Mental health leader talks to female high school students about the importance of getting the right mentor.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 27, 2015


This was the 19th time former MP and Member of the Privy Council Paddy Tourney held her event for younger woman in Burlington. It was a sold out – not the first time that has happened.

Each year Torsney sponsors a breakfast and brings in a speaker to talk about woman’s issues.

There are men in the room – but they are vastly outnumbered. The room – usually at the Holiday Inn – always has a buzz to it. The buzz at a women’s event is always quite different than when it is mostly men gathered.

Torsney - hands out

Burlington’s Paddy Torsney being Paddy Torsney

While Torsney would like the ticket price to cover all the costs – it never quite works out that way. What she does is look for corporations or individuals who will take a table and cover the cost for young woman to attend the event.

Torsney is currently the International Parliamentary Union Permanent representative at the United Nations in New York – where she advocates for the IPU and comes to terms with living in New York City.

Zahn with students

Dr. Catherine Zahn talks to students about the importance of completing their education.

These high school students attending this annual event are at that stage in life when values and choices are being formed. This year Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, spoke about the importance of mentoring and the changing view the public is developing about mental health.

Dr. Zahn is advocates strongly for making mental health part of the health system. “The divisiveness between communities and hospitals is not doing anything for anyone” she asserted and pointed out that it is time for more in the way of both resources and an understanding of the needs of people with mental health issues.

Elizabeth Small and Sydney MPP office

Elizabeth Small, on the left, was recognized for her success in being trained as a construction worker.

Zhan shifted back and forth between the importance of young women finding the mentors they need and the changing public view of mental health issues.

There was a time she said that literally and metaphorically people with mental health issues were shut away and we knew nothing about them.
That day is gone – but Zahn doesn’t believe that we are yet at the point where mental health is understood and appreciated for what it is across the public health spectrum.

Corpus Christi table

Students from Corpus Christ attend the women’s breakfast.

She seemed to feel that we are much further along with women experiencing the equality they are entitled to – however she is quick to point to the huge income disparity between men and women.

Zahn suggested that the solution to getting a stronger understanding and acceptance of mental health issues is to treat it the way the fight to beat cancer was waged. “Make it an issue and focus on the impact mental health has on not just the individual but the families involved and the larger community” she said.

There is a shortage of professional’s in the mental health field – without the investment in these professionals we will not make any advances” said Zahn.
“I am very optimistic both about the changes taking place in the opportunities for young woman today and the advances we can make in the treatment of There is a shortage of professional’s in the mental health field – without the investment in these professionals we will not make any advances”.mental health” she added.

Torsney made the point with her comment to the younger audience when she said: “You are a different generation; things that are obvious to you were not obvious to us”.

You could almost feel the torch being passed from one generation to the next.

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“Suggested admission” is the first step to an admission fee for the AGB. It’s worth the $5 being suggested.

theartsBy Staff

February 6, 2015


The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) is launching its new self-guided tour program to assist gallery visitors in enjoying more of what the AGB has to offer. This new approach begins Saturday.


Chief Curator Denis Longchamps

“Chief Curator Denis Longchamps is raising the quality of AGB’s exhibition offerings throughout 2015,” says Interim Executive Director Anne Swarbrick. “This Sunday’s public reception formally launches Of Water and Tides by international artist Lyndal Osborne, linking the environment and the arts. At the same time, visitors will be able to follow the new self-guided tour programme to savour exhibitions in the AGB’s two other galleries, the Permanent Collection Corridor, and reflect upon Sally Michener’s fun ceramic installations with coffee in The Conservatory.”
Lesley McInally’s Passage exhibition in the Perry Gallery possesses evocative powers that drive the viewer to decode the narrative elements which she hints at but never states.

AGB visitor scene

Thousands of people from out of town visit the AGB every year.

HomeGrown, winding through the Permanent Collection Corridor, draws from the AGB’s nationally significant 2,400-piece Collection of Canadian Ceramics. This exhibition by award-winning Curator Jonathan Smith traces the history of ceramics in Ontario over the last forty years. Starting with the refined functional ware of Ruth Gowdy McKinley and her effect on the program at Sheridan College and elsewhere, this exhibition looks at the development of the more sculptural approach by younger artists such as Reid Flock and

Mary Philpott. Flock is the third of the thirteen recipients of the Clay & Glass Gallery’s prestigious Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics whose successful career first started in the AGB’s pottery studio. The others are Kasia Piech and Ying Yueh Chuang.

Gallery visitors will be awed by Osborne’s installation throughout the AGB’s Lee-Chin Family Gallery. Longchamp’s 2015 engaging programme year will also include Naked Craft, an initiative with Canadian and Scottish artists that he has scheduled to tour Halifax and Quebec City; and In Spirit a collaboration with Owen Sound’s Tom Thomson Gallery that will tour work from regional artists throughout Burlington, Owen Sound, Woodstock and Montreal.

The bills do have to be paid. Admission to the AGB has been free for a location that is basically open every day of the year. They have introduced a new word to their lexicon: - Suggested Admission.

The AGB will encourage visitors to assist through a suggested admission initiative. Noting that approximately 80% of Ontario’s art galleries charge admission fees, the AGB points out that members and children 12 and under can visit all exhibitions, as often as they like, free and take advantage of the self-guided tour. Non-members and new visitors to AGB will be asked to contribute $5 to tour the multiple exhibitions.

You just know that suggested is going to become mandatory – and perhaps that is the way it should go. The people that make the AGB work financially have done a great job without having to put in an admission fee. If it could be kept at $5 for a few years that would work.

BAC aerial

The Art Gallery has grown over the years with pieces added on. It has a charm and a character of its own – and sits on some of the most valuable land in the city.

The AGB stages as many as 10 regional, national and international exhibitions a year and is home to the world’s largest, acclaimed collection of Canadian contemporary ceramics and seven fine craft guilds. An interactive and creative space, they provide art education programs and public tours for people of all ages. Spanning over 44,000 square feet, the space boasts seven equipped art studios, three galleries, a one of a kind gift shop, an exhibition courtyard and year-round conservatory.

Gallery Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 5:00 pm
The Art Gallery of Burlington is located at1333 Lakeshore Rd, Burlington, ON L7S 1A9

Art Etc Gallery Shop and Art Sales and Rental Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12 noon – 5:00 pm

At $5 a pop – the AGB is one of the best entertainment offerings in the city.

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Target liquidation sale is going to take more of your money than you expected: 10% discounts appear to be the norm at this point.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 5, 2015


They weren’t lined up trying to rush through the doors at the Target store in the Burlington Mall but the parking lot was pretty full.

Target - security guard

Security seemed heavier than usual. Crowds certainly weren’t heavy.

The line ups at the cash register were decent and, surprisingly, staffs were very pleasant. They are all going to be out of a job within the next eight weeks.

The discounts weren’t great – there were some items marked down 30% but the bulk of the items had 10% discounts.
What was really different was the amount of security – they were all over the place.

I’d not experienced that level of experience during previous visits to the same store. I didn’t shop Target all that often – the selection wasn’t what I was looking for.

The sale will go on for a number of weeks – everything is to be sold – inventory, furniture, fixtures and whatever isn’t nailed to the walls.

There might be some bargains in the closing days.

The Starbucks in the Burlington Mall location was closed as was the pharmacy.

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Who are our readers and what do they like and not like? Your chance to tell us.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr, Publisher

February 4, 2015


Time to count the chickens and see just who the readers are and what they think.

There is a graphic on the right hand side  – Please click on it and respond to a very short survey – 7 questions.

Survey logoThe survey will be up for a month. When you respond to it from a particular computer you can’t respond a second time. We would prefer that each person respond to the survey just the once. We don’t want to skew the numbers.
We will do a report on the survey results – and yes we will tell you what you tell us. We get more positive comments than negative comments but there are people who don’t have as much as the time of day for what we do.

The Mayor used to like us but of late he has decided we are not quite his cup of tea.

