'I find it infuriating, distressing, overwhelming,' said one expert. , 'I’m relieved that I do not have children, knowing what the future holds,” said another

By Staff

May 12th, 2024



Global heating is likely to soar past internationally agreed limits, according to a Guardian survey of hundreds of leading climate experts, bringing catastrophic heatwaves, floods and storms.

Only 6% of the respondents thought the 1.5C limit could be achieved, and this would require extraordinarily fast, radical action to halt and reverse the world’s rising emissions from fossil fuel burning.

However, the experts were clear that giving up was not an option, and that 1.5C was not a cliff-edge leading to a significant change in climate damage. Instead, the climate crisis increases incrementally, meaning every tonne of CO2 avoided reduces people’s suffering.

We have yet to hear, read or be aware of an occasion when the Burlington MPP, Natalie Pierre spoke of Climate Change and what the provincial government was doing about an world wide emergency. For MPP Pierre, the photo op is the medium she chooses to get her massage out. Just what is the message?

The task climate researchers have dedicated themselves to is to paint a picture of the possible worlds ahead. From experts in the atmosphere and oceans, energy and agriculture, economics and politics, the mood of almost all those the Guardian heard from was grim. And the future many painted was harrowing: famines, mass migration, conflict. “I find it infuriating, distressing, overwhelming,” said one expert, who chose not to be named. “I’m relieved that I do not have children, knowing what the future holds,” said another.

“Climate change will not suddenly become dangerous at 1.5C – it already is – and it will not be ‘game over’ if we pass 2C, which we might well do,” said Prof Peter Cox, of the University of Exeter, in the UK.

Dr Henri Waisman, at the IDDRI policy research institute in France, said: “Climate change is not a black or white question and every tenth of a degree matters a lot, especially when you look at the socioeconomic impacts. This means it is still useful to continue the fight.”

Out of control fire burns in southeast Manitoba -May 8th, 2024

The scientists’ responses to the survey provide informed opinions on critical questions for the future of humanity. How hot will the world get, and what will that look like? Why is the world failing to act with anything remotely like the urgency needed? Is it, in fact, game over, or must we fight on? They also provide a rare glimpse into what it is like to live with this knowledge every day.

The climate crisis is already causing profound damage as the average global temperature has reached about 1.2C above the preindustrial average over the last four years. But the scale of future impacts will depend on what happens – or not – in politics, finance, technology and global society, and how the Earth’s climate and ecosystems respond.

The data reflects something we are all responsible for.

It is not as if we didn’t know – we have always known – we just aren’t at the point where we fully realize how much trouble we are in. Hopefully then we will begin to make smarter decisions and not panic and do really really stupid things. Do you know what the Provincial Climate Warming Plan is ?

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Rivers on the federal budget: Paying the Piper

By Ray Rivers

April 18th, 2024



Pouring over the 400 page federal 2024 budget document, one can’t help but be impressed with the breadth and scope of federal involvement in almost every facet of the lives of Canadians.  It is a lot of money that gets spent by your federal government each year.  This year that list of expenses is even longer thanks to the NDP demanding their pound of flesh for propping up the Liberal government.

The photo op reminds one of two students turning in their homework. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Freeland

The federal government has been forced to use the power of the purse to buy its way into areas which were once exclusively provincial.  That is because the premiers of provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario are not meeting the needs and wants of their electorate.   And the public doesn’t know, or even care, which government is responsible, but blame the feds if they don’t get what they want and need.”

So the feds have found their way into having to develop their own health care, dental care, pharmacare, education and child care programs.  Provincial governments are involved in some of these but none of these new initiatives would be happening without federal leadership or funding.  And now there is a billion dollar school food program, filling a void left open by most provinces and some parents.

The federal government was late in getting to the point where they would play a direct role in getting housing built. The provinces left them no other option.

Housing has taken a front seat in this budget as the feds have plunged headlong into dealing directly with municipalities to meet the hugely unmet demand for accommodation spaces across the country.   The provinces may resent the federal intrusion into their back yard, but Canadians feel it is a federal responsibility.  So it’s in the budget.  Of course, cutting the bank rate, which is driving up mortgages across the country, and limiting immigration would also help solve the housing crisis.

Justin Trudeau came to power, unlike his political opponents, arguing for even more deficit financing to grow the economy.   And it’s been a spotty growth record, marred by the pandemic and the acute inflationary supply shortages immediately following.  Still, Canada posted one of the highest growth rates over the past couple years among the G7, though not on a per capita basis thanks to the flood of new immigration we’ve seen.

Economists these days prefer to talk about debt as a percentage of the GDP.  Still, when the cost of financing the debt is more costly than what the government contributes to health care, that is troubling.  Canada’s debt to GDP ratio, which is about half of that of our southern neighbours, had been slowly declining until Covid came knocking at our door.   The budget predicts that ratio will get back to where it left off and continue its downward trajectory.

That will be helped by the big news in this budget that taxes are finally going up for those who can most afford them.   There are about 40,000 Canadians who earn over $250,000 in capital gains and only pay income tax on half of that.  The capital gains tax for those folks is rising from 50% to 67%.  That is still well below the 75% rate once imposed by former PM Mulroney.

A younger Justin Trudeau made it clear from the beginning – he was going to work for the middle class – more votes in that demographic.

And why would capital gains be treated any differently from employment income – why shouldn’t it be taxed at 100% like other earned income?   Capital gains, much like an inheritance or casino winnings are windfalls but they are spent and saved just like earned income.  Why do we treat them as a free lunch?

Income tax rates have not been touched in this or other recent budgets.  One of the first acts of the Trudeau administration was to cut taxes for the middle class, which the PM claims helped lift more than one million Canadians out of poverty.   And to pay for that he created a new top federal income tax bracket of thirty three percent.

But Canada, with its publicly financed health care is still a relative tax bargain for its citizens.  We still have the lowest marginal tax rate in the G7.  For example, the richest Americans are taxed at 37%.   Also, Canada’s corporate income tax rate is the 4th lowest in the G7 at 26.2%.  And taxation of new business investment at 13%, compared to the USA at 17.8%, is the lowest in the G7.

Unquestionably this is a progressive budget and those who don’t believe in government playing a bigger support role in our lives will disapprove.  Still we know from our experience with the Canada Health Act that universal publicly funding universal programs are less costly to society overall.  It’s a known fact that Canadians pay something like half what Americans do for a health care system with better outcomes, despite some access issues.

So those naysayers are on the wrong side of history.  As we are forced into the age of fighting to save the planet from the potential ravages of climate change we need to get used to governments playing an even bigger role.  But we need to pay for what we are demanding.  And making the wealthiest Canadians pay a fairer share by raising the inclusion rate on capital gains is just a start.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor, writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Budget  –   Debt –   Highlights –    More Canada – Not Less –

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Stern on 2024 budget: Fairness for every generation.

By Eric Stern

April 19th, 2024



On April 16th the federal  government introduced its eighth budget. Using the term “fiscal guardrails” to describe their approach to deficit spending the Liberals plan to add another $39.8 billion to the national debt.

We have wonderful social programs and it is amazing to see this government adding to them. Canada is the only country in the world with healthcare coverage but no prescription medication coverage for people under 65 (outside of hospitals). The budget takes a tentative first step towards correcting this.

The problem with adding new social programs is that we need a fair way, for every generation, to pay for these programs.

Debt and Deficit

Federal debt

The federal debt load, the sum of all unpaid government deficits, is now around $1.2 trillion. These numbers are so big they become meaningless. Dividing $1.2 trillion by the population of the country, 40 million, we get something more meaningful. The federal government has borrowed, on behalf of each person in Canada, about $30,000. Using the same line of calculation and a population of 16 million, the Ontario government has borrowed, on behalf of each person in Ontario, about $26,850.

Adding the two totals together, a baby born today, in Ontario, owes $56,850. Is this fair to the newborn generation?

Another way to look at this problem is to compare healthcare dollars with the interest payments on the $1.2 trillion debt. The federal government will transfer, to the provinces, $49 billion for healthcare and will pay $54 billion in interest payments on the debt. If the current government, and previous governments, had actually had any fiscal guardrails, far more money would be going to healthcare, something the current generation of seniors might see as fair.

Trudeau has added more money to the total debt than all previous prime ministers combined going back to 1867.  This burden will be transferred to future generations, once again calling into question the statement “Fairness for every generation”.

The federal government has added 100,000 employees to the payroll. In 2015 there were 257,034 employees, in 2023 there were 357,247 employees. Healthcare is a provincial responsibility; the growth didn’t take place in healthcare. In spite of Trudeau promising, in 2015, to reduce the use of consultants, consulting fees have increased 60% (2015 to 2023).

The Liberals have failed to make the civil service more productive either through the use of technology or other means, and have failed to control the size of the civil service.  Arrivecan is just one example. With such massive growth in both public sector employment, and in the use of consultants, there must be opportunities to reduce government spending to pay for new social programs offering true fairness for every generation.

Tax the Wealthy

In 1990 there were twelve countries in Europe with a wealth tax, today there are three. In France, between 2000 and 2012, an estimated 42,000 millionaires left the country. Over time, as wealthy people leave, tax revenues decline. France repealed their wealth tax in 2018.

