Is there a parking train wreck coming our way?

By Pepper Parr

September 16th, 2021



Expect to hear a lot about the planned Holiday Christmas Market that is scheduled for December 9th to December 12th.

It looks a bit like a mad dash to make something happen – a final decision will be made at council on September 21st.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward once said the only thing that gets more attention than parking is fireworks.
Parking is an issue for some people concerned about how people will move around in the downtown core during one of the busiest times of the year – the Christmas holidays.

For the merchants along Brant and John and Lakeshore it is said that 20% of their business comes through the doors during that season.

For a sector of the economy that has been slapped around by the pandemic every opportunity to get a customer on the streets and through their doors is treasured. Don’t mess with the parking.

During the Standing Committee debate there were a lot of parking related questions. Staff provided some data that Councillor Lisa Kearns didn’t like the look of and she asked for a closer look at the numbers.

Executive Director Heather MacDonald said to the Councillor “a response to your request made at ECIS Committee on Monday for validation of parking utilization data for downtown parking lots during the month of December.

Executive Director and City Planner Heather MacDonald

To provide some context, Transportation staff had been asked by Brian Dean to provide parking utilization data for Lots #1 and #4. Staff provided a response on September 9th which included utilization data for Lot #1. In this response, it was indicated that we did not have access to reliable data for Lot #4 due to technology issues that were being worked on.

A closer look has now been taken and it has been found that BI Dashboard we rely on for this data is reporting “inaccurate data/unable to pull data”. Transportation staff is working with IT and the BI vendor to get this reporting issue resolved as soon as possible; however, in the meantime Transportation staff was able to look into the back-end of the dashboard to the source data and performed a more detailed analysis on parking utilization in lots that would be impacted by the proposed Holiday Market.

We have determined that the metrics conveyed to Brian Dean on September 9th were an underestimate of actual parking lot utilization. Our analysis of the raw data for the month of December (weekday and weekend combined) is summarized below:

Parking Lot                                          2018      2019      2020
Lot 1 – Elizabeth Street                      99%      72%        75%
Lot 5 North – 391 Brant Street         89%       85%        57%
Lot 5 South – 391 Brant Street         80%       86%        65%

**2020 data has not been factored into our commentary below due to pandemic impacts on parking operations

For the purposes of determining effective parking capacity, industry standard is 85% utilization. Once a lot reaches 85% utilization we deem it at capacity. Based on our combined knowledge of parking operations and our “boots on the ground” experience within the lots, our observations would confirm that Lots #1 and #5 are at effective capacity during the month of December. There is no reserve capacity at either of these lots.

The Elizabeth Street Parking Lot

Unfortunately, we cannot report on parking utilization of Lot #4 as the sensors in the lot do not provide reliable data. We are currently working on a deployment strategy to equip each off-street stall with a sensor to rectify this issue. Anecdotally, we know that Lot #4 is at capacity as it is our most heavily utilized surface lot in the Downtown. If parking supply were to be reduced in order to accommodate a Holiday Market, we would need to have those discussions with the Downtown Parking Committee and consider impacts to the businesses Lot #4 serves, as well as the overall parking system.
Councillor Kearns did the necessaries and got back to MacDonald saying: “The response is appreciated and deeply valued in the way in which we use data to inform decisions of Council.

“The purpose of the question was to recognize that the approval of one stakeholder priority would impact another. In this case we know it is a trade-off between parking and an event during what has been proven as a critical economic time for local retailers.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

“I believe that accurate data and transparency are critical in decision making and likely much of my pressing of this was to reconcile what ‘boots on the ground’ know to be true with a transparent discussion of the request. Even more granular, I had requested weekend capacity and see that the capacity number offered is smoothed with the inclusion of weekdays.

“As you can now infer from the updated data, my strong request for a pilot/termed event was anchored in this critical balance and its implications on local business. In the absence of a complete understanding of withdrawing use of a full capacity lot how might we continue to communicate this updated information?

“Please expect that I will be asking this question in Council and will exercise the response as further confidence in a termed/phased program. This also guides the importance of completing the Parking Needs Assessment study given that I expect Lot 4 would have 100% capacity and the pressure will continue to mount on the east side municipal parking needs.

Can you see the train wreck coming our way?

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City council will decide on the 21st if there is to be a Holiday market in the downtown core in December

By Pepper Parr

September 16th, 2021



It looks as if there will be a Christmas market in the downtown core from December 9th to December 12th.

It was a hotly debated issue at a Standing Committee meeting earlier this week.

Planned schedule for the first Burlington Holiday Market.

What was rather stunning was the item being placed on the Consent Agenda – this is where items that are not very significant and don’t call for that much debate get placed.

Any member of Council can ask for an item on the Consent Agenda to be pulled and set down for debate – which then takes place at the end of the meeting.

That something as vital as what takes place downtown in terms of commercial interests at a time when a number of commercial operations have had to give the keys back to the landlord startled this reporter.

We were advised by a person who asked not to be identified that the decision to have the item on the consent agenda came from the Mayor.

Brian Dean, top toff at the Downtown Business Association was out drumming up business for his members.

The Burlington Downtown Business Association –lobbyist for the interest of the business sector, had surprising little to say.  It began to sound as if the BDBA had lost control of their agenda – and that Sound of Music had eaten it.

One would expect any event that was all about merchants and their interest would have BDBA fingerprints all over it.

A call the Gazette made to the BDBA offices when the event first came to our attention got a “we don’t know who is behind the event” which turned out to be somewhat disingenuous.

Turns out that the people behind the event are folks from the Sound of Music – they – not the BDBA, will be running the show.  SoM will be involved – the event planner will handle the actual organizing.

The event

During the debate all kinds of information floated to the surface.

Getting permission to hold an event on public property is handled by the city’s Festivals and Events department.

One makes an application and that department has the delegated authority to approve or not approve the event.

Once approved the event can run forever or until the Events people decide that it has served its purpose.

There was a time when every event came to council – they delegated that authority to the Festivals and Events people who do a debriefing every time an event takes place.  If everything is in order and all the commitments have been met the event usually gets approved for the next year.