For the most part we reflect the community and the community talks back to the editorial team and the other readers. At times there are some very healthy debates – and yes at times there are some pretty dumb comments made. We moderate the comments and strive to keep it lively and polite.

Let’s see what the survey tells us!

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Councillor Dennison promoting bylaw that would forbid feeding nuisance wildlife.

Event 100By Staff

February 4, 2015


Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison knows a good local issue when he sees one: Coyotes.

The creatures are showing up with more regularity than usual. One city resident watched in horror as a coyote killed her pet.


Coyote about to pounce on a mouse scurrying beneath the snow.

It’s an emotional issue – and there is nothing more effective than an emotional issue to get the folks out for a meeting. A good politician can make good political mileage out of emotional issues.  Dennison’s Ontario Municipal Board hearing later in March will be another that ward four residents will be watching; many would have liked that hearing to have taken place before the municipal election.

Dennison is holding two public meetings on the issue – he has held this kind of meeting before – the Gazette has reported on these in the past.

Dennison has positioned the meeting as an “opportunity for you to provide feedback on a proposed new by-law that would prohibit the feeding of nuisance wildlife (i.e. coyotes, raccoons, skunks, chipmunks, foxes) in our city.”

There will be a meeting in North Burlington on Wednesday, February 25, 2015; 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way, Community Rooms 1 and 2

Another in South Burlington: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Central Arena, 519 Drury Lane.

There are some that might take issue with Tansley Wood being described a “north” Burlington.  The northern part of ward four would be more correct.

Previous articles on coyotes.

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Art form inspired by the landscape of both Canada and Scotland on display at the Art Gallery of Burlington.,

theartsBy Staff

February 1, 2015


Passage. The wok of Lesley McInally opened at the Art Gallery of Burlington late in January. The Opening reception takes place on February 8th along with another exhibit that might well take up all the attention. It would be a mistake to not find time to slip over to the Perry Gallery and spend some time appreciating the slab built paper clay vessels.

McInally slab bowl

A Lesley McInally slab built paper clay vessel.

Born and raised in Scotland, Lesley McInally got her degree in ceramics and printmaking from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee University. She immigrated to Canada over a decade ago and settled in the Georgian Bay area, in Cookstown, in a landscape that reminded her of her homeland. Her slab built paper clay vessels, while functional in form are inspired by the landscape of both Canada and Scotland, especially the historic stone structures that show the accumulated layers of age.

McInally’s forms take on the soft rounded contour of stones that have faced the effects of weathering over time. These forms are often pierced with openings so that pinpoints of light illuminate dark interiors.

Her surfaces range from mists of colour to glaze that resembles cracked, blistered, and peeling paint. In the last couple of years she has developed a technique where she uses her old printmaking techniques. She layers ceramic pigments and hand coloured porcelain engobes to create complex textural surfaces that reveal hidden burst of colour similar to lichens.

McInally’s work possesses evocative powers that drive the viewer to decode the narrative elements which she hints at but never states.

Lesley McInally will be showing at the AGB until March 22, 2015

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Of Water & Tides: a major exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington - starts February 7th

theartsBy Staff

January 29th, 2015


Imagine the Lee-Chin Family room at the Art Gallery of Burlington aglow with 7500 glass jars lit with candles inside them.

This is the view that will be before you at the Art Gallery of Burlington when a major installation opens next month: Of Water and Tides.

Lyndal Osborbe with glass jars

Lyndal Osborne with some of the over 7,500 glass jars she uses to take us on a journey involving two amazing rivers: one in Australia, one in Canada.

International artist Lyndal Osborne uses over 7,500 glass jars to take us on a journey involving two amazing rivers: one in Australia, one in Canada.

This major cultural event will challenge your views on how we think about our richest natural resource – water.

Shoalwan: River through Fire, River of Ice (2003) and Tidal Trace (2004-2013) are two major installations in the oeuvre of Australian born artist Lyndal Osborne: both are inspired by bodies of water.
Shoalwan is a reflection on her experiences along the Shoalhaven River in Australia and of the North Saskatchewan River that flows near her home in Edmonton, Alberta. It presents her contrasting experiences in two countries that are antipodal.

Tidal Trace, in collaboration with John Freeman, came to be from her experiences at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland where she noticed plastic and metal refuse, items left behind on the beach or thrown at sea, were brought to shore by the rolling of the waves, like a macabre dance of gift-giving.

Lyndal Osborne Shoalwan ABG

A reflection Lyndal’s experiences along the Shoalhaven River in Australia

Shoalwan and Tidal Trace invites visitors to meditate and contemplate on the beauty and force of water. It also reminds us of the destructive power of the human race in the name of evolution and technological advancement.
In the end…who will win?

Of Water & Tides showing at the Art Gallery of Burlington from February 7, 2015 to April 5, 2015. There is no admission charge for AGB events.

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Public gets to hear what the city wants to set the tax rate at - thinking upwards of 3.5% more than last year.

burlbudgetBy Pepper Parr

January 28, 2015


It is that time of year again – when the city sets out what they want to take from your wallet – they call it taxes.

The setting and the approach to this interaction with the public will be considerably different this year. The locale will be the Mainway Recreation Centre –  where there is quite a bit more room; things were getting a bit tight at the Art Gallery.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget.  What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn’t done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

There will be the obligatory budget overview.

There will be a demonstration of the Burlington Open Budget visual application.

There will be a table top exercise – that’s when participants get to think about some of the specifics in the budget that was explained and make comments on the different initiatives the city is proposing

This is the year the city moved to budgeting based on the services provided rather than planned spending by departments. The city has a handful of acronyms; RBA – Results Based Accountability is the one that they seem to favour.

When the city wants to provide a new service there has to be a business case made – the public will get to hear what some of the business cases are this year.

Vanessa Williams + Woodruff Budget meet

Vanessa Warren and Ken Woodruff going through the pages of the workbook at the 2014 budget review.

In the past the city has used small hand held clickers – sort of like a TV remote control. Data is put up on a screen and people are asked to use the clickers to indicate which of the options given they prefer.

While all this data gathering is interesting – the basics of the budget have already been determined. City staff have been working on the document for months – the broad strokes are in place – what the public is being asked to do at this point is comment on what has been done – but there is no real opportunity to shape the city’s financial plan.

Vanessa Warren, one of the founders of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt coalition and a candidate for the ward 6 seat which Blair Lancaster won for the second time in October, commented at the last public review of the budget that “none of the remarks made at the only public meeting being held on the budget would be available before delegations were made.” Warren wanted more information and wanted it sooner so comments could have a real impact.

It was at the 2014 review that John Birch tried to hi-jack the event and get in his pitch for funding of the LaSalle Park Marina; his efforts drew howls of derision. Hopefully the event facilitator will keep a tighter rein on where speakers go with their comments.

With a little luck the evening will see a demonstration of the city’s new web site. What we’ve seen so far appears to be a significant improvement over what has been in place for the last five years. Atrocious is an apt word to describe what the public has had to put up with.

A smart, savvy crew has done some solid work – the peak we had at the web site was good. Let’s see if the follow up is as good.

Thursday – at the Mainway Recreation Centre – 7:00 to 9:00 pm. It will be different this year.

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Burlington flood advocacy group to host Valentine’s Gala to raise funds for independent research

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 27, 2015


The Halton Residents Against Sewer Backup (HRASB) is hosting a Valentine’s Day Gala with all proceeds going to fund independent research of the storm and sanitary sewer systems.

HRASB spokesperson, Christina Thorpe, says the group will spearhead the research but intends to work closely with independent experts who will analyze last year’s storm and waste water system failures, provide recommendations, and offer insight into the city’s proposed “intensification” plans.

Christine Thorpe

Christine Thorpe speaks for the Halton Residents Against Sewer Backup.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Burlington residents to come together, once again, in solidarity as they did on August 4th – a day when family, friends, and neighbours opened their homes and hearts to those who were greatly distressed.” More than 191 mm of rain fell on that August day.