While the Liberals play checkers, Canada’s millionaires and billionaires have accountants and lawyers who play chess. Can a billionaire move to the Caymen Islands, a tax haven, and fly their private jet to Toronto for meetings? Why not, Trudeau hops in a plane with less thought than the rest of put into taking an Uber.

The Fraser Institute, a conservative think tank estimates that the top 20% of Canadian income earners pay more than half of total taxes. Statements like “the wealthy must pay their fair share” may already be true. Link to the report HERE.

The 2024 Forbes list of billionaires shows there are 67 billionaires in Canada with a combined wealth of $314 billion. This is a very small number of people, I bet all 67 can fit in the Prime Minister’s jet. A tax system that encourages and allows more people to become billionaires will generate more tax revenue for all Canadians.

The change in the capital gains inclusion rate will cause real and long-term damage to our economy. Tobi Lutke, one of our billionaires and a cofounder of Shopify, posted this on “X” immediately after the budget was released.  “Canada has heard rumours about innovation and is determined to leave no stone unturned in deterring it”.

Tech companies, in particular, need venture capital funding to grow. The changes in capital gains taxation will deter venture capitalists from investing in Canada. In the US, the tax rate on capital gains is a flat 21%. We are simply not competitive. Small and medium sized businesses, in every sector, now have one more difficulty to overcome when trying to attract capital to grow. How many Canadian venture capital firms will relocate to the US and simply stop investing in Canada?

Housing Costs

Someone in the federal Liberal government fell asleep at the switch, the result is that Canada’s rate of immigration is unsustainable. Immigration is wonderful but schools, healthcare, roads, and housing need to keep up.

Oval Court: A high rise development planned for Burlington

The budget completely ignores the fact that the Liberal government created the housing shortage.

Now that the opinion polls have forced the government to wake up the Liberals really have no choice but to spend tax dollars, collected from all Canadians, to create more housing. Burlington has already received $21 million in federal housing funding and the money has gone into processes, not physical housing. I really hope this new round of federal money goes into homes instead of more photo ops to boost the Liberal party’s sagging popularity.

Is this article almost finished?


There are many budget details still to be released. The government expects to raise $6 billion with a new digital services tax. Will this be just another tax along the lines of charging HST on top of the carbon tax? We’ll have to wait and find out.

The Liberal government has forgotten that Canada needs a vibrant and growing private sector that can be taxed, fairly, to pay for our social programs. Companies in Canada need to compete against companies around the world, employee housing costs, personal tax rates, and corporate tax rates are major factors in this competition.

Inflation is a problem for everyone, the Bank of Canada has asked all levels of government to reign in their deficit spending so that interest rates can come down. Borrowing $40 billion just pours gasoline on the inflation fire. Here’s a new slogan: Budget 2024: Un-Fairness for every generation.

I sometimes wonder if Trudeau understands the difference between a million, a billion, or a trazillion.

Eric Stern is a Burlington resident, a retired businessman in the private sector and said to handle a pool stick better than most of the people he plays with.


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Where have all the workers gone?

By Pepper Parr

August 7th, 2023



Where have all the workers gone?

Covid19 meant huge changes in where people worked – the office moved to the kitchen table and teachers did their best to keep a class interested while everyone dealt with a virus that was killing millions.

Remote work was necessary during the harder days with lock downs in place.

Burlington chose to become a hybrid city with some staff able to choose to work from home full time – going into the office only when it was necessary.

City manager Tim Commisso liked the idea

City manager Tim Commisso liked the idea and directed the Executive Director level to organize the jobs that had to be done into various forms of hybrid work. Neither Commisso or the city’s Communications department every released numbers

“People thought remote work would last forever, and the importance people put on work-life balance reached new heights … people were putting their personal lives first and moving to beautiful locations,” said Travis O’Rourke, president at Hays Canada.

The number of fully remote jobs has decreased as a number of employers have called time on work-from-anywhere policies. The volume of applications for remote jobs has also increased, he said, putting them high in demand for those who have relocated to these locales.

Jessica Weisz optimized for sunshine. “We came and saw the place that we could rent … You could see the mountains and the lake, it had a pool and it was massive and it was the same as rent for our little small loft in Toronto.”

Jessica Weisz, who works in tech entrepreneurship and venture capital, stopped working in-person in Toronto during the pandemic and moved to Niagara, Ontario, and then Kelowna, B.C., where she has continued working remotely for her employer.

For Weisz, returning to an in-office position holds little appeal. “I like being able to be home and focus and not have to go into the office,” she said, adding that the flexibility helps her be a more involved parent.

“What we were optimizing for was sunshine. I had never been to Kelowna – I knew nothing about it,” she said. “We came and saw the place that we could rent … You could see the mountains and the lake, it had a pool and it was massive and it was the same as rent for our little small loft in Toronto.”

“People thought remote work would last forever, and the importance people put on work-life balance reached new heights … people were putting their personal lives first and moving to beautiful locations,” said Travis O’Rourke, president at Hays Canada.

Since then, the number of fully remote jobs has decreased as a number of employers have called time on work-from-anywhere policies. The volume of applications for remote jobs has also increased, he said, putting them high in demand for those who have relocated to these locales.

Research suggests that, like Weisz, most employees who got a taste of remote work are eager to continue. Nearly four in five Canadians said they much prefer it to working in the office, according to a report by the Future Skills Centre.

The impact of remote work on the office space sector of the real estate business is severe. Some office building operators are looking at ways to convert the space in residential.

Others are finding that productivity isn’t quite the same but those people aren’t certain and think it might be too early to tell what the final outcome is going to be.

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Social media has become a very dangerous computer application - used by politicians to communicate with you

By Pepper Parr

July 16th, 2023



This article is about Twitter, Threads, social media, the Canadian Press and how literally everything about you is being used by social media to exploit you.

That sounds harsh – it just happen to be true.

Lets start with the Canadian Press: they are a Canadian national news agency headquartered in Toronto. Established in 1917 as a vehicle for Canadian newspapers to exchange news and information,

The article below, written by Tara Deschamps who is employed by the Canadian Press, sets out th explain what social media is doing to us.  She begins with:

It knows when you’ve been online shopping, the last time you worked out and whether you’ve been lurking on your ex’s profile.

Meta’s new social media platform Threads is gobbling up massive amounts of sensitive data on its 100 million users and counting.

The specificity and quantity of information the text and multimedia platform can access poses a risk to most users, if it falls into the wrong hands or is used to target them, tech experts agree.

Claudette McGowan CEO, Protexxa Claudette McGowan is a global information technology leader with more than 20 years of success leading digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure and designing new approaches that improve service and cybersecurity experiences. She has worked in the technology industry for several organizations such as Deloitte, Metropolitan Police Services, North York General Hospital, Bank of Montreal and TD Bank.

“This is a hacker’s dream,” said Claudette McGowan, a longtime banking executive who founded Protexxa, a Toronto-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to rapidly identify and resolve cyber issues for employees.

“The more data you have sitting in a certain position (or) spot is going to get people really, really excited about getting access to it and being very creative about it.”

Threads falls under Meta’s wider privacy policy that covers its other social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. That policy details how Meta captures everything from the information you give it when you sign up for accounts, to what you click on or like, who you befriend online and what kind of phone, computer or tablet you use to access its products.

Meta is the company that owns Facebook and Instagram and recently launched Threads, an application that compete with Twitter.

It also keeps tabs on what you’re doing on your device, like whether the app is in the foreground or if your mouse is moving, messages you send and receive and details on purchases you make, including credit card information.

Threads also has its own supplemental privacy policy, which says “we collect information about your activity on Threads, including the content you create, the types of content you view or interact with and how you interact with it, metadata about your content, the Threads features you use and how you use them, the hashtags you use, and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities on Threads.”

The privacy policy Threads has embedded in Apple’s app store shows it may collect, and link to your identity, data including your health and fitness, financial, browsing history, location and contact information, along with the broad category of “sensitive information.”

“It looks to me like it is a grab bag or a drift-net approach,” said Brett Caraway, a professor of media economics at the University of Toronto.
 That approach is not unusual for social media services or other apps. It’s become “standard repertoire” for such companies to broker access to as much data as possible, he said.

TikTok is a popular social media app that allows users to create, watch, and share 15-second videos shot on mobile devices or webcams.  The app was launched in 2016 by the Chinese technology company ByteDance.  The Canadian government banned TikTok on all government-issued mobile devices in late February, citing serious privacy and security risks for users.

Music-centric social media app TikTok, for example, collects usernames, passwords, dates of birth, email addresses, telephone number, information disclosed in user profiles, photographs and videos. It also grabs preferences you set, content you upload, comments you make, websites you’ve visited, apps you’ve downloaded and purchases you have made.

Screen resolution, keystroke patterns, battery levels, audio settings and “your approximate location, including location information based on your SIM card and/or IP address” are also scooped up by TikTok.

Caraway often hears from students who wonder why they should care if social media companies access their data because they’re not high-profile and don’t use such apps for controversial activities.

“Just because you’re safe today doesn’t mean you’re safe tomorrow,” Caraway argues.

“We’re certainly seeing a situation in the U.S. where certain marginalized populations are under attack, at least rhetorically and sometimes legally, and you might find yourself as part of one of those marginalized populations.”