Described in the report to council as:

This first of an annual Burlington Holiday Market will bring a blend of different foods, music, experiences and shopping moments to the city core. Inspired by the Christmas markets of Germany, the first annual holiday event will delight all five senses and inspire the community to come together, in a way that will create lasting memories for all that attend.

The Staff report went on to say:

Using parking lot # 1 which abuts this easterly section of the Promenade as ground 0 – the event will sprawl over a street they hope to close (parts of Martha) and a parking lot.

The event is anchored at Parking Lot 1 (431 Elizabeth Street) which includes temporary vendor stalls and entertainers and envisions a sprawling market across multiple locations and footprints (public and private). Working closely with the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) to engage business owners and showcase to them how they can be a part of this inaugural event. The Burlington Holiday Market will be made available for all ages, with certain aspects of the event targeting specific age groups, with targeted attractions for different customer segments.

Pending sponsorship, event components may include a full-size stage highlighting high profile entertainment if revenues are secured in 2021, if not, plans would be to grow the event to include these event elements in 2022.

In 2022, the event may wish to include alcohol sales and would secure a Special Occasions Permit from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and follow all necessary rules and regulations surrounding the permit and the City’s Municipal Alcohol Policy.

In addition to Lot 1, the event wishes to utilize the Elgin Promenade, the new Promenade expansion area that will connect Lot 1 to the Centennial Trail and a one-day, single block road closure adjacent to Lot 1 along Pearl Street between Pine and James Streets.

Parking lots are not typical event spaces, but the City has previously allowed events to use parking spaces and lots as locations. Due to the time of year and potential for snow, a hard surface lot provides the opportunity for snow and ice clearing without damage and a safe surface for accessibility and pedestrian needs. Parking Services has noted that Lot 4 is highly used by consumers of the downtown area.

Staff recognize that the organizing committee is still in the planning phase of the proposal and many details for the overall event area remain to be solidified. It is anticipated that the event will use a combination of parking spaces/lots and promenade space along with a one block street closure as the core event footprint, with participation sprawling to downtown merchants and restaurants. To move forward with the planning, the organizing committee requests Council’s approval of the event in their desired location. Staff would then work with the organizing committee through the Special Event Process managed by the multi-functional Special Events Team made up of staff from the region and various departments will work together to ensure a safe event for all attendees.

We learned from ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns that should council approve the event at the September 21st meeting it will become an “in perpetuity event”.

We learned from Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan, who is seen by many as a “stalking horse” for the Mayor has been a non voting member of the committee set up by people who are heavily involved in the Sound of Music for the past two years.

Peter VanDyck, an insurance executive and a major player at SoM – has been working on this Holiday Market idea for several years.

Peter VanDyck, a senior member of PV&V, an insurance company and a driving force at SoM did all the talking and answered most of the questions during the delegation.

He, along with Meagan Madill, owner of an Event Planning and Production agency, operating under the name of Curated by M, will be handling the actual running of the event.

Meagan Madill – an event planner with an impressive client list was described by the Mayor as a Rock Star

Madill was called a Rock Star by the Mayor who couldn’t say enough about the woman who handled an event for the Conservation Authority that was described as a huge success.

Councillor Kearns had been approached to sit on the committee but declined explaining that her responsibility to her constituents and that she wanted to be unencumbered by any allegiance to the group that would be at odds with what her constituents would wish.

More on the specifics of that debate in part 2

Related news story.
A new special event market coming to the downtown core.

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Oakville North Burlington Conservative candidate avoids the media - takes part on Chamber of Commerce event

By Ryan O’Dowd, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

September 14th, 2021



Oakville/North Burlington Conservative candidate, Hanan Rizkalla, has become the second candidate to opt-out of media availability.

Hanan Rizkalla – Conservative candidate for Oakville North Burlington

Rizkalla joins fellow Conservative candidate Emily Brown in not being available for interviews.

Both candidates failed to appear for climate change debates sponsored by the Halton Environmental Network.

The only public event that the Conservative candidates took part in was Chamber of Commerce events.

After some communication with Rizkalla’s campaign, they requested questions in advance and that they would relay some answers through email. Fulfilling such a request would not meet the standard the Burlington Gazette operates on, nor does it afford the opportunity to provide the information voters need. The Rizkalla campaign’s proposal would amount to little more than a press release.

Like Brown, Rizkalla’s sole interview takes place with a high school conservative program by and for conservatives. A tradition in Canadian elections is for media to interview candidates and set their different views.  The men and woman running for public office have a responsibility to let the public they want to represent know where they stand.  Almost hiding from media is a dangerous first step from becoming unresponsive to the wishes of the people who elected them.

Needless to say, these candidates have not been part of the media process – we are all the poorer for it.

Every other candidate the Gazette has reached out to in Burlington, Oakville/North Burlington, and Milton has been willing to be interviewed.

Rizkalla took part in a Chamber of Commerce debate with the other candidates in her riding and when climate change came up the Conservative candidates’ had little to say.  Oakville/North Burlington Green Party candidate, Bruno Sousa, was kind enough to point this out to those listening to the debate.

“I’ve participated in quite a few debates on the environment and climate change and I’ve failed to see the Conservatives show up for these meetings so I don’t even know how they have a proper climate action plan,” said Sousa.

Hanan Rizkalla – Conservative candidate for Oakville North Burlington who has chosen to avoid the media

Rizkalla noted the Liberals had failed to reach their target and touted the Conservatives’ ability to hit their target, which was criticized as unambitious. Rizkalla focused on the low carbon savings account which she describes as the Conservatives “incentivizing rather than punishing you,” and lauded the choices it would provide Canadians.

“Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals attempted to reduce emissions by taxing hard-working Canadians, families, and businesses. Mr. Trudeau and his team haven’t set a target to deliver. The Conservative plan will allow us to meet our target in 2030 by reducing the burden on Canadians while reducing emissions by using a low carbon saving account, the Conservative government will work with provinces to incentivize Canadians to adopt a greener lifestyle while giving Canadians a choice of how to best use that credit for their families,” said Rizkalla.