Sewer backup in business.

Nothing pretty about this picture but it was the reality many in the city had to deal with last August.

Thorpe contends that the formal affair at The Atrium will be well worth the $60 ticket price with dancing and live entertainment by the talented John Chantry, hors d’oeuvres reception, silent art auction, raffles for items such as spa packages and electronics, door prizes, and a champagne toast – all for a worthy cause.

Thorpe says that the storm and waste water infrastructure failed in May, June, and August of 2014, and that costly flood studies dating back 14+ years were seemingly ignored.

Furthermore adds Thorpe, citizens were not provided with essential emergency services for prompt sewage clean out or consultation on public health issues.

Flood Fairview plaza

The commercial sector suffered as well during the flood – no one is hearing how they dealt with the damage.

“Emergency preparedness is something that every Burlington resident should be concerned about. We need to be confident that the City and the Region are prepared to take appropriate action during times of crises.”

Valentine hearts

A Valentine Day event to get together and chill out and raise funds for further research.

Tickets can be purchased online  at – search for ‘Valentines Gala’ – or call 289-335-0329.  Singles and couples welcome, senior and group discounts, 19+. * Transportation for seniors’ groups can be arranged.

The city has budgeted $4.5 million to do a study on what would have happened to other parts of Burlington had the same amount of raid dropped in Aldershot.

The HRASB hasn’t said what it is they want to independently research on nor have they set out a target as to how much money they need to raise.

Back in October, 2014 the HRASB wrote Regional Chair Gary Carr asking a number of questions.

Why, they wanted to know, did the representatives from the Burlington Flood Relief Foundation decline two invitations to attend sewer backup meetings thereby missing opportunities to connect with 350+ residents who were directly affected by sewage backup?

First, the organization was the Burlington Community Foundation and there job was to deal with two clearly defined groups of people: Those who did not have any insurance and those who were under-insured.

A meeting with 300+ people who didn’t meet these criteria would serve no purpose – and, the BCF was terribly over-worked dealing with those who did meet the criteria.

The members of HRASB and the people they represent have significant and justifiable complaints. The Regional government has basically stiffed them and failed to respond adequately to their real concerns.  There is more detail on the HRASB web site at

There was an On line petition requesting a Town Hall meeting; that went nowhere. Everyone who signed the on-line petition also sent an email to Regional Chair Garry Carr – that didn’t produce any results either.

Jane MacCaskill

Jane MacCaskill, CAO for the Region felt that elections got in the way of meeting the needs of residents whose homes were flooded.

Regional CAO Jane MacCaskill published a press release in a local newspaper saying there would not be any public meetings with a municipal election taking place. For some reason MacCaskill feels the administration of a municipal government comes to a complete stop just because there is an election taking place,

The election is over – so now is there going to be a meeting? Thorpe doesn’t appear to be holding her breath.

There have been a few very poorly promoted Public Information events that were reportedly poorly attended.

Christina Thorpe is pushing for better transparency and more accountable. She thinks that the three law suits that have been filed against the Region for the way they handled the flood matters might be why they are being kind of quiet.

The people who lost so much due to the flood have big hearts – and they want to share the love on Valentine’s Day – and then use the money they raise to do some serious research. There is nothing more effective than a grass roots organization committed to their cause.

Related articles:

Open letter to the Regional chair – he didn’t respond.

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Red - a critcally acclaimed dramatic production begins a run at the Performing Arts Centre - Thursday.

theartsBy Pepper Parr

January 27, 2015


The boys are at it again.

Mischa and Mel Aravena are part of a crew that will be putting on performances of Red, the six time Tony Award winning play, written by John Logan. The run begins January 29th at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (BPAC).
Nortesur Productions, a Burlington based group is behind this initiative. The company is made up of the two Aravena boys and their Dad.


Mischa is in the back, Mel in the foreground: moving the set for the Harold Pinter play “Betrayal” that they were painting in their driveway for a Hamilton Fringe Festival production.

They were work shopping Red in Hamilton when Brian McCurdy, Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre in Hamilton saw their work and decided to bring the production to Burlington.

McCurdy has done a lot to develop local talent on the BPAC stage.

Red  - two people on stage

Red, a dramatic production has won six Tony Awards.

Red is about Master Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art, a series of murals for New York’s famed Four Seasons Restaurant. In the two fascinating years that follow, Rothko works feverishly with his young assistant, Ken, in his studio on the Bowery. But when Ken gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the agonizing possibility that his crowning achievement could also become his undoing. Raw and provocative, RED is a searing portrait of an artist’s ambition and vulnerability as he tries to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting. It is a fascinating exploration into the life of an angry and brilliant mind.

This level of critically acclaimed drama is not seen nearly often enough in Burlington.

The Aravena boys have had work in the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Mel does the production work – Mischa is the performer.

The production runs from Thursday January 29th through to Saturday February 7th.
Tickets available at the PAC box office.
Show Times
Jan 29 7:30 PM   Feb 05 7:30 PM
Jan 30 7:30 PM   Feb 06 7:30 PM
Jan 31 2:00 PM   Feb 07 2:00 PM
Jan 31 7:30 PM   Feb 07 7:30 PM
Tickets Available at the BPAC web site. 
By phone: 905-681-6000

Regular Price: $29 + tax
Series Price: $25 + tax
Senior Price: $25 + tax
30 and under: $25 + tax


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Love kisses at the drive in on Lakeshore Road - AGB putting on an imaginative media installation.

theartsBy Pepper Parr

January 8, 2015


For those of you who remember the “drive-in” movies – there will be an opportunity to re-live that experience when you are driving along Lakeshore Road and passing the Art Gallery of Burlington between January 16th and February 15th.

Love Kiss  Charlotte and Kune -300 dpi

Love – the moment!

Jim Riley, a Burlington, based video artist will have a two-channel window installation showing in the evenings. The video installation will be visible after dusk in two windows facing Lakeshore Road at the Art Gallery of Burlington. During other gallery hours, monitors will play the videos in the Community Gallery of the AGB.

Love Kiss Andrew and Rod 300 dpi

Love – same gender

Riley’s art practice involves taking a moment of time, slowing it down, and placing it in a circle for the audience to examine. The circle acts as a portal to that moment, for the viewer to explore. As a non-linear story teller, Riley invites the audience to pause and view the two videos on a winter evening walk or, in a fleeting moment, from their vehicle.

Seven couples were invited to engage in the project. They were given minimal instruction, and they decided how to interpret the directions.

Love Self Janet

Janet – self love

The main circular image illustrates the couples’ love. The participants reflect a wide span of backgrounds. Images range from young sweethearts to middle-aged duos, interracial lovers, same-gender couples, single parent and child love, and a mature couple that have been lovers for nearly fifty years. Viewers may find their interactions intriguing.

Love Self Lilly

Lilly – self love.

The participants were each asked to bring an object that represented them. These solo images are shown in the smaller Lakeshore window. The contributors are also shown individually, representing self-love. Viewers are invited to connect the dual images of Love Kiss with the solo imagery.

There are several theories as to the origin of a kiss. The kiss has been used as ritual, and to show affection or sexual and romantic love. Kissing between humans may be seen as a form of loving non-verbal communication.

Riley was a participant in the No Vacancy – Cirque event held at the Village Square last September.

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An Enfant Terrible dies in his sleep. Former area MPP Eric Cunningham - dead at 65.

News 100 blackBy James Smith

January 1, 2014


Enfant Terrible: A term not used much these days, but I like to think of my pal Eric Cunningham as the quintessential Enfant Terrible.

Quick, sharp, partisan, did not suffer fools quietly; who cut through the crap and saw stuff from many angles, but always with a sparkle in his eyes when he’d make a precise evaluation of a situation or an individual. What a shock to know that this force of nature has passed far too soon.

Eric Cunningham

Eric Cunningham – dead at 65.

Eric and I have been putting off sitting down for a relaxing conversation over what he called, an Adult Beverage for weeks now. The stuff of day to day life just kept getting in our way, now, sadly at the far too young age of 65, Eric Cunningham has joined that smoky back room eternal.


