Being a transit ambassador is a great job – one guy and eight girls. Great odds.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7, 2012    — Twelve students from Burlington area high schools have been selected as Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors (BTYAs) for the 2012-2013 school year.

Last year,  the ambassador program with six teens from three city schools joined the BTYA ranks. This year the number of students has doubled with two representatives from Aldershot; Robert Bateman; Nelson; M.M. Robinson; Central; and Corpus Christie high schools.

An orientation meeting was held at Burlington Transit on Oct. 29 with this year’s Burlington Transit Youth Ambassadors. From left to right: Madelon Haantjes (Aldershot); Nicole Volk (Corpus Christie); Maha Hussain and Abbie Wiggin (Robert Bateman); Katie Reynolds and Chloe Simpson (Central); Corinne Bulger (M.M. Robinson); Kale Black (BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association); Jill Mulveney (Nelson) and Sandra Maxwell (Burlington Transit)

Six of nine Burlington secondary schools are now involved in the BTYA program.

“Teachers whose students were involved last year are spreading the word to their classes and the response has been great so far,” said Sandra Maxwell, Burlington Transit’s marketing co-ordinator who oversees the BTYA program. “Many new schools have heard about the program and are inviting us to present to students in their eco-clubs.”

And why wouldn’t they? The Burlington Youth Ambassador program has many learning and social benefits for students. Highlights of the program include:

The BTYA program provides peer-to-peer teaching opportunities where students can learn and talk about public transit and promote taking the bus as a healthy, environmentally-friendly transportation choice.

Youth ambassadors run promotional programs and special events in their schools and teach others about the benefits of public transit, spreading “how-to” information as well as information about the environmental impact of people using cars instead of taking the bus.

Students run promotions fully supported by Burlington Transit with information and materials.

Students earn points and rewards in exchange for their involvement. Schools can win cash for their eco-clubs.

Students are preparing to launch a Green Monster campaign, where they will ask students and teachers to make a “monster” statement and a commitment to bike, walk or bus to school the week of Nov. 19th.

Paul Carvahlo (Burlington Mall Representative) with Dr. Jane Goodall and event sponsor, Joe Saunders of Burlington Hydro.

Burlington Mall is a sponsor of the program, donating  prizes and providing a $1,000 annual cash donation in June to one school’s Eco-club to recognize the efforts of the BTYAs from that school.  Paul Carvahlo, the guy who makes things happen at the Mall, has been a leading advocate for a more environmentally involved commercial sector.

The BTYA program was jointly developed by Burlington Transit and the BurlingtonGreen Youth Network.

One of the new buses added to the Burlington Transit fleet. There were buses that had more than 15 years on their tires – those old ones certainly rattled down Guelph Line when I was on one of them.

Burlington Transit has been upgrading its fleet with newer buses coming on line.  Transit has been a problem for the city – the volume is nowhere near what it should be but getting people out of their cars is not a simple matter in Burlington.  Students are for the most part a captive market and creating the “hop on the bus” mentality will increase ridership.

The city cut back the frequency on a number of routes last year as part of an attempt to re-assign transit assets and get better value for the significant amount spent.


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Dullish weather certainly didn’t dull sales at the 10th annual Art in Action Studio Tour.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 7,  2012  The sunshine chose not to appear but the event went well nevertheless as art patrons from across the city drove to the ten studios that were part of the Art in Action’s 10th annual studio tour.

Teresa Seaton’s Poppies stained glass piece highlights the red leaves on the tree outside the studio she was showing in as part of the Art in Action Studio Tour – this was their tenth event.

There were a number of the regulars at the different studios and there was some talent that was international in scope.  We saw jewellery that is being featured in some high fashion magazines and glass work that draws top prices.

The 36 artists in the ten studios, conveniently grouped into east end, west end and downtown locations, had groups of people who came in small waves.  A studio would be empty one minutes and the suddenly quite full.  In one house a neighbour dropped in with the comment “I didn’t even know this was going on” and stayed to look over the jewellery.

Jessica Gneth, last year’s scholarship winner takes part in her first Art in Action studio tour. Water colourist Sarah Carter works in the background.

Jessica Gneth, one of the scholarship winners last year, took part for the first time.  There was some nervousness, a little awkwardness as well but the more experienced artists were on hand to help out and give some advice.  Gneth, an MM Robinson student, will be back again.

Some studios worked better than others but all were active.  We ran out of time this year and got to just eight of the ten. Problem with going every year is that you meet artists you met the year before and you get to see the growth in their work and appreciate just what they have to offer.

A very attravtive set of small oil paintings that were also very pleasantly priced were part of the Cheryl Goldring offering.

Cheryl Goldring has certainly grown as an artist.  Her watercolours are much larger and more ambitious than in previous years and while small birds are likely to always be a passion for her – the offering this year was much broader.  There were some very well executed small oils offered this year.

Cheryl Laakes had much more fabric on display this year.  Tammy Hext, as she has in the past, painted while patrons looked at her previous work.

Helen Griffiths, who did very well on the selling side had a large selection on display. The paining at the top right sold during the day.

It was a delight to photograph Helen Griffiths and the walls covered with her art and then realize that one of the paintings that was there when the picture was taken, wasn’t there anymore – it had been sold.  The oil painting was of colourful houses on a street in St. John’s Newfoundland, and was sold to a Newfoundlander now calling Burlington home.

Kyle Brooke did a nice, close to brisk business, at the Ed Roy Gallery across the street from the Royal Botanical Gardens entrance on Plains Road.  This is a ceramics artist to watch.

Aubrey Denomy, in a Belvenia Road studio, was perhaps the most eclectic in her offerings.  She has sculpture, paintings and what she called “Christmas tree bling” available.

Peter Schlotthauer has moved into smaller items with a couple of rings on display that show considerable promise.

David Cockell, a whimsical illustrator, painted while patrons browsed at the Artist’s Walk in the Village Square.

Doug Cockell worked away at one of his whimsical paintings, almost oblivious to the people who were walking through the studio in the Village Square, which we have heard has been sold.  If the rumour is true, that was one of the fastest commercial sales in the history of this city.  Rumours abound  as to what will happen to a property that was once a favourite spot for Burlingtonians.

I would put any sale down to wishful thinking on the part of the owners.

Kyle Brooks, a ceramic artist with work that is international in scope, writes up a sale. Her studio across the road from the RBG is well worth a visit. An artists worth watching.

Teresa Seaton, the artist that seems to do most of the organizing of the event (she does have a committee working with her) said that sales were up but the visits were down a little.   Most of the ten sites got between 350 and 400 visitors but there were a few that were quite a bit lower.

The Art in Action people have been doing this for ten years now and while the event has grown it isn’t quite where many had hoped it would be.  “We’ve tried everything” said Seaton. “We even advertised on the Weather Channel and the numbers are OK but the hope was that they would be higher than they are.”

Monica Bell, a quilter taking part in the Studio Tour for the first time.

The ten studios can be covered in a day.  We found that a number of people travelled around together in a van which made it something of an outing.

Does Art in Action grow the event and have even more than 10 studios?  They aren’t sure yet.  Would it make some sense to have a collection of artists at the Village Square?  That could happen but they would need better cooperation from the family and that hasn’t transpired so far.

Artists can’t afford retail rents – they have always set up in parts of a city that aren’t fashionable where the rents are low.  With the artists in place the places become fashionable, the rents go up and the artists have to move on to less expensive digs.

There is an opportunity here for whoever buys the Village Square – set aside some space for those “starving” artists and let them be the draw.  The place could certainly use the traffic.


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The city wants a signal from you on what the rules related to signs around the city; what should be permitted and what shouldn’t.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 5, 2012   City hall staff were in a bit of a hurry on this one – they wanted to know what you thought of the current sign by-law and were looking for feedback as it prepares to review its sign bylaw regarding the use of banner-type signs throughout the city.

Is this the kind of thing the city wants to change?

The city’s current sign bylaw outlines the use of signs throughout the city, including guidelines regarding the colour, size, design and location of signs. It also limits the use of banner- type signs to charitable organizations only. These signs are considered incidental signs and do not require a permit.

“We have heard from the sign industry and local businesses that they would like to see some changes to the city’s current bylaw,” said Tracey Burrows, manager of bylaw enforcement and licensing. “We are looking at how these signs are being used on private property and the issues around size, location and the length of time the signs can be displayed.”

The City of Burlington is gathering input on possible amendments to the bylaw. An online survey is available on the city’s website www.burlington.ca/bylaws. People who don’t have Internet access that are interested in providing comments can call 905-335-7731 to complete the survey over the phone. The comments received from this questionnaire will be used to develop a recommendation to the city’s community development committee.  Input and comments must be received before Nov. 5 to be included.


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Communicating with your customers; here’s how they do it in London, ON – which is where our city manager hails from.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 1, 2012  You want to talk to someone at city hall; you know the department but you don’t know the full name of the person you want to speak to. Or you know their name but don’t know their phone number.

Learning who does what at Burlington city hall is a challenge – and that’s the way the city wants it.  They don’t want you calling people, who are in meetings more often than not.  Kim Phillips, a city general manager who oversees Budget and Corporate affairs wants to drive the public to the city web site, which if you haven’t noticed, hasn’t won any awards for ease of use.

City General Manager Kim Phillips will handle the e-government file – is she a true believer in getting useful data into the hands of citizens or is she more concerned about cost containment and keeping her staff off the telephones?

Phillips once said to a committee meeting that she didn’t want to see the city staff directory on the web site.  Her preference is to drive traffic to the web site where citizens can learn what they want to know.  Have you ever tried to navigate that web site?  Have you ever tried to do a search for something?  It’s easier to just call someone – they can usually give you a fast answer – if you can catch them at their desks.

City Manager Jeff Fielding thinks his staff hold far too many meetings and that the meetings they hold last far too long.  And if you ever find yourself in a meeting with Fielding – don’t expect to be there very long.  This guy wants you in and then he wants you out.  Nice guy, friendly, very helpful but he isn’t there to talk about the weather.

When you want to find someone in London, Ontario, former roosting spot for our city manager. It was easy to find any of the rascals. Don’t expect to be able to find the same level of access in Burlington.

London does it quite a bit differently.  Go to their web site and just pick out the staff directory from the city’s web site; it’s there on the main menu.  Type in the name and you get the person, the title, the telephone and the local and which floor of the building they are on.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Burlington put in a new telephone system a while ago – it was chaos for more than a month.  At one point the women at reception had to deal with three different telephone sets.

Any other corporation installing a new telephone system would never tolerate this level of service.  Crews would arrive on the Friday to install everything and it would be fully operation on the next work day.  For some reason the municipal world seems to be able to get away with this kind of really sloppy service.

