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

By Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

BURLINGTON, ON

“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

Marianne

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.

Regards,
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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HOW COULD BURLINGTON COUNCIL ALLOW SUCH INCOMPETENCE?

By Anne Marsden

October 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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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Water Festival returned to Kelso for the grade 5 students - it was a virtual event for grades two students.

By Staff

October 3, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While the new normal has a few iffy spots to it – the closing of two sections of the Joseph Brant Hospital where Covid19 outbreaks were declared – the Region is slowly finding its way to whatever normal is going to be as we head into that time of year where we spend more time indoors.

Conservation Halton decided it was possible for the Halton Children’s Water Festival to return to Kelso Conservation Area and welcome back over 800 students this year for an in-person program focused on protecting water in our community.

This is the fifteenth year for the festival which has educated over 50,000 elementary school students with the support of over 6,000 high school students over the years.

The objective was to step though each of the tires and keep whatever was in the bucket – in the bucket.

“Today, I’ve learned about water and the correct bins the garbage goes in,” said James, a Grade 5 student from St. Anne Elementary School, Burlington. “Right now, we’re playing a game and it’s really fun!”

The festival offered the Grade 5 students curriculum-linked environmental education programming, over three days, that gave students the opportunity to learn about water and society, water conservation and protection, water health and safety and water science and technology. Fun, themed learning activity centres such as Waterfront Quest, Garbage Juice, What’s That?, the Great pH Challenge and Beneficial Bugs allowed for hands-on learning outdoors where students could enjoy the views of Kelso Reservoir on one side and the Niagara Escarpment on the other.

“The water festival gives our students the opportunity to be stewards of the earth by investigating and participating in real-life, hands-on activities that are designed and lead with the Ontario Science and Technology expectations,” said Clare Slaven, Grade 5 teacher, St. Timothy’s Catholic Elementary School, Burlington. “It is a wonderful fun-filled day where we can  show what we value and celebrate in Halton and the environment.”

The grade 5 students were kept busy – learning how their environment works and the role water plays in everything they do.

A virtual Water Festival Program will continue again this year. Since launching in April 2022  more than 1,600 students have participated in the online field trips.

The Halton Children’s Water Festival is presented by Conservation Halton and Halton Region in partnership with Halton District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board and Conservation Halton Foundation, with the support of the Town of Oakville, Geo Morphix, City of Burlington and the Town of Halton Hills.

Conservation Halton is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores, and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land use planners, engineers, foresters and educators, along with a network of volunteers, who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science-based programs and services. Learn more at conservationhalton.ca.

 

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Guy D'Alesio: liked city hall when he applied to replace Mike Wallace in 2006 - has decided he wants to move in - running in ward 5

By Pepper Parr

September 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Running for public office in these times means a web site, a social media presence, some money that isn’t already committed to something else, a couple of good pairs of shoes and the ability to go from door to door and convince people you have their best interests at heart and you know enough to be able to make wise decisions about a sector that you know relatively little about.
During our interview with Guy D’Alesio, a department head with the Halton District School Board, who has committed to resigning as a teacher at the end of December we learned two things:

Guy D’Alesio: Don’t tell me no – tell me why.

This man can get quite emotional about some things – students and the unmet needs they have and a statement he said he uses often: Don’t tell me no – tell me why.

He sees his strength as his ability to pull a group together and achieve an objective. Talking it through until the objective is clear and everyone is on board.

He wants to see more of the cultural events spread out through the city – asking does everything have to be downtown. He wants at least a part of the major events held in the northern, eastern and western parts of the city.

How he gets Sound of Music out of Spencer Smith Park is something many people want to hear about – Rib Fest has the same problem.

Transit – he likes what Uber can offer to resolving at least some of the getting around the city issues.

D’Alesio is a big supporter of the redevelopment of the Skyway arena but didn’t have a solution on how the $39 million undertaking is going to be met. He sees the walking track that will be part of the new structure is a must. Other than ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte who voted against spending every member of Council saw this as something the city was going to do.

D’Alesio sees Burlington as two cities – north and south of the QEW – few would disagree with him – but no one has put forward much in the way of viable solutions.

He leaves people with the impression that he has a solution but there wasn’t much of it put on the table during the extensive interview other than new solutions.