Damn and blast!

I first met Eric in 1987, I was new to Burlington, and a mutual friend in Calgary suggested I look Eric up when I moved here. I did and was at once both put on my heels by the forthrightness of this man and attracted to Eric’s no nonsense attitude.

Eric had resigned from the legislature a couple of years before. When elected as the MPP for Flamborough North Burlington, Eric had been the youngest Member elected to the Ontario’s legislature. I was a young Liberal and was thinking of running for the nomination here in Burlington and Eric had been beaten by our MP, the late Bill Kempling,

I wanted to know if he was thinking of running, and if not, to get some advice from him. We met for said Adult Beverage and Eric listened politely to me. After a few minutes he stopped me and asked: “Do you want to do the job or not”? Direct, to the point! I had learned just who the essential Eric was.

Eric was very good with his time, having understood what it is to put one’s life on hold, put your face in front of the public, only to be rejected.

Eric and I did not travel in the same social circles, but we were happy warriors, who often shared the same sophomoric partisanship and who liked each other’s company and the occasional Adult Beverage. For the most part, we ran into each other when we’d be working on the same side in the many political trenches we’ve found ourselves in over these past many years.

Recently when I was considering running for municipal council, Eric’s evaluation and advice made me a better candidate. The best advice he gave me was to ask some tough questions and to ask “win or lose, will you be at peace with yourself if you don’t run?”.

Eric’s personal life had been through a rough patch lately, but when we spoke last week he was excited to put these troubles behind him and wanted to catch up.

Like so much in life, our plans get made and then fate steps in to unmake them. Burlington is a smaller and different place without my pal Eric, and I shall miss him dearly.

Eric Cunningham is survived by his wife Heather and a daughter.

The funeral will be at Smith’s Funeral Home, details to follow.

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Blood clinic on Saturday - possible blood worker strike on the 8th - help if you can.

element_healthservices-74x74By Staff

January 1, 2015


There is an opportunity to get your habit of giving back to the community that has been so good to you back into gear – The Canadian Blood Service is holding their first Blood Drive for 2015.

Blood drop going into hand.January 3, from 8:00 am to noon. Book an appointment at 1-888-236-6283
Besides booking an appointment to donate blood you can also register to donate stem cells and learn about donating cord blood.

Making that appointment for January 3rd is a little more important this time around; the Blood Service employees are set to strike January 8th. The 13 blood service workers in Burlington, part of the 800 workers that could go on strike will resume negations January 5th.

OPSEU, the union representing the workers warn that concession sought by management pose a serious risk to the safety of the blood system. The concessions are said to include the layoff of skilled professionals and replacement with lower cost, casual part time employees and a changing workplace climate that demands faster processing of blood products and unreasonable production targets.

The consistent flow of blood products is vital to hospitals

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We were hearing a different story about snow this time last year.

backgrounder 100By Staff

December 29, 2014



Do you remember this time last year?

It was snow, on snow, on snow with dozens of senior staff members out in the field on Christmas Day.

ICE STORM Millar road closed

Millar Road was blocked solid – for several days


That was a live wire when it came down.


This tree actually survived – picture could go on a post card


Hydro crews worked around the clock and late into the night to get power lines back up. In several places new cable had to be strung.

Burlington Hydro CEO Gerry Smallegange and NAME

Burlington Hydro CEO Gerry Smallegange explaining to a community meting in Kilbride that work was progressing but it was just going to take time.

A little photo feature to remind you what it was like.

Maybe the August 4th flood is Burlington’s bad weather for the year?

Burlington asked the province for some financial relief due to the storm – the claim was for $1.8 million – we haven’t seen that money yet.

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Marvelously renovated Mountainside recreation complex now open. Well worth the ten year wait.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 26, 2014



It was pretty close to a ten year project but John Taylor, Councillor for Ward 3 knew that he would eventually be able to deliver for the residents of the Mountainside Community – and he has.

Mountainside entrace BEST Johnson and planner

Project Manager Jennifer Johnson point out a detail in the entrance area of the rebuilt Mountainside Recreation Centre that is now open to the public.

Last week the marvelously renovated Mountainside Recreation Centre was quietly opened for people in the community. Early in January there will be a public opening – but Jennifer Johnson, city Project Co-ordinator already knows how well the place is going to work.

While she was checking on some last day details she put on her figure skates and tested the rink. It has been some time since Jennifer has skated and gone up on her toes and used the picks to twist and turn on the ice. She had the sheet of ice all to herself – and made the best of it. She did not tell us if she took even one small fall on that perfect sheet of ice.

Mountainside -  Corridor - from reception to pool area

The corridor that integrates the swimming – splash pad areas with reception and the ice rink is finished in material that has the look and feel of wood.

Johnson was Project Manager for the Haber Recreational Centre in Alton where she worked with the Board of Education to bring in one of the few fully integrated collection of a high school, a recreational centre and a public library in a community that is in the process of finding itself. There are those in Alton who refer to that part of the city as the NEW Burlington.

After 18 months of construction, the newly renovated Mountainside Recreation Centre is completed. It is not your typical recreation centre with that cinder block look to it.

Mountainside outdoor side view driveway

There are parking lots at the bottom of the slight grade leading to the entrance of the Recreation Centre; a drop off bay and a small parking lot at the top of the site. The architects chose a very fitting blend of stone, brick and paneling that fits in with the wooded location.

ZAS Architects did the design work and produced something that looks and feel a little more like a mid-level resort location than a community centre with both outdoor pools and an ice rink.
The use of building material that has a finish resembling natural wood gives one the impression, and a look and feel of natural wood is everywhere.

The contract to build was awarded to Bondfield Construction Company Limited in May 2013. The cost for the project totaled $9.3 million, which included all the hard costs (construction) and soft costs, architect fees, permits, project administration, contingency and furnishings.

Mountainside - concession area

The concession area is set up so that hockey players and those using the pools and splash pad outside have access.

The job amounted to a complete revitalization and connection of the existing arena and pool house buildings into one integrated recreational complex that has two community rooms with screens and projection equipment, refrigerators and micro-wave ovens. These are rooms that small dances could be held in.

The customer service area is very pleasing – the concession is set up so that it can serve the people using the pools and splash pad area in the summer and the people using the ice rink in the winter.

Mountainside - ice rink with chnage rooms BEST

Change rooms on the left and a brand new sheet of ice.

The change rooms in the ice arena are as upscale as most of the golf clubs in the community. Hockey referees have their own change room with lockers.

The centre is built into the side of a small mountain. Tree planting, re-forestation, trail installations were part of the revitalization.
The facility is now open for ice rentals and community room rentals. The grand opening will take place on January 2, 2015.

The Mountainside community now has the recreation centre it has waited for – Councillor Taylor just might burst with pride when the place is officially opened.

Mountainside outside entrace - public rt spot

Entrance to the Mountainside Recreation Centre. Public art is being done.


It was not an easy project to bring to fruition.  Parks and Recreation wasn’t all that keen on the idea and a former city manager tried to kill the project at one point.  They don’t call John Taylor the dean of city council because he has a pretty face.  He slugged away to keep the project in the budget – next week his constituents   can celebrate his perseverance with him.

In the months ahead, work on the public art that Simon Frank, the Hamilton artist selected, will be going forward – it will be interesting to see how this addition to the city’s bank of public art works out.

There have been some clunkers in the past.

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Council members will be looking for time to go over the first cut of the 2015 budget during the holidays.

burlbudgetBy Pepper Parr

December 15, 2014



There will be some heavy reading for the newly elected Council. Director of Finance Joan Ford is going to deliver a copy of the Budget book to Council members December 23rd. It is usually a thick publication.


Citizens meeting at the Art Gallery and going over a budget that has basically been decided.  Burlington’s version of citizen engagement.

The Budget book will come in two versions; one based on the format used previously and another in the new Service Based Budget format that will focus on Results Based Accountability.

