Greenbelt land use planning review: critical moment in how the province protects the environment and limits development - giving the public a stronger voice at the same time.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

March 18, 2015


Part 1 of a 2 part feature.

It was a gathering of the true believers – they met at McMaster University’s DeGroote campus in Burlington to listen to environmental advocate lawyer David Donnelly, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Suzuki guy and female planner who focused on what they see as a threat to Ontario’s Greenbelt.

It was defined as an occasion to celebrate and a time to hunker down and make sure that the gains made are not taken away as the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) holds a series of Town Hall meetings across the province.

It is a delight to listen to Oakville Mayor Rob Burton talk about how that town managed to “green” its Council and to listen to David Donnelly proselytize about the environment.

Debate Warren

Vanessa Warren, founder of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition, ran as a candidate in the last Burlington municipal election.

Vanessa Warren, founder of the Burlington based Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition (RBGC) bounced about the room introducing people and keeping things going.

Warren first crossed Burton’s path when she was delegating to Halton Regional Council on the Burlington Air Park problems. At that time Burton explained to Warren that she had more clout with the Air Park issue than Regional Council.

Several months later, Warren was sued for libelling the Air Park ownership and hired David Donnelly to defend her.  Full disclosure: The Gazette is a party to the libel law suit – but we are not being defended by Donnelly. The evening was almost a family get together.

The purpose of the meeting was to get the community ready for the provincial Town Hall meetings that are looking at the way the province and its municipalities do land use planning.

The Smart Growth for Communities Act – Bill 73 is the focus point – does the bill give the environmentalists what they are looking for and can the developers live with it.

Rob Burton, in a style that is all his own explained how to make a city council green.

Burton Rob - glancingf left

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton

“Back in 2006” said Burton, “we thought if we could elect one green councillor we were on our way to saving the planet. They elected Allan Elgar.
About 18 months into his term of office Allan said to his green cohorts – one man isn’t enough. Come the 2010 election they got three greens on the Oakville city council.

Eighteen months into that mandate the group came to the realization that three wouldn’t do it – so in the 2014 term they elected seven greens.
Rob Burton feels he is on his way and is ready to plunge into the MMAH Town Hall meetings.

Burton explained what Oakville and to some degree the Region has done to protect its environment. What he didn’t tell the audience was how Oakville pressured the provincial government to keep a gas plant out of the municipality – the fallout from the way that was done cost former Premier Dalton McGuinty the government he had then and continues to plague current Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Burton, talking to an attentive crowd – 125 people with more than half from outside the Region, said that while there is a provincial policy and a Regional policy” we in Oakville have carved out Natural Heritage sites (NHS) that fit in with and compliment the Regional and provincial policies.
Councillors Taylor and Meed Ward were on hand from Burlington.

Halton Region Natural Heritage System (NHS) covers 48,000 hectares in the greenbelt, farmlands and urban areas
The Halton NHS goes beyond provincial designations by adding new key features for permanent protection of significant woodlands; they have created buffers and linkage corridors to connect the key natural heritage features.

Mount Nemo 7G - 2

There are development corporations that would love to put residential housing on the Escarpment – not on say the environmentalists.

Burlington is currently working on a vision for Mt Nemo plateau and undertaking a Heritage Conservation District Study.  Nemo 7G/PERL formed a seven-generation, (150 years) vision for the plateau. Mt. Nemo has been identified as one of the best examples of high diversity and functioning ecosystems in the GTA-Hamilton area.

From October 2013 to January 2014, the government undertook province-wide consultations on the land use planning and appeal system, and development charges system to ensure both systems are predictable, transparent, cost effective and responsive to the changing needs of our communities. The government is responding to comments received through the consultations and has announced proposed legislative amendments to the Development Charges Act, 1997 and the Planning Act.

If passed, Bill 73 – the proposed Smart Growth for Our Communities Act would give residents more say in how their communities grow, set out clearer rules for land use planning, give municipalities more independence to make local decisions and make it easier to resolve disputes.

For example, residents would be better involved at the beginning of the planning process and have a say in the future of their communities. Municipalities would need to set out in their official plans how and when the public would be consulted, and would also need to explain how public input affected their planning decisions.

The bill would also: give municipalities more opportunities to fund growth-related infrastructure, like transit; make the development charges, section 37 density bonusing and parkland dedication systems more predictable, transparent and accountable; and support higher density development to create jobs and grow the economy.