Regardless of what you do on social media, Caraway said these companies leave users “not in the position to bargain.”

“You just have to take what the platform gives you.”

Asked about the app’s privacy concerns, Meta referred The Canadian Press to Threads posts from its chief privacy officer Rob Sherman, where he argued its privacy measures “are similar to the rest of our social apps, including Instagram, in that our apps receive whatever information you share in the app — including the categories of data listed in the App Store.”

“People can choose to share different kinds of data,” he wrote.

Before signing up for Threads or any other service, McGowan recommends people go beyond a cursory glance at the privacy policy they are agreeing to and read it more thoroughly with how the data could be used in mind.

“People just don’t understand the value of the data,” said McGowan.

“They become the product. Things are being monetized that they don’t even envision and they’re thinking they’re making decisions and formulating opinions that really are being formed and decided for them.”

She also advises people to consider a company’s history.

“Do they have a track record of handling sensitive information with care?” she questioned.

“Do they have a track record of being transparent and open and honest with their user community?”

How dangerous can social media be ? In 2018 Facebook gave an application developer access to the personal information of about 87 million users; that personal info was used to target U.S. voters during the country’s presidential election that ended with Donald Trump in power.

In the case of Threads, its parent company Meta was infamously ensnared in privacy concerns in 2018, when it was revealed that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica paid a Facebook app developer for access to the personal information of about 87 million users.

The personal info was used to target U.S. voters during the country’s presidential election that ended with Donald Trump in power.

Threads has yet to launch in European Union, which has strict data privacy rules.

“We would have liked to offer Threads in the EU at the same time as other markets, and the app does meet General Data Protection Regulation requirements today,” Sherman has said on Threads.

“But building this offering against the backdrop of other regulatory requirements that have not yet been clarified would potentially take a lot longer, and in the face of this uncertainty, we prioritized offering this new product to as many people as possible.”

This is what social media could be – without some form of government intervention it has become dangerous,

If you’re having second thoughts about an account you’ve signed up for in light of such developments, most services offer tools that help you adjust settings, limiting access to some of your personal information.

“And you always have the option to disconnect,” McGowan added.

However, to dump your Threads profile, which is embedded in Instagram, you must also delete your Instagram account.

Canadian Press advised readers that Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.


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Heat Warning issued for Halton Region

By Staff

July 4th. 2023


As a result of extreme heat and humidity, Environment Canada has issued a Heat Warning for Halton Region starting July 4, 2023. This warning is issued when forecast temperatures are expected to reach 31 degrees Celsius or more with overnight temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius for two days, or when a humidex of 40 or higher is expected for two days.

Especially at risk

Seek shade from the sun.

• older adults (over the age of 65), infants and young children, people who work and exercise in the heat, people without adequate housing and those without air conditioning; and

• people who have breathing difficulties, heart problems, kidney problems or are taking medication that increase their heat-health risk.
Prevention tips

• drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water;

• avoid strenuous outdoor activities;

• seek shade from the sun;

• spend time in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls and community centres; and

Some choose to sit in the shade listen to the music and enjoy time with their neighbours – summer in the city

• visit friends and neighbours who may be at risk and never leave people or pets in your care unattended in a car.

If you or someone in your care experiences rapid breathing, headache, confusion, weakness or fainting, please seek medical attention right away.

Weather and heat information are available on local radio and television stations and the Environment Canada Weather Conditions and Forecast webpage. For information and tips on how to protect your health during heat warnings, including a listing of air conditioned locations in Halton, please visit our Heat Warning webpage at halton.ca or call 311.



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The Redesign of Civic Square - Part 1

By Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2023



This is a long story so I have broken it up into three parts.

City Hal released a plan last week to redesign Civic Square.  The three parts are:

What was done before the plans that are now before the public?
What did the Staff report have to say in their report to Council ?.
And how did council react

In December of 2018 the city budgeted $600,000 for upgrades to Civic Square, the space to the south of city hall.

Civic Square as it is today.

Many of the improvements were required to improve things like accessibility, safety and convenience.

The city held an on-line survey with renderings of the new look; it was poorly promoted and the results of that survey were never made public.

At the time there was one 28 storey tower planned for the west side of Brant Street on the north side of James. The plans were approved and the tower is nearing completion.

The first tower to be built directly across the street from City Hal – 28 storeys. Construction close to completion.

Plans for a second tower on the south side of James have not been completed. They did have approval for 17 storeys and that is where that second tower sits.

The city had embarked on improving what they called Customer Service, gave it the initials CSX.

The first run at that idea stumbled getting out the gate. A former City Clerk was assigned to improving the team; some progress was made. The wrinkles got worked out, the software being used was upgraded. The former Clerk left for greener pastures – retirement.

The second tower that will be opposite City Hall – on Brant south side of James Street. Construction has yet to start.

Covid entered the picture, many staff worked from home and the city used the opportunity to remake the ground floor of city hall – you will not recognize the place when it is opened to the public. Expect a major photo op event when that happens.

Inside City Hall will look and feel a lot different. A visual was prepared to give the public a sense as to what was in the works.  Take the 33 second flyby to see what the end result is expected to look like

When the changes to the inside of City Hall were taking place little attention was paid to Civic Square other than mention of a new entrance, some reshuffling of things in Civic Square – more flag poles, some trees and plans to either get rid of the fountain or move it.

The noise and dust from the renovations proved to be more than staff could put up with if they were going to get any work done.

The Customer Service department was moved to the Sims building, which is on the southern side of Elgin Street.. The city bought the building for $17 milliom about five years ago.

Parts 2 and 3 to follow.

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Ward 2 Councillor sent her regrets - three times. Why?

By Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2023



Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns has published a newsletter for her constituents.  The content is good; Kearns is thorough and she has an understanding of the issues that surpasses that of most of the other Councillors. 

She takes on the Mayor when she thinks a little tug on her chain is needed.

She manages Standing Committee meetings better than any other member of Council.

The opening paragraph of the most recent newsletter goes:

“I have enjoyed seeing so many out and about at our local parks and visiting small local businesses. I hope to see you out there too! I continue to be so proud of the many ways our community has shown its commitment to caring for each other. My office continues to support all requests and is here to serve you, please reach out.”

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

The concern for us at the moment is we didn’t see Councillor Kearns at any of the Standing Committee meetings this week.  All the public got was that Kearns had sent her regrets – which is political speak for “I am going to be absent”.

Councillor Nisan was away for at least one meeting – he was at a conference.

With two Councillors away the important business that gets dealt with at Standing Committees suffers from input from Councillors that are not at the table.

Kearns has children that often need attention – which her constituents understand.

What isn’t know is – why is Kearns absent?  Does the public have a right to know ?

Is the problem a physical one – Kearns was thought to be dealing with long covid or is it psychological – she does have difficulty standing up for a position she has taken on occasion.

Civic Square needs an upgrade – and Council needs what Kearns can bring to the table in terms of how it can best get done. What Staff brought to the table earlier this week is not good enough.

The plans for a significant upgrade to Civic Square needed input from Kearns – Staff was bungling the presentation – there were too many unanswered questions.

Her involvement in the discussion on changes to ward boundaries is critical – it is her ward that has the most residents – the solution to the problem is complex and far more difficult than most people realize.

Kearns is the smartest member on this Council – her contribution is significant.  It would help if the public knew a bit more.  How much more – it is a little sticky when the personal lives of public people is the issue.

Public people need to learn to trust the people that put them in office.

We wish Kearns God speed in dealing with whatever it is that ails her.  The residents of ward 2 need her sharp mind.

When Marianne Meed Ward was involved in an auto collision and learned she had suffered a concussion she skipped Standing Committee meetings but was always at Council meetings where the vote counted.




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Procedural by law up for review - Clerk's Office doing a survey

By Pepper Parr

June 22, 2023



For those who have concerns over the way the current council manages itself – this is your time.

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon

The Office of the City Clerk is conducting a review of the Procedure By-law and is looking for community input through a community survey on the sections of the by-law pertaining to the public.

Your feedback will considered as part of the review and help us improve our meeting experience.

The Procedure Bylaw is a bylaw that rules how Council and Committee meetings are run and details the decision-making process of Council.

The Procedure Bylaw makes sure the City’s Council and Committee meetings have consistent, collaborative decision making.

It does this by establishing transparent and accountable governance and includes information about:

  • membership,
  • scheduling,
  • agendas,
  • voting and
  • public participation.

You may feel the city, Clerk in particular, don’t listen.  You might be right – but you still need to go on record with your concerns.

Related news story:

Ward newsletter sent out late

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Provincial statutes get different treatment in Burlington and Hamilton - not a good sign

By Pepper Parr

June 21st, 2023



The Ontario municipal election campaign donations appear to be treated one way in Burlington and another in Hamilton.

When the Gazette was doing a series of articles on the donations given to ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith we noted that in his Election Donations and Expenses document (a Forn 4) that Galbraith did not appear to have opened a separate election campaign bank account; a requirement before he could accept donations.

Burlington City Clerk Keven Arjoon – a little loosey goosey when it comes to ensuring that candidate reports are reviewed.