Rizkalla got into a dispute with Liberal incumbent, Pam Damoff, over a question regarding government regulatory systems. Rizkalla pushed for the need to appoint a minister of red tape reduction to assist businesses and to redress credential red tape facing immigrants (where Rizkalla proposes working with a task force to acknowledge immigrant credentials more quickly). Damoff implicitly suggested there were dangers with Rizkalla’s position when she referenced the Walkerton E. coli outbreak that killed 6 in May of 2000.

“We need to be smart when we’re bringing in place things to make it easier to deal with the government. When I hear about a minister of red tape reduction my mind goes to Walkerton and the people that died there,” said Damoff.

“What we have in hand right now is six years of the current Liberal government saying they are supporting people for red-tapping and immigrant credentials,” said Rizkalla. “What we are seeing is lack of physicians, lack of nurses, lack of resources. Proposing the right credentials for immigrants is one of the main areas we are targeting, this will secure the jobs back in Canada.”

Elsewhere Rizkalla reiterated the Conservative’s plans to secure Canada’s future and spark innovation.

“We are planning to overhaul the tax system to enhance the experience of all Canadians and small businesses. We’re going to unleash Canadian innovation by cutting all the income taxes in half of any new patented technologies in Canada.

“We will establish advanced research adjacency cutting edge with carbon capture, storage, electric vehicle development, pharmaceutical research and production, all that will support small businesses and enhance the taxation system,” said Rizkalla.

In Rizkalla’s closing statement she stuck to the party script as she had for most of the event.

Hanan Rizkalla – new to politics, forgets that media is very much a part of the political process in Canada

“It is clear the Canadian’s are looking for a government that has a recovery plan and as long as they have the will and desire to implement it, the Conservative plan, to secure Canada’s future, will deliver a stronger economy, more jobs, and the health of Canadians. It is not the time to divide Canadians with campaigns based on fear, we bring in with Canada’s recovery plan the positive hope Canadian’s are looking forward to,” said Rizkalla.

Rizkalla began her career as a physician focusing on public health, research, and cancer therapies.

Rizkalla lives in her Oakville/North Burlington riding with her husband and three children.

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The winter equinox will be celebrated in Lowville the day after the federal election - there is a message of some sort in there

By Staff

September 12th, 2021



On the 20th o September the country will choose the leader it hopes will steer us through the pandemic we are experiencing.

The the sun crosses the celestial equator and Lowville takes to the country roads.

On the 21st, the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are of approximately equal length and the people of Lowville will once again celebrate.

The Lowville Festival, north Burlington’s “festival of all the arts for the artist in all of us”, is excited to share a Fall Equinox interlude on Tuesday September 21st from 6:15pm to 7:15pm.

We are inviting guests to two Sneak Previews…  First, a  ten-minute excerpt from our 2021 virtual festival video  “A Love Letter… from Lowville to Burlington”, to be launched in the very near future.

Trevor Copp will be doing an inspired interpretation of Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals .

And second,   celebrated Hamilton mime artist ’s “Carnival!”, a thirty-minute family and child-focused entertainment inspired by Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals .

The “sneak preview” is short – a very talented mime will strut his stuff.  Waiting to learn when the full performance will be available.

You are invited join the assembly of Special People at ThinkSpot, located in the Walt Rickli Sculpture Garden across from Lowville Park.

Register at Eventbrite through links below, as reservations are required for the event and for parking.  Guests are welcome to bring chairs and blankets to sit on the grass: parking is available at Lowville Park (Parking reservations are mandatory).

The RSVP is complimentary and guests will be notified by 4:00 pm on September 21st if the weather is not cooperating and the event is cancelled.

Lowville Festival is supporting Conservation Halton Foundation and would appreciate donations (cheque or cash) at the event.  We will have pre-printed donor envelopes available at the event and donations $20 or more will receive a charitable donation receipt from Conservation Halton Foundation.  COVID guidelines will be strictly observed.

Special thanks to the City of Burlington for its generous support for our 2021 virtual Festival video.

Please click on links below

EventBrite Reservation CLICK HERE

VideoDescription of Carnival CLICK HERE

Parking Reservations CLICK HERE





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Food Truck Festival at Spencer Smith Park this weekend.

By Staff

September 10th, 2021



Those with patios won’t like it – but thousands of people are expected to spend some time at the Burlington Food Truck Festival taking place for the next three days at Spencer Smith Park.

More than 30 food trucks will be in the park.

FREE ADMISSION, cold beer, delicious food, and local performers geared to entertain the masses!

Sep 10:    5pm – 10pm
Sep 11:    12pm – 10pm
Sep 12:    12 pm to 8 pm

Covid Policy
Contact tracking & a COVID wellness questionnaire must be submitted upon arrival to the festival. Signage will be posted at the entrance (located off of the Promenade) with a QR code for guests to scan with the camera on their phone.

Social distancing is required at all times. If social distancing is not possible, masks must be worn.
Spencer Smith Park

*Responsible pet owners may bring their well-behaved leashed pets to the festival.

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Climate change is the focus for an all candidate virtual event

By Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2021



The election that few wanted does need attention – there are issues to be discerned.

The Halton Environment Network (HEN) and the Chamber of Commerce are hosting debates.

HEN is part of a North American event – for us in the Region of Halton the focus is on the federal election and a drill down into what the candidates have to say about climate change and the environment.

A panel has been created for each of the constituencies in the Region.

For the Burlington people that includes the constituencies of Burlington, Oakville North Burlington and Milton – which includes the northern part of Burlington.

There are 120 communities across the country holding similar events in every constituency – which is quite an undertaking.

There is a youth group involved with different moderators for each constituency – actually there are two moderators for each constituency.

There are two questions that will be asked at each event; then there is a rapid fire set of questions followed up by questions from the audience.

The two core questions will be asked at all of the 120 communities taking part.

There will be live polls taking place during the two hour event

The only regrettable part of all this is that is takes place at the same time as the leaders debate.

The upside is that HEN will be posting their debates to the HEN YouTube page on their web site.

So you can go back at any time and listen to what the candidates in your riding have to say.

You can check out their web site for the details and register.

Please join Halton Environmental Network (HEN), CFUW Oakville, Sustainable Milton and CFUW Georgetown on Wednesday September 8th, 2021 at 8 pm for the Virtual Debates on the Environment.