It is not all doom and gloom.  There are services that are fully electronic – and they work very well.  Just not enough of them.  One that we found to be excellent, was getting an on-street parking permit while the drive way was being paved.  Went on line at 2:00  am, (insomnia) and it was a breeze.  The only hitch was that it wanted the second part of the Street name (Ie: Drive, Avenue, Crescent) which wasn’t immediately evident to me.  After that I just typed in the data and got a document to put on the dash board.  These permits allow you up to 15 days a year of on street parking at night.  The document you get tells you how many days you have left.  That’s service, which perhaps makes Kim Phillips’ point – drive them to the web site.  Fine – but deliver top level service so that I don’t have to phone anyone.

City Manager Jeff Fielding was very recently awarded the first ever Local Government Program Alumni Society Award of Excellence.    There just might be some bright days ahead for Burlington taxpayers.

Hope they are working hard on making it real easy to vote on line.  No more election night lineups – easier to get rid of the rascals.

The City is providing adequate online service delivery in comparison to other municipalities, but needs to evolve its model to remove the risk of falling behind. The e-Government Strategy proposes that Burlington be positioned as a Digital City – a city that uses technology to its full potential and fully engages the community in delivering excellent, innovative and efficient customer service. This innovative model will provide Burlington a competitive advantage for attracting knowledge and technology based business and community initiatives.

The city`s e-Government Strategy presents four strategic cornerstones for successful delivery of an effective e-Government program:

1. Build a Customer First Service Delivery model. Design and build programs and services in a truly customer first way.

2. Build a Customer Centric Technology Architecture. Build a core foundation based on new and enhanced portal

technologies that deliver more robust, flexible and updated functionality and provide integration to a Customer Relationship Management system.

3. Prioritize an Internet First model, while supporting channel choice. Design services so that the Internet is the primary service channel over other costly channels, while supporting and enabling delivery through conventional channels.

4. Embrace Open Government, Citizen Engagement and Government 2.0.  Embrace Open Government and Open Data initiatives to encourage participation, interaction and transparency.  The strategy requires an investment of approximately $2 million in technology and resources over the next three years. This will build the technology platform to power the e-Government and online service programs for the future.

There a lot of those buzz words bureaucrats like to use.  But the essence is that they want you to go to the web site and get your water from that tap and don`t come into the kitchen with your cup in hand.  It costs the city too much to provide the number of staff needed to answer all the questions.

That`s good cost containment talk but it doesn`t do much for the citizen wanting information.  Burlington has a population that is aging and at the same time there are sections of the city with young families and parents on the go with smart phones in their hands far too often – even as they drive.  Dumb.

Christrine Iamonaco, on the right, was brought in to develop a Citizen’s Engagement Charter for the city – her document goes to a Council Committee this month – don’t expect it to be smooth sailing.

Much of that spending on e-government  got the chop in the 2012 Budget – the civic administration wasn’t really ready, and at the time they weren‘t effectively staffed up.  A former IT type who did one round of changes on the city web site found greener grass at the federal level and moved on.  Cuts at the federal level brought him back to Burlington. 

This file gets back to the committee – let`s see what we can get done this time around.

The Citizen`s engagement Charter comes up at about the same time.  Some had hoped that e-government, a process that would make tons of data available and result in a citizenry that had everything they needed to work with city hall to advance their fondest hopes and dream, gets to put its best effort on the table as well.  We will keep you up to date on how that one goes.

Will the zeal that he had in his early days as part of the Shape Burlington committee still be there when the Citizens Engagement Charter gets put before council?

Councillor Blair Lancaster was an original member of the Shape Burlington Committee; left to run for public office. Will we see any serious commitment to the concept of citizens having strong rights and access to the information they want? Is Lancaster positioning herself for a shot at the top job when Goldring decides to retire?

Many of the people who were heavily involved in the development of the document think it is too long – will real life get breathed into it before the end of the year?   Don`t hold your breath.  City Council as a group isn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy about the idea of an Engagement Charter – most went along with it as a motherhood and apple pie issue  – they didn’t know how to say no to what the Share Burlington report was recommending.

The two council members who were members of the original Shape Burlington committee that produced the report went on to bigger and better things and now sit on city council where they will determine the fate of the Charter that is being put forward.

It will be interesting to see how Councillors Lancaster and Sharman stick handle this one.

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Engaging ideas for November. Three authors talking about things that matter. Few cities get authors like this.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  November 4, 2012  November sort of seems like a lead up to the coming holiday season.  The time is busier; work makes more demands of us and our social lives get busier.  Life around us is more active; there is so much more to do.  That lazy summer weekend seems so long ago.

It’s a small, independent bookstore that has been in business for more than forty years and continues to draw top level authors. Burlington is one of the few Canadians cities that consistently offers these events.

We human being seems to go through these cycles and our friends over at the Different Drummer are adding to the  mix of all the things we can do, want to do and would like to do.

Ian Elliott, proprietor at the bookstore on Locust Street has put together a November program you are  going to want to take part in.

Globe and Mail writer Doug  Saunders, will talk about his new title, The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? at the Burlington Public Library on New Street Monday, November 19th at  7:00 pm – tickets $10.

Very few Canadians understand the change that is taking place in our society with the immigration influx.  Will these new people change our core values; what will they bring to Canada that we don’t already have?  It is time for more Canadians to begin to understand what these new Canadians offer – more than you may realize.

A broadcasting career that ran for more than 40 years during which tens of million Canadians learned what had gone on during the day. Lloyd Robertson was the most popular news anchor of his time.

On Monday, November 26th at  7:00 pm  Lloyd Robertson, former news anchor with CTV News, and many may not know, a onetime lead broadcaster with CBC will be at Royal Botanical Gardens 680 Plains Road West Burlington, 7:00 pm to talk about his illustrious career as a news anchor and reflect upon his six decades as a journalist.  The Kind of Life It’s Been is a personal look at a career we all watched take place.  Robertson will offer wonderful insights and some laughs as well.  Tickets to the event are $10.  The event is being sponsored by A Different Drummer and Bryan Prince, Bookseller.

Clair Carver Dias will be at the Different Drummer Sunday, November 11th at 2:00 pm.  An Olympic medal winner Dias will talk about her novel; a riveting chronicle of six athletes staking everything and battling personal and professional odds for the ultimate goal – a chance to compete at The Games. Ian Elliott tells us that Dias is an accomplished writer, a superlative speaker and wonderful company.

Dr. Neil Turok will deliver the CBC Massey Lecture for 2012.  He will be speaking at the McMaster University Club.

Neil Turok, the person giving the Massey Lecture this year, at the McMaster University Club, 1280 Main Street West, in Hamilton  on November 27th; 7:00 pm.  Tickets are $10.   The Massey subject this year is : The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos. Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute, presents a vision of the future based on the workings of the human mind.

This is pretty heavily stuff but highly relevant – tickets will go quickly.  The event is being put on by A Different Drummer in partnership with Bryan Prince Bookseller and House of Anansi Press.

All the speakers are informed, highly engaging and well worth the time.  A Different Drummer Bookstore.


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If the point hasn’t been made yet, the award to city manager certainly does: – excellence please, nothing but excellence. .

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 5, 2012  With less than a year under his belt as city manager, Jeff Fielding gets a call from his old stomping ground and is told he is the recipient of the first ever award given by the  Local Government Alumni Society at Western University to a civil servant for excellence in his field.

The award was  announced at the annual conference held at Museum London.  Fielding, served as City Manager for the City of London from 2004-2012, was honoured for his 30 years of significant contributions to municipal administration.

City Manager Jeff Fielding has been at his desk for close to a year now and has figured out who the performers are and who isn’t pulling their weight. He recently admitted to council that he is understaffed at the top levels but has yet to find the person he is looking for to fill the third General Manager position that is waiting to be filled. Fielding would rather go with too few people than find himself with people are aren’t going to deliver. Refreshing.

The Local Government Program Alumni Society Award of Excellence was established to honour and recognize an individual who inspires others and demonstrates public service excellence. The award is presented each fall at the Local Government Program Alumni Society conference.

In presenting the award, Jody Johnson, Local Government Program Alumni Society President said: ” Jeff is a leader who has consistently demonstrated public service excellence through his longstanding commitment to improve the quality of life for all citizens,”

Fielding said the usual obligatory remarks in his response when he was given the award: “I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Award of Excellence from Western University’s Local Government Program Alumni Society. I consider being a public servant a privilege, and I thank the alumni society for this recognition”.

But behind those words is a tightly focused manager who expects nothing but excellence from those he leads.  When he arrived in Burlington he took up the vacant city manager office on the eighth floor of city hall but soon moved down to the sixth floor where the two city managers and other members of their team work.  Being around the corner from the Mayor on the eighth floor was not the way Fielding was going to lead his team – he was going to be right in the thick of it with them.

City Manager Jeff Fielding on the lift with General Managers Kim Phillips and Scott Stewart. Fielding moved from the floor he used to share with the Mayor to the floor in city hall where his General Managers keep the city running.

Being with them isn’t enough for him though; he leads by example; he expects to make mistakes and when he does (and he has made a few) he apologizes and learns from his mistakes.  He expects the same of his staff.

Fielding managed to squirrel away $80,000 for staff training that will be delivered through a curriculum being prepared by the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University on the south Service Road in Burlington.   The classes are for staff from Supervisor level up – and they are mandatory – and don’t fail the course.

“The Local Government Program Alumni Society is one of Western’s most influential and active alumni groups. The establishment of an award of excellence for both alumni and non-alumni is another example of their leadership in recognizing and honouring great public service throughout Canada”, said Josh Morgan, Recruitment and Development Officer, Western University.

Mayor Goldring said: “We are fortunate at the City of Burlington to have someone like Jeff Fielding who is wholly committed to excellence in public service. Western University’s Local Government Program Alumni Society clearly recognizes Jeff’s contributions to inspiring those around him and creating an environment of innovation”.  That demand for excellence applies not just to the staff Fielding leads but the council that serves as his board.

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Mike Wallace gets a triple base run at the Art Centre; knows more about Soup Bowls than he ever wanted to know.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON    November 2, 2012  Is this Friday?  Then Mike Wallace, Burlington’s member of parliament is in town and he is either running a workshop, meeting a group of constituents or handing out cheques and getting his picture taken.

This Friday Wallace was hitting a triple base hit.  While he didn’t have the cheque in his pocket he did make the cheque for the new gas fired kiln at the Burlington Art centre possible and he was on hand to look at the equipment purchased and learn more than he ever wanted to know about pottery and gas fired kilns.