When we brought this to the attention of Burlington City Clerk Keven Arjoon his office responded that they did not go through the reports in detail, other than to confirm that it was provided by the candidate.

Hamilton has a much different approach. Hamilton City Clerk, Andrea Holland presented a report to Council in which she set out a number of donation infractions.

If the name Andrea Holland sounds familiar – it should. She was at one time a Burlington employee working in the Clerk’s office. She was one of a number of bright women who found greener grass in other municipalities.

In Hamilton a special committee must decide whether to take some of Hamilton’s biggest developers and business names to court for allegedly donating too much to candidates in last year’s city election.

Under Ontario election law, no donor is allowed to contribute more than $1,200 to a single municipal candidate or more than $5,000 in total. Candidates are required by law to tell prospective donors about the limits, but it is up to donors to ensure they do not contribute more in total than the law allows.

A review by the Hamilton City Clerk of financial contributions made during the election last fall found several donors who “appear” to have violated the maximum donation rule — although not by much, in most cases.

That triggered a meeting of an arms-length “election compliance audit committee” to decide if a violation occurred — and if so, whether it warrants pursuing rare court action that could result in fines.
Several big-name donors were under the microscope – but only one, Sam Mercanti, showed up in person.

“I apologize,” said the 75-year-old founder of national auto body chain Carstar, who told the committee he was unaware of the $5,000 donation limit that he exceeded by $700. “Now that I know, it will not happen again.”

Other notable donors on the alleged over-contribution list included:
Darivoj (Darko) Vranich, Hamilton’s downtown mega developer, appeared to nearly double the donation limit with $9,600 given to eight candidates;

Sergio Manchia, a developer and ubiquitous planning consultant, appeared to donate $5,300 to 13 candidates;

Tighter oversight in Hamilton when it comes to municipal election campaign donations.

Silvio Guglietti, founder of Rosehaven Homes and a multi million-dollar development player in Hamilton’s Elfrida expansion area, appeared to donate $5,200 to seven candidates.

The committee ruled at that time no legal action should be pursued.

The Hamilton committee went behind closed doors to discuss whether to pursue any legal action over violations.

In Burlington any concerns remained in the office of the City Clerk.

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Does the city need Heritage Culture Districts ?

By Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2023



There was an interesting comment made by a woman who attended the first of two community meetings on the creation of Heritage Designated areas.

A Burlington downtown resident who lives in one of the areas the city wants to designate a Heritage Cultural Area questions both the idea and the way the city is working with residents.

She made these comments on the differences between ZOOM (virtual) meetings that the bureaucrats seem to prefer.  City meetings are webcast – it is not unusual to have close to half the members of Council working from their homes.

“If you’ve watched any of the Zoom meetings the City had regarding this matter, where they all blabbed away and at the end of it said “that went well thanks everyone “

Citizens will show up for a meeting if you make it interesting enough and promote it effectively. This crowd was going through the city budget. Virtual or Zoom meetings are not popular to citizens.

“The meeting last night was the equivalent of a Zoom meeting – the City and the consultant struggled so much and came across as ill prepared and uninformed because … they had to sit in a room face to face with real people, real business owners with real questions.

“Zoom meetings are not a substitute for real life – they really need to stop “working from home”

“When Zoom meeting participants have to confront real life… they can’t cope”

The city and the consultant(s) were completely bewildered as to why everyone wasn’t going yeah – let’s do it and do it twice

Does she have a point?

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Retrofit Pilot Program goes to Council on Tuesday for approval

By Pepper Parr

June 12th, 2023



As recommendations go they don’t get better than this:

Approve the establishment of the Better Homes Burlington Energy Retrofit Pilot Program to provide a maximum of twenty loans to Burlington homeowners who meet program eligibility criteria to support the implementation of air source heat pumps.

Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services to monitor and assess the results of the Better Homes Burlington pilot program and report back to council in one year with recommended next steps.

The purpose of the report was to obtain council approval of the necessary elements to deliver the Better Homes Burlington (BHB) program. In 2020, Council approved the Burlington Climate Action Plan and set a target to become a net zero carbon community by 2050. The BHB program will support decarbonization measures in the residential sector to help Burlington achieve its net zero community target.

The report recommended the BHB program as a pilot project which will support residential decarbonization by:

• providing a concierge service to homeowners with guidance on options to complete a home energy efficiency retrofit;
• offering loans to homeowners to accelerate the adoption of air source heat pumps; and,
• engaging and educating homeowners and contractors to promote/deliver home energy efficiency retrofits.

For those who want to upgrade the way they heat and cool their homes the Better Homes Burlington would appear to be something worth looking into.

Council directed Staff to bring forward a business case as part of the 2023 budget process for the resources required to support implementation of a small-scale home energy efficiency retrofit program including a virtual delivery centre/support for homeowners, and loans through a Local Improvement Charge (LIC) mechanism for Burlington homeowners to improve home energy efficiency.
Council recently approved the Better Homes Burlington program coordinator position (one year contract) as part of the 2023 operating budget.

Better Homes Burlington – Concierge
The program coordinator will act as a concierge to provide assistance to homeowners as they consider options to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This role could be more significant than administering the BHB loan given the complexities for homeowners to navigate the home energy efficiency retrofit environment. The concierge will provide guidance on:

• Grants and incentives – Enbridge Gas has partnered with the federal government’s Greener Homes program to be the one stop shop for both the Greener Homes and Enbridge grants to support a wide range of home energy efficiency measures – Home Efficiency Rebate Plus (HER+)

• Financing – discussing options with homeowners for the best options to finance home energy efficiency retrofits (ie. financial institutions, the federal government’s Greener Homes loan program, Enbridge Sustain and/or Better Homes Burlington loan)

• Energy audits – provide guidance on the benefits of and how to arrange an EnerGuide Home Evaluation

• Energy Efficiency Measures – provide guidance on the types of measures which can improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint

• Contractors – offer guidance on how to find and retain contractor services for energy efficiency improvements
The program coordinator will also be responsible for community engagement activities to promote the benefits of home energy efficiency measures and the options available to homeowners, as noted above. Contractor engagement to promote the program will also be part of this role.

Jim Feilders, the owner of a home that is carbon neutral explains: ÈPutting it all together with the best data I could find, is shown in the chart below. It includes the “What if” we do nothing, called business as usual. You know, keep our heads in the sand and keep doing what we have always done. I’m not saying change is easy by any means.” Burlington GHG emmissions – source The obvious solution is to make the Community Energy Plan work – problem with that is we don’t know yet how to do that. Extrapolations for the CEP are less optimistic as most of the behavioural change will have occurred. With our CEP alone, we fall short.

Better Homes Burlington Loan
To implement the Better Homes Burlington pilot loan program, a bylaw is required to utilize the Local Improvement Charge (LIC) mechanism. In 2012, the provincial government amended the LIC regulation to permit municipalities to deliver home energy efficiency loans to homeowners, which can be repaid through property taxes.

A maximum of $10,000 will be offered to homeowners to support the installation of air source heat pumps and leak sealing. The target for the pilot project is 20 homes which currently rely on burning fossil fuels for a source of heating.

Eligibility criteria include:
• All registered owner(s) of the property must consent to participating in the Program;

• Property tax and all other payment obligations to the City of Burlington for the past five years must be in good standing;

• Owners must enroll in the pre-authorized property tax payment plan prior to approval for term of loan; and

• The owner must notify its mortgage lender (if applicable) of the owner’s intention to participate in the Program using the City of Burlington’s prescribed form.

• Note: homeowners with CMHC or other insured mortgages are ineligible to participate in the Program.

The maximum term for a loan will be 5 (five) years to be paid back with interest (prime rate). Through the LIC mechanism, the loan is tied to the property and can be transferred to new homeowners if a home is sold, however, most homeowners pay off the loan prior to selling. An administration fee will be charged in the amount of $50.00 (fifty dollars).

The program details for the Better Homes Burlington loan is summarized here:

1. Homeowners will be asked to contact the program coordinator to discuss eligibility for a loan. The program coordinator will provide information on all options available to homeowners to fund energy efficiency measures, such as grants, loans, the Home EnerGuide Assessment process, and how to find a contractor.

2. If the homeowner is eligible for a BHB loan and decides that this is the best option, they will be directed to obtain quotes for the work.

3. The homeowner will submit the information with a funding application to the City. The funding application will be reviewed by the program coordinator to confirm eligibility and once approved, a property owner agreement (POA) will be shared with the homeowner for signature, which will be signed by the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services (or designate).

4. Once the POA is executed, the homeowner can proceed with the proposed works and can submit the final report (project completion) to the City with the invoice.

5. If the amount differs from the original application, a revised schedule can be attached to the POA. The program coordinator will work with Finance staff to begin the loan process through the property tax system.

Jim Feilders turned his home into a carbon neutral house. He said: We need to replace gasoline vehicles with electric and hybrid models and transition our residential space heating and water heating from natural gas to electric inverter heat pump technology – air, water and ground sources. These technologies are actually less expensive on a life cycle basis than their fossil fuel alternatives.