Click here to register


Where do your candidates stand on YOUR issues? This is your opportunity to meet and listen to your Federal Election Candidates and engage with them virtually on the issues that matter most to you.

Submit your questions! Register for the riding you live in and settle in for what looks like a well organized event.

You can register for the debate in the following communities.




Oakville North-Burlington

Wellington-Halton Hills


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Parkinson's in the Park - exercising and socializing

By Staff

September 2nd, 2021



The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation is excited to announce  that our Parkinson’s in the Park exercise programs  will be offered in Burlington as well as Mississauga-

These include –  Tai Chi and Walking/Pole Walking classes. These classes are designed to help those with Parkinson’s get moving , get outdoors and also provides a social environment. Our experienced instructors will ensure  everyone’s  health, safety and enjoyment.

The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation is a non-profit corporation focused on fundraising to support and enhance the lives of individuals and families living with Parkinson’s in Halton/Peel. Our decision to form the PFPF facilitates our commitment to keeping the funds raised in our Community.

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Canada’s Largest Ribfest is back this Labour Day Weekend

By Staff

September 1st, 2021



While it may not be a mantra for Rotary – “doing what you can with what you have” is what makes it possible for them to run a Labour Day weekend Ribfest, a fundraising initiative of Rotary Burlington Lakeshore

The event will help people to wrap up the summer with another drive-thru bbq event at Burlington Centre, this Labour Day September 6th , 2021.

The public is invited to the Burlington Centre parking lot, at 777 Guelph Line from 10am to 7pm to experience Ribfest in a safe, socially-distant way. “We have been working closely with The Halton Health Department to bring the fun and flavor of the Labour Day tradition, in a safe and responsible format.

The Drive Thru Ribfest works – it isn’t the same as the real thing but it works. Support it.

The safety of our guests, vendors, and volunteers is top priority.” said Jay Bridle, Co-Chair of Canada’s Largest Ribfest. Over the course of 25 years, through Canada’s Largest Ribfest, Rotary Burlington Lakeshore has raised over $4.5 million for local, national, and international charities.

All kinds of wishes for the day that we can line up for our ribs. Not this year. Next year?

“It’s unfortunate not to be able to host our Labour Day weekend event for the second year now, but it means that next year when we return to Spencer Smith Park, it will have to be the biggest celebration of the summer we’ve thrown thus far!” remarked Canada’s Largest Ribfest Co-Chair, Brent Paszt. Rotary Burlington Lakeshore President Dean Williams stated that, “Our Drive-Thru Rib Events enable us to
continue to support those charities and individuals who need it most, this year more than ever. Proceeds from this event, along with those generated from our previous Drive-Thru Ribfests, will enable us to continue that financial contribution that our charitable friends rely on.”

Guests are asked to enter Burlington Centre from the Fairview Street entrance and remain in their vehicles for the duration of their visit. Food vendors will take orders and payment (cards preferred) and will deliver each completed order to your vehicle. Gloves and masks will be worn by all staff, vendors, and volunteers. We are welcoming back four award-winning rib teams, including Camp 31 BBQ, Billy Bones BBQ, Silver Bullet BBQ, and Sticky Fingers BBQ.

Additionally, there will be food offerings from Blaze Pizza, Ontario, Corn Roasters, and Tiny Tom Donuts.

Special thanks to the continued support shown by our returning sponsors, Burlington Centre and Cogeco. Also, to The City of Burlington’s Arts & Culture Fund, for aiding us in bringing back the Emerging Artist Showcase, an opportunity to give a live platform to local up-and-coming performers. We are grateful for the support from the community, as it means helping Rotary Burlington Lakeshore raise funds for their meaningful work.



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Trying to interview Emily Brown, Conservative Candidate for Burlington

By Pepper Parr

August 28th, 2021



We ran a piece on Burlington Conservative candidate Emily Brown that generated a lot of blow back from several of our readers.

Burlington Conservative candidate Emily Brown

As publisher I asked Ryan O’Dowd to send me a list of all the contacts he had with Ms Brown and her responses to his email and telephone calls.

That list is set out below:

On August 17th I received the contact information for Emily Brown. I received it at the same time I received Karina Gould’s contact information and I sent emails to both candidates on August 17th, 20 minutes apart from each other. Here is the email I sent Emily:

 “Good morning, Emily,

 Ryan O’Dowd with the Burlington Gazette here, I’m hoping we can meet for an interview sometime this week to discuss your platform and the key issues of the election.

I look forward to speaking with you, let me know the time and date that works best.

Thanks for your time,


On August 18th I followed up by phone. I called Emily Brown three times and did not receive an answer.

On August 19th I spoke to Emily Brown and she could not commit to a time period(I tried to arrange an interview that afternoon) but she asked for interview questions to be emailed to her and said she would provide her availability, she did not.

I sent her the following shortly after the phone call:

“Good morning, Emily,

 Ryan here with the Burlington Gazette, we spoke on the phone this morning. I’m hoping I can drop by the office for a brief chat this afternoon if that works for you.

I look forward to speaking with you.



I called to follow up on August 24th, she answered on my second attempt.

Brown said she could not take an interview all week as they were discussing strategy at her office. I asked her about the following week and she made no firm commitment.

I said I would follow up with her next week and fully intend to but at this point we needed to begin covering Emily Brown so my publisher made the decision to go ahead with what we had.

We will talk to Emily Brown whenever she chooses to make herself available.  Our belief is that informed people can make informed decisions; our role is to inform people.

As credentialed media we adhere to the view of the National Newsmedia Council that a strong democracy is possible when those who strive to lead are transparent and held accountable.


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Ward 3 residents in for a bit of a treat.

By Staff

August 25th, 2021



Some nice news!

Expect to see Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan on hand with the new addition to his family.

Summer time – opportunities to get out and mix with people – wearings masks and keeping that social distance in mind at all times.


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NDP candidate uses Green Party data to advocate for Ranked ballots - Huh?

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 24th, 2021



My interview with Nick Page was lengthy and I was not able to convince my editor to run all of it in one story.