Ever the politician and a very solid constituency man at that – Mike Wallace chats with Helen, a member of the Pottery Guild who once delegated to city council when Wallace was a city Councillor. “I was able to solve a small problem for her” said Wallace.

That was the base hit part of the day.  He moved to second base when he bumped into a constituent he has known for some time and was able to take a moment to catch up on some of the local happenings.  Then he was taken on a short tour of the Art Centre and got to look at some art that he understood, but didn’t understand what the value of the collection was to the Art Centre. “Where’s the value” was the question he had for the Ceramics Curator Jonathan Smith.   Smith was explaining that the Art centre buys a full place setting for eight people from Canadian ceramic artists that become part of the permanent collection.  The BAC has the most extensive collection in the country of Canadian ceramic art .

Wallace didn’t quite believe what he was looking at was a photograph and took his glasses off to get an even closer look. He was certainly impressed with what he saw.

Wallace also got to look at some art that amazed him – he asked several times if what he was looking at was a painting or a photograph.  He was quite impressed with what he was looking at.

The third base drive for Wallace though was the television crew that followed him around. CPAC , the cable channel owned by the six of the cable television companies in Canada is doing a program on Burlington’s MP – not sure when they will broadcast the program – we will tell you when we know.  They spent a full day following him around filming what an MP does when they are in the constituency for a day.

Much to Wallace’s chagrin – all that is likely to make it to air is about five minutes of tape.  Turns out CPAC does these profiles of MP’s; keeps them on file and when they have a program that doesn’t fill in the hour or half hour allotted – they fall back to the film library and drag up whatever they have on hand that fits the slot.  As Wallace put it: “It’s basically filler” but he’s going to ask for a copy of whatever they have and he’ll put it up on his web site.

Creepers – we thought federal bureaucrats could waste time and money – all day with an MP for a possible miserable five minutes.  Yikes, but the spending is being done by the cable television companies, not the government.

The federal governments Cultural Spaces Canada program donated $31,900 for the purchase of the new kiln.  That donation covered close to half of the total cost.

$30,000 + of taxpayers money – and the folks at the Burlington Art centre are delighted. Burlington MP Mike Wallace was touring the Centre and getting a look at the gas fired kiln that will glaze all the bowls being used for the annual Soup Bowl event – always a BAC sold out event.

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

The acquisition of the kiln was the culmination of 10 years of work that started when Frank Friedman began advocating for the piece of equipment that has allowed potters at the Art Centre to do much more sophisticated work.

Burlington MP Mike Wallace has a piece of art explained to him by BAC Curator of Education Leslie Page

The Burlington Art Centre is renowned in Canada for its collection that is the largest of Canadian ceramic work consisting of more than 2000 objects that have been collected during the last 30 years. Jonathan Smith, Curator of the ceramic collection, explained that there are artists from Vancouver to Halifax in the collection.

The BAC collection also has some late 18th century and 19th century porcelain in its collection. “People who know porcelain travel to Burlington to see what we have while others just stumble upon the collection while they are here.

The bowls that will be sold as part of the annual Soup Bowl event – November 15 to 18 – usually a sold out event were in the kiln while Wallace was being told how the thing works and why it was so appreciated by the Art Centre.

Mike Wallace, Burlington’s MP looks at a place setting that is part of the BAC collection. Photo was taken through a glass display stand where Wallace wondered where the value was for the Centre in having place settings for eight people in the collection.

When a politician does a tour and works to get funding for an organization there is often a small token of appreciation given by the group that got the funding.  Ian Ross knows the game well and he made sure there was a small gift for Wallace who gratefully accepted the box with the bowl and a vase and said “he now had a Christmas gift for his wife”. It’s a nice gift Caroline – but Mike didn’t pay for it, so look under that Christmas tree again.

Wallace has been very supportive of the arts in Burlington.  He helps where he can and when he can. The Ireland Farm has been given financial support and if Wallace could he would see a plaque in Burlington noting that the Burlington Races took place somewhere off the shore of the city in 1813 – turns out that’s a provincial thing and the federal people never meddle in provincial stuff.


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Test smoke alarms when changing clocks this weekend. Did you know that failing to comply with smoke alarm rules can result in a fine?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON November 2, 2012    It’s one of those things you know you should do – some of us used to do it New Year’s Day – but there were first day’s of the year when the idea of climbing up on a ladder was not such a good idea.

Then a fire chief somewhere came up with a really neat idea – he said “why not remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms on the Sunday that the clocks go forward or backward?

That was a really good idea and it seems to have become the practice at least in Canada.

They work – but only if they have fresh batteries.

Every year, we read stories of apartments or houses that catch fire and often, all too often there is some loss of life and we hear a despondent fire chief explaining to a television camera that the smoke alarms did not work because the batteries were dead.

There may be some juice in the batteries you have in that smoke alarm now – but why take the chance.  Figure out what size of battery you need and climb up on that ladder and make the change.

This is fall so the clocks go back an hour Saturday night and you get an extra hour of sleep

“Smoke alarms can only do what they are designed to do if they are working,” explained Public Education Officer Lisa Cockerill. “At least once a year, replace the batteries in your smoke alarm with new batteries and test all smoke alarms once a month.”

Push the test button for 10 seconds. If you hear the alarm it means its working. No alarm? It’s time to replace the battery or the unit.  Smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years.

It’s the law to have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. For added protection, it is recommended to also install smoke alarms inside all bedrooms. In order to survive a fire, you need to be provided with an early warning and know what to do when the smoke alarms sound. Have a fire escape plan with a meeting place that everyone in your family knows.

Assistance is available for seniors and persons with disabilities in the community who are unable to replace batteries or test their smoke alarms on their own. For more information or request assistance with your smoke alarm or for fire safety information please call 905 333-0772, ext. 6333.

Tampering with, or removing the batteries from your smoke alarm is against the law. Failure to comply with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements can result in a ticket for $235 or a fine of up to $50,000. For further information visit www.burlington.ca/fire.

 

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35x35x35 Live, OnSite and OnLine – those aren’t basketball scores – must be related to art.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 30, 2012  They opened the place 35 years ago – times does fly.

When did that orange piece of metal work outside the building go up?  That long ago eh?  Maybe I’m actually getting used to it.

Placed outside the Art Centre in 1978 the aluminum structure has drawn attention to the Centre.

The structure is A Space Composition for Rebecca by artist Haydn Llewellyn Davies, who died in 2008. It is orange aluminum and has been a fixture outside the building since 1978.

The Burlington Art Centre Foundation is going to hold a three part auction with thirty five items in each part to highlight and focus public attention on their 35th year of existence.

Applications to be considered for the Art Auction in 2013 close November 23, at 5:00 pm.

The three parts are 35 Live, 35 Onsite and 35 Online auctions for objects from visual artists working in all medium.  Entries for the three auctions will be selected by a jury of experts to ensure quality and an offering of unique and original pieces.

Each category will include a range of art forms and values.  Category selection will be made, in part, by a determination of which pieces will be best suited to which audience, thereby increasing the opportunities for a successful sale.

Artists must submit a completed Art Auction 2013 Submission Form, along with a digital image of the artwork, by Friday, November 23, 2012, 5:00 p.m.

This call is:

Open to all artists who are residents of Canada

 Members of the BACF Art Auction Committee are not eligible

 Works submitted must be original works of art or fine craft, created within the past two years

 New Media/Digital & Photographic artwork must be signed, limited editions, with a maximum   of 10 prints of that image, in any size

 Two dimensional artwork must be mounted or framed, wired and ready for hanging  Archival quality materials must be used.

Each artist may submit a maximum of two pieces through the Call for Entry process, but no more that one piece from each artist can be accepted for the auction.

For complete details and a submission form please go to www.theBAC.ca/call

Please review the information on the Call For Entry Pamphlet and send a completed Submission Form, along with all required information and a digital image of your artwork, by Friday, November 23, 2012, 5:00 p.m., for consideration by the jury.

We prefer that you use the Art Auction 2013 Submission Form that can be completed and saved in Word. However, if this is not possible, you may print out a form or the pamphlet and complete the information by hand.  Please help us by printing legibly.

Label your images with your last name, first initial, 2013, and the title of your piece.  (e.g. smithj2013sunrise.jpg)

Email submissions to auction@theBAC.ca (preferred), or deliver, in person or by mail, to:

Burlington Art Centre, Art Auction. 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON, L7S 1A9


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It isn’t easy to find really good people – there are jobs at city hall that aren’t going to get filled.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 30th, 2012   More changes on the staffing side at city hall.  The search for a third general manager doesn`t appear to be going all that well.  Could the city manager do the job with just the two general managers?   Can Kim Phillips who handles the corporate and administrative side of things and Scott Stewart doing the heavy lifting on the operational side keep the good ship Burlington on an even keel?

Alan Magi, foreground in blue shirt, listens intently during the development of the Strategic Plan last year. Magi wasn’t able to get people to listen during the recent governance review of that Strategic Plan; partly because he didn’t have much to say.

City Manager Jeff  Fielding explained to a city council workshop that he was stretched pretty thin on the senior staff side and has a couple of people who aren’t pulling their weight.

Alan Magi certainly didn’t cover himself with glory when he lead council and staff through a governance review and a closer look at the strategic plan now that we are well into our first year with that document.

While Kyle Benham isn’t a city “employee” he too is getting a stern second look by both his board and city council.  There are those who think that board is far too large to be effective and many wonder if it can do an effective performance review of their Executive Director.

The mess with the IKEA plans to move from their Aldershot location on Plains Road to a site on the North Service Road just west of Walkers Line threatens the efforts on the part of the city to retain IKEA as a corporate client.

Kyle Benham, Executive Director, Burlington Economic Development Corporation – will he make it past the performance review?

The Economic Development Corporation hasn’t been bringing forward very much in the way of new business to the city.  Other than running full page advertisements in the business press telling the commercial world that we are the second best place to live in the country there isn’t much to see for what is being spent on that department.  Those who are betting people won’t even need odds to get a return on their money if they bet on major changes over at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.

There are some really smart people at city hall who think the whole thing should be blown up and re-created as a much smaller board; say seven members rather than the 20 people who populate that board now.

Economic development is far too important a matter to play around with.  The Molinaro project next to the GO station is going to result in 1000 housing units; the ADI project on Guelph Line is going to result in 70+ units; the project being worked up for Ghent Street is looking for more than 50 units.  Many of the people that move into that housing might want to work in Burlington  – but there have to be jobs for them.  The city also needs the tax revenue from the ICI (Industrial, Corporate, Institutional) portion of the property base.