The city has done two surveys – asking people what they want in the way of services and what they are prepared to pay. There was a survey done with the members of the Insight Panel and another that could be answered by anyone who was prepared to take the time to go through the document.

Getting a grip on what the public wants and what the city can afford to spend is the challenge this year. In the past we heard Mayor Goldring put out a number on what he wanted to keep the tax rate increase at – he’s not said anything about what he wants to see for 2015.

At a previous meeting of the Corporate and Community Services Committee the Mayor did mention that “we are in the ditch to the tune of $2 million”.

Joan Ford, the city's Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, the city’s Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.  When the money she needs is not forthcoming – she refers to that as an “unfavourable variance”.

Director of Finance Joan Ford came back with a reply that only an accountant working for a bureaucracy would utter: Ford explained that the amount was not $2 million but $1.8 million and that it was an “unfavourable variance”.

Try that one in the private sector.

The shortfall is the result of delays in getting funds from the province to cover the cost of cleaning up after the ice storm LAST Christmas. The public sector does move at a different pace.

The early version of the claim the city was making on the province was for $2.9 million which included money spent by the Regional government. There was apparently a conversation between the city and the Region – suggesting perhaps that the Region do their own paper work?

It has been the city’s practice to hold a public meeting after the budget was basically set. A slick booklet was prepared for those taking part in the public meeting, usually held at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

City hall staff now realizes that the Burlington boundary doesn’t stop at the QEW and is looking into the possibility of holding public meetings at Tansley Woods and or at the Haber Recreation Centre.

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Sound of Music sets February 15th as closing date for 2015 bookings

News 100 redBy Staff

December 14, 2014



Time to figure out if you and that horn are ready for the big stage.

The Sound of Music Festival has announced that they will be accepting submissions until February 15, 2015 through Sonicbids.

Small Town Pistols

Small Town Pistols played in 2013

The Festival celebrates Canadian and local musical talent, with a preference to performances with a repertoire of original music.

Local submissions are defined as “at least one member must reside in Burlington full-time”. Please indicate if you are local in your submission.

Submissions will only be accepted from Canadian performers with a preference for performers who have not played at the Festival in the past 2-3 years. Artists’ EPKs must be complete and up-to-date, and the required questions must be fully answered. Compensation is provided and will be negotiated at the time of booking.

Due to the high volume of submissions, only those selected will be contacted.

For more detailed information CLICK here.

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Does the downtown core look any better this Christmas - you be the judge.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 12, 2014



Donna Zaffino has been a Gazette reader for some time. She is a frequent commenter and can be, how shall I put this, direct at times. We love her for that.

When we did the piece a few days ago on the contest the Burlington Downtown Business Association was holding for the best dressed window Zaffino agreed with the position we took and said she would make a point of looking at the windows to see how the retailers did this year.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Mirellas BEST

Zaffino thought the use of Christmas tree branches was attractive and innovative – very much in the season.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Anise Apothecary

Zaffino thought this was one of the best windows this year.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Son of a Peach

Son of a Peach, a pizza locale took over their part of Pine Street with traditional lights and Christmas wreaths

BDBA Xmas 2014 Dickens

Dickens really upped their game this year. At night the decorating they did along with their neighbour makes that part of Elizabeth Street look quite festive.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Burlington Tourist office

This pathetic store front is that of the city’s Tourism office. Have you ever seen two more limp Christmas wreaths in your life. Sure make you want to visit this city.


The look and feel of a street are probably more important than the products that are on sale in the stores.  People are impacted by what they see and that impact determines what they do.  If a street is bright and cheerful people feel bright and cheerful.

If a street is decorated during a festive season people pick up the spirit if that season.

Here is Zaffino`s report: “I walked around downtown taking photos of the business that are participating in the contest.

I was not terribly impressed with any of the displays, especially any of the clothiers.

There were a few around that aren’t in the contest that may have been better.

I am not sure if Different Drummer is participating or not. Both nights I didn’t see anything. Maybe I show up after Ian turns off the display. I tried on Tuesday around 6:30 and again tonight.

There are only three windows that stood out for me and have stayed in my imagination. They are Mirella’s, The Olive Oil Dispensary and Anise Apothecary.

1) Mirella’s for the creativity of using cedar boughs as flared skirts on their mannequins.

2) The Olive Dispensary for the vibrant colours and of course the classic little train set.

3) Anise Apothecary for simplicity and the soft blues and white. Nature helped it along today by covering their little evergreens under the window in snow.

I think Wardel’s Insurance was nice but I can’t remember what it looked like nor what the theme was. I recall that it was bright and stood out from a street view.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Works

The Works decided to focus on just their window this year. Last year the wrapped the store like a Christmas gift box. Given their position on Brant – a stronger message was better

BDBA Xmas 2014 Rahoons

Rayhoon used a nicely decorated Christmas tree they brought in and electric lights to give both their restaurant and Village Square a solid holiday feeling.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Bushs Mens wear

Given the position this retailer commands on Brant Street a little more imagination would have made a big difference.

BDBA Xmas 2014 Brant Foundation

Both the city and the Hospital Foundation did such poor job of creating a sense of season with their store fronts.

I wasn’t able to photograph three businesses. Black Pearl, Omega and Deeth and Co. I won’t be able to get them until Saturday.

I’d like to take pictures of places that weren’t on the contest list who did some really nice work.  Look for more from me later in the week.

Thanks for the assignment it was fun.

Related articles:

2013: Retailers forget that it is Christmas

BDBA works to make store fronts more festive.


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Ice show at the pond in Spencer Smith park - tonight!

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 11, 2014



Short notice!
1st Annual Christmas Collage Ice Show.

Mercedes-Benz is presenting a one hour, choreographed on ice performance showcasing local youth talent. The choreography encompasses 7 ice sports; figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, ringette, hockey, sledge hockey and curling. Free Hot Chocolate! Free Public Skate after the show! Free Giveaway for the first 200 families! Make this event your family’s new Christmas Tradition!

If you didn't get to strap on the blades this winter - you're out of luck.  Rink closes at 10:00 pm this evening.

It will be choreographed on ice performances showcasing local youth talent on the pond tonight.

Friday, December 12, 7 – 8 p.m. at the Rotary Centennial Pond (skating rink) in Spencer’s at the Waterfront, 1400 Lakeshore Road

General Admission: FREE – donations to Jumpstart at the event are appreciated!

VIP Balcony: Adults:$30.00, Children (under 12) $15.00, Family Pack (2 adults and up to 4 children) $75.00 (seating, blankets provided, overhead heating)

A portion of the proceeds generated by the event will be donated to Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity.

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Burlington MPP gives her inaugural speech in the legislature; supports bill on Invasive Species

News 100 redBy Staff

December 9, 2014



It is a tradition in the provincial legislature for one member to congratulate another when they make their “maiden speech” at Queen`s Park.  Monday morning Norm Miller, member for Parry Sound said “These are always special speeches, because you learn so much about the member’s family and what brought them to the Legislature.

“I’ve learned a few things today. The member’s mother was born in Glasgow, as my mother was born in Glasgow, and that she comes from a large family—the youngest of a large family. She certainly has a very close relationship with her mother.

“She also thanked the past member for Burlington for her work. I know that Jane McKenna has been out to some community events, and she says how nice you have been to her at those events.

“Congratulations on your maiden speech” said Miller

And with that Burlington`s first Liberal member of the legislature in more than 70 years stood up to give her first full speech

McMahon - looking direct into camera

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon delivering her inaugural speech in the legislature.

Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to allow me to deliver my inaugural address during debate on this bill today.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Burlington is seeking unanimous consent to deliver her maiden, or inaugural, speech in this House. Agreed? Agreed.

The member for Burlington.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m pleased to rise and join the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry in speaking in support of Bill 37, the proposed Invasive Species Act. This proposed legislation would address a serious threat to our province. Indeed, close to my home in the riding of Burlington, the Cootes to Escarpment is the perfect example, a precious tract of land that contains more indigenous species than any other area of Canada, a number of them species at risk. Bill 37 will protect areas like the Cootes to Escarpment.