Page discussed the importance of expanding our healthcare system to cover such areas as dental, optometric, and pharmaceutical. Tying benefits to employment in the current system “screws” the lower class, said Page.

“Right now you can go to the dentist if you have a good job but if you don’t have a good job you neither have dental coverage or the money to pay the dentist, so you’re screwed. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have optometry coverage in Ontario. And so by decoupling those from jobs, from having a good job, you help everyone out.

“You also help the businesses not have to pay for insurance employees like that, which is a big expense for some companies like smaller companies who still need to pay benefits to their employees. That’s a cost they don’t need to have, they only really have it because the government doesn’t come through. And it’s interesting because that came about from wage tax in the US back in World War Two. It was a way to get around wage taxes by giving people more benefits, and then it just kind of became how we do things,” said Page.

One of Justin Trudeau’s most often maligned broken election promises was his vow that the 2015 election would be the last under the first past the post system.”

Nick Page- Burlington NDP candidate

Page puts forward a case for a proportional representation using Green Party data – which he claims would lead to federal representation that would more accurately reflect the popular vote. Page also alludes to the use of ranked ballots which would theoretically diminish so-called “strategic voting,” particularly in conjunction with proportional representation. You would rank the candidates in order of preference so you don’t need to be dictated by who can win, and your vote would be more meaningfully represented in government.

“You have some of the people who are elected to government assigned to specific districts, and some of the people elected to government are assigned from a party list. And you do the normal voting in a district, probably with ranked voting to figure out who represents that district. And then you use the country-wide proportional ballots.

“So if, for example, the Green Party gets 8% across the country, it doesn’t all have to be focused on their one riding in Vancouver, or Victoria river is exactly to get a seat, they could have 8% votes across the country, and they’d get 8% of the seats, we would bump them up off their party list, and that way that 8% of people in our country would actually be listened to, they have a voice in government, as opposed to right now, where if after the 2015 election Trudeau only had, votes from like 38% of people, but he got to make all of the decisions because of how first past the post, but he should have had to work with people to make decisions after 2015,” said Page.

Page noted proportional representation may be the best opportunity to implement a government to deal with climate change.

“I don’t think any party with a majority would do what needs to be done to deal with climate change so I think proportional representation or some sort of voting change is what it’s going to take to get the environment under control,” said Page.

2019 federal election results

“In the 2019 federal election, the Green Party received 6.6% of the popular vote and scored 3 seats out of 337, based on the methodology outlined in the 2016 report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform under a proportional representation system the Green Party would have scored 22 seats from the same percentage of the popular vote. If we accept more Green Party seats at the table correlates to more climate change action then Page’s correlation between electoral reform and environmental action may have merit.”

In federal elections there are usually all candidate debates – that is not likely to happen this time around – the logistics of a virtual debate are very awkward.

Page did a podcast in which is sets out where he stands – worth a listen if you want to dive into what the New Democrats hope to achieve. Link here for what he has to say – runs just over five minutes.

The New Democrats have a very stringent set of rules in place when candidates come into contact with voters – don’t expect to see them at your front door all that often..


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A little nudge to get people out and about and into the retail where they can spend

By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2021



It’s a bit of an iffy situation for the merchants that give the downtown core that special feeling people want to keep and support.

The merchants need the business but not everyone has cash to spare. The Food Bank is still feeding families where the breadwinner has not been able to get back to work.

Not everyone is certain that getting out and shopping is that smart a thing to do.

Commerce has to continue – and the merchants are going to give you a very warm welcome.


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An application was received by the city for a Christmas market that would be set up on the Elgin promenade - no word on who made the application

By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2021



An event application has been received by the city for a Christmas market that will make use of the Elgin Promenade from December 9th to 12th.

The White areas designate space that the applicants want to use for an annual Christmas Market. There would be live music on some of the evenings.

No one seems to know who submitted the application – the Gazette was told that it was not the BDBA Burlington Downtown Business association. The membership there must be just short of livid.

After a very tough year and a half a glimpse of hope and someone wants to set up shop and take business away from the downtown merchants?

Brian Dean – Executive Director Burlington Downtown Business Association working the phone.

Really nice idea – just not this year.

The merchants on Brant and John Street and other locations in the downtown core are just beginning to recover from the terrible winter, spring and early summer – this is not the time to kick these people in the shins and allow someone who doesn’t have any skin in the game come along and scoop the business.

Brian Dean, Chief guru of the Burlington Downtown Business Association must be howling.

No name that we can see on the document that were sent to people living in the immediate area identifying just who is behind the idea.

And not a peep so far from the Ward Councillor or the Mayor?

The Elgin Promenade is at the top right – the Elizabeth Street Parking lot stretched out behind.

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Milton Mayor stands with Liberal candidate during campaign office opening

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 23rd, 2021



Things are changing in Milton.

Gord Krantz was a Conservative from the moment he drew his first breath a long long time ago. His next election will be his 21st.

Last week he stood beside Liberal candidate Adam Van Koeverden Main Street and said:

Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz standing with Liberal candidate Adam Van Kouverden during the opening of the campaign office.

“People are probably well aware I do not need a microphone, I have a built-in one. And of course I’ll be turning my microphone over to Adam in just very few moments. When Adam invited me here I accepted his invitation without any hesitation whatsoever. And one of the main reasons is just to say thank you for putting your name forward to run for public office, such as Adam has.

“This job is not easy. He goes around knocking on doors to find out what people are thinking. Hopefully most of it is good, some not and I’m well aware of that. Now, how do I know that my last election was my 21st election? ”

“Adam and I work well together” said Krantz. And if that isn’t an endorsement – then just what is an endorsement?

When Van Koeverden got the microphone he spoke about pandemic recovery in the form of his Sports for All Initiative, how Canada can afford $10 a day child care, where Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives really stand on abortion, mental health, and a disputed bill to ban conversion therapy.

One of the main reasons Van Koeverden got involved in public service he said “was to champion physical activity and recreation”. To those who know him as an Olympic Gold medalist this comes as little surprise. He cited this inspiration speaking about his new Community Sports for All Initiative which invests $80 million to help communities with the lowest sports participation recover from the pandemic. Van Koeverden’s focus on sport and activity is not to groom his kayaking successor – the Liberal candidate’s primary concern is health: physical and mental.