Tax revenue from ICI for 2012 looks like it will be less than it was during 2011 – not a good sign and one that is giving the city manager and the treasurer heart burn.

Frank McKeown advised the mayor a few months ago that he wanted to move on from his role as Chief of Staff.  Many wonder if Rick Goldring is ready to fly on his own and if Jackie Isada, who is moving from the sinking ship over at economic development and into the Mayor’s office, will be able to fully replace

McKeown.   Many think that is a stretch.

Frank McKeown, on the left talks with Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman during the Strategic Plan sessions. McKeough leaves the Mayor’s office at the end of the year – is there a future for him elsewhere at city hall? Many hope so – the talent is needed.

Frank on the other hand still talks about a political role in his future and is on record as saying that if there were a seat open he might go for it.  The rumour is that he kind of likes the look of Ward 4 – is Jack Dennison ready to throw the towel in over there?

McKeown doesn’t have to work but his administrative and analytical skills are both in demand and badly needed at city hall.  Expect to see him staying on after he finishes the transition out of the Mayor’s office and in some senior role where he would work very closely with the city manager.

City Manager Jeff Fielding is doing everything he can to upgrade the skill sets and the competencies of his staff and will have everyone from Supervisor level up taking courses created for the city by people at the DeGroote campus of Master University on the South Service Road.

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New faces, new art a part of the 10th Art in Action studio tour November 3rd and 4th.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 29, 2012  They are doing this for the 10th time – the Art in Action, an artist’s collective that  organizes studio tours in the city with up to ten homes opened to the public where the work of various artists is on display.

Along with showing the work of the artists in the city, Art in Action sponsors scholarships and are generally promoting the health of artists.

Each year new artists are added to the list of about 35 people who show their work.  Among those being added to the list this year are Kyle Brook, Donna Grandin and Monica Bell.

For Donna Grandin “making art brings beauty and pleasure into our everyday lives”.

The richness, almost exotic colour we see in the Caribbean is reflected in Grandin’s  art.

Her artistic inspiration comes from living plants interacting with their environment, sun shining through the leaves, wind blowing the petals, other plants in the background adding variety and contrast. “I try to express the atmosphere, the memory of a specific moment in time, and my feelings about the place. In my current series of acrylic paintings, I focus on tropical flowers, foliage and fruit, drawing on my experience growing up on a lush Caribbean island”.

While her art is “representational” Grandin sets out to “communicate the abstract rhythms of nature,”.   “I play with the organic shapes and vibrant colours to create uplifting and engaging images” and that she does.

Donna Grandin is a Caribbean artist, born Donna Gomez in St. Lucia in 1974. At the age of 17, Donna went to school in Canada, and in 1997 she graduated with an Honours B.A. in Art from McMaster University.  She has been represented by galleries in St. Lucia for a number of years, while living and travelling in Europe with her husband before returning to live and paint in Burlington, Ontario.

Red seldom gets as luscious as this.

Donna’s paintings have been in both solo and group exhibitions in Ontario and St. Lucia, and are in private collections in Canada, the U.S., and the Caribbean. Honours include the gold award in visual arts in the M&C Fine Arts Awards competition in St. Lucia in 2001, and a mural commission by the City of Toronto in 2009. Donna exhibited at Toronto Art Expo in 2011.  This is her first participation in the Art in Action Studio Tour.  She is exhibiting at Sparling Cr., in the east end of the city.

The Art in Action Studio tour takes place on Saturday November 3rd and on Sunday the 4th.  The location of the ten studios is shown on the map below.  Hours are:  10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  You can do the full tour in a day and have time for a leisurely lunch as well.

Monica Bell working on a piece of fabric.  One of 36 artists on the Art in Action Studio Tour.

New this year to the Art in Action Studio Tour is fabric artist Monica Bell who took her first quilting class when  working as a recreation therapist for a retirement and long term care facility.  The first quilt she  made was an Irish Chain which was raffled off during a fund raiser for the recreation department.  The second quilt didn’t come for some time and that was followed by an invitation to a quilting retreat by a cousin. “ I have never laughed and learned so much as I did that first retreat,” said Monica – she was hooked and since 2008 quilting has become an obsession for her.  “I easily lose track of time and become engrossed in my project as it relaxes me and energizes me at the same time. My work started with traditional patchwork techniques and through the years I have started leaning toward the more contemporary designs.”

This quilt is quite a bit jazzier than the traditional Mennonite quilt – but then this quilter isn’t a Mennonite.

“Daring to be Bold is my first original design. I love to work with printed cottons and Batiks but have started to experiment with the use of other textiles.  I use many techniques including hand embroidery, hand and machine appliqué, beading, use of wool fibers, and machine quilting using both my domestic sewing machine and a long arm quilting machine.”  Clearly a growing fabric artist – you will enjoy her work.

The Studio Tour is new for Kyle Brooke who grew up in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado at the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Raised by a family of fine artists, craftspeople and musicians, Kyle’s childhood was filled with gallery visits, art fairs and a deep appreciation and passion for the arts. As a result, Kyle has always striven to learn new techniques and has developed an exceptionally broad background in the arts and crafts.

The translucence of these two pieces almost lifts them off the table.

Kyle spent two years studying graphic design and then began experimenting with various art forms, from water-color paintings and photography to ceramics and jewellery making. From an early age, Kyle has been intrigued by the medium and art form of glass and made the decision to travel to Canada to focus her undergraduate college education on glass art.

When Kyle arrived at Sheridan College, she began her education in the Art Fundamentals program to develop a solid skill base. After successfully completing the course, she entered into the Sheridan College Crafts and Design Glass Studio.

Almost as if the earth has opened up.  Kyle Brooke has certainly lifted this art to a new level.

Upon graduation Kyle spent over a year traveling across Canada and the United States attending various art conferences and exhibits.  She settled in Oregon and worked for the Bullseye Glass Company and the Eugene Glass School. This experience helped to enhance her knowledge, contacts and techniques. As well as keeping her current on important industry trends, events, artists and opportunities.

In early 2009 Kyle took that experience and resettled in Canada where she became a part of a movement in contemporary art.  Kyle continues her journey creating, teaching and promoting glass art in her community.  She has honed her skills as a professional well-rounded glass artist while energetically promoting glass as a contemporary art form

In the past 3 years, Kyle has been a resident artist at the Living Arts Centre on Ontario Canada and continues her education by attending courses and conferences all across North America. Her work ranges from bold sand castings and blown forms to elegant jewellery. She is an ambitious self-motivated individual who is passionate and dedicated to furthering her growth and development as a glass artist.

In 2011 Kyle Brooke and her partner Matt Robertson opened their own studio/gallery, The Edy Roy Glass Gallery in Burlington, Ontario, where she creates, teaches and showcases both functional and non-functional glass art.

 

 

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Is Burlington going to see historical plaques around the city that will tell our story? Rick Wilson certainly hopes so.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 21, 2012  Burlington could begin to see commemorative plaques all over the place.

Heritage Burlington, the city’s advisory committee on heritage matters, has had a request that it look into a plaque to recognize the people who originally owned the property that is now Sherwood Park.

Rick Wilson, a member of the Heritage Advisory committee has been wanting a plaque in Burlington that tells the story about the Burlington Races, a name used to tell part of the War of 1812 story. Wilson believes there is ample evidence to show that events took place right off the shores of this city in 1813 that were pivotal to the outcome of the War of 1812.

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

There is a plaque over in Hamilton that Wilson claims is just completely wrong but he hasn’t been able to get that plaque changed.  Those plaques we see in parks and other public places are put up by both the federal and provincial governments.  The one that Wilson claims is wrong was put up by the province.  Wilson claims Jane McKenna, Burlington’s MPP is just “blowing me away” and that Mike Wallace, our MP has tried to get something done but the sign is a provincial jurisdiction and there is nothing he could do.  Wallace was able to get Wilson into the Fort York event in Toronto last summer at which the Prince of Wales was the feature attraction.  Wilson is eternally grateful; that’s another Wallace forever vote.

Councillor Meed Ward suggested to the advisory committee that they pull together all the documentation they have and send it to the appropriate people within the provincial government; “if you make your case clearly enough you will be heard” was Meed Ward’s advice.  Heritage Burlington just might take this one on.  Turns out Jim Clemens, chair of the Advisory Committee has a strong contact within the arm of the provincial government that over sees the erection of those plaques all over the province.

Burlington has a very strong waterfront history but we aren’t particularly good at telling our story.  That might be part of the difficulty behind all the problems we have with wanting to highlight our local history.  One is very hard pressed to find any reference to the canning factory that was once the biggest commercial operation in the city.  It was located on the property that now houses the Waterfront Hotel.

We have a Historical Society that does a good job of collecting data on our history; but we don’t do a very good job of getting those stories out of the archives and in front of today’s public.

The city does have a system for listing any property that has even a hint of historical significance and that really upsets many people. A property along Lakeshore Road owned by the Morrison’s was said to have historical significance, which the Morrison’s claim is totally bogus, and they want their house taken off any list the city has.

There are lists, some of them are of little use, but there are other lists that are vital if Burlington is to have any hope of maintaining some of  the historical properties.

The Navy Memorial on the Waterfront is close to the best piece of historical recognition in the city.  It is a truly remarkable statue that pays tribute to the merchant marine and naval activity in WW II. This memorial was created by community groups and put up in a city that really doesn’t have a marine or naval tradition.  It does however go to show that there is a deep interest in telling our story.  Wilson is pointing to a part of Burlington Bay where he believes the Burlington Races probably took place.

One of the problems is that in this city the real estate community has convinced the public that any kind of a historical reference to a piece of property lessens the value of the property.  In other cities a historical reference adds significant value to a property.  There is still a lot of educating to be done in this city.  While there is some leadership on this at city council there is none from the real estate community.  Their bread and butter comes from the sale of homes – and homes with a demonstrable historical significance are more valuable in many cities – look at Niagara-on-the-Lake if you want an example.

This designating of property for historical purposes has been a very contentious issue in Burlington for some time. It has torn different communities apart and created much ill will between otherwise very decent people.

The Advisory committee has been given the task of changing the approach taken to how we recognize what is and what isn’t historical – it is not going to be an easy task.

 

 

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Vital signs – interesting numbers that highlight some very disturbing problems to which we don’t have the answers right now.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 3, 2012   A robust crowd gathered early in the morning at the First Credit Union branch to be taken through some “vital signs” about our city – it was not a pretty picture.

The research report, launched by the Burlington Community Foundation,  measures the city across ten areas of focus, including health and wellness, environment, youth, and newcomers.

Burlington Community Foundation Tim Dobbie confers with Executive Director Colleen Mulholland about the research report with some stunning data that was made public on Tuesday.