The province will be setting up working groups of stakeholders to review further more complex development charges issues, and to take a considered look at some land use planning elements, and propose solutions.

Both Burton and Donnelly point to significant successes and believe the tide is turning and the tipping point is at hand.

Salamander Jefferson

This little guy was a significant part of the end of quarrying in rural Burlington.

They point to the October 11, 2012: Joint Board decision that dismissed Nelson Aggregate Co.’s applications for a proposed 26 M tonne quarry on 82 ha site.  That decision focused on impacts to Jefferson Salamander and its habitat in the context of the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP)

In September 17, 2014 the Niagara Escarpment Commission (“NEC”) voted in favour of an outright ban on new quarries in the NEP; that vote went 7 Commissioners in favour, 5 Commissioners against

The 2015 Greenbelt Plan Review is something environmentalists have been waiting for – the Town Hall meetings are just one part of the process. Many people take considerable comfort from the appointment of former Toronto Mayor David Crombie being appointed chair.

This process is something to be watched.

Part 2 of a 2 part feature.

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March Break - get them out of the house and from underfoot - lots to do.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 15, 2015


School is out. Those that are going south are already on their way out of town. Spring Break has begun – and now what are you going to do?
The melting is well underway which means the creeks will begin to swell – which means keeping a closer eye on the younger ones who are fascinated with the rushing water.

The City is offering many drop-in programs for March Break but you are going to need a degree in rocket science to figure out what they are offering.

There are a lot of events at different locations – we’ve set those out for you below.

Then there is the IGNITE TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am March Break Community Challenge. Someone at city hall said they were “thrilled to be one of 600 IGNITE community partners in Ontario as part of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games-inspired community initiatives.

Getting the form:
Participate in daily challenges and get active. Download the IGNITE Passport to discover and explore Burlington’s trails, sport and culture.

Submit your completed passport to be entered into a contest for great prizes.   Passports can be picked up and dropped off at Appleby Arena, City Hall and Tansley Woods Community Centre or printed and submitted online

To participate in the Ignite March Break Community Challenge*

1. Choose an activity – aim to do at least one activity every day.
2. Check off what you did on the Passport. You can share details and photos of your activities with us on Facebook or Twitter and win daily prizes.
3. At the end of March Break, hand in the passport to be entered in the grand prize draw.

For a list of events, check the online calendar, pick up a Community Challenge booklet, and follow the City of Burlington on Twitter and Facebook.
Community Challenge – How to win*

Daily Prizes:
To be eligible for a daily prize, post on the City of Burlington twitter or facebook pages using #IgniteBurlON starting Monday, March 16 and ending Sunday, March 22, 2015. Winners will be chosen daily via a random draw and notified via social media the next business day. If you include a photo, we may ask you fill out a photo release form in case we want to use your photo.

Grand Prizes:
To be eligible for a grand prize, fill out the passport online, submit your completed passport to or at any participating City of Burlington facility customer service counter before March 31, 2015. Winners will be chosen via a random draw and notified via email or phone number provided on the passportentry form by Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

The city will be offering different sport and culture programs free of charge, hosted by local organizations. Ignite programs include drop-in sport clinics, dance classes and challenges throughout the community.
Passports can be picked up and dropped off at Appleby Arena, City Hall and Tansley Woods Community Centre or printed and submitted online

March Break Outdoor opportunity 13-21

Outdoor Opportunity 13-21

In addition to the Ignite March Break Community Challenge, residents can participate in drop-in gym programs, swimming and skating opportunities.

March break Jr Mini Blast 5-9

Junior Blast 5-10


March Break mini-blast 3-5

Junior Mini Blast 3-5


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How do you raise $10,000 in under an hour?

Event 100By Staff

March 12, 2015


There is an organization in this city that meets every four months – always for less than an hour – before the meeting ends they will have raised somewhere between $5000 to $20,000 for a local charity


Meet, chit chat – network and write a cheque for $100 and you are on your way home

They are known as the 100 Women Who Care. It is a concept has been rapidly taking shape in communities all across North America. Launched in Burlington in January 2014, it appealed to women looking to give back to their communities in a meaningful way and network with like-minded women. Many women have favorite charities and 100 Women Who Care Burlington provides an opportunity to raise $10,000 for a cause that’s near to their hearts, in almost in the blink of an eye.