Adam Van Koeverden opening his campaign office on Main Street in Milton.

“Sport, physical activity and recreation represent physical health, mental health, social cohesion, and development. I’m not pushing competitive sport, I’m not pushing for more high-performance sport funding. What I’m pushing for is a change to how and why we fund sport in Canada, and that’s to achieve better health outcomes for Canadians. Sports are expensive in Canada.
“There are numerous barriers between access to physical activity and people, and it’s my obligation as an Olympic athlete as a champion for sport, and as a legislator to ensure that those opportunities to live your healthiest life, to learn physical literacy, and to develop, are universally available,” said Van Koeverden.

COVID-19 hit the entire sports and recreation sector hard. Van Koeverden cited “devastating” research from Canadian Tire Jumpstart indicating at least one of the four young women and girls involved in sport will not be returning post-pandemic, a figure representing 365,000 young women and girls. The study acknowledged lower but significant figures for boys as well.

While Adam Van Koeverden is not shy when it comes to talking about his Olympic achievements – and they were substantial – he is sincere about the need to introduce more sports activity at all age levels but especially young people.

Studies have shown youth have been at high risk of experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic, particularly relating to concerns about social ties. Mounting mental health issues and loss of prime developmental years demand a return to normalcy, and Van Koeverden suggests available community sport would play a part.

The program also focuses on inclusivity with Van Koeverden mentioning safe environments for racialized groups, LGBTQ plus groups, Indigenous youth, and people living with disabilities as a priority.

Van Koeverden tied $10 a day child care to pandemic recovery as well, and when pressed on expenses the Milton incumbent insisted the program pays for itself.

“It’s so important that women get back to work, and if they can get back to work by knowing that their little ones are in early learning and childcare programs which are good for their social development, good for their education and also affordable, and that’s a win-win-win. Programs like this pay for themselves because when women get back to work the economy benefits.

“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain groups, that’s women, that’s racialized, that’s LGBTQ plus individuals, that’s lower-income families who were struggling before the pandemic, it’s small businesses and restaurant owners who haven’t been able to serve a meal in almost a year and a half. It’s been challenging, but our government’s been there for people who needed a helping hand, we’ve listened and we’re addressing any gaps found in our programs,” said Van Koeverden.

The Liberal candidate accused Conservative leader Erin O’Toole of “talking out of both sides of his mouth” on abortion. Van Koeverden acknowledges that while O’Toole may vote pro-choice himself he still needs support from the Campaign For Life Coalition, and other anti-abortion groups. Asserting it’s irrelevant if O’Toole is personally pro-choice if 81 of his MPs aren’t and a vote for O’Toole is a vote against pro-choice, regardless of where the federal candidate stands himself.

There was a time when we didn’t talk about these issues – today they are front and centre – but the divide between the political ideologies is still far too wide.

“O’Toole needs to stand up and say clearly that his party will not allow for any legislation that restricts access to women’s reproductive rights, women across the country need to hear that from them. There’s a lot of women who are considering voting Conservative but want to know that their rights, to safe and available abortion, will not be restricted. And we’re seeing it in New Brunswick where clinics are being closed and access is restricted.

“It’s not an all or nothing thing, just because O’Toole voted on a pro-choice level a couple of times to demonstrate that he’s pro-choice there’s a lot of gray area, and the gray area is going to far-right groups and social conservative groups to ask for their support and to tell them that he’ll act in their best interest, he’s talking outside of both of his both sides of his mouth,” Van Koeverden said.

Van Koeverden said he’s happy to hear conservatives talking about mental health but condemns more than half their caucus voting against a bill to ban conversion therapy as hypocritical.

“I’m a huge advocate for mental health and more funding for mental health, but they’re very selective about who gets these mental health services, because any conservative that voted against Bill C-6, which is a bill to make conversion therapy, and I don’t even like to use the word therapy because it’s not therapy, gay people don’t require therapy, they require love, what’s missing in that equation is compassion and empathy, and support, so they don’t feel like they’ve got to change.

The lasting impact of the pandemic will be the damage done to mental health. The first big step is accepting that people suffering from mental health issues are sick – not weak, and they need treatment.

“If any Conservative MP voted against Bill C-6, and then spoke up in the house about mental health services that is a very very clear contradiction and indicates they’re hypocrites because the group that is most vulnerable to things like suicide are disenfranchised LGBTQ plus youth who don’t have the support of their families and feel like outcasts in society. And those youth, and especially the youth who have been subjected to the horrible and horrendous practice of conversion practices, those youth are disproportionately likely to try to commit suicide. So if we’re going to be putting a five-point plan together as the leader of the Conservative Party has, and one of those pillars is to talk about mental health, I welcome that, but I say, mental health for everybody, not just people who vote Conservative. Especially groups that are disproportionately impacted by mental health issues and aren’t supported in many groups in society,” said Van Koeverden.

Bill C-6 on conversion therapy has been contentious, when the bill was debated Conservatives who voted against Bill C-6 asserted their issue was with the definition of conversion therapy. Many Conservative objectors began by stating they support banning conversion therapy but not the proposed legislation. For their part, Liberal members suggested they had been open to re-write the definition but the Conservatives had stalled and functionally squandered that opportunity.

O’Toole voted for Bill C-6 and his platform proposes to re-introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy with the amendment that the ban does not criminalize non-coercive conversations which addresses unclear language the Conservatives objected to.

Bill C6 amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the following offences:

(a) causing a person to undergo conversion therapy without the person’s consent;
(b) causing a child to undergo conversion therapy;
(c) doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada;
(d) promoting or advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy; and
(e) receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.

It also amends the Criminal Code to authorize courts to order that advertisements for conversion therapy be disposed of.

Speaking to the public, Van Koeverden spoke about being there for his neighbors focusing on COVID-19 response, work done within the Region of Halton, and climate change as a top priority.

“I have a youth committee and they would never let me forget about climate change,” said Van Koeverden.