“As a public foundation created by and for the people of Burlington, we help people, corporations and agencies accomplish their charitable goals and address our city’s most pressing needs,” said Colleen Mulholland, Executive Director of Burlington Community Foundation.  “To accomplish our mission, we first need to deeply understand the community: our strengths as well as areas of need. This is why we have created our first-ever Vital Signs report, a community check-up that evaluates Burlington as a place to live, work, learn and grow by identifying trends that are critical to our quality of life.”

Burlington is a prosperous and affluent community where its individual, household and family median income is 20% higher than Ontario as a whole. This means it is sometimes harder to see the gaps that exist between rich and poor and the rise in mental health issues among youth. .

We are growing,  but not at the rate we have grown in the past and in a direction that brings a lot of problems with it.   More than 80,000 of the 174,000 people in Burlington are over 45 years of age and 1 in 5 of us come from some other country.

To fully appreciate just how wealthy we are as a city – look at that field in the middle of the stadium. Burlington’s parks equal 3,303  of those football fields.

Burlington has 1463 hectares of parkland – which is the equivalent of 3,303 football fields.  That is a lot of parkland.

In a telephone survey to 300 people done by an outside research firm, more than 91% of the people called in Burlington said they donate money to others who are less fortunate.

More than 33% of the people in Burlington volunteer some of their time to helping others make the city a better, nicer place to live.

That’s the plus side – we are, on paper at least, a caring, giving community.

More than 42% of the people in Burlington earn more than $100,000 a year.

The value of the average home in Burlington is $466,000.

We are a rich community as well but we aren’t all rich.

The bad news is very painful.  The vacancy rate for apartments is 1.3% which means the market is very tight and that drives up prices.  Nice for the landlords but very, very hard for those living below the poverty line – and Burlington has a lot of people living below that poverty line.

The researchers tell us that within a decade we will see 24% of the population living below the poverty line.

Day care in Burlington costs $60 a day.  It isn’t possible for low income people to afford day care at that price,which means they don’t work and require social assistance.

We know who does the bullying and we know for the most part where it is being done. Why aren’t we able to bring an almost immediate halt to this kind of behavior. Is the problem with the children who do the bullying or with the parents of those children. That wasn’t a polite question.

31% of newcomers live in poverty – given that 1 in 5 of us were not born here – that is not a nice number.

24% of the minorities live in poverty.

24% of those who are unattached – a polite word for single mothers, live in poverty.  That poverty just grinds these women down and their children suffer.

63% of the people using food banks have been doing so for more than three years.  Many thought food banks were a top gap measure.  For far too many their  trip to the food bank is your trip to the supermarket.

This is what poverty looks like – bleak, cold, few prospects and little hope.

What does poverty look like?  Living on $20,778 a year with one in three living in extreme poverty – getting buy on less than $10,389 a year.

In her remarks Colleen Mulholland told of a woman who said she has to steal to care for her family.  Why is this happening?

31% of newcomers in Burlington live under the poverty line and tend to earn 50 cents for every dollar other people earn.

Our social problems are not limited to the newcomers.  Our youth are suffering from problems they see as staggering. Four out of every 12 young people between the ages of 12 and 15 experience bullying.  We know who is doing the bullying – why have we not managed to have it stopped?

Between 10% and 15% of the teenagers have thought of harming themselves.

Between 19% and 27% of teenagers feel they have too many problems.

Between 6% and 11% of teens have thought of committing suicide.

This is a part of the rosy picture we paint of the city we call the nicest place to live in Canada.

When the data was delivered to a room of more than 60 people, BCF chair Tim Dobbie, with a dazed look on his face said “Wow”!  It was not a happy wow.  He followed that up with a “so what do we do now?”

And indeed that is the question – what do we do now?

Why do we have these problems?  Is it all the result in an unequal distribution of the wealth we have?  Is it because parents are too busy to do their job of raising their children?  Are the schools failing us?  Is this happening because we are no longer much of a faith based society?

Len Lifchus, CEO of the Burlington/Hamilton United Way, the organization that raises funds which are delivered to agencies that deliver support services, listens to data he is all too familiar with.

These aren’t polite questions – but when a parent is called to the hospital to talk to the emergency staff about their child having harmed themselves or worse, and this is happening now; when the police knock at your door to tell you that your child has committed suicide, being polite just doesn’t matter anymore.

This report comes out as we get into the 2012 United Way campaign where we need to raise $2.1 million to take care of those who live under that $20,778 poverty line and especially for those that have to try and get by on $10,389.

Do we see the link between the drug use and the social problems?  Our Burlington covers the police stories and note that the police are kept very busy tracking down the drug dealers.  Having been offered a “joint” as I was coming out of the library a number of months ago I can attest to the size of the problem – the kid was less than 20, taking a break and inhaling that funny smelling cigarette.  We all recognize the smell – do we recognize the problem?

It was a tough report that we had to hear and the BCF people deserve full credit for seeing the need and the courage to put the facts before us.  Hopefully we will have the courage and the concern to do something about those facts.

Vital Signs is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. The check up is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada.

The Burlington Community Foundation was established in 1999 by a passionate group of local volunteers and philanthropists to improve the quality of life in Burlington.  Several of the city’s  former Mayors were instrumental in getting the organization off the ground.

The initial funding came from a Mayor’s Gala sponsored by Rob MacIsaac; the first meeting of the Foundation was chaired by former Mayor Walter Mulkewich.

The Foundation helps people create funds and support meaningful local causes. The Foundation’s experts understand the community and help donors respond to vital needs by providing grants to charities.

The Masquerade Ball, the Foundation’s annual fund raising event tries  to sell 600 tickets to the event.  They have a lot of fun and the expensive tickets raise the money for the Foundation to operate.


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Mayor has now determined the kind of message he wants to send out – it won’t be show business.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 28, 2012   Every Mayor decides at some point, what kind of a mark they want to make on the city they are leading.  That mark is a combination of their hopes and dreams for the city; their background and experience and then the people they know who can help them fashion the mark they are going to leave.

That’s the dream – and it bumps into the cold hard reality of the world of politics and people and the economy they have to deal with.

There is a load of frustration and disappointment in being a Mayor and while many think the Mayor is “popular” and can call anyone for help – the truth is – it is very, very lonely at the top.

Saturday evening the Mayor’s Cabaret will be held at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Getting the production to the stage was a bumpy road.  A delay with the show date and a tremendous amount of work by the Mayor’s staff hasn’t produced the results they wanted.  These events have to be carefully worked through to determine who the audience is supposed to be and then figuring out how you get them into the building.

It isn’t going to be a sold out event – and there probably won’t be a second Cabaret.

Burlington doesn’t have a long tradition of Gala’s headed up by the Mayor.  This type of event became popular in the 90’s with former Mayor Rob MacIsaac holding the first event and using it to raise funds for the Community Development Foundation.

Former Mayor Jackson ran a different kind of Gala and then ran afoul of the city manager and didn’t hold an event his last year in office.

Mayor Jackson ran a different form of Gala and then ran into some difficulty during his final year in office with his event.  Jackson went on to lose the election – not because of the way his Gala`s were run we might add.  After leaving City Hall Jackson became a lobbyist for a professional organization.  We are advised that he has since left the group he was representing.

There are former Mayors who don`t feel events like this should be run out of the Mayor`s office.  Mayor Goldring has found that putting on an event like this eats up far too much of his staffs’ time.

The event won`t be a bust – but it will probably be the last one sponsored by the Mayor.

Rick Goldring is doing something else that matters – and it is with his Inspire series of speakers that we can expect to see change – albeit not in the short term.  Planting new ideas in the minds of a community that tends not to take on new ideas easily is a challenge.  What Goldring has done is find speakers who have ideas and something to say that can lead the city in a different direction and give us something to base our decisions upon.

The first speaker was Chris Hume of the Toronto Star who made no bones about what he thought of what McMaster University had done to the city.  He saw their decision to back out of putting a campus into the downtown core as “morally repugnant”

Hume got the event off to a strong start and it has been uphill from there.  The events have been held at McMaster’s DeGroote campus on the South Service Road but have moved to the Performing Arts Centre where they come close to full house events.

The speaker at the Mayor’s next Inspire series will be Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospital

And it is on this level, stimulating the minds and the imaginations of the community where Mayor Goldring has chosen to make his mark.  Later this Month Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals, will speak on how we care for our aging population, which for Burlington is going to be a huge challenge.

While it is the hospital that will actually deliver that care – it is the community that is going to have to communicate to the hospital what kind of care that it wants, needs and is prepared to pay for.  The $60 million given to the hospital by the city on behalf of its taxpayers has to stand for something.

Ken Greenberg explained the role the large pension funds are playing in the development of the downtown cores of Mississauga and how his group had worked with developers in Toronto.

It is now clear what this Mayor wants to do – he wants to get people thinking; he wants to bring new ideas to the table and create discussions that result in a public ready to do things differently.  He has certainly brought in excellent speakers.  Andre Picard talked about where the public health business was going; Ken Greenberg talked about the way major developments were being done and who the players were in the development game.

Gil Penalosa  told the city how we could make more and better use of bikes and “create vibrant and healthy cities for all: from 8 to 80 years old”. His focus was the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on walking and cycling for recreation and transportation. Out of that talk came the two Car Free Sundays we had this summer.  One of the two was a strong success – closing Brant Street didn’t go as well.  Will we do it again?  We should.

The city got a bronze level award for the way we have begun to focus on getting people outdoors and using bicycles more frequently.  Burlington loves getting awards and this one will probably spur the city into doing more bike related stuff.  There is a night ride scheduled by a group in the city this weekend.

The two Car Free Sundays went well enough to try again next summer – although many of the people stuck in their cars may not think it was a good idea.  The idea was to get those people out of their cars.

All very good speakers – BUT, and this is not meant to rain on the Mayor’s parade – is anyone listening to these speakers; are they being heard?  The city is currently looking into what it wants to do and can do with its employment lands – those properties that will hold the office buildings and high tech, high value added manufacturing operations the city needs.

Time and again we hear the consultants we hire telling council to “do your homework”.  The Molinaro’s recently announced the purchase of the large lot in front of the GO station on Fairview, to the east of Wal-Mart and will be moving forward with their plans to develop the property.

During the Workshop the city held earlier in the week on the Employment Lands Councillor Jack Dennison (Ward 4) asked if maybe the Molinaro’s could be asked to include an office building in their plans.  The Molinaro’s  didn’t get to where they are with that kind of woolly thinking.  They have already decided what they want to do with that property and have it all costed out.