When Mike Wallace gave up his council seat to run for federal office Council decided to interview people to replace Wallace for the balance of the term of office.  D’Alesio was interviewed by Rob MacIssacc. Guy appeared to like the look of city some time ago.

The D’Alesio family came out of Hamilton where his parents ran a grocery store. He has lived in the east end of the city for more than 32 years and claims that the worst traffic jams are in the Burloak area; he might get some argument from fellow citizens on that.

Ward 5 boundaries

After high school (Assumption and Aldershot HS) Guy D’Alesio attended Ryerson where he studied Mechanical Engineering, decided that was not a sector he wanted to work in  and enrolled at the  University of Guelph where his focus was on philosophy and history.  He then attended Brock University where he earned his Teaching certificate.

D’Alesio was in no rush to file nomination papers. He was one of three people who showed up on the list of candidates on the day nominations closed. He had made the appoint back in July but was away for much of August.

The team that is going to get him elected is made up of family, friends and people from his football past. He was always involved in school sports events as a teacher
There are three children in the family: a girl and two boys.

Still an employee of the school Board, D’Alesio will need to take quite a bit of time off, should he be elected,  if he is to take part in the orientation meetings that will begin the minute he is sworn in – some of the orientation will take place before that date.

Guy D’Alesio is one of three candidates running against incumbent Paul Sharman.   Andrew Hall, one of the three, is a former student of D’Alesio.

 

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Province spending millions on upgrades of surveillance equipment

By Staff

September 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Some people have a problem with a surveillance society – where almost every intersection in cities has camera posted that are monitored 24/7.

The technology is now at a point where anything anywhere can be under surveillance. Does it every get abused – Sometimes.

Ontario Investing in Video Surveillance Systems and funding for new equipment and improved technology that will enhance police efforts to prevent crime, especially gun and gang violence.

The moment police mention gun and gang violence – the public all too often says – how much do you need?

The Ontario government is investing almost $1.8 million to help 20 police services across the province expand video surveillance systems and better protect communities from the threat of gun and gang violence.

The Region of Halton isn’t getting any of that money – it already has some of the most sophisticated technology – but they don’t appear to be making much use of street level cameras (CCTV)

The funding is being delivered through the Ontario Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Grant Program and will be used to replace outdated equipment, expand or enhance current technology, and install new or additional CCTV surveillance cameras in areas where gun and gang violence and correlated crimes, such as drug and human trafficking, are most prevalent.

“Our government is determined to provide police services with the tools and resources they need to keep Ontarians safe,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “CCTV surveillance systems are an important part of local police work to detect, prevent and deter criminal activity, especially in areas of gun and gang violence and other serious crimes. This funding will help police services strengthen CCTV capacity and improve crime prevention efforts to better protect communities.”

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City Hall: the Evolution of the Organization

By Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The general public knew very little about Tim Commisso when he returned to city hall as City Manager after retiring from the same job in Thunder Bay and spending a bit of time in the private sector.

One of the tasks he has as city manager is ensuring that the organizational structure is such that the needs of the city are met with the organization he creates.

That structure is something that evolves. In the past two years the staff compliment has ballooned – the Planning department is close to double what it was when this term of Council was elected.

We had a situation this past week when four Statutory meetings took place on the same day.

The Executive Director Sheila Jones was tasked with putting together the structure that will serve the city for at least a decade.

The size of the organization grew and the relationships between the different parts are set out so that staff understands the reporting structure.

Commisso found that he had to reduce the number of direct reports and created a series of Executive Directors that took much of the interaction with department directors off his desk.

This is what is in place now and what the city manager wants to add to the organizational structure.

Commisso is supported by some very talented people who created the outline and presented the charts that are set out below.

This is the core of the administration that has been endorsed by city council and will be put in place going forward.

He did say that he had know idea how Sheila Jones created the charts and left it at that.

Customer relations is getting much more attention – that doesn’t seem to have made any different to the level of citizen engagement.

 

 

With everything being digitized – the Information Technology department had to begin shifting its focus and bringing indifferent levels of expertise; cyber security being one.

Oddly – except for ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns and to a lesser degree Paul Sharman had much to say.