Adam Van Koeverden takes a selfie with part of his campaign team

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How much public notice should there be - Mayor can't get a win for trying

By Staff

August 23rd, 2021



It appears that the Mayor is sponsoring or holding events in the downtown core but not telling very many people about them

That has some residents ticked.

Mayor Meed Ward just may be doing the right thing.

The Caribbean Association was giving it a go –

What the city doesn’t need is large crowds of people gathering to take part in an event. Tough to maintain social distancing under those circumstances.

Holding small pop-up type events does help give people something to do.

Our reporter toured the downtown area and on up to the Orchard and then on over to Bronte Creek Park and found few people outdoors – they heat was surely part of the reason for people staying home.

The Mayor opened Black/Caribbean month. Residents are complaining that no one was notified. “The only way I found” said our reader, “about last night was chatting with one of the girls involved. I was watching the BPAC music and she said I should come to City Hall on the 21st for a party. I asked if she was sure and she said Yes – the Mayor is putting it on.

“That’s when I went to the tourist office to dig a little deeper. They send out happenings in Burlington all the time.

“Marianne told me the last time, they didn’t want to advertise the prayer celebration for the indigenous kids, prayer for the Muslim family (hundreds of attendees), pride party… so as to keep the numbers down.

“Is that not selfish to the rest of Burlington?

Wasn’t much of a crowd..

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns got wind of the event and sent out a late notice. Our reader thought this should have been “virtual”

“Pretty much like all the rest of MMW’s “events”. If we can’t celebrate CANADA DAY (except virtually), how is it we can celebrate all these other days outdoors?

Our writer though that the downtown business people might have been able to benefit as well had there been more notice.

“Two Saturday ago”, continued our reader (who chose not to be identified) the same thing. Party at Spencer Smith Park put on by the mayor and nothing advertised so that we could all attend. I found out after the fact.

“I’m not sure if you are aware, but next Saturday it’s back at Spencer Smith again.”

There are times when the Mayor can’t win for trying. Managing public expectations is not a simple task.

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Scouts Canada had zero transmissions of covid19 cases; continue to run a safe program

By Max Bowder: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 20th, 2021



With students heading back to school in the fall,  parents are also looking for extra curricular activities their children can take part in.

Parents are  searching for programs that offer social connection, a sense of normalcy and fun in an environment that puts safety first.

Scouts Canada which is a non-profit youth service organization that helps children of all ages get in touch with nature, have great adventures, learn outdoor skills and care for the environment as well as be good and helpful members of their community.

“Scouts Canada is a youth serving organization, each section … is designed for the age group kids get to choose what interests them and then help lead their own adventures,” Andrea McLoughlin, customer service.

Getting Scouters outdoors where they understand nature and lean to care for the environment.

The organization has operated for close to 115 years and  currently has 50,000 youth participating all around Canada supported by 12,000 volunteers.

Scouts Canada did not shut down during pandemic with the exception of putting a short hiatus during emergency breaks and continued to operate while in the pandemic although needing to scale back in person activities, put mandates in place and have virtual programs.

Scouts Canada has had great success in its programs with no reported transmissions of covid-19 cases.

They have ensured the health and safety of the scouting community by implementing a 5-stage reopening plan which provides members and families with clear easy to follow guidelines to ensure safe in-person adventures.

Some provinces are even in Stage Five, which effectively lifts internal restrictions for all Scouting activities while deferring to all municipal and provincial public health restrictions.

Some of the guidelines includes indoor gatherings up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings up to 50 people, cohorts (Patrols) of a maximum 8 youth, and overnight camping allowed in cohorts only, with tents or shelters preferred, Face coverings and physical distancing are required.

Orienteering – learning to use a compass and know where they are in the woods and the direction they need to go – a great Scouting experience.

“Our mission really is creating well rounded youth who are active members of the community, who care about the environment, who have faith and life skills … who can take on any adventure and be prepared for it,” said youth program specialist Siobhan Ward.

Registration for January to December 2022 Scouting opens on September 1 for existing members, with registration for new members starting September 15th. New members who join before 2022 will benefit from free participation in Scouting for the remainder of 2021.

Executives of Scouts Canada worked fast to go in different direction when covid slowed them down in March but when members turned to virtual meetings, they came up with new strategies which they say came organically despite not meeting in person for almost a full year and ran incredible programing.

Scouts Canada also sponsors the Program No One Left Behind which subsidizes costs for families experiencing hard ship.

“Providing a safe environment for young people in Canada to connect with their peers and get outdoors is our number one priority this fall,” said Executive Commissioner & CEO, Andrew Price.

Chopping wood, learning to light a camp fire and how to put it out properly. Before they do that the marshmallows get roasted.

The virtual programs still give children the experience of scouts Canada even from their houses by giving kids exercises and explore their local communities.

Scouts Canada is looking for volunteers to help fill a number of rewarding roles including running Section meetings, as well as positions focusing on finance, administration, teaching first aid and outdoor skills, leadership, communications, fundraising or property management.

Adults of all ages can sign up at,

Max Bowder is a second year journalism student at Sheridan College.  He is part of a team with the Gazette on the Local Journalism Initiative funded by the federal government.  Before enrolling at Sheridan Max volunteered in a community in Argentina  where he worked with young people.  He is a Burlington resident who helps out on the family farm in Milton.

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Two days of Jazz on the Patio SOLD OUT - good crowds - great music

By Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2021



We asked Tammy Fox, Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre if it was safe to say that the Jazz on the Patio event was a SOLD OUT occasion?

Elise LeGrow letting it fly – check the specs.

Want to hear a Happy Voice response?

Yes every performance sold out. Incredible weather. Couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding return to live music!

Hopefully there will be more in the way of outdoor music. The people of Burlington need something to make them feel good.

Can a da – remember – it was THE theme song that pulled the country together during Expo 67

Maybe Tammy Fox could impersonate the late Bobby Gimby and lead a small band along Brant Street and out to the end of the Pier.

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Heat warning issued for Aug. 11-13: Libraries open as cooling stations

By Staff

August 11th, 2021



An extended heat warning has been issued by Halton Region for Aug. 11-13, 2021.

When a heat warning is issued by Halton Region, residents can stay cool at all open Burlington Public Library branches.