That the city doesn’t know what they have planned suggests that perhaps some Council members are still using rotary dial telephones and have forgotten how to use them.

The Mayor fully understands the gravity of the problems we have and he is doing a part of the job that needs to be done.  He does need to immerse himself into the talks with the developers and not leave that to the Economic Development people – nothing is getting done over there.

But the Mayor can’t do it all – the rest of us have to do our homework.

If we don’t do things differently – we won’t continue to exist.


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Library is not a luxury but something we can afford and need to continue funding. Question is: how much do we want to spend?

 

By Margaret Lindsay Holton

BURLINGTON, ON September 28, 2012  You may recall the recent spat between the Mayor of Toronto’s brother, Doug Ford, and Margaret Atwood, famed Canadian literary icon.  Aside from the eye-opening revelation that Mr. Ford had no idea who Ms. Atwood was, he and his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, on elected promises of tax cutting, were about to eliminate several community libraries. Quelle Horreur!!! The Twittersphere exploded. Facebook campaigns were hatched. Newspaper headlines joined the harangue. Canadian literati rose en masse and Ms. Atwood became their witty champion. A ‘Libraries-Are-Essential!’  REVOLT erupted.

And yet, really, have public libraries become a subsidized luxury that we, as a debt-ridden democracy, can no longer afford?

The naysayers say NO. They do believe public libraries are invaluable venues for all strata of society to not only access current information, but as research centres and repositories of our diverse social histories, local and global.

Maureen Barry, CEO of the Burlington Public Library and a consummate professional has overseen the move deeper into electronic media yet keeping real books on shelves.

As Maureen Barry, CEO of the Burlington Public Library writes, “For 140 years, generations of Burlington residents have helped shape who we are and what we do.” She goes on, “Our thriving library system is a testament to the many citizens who have supported their public library as patrons and volunteers.”

Consider this. Public libraries as an IDEA of ‘free and open access to the public’ only really caught on in Victorian England. Prior to that, public access to cherished sacred and secular written texts – and a better education – was pretty much non-existent. Illiterate serfs remained illiterate serfs. Public access, of sorts, initially began during the violent upheaval of the French Revolution (1789-1799) when cleric manuscript collections and rich nobles’ private libraries were confiscated and became ‘state property’. Over 300,000 items became a part of the newly conceived national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. “Old ideas of monarchy, aristocracy and religious authority were abruptly overthrown by the Enlightenment principles of equality, citizenship and inalienable human rights.” These principles were a natural outcome of the invention of the printing press during the 15th century. “The affordability of the printed word boosted the democratization of knowledge.” (Wikipedia) And that democratization became the cornerstone of today’s democratically inspired public library service, a service available to the general public regardless of wealth or education.

The first known library in Canada was established at a Jesuit seminary in Quebec City in 1635. The public were not allowed access. The first public library in Lower Canada was founded in Montreal in 1796, a mere seven years after the French Assembly in Paris published the first ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen’. The first public library in Upper Canada opened in Niagara in 1800.

It took another 100 years to build a proper public library in Burlington. But that did not stop the IDEA of a public library service taking root in this growing lakeside community within the newly hatched Dominion of Canada. Library services in Burlington began in 1872 when local public school trustees voted to spend $56 to purchase a suitable supply of books from the Toronto Board of Education. These books were placed in the reception hallway at the schoolhouse located on the southeast corner of Brant and Caroline Streets. Members, paying fifty cents a year, were able to access the collection for one hour on Friday evenings.

John Waldie, early library patron, was the   MPP oversaw the merger of Port Nelson and Wellington Square into the Village of Burlington.

It took the initiative and open-mindedness of a former local resident, of Scottish descent, to build the first ‘free’ public library.  And he, John Waldie, did a lot more ‘community-building’ before he finally got around to doing that. During the course of a very successful career as a wheat trader in Burlington, then lumber merchant in Toronto, and as a re-elected MPP for Halton, Mr. Waldie was largely responsible for amalgamating the two lakeside communities of Port Nelson and Wellington Square into the Village of Burlington in 1873.

Several decades later, primarily through his broad-minded philanthropy, the first library in Burlington was built on Brant Street (on the site of the current City Hall.) It also shared the premises with the town offices and council chambers of the time.

 

 

First Burlington Public Library on Brant Street, 1913. Current home of City Hall.  Photocredit: Burlington Public Library

Today, a 140 years later, with a somewhat staggering budget of $8.5 million (2011) allocated for staff, maintenance, IT acquisitions, and material book purchases and with a registered user base of less then half the population of Burlington, the public library could be seen as an expensive civic extravagance by the rest of the ‘unregistered’ city population. Begging the question again, are public libraries too expensive, especially in the age of the internet?

Let’s look at some other statistics provided by the library’s public relations department. In 2011, nearly 2 million items were borrowed from the library; nearly one million ‘unregistered’ patrons visited library branches; near 45,000 attended library specific programs; and over 100,000 information requests were fulfilled by library staff. All told, it would appear that this particular library, our library, for the monies allocated, is serving the regional populace very well.

There is no question though those libraries, like us, in this burgeoning internet era, have had to adapt. Today, Information Technology (IT) infrastructure at the library often consumes a greater proportion of the budget than the book acquisition fund. Within the BPL’s Strategic Plan (2012-2015) entitled: ‘The Next Chapter: Thinking Outside the Books’, the BPL intends to further improve functionality and accessibility “by upgrading the core computer system”. The new reality is that we are all increasingly ‘plugged in’. Like it or not.

In Alberta, city libraries charge patrons anywhere from $5 to $20 a year for library cards, but in Ontario, the Ontario Public Libraries Act forbids charging money for access to a library or for borrowing books. There are, thus, few other options for generating revenue aside from taxes. All the more reason for the BPL to provide exemplary ‘connected’ library services to the tax-paying ‘plugged in’ public.

Many would argue, (myself included), that libraries, regardless of spiraling IT and staff costs, continue to provide an irreplaceable democratic role within our young Canadian society. To close them in the name of the ‘global’ internet, would not only close access to those who cannot afford purchasing a private library or pay for monthly internet access, but closure would diminish the nurturing lifeblood of local vibrant communities. Communities coalesce within the ‘free and accessible’ democratic framework of library branches. Public libraries are fundamentally a democratic institution. And one sign of a diminishing democracy would be the closing of community libraries.

It is hard to imagine the lack of an element that we take so much for granted today: electricity. This means of illumination only became available to the general public at the beginning of the twentieth century, (about the same time that Waldie donated thousands of books to form the backbone of the Burlington Public Library.)  Today, we plug in, bounce around on WIFI, and unthinkingly consume megawatts of purchased electrical power to illuminate our expensive laptops and computers. Primarily, we use this bought power to read items for work, school or pleasure: briefs, newspapers, text messages etc, and increasingly, e-books. But, worth asking, what happens if the power goes out, or, Harper forbid, the economy collapses? Communities, without the resources of their public libraries, would suffer profoundly.

Free e-books were first developed in 1971 by the late Michael  S. Hart, founder of Gutenberg.org. More here:

The greater question remains, can we, as Canadians, AFFORD public libraries?  The time and money we privately expend on consumer-electronic portals is far greater than any we physically devote to our library. Likewise, some would say that television, YouTube and the ubiquity of photo imagery – (‘A picture tells a thousands words’) – have usurped literacy altogether (a la Doug Ford).

 

Child reading

And yet, on closer examination, it is clear that the fundamentals of literacy remain the same for all times and for all ages.

Creating strong narrative arcs to teach and to guide, and using potent language effectively to inform and advise, are the results of a solid education grounded in the basics of reading and writing. Learning how to think is built on the constructions of other’s better words. Their thought-filled written scripts funnel our curiosity and creativity so that we, in turn, develop new insights and pass on our know-how. In that regard, the story-telling cuneiform clay tablets of Sumer dating back to 2500 BC really are the antecedents of the trendy ‘tablets’ of today. The difference is that ‘being literate’ now involves additional skills beyond reading and writing: one must also become computer literate.

As much as the internet does increasingly pre-occupy our time, attention and money, a successful public library providing popular library services – as a kind of ‘out reach’ extension of a nurturing public school system – continues to constructively guide our ever-inquiring minds.  As many also well know, a well-directed search or inquiry through the library is a welcome antidote to the growing anxiety iDisorder of ‘E-Information Overload’. The library has an information service many find useful:  – Just Ask-a-Librarian: It is not surprising that the Burlington Public Library website was visited over 1.5 million times last year.   That works out to over 4000 ‘hits’ per day. Yes, active minds seek answers.

Rather than redundant or too expensive, public libraries have become increasingly necessary filaments that maintain the democratic ideals espoused by our freedom-fighting democratic forefathers. Without them we would also become increasingly disenfranchised from the roots of our very real earth-bound communities.  As vibrant hubs of community service, public libraries today provide much more than free access to current newspapers, periodicals, CDs, DVD’s and books. They also offer early reading programs, computer access and training, literacy tutoring for children and adults alike, and a safe haven for ‘intellectual freedom’. Altogether, they augment the basic tenets of our democracy.

The mission statement for the Burlington Public Library states, “Enriching Burlington by supporting 21st century literacies, lifelong learning, and community connections.” Yes. That is what they do. As Ms. Maureen Barry so aptly writes, “Our public library is truly a dynamic civic commons. “ Yes, that is what it is. All the more reason for us, within the larger community, to continue to support and promote it. Because, as much of the rest of the war-torn and weary world knows: if we don’t protect and use this hard-won democratic ‘freedom’, we just might lose it.

Fiscal prudence and long term accountability must, of course, be continuously evaluated and considered. Cutting back on some library services might be necessary in the days ahead, but never, ever, must we contemplate cutting out our public libraries completely.

And now, a bit of fun.

The Top 100 Books of All Time. 

For those who prefer non-fiction: The Top 100 Non-Fiction Books of All Time –

Better yet, JOIN The Burlington Public Library.

It is FREE, still, for those who live, work or pay taxes within Burlington.

Also coming up at the Burlington Public Library on September 29th: The Human Library. Eleven men and women, of diverse backgrounds, some from oppressive totalitarian regimes, use the ancient arts of ‘story-telling’ and dialogue to break down barriers of prejudice that have shaped their lives. Their stories of disenfranchisement – and ultimate survival – continue to open our minds to the challenges of our ever-evolving humanity. Book your half hour with an engaging living person.

These stories remind us all of the on-going preciousness of an open-minded community-orientated democratic public library service in Burlington, and in Canada.

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.


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Brilliant sunny day with more than 1000 doing the Terry Fox walk. Great community stuff – loads of pictures.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 12, 2012  The first run was in 1980 when the city raised $4000 for the Terry Fox Research Foundation and a cure for cancer.