The program will be promoted to homeowners throughout the summer with the opening of applications to occur in September. From the time homeowners receive funding approval, they will have six months to install the improvements (air source heat pump and leak sealing) with an opportunity to request a further extension (up to six months). Once the improvement is installed, the homeowner will submit the completion report to confirm the loan amount. The completion report will be reviewed by the program coordinator and the manager of environmental sustainability, and the loan will be processed. Loans will be added to the tax bill at the end of April 2024 to begin the repayment process. If the homeowner has not submitted the completion report in time to process a loan and add to the annual tax bill by April 2024, then the homeowner loan repayment will be added to the tax roll the following year (2025) for repayment.

By January 2024, the program coordinator and manager of environmental sustainability will review the loan application process to determine whether to recommend continuation, particularly given that loans are only added to the tax roll once per year.

Assessment of the pilot program will be based on overall interest in the program and number of applications received. If 20 loans have already been pre-approved by the end of January 2024, the pilot program will come to a close and will be assessed at that time.

Program Monitoring and Assessment
Metrics will be tracked to assess and monitor all aspects of the Better Homes Burlington program to report back to council in 2024 on the results, such as number of homeowners assisted, types of questions asked, number of community engagement activities and participation rates, and number of loans applied for and issued, and number of loans refused. In addition, staff will continue to collaborate with neighbouring municipalities and our extended networks to identify alternative measures for future consideration to support the transition off of the use of fossil fuels for thermal energy.

Financial Matters:
It is recommended that the Energy Initiatives Reserve Fund provide the source of funding to support homeowner loans through the LIC mechanism. Annual loan repayments by homeowners will be credited back to the reserve fund.

With the uncommitted balance currently at $185,000, along with the 2023 funding provided through the rooftop rental fees the City receives from three solar installations on City facilities of $25,000 per year, accounts for the $200,000 reserve fund requirement of the loan program. The reserve fund was originally established in 2015 to help fund energy efficiency initiatives in City facilities.

Total Financial Impact
Based on a cap of 20 loans for each homeowner at $10,000/resident, a total of $200,000 is required to support this program. In addition, Council approved $120,000 one-time funding for a one-year contract for a program coordinator position.

Staff time will be required from Finance in the property tax section to support on the tax eligibility criteria listed above and adding the loan to the property tax bill for repayment.

Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability

Engagement Matters:
A communications plan is being finalized with Communications staff to launch, promote and deliver the Better Homes Burlington program. Engagement activities to promote the program will include webinars, presentations and demonstrations in partnership with community stakeholders and networks. A website was created at the same time the Better Homes Burlington feasibility study was completed in partnership with the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College and will be launched in the near future with a media release.

The program will be voted on at the June 13th Council meeting.

The prime contact at this point is Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability 905-335-7600 x7931

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It is time for Honest,Direct Engagement and Straight Talk about what the possible impacts of Upper Tier Dissolution will be other than expensive

By Blair Smith

May 22, 2023



Burlington Today reports that:

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward says there will “absolutely not be a City of Halton.”

She told BurlingtonToday that Burlington council has agreed to support an assessment of Halton Region and be an active participant in that process, after passing a motion at its May 16 meeting.

Burlington, along with Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills are gathered together as a Region. The Region has its own Official Plan that Burlington must comply with. The Region handles Social Services, Waste and water management, some roads, police and Emergency Services. It levies taxes which the city collects.

“Everything else is on the table,” she said, adding things like transit could be uploaded to the Region and other things downloaded, “but it must deliver better service for better value.”

To be polite, here we go again with our Mayor answering a question that may have been relevant six months ago but hardly now in the face of Minister Clark’s announcement on Thursday.

Actually, it’s puzzling why BurlingtonToday would choose to report the Mayor’s comments since their context is now rather dramatically changed. And just to be completely accurate, “the motion” was tabled as a “consent item” at the May 16th Council meeting with no questions, comments or debate. So much for being “an active participant”.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward greeting Premier Doug Ford during a tour of Joseph Brant Hospital.

Indeed, there will certainly not be “a City of Halton”; there may be no Halton at all. There may be no City of Burlington either, although I imagine that Meed Ward is eager to accept the prospects of a Mississauga scenario with abundant Strong Mayor powers.

The reality is that the Ontario Government is once again rolling the municipal dice and the target – not for economies of scale and operational efficiencies but for better management of new housing targets – is the Upper Tier.

All the services that were consolidated will be disaggregated into the emancipated municipalities and the costs, both of dissolution and of creating needed service depth and structure, will be borne by the taxpayer.

Will Burlington benefit if Halton Region is dissolved? It is impossible to say at this point but I personally don’t like the prospects. The economics just don’t make sense.

When a group of us fought regional amalgamation in 2019 we believed that we were protecting local voice and decision-making. Today, we would be far less enthusiastic. Even in 2019 we acknowledged and supported the benefits of further consolidation of certain services and functions at the regional level – things like information technology, fleet management, common purchasing, vendors of record and transportation.

However, we felt that cities, such as Burlington and Oakville, should have strong influence over how they grew as communities and should not be amalgamated into an indistinct ‘melting pot’. That would still be our belief today despite the failure of our Council to deliver on their promises and a truly remarkable opportunity.

It is time for honest and direct engagement with Burlington’s citizens – straight talk about what the possible impacts of Upper Tier dissolution are. Given the fact that the municipalities left standing and perhaps whole will still be creatures of the province, subject to provincial direction and control, but now tasked with funding standalone services, it is difficult to be enthusiastic.

Related news story:

The article that brought out the opinion.

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It is going to take more than grassroots love to stop Doug Ford from doing whatever he wants to do with the Regions

By Pepper Parr

May 22nd, 2023



Doug Ford is at it again. He seems to have this fixation on what the municipal level of government is all about. He continues to meddle and muddle until he finds something that suits his fancy. In the process, he creates great churn and turmoil in all levels of government below the province.

The government introduced legislation on Thursday dubbed the “Hazel McCallion Act” to dissolve Peel Region and have the three municipalities stand on their own starting Jan. 1, 2025.
Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon will be ‘peeled’ apart in under two years — and six other regions have been put on notice that they could be next.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark.

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said he was taking “decisive action” to help the municipalities build more homes.
Ontario also said it will appoint “regional facilitators” in the coming weeks for the upper-tier municipalities of Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo and York. Their job will be to find out whether the municipalities that make up those regions are able to stand on their own.

The facilitators were initially announced in November with the goal of looking into whether the regions should get strong mayor powers, and to advise on “the best mix of roles and responsibilities between upper and lower-tier municipalities” for tackling the housing crisis.

Simcoe, which was initially left off the list, was added on Thursday.

Now, the government is explicitly saying the D-word – dissolution!

“These facilitators will be tasked with reviewing whether the upper-tier government continues to be relevant to the needs of its communities or whether the lower-tier municipalities are mature enough to pursue dissolution,” reads the Thursday release.

It’s still unclear who the facilitators will be.

“Details regarding the facilitators and the timing of their appointment are under development and we will have more to share on that soon,” Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) spokesperson Melissa Diakoumeas said in an email.

None of the municipalities provided comment about their potential dissolution by press time.

There’s nothing in the new legislation about expanding any municipal boundaries, as the government has been wont to do, sometimes without warning. Of course, the facilitators could make that recommendation; or the government could decide to do it at any time.

Clark was asked on Thursday why Simcoe was added to the list.   “I think we’ve always had that discussion, given the high growth pressures in Simcoe County,” he said. “Servicing is obviously an issue.”

Regional Chair Gary Carr, speaking at the Millcroft resident’s meeting said that there were huge changes coming to the Region. At the time Chair Carr didn’t elaborate – now we know what he was talking about.

The up-to-five-person transition board that will oversee Peel Region’s breakup has a slew of issues that will have to be sorted out — like the future of municipal taxes, finances, regional staff, conservation authorities, and the Peel Region Police — by 2025.

The transition board will also have the power to ban the municipalities from doing things it deems would hurt the dissolution. If the municipalities ignore the board, the legislation gives power to Clark to step in and manage their affairs directly.

The Ford government will appoint the panel’s members sometime this year — and the municipalities will foot the bill, according to the legislation.

We Love Burlington fought the good fight back in 2018-19 – the report that was to be released has yet to see the light of day. The government is in the process of taking another crack at changing the role that Regions play in the building of the residential housing the city has pledged to deliver.

That same process will be used when the province decides to take another look at how Halton operates. This might revive the “We Love Burlington” advocacy group.

In 2018/19, the newly elected PC Government undertook a review of regional governments with specific emphasis on achieving economies of scale, reduction of red tape and operating efficiencies through amalgamation.

The direction was directly opposite that announced on Thursday; it was to assimilate specific lower tier municipalities into the upper tier government.

It projected multiple benefits through consolidating services at the regional level and dramatically reforming or eliminating local governments.

Former Waterloo chair Ken Seiling, right, and former deputy minister Michael Fenn (who was once a General Manager with the City of Burlington) were tasked with the review to be prepared and reported by early summer of 2019. The report they submitted was never released to the public.

There were specific target regions – Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, Oxford County, the County of Simcoe and their lower-tier municipalities. Former Waterloo chair Ken Seiling and former deputy minister Michael Fenn were tasked with the review to be prepared and reported by early summer of 2019.