Invasive species cause significant damage to the natural environment, which results in significant ecological, economic and social costs, as the minister outlined. This is the case within Ontario, across Canada and internationally. Invasive species move into ecosystems and take over, killing or crowding out some native species. Invasive species disrupt food webs, degrade habitat, introduce parasites and disease, and lead to species becoming at risk. Globally, only habitat loss is a bigger threat to biodiversity.

Cootes Paradise

McMahon wants to ensure that invasive species do not get into Cootes paradise.

Mr. Speaker, on a global basis, invasive species costs are estimated to be $1.4 trillion. That’s the equivalent of 5% of the global GDP and seven times the cost of natural disasters. Industries like fishing, hunting, forestry, tourism and agriculture can all be negatively affected by invasive species. In the Great Lakes basin, invasive species foul water intakes, reduce the value of commercial and recreational fisheries and reduce property values. Every year, invasive plants cost the agriculture and forest industries in Canada about $7.3 billion.

All invasive species pose some risk; however, some species pose a bigger threat than others. The members of this Legislature will be familiar with the Asian carp, which have damaged the ecosystems of many American lakes and rivers. There are actually four species of Asian carp: bighead, silver, grass and black carp. Our greatest concerns are bighead and silver carp, which have spread the most aggressively in the United States. They are considered one of the greatest threats to our Great Lakes.

Asian carp are voracious consumers. They eat up to 20% of their body weight each day. Everywhere they go, they eat the food supply that native fish depend on, and they crowd native species out of their habitat. The decline of native fish species could damage sport and commercial fishing right here in Ontario. Currently, there are no established populations—thank goodness—of Asian carp in Ontario waters. Preventing Asian carp from spreading in the Great Lakes is the best way to prevent harm to Ontario’s native fish species.

Another species that has not yet entered Ontario is the mountain pine beetle. In British Columbia, it has destroyed millions of hectares of pine trees. Reports have predicted that climate change, a major underlying cause of the proliferation of invasive species, may allow the beetles to spread north and east. The cost of fighting the mountain pine beetle is staggering. Since 2001, the BC government has spent close to a billion dollars fighting this one insect.

Invasive plants may not be as well known, but they are also a serious threat. One of them, hydrilla, is considered one of the world’s worst aquatic invaders. It can grow up to 2.5 centimetres a day, resulting in extremely dense growth that impacts boaters and swimmers. Hydrilla has not yet been detected in Canada, but it has spread rapidly throughout the United States. It is highly adaptable and thrives in many different kinds of aquatic environments.

McMahon reading her innaugural

The Inaugural speech was detailed focused and on an issue that is important to Burlington.

Asian carp, the mountain pine beetle and hydrilla aren’t yet established in Ontario, as I mentioned, but we are managing many invasive species that have become established here.

Some invasive species can be a threat to human health. One example is the giant hogweed, a plant introduced from Asia. Its toxic sap can cause painful burning blisters on the skin when exposed to sunlight. In addition to that threat, this plant can spread readily and shade out native plants, which can have an impact on our biodiversity.

Another invasive species that is already established in Ontario is the round goby. It is a small, bottom-dwelling fish that feeds aggressively on fish eggs, larvae and other small organisms found on lake and river bottoms. In less than a decade, the round goby has spread through all five of our Great Lakes and begun to invade inland waters. The round goby’s aggressive eating habits and ability to spawn several times each season have helped them multiply and spread quickly. In fact, in some areas, the fish has reached densities of more than 100 fish per square metre. Round goby have reduced populations of sport fish and threaten several species at risk in our Great Lakes basin.

There is no question that the threat of invasive species is real and significant.

Managing the threat of invasive species is challenging and complex. It requires a coordinated approach. Indeed, managing invasive species has always been a collaborative effort across all levels of government as well as with industry, environmental groups and the public.

Ontario plans to continue to collaborate with all of those involved in invasive species management, including the federal government, which has an important national role to play in invasive species management. Indeed, I want to be clear: Our proposed Invasive Species Act is intended to complement the role of the federal government, not duplicate or take over their responsibility. The proposed Invasive Species Act will enable Ontario to use its own framework to determine an appropriate course of action.

Preventing invasive species from arriving and becoming established in Ontario is critical in our fight against this growing threat. Evidence has shown that the costs of preventing invasive species from Preventing invasive species from arriving and becoming established in Ontario is critical in our fight against this growing threat.becoming established through taking immediate action are generally much lower than the costs of controlling an established invasive species. Like so many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We know that there may be many circumstances that arise where immediate and urgent action is required to eliminate or reduce the spread of an invasive species. This could happen if a new invasive species is found in Ontario or an existing invasive species is found in a new area of the province. The proposed legislation will help by allowing the government to intervene earlier and enable rapid response actions. This could include working with partners to stop an invasive species from spreading: for example, by preventing or restricting the movement of contaminated firewood.

Mr. Speaker, as I noted earlier, addressing the threat of invasive species is a collaborative effort. I would like to take a few minutes to highlight a few of the many enduring partnerships our government has built in the area of invasive species management and education. We place tremendous value on these relationships, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our ministry stakeholders for their valuable advice and for giving of their time and talents to enrich our public policy work as a government. Ontario works with the Great Lakes states and the US and Canadian governments to prevent aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp, from entering the Great Lakes. Indeed, there is a federal office in my riding of Burlington which is doing extensive work in this area.

Ontario works with the Great Lakes states and the US and Canadian governments to prevent aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp, from entering the Great Lakes.We have been working with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters for more than two decades to deliver the Invading Species Awareness Program. The program raises awareness of the threat of invasive species to Ontario’s biodiversity. It engages the public in preventing and controlling the spread, and monitoring the distribution, of invasive species. This program also operates the Invading Species Hotline to give the public an avenue to report sightings, seek information and request educational material on invasive species.

More recently, we established the Invasive Species Centre in Sault Ste. Marie to work with the federal government and other partners to address invasive forest and aquatic species and invasive plants. Ontario has provided approximately $9.7 million towards the establishment and operation of this centre.

Partnerships such as these are helping us to protect our natural environment and industries that contribute thousands of jobs to our economy. One example is recreational fishing, an industry that contributes about $2.2 billion to Ontario’s economy and is also a notable contributor to our tourism industry. Ontario will continue to collaborate and work with these partners and, if passed, the proposed Invasive Species Act could help us expand the use of strategic partnerships.

The proposed act would provide the minister with authority to enter into agreements to help us prevent, detect, control and eradicate invasive species. As such, the legislation will provide us with the tools we need to protect our environment and our economy. Under the proposed act, regulations could be made to prohibit certain activities to help prevent the spread of an invasive species. Agreements could identify exemptions that would be necessary to achieve desired outcomes. For example, an agreement with a local conservation partner could allow the partner to undertake a program to control species such as garlic mustard. The partner would be able to possess the plant during the control activities and then dispose of it properly.

As I said earlier, managing invasive species is a responsibility shared with other governments, industry, environmental groups and the public. In fact, Ontarians can report sightings of invasive species to help us detect new ones and monitor the spread of those that are more established.

We can all play a role in protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. How can we do this? By planting non-invasive species in gardens, by never releasing bait or any wildlife into nature, by washing our boats before moving them to another body of water, and by buying firewood locally and leaving what we don’t use.

We need to engage all Ontarians in doing their part to protect species and habitats, and as policy-makers, we need to do our part as well, by taking a leadership role with this proposed legislation. The proposed Invasive Species Act would help limit the social and economic impacts of invasive species by preventing them from becoming established, controlling their spread once they are here, and eradicating them if possible. As such, I would encourage all members of this House to support this critical legislation. I look forward to today’s discussion and the debate to come.

In the meantime, it is my honour and pleasure to stand in this House and spend some time talking about my journey to public life, to talk about what I hope to accomplish and bring to public service during my time here and thank the people who have helped me along the way.