More than 1000 people were out on the pathways at Beachway Park and running through Spencer Smith Park.More than 100 volunteers helped people with massages, warm up exercises, giving directions and handing out glasses of water.

These are the ladies that collected the funds raised. One family came in with more than $1600 raised in their community. We will have the final count later in the week.

We will know later in the week how much was raised in 2012.  The total raised since 1980 in Burlington is now over $1.4 million.

Who would have thought that 32 years after Terry Fox had to abandon his run across the country using an artificial leg, that we would have hundreds of people coming out every year to run for a cause.

Don Carmichael, chair of the Terry Fox run in 2012, meets with part of his team to go over the final check ins before the event gets serious and the crowds begin to show up.

Many, perhaps even most of the people who ran today were not alive when Terry Fox did his run.  I heard about a one legged man declaring that he was going to run across the country when he dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic ocean and headed west.  It seemed like a bit of a stunt to me – I knew nothing about the man.

It was a little nippy in the morning, the kind of weather that helps the leaves turn colour and keeps people shivering just a bit. That changes when they begin their run.

I was sitting in an office window watching Terry Fox run with that half limp,  half trot of his as he headed south and into Nathan Phillips Square where more than 100,000 people were on hand to greet him.  This was no stunt.

The fund raising drive, which hadn’t done all that well when it worked its way through the Maritimes and Quebec, picked up momentum as the national media picked up the story in Ontario and from that point it just took off.  There were close to nightly news reports with a summary at the end of each week.  The country was mesmerized by what this man was doing.

Eight years earlier Canada came together as a country when a Canadian Team beat the Russians in a closely fought hockey series.  We had a sense of who we were after that and when Terry Fox caught our imaginations we had no trouble getting behind to help.

The country almost automatically  made the project theirs and we’ve been doing that ever since we lost Terry Fox in 1981

He was born Terrance Stanley “Terry” Fox, on July 28, 1958 and was made a Member of the Order of Canada.  There is much more to the Terry Fox story than this.  Follow the Burlington event and the young man`s story.

Part 2 of the Terry Fox story and the Terry Fox run; a photo feature.

Deb Tymstra MC’d the event – her second year doing that job. Here she goes over her notes to prepare for an event that almost got out of hand when the Casey Cosgrove supporters were gathered to have pictures taken. That crowd was so large that it held up the Bikers and the Walkers who Tymstra wanted to get started. She managed the chaos.

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Bateman Wild Senior’s football puts 30 member squad on field; now want to win their tier, Pearson & Aldershot need to be beat.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 12, 2012   There they were, out on the field, grunting, running, stretching their limbs – more than thirty of them practicing as the Bateman High School Senior Football team.

The protesting team – from the left: John Phelps, Chad Doan, Kennedy Dyet and Chris Bishop.  When the football players learned their team had been scrubbed from the football schedule they took to the streets in protest.  They made their point and the football team is back on the field.  Now they might have to deal with a teacher work stoppage.

They had to protest to get there – but after a part of a day out on the street waving signs and seeking support for their team – they were back in business.

No one remembers when there was a demonstration by students at Bateman before and it took courage to make the decision to protest when they learned that their wasn’t going to be a Senior Bateman football team on the field for 2012.

Chris North sent an email to Our Burlington – we ran with his letter and followed up with a visit to the school to see how the protest and demonstration went.  While there, we saw some student behavior that was great, we saw kids talking in groups the way students around the world talk in groups and we saw students that were behaving – let’s be blunt about this – it was just plain dumb behaviour.  We certainly heard about that from more than 45 students and the parents of students.  That’s all part of an interactive process where people get to say what they think.  We will comment on how that went later in the week.

This piece is about the football team – the guys that decided they weren’t prepared to see their team disappear from the roster.  Chris Bishop led the group that was made up of Chad Doan, Kennedy Dyet and John Phelps.  All are back at Bateman doing an additional year to upgrade their marks.  All have clear plans to attend university with a pretty good idea of what it is they want to study.

Four high school football players who felt their team was wronged and took to the streets in protest. They made their point and are now back on the football field. Gotta be at least eight proud parents out there. From the left: John Phelps, Chad Doan, Kennedy Dyet and Chris Bishop.

Doan wants to study psychology.  “I’m interested in the way people behave and want to learn more about that”, said Doan, which led to questions about how the school administration behaved when they decided to shut down the team.

Chris Bishop thinks he wants to study criminology and maybe look into law.  Another student wants to study sports management.

The students felt they were told it would be “impossible” for a senior team to be put together and so they were scrubbed from the schedule.

“They had a mind-set and didn’t think we could field a team” said Dyet who coaches a team in the Burlington Minor Football Association.

These four young men didn’t see it that way.  They believed they could mount a team but, just as important to them was the rule that would mean there would be no team playing the following year if they did not mount a team this year – and these four young men didn’t want to see that happen to those that would follow them.

Kennedy Dyet wonders why they had to protest. “We were told there was nothing they could do for us” but once the protest was underway the principal of the school met with the football players and asked how he could help.

It looks as if the Phys-ed people had given up on the students and pulled the team from the schedule.  The students say they weren’t told the team was being pulled. There was clearly a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the part of at least some members of the team, which when identified, moved the administration to get behind the students.  Now the football players have to get the school behind the team and begin winning some games.

On Tuesday evening there were 29 seniors out on the field – huffing and puffing through the exercises.  It looked like a good workout from the side lines.

The Bateman Seniors are a Tier 3 team – they want to move to at least Tier 2 and see Pearson and Aldershot as the schools they have to beat.  “We’ve got six to seven regular games in the season” explained  Dyet “and then the semi-finals.

Football team protests the scrubbing of their team from the schedule. Administration changes its mind – team out practicing – next they have to win some games.

Chris Bishop feels the support they need is now there for them within the administration but also feels that it wasn’t there for them before they hit the streets with their signs.  “The principal did meet with us at the Bistro and asked us what it was we wanted and we told him we wanted our team on the field.  “Mr. Heffernan said he would do everything he could to help us – that’s all we wanted” said Bishop.

Kennedy Dyet added that the volleyball players are battling for a program “and we think what we’ve done will help them get what they feel they deserve.”

“We had faith that we could make out point” added Dyet “and now we have to do the hard work.”

The players commented on the new coaching staff they have. “These guys have great history commented” commented Chad, “one of our coaches was with Team Canada.”

Is there a problem with the commitment level on the part of the phys-ed staff and the school administration at Bateman?  May have been. Had they given up on their students and as Kennedy put it, brought a “mind set” to the table that prevented them from seeing what the students wanted and what they were prepared to do.

Will the “no strike” legislation the provincial government has passed impact this football team that has shown it wants to be out on the field playing the game.  Are teacher politics going to get in the way of the educational process the way it did in when the Mike Harris government was battling the teachers?

The young men we talked to were polite, focused, left me feeling there was a clear sense of purpose and an objective they had thought through.  I came away with the feeling that there are eight proud parents out there somewhere.

The task now is to develop and condition their team and support them with enthusiasm that provides the energy and that extra bit of “make it happen” that a cheering crowd can give a team.  All four young men know  exactly what a cheering audience can do for athletes.

Go Wild!

 

 

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Now the public gets to say what it wants – artists models for BPAC site on view at the library.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 11, 2012  After many months of keeping everything under wraps, Jeremy Freiburger finally opened the curtains and is letting the public see what the three Burlington judges have chosen as finalists for the public art that is going to stand in front of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Burlington is slowly learning that if you want the public to buy into an idea – let them know what you are up to; ask their opinions and listen to what they have to say.

You can view models of the three finalists at the Central Public Library or see large photographs at City Hall and Tansley Woods – and that is about as far north as the public viewing will go.  Something for the city to look into – the people north of Upper Middle Road are just out of luck when it comes to knowing much about what goes on at city hall, unless they want to drive well outside their community

The currently unadorned Performing Arts Centre may soon get some public art.  The plans are to place the art in the small fore-court – shown in the right of this photograph.

Art is a very subjective thing.  Many people feel that they know what they like the moment they see it – and that is certainly true.  But taste is something that is developed; something that evolves over time.  That development takes place when you see and experience different forms and examples of art.  Some feel that public art should come from within the community – others feel the search should be world wide.

The judges are: Ian Ross, executive director of the Burlington Art Centre, Emma Quinn, executive director of the Ontario Craft Council, Trevor Copp, artistic director of Tottering Biped Theatre, Natalie Eldershaw, 4th-year Sheridan College art student.

The steering committee that oversaw the process included: Avery Brooks joiner – local youth involved in Culture, Dan Lawrie – project donor;  Brenda Heatherington – BPAC Executive Director, site stakeholder;  Mary-Ellen Heiman – member of BPAC Board and Denise Beard, Acting Manager of Community Development Services for the city of Burlington

The three finalists, chosen out of the 119 submissions to the Call for Submissions the city put out in March of this year, were asked to then create a small model and provide some detail on what they proposed to create.

Those models are now on display at the library on New Street

The project got its start when Burlington businessman Dan Laurie expressed an interest in sponsoring some public art that would be placed in front of the Performing Arts Centre, at the intersection of Elgin and Locust streets in downtown Burlington.  Laurie put up $37,500 of his own money and the city used $75,000 from its Public Art Fund

The Cooke-Sasseville submission, Stay Connected, is made of stainless steel; aluminum; powder-coat paint.  It is 15 feet high x 27 feet wide.

The Cooke-Sasseville submission is certainly the most colourfull of the three.  How will the bright colours stand up to weather over the long haul?

In explaining their submission Cooke-Sasseville had this to say:  “We are proposing the creation of a monumental and playful sculpture that stems from the idea of representing, on an exaggerated scale, a well-known, easily identifiable object that is closely tied to the performing arts: a technical console and connecting cables. Our proposal is visually striking and evocative in its usage of space and it will transcend the objects that it represents, becoming an almost abstract work that brings to mind both vegetation and the human circulatory system. The work will be firmly fixed to the ground and expand into space in a systematic manner, schematizing a perfectly orchestrated choreography where the notions of movement, exchange and transmission are represented.”

“The work that we are submitting suggests a never-ending openness towards the sky and it may be interpreted in many different ways, from the simple representation of everyday objects to the schematization of complex fractals. In doing this, we wish to glorify that which may seem banal but which is really essential, or that which is not seen but which plays a crucial role in the creation of major artistic productions: the technical side of the production as well as the importance of collaborations, human contact, encounters and communication.”

A scale model of the Cooke-Sassville submission.  These Quebec based artists have done a significant amount of public art work throughout North America.