The process is simple yet the impact is very powerful. 100 women or more meet four times a year for 1 hour each time to choose a recipient from charities nominated by the members for consideration. At each meeting, members learn about 3 of the organizations nominated that were selected at random, narrowing down the list of options. They then cast their ballot for the charity they’d like to support. Each woman writes a $100 cheque for the charity that gets the winning vote. The goal is to raise a minimum of $40,000 annually ($10,000 x 4 meetings) in support of local initiatives.

The second meeting of 2015 will take place on Wednesday, March 18 from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. The meeting will again be held at the Burlington Golf & Country Club at 422 North Shore Blvd. E., Burlington. Registration begins at 7:00 p.m. All interested women are invited to attend.

Since forming, 100 Women Who Care Burlington has raised over $18,000 for local organizations and initiatives, including ¬¬¬the Burlington Humane Society, Halton Women’s Place, Home Suite Hope, Food4Kids and more recently, The Carpenter Hospice.

Part of the appeal of 100 Women Who Care is that at each meeting the beneficiary of the last donation addresses the membership to thank the group and to share how the donation will have an immediate impact in our community. On March 18th, Karen Candy, Carpenter Hospice Executive Director will share how the groups $5,500 donation will make a difference for terminally ill individuals and their families.

100 woman who careMarion Goard, Co-Founder of the Burlington chapter, said “the group is continually growing and we really do hope to reach our initial target of 100 members by our next meeting. We’re very inspired by chapters in other communities where membership exceeds several hundred women and there are some cities where 100 Men Who Give a Damn and 100 Kids Who Care groups have also formed. We’d love to see the same happen here in Burlington. This would have a huge impact for our local charities and the services they provide.”

For those interested in joining, membership forms can be found online at Nominations for charities/organizations can also be filled out online ahead of the meeting¬ or submitted at the meeting.

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New event for Ontario artist's to offer their wares in Burlington waiting for council approval.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 2, 2015


At the beginning of each meeting of the city Councillors the Chair asks if there are any declarations of interest. Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison frequently has to declare an interest because his sports club operations provide recreational services to the city.

A declaration of interest prevents a member of council from voting for anything that he or she stands to benefit from. Other than that – it’s all pretty tame stuff.

A question cropped up at the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee this afternoon when it looked as if ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman was in the process of getting himself into a conflict when he suggested that Lori McDonald spend some time in his part of town.

Artfest BurlingtonLori MacDonald is the woman who wants to bring ArtFest to Burlington for a three day gig she wants to hold on Old Lakeshore Road.
The dates for the event are May 29-31 – which happens to coincide with the Car Free Sunday that is sponsored by Councillors Dennison and Sharman using the $10,000 the pinched from the city budget

Mayor Goldring wanted to know if the organization could “pull this off” with the time they have. MacDonald sounded confident and she seems to have much of the hard early stage work done. There are a couple of hair dressers on Old Lakeshore that are concerned about their clients getting into their shop.

MacDonald has been working on this project since October but hasn’t been able to say anything about it until Council had given it a nod.

Artfest Ontario is MacDonald’s company – which she owns runs. She has been in the art development business for some time – got into creating Artfest when she took on the development of an art show at the Distillery District in Toronto.

She used to do three a year in Toronto but is cut back to one due to the Pan Am Games. She has run an Artfest in Kingston for the past three years and is looking forward to getting something going in Burlington.

She really wanted to be at Spencer Smith Park but that wasn’t possible.

Artfest layout of space

The tents will be set up along Old Lakeshore Road ans in the Emmas Back Porch parking lot.

The old Burlington Art Centre (now the Art Gallery of Burlington) used to run an outdoor art show but after a couple of really bad years due to weather for the most part gave up on the project which created an opening for MacDonald

She expect to set up more than 100 10 x 10 foot tents along Old Lakeshore where she is getting great cooperation from Craig Kowalchuk at Emmas Back Porch who has turned his large parking lot over to the Artfest.

Council will give the go on this, if that is their wish, March 23rd.

In the meantime Sharman will be doing his best to coax Lori MacDonald to ply her trade at Sherwood Forest Park during the Car Free Sunday May 31st.

