freeman Station; and presentations from FOFS leadership.

And do go see Paul Busse’s marvelous ‘Choo! Choo!’ set at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Take in the simple joy and wonder of it all.   Exhibit runs until January 6th, 2013.  Entry fee: $12.

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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How different and unique could your Christmas cards be? Museums of Burlington help you give your Christmas a personal touch.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2012    The smell of the tree sitting in the room all lit up and decorated; you know its close to Christmas when you walk in the room. The small ornate bouquet or Christmas wreath set out is also a large part of the Christmas season.  Who makes these wreaths and bouquets? And where do people learn to make them?

Making Christmas bouquets at Ireland House.

Looks just about right and is going to look beautiful on a table or above a fireplace. Christmas bouquets made during a class at Ireland House.

Lots of wreathes available at the garden centers but those small, almost delicate bouquets that get set out on a table are an art in themselves and last week a group of woman met at the Ireland House interpretative room and were taught how to make the bouquets.   Elizabeth Crozier taught a small group of woman how to make a bouquet that includes silver Christmas candles. You will have missed the course this year but they do it every year – make a not for late November of next year.

Wreathes and bouquets are a small part of the season.  Christmas cards are much more common; sent and received by almost everyone.  They come in the mail; sometimes neighbours and friends drop them off and we use them to decorate our homes over the holidays.  Christmas cards.

Laura Robinson, acclaimed stamping expert will be at the Joseph Brant Museum.

Perhaps in your household the children make up cards of their own.  Laura Robinson, a nationally acclaimed stamping expert will be at the Discovery Room of the Joseph Brant Museum for a two hour stamping class that will have you creating six designer quality holiday cards while learning how easy and fun rubberstamping is. Bring tradition back into the holidays and give something handmade for those close to you. Everything is supplied, all you need to bring is your sense of humour and holiday spirit  How were Christmas cards made When?   December  9TH – 1pm – 3:30 pm

There is a fee of $25which includes all the material you will need to make six special cards.  Refreshments will be served and a tour of the museum will be included. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED.  CALL (905) 332-9888 or 634-3556

The first Christmas cards were illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The picture, of a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each and an industry was born.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as were increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations and materials. In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer cards in America, though the popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market. The advent of the postcard spelled the end for elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, cards with envelopes had returned.

The production of Christmas cards was, throughout the 20th century, a profitable business for many stationery manufacturers, with the design of cards continually evolving with changing tastes and printing techniques. The World Wars brought cards with patriotic themes. Idiosyncratic “studio cards” with cartoon illustrations and sometimes risqué humor caught on in the 1950s.

Nostalgic, sentimental, and religious images have continued in popularity, and, in the 21st century, reproductions of Victorian and Edwardian cards are easy to obtain.

The estimated number of cards received by American households dropped from 29 in 1987 to 20 in 2004.  Despite the decline, 1.9 billion cards were sent in the U.S. in 2005 alone.   In the UK, Christmas cards account for almost half of the volume of greeting card sales, with over 668.9 million Christmas cards sold in the 2008 festive period.

“Official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family’s cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. In 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card. The cards usually depict White House scenes as rendered by prominent American artists. The number of recipients has snowballed over the decades, from just 2,000 in 1961 to 1.4 million in 2005.

Christmas cards have been avidly collected for years . Queen Mary amassed a large collection that is now housed in the British Museum.  The University College of London’s Slade School of Fine Art houses a collection of handmade Christmas Cards from alumni such as Paula Rego and Richard Hamilton and are displayed at events over the Christmas season, when members of the public can make their own Christmas cards in the Strang Print Room.

Specimens from the “golden age” of printing (1840s–1890s) are especially prized and bring in large sums at auctions. In December 2005, one of Horsley’s original cards sold for nearly £9,000. Collectors may focus on particular images like Santa Claus, poets, or printing techniques.

The Christmas card that holds the world record as the most expensive ever sold was a card produced in 1843 by J. C. Horsley and commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole. The card, one of the world’s first, was sold in 2001 by UK auctioneers Henry Aldridge to an anonymous bidder for a record breaking £22,250.

And that is far more than you ever wanted to know about Christmas cards.  If you want to enjoy an afternoon learning a new craft – try this event.