Grass roots organizations quickly sprouted in Oakville and Burlington (the “We Loves”) to fight amalgamation and counter the perceived threat to local decision-making and the expression of local voice. The anti-amalgamation campaign was short but relatively intense and well-co-ordinates. Although public opinion seemed to be split in other regions, Halton presented a common face and championed preserving local autonomy. What started with much fanfare and bluster ended quietly in late June 2019 when the Ford Government announced that they would receive the report but neither publish nor act on its recommendations.

So, today it’s “déjà vu all over again” but in reverse with the regional governments in danger of dissolution, of being “peeled back”. This is not a victory for local autonomy and the integrity of local governance and decision-making. Municipalities, such as Burlington, are still the creation of the Province and very much subject to its control and direction.
Indeed, early messaging from Queen’s Park is that an even tighter choke will be placed around the lower tier neck.

Some of these municipalities, such as Burlington, may not recognize themselves when this is through.

Ironically, those who founded the 2019 We Love Burlington campaign would find it difficult to pose the same arguments of local governance integrity and transparency today.

Related news story:

Opinion piece on the changes in Regional government.

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Conservation Halton Foundation Connected Campaign aims to raise $20 million

By Staff

April 29th, 2023



The Conservation Halton Foundation has launched the largest fundraising campaign in its history. The Connected Campaign aims to raise $20 million to grow Conservation Halton’s ‘greenprint’ to provide communities with more opportunities to connect with nature. This effort will not only help to expand and enhance parks and greenspaces in the conservation authority’s watershed – it will also accelerate restoration projects that protect local ecosystems and make nature-based learning and outdoor recreation more available and accessible to all.

The campaign was announced by Garner Beckett, Executive Director of the Conservation Halton Foundation and Hassaan Basit, Conservation Halton President and CEO, during the official launch event held at Crawford Lake Conservation Area in Milton. The park is one of eight conservation areas that Conservation Halton protects and manages within its watershed.

“Halton has grown rapidly in the last two decades; in Milton alone, the population has quadrupled.

Turtle clan longhouse at Crawford Lake.

It is not surprising that Conservation Halton has seen record-breaking numbers of park visitors. People in our communities and across the province place great value on spending time in nature,” said Basit. “Being able to experience nature, learn about it, and really feel connected with it benefits our mental and physical wellness. These connections also motivate individuals and communities to safeguard these greenspaces for all to enjoy – today and well into the future. With this campaign, we aim to ensure these vital areas are preserved, protected, and enhanced for years to come.”

The announcement highlighted transformative projects and goals for community investment aligned with the campaign’s three priority areas: Parks and Greenspaces, Biodiversity and Resilience, and Education and Community. The campaign’s leadership also celebrated the generosity of new and long-time donors whose contributions have been “instrumental in the launch of Connected,” said Beckett.

“Over the past three years, our foundation’s efforts have been building momentum – thanks to the collaboration, partnership, and incredible support of our growing community of partners and donors.”

Catherine Mulvale, center standing, is the Conservation Halton Foundation fund raising Chair.

Campaign Chair, Catherine Mulvale, recognized Parks and Greenspaces donor EATON for supporting the creation of lakeside gathering spaces at Area 8, Biodiversity and Resilience donors Sheila and Keith Minkhorst for their significant gift toward Area 8 habitat restoration, and Education and Community supporters Francine McCarthy and Mike MacKinnon for recently establishing The McCarthy Fund for Crawford Lake, an endowment that will support engagement and education about the globally significant meromictic lake protected at the park.

Mulvale also recognized RBC, whose lead, multi-year funding commitment kickstarted a new climate action program for newcomer youth, enabled investment in new environmental monitoring technology, and is helping Conservation Halton connect more youth with nature at its parks and across the watershed.

Conservation Halton safeguards over 10,000 acres of forests, wetlands, creeks and other natural areas, all within one of Canada’s fastest growing regions.

The Conservation Halton Foundation is a registered charity and partner organization to Conservation Halton that raises funds for environmental projects and programs that protect natural assets, connect people with nature, and inspire positive change.

Our vision is an engaged and supportive community, driven to creating a healthy environment with clean streams, abundant forests and thriving natural spaces.

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Karina Gould on the civil service strike and child poverty

By Staff

April 28th, 2023



Burlington MP Karina Gould, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in the Trudeau government spoke in the House of Commons on a number of public policy issues.

Responding to the comments made by a member of the opposition Gould said:

The current Liberal government believes in the right to strike and the Public Service Alliance of Canada didn’t let them down.

“Mr. Speaker, I think what is particularly concerning about what the member opposite is saying is that the public service grew at a time when Canadians were in their darkest hour. We are talking about a once-in-a-generation pandemic. We supported, and those same public servants supported, 8.5 million Canadians to access the Canada emergency response benefit. Those same public servants supported Canadians to receive the Canada emergency business account support. They were there in Canada’s time of need.

“We believe in collective bargaining. We believe in the right to strike, and we will get a good deal for the public servants and for Canadians.”

Burlington MP Karina Gould in the House of Commons while former US president of the United States Barack Obama addresses a joint session.

Later, on the same day, Gould said:
“Mr. Speaker, in difference to the Conservative members of Parliament, on this side we actually respect workers and we respect their rights. We are at the negotiating table right now to ensure that we get a fair deal for Canadian taxpayers, as well as for the hard-working public servants who have been there for Canadians, particularly in their moment of need, particularly during the worst economic and health crisis that we have seen in a generation.

“We are going to get a good agreement that is going to support our workers as well as Canadian taxpayers.”

It was a busy day for the Burlington MP who spoke about how they improved Canada’s child poverty rankings

“Mr. Speaker, it is a bit hard to take the Conservatives at face value when they talk about Canadians in poverty, because when the Conservative government came into power in 2006, it was 17th in the OECD when it came to child poverty rankings. By the time Conservatives left office nine years later, they had fallen to 24th. They had actually done nothing to alleviate people who were living in poverty.

“We came into office in 2015. We have helped 450,000 children get out of poverty. We have helped 2.7 million Canadians get out of poverty. We are going to keep being there for Canadians, unlike the members opposite.”

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Mayors' confidant subject of a complaint report from the Integrity Commisioner

By Pepper Parr

April 16th, 2023


Updated – A note from Diane Leblovic is set out at the bottom of this article

City Council faces a sticky one on Tuesday.

The City Clerk, Kevin Arjoon has submitted a report prepared by the Integrity Commissioner regarding the behaviour of a member of the Committee of Adjustment

The report is about a complaint made by a property owner who feels she was treated poorly by a member of the Committee of Adjustment.

The Committee of Adjustment hears applications for changes to property and situations where a resident wants to make a minor variances.

Committee members are not elected but are appointed by Council.

Nicholas Leblovic is a member of the CoA

Nicholas Leblovic with his wife Diane on the left; Mayor Marianne Meed Ward with her husband Pete on the right.

He is also a confident of Mayor Meed Ward and has been, along with his wife, a significant contributor to the election campaigns of the following members of city Council:

Mayor Meed Ward $1,200 donated by Diane Leblovic, wife of Nicholas Leblovic

Kelvin Galbraith Councillor for Ward 1 $250 from Nicholas Leblovic

Lisa Kearns Councillor for ward 2 $250 from Nicholas and Diane Leblovic

Rory Nisan Councillor for Ward 3 – $250 from Nicholas Leblovic

Council is being asked to direct staff to make arrangements for the conduct of training to be conducted by the Integrity Commissioner on the ethical framework applicable to local board members.

The recommendation has many informed people close to outraged.

One has asked if the members of Council who received election campaign donations should not be required to recuse themselves from the debate given that there is a potential conflict of interest.

The Integrity Commissioners report refers to the Code of Conduct for Local Boards which was established on February 25, 2019, by City Council. The Code’s main purpose to guide members to act with honesty and integrity, serving in a diligent manner, and performing their duties in a manner which promotes public confidence.

The Integrity Commissioner is appointed by and is accountable to the Burlington City Council. The City of Burlington has an established accountability framework, with the Integrity Commissioner playing an essential role.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan:received a $250 election campaign donation from Nicholas Leblovic.

Ward 2 Council member Lisa Kearns received a $250 election campaign donation from Nicholas Leblovic.

The Integrity Commissioner reports to Council on any investigations

City Council decides what it want to do with the recommendations.

Numerous complaints have been taken to the Integrity Commissioner; some dismissed, others with recommendations that were accepted by Council

Ward 1 Councillor Galbraith was the subject of a complaint that he was in a conflict of interest related to his property holdings in ward 1.The complaint was dismissed by the Integrity Commissioner.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte was docked five days’ pay for discussing a matter that was part of a CLOSED session of Council.

If the Commissioner conducts an inquiry he is entitled to have free access to all books, accounts, financial records, electronic data processing records, reports, files and all other papers, things or property belonging to or used by the municipality or a local board that the Commissioner believes to be necessary for an inquiry.

(5) The municipality may impose either of the following penalties on a member of council or of a local board if the Commissioner reports to the municipality that, in his or her opinion, the member has contravened the code of conduct:

1. A reprimand.

2. Suspension of the remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a member of council or of the local board, as the case may be, for a period of up to 90 days.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith received a $250 election campaign donation from Nicholas Leblovic.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward received a $1200 election campaign donation from Diane Leblovic, wife of Nicholas Leblovic..