In his opening remarks Commisso put it this way: This is a report about “finalizing are putting in place a further sort of evolution of our organizational design, which Council would have gotten a peek at somewhat back in 2019. When we moved to what essentially is a bit of a hybrid structure.

So, with that, actually, I would like to say that organizational design really serves multiple purposes but it definitely is the foundation for accountability in the organization from Council down to the you know, the employees; I use health and safety as the best example The city and council is ultimately accountable for health and safety under provincial law, but it really transcends back down to every employee. It is important said Commisso “to have the organizational design, replicate and as much as possible aligned with your business processes; that is really the key in some respects.”

Endorsed – there will be major changes in the level of bylaw enforcement staff

 

 

Endorsed by Council – expected to be a view of what the administration will look like in a decade

Executive Director Sheila Jones explained that what started in 2019 with evolving the organization continues today with what we call designing and evolving our organization. Because evolution is just that it’s adapting and changing to the environment in which we find ourselves and so this report highlights the changes we believe are necessary in three areas.

“The first area is to evolve our focus on our residents experiences and engagement. And we see that there are synergies in bringing together the areas of corporate experience, corporate communication and engagement and the office of the city clerk as a service group with the title of customer relations and engagement. We can see how residents connecting with the city whether it is just for information or it’s to conduct a transaction to provide their input to participate in an advisory committee or interact with you committee and council.

“Our residents will benefit from an enhanced collaboration and integration of the services provided through these three departments under the leadership of an Executive Director Community Relations and engagement and this is simply fulfilling what was identified back in 2019 when Tim first proposed the organizational structure for an evolving organization.

“The second area is to evolve our Information Technology Service to build out the id to Burlington Digital services. Our world and our work have become more digital. We saw this even more so throughout the pandemic when we were forced apart yet we still had to be connected. And knowing this we understand digital is more than just information technology. Digital transformation involves delivering better outcomes enabled by technology and the use of data to support the core mission of the city. It means to genuinely transform and redesign services and citizen experiences. So this transformation is key for the city to harness the best of technology today and in the future.

“The third area is to evolve our bylaws service by housing it with Building and Bylaws as a department of its own. This proposed change raises the profile of the services needed to offer enhanced community protection through a different service model, be it in Animal Services, bylaw, law, compliance and enforcement and in business licensing. The outcome is to have a proactive measures through services aligned with our city’s customer experience strategy. Evolution is change and it’s imperative to not only survive, but to thrive. And so we are welcoming of committee’s questions and comments about this report before you.

“We’re able to do the change relative to the new Executive Director for Community Relations and Engagement based on the redeployment of an existing complement. There’s would be no budget impact.”

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna asked “when we talked about budget, there’s going to be a presentation so we will just receive and file this one.

What will it show? Improvements? efficiencies in revenue producing in the bylaw when you’re talking about being active and proactive. In terms of the bylaws and licenses that means we’re going to get more people more boots on the ground. Getting more licenses for $500 or whatever. More dogs off leash fines as you know with more boots in the ground. Will that be part of the budget in terms of an increase?

It was explained to the Councillor that there are no budget impact from this report and there won’t be any budget increase.

With respect to the information coming forward, you will be receiving two reports in December one with respect to bylaw enforcement and that will give you an overview about what we anticipate that new department to look like for your consideration in the budget and when we bring forward the budget, we will be bringing forward the business case to support that. That business case would include not only the dollars and the funding required to put those boots on the ground as you refer to them, but it will also be inclusive of those resources that are required in the corporate support services. Because every time we hire an individual, it’s not just the boots on the ground. We do need to support those folks with in some respects the back office. You can anticipate in that business case we’ll be identifying what the outcomes are and what are we anticipating that we should be getting for this service enhancement for which there will likely will have to fund it in some way.

That’s likely a tax increase or a tax part of our tax base. So you will be seeing that information coming forward.

When you look at possible enhancements like this, you’re investing in a in a future model of proactive and that ranges from compliance, licensing, ensuring that all license holders do have the proper licenses in place, looking at antiquated bylaws and make sure they meet today’s regulations, today’s requirements, and today’s community’s needs.