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A conclave for the Friends of Freeman Station? A press gang out on the streets? Or just a run of the mill AGM – with benefits?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2012  The Friends of Freeman Station will be meeting Thursday evening in Annual General Meeting (AGM) mode.

This not for profit organization has taken on a project that now involves finding the money to move a 1906 era train station onto a site where they can re-build and refurbish the structure and then, at some later date, move it to where it should have been ten years ago.

She’s not looking her best right now. But once she’s moved – the work on cleaning her up begins. You can be part of that process.

In the past three years all Burlington city council has been able to do is embarrass itself time and again until a citizen’s committee was formed to do what had to be done.

While all this was going on another part of the city was “engaged” in creating an engagement charter for the city.  If what FOFS is doing isn’t engagement – then the word needs to be re-defined.

It will eventually look this good – but time, hard work and money are going to be needed to make it happen. Get involved.

This week the FOFS will go into what Catholics call a “conclave”; that assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope.  Out of this we may see a Pope Irwin – perhaps?  FOFS is about to become a serious organization with a major construction project on their hands and they need to firm up the board; thus the AGM and the need to select leaders.

While there is a full Board in place now, there are some that will leave and others who may want to extend their stay. About half the board has to be “refurbished” and elected to a two year term this time so that going forward the Board will have people leaving the Board each year with new people coming in.

Having people come forward for election is not as organized as it is in “conclaves” but the FOFS have a back-up plan.  While they don’t use the language I have chosen,  what they do have amounts to a Press Gang – and no that isn’t a collection of journalists having a wet one while they figure out how they want to slant the news they write.

You can buy a T shirt and show your support.

The Friends of Freeman Station will convene for their Annual General meeting on Thursday, Dec. 6th, 2012, at 6:30 pm at Burlington City Hall. Five positions on the board will be elected.

The new board will be responsible for the move of the Freeman Station structure to its new home on the Ashland Corporation site on Fairview St.; urgent conservation and preservation work to preserve this exemplary 1906 heritage building; and fund-raising, interpretation, and community programming initiatives.

The Freeman Station, also known as the Burlington Junction or Burlington West passenger station, is an important example of Grand Trunk Railway architecture of the early 20th century, and as such an important part of Burlington’s history – and Canada’s.

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Alton school holds a fund raiser before the doors open. Looking for some help from the community.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 5, 2012  Alton Village School Council is holding our first major fundraiser on Saturday, December 15th from 1-3pm, and they need your help.

A community, still in its formative stage, holds a fund raising drive for a school that has yet to open. Construction is on going and so are the muddy roads.

“An event like this needs a lot of volunteers to help make it a big success”, said Jeff Peeters, an Alton Village parent. That’s why School Council is looking for parent volunteers for the event to fill a number of roles including directing traffic, selling raffle tickets, and monitoring tables.

If you’re able to help out any time between 1-4pm, please contact Council’s Volunteer Coordinator Jeff  Peeters at

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Self-realization and the meditative state – all you ever wanted to know at a free class at Burlington Hills this Saturday.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  December 4, 2012   If you’ve ever wondered what meditation is; what a Yoga class is  really like but you don’t want to join anything – you just want to sit in and see if there is something there for you – then an event this Saturday, December 8 from 3-5 pm at the Brant Hills Community Centre may be of interest.

If you do go – what are you in for?

Here is what is on the agenda:

There will be a talk by two academics on the Restorative Effects of Sahaja Meditation techniques. There will be testimonials, some guided mediation, live music and  Indian Kuchipudi dance

The group putting on the event has been doing this for more than seven years in Burlington.

Their Sahaja meditation classes take place Wednesday evenings at Brant Hills.

The event this Saturday will be tied into an event taking place in Paris,  France.

Mediation and Yoga are different, millions swear by it, but it isn’t for everybody – it’s a matter of personal taste and the way you feel life should be lived.  If you’re curious – give it a try.

More on the agenda:

A video introduction  to Self-Realization & R/Evolution (video)

Experience Spontaneous Meditation & ‘Yoga State’ on Live Indian Drum Music (Ahilan)

Kuchipudi Dance Performance (Hema)

Chakra Workshop & Joyful Indian Music Performance

Practitioners of meditation will talk about the benefits.

You get a chance to find your “Yogi Buddy”.

The event is free – these people are serious and committed about what they do.

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Citizen attempts to set the Mayor straight. Is the Mayor listening? Does he have the capacity to hear? Some very strong points are made.