The established process complaint process (part of the Code of Good Governance) dictates that any complaint is submitted directly to the Integrity Commissioner. The Office of the City Clerk is not involved in complaints, unless directly interviewed by the Integrity Commissioner.

The complaint process itself is nuanced, which allows the Integrity Commissioner many tools at their disposal to resolve complaints. The complaint process also provides options to complainants and the respondent to resolve complaints through alternative ways.

A recommendation report was filed by the Integrity Commissioner with the Clerk on April 6, 2023. As part of their process, the complainant and the respondent were also provided a copy of the report.

The report indicated that a complaint was filed on December 22, 2022, from an applicant to the Committee of Adjustment in regard to the conduct of a member of the Committee of Adjustment (Leblovic)  during a hearing in December. The Integrity Commissioner report addresses the investigation conducted and conveys their findings and recommendation.

The City Clerk has worked with the Integrity Commissioner to ensure that the rules of how this item is disposed with is clear. The Integrity Commissioner will be present at the City Council meeting on April 18, 2023, to respond to questions of Council.

• Nicholas Leblovic or a representative may request to delegate at Council regarding the report.

• The Integrity Commissioner will provide opening remarks on their report.

• In accordance with the Procedural By-law Members of Council can ask questions of clarification, two at a time to the Integrity Commissioner.

• Once questions of Council have been exhausted, the Mayor will open the floor for any motions.

• The recommendation as listed in this report could be put on the floor, if Council wishes not to endorse the recommendation the report could be received for information.

Nicholas Leblovic as the Chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee

• Once a motion is placed on the floor speaking times will coincide with Council rules, this means each member is afforded, two, five-minute speaking times. If a member wishes to speak for a third time this is put to a vote and is only provided to members through the successful passing of two thirds vote of Council.

Options Considered
The rules as outlined in the Code of Good Governance states that:

If upon completion of the investigation the Integrity Commissioner finds that a breach of the Code has occurred, the Commissioner shall report their findings to Council including a recommendation as to the imposition of a penalty as set out in the Municipal Act.

Therefore, a recommendation is made by the Integrity Commissioner and is conveyed to Council, who makes the final decision.

Burlington City Council has seven members. Four received election campaign donations from the Leblovics. Another is reported to be on a leave of absence for two months for personal health reasons.

Should the Council members who received the campaign donations do the right thing and recuse themselves – then there would not be a quorum ?

That should be fun.

We will follow up with a detailed report on just what it is that Nicholas Leblovic did to result in a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner.  It is lengthy and detailed and very troubling.

Leblovic is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada but he no longer practices law.

Leblovic was the Chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee which the city sunset in 2012.My husband Nick Leblovic was required under the Code of Conduct to take a leave of absence from the Committee of Adjustment from May 2 to after election day on October 24. That was because he was going to work on the municipal election in Burlington. Once you are on a leave of absence you can donate to any campaign. This process was confirmed by the Integrity Commissioner.

Note from Diane Leblovic: My husband Nick Leblovic was required under the Code of Conduct to take a leave of absence from the Committee of Adjustment from May 2 to after election day on October 24. That was because he was going to work on the municipal election in Burlington. Once you are on a leave of absence you can donate to any campaign. This process was confirmed by the Integrity Commissioner.

Related news stories:

Marianne Meed Ward, Nicholas Leblovic and the Waterfront Advisory Committee

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Has the Bateman High School site deal been done ? It was supposed to close on September 30th

By Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2022



Does anyone wonder why September came and went and there was no announcement on the purchase of the Bateman High School property?

Given that the 30th was a federal holiday which the city administration decided would apply to all the municipal employees one could understand that there was no one available to put together one of those statements that would quote the Mayor on how much had been achieved and what to look forward.

Somewhere in that communication would be mention of the cost and the hole it is going to put in the public purse.

There was nothing on Monday. Nothing on Tuesday. Wednesday isn’t over so maybe there will be an announcement.

At this point all the public has is a plan and a sense that the cost will come in at somewhere neat $50 million.

The subject didn’t even get asked at the Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday – that the Mayor made no mention suggest the new may not be all that good.

No word from any of the ward 5 candidates.

There is a story in there somewhere – the part of that story we know today is – they don’t want you to know.

We have reached out to Councillor Sharman and Councillor Stolte asking:

Is there anything you can say about the status of the sale/purchase of the Bateman High School property?

The public was told that the deal was to close on September 30th.

Stolte has a personal investment in the deal: The city Integrity Commissioner docked her five days’ pay for telling the public that the site was going to come in at something near $50,000,000.

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Millcroft residents look at how City Council is handling their concerns: they don't appear to be impressed

By Staff

October 5th, 2022


“It seems that the City follows the same process over and over again and expects different outcomes. This is frustrating and the residents of Burlington are tired of the “in camera” nature of the decisions. How can we assess the City’s “best” when it is secretive. Trust is now an issue. This Council was elected partly on a promise of transparency.”

Millcroft residents are deeply concerned with changes a developer wants to make to the golf course their homes are built around.  The plan is to add 98 homes to the site and a small medium  rise apartment building.  The homes are expected to sell in the $1 million plus range.

The development application is still in review by the Planning Department – the developer has taken the application to the Ontario Land Tribunal \9olt0

There are a number of players in the game; all with similar names.


The developers.

One of the two community groups

The other is the Millcroft Greenspace Alliance

We are asking Burlington’s City Council to pass a resolution at today’s special Council meeting to enable further discussions with the Province to protect this invaluable greenspace. Allowing the Millcroft Greens development application to proceed without this public declaration is unacceptable. Greenspace does not require studies or reports and this narrative from our elected officials is unacceptable.

Proposed City Resolution
The City of Burlington resolves to protect the Millcroft Golf Course property greenspace and its zoning of Major Parks/Open Space. We commit to working with the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada and community groups to protect this mature tree canopy and green stormwater infrastructure consistent with our Climate Policies.

A significant number of taxpayers have requested that this application be stopped and further expense through an OLT hearing would be shameful.

We trust that our politicians will act responsibly and publicly state their position before the municipal election on this October 24.

It was to be a community built around a golf course – innovative at the time.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who attended the community meeting, responded to the request by the Millcroft Greenspace Alliance for a council resolution that would be sent to the provincial government.

Meed Ward responded with the following

Thank you so much for reaching out on this critically important community issue. We all appreciate the great work, research and insights that the Millcroft Greenspace Alliance and Millcroft Against Bad Development groups have provided to us. Thank you also for engaging the Millcroft community, and beyond, on the issues at stake with the Millcroft Greens application. We’ve all heard from thousands of residents, and that input and lived experience will be very valuable for us once we are in a position to take a position on this matter.

You have asked Burlington City Council to pass a resolution about the Millcroft Greens development application, specifically to adopt a resolution to preserve the golf course prior to the Ontario Lands Tribunal Case Management conference on this matter in November.

Thank you for hosting and leading the Millcroft Greenspace Alliance public meeting last week, which myself and Councillor Stolte had an opportunity to attend to listen to residents, where I first heard of this proposed resolution. As you will recall, I was asked by residents and permitted by you and the organizers to speak and answer their question about the resolution.

I provided the following comments at that meeting but restate them here with some additional information, so you have a written copy. Feel free to share this with any of your members or neighbours who may have similar questions about such a resolution.

Such a resolution would be both ineffective and damaging to the city’s case, and to community interests.

Passing a resolution now would be ineffective, because no resolution from council can legally stop the OLT process that is underway. That hearing will continue, and a decision will be made there. Additionally, current council members cannot bind future councils. Any resolution passed by this council could be undone by a future council. The new council will need to take their own position on this matter and direct staff to defend that position at the OLT.

Passing a resolution now would also be damaging to the city’s case at the Tribunal because the Tribunal doesn’t look kindly on positions that are arrived at without the benefit of completing the full review, in a fair and impartial way to all parties. Such a resolution would be seen as circumventing the review process, and would not be based on any informed reports and recommendations from our own staff, because we don’t have them yet. It would be viewed as a purely political move by incumbents in an election to save their seats.

This is not how we do planning in Burlington. Circumventing the process, giving the Tribunal reason not to support whatever position we do ultimately take, would go against community interests – not help them.

Right now, we are waiting for staff to complete a full review of the application, including all relevant studies and community feedback. That review is not yet complete given the nature of this project on a flood plain and greenspace – which is different from any other project we have received which are usually tear downs/rebuilds of existing buildings, without the same complex issues.

That is why this project has taken longer than others for our staff to properly review, and come to an informed recommendation to bring to council.

Mayor Meed Ward: “We serve the community’s interests best by allowing staff and the independent consultant who reviewed the flood plain studies, to complete their work, and bring a recommendation to council.”

We serve the community’s interests best by allowing staff and the independent consultant who reviewed the flood plain studies, to complete their work, and bring a recommendation to council. This is expected in December or more likely January of 2023. Council will then be in a position to take a well-informed position, backed by expert studies that can be defended at the Tribunal. To short circuit that process for political gain during an election period would hinder the city’s case at the Tribunal, which isn’t in anyone’s best interests.

What I can tell you, though, and what I shared at the meeting, are the principles I hold that will be front and centre in evaluating any recommendation from staff and ultimately the position I will take on this matter. Council does have the prerogative to take a position that is different from the staff recommendation.