It is worth noting that in strict terms this is my inaugural speech, Mr. Speaker, and that I have already had the honour and privilege of speaking on a number of occasions, to items that are not just of local interest and concern to the people of my riding of Burlington, but to Ontarians as well.

I must say that I am rather glad to have had these two months to begin to become accustomed to this historic and storied place and the work that we do here. As such, I can now look back on the past few months with a bit of perspective and experience.

McMahon innaug Dec 8-14 mouth open

Inaugural speech was lengthy; McMahon was certain her Mother Marie was watching.

If this speech were to have a theme, I would say that it is gratitude. There are many people to thank and many things to be grateful for. Let me begin by thanking the people of Burlington for the confidence they expressed in me on June 12. I am humbled by that confidence, and I look forward to serving them in this place, and to working with them towards improving the quality of life of all of the people in our beautiful city.

It is an honour and a privilege to have this opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, to be entrusted with their hopes and dreams, as well as their challenges. I’m grateful to have the chance to work on behalf of such an extraordinary community, and with such kind and generous people.

I would like to take a moment to offer a sincere thank-you to my predecessor, Jane McKenna, for her sacrifices and service in representing the riding of Burlington since 2011.


Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Yes. Since my election, I have come to know what Jane knew during her three years of able service here: The hours are long, the time away from family significant. Thank you, Jane, for representing Burlington in this place so ably.

On our first day of orientation, we were reminded that, of the 13 million people who call Ontario home, we are but 107. “How fortunate am I?” I thought, and I know that many of my colleagues feel the same. We came here with a sense of purpose and excitement, and with a desire to serve.

My colleague the Honourable Ted McMeekin is fond of quoting Bobby Kennedy. Ted volunteered for Bobby on one of his campaigns, and he heard him say about his passion for making change: “Don’t get mad, don’t get even—get elected.” I think that call to action embodies the desire that most of us have here to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve, to work as diligently as we can on their behalf and to do so with a listening ear and an open heart.

Burlington ariel

McMahon and her late husband decided that Burlington would be home for them. She told the members of the legislature that Burlington was the most beautiful city in the province. Her speech almost turned into a debate.

Let me talk for just a minute, if I may, about another reason I’m grateful to the people of Burlington. I am not from Burlington. I was born in Windsor, Ontario. I came to Burlington in 2005. My late husband and I chose Burlington. He was an OPP officer, and to a certain degree we had a choice of where we wanted to live in the GTHA. We chose Burlington for its beauty and for its people, and for our families. My brother and his wife have called Burlington home for over 20 years. During that time, as a result of numerous visits, we fell in love with Burlington and decided to settle there, which we did in the summer of 2005.

Since that time, my affection and my ties to the community have deepened. Burlington has been very good to me, and I’d like to thank my friends and my community for their warm embrace. Since becoming your MPP, your kindness and your graciousness have been nothing short of overwhelming. I’m grateful to you for making this native of Windsor feel right at home in Burlington.

I can honestly say that there is no more beautiful place to live in our province than Burlington. I’m delighted to have this opportunity—


Ms. Eleanor McMahon: That may be a moment of debate.

I’m grateful to have this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me during the election campaign this past June. To our extraordinary volunteers, our wonderful staff—most especially, our dedicated campaign manager—our generous donors, and to the members of the Burlington Riding Association, the words “thank you” don’t seem quite enough. Your support and your encouragement, your confidence expressed in me as your candidate, your kind words of comfort when I needed it most—for all of this and so much more, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Burlington Escartment 006

Parts of Burlington that McMahon loves to cycle through.

Your support for me helped me during the election campaign, and it will serve to guide me in my work as the first Liberal in Burlington in 71 years. Our celebration on election night was one I shall never forget, and nothing short of extraordinary. Thank you for being there for me.

Perhaps most memorable was the presence of my family on election night. It has been said, and it’s true, that to do this job truly requires a support network unlike any other. I am truly blessed with an extraordinary group of siblings, their spouses, and my nieces and nephews.

Most of all, I was proud of the fact that my mother, Marie McMahon, was there with me. When we learned that I had won, we were standing in the foyer of my brother’s home. In an exchange I will never forget, my mother turned to me and said, “Your dad would be so proud.” It was a touching moment, to be sure, but it brought home to me, as indeed did my decision to run, that I was truly fortunate to have been raised by two extraordinary people, who taught my brothers and sisters and I about the true meaning of working hard, giving back and community service.

My dad, Hugh McMahon, died in 1994 of cancer. Dad worked hard all his life. His family was his greatest joy. His own childhood was marked by challenging moments, from growing up during the Depression, to the start of the Second World War. Dad enlisted in the Canadian army at the age of 16; he lied about his age. He went overseas and served his country as part of the Canadian First Regiment. He landed in Sicily, saw action during the Italian campaign and later took part in the liberation of Holland.

A proud moment for me came in 2007 while attending, with an official delegation from Burlington city hall, the city of Apeldoorn, one of Burlington’s twin cities. We visited the Canadian War Cemetery in Nijmegen. A number of soldiers from my father’s unit are buried there, and his regimental crest is in the Apeldoorn city hall.

Dad returned to Canada after the war and married my mother, Marie, in 1948. He attended university briefly in Toronto and returned to Windsor, where he worked at Chrysler until 1981. Seven children followed, as did a life of community service in the militia and with many local organizations.

My mother, who I think is watching today, is a shining light for me. Mum will be 89 on Thursday. She was born in Glasgow and grew up in Windsor. A pioneer in so many ways and a strong believer in education, Mum attended Assumption University, then part of the University of Windsor. She got a science degree and served as a laboratory technologist at Windsor’s Grace Hospital for most of her career.

She and Dad both felt very strongly that education provided a gateway of opportunity, and they encouraged us in every way possible. Mum was adamant, too, that as women—there were five of us girls—we must have our independence, our own income and the ability to make our own decisions.
Mum is tiny in stature but mighty in every other sense of the word. Her love for her children, her care and concern for others and her utter selflessness have shaped my life in amazing ways. I would not be standing here today without her.

To you, Mum, I offer my undying love and thanks. Thank you for making me feel like I could do anything. Thank you for always being there for me, and for your wisdom and your friendship.
To my siblings: I’m truly grateful to you for your encouragement and support. I am so lucky to have such a tremendous group of ardent supporters and cheerleaders. As the youngest of all of you, I have benefited from your wisdom—and your mistakes—your advice, your terrific humour and your wit. You offer me a hand up when I need it, and no request is too much. When I told you I wanted to run, you were worried about the rigours of the debate and the demands of the job. After dutifully expressing your concerns to your younger sister, you were there from day one. Thank you all.

Earlier, I spoke of my parents as people who inspired me to public service. I grew up in a house where the mantra was, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Speaking of my mother, I should add that her personal commitment to her family and her community was recently recognized. Mum recently got a volunteer award from Hospice Windsor in recognition of her 30 years of service as a volunteer.


Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Yes. Thank you.

Every Thursday Mum cooks lunch with her friend for the past 70-plus years, Mabel Gagnier, for hospice patients and their families. I know that Mum is loved by her hospice family, but I know too, because she’s told me this, that she gets as much out of this experience as she gives. Her stories of people who are in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances serve to bring a necessary perspective to her life and to mine as we reflect on what is important. As you can see, from my mother I learned empathy and compassion.

Speaking earlier this year to the CEO of the Carpenter Hospice in Burlington, I was reflecting on the same theme: the events that shape our lives and the people who inspire us. As we all know, one of the best parts of this job is the opportunity to attend events and meet the wonderful people in your riding. Well, it was very early in my job as an MPP that I truly understood what Burlington is made of, and it is strong stuff indeed.

Flood Fairview plaza

McMahon told her fellow parliamentarians how badly Burlington was flooded last August. She was instrumental in getting funds for the flood victims.