BURLINGTON, ON  November 29, 2012  Part of the reason for creating this “newspaper on a web site” was to try and re-balance the “information deficit” the Shape Burlington report said the city was struggling to deal with.  It has not been an easy task and at times we felt we were out there all by ourselves.

When we wrote something about a person or the organization they led – we were taken off the media list.  When we were consistently critical about the leadership of the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory committee we were sued for libeling the chair.

That lawsuit is working its way through the various processes that apply to libel and defamation.  There is a phrase that describes what is being done: – “libel chill”.  If they sue we are supposed to back down and apologize.  Better yet, they could drive us out of business as we struggle to cover the legal costs.  We will keep you posted in the libel matter

We aren’t the only person who understands the “information deficit” and the role of a free press.  Peter Goddard recently posted a comment to a story we wrote.  That comment was so good – not that we agree with everything Peter Goddard has to say – that we felt it should be given a much wider audience.

Here is what Goddard had to say to our Mayor:

Dear Mayor.

I propose that what you have accomplished is a list of gooey sentiments with no real substance. You have expanded on the adjectives you already attached to ethereal concepts, and arrived at intentions with no plan at all.

Today I still face a real problem, that far too many citizens in Burlington have faced, are facing, will face. We are being bullied by developers who, with the aid of a far from contrite planning department, are building unwanted and inappropriate mega-condo projects in the middle of the “jewel on the lake”. Far from contributing to vibrancy, energy, belonging, and compassion, these developments are contributing to a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, depression, and acrimony in the neighbourhoods they blight. These monstrous developments are marketed as separate communities, and indeed they are separate. You cannot draw a line around any other portion of the affected neighbourhoods and say “this area is distinct”. They do not fit. They are the equivalent of inclusions in the jewel, imperfections that make our jewel worth far less than one that is clear and free of undesirable detritus.

The Mayor calls this city of ours a Jewel on the Lake and it may well be but are we not more than just our geography?

In this same sense, anyone could appreciate that while you are busy polishing the jewel, the value still only decreases as we accept a lower and lower quality of gem, and our own experts in city planning, like jaded dealers, contend the imperfections make it better.

I am tired of this conversation. You messaged me with a link to this blog entry, I suppose you felt I should be inspired as you were. But I offer you may be suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome, the psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy or sympathy, and have positive feelings towards their captors.

I feel you may be trapped in the sense you are powerless to influence negative changes in the city, brought about by the provincial and regional intensification plans you are legally bound to observe. In response, you are polishing a turd. In my experience this only results in a shinier turd.

Because we are bound on all sides Burlington faces a difficult problem. How do we grow? In response to this problem Burlington committed to a plan, developed and implemented in the form of provincial, regional, and municipal “official plans”.

Each of these plans describes in progressively finer granularity, the details of how we will achieve required growth within the constraints of the law, and each plan aspires to accomplish a greater goal of improving our communities in fair and equitable ways.

The plans primarily call for DIRECTED intensification, with the specific stated goals of easing traffic congestion while supplying an adequate mix of housing PROXIMAL to workplace and transit lines. The finely tuned plan was unveiled to Burlington a few years back. This included maps of where the development would take place, what it would look like, and how we would accomplish it. It was a good plan.

Post It notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting. Peter Goddard isn’t the only one who doesn’t agree with the city planner.

But now; The city is twisting the plan to serve a single metric. Person/jobs per hectare. Nothing else matters in their decisions. When faced with reasonable arguments against a development, they simply ignore those arguments, or devote their resources to researching obscure and weak counter arguments that are insulting to reasoning persons on the face of them. They hold these weak counter arguments up as proof of their wisdom, but we see the truth clearly. City planning views the plan as an arbitrary guide, and has assigned themselves the role of arbiter. The head city planner told me personally he is “like a cop” and that “people who follow the speed limit on the highways are actually getting in the way”. Presumably this means I am getting in the way when I question his judgement, or the judgement of his staff. He actually became visibly disturbed when I suggested I wanted to check his departments facts, admonishing “you’re not questioning my engineers, are you?” (BTW, yes.)

Peter Goddard has given Mayor Goldring quite a bit to think about. Will the Mayor respond?

You are elected to govern the city in a democratic manner. The four pillars of democracy are Freedom, Representation, Equity, and Justice.