These principles include: this is on greenspace (which we need more of in Burlington, not less); it’s on a flood plain which serves as natural storm water management (and our experience in the 2014 flood reminds us how important natural storm water management systems are); the biodiversity of plants/animals on the course; the trees that would be lost, at a time we are trying to increase our tree canopy; and the fact that this isn’t in an identified growth area of the city – we can accommodate our share of growth at GO stations, retail plazas and other strategic areas of the city, without impacting greenspace. I believe many of these issues will be central to the case at the OLT.

Finally, it’s also important to note that the case management conference isn’t the hearing. The case management conference will identify the issues to be discussed (some of which are likely the ones I’ve outlined above), what expert witnesses need to be called, and as a result how long the hearing will need to be. Then a hearing is scheduled. That hearing is unlikely to get into the Tribunal calendar before fall of next year. There is no need to rush this, to our own detriment.

My position on the OLT is that it is an undemocratic, ineffective and inefficient body that should be abolished. I brought a motion to Regional Council in 2019 to eliminate the OLT (then called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) which was unanimously approved, and that remains Regional Council’s position. Read more here: https://mariannemeedward.ca/halton-regional-council-unanimously-supports-resolution-from-burlington-and-halton-hills-mayors-to-eliminate-lpat/

As a delegation at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference, myself and other members of council met with Provincial Attorney General Doug Downey and advocated for reforms of the Tribunal. We will continue to do so.

I have never avoided, nor has anyone on this council, making tough development decisions. Based on the unanimous support for the resolution to abolish the OLT, we all would like the OLT to get out of our way, get out of our democratic process, and let us make these decisions, with full participation by our community and accountability by elected representatives for our decisions. I will stand behind all the decisions I’ve made, and you can see what they are because I tell people how I voted and why in my monthly newsletter, so residents can hold me to account. Decision-making should always rest with local councils, our professional and qualified staff, and the community, for maximum accountability and democracy. I will continue to fight for that and I will continue to be transparent with residents about every vote I cast on every development.

In due course, once our professional staff have completed their review and brought a recommendation forward to council, council will take a position and direct our staff to defend that position at the Ontario Lands Tribunal. The public will be aware of our position, and the rationale behind it. We will follow this process, because it’s the best way to protect community interests, your interests.

Daintry Klein  followed up with


Daintry Klein: Millcroft Greenspace Alliance

Thank you for your response. I am hearing the narrative and I am following the ongoing development outcomes in the City of Burlington.
I am also following what is happening in other municipalities to see how outcomes can be different.

It seems that the City follows the same process over and over again and expects different outcomes. This is frustrating and the residents of Burlington are tired of the “in camera” nature of the decisions. How can we assess the City’s “best” when it is secretive. Trust is now an issue. This Council was elected partly on a promise of transparency.

We cannot afford to lose another City planning decision at the OLT, particularly of such importance to our health and well being, and we are imploring you and the rest of Council to look beyond to find a positive outcome. We are asking that this Council stretch beyond its current perceptions and explore what can be possible rather than continuing to tell us what isn’t.

A previous Council enacted OPA 117 to protect our City and its residents. The current Council appears to be ignoring their responsibility to uphold it. Consideration of future Council decisions does not absolve this Council from responsibility for its (in)actions and decisions.

Our understanding from planning experts is that obtaining a political intervention such as we are looking for here is different from the “technical” process of the planning stream which ends with the OLT. A delay by this Council of making a public declaration precludes the political process of the Province assisting with a solution. We have proposed a possible solution to our MPP but she is unable to help without the City’s initiative. With the pending election and interruption of Council’s cycle of business it is more critical than ever that Council proceed with a resolution ahead of the pending OLT hearings. We have little to lose given the City’s record at the OLT.

The Millcroft Property is different from other areas which are zoned for development. It is becoming clearer by the day that the tree canopy as well as the benefits of the grass, “green infrastructure” cannot continue to be hacked and slashed. Replacement small saplings that may or may not survive, and hardened surfaces that cause further problems for climate change will have an exponentially negative impact on our City. No studies change the nature of greenspace.

Lastly, the engineering studies completed in the 1980s were definitive that this greenspace should never be built on. There should be nothing new that would lessen that impact given climate change and the severity of the weather. While the updated mapping is important, we will be reviewing the parameters closely as very recent experience is challenging the previous thinking on the 100 year storm. New precedents are looking at 200 year storm events. In addition, the parameters of studying the downstream impacts are critically important. Our City has substantial drainage and flooding issues which are the responsibility of Council and the City.

The site has a story book setting and w storm water management program that works very well. The addition of 98 new homes would change the balance and put everything at risk.

To be clear, passing a resolution could enable a possible alternative positive outcome without the costs and risks of the OLT. There is no indication that the OLT will change so that is not a concern to this file.

Daintry Klein

Council met on Tuesday and did not pass a resolution.  The matter wasn’t even on the agenda.

Related news feature

It is a big story – a community could be destroyed


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By Anne Marsden

October 3rd, 2022



Click  Let’s End the MMW Era   

December 19, 2016 will be a Council meeting my husband Dave and I will never forget for two reasons.

1. The misrepresentation in the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee Minutes of what really happened at the Audit Committee regarding an audit of the 2014 Election Nomination Papers, was approved by all Council members regardless of having an understanding that the minutes were incorrect.

2. A without notice removal of the definitions of accountability and transparency from the 2014 Procedure By-laws proposed by a group that included Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and a representative of the Clerk’s Office, was unanimously approved by Council.

It took five months for the definitions referenced in paragraph 2 above to form the core of an approved corporate policy covering the accountability and transparency definitions that Council unanimously removed from the Procedure. By-law.

Fast forward to the opening of nominations for the 2022 election when we heard commitments by at least one candidate and multiple members of the electorate, to end the MMW (Mayor My Way) era 2010-2022. The Burlington DownTowners in particular announced in the comments section of the Burlington Gazette, this election for the first time Anne Marsden had their vote for Mayor and offered to put up her signs if available.

After 2022 nominations opened, a better way of communicating by the City through the website was announced and implemented without any warning. The new website had huge gaps in information including committee and council webcasts and minutes of the December 14, 2016 Audit Committee and December 19, 2016 Council meeting. Further, the 2018 financial reports of incumbent members of council all running for re-election were missing.

Lisa Kearns the Marsdens Ward 2 councillor refused to address this sudden dearth of information that affected voters becoming fully informed. She claimed it was a Clerk/Marsden issue and announced to numerous email recipients that she had withdrawn from the email conversation on this matter. Strange as it seems what was not missing was the Corporate Policies which is not something the electorate would normally be checking for to determine who would get their vote.

A cursory review showed a dejavue situation the Marsdens had addressed with Council in the past. “Many corporate policies had passed their due date for review some of them expiring years earlier.”

The 2022 posted Corporate policies identifies the Council Code of Conduct was scheduled for review in October 2022 – a time known, when the date was set, that Council would not be meeting. Although requested in the past no-one has volunteered the information as to what it means when review dates of corporate policies have expired, or what the liability is attached to such expiration.

We all know however, what is behind these expiries – sheer incompetence and lack of accountability. This incompetence in my professional career world would have resulted in an immediate removal of this responsibility from my job description and a much lower salary for me to take home, at the very least.

The biggest shocker to the Marsdens, however, post nominations opening was the Review Date on the Corporate Policy headed ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY. The date was April, 2022 and the person responsible? “The City Clerk”! If the Burlington City Clerks over the past decade, two of them, have been unable to handle a simple follow up file to keep a check on such review dates, what can we expect from someone who is responsible for all the policies, legislative requirements etc. that are a part of oversight of a municipal election. An election that gives the winners the right to decide how they spend a $287 million operating budget. Further, how we undertake our responsibilities to all those we serve who put the money in the city’s budget accounts. Let’s also not forget the Clerk is responsible for the Burlington tender process and accurately recording Committee and Council meetings.

The Council approved definitions of accountability and transparency removed from the 2014 Procedure By-law state:

1.1 “Accountability” means the principle that the City of Burlington will be responsible to its stakeholders for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions.

1.38 “Transparency” means the principle that the City of Burlington actively encourages and fosters stakeholder participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the City of Burlington’s decision making process is open and clear to the public.

My September 28, 2022 Gazette opinion piece advises my first priority is a full and thorough review of the Procedure By-law. These definitions that should never have been removed will go back into the Procedure By-law through this review with I am sure, a unanimous vote by the elected council. This will then ensure regardless of corporate policy expiry dates that these two definitions are respected as they must be.

The definitions that the MMW (Mayor My Way) era council saw fit to remove from their reference handbook that should be considered their “bible” is now, as far as anyone knows, not a legitimate part of City of Burlington corporate policies.

No wonder those we talk to on the campaign trail have the highest discontent rate Dave and I have ever heard beginning 1997. The discontent is related to lack of: integrity, accountability, transparency, public engagement, public safety, accessibility and much more! October 11 – October 24 we all have an opportunity to state at the ballot box the MMW era must come an end.

Anne Marsden is a candidate for the Office of Mayor

Content paid for by the Committee to elect Anne Marsden Mayor Burlington

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