Heat warnings are issued by Halton Region when temperatures are expected to be at least 31°C and overnight temperatures are above 20°C for at least 3 days or humidex is at least 40 for at least 2 days.

Cooling Centre information:

• Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the heat warning
• Community members can use for 1-hour increments
• Screening for COVID-19 upon arrival
• Measures in place to ensure physical distancing
• Non-medical face coverings required

Central Branch
2331 New St.

Aldershot Branch
550 Plains Rd. E.

Alton Branch
3040 Tim Dobbie Dr.

Brant Hills Branch
2255 Brant St.

New Appleby Branch
676 Appleby Line

Tansley Woods Branch
1996 Itabashi Way

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Comic book design classes at the library - virtual - Registration full - get on the waiting list

By Staff

August 9th, 2021



Next Saturday, August 14th, is Free Comic Book Day, and we’re celebrating by learning about comic design with Intro to Drawing Comics.

What a neat idea – the Library deserves kudo’s for this program.

The sad part is – registration is full – there is a waiting list.

Learn the basics of comic design from artist Christopher Chamberlain in this virtual program.

Use the link to get yourself on that waiting list.

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Artscape fund raiser for the hospital gets very close to the $37,500 target at first showing of Maple Leaf Art

By Ryan O’Dowd; Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 9th, 2021



Large crowds gathered for the Burlington Artscape Leaf Walk today to celebrate Burlington frontline workers and artists in support of the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation (JBHF).

Event-goers, of which there numbered fifty to a hundred at a time, walked among fifty-one 4 foot tall leaf canvasses on the yard. The paintings in all manner of style from realism to abstract are unified by the theme of the love of Burlington. The canvasses are available for sale for $750 per canvas, over 30 have already sold with 100% of proceeds going to JBHF.

It was a community event with art scattered all over the Grace United Church lawn. The work was done by local artists as a fund raiser for the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

Jodi Harrison, Burlington Artscape founder, said she had been working on the idea for the project prior to the pandemic but that COVID-19 created immediate demand.

Megan Hazen, new to Burlington and only beginning to discover the city, made this visual statement of how she feels about the city.

“I got a phone call from the JBHF and they said we are in dire need and we need help. And a lot of artists have found sanctuary in their paintbrush and their canvases in being able to express themselves. I thought what a great synergy, what a great way to do this. With COVID it’s natural to want to help the hospital and to get the community involved, we’re all in the same boat and all striving for the same things,” said Harrison.

Harrison spoke about the love of Burlington theme which called upon artists to create Burlington-inspired works.

“We have trails, we have the beautiful community, the wonderful downtown core. We have so much inspiration for artists and there is so much to capture so what greater gift to artists than to say ‘go ahead, paint your love of something,’” said Harrison.

Many of the local artists were in attendance and spent time speaking with the public about their leaves.

Some were long time Burlington residents, like Ron Greig who contributed “Turtle Crossing,” inspired by a unique turtle crossing sign he drives past once a day. He saw a snapping turtle on the trail one day and rendered it by the crossing in exquisite detail. “Turtle Crossing” has already sold.

One of the 50 painting created to financially support the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

Greig also provided a portrait of his daughter-in-law, who is a doctor and was assigned to work in long-term care facilities during the pandemic. Entitled “Thank You,” the painting is a tribute to frontline workers. In Greig’s note displayed by “Thank You,” he wrote about finding his inspiration when challenged by the pandemic and discovering it in the frontline workers.

“It’s been difficult not to focus on the negative. When I finally got back into my studio I wanted to paint something related to current times and if I could, help out in some way,” wrote Greig.

If “Thank You” is sold $3000 of the proceeds go to the JBHF.

Other artists such as Megan Hazen were new to Burlington and only beginning to discover the city. Hazen painted “the Garden,” (which has also sold) a vibrant and colorful visage of a fox, deer, and butterflies in a bed of flowers as a bird soars above against a blue sky. She said the wildlife was the continuity from her more rural former home that’s backyard was frequented by wildlife visitors to finding them again in Burlington’s parks, trails, and waterfalls.

“It’s great to give back to the hospital now that I’m here and meet so many other amazing artists in the community because it’s been hard the last couple of months,” said Hazen.

And just as people found Burlington in different ways with different relationships to the city so to were the artists assembled from disparate artistic backgrounds. Some of the artists were established and others were newer to the scene, some of them were contacted by Burlington Artscape, others answered online postings about the event, others found out through the grapevine of the art scene but they all call Burlington home and many have personal connections to Joseph Brant Hospital.

Student volunteers assisted with the event and musical artists from Mohawk College performed.

CIM metals, a local family-owned Burlington company, crafted the leaves.

Numerous sold pieces will remain on display, depending on the buyer’s preferences, for the subsequent leaf walks.

Harrison said while there are no concrete plans for the future of the Burlington Artscape she didn’t rule out a similar event in the future. Based on the success of the fundraiser it’s not hard to imagine a continuation.

Dwayne DiPasquale, Director of Development at JBHF, was optimistic about the prospect of working with Harrison and her team.

“They’re so committed to the hospital there will be fundraising again with them. We’re lucky, we have this incredible concept,” said DiPasquale.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward mugs for the cameras during the display of the 50 maple leaf shaped canvases that were actually made of aluminium and given to 50 local artists to put the “love for Burlington”

The remaining artwork is available for purchase now as Burlington Artscape moves towards its goal to raise $37,500. 100% of proceeds will go to support the critical needs of the hospital.

Today’s Leaf Walk ran from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, subsequent leaf walks will take place on August 15th and 22nd at Grace United Church (2111 Walkers Line).

You can view much of the artwork @burlingtonartscape on Instagram but I recommend you go out and see it yourself and experience the Leaf Walk. After 18 months of pandemic-induced Netflix marathons experiencing art, entertainment, celebration and community make for a welcome change of pace.

Mayor Meed Ward was in attendance and lauded the success the event has already had on its first of multiple August dates and praised those involved while speaking to the Gazette, adding that “Over 30 paintings have sold already and I’m sure they’ll all go by the end. It’s incredible to see people coming together.”


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