-I am apparently FREE to leave if I don’t like it.

-I am apparently free to consult with my REPRESENTATIVE on council, who may or may not answer my concerns or return my correspondence.

-I am apparently equal to the others in this city who have been bulldozed by the “planning process”, but not EQUAL to the richer parts of the city whose properties are in “significant” areas.

-And Justice? I’m sure I am receiving an equal helping of the kind of justice Burlingtonians are becoming accustomed to. The kind of justice that gives tickets to those who follow the speed limit, and encourages dangerous speeding.

So while you are looking forward to sharing the journey, my dreams are being told to move to the back of the bus.

Peter Goddard

Thank you Peter Goddard.

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How about fewer drunks on the road this year so that Burlington is truly the 2nd safest city in the country. RIDE program helps.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 28, 2012  It happens every year and every year the Halton Regional Police scoop up people who are driving when they shouldn’t be driving.

At the end of the RIDE program,  the police publish their results and – well sometimes there are improvements and sometimes there aren’t improvements.

A really very solid part of the RIDE program is the work the police do in the high schools.  They take the students through what they call RIDE 101 – a chance to get a look – up close and very personal,  on what happens to the head when you put too much alcohol in the tummy.  They make no mention of the experience with the toilet bowl – perhaps that is a little too personal for polite Burlington.

Nelson high school students trying to walk a straight line wearing goggles that create the level of vision a drunk driver would have. Central High students get to wear the goggles this year.

Last year we watched the police have Nelson High students put on special masks that gave the students an opportunity to experience what they would see if they were driving with too much alcohol in their blood.   For most, if not all, it was a bracing experience.

The Halton Regional Police Service takes their show on the road again this year and launches the RIDE program December 4th with the kick off taking place at Thomas A. Blakelock High School in Oakville.

This is the sixth year the police have put on a RIDE program.  The  “RIDE 101”, a program designed to educate drivers, particularly young and future drivers of the importance and responsibility while driving and the consequences associated to mixing alcohol or drugs and operating a motor vehicle.

High schools from across the Region will be participating in the program.  The event will be at Central High School – 1433 Baldwin Street, December 13th  from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spot checks will be conducted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. out front of the school.

The night component will entail members of the student council assisting designated officers in speaking with drivers of stopped vehicles during a R.I.D.E. spot check and distributing ‘Think of Me’ cards and information pamphlets on the consequences of impaired driving.  The ‘Think of Me’ cards are hand-drawn and coloured by grade four, five and six students and reflect on that child’s perception of drinking and driving.

The police stopped 17,396 vehicles during the 2011 RIDE program.  564 of those people were asked to blow into the device that measures the amount of alcohol in the blood; 87 people were given warnings while 23 failed the test.

Failing the test means you get to call home and ask for help or call your lawyer.  If you are just warned you face anything from a three day driving suspension up to a 30 day driving suspension if you are caught a third time.  Should the police officer that stops you decide to take you into the police station for a test on a much more sophisticated piece of equipment or if you refuse to take the breathing test – you lose your license automatically for 90 days.

While Burlington may be the #2 best Canadian city to live in, it had the worst results in terms of the number of people warned or charged by the police.

There were a total of 84 different RIDE check points set up, 31 each in Burlington and Oakville.  67 driving under the influence charges were laid by police.   Burlington’s record was the worst in the Region.

There were seven criminal charges laid for non-drinking offenses, 3 suspended drivers were caught and 178 people nabbed under the Provincial Offenses Act – most of them were from Oakville.

The Halton Regional Police are grateful for the community partners who are supportive of this worthy endeavour, including:  the Halton Catholic District School Board, the Halton District School Board, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.), McDonald’s restaurants and Tim Horton’s.


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Enjoy Christmas the way it was celebrated at Ireland House – a long time ago.

REVISED November 27, 2012

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 26, 2012    There has been a whiff of winter; there was a sprinkling of snow and there are Christmas decorations on many if not most of the houses on my street.

Christmas is the marketing event of the year for the commercial sector and a time for families to gather and be families.  It is also the celebration of the most significant event on the Christian calendar.

The kids are out of school and parents will be looking for places to take them and things to do.  Ireland House, one of the well run parts of Museums Burlington, runs interesting events that have a uniqueness one doesn’t see within the commercial sector.