The Peter Powning submission, Spiral Stella,  is to be made of stainless steel; cast bronze and stand 16 feet high and be 30 inches wide.

The Spiral will be 16 feet tall and include in the bronze casting artifacts from the community that could well make this one of the most intriguing pieces of art in the city.

Powning explains his submission this way: “My intent with this proposal is to produce an iconic sculpture of scale that has impact from a distance but which also provides an intimate experience up close. I propose a sculpture that offers an opportunity for discovery, an enhanced sense of local identity, and education opportunities; a community touchstone honouring Burlington and the Performing Arts Centre; its history, natural environment, culture and identity. A key element of this project will be community participation in providing important cultural and historical artifacts to include in the cast bronze spiral. I think of this bronze relief as cultural mulch, incorporating artifacts from the historical to the contemporary.”

“The elements I will be working with are meant to balance content and form in a dynamic approachable sculpture. The obelisk will reflect the sky, patterns of cloud and ambient light, changing hues as the day progresses, the cast bronze provides visual and textural contrast as well as an intimate tactile experience. The formal obelisk shape organizes the various parts of the sculpture in a unified, recognizable whole. In close proximity, it reveals a material richness with layers of cultural content gathered from the people and institutions of Burlington in cast bronze relief. From a distance, this monumental sculpture will be visible as a landmark.”

The section that appears in blue is the part within which the artist will include local artifacts.  No one knows at this point what will be included if this submission is chosen – but if it is chosen – expect everyone in the city to come up with something – it’s going to be out there for everyone to see for at least 50 years – perhaps forever.

What doesn’t become immediately evident in the artists comments is that the people of Burlington will contribute a large part of the Spiral – and he has no idea what the public contribution will be.  Somehow, what people want to see included in the spiral will get to the artist who will include it in the final structure.  That could be very informative and certainly reflect the community.

Aaron Stephen calls his submission In the Round which will be made of cast zinc alloy; architectural zinc sheet and have a diameter of 28 feet.

The In the Round submission is far more complex, and intriguing, than evident in this picture.  That globe graphic is made up of more than 15,000 small figurines.  Interesting approach but the location and the height of the art will need some consideration.

“In the Round”, says the artist, “is composed of over fifteen thousand small human figures traversing the wall of Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s fly tower. Each three-inch metal figure interacts in a unique way. Some mill about, some talk, walk, or just look around – simply depicting a crowd of individuals interacting as we do in everyday life. From a distance the minutia of this crowd disappears while a larger whole becomes apparent. Each individual figure acts as a pixel defining the collective image of a twenty-eight foot world globe.”

“Anyone who has attended a live performance has experienced the curious moments that immediately precede the actual event. In the lobby, crowds mill around and everyday conversation takes place. There is a unique energy in the air that can only be described as communal anticipation. The evening takes a turn as the performer(s) appear on stage. In a brief moment, what previously seemed to be a haphazard group of audience members becomes a single entity.”

“Like the distinctive beginning of a live performance, In the Round encompasses the same feeling of anticipation, movement, and energy. It represents the moment in which the community of Burlington becomes fully engaged and implicated with those on stage.”

Examples of the more than 15,000 figurines that will be used to shape a graphic of the globe in the In the Round submission.

The “official”  illustration doesn’t do justice to this submission.  That it will be at the back of the theatre is a limitation.  What is shown in the official picture is a graphic of the world – what you don’t see is the 15,000 little  figures that will make up the globe.

All three submissions have merit.  Several are unique in the approach they use to involve the person looking at the art.

The city has asked the public to “Tell us what you think!” and have provided a place on the city web site for comments on all three pieces of art.  Log into WHERE and tell the city what you think.  If you can – get over to the Library, and look at the maquettes (fancy word artists use when they really mean to say a model of what they have in mind)

There are also ballot like forms upon which people can write their comments.

The judges will review the comments and come to a final decision.  That final decision doesn’t have to be the selection of a specific piece of art.

The three judges chose three submissions – they could have chosen five or ten but there wasn’t enough money in the budget to give every artist the $1500 grant to prepare the model.

Once the judges go over all the comments they will decide which of the three submissions should become the art that will be placed outside the Performing Arts Centre. The judges do not have to choose one of the three finalists – the decision they make will depend on the public feedback.

The challenge for the judges is – are they going to lead public opinion and help shape it or are they going to follow public opinion.  Attempting to lead public opinion in Burlington is not always a rewarding endeavor.

If public opinion is strongly against any of the three submissions the judges can decide  that none of the three put forward is what the public wants.  What do they do then – and why were just three of the 119 submissions selected?

The selection process had two parts to it.  First review everything that came in and then invite the three the judges thought were the best and ask them to prepare a model of what they were proposing.  Each artist was given $1500 to build their mode.  There wasn’t enough in the budget they had to work with to invite more than three.

This is the second major public art project for Burlington.  The “orchids” ,done by Irish artist Alex Pentek, were liked by many – but just as many couldn’t understand why it was placed in the middle of  busy Upper Middle Road, where it is extremely difficult to see the art as you duck under the railway overpass.  Very poor location.

The Performing Arts Centre is seen as a prime public site and with the right art it will be something people will come to see; providing the city selects what the public is prepared to accept.

Make a point of getting to the library to look at the models.  And let the city know what you like and don’t like – and add why you like what you see as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bateman Wilds football team take to the streets to protest the decision to shut down the team.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   September 10, 2012    The team was supposedly shut down because they couldn’t  field a full squad – but that wasn’t the way the Bateman Wilds saw things so they took to the streets with an early Monday morning sidewalk protest in front of the school.

Bateman High’s Phys-Ed staff didn’t think the school could field a full squad and took steps to cancel the fall program. Football players took to the streets in protest

Chris Bishop – certainly a football player given his size, was the spokesperson for the group and the person who sang the team cheer the loudest.

There are teachers at Bateman High that would like to see this much effort IN the classroom. The football players take their message to the streets.

If a football squad needs 30 people,  there were more than 30 enthusiastic students out there this morning. `We`re here for the day” explained Bishop, as he headed back to the fellow football players on the side walk exhorting every car that passed to honk their horns in support.

Bishop added that “if you put enough pressure on something there will be a change” and he fully expects the staff at the high school to rescind the decision.

Bishop thinks the school didn’t give the football players the time they needed to pull their team together and feels they acted a little too early in shutting them down.

Not everyone at Bateman High focuses on football. This crowd, steps away from the protest, chats away before time to get into a classroom approaches. Different folks – different strokes.

Bateman High, located on New street east of Appleby Line is your typical large school where cars stream into the driveway to let students out and buses slip in and out efficiently.

Many of the students knew nothing about the football protest.  Like any other suburban high school there are different groups; the “fashion plates” are easy to identify; the geeks not so easy but they are there.  The women on the field hockey team with their sticks in hand as well as the “couple” that have something going.

The chatter between the different groups is loud at times, but not unduly so.  They carry a lot of books in those bags on their shoulders.

They stream off the bus that stops in in front of the school and all seem to arrive in large bunches.

Female student casually dropped the donut wrapper on the ground and puffed away on her cigarette while enjoying her coffee. The wrapper, shown on the right, blew away into the street.  Not the best or the brightest at Bateman High.

There are the “cool” ones; the slightly older crowd who, the morning I was there certainly weren’t anything to be proud of.  The smoking was bad enough – don’t they read? – but the blatant littering – one swishy female student just dropped the donut wrapper on the ground, while another cool dude with the crowd kept spitting on the sidewalk.  They certainly weren’t representative of the crowd; this lot did little for the schools reputation.

Bateman High staff look on as student protesters wave their signs and tell their side of the story. Can staff and students work this out? Will the Bateman Wild be on the field this season? Stay tuned

The football players planned on being on the street for the day.  At some point they will meet with the principal and the Phys-Ed people and work out a solution.  Someone in the Phys-Ed department is wishing the students had shown this level of enthusiasm earlier in the football season.   First practice is a couple of days away.  Will the “Wild” be on the field?  In strength?

Could this kind of enthusiasm take them to the finals?


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Suicide is a community problem – the solutions and the healing have to come from the community.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 8, 2012  –  This is a dodgy subject; what do you say when you learn that someone you know took their own life or that a member of a family you know well committed suicide.  You’re stunned and you wonder if there was something you should have done, could have done.  And what do you do now?

Society is at least talking about suicide. The Region of Halton is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums to help break the stigma associated with suicide, help people to talk openly about suicide, and show how everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention

Personally I’ve never understood the stigma sometimes attached to suicide – these are family tragedies that need the help, compassion, understanding and support of the community to be part of the healing.

There is a point where utter desolation becomes more than a person can handle.

An understanding of what depression is; what it does and how best to cope with it is part of the process.  Ignoring it or even worse stigmatizing it socially just drives this very real problem underground where we can’t deal with it .

Monday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition (HSPC) is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums.

Both events will be running from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

September 10: Holy Trinity High School – Theatre, 2420 Sixth Line, Oakville

September 13: Craig Kielburger Secondary School – Auditorium, 1151 Ferguson Drive, Milton

Suicide can be a difficult subject to talk about and that often stops individuals and families from reaching out for support. Regional chair Gary Carr adds: “That’s why I think it’s wonderful that both the Coalition and the TAMI program are coming together to help reduce the stigma and use World Suicide Prevention Day as an opportunity to open the dialogue.”

“I am sure the event will be powerful as those who attend will hear from both a professional from the HSPC and a speaker sharing his personal experience with suicide. I’m also looking forward to attending the Coalition’s annual general meeting (AGM) on November 9 where Mr. Bob Rae, Member of Parliament, Toronto-Centre will be the keynote speaker detailing Canada’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy. I hope Halton residents will take the time to attend either the community forums or the coming AGM.”

Halton Region plays a key role in both the Coalition and TAMI. Funding is provided by Halton Regional Council. Professional staff from the Health Department work directly with community partners sharing their expertise and experience. Those partners include: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Halton Branch, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO), the Phoenix Program, ADAPT (Halton Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Assessment, Prevention and Treatment Services), the Halton District School Board, the hospital sector and individuals affected by suicide.

Mental health needs the same attention and resources as physical health.  One is no less important than the other.

For anyone who is suffering from depression, having suicidal thoughts, or is a survivor of suicide, help is available in Halton. Visit HSPC’s website for more information about suicide prevention and resources.

For information about services available to those struggling with mental health issues, visit Halton Region’s website, or call the Family Health Information Line and speak directly with a public health nurse.

Chairman Carr puts this perfectly when he says: “Together, we can break the silence and reduce the stigma to help save someone’s life.”  The key word is ‘together’.

 

 

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