I could have sworn I saw Paul Sharman wink at MacDonald while she was giving her delegation

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Are the Burlington Best awards as transparent as they should be?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 27, 2015


City hall has announced the closing date for nominations for a BEST AWARD. It is April 7, 2015

There are a number of categories  – all have merit.

What the awards don’t have is an acceptable level of transparency which tarnishes what is an important program that recognizes individual effort to better the community.

Last year there were a number of nominees whose names were put forward by either their spouses, partners or parents.

This is what fan clubs do.

Burlington flagsAn award given by a community with the nomination coming from people who have taken the time to think about who they want to recommend is a true award. When Mom fills in the form and sends it in – it just isn’t quite the same.

The prestige behind the award is paramount to its usefulness. To be a true award with value there can and perhaps should be years when an award is not given.

This city keeps telling anyone with two ears that we are “the best mid-sized city in Canada” There is an opportunity with the Burlington Best awards to begin to behave like one.

There have been comments in the past about people who have “’gamed” the nomination and used the award to start a political career.

In 2011 a small group of people had gathered in the foyer space outside the Council chamber at city hall to talk about John Boich’s health. It was not good and he died several weeks later.

One of the group said to the others” I want to nominate John for an award – the rest of the group immediately agreed and collectively they put together the documents.

John was named the Citizen of the Year several hours before he died in 2011.

The terms of reference for the Awards committee appear to have a sunset date of 2006 – they need an update.

The following are the awards given by the city.

ARTS PERSON of the Year: An individual who has contributed to the arts in Burlington as an artist, patron or advocate including but not limited to, visual arts, media arts, musical arts, performing arts and literary arts.
Citizen of the year: A person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the Burlington community.
Junior Citizen of the year: A high school student, 18 years or younger who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.
Senior Citizen of the year: A person, 55 years or older who has advocated on behalf of seniors and/or made a significant contribution to the Burlington community.
Environmental Award: An individual or group that improved and/or protects Burlington’s environment.
Community Service Award: An individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community.
Heritage Award: An individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered their time in an effort to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage.

There are people who have done some incredible service for both the city and its citizens.  Forms and background on the procedures can be found HERE

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A crusty Burlington salt will show a short feature film on the Beach Canal lighthouse.

Event 100By Pepper Parr

February 27, 2015


If you can get yourself over to the Central Library on Sunday the 8th of March you will have a chance to meet one of those old timers who has done it all but doesn’t know quite how to hang up his spurs.


Sandy Thomson recalling some history for Burlington |Gazette reporter Walter Byj

Sandy Thomson, the great-great grandson of Captain George Thomson, a Berwick, England native who was the Burlington Beach Canal’s lighthouse keeper and diarist for 29 years in the 1800’s has produced a short film on the lighthouse.

The diaries became the base documents for the short film that Sandy and his small film crew have completed.

The diaries were preserved and are at the Brant Museum along with the lenses from the lighthouse.

Sandy Thomson still drives a motorcycle and has a small film operation – Cine 16 that keeps him busy.

Burlington canal light house

The Burlington canal lighthouse

The original Burlington Canal Lighthouse and Light station were built in 1838 to guide ships into Hamilton Harbour. The current stone structure as it stands today was built in 1858 and sits adjacent to the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge under the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway.

The Burlington Canal Lighthouse Group (BCLG) is a non-profit organization formed by Hamilton and Burlington community members to preserve the Burlington Canal Lighthouse and Lightstation. Current member of the BCLG, Sandy Thomson says, “It is important to preserve the lighthouse that has both historical and educational importance. Other lighthouses have been restored on the Great Lakes and this is the only one left to be restored on Lake Ontario.”


Captain Sandy Thomson at the wheel of a Russian tug

Thomson is the owner of marine-parts manufacturer, Thordon Bearings, in Burlington. He provides innovative products to the marine industry around the world. While building a market for his propeller shaft bearings, Thomson captained a Russian steam tugboat, Rudokop, and toured all the major ports in Europe in the 1990-2000’s promoting Thordon’s propeller shaft and rudder bearings to ship owners and shipyards in the Baltic, North, Mediterranean and Black Seas.
“My great-great grandfather maintained the lighthouse for those vessels entering Hamilton Harbour on those dark and stormy nights, and as a former sea-captain, I can appreciate what a welcome sight that light is”.

The video will be shown during the BCLG’s general meeting at the Burlington Central Library on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 2:00pm. The public and new members are welcome!

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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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