Food prepared and served the way it was at Ireland House – a long time ago.

December  7th there is a very quaint and close to intimate Christmas food sampling event at Ireland House.   If you’re looking to keep your holiday spirit intact throughout the busy month of December, this is a very festive evening.

Period music, period costumes during an Ireland House Christmas food sampling.

A licensed event, with traditional Christmas food samplings and beverage tastings from the Ireland family will be  offered inside the historic Ireland House.

During the three hour experience you will  sample a range of foods such as Figgy pudding, potato croquettes, cayenne cheese wafers, Jubilees and parsnip and apple soup and also festive beverages such as mulled wine, hot toddies and traditional wassail, all prepared using historic Ireland House recipes.  This isn’t a intimate sit down dinner but rather an occasion to stroll from table to table to table sampling different foods.  The intimate part is the candlelight setting and the music.

There will be musical entertainment, a “Chef of Christmas Past” giving presentations at set intervals, Christmas Fire Cracker making, and a take-away.

You will dine by candle light with a roaring fire and end enjoy live entertainment by Pearls of Time—costumed historic performers.

This is designed to be a fun, celebratory evening; an occasion to sample various holiday foods made from historic recipes aided by festive beverages – mulled wine, hot toddies and traditional wassail! There will be heritage musicians, special presentations, holiday activities and a take-away.

An Ireland House Christmas food sampling, held in a quaint, almost intimate setting and enjoyed under candle lights.

Tickets available in advance: $20/person (there are only 125 tickets available!)  Not recommended for children under the age of 12.  Friday December 7th, 6 to 9 pm.

For further information on these holiday events, please contact: Sylvia Hentz, Special Events Programmer: 905-332-9888 –   Ireland House is located at  – 2168 Guelph Line, Burlington, ON L7P 5A8

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It`s a closed meeting, about Human Resources, the hiring and the firing of people; taking place in two different places at the same time.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 19, 2012  If you’re looking for any of the city council members this morning or the city manager either for that matter – stop looking.  They are all at a closed meeting of city council to talk about what they refer to as a Human Resources matter – which means the hiring, or the firing of someone,  or dealing with a very serious complaint.

We goofed.

A guy at city hall who is a lot smarter than I am called to point out that I had things mixed up.  There are TWO closed meetings – one this morning, the 19th, which was a CLOSED Workshop at which Linda Moore took Council and senior staff through an exercise intended to “improve teamwork, raise the bar and expand on the expectations”.  They did that I was informed under Section 239 (3.1) of the Municipal Act.  That event took place at the McMaster University DeGroote School of Business.

The other meeting, the one that has to do with the hiring and the firing – that one takes place NEXT Monday.

Finding out where the meeting were  taking place was clearly a challenge I didn’t meet.  The city’s web site shows two locations – one document says it is to take place at the McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business while another document says it will take place in the `Cabinet Room at a local hotel.  I clearly got it all mixed up.

Doesn’t matter which, you’re not allowed in anyway – but it does point to a problem with the way information shows up on the web site, which is to undergo a significant and badly needed upgrade. I am on the city web site close to a dozen times in any one day and know it as well as most.  It isn’t all that friendly.  There is a Request for Proposals put out by the city for someone to do the upgrade that closes early in December.

Doctors viewing data on a web site – done right the internet allows for a very smooth and fulsome display of data and information. Burlington isn’t there yet – but they are at least moving in the right direction.

Whoever is chosen will take on the task of re-building the web site.   This is an opportunity for the city to “shine” by choosing the right firm and not getting stuck with a lowest bidder situation.  Please – not another pier.   Hopefully, when the job is done,  we will see a source of information that is user friendly and holds everything you ever wanted to know about the city.  Showing two locations for a meeting you are not allowed to attend isn’t quite what is meant by useful information.

Friends sent us a link to a piece that gives a glimpse of where the future could take us.  Have a look.  Burlington could have something like this; the city could provide transit information on the web that would be real time to let me know where the bus is and how long before it gets to my stop.  There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make an appointment with your council member via the web site.

The city has decided it wants to move all its information out to a web site and let the public interact with the city at that level rather than deal with people face to face or over the telephone.

Properly designed getting what you want via a web site can work very well.  Unfortunately much of what Burlington has in place right now – just doesn`t work all that well.

What kind of experiences have you had? Leave a comment.

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