On the evening of August 4, a once-in-100-years storm brought 200 millimetres of rain to Burlington in just six hours. This rain is the equivalent of the amount of precipitation that Burlington would see in July and August together. This devastating storm flooded our streets and people’s homes. A rush of water filled people’s basements and over 3,100 homes were damaged. As the unrelenting rain fell that night, reports began to pour in of flooding on the 407, the QEW, Fairview and New Streets, Brant, Guelph, Walkers Line and Appleby Line; all flooded, our major north-south arterial roads. The water overwhelmed Burlington’s sewage system, which at capacity is built for three million litres an hour. At the height of the storm, this reached 10 million litres.

People’s basements filled in mere moments as creeks overflowed their banks. Visiting devastated homes the next day on Regal Road, among the hardest hit, I met people who fled with their children, their animals and a few precious memories as water filled their basements within minutes. Seeing their anguish, not to mention the contents of their homes on their front lawns, was heart-wrenching.

FLOOD basement blur couch

Homes were devastated by the flood. McMahon was out into the community within hours going door to door with the Mayor.

On the 5th, I got on the phone, but many people were calling, too, wondering how they could help. My colleagues were there, and I’d like to thank them. The member from Halton; the Minister of Labour, the member from Oakville, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, all in neighbouring ridings, were there, offering a friendly word of advice. Thank you.


Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Yes.

But it was the response of our community that was so remarkable. I reached out to the mayor that evening. He was travelling back from his cottage in response to the disaster. His own home was flooded. He hit the ground running the next day, and as we travelled door to door together, it became apparent that greater assistance was needed.

On the night of the flood and in the days that followed, our EMS personnel were extraordinary. Our front-line police officers, firefighters, paramedics—all were there, doing an amazing job rescuing people from their flooded vehicles and responding to those in need.

Later on, with the assistance of the region of Halton, the Red Cross came to our aid and did an extraordinary job quantifying the amount of flooding and the impact on people’s lives. Together we mobilized community support. I called the CEO of United Way, and 72 hours later they had a website portal up and running to collect donations.

The mayor, working with our regional chair, mobilized staff. City and regional staff began the process of responding to those in need and going door to door. As the scope of the disaster became clear, city council met and declared a state of emergency, triggering an Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program request.

Flood BMO at the vault

Ron Foxcroft made the phone calls, Collen Mulholland displayed the cheque while McMahon pressed the province to deliver matching funds. The bankers were asked to give up some of the money in their vaults.

On the community side, donations poured in and the community foundation stepped up, offering much-needed volunteer and fundraising support. The CEO of the community foundation, Colleen Mulholland, and her team have done an extraordinary job. Under the chairmanship of Ron Foxcroft, the disaster relief committee has worked hand in hand with the community foundation to raise funds, and to date, I am proud to say that our generous community has contributed close to $1 million to help their neighbours in need.

Indeed, one of the truly wonderful things about Burlington is how generous our community really is. In 2010, 30% of Burlingtonians contributed to a charitable cause, higher than the provincial average of 24.5%.

During the summer, I attended many events which contributed to the flood relief, raising funds and rallying the community, from neighbourhood fundraisers like the Up the Creek event started by some neighbours whose street and homes were flooded—they raised $20,000—to our Rotary Club’s Ribfest event, which raised thousands of dollars as well. There I was, side by side at the door, raising money with buckets, mayor and city Councillors right beside me.

While the scope of the disaster made for a challenging summer for our community, and while much of the hard work remains to be done by the committee as they adjudicate requests for funding, I am proud to say that on November 10, my colleague, the member from Halton, and I announced that our government would be contributing up to $3 million to support Burlington and its flood relief. For a new MPP, this was an extraordinarily proud moment.

Speaker, the election provided me with an excellent opportunity to speak to some of the opportunities and challenges facing our community. During that time and since, I’ve had many conversations about the kind of Burlington we all want now and into the future. Burlington has one of the highest median incomes in Canada and we enjoy an excellent quality of life overall. Still, there are challenges. As the recent Vital Signs report by the Burlington Community Foundation shows, Burlington has one of the oldest populations in the GTHA. While most of our seniors are aging successfully, over 5% of them are living in poverty. More broadly, close to 8% or over 13,000 of our residents in Burlington are living in low-income households. When it comes to housing, access to affordable housing remains a barrier to many.

When it comes to employment, Burlington is doing well, with stronger employment levels than Ontario as a whole. The number of jobs is up 7% and the number of businesses is up 4% since the 2012 employment survey.

werf bfgt

Infill housing on what were once half acre single story post war bungalows are now the norm for Burlington.

To maintain this excellent quality of life, I’ve had conversations about how, as a community, we can work together to tackle some of our challenges. Burlington is built out; therein lies another challenge. Our growth will come from infill and density. With growth comes the need for stronger transportation networks. I look forward to working with city hall, our region, local businesses, citizens’ groups and my colleagues in the House on creating transit hubs in Burlington and encouraging the kinds of alternative transportation—cycling and walking—that will make our community more connected and more liveable, and attract investment.

Issues such as food security, investing in our agri-food sector, which is a strong sector locally, and continued investments in health and education will continue to dominate my conversations in the months and years to come and remain areas of strong local focus. In particular, youth and adolescent mental health is another area which is in significant need of focus, as demonstrated again by our community foundation and their work. I’ve also had terrific conversations about how, working together, we can find solutions to these important issues.

On a final note, Mr. Speaker, I started this speech talking about what brought me here and what I hope to accomplish. I want to close my remarks by mentioning someone who’s no longer here but who had and continues to have a very positive impact on my life. On June 6, 2006, my late husband, Greg Stobbart, a veteran OPP officer with 24 years of experience in policing, was killed by a careless driver. Greg died, not in the line of duty, but doing something he loved. We were training for a triathlon. He had recently purchased a new bike, and with a beautiful day beckoning, set out on a training ride from which he never returned. Greg’s tragic death at the age of 44 in a senseless collision was a life-changing event for me, for my family and for his as well. His legacy lives on in me and my desire to continue in this place the work that I started to create a more bicycle-friendly Ontario.

McMahon in blue jacket

McMahon became a force to be reckoned with in the cycling community and created the Share the Road organization and pushed the province to pass Gregg’s Law

Our response to Greg’s death came on many fronts. First, working with then-Minister of Transportation the Honourable Jim Bradley, we changed the Highway Traffic Act. In 2009, after sustained advocacy, we got Greg’s Law passed, increasing the penalties on suspended drivers based on similar legislation in six other provinces. The man who killed Greg had five convictions for driving under suspension, four convictions for driving with no licence, $15,000 in unpaid fines, and two months after he killed my husband, he hit someone else.

As you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, this instilled in us the importance of focusing on that advocacy and securing those changes to the Highway Traffic Act. Our goal was to prevent others from going through what we did, and we wanted to get those repeat offenders out from behind the wheel and off the road. Greg’s Law became the law of Ontario in October 2009.

Second, we launched the Share the Road Cycling Coalition in Ontario in 2008. Share the Road has become the provincial cycling policy and advocacy organization, representing thousands of local organizations, cyclists, stakeholders and municipal leaders from across Ontario, united in a vision of safer communities for all road users.

In 2012, I had the privilege of sitting on the coroner’s review into cycling deaths in Ontario and secured a recommendation for an Ontario cycling strategy. Together with the Honourable Glen Murray, who was then Minister of Transportation, I launched that strategy, the first of its kind in Ontario in over 20 years, in September 2013, a proud moment.

McMahon staff watching innaugural

MPP McMahon’s staff watching her inaugural speech on desktop computers.

In Greg’s memory, and in memory of all the cyclists who have been killed and injured, I look forward to continuing the work we started at Share the Road. Together with all members of this House, given the tremendous benefits of cycling, I look forward to making our communities and our province even more bike-friendly in the years to come.

In the interim, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you and my colleagues and all the members of this House for their gracious welcome, for your friendship and your support, for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you and for the privilege of being the MPP for Burlington.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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