Mayor Meed Ward commented that “It’s a monumental undertaking to review an entire organization and see how we can structure ourselves to deliver and you’ve done that really well. I’m looking forward to seeing how it actually translates into better customer service because that’s what we do this for.”

Executive Director Sheila Jones.

Jones said: “ I think it’s very important that we’re presenting this type of information in a public forum. This is really our greatest asset and largest expenditure in our budget sometimes, which is our human capital. This is truly what let our city run. And I think it was really amazing to see slide two of the PowerPoint presentation which puts the center of what we do and why we do it right there in the middle. Parent, resident customer, neighbor, Senior Community client, renter business owner, the list goes on. So when we see what that wraparound support looks like from the current and future state, we know that we’re anchored and delivering that service to those groups. This was no easy feat. It reminds me a little bit of the spaghetti looking bus routes at the beginning of this term, and now they’re all linear and beautiful. And it reminds me of the mishmash of the organizational chart that we started with resulting in far too many reports to city manager.

Commisso ended the conversation with the comment: “I just want to credit Sheila for finding those charts and I’m not sure where she got them.

With no more comments coming forward they called the vote: It carried.

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Some of the strongest wording so far in a delegation on the coyote problem.

By Stephen White

September 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Stephen White, co-author of the Burlington Oakville Coyote Management report that was given to the City Manager some time ago delegated to council this morning.  He did not mince his words.

I want to begin my remarks this morning by thanking the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk & Accountability Committee for the opportunity to delegate on the proposed Coyote Response Strategy Escalation Protocols.

Stephen White

My name is Stephen White and I have been a Ward 5 Burlington resident for 47 years. Prior to 2014 I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I saw a coyote. The only time most of us saw one was if we were down in Bromley Creek and saw one in the distance. Interactions were infrequent.

I had my first coyote interaction in November 2014. I assure you it was not a moment from a Disney movie. I was walking my dog at the time, an older Collie, at 5:30 a.m. on my street. Three coyotes sixty feet away approached me from around a corner, saw us, and got within twenty feet. The Alpha male approached us from the front, and the two smaller pack animals approached from each side. As I turned to the one at the side the other one advanced in a widening arch. Had it not been for the intervention of a delivery driver for the Hamilton Spectator who drove his car up on the sidewalk blocking their advance, my experience may not have been limited to a frightening encounter.

I have been actively involved in this issue since early 2015. I delegated at Council 7 years ago almost to the day on this topic. At the time, I stood in these Council Chambers, and I said the City’s coyote management program was ineffective and piecemeal.

I questioned why there wasn’t consideration of other control measures other than restricting feeding and reporting coyote sightings on websites.

I mentioned that the City needed to be more proactive and involved in eliminating threats from wildlife. I said, to the chagrin of Councillor Craven at the time, that if something more definitive wasn’t done that some Burlington residents were going to be attacked or seriously hurt. I take no great pleasure or pride in saying “I told you so”.

In June of 2017 at a public meeting on coyotes attended by over 200 Burlington residents at Mainway Arena, I and other speakers again delivered the message that this City needed to get actively involved in controlling the coyote problem. Once again, our message landed on deaf ears. In September 2020 I watched in horror one morning as my next-door neighbour’s 12-year old cat was ambushed and shredded by three coyotes. My neighbour was so traumatized by this event she was off work for weeks and had to seek medical care. In one week in my neighbourhood seven cats went missing. One member of BOCM living in Ward 4 had a coyote scale the fence in their backyard and attack their small dog, resulting in a severally injured family pet and several thousand dollars in emergency vet bills.

My fellow BOCM co-founder, Julie Martin, has met with multiple residents, and documented several cases in her West Oakville neighbourhood of coyote attacks and stalking. In early 2021, she started an online petition on Change.org calling for Oakville and Burlington to adopt a more focused, specific plan to control coyotes which received over 700 signatories.

In March 2021 following yet another frustrating teleconference on the issue of coyote management replete with no definitive action plans, no comprehensive strategy, and where Julie, who actually instigated this meeting, was not even extended the courtesy of presenting or delegating, both of us reached our limit. We decided to create Burlington and Oakville Coyote Management, or BOCM. Over the course of 2021 our group met weekly, and the culmination of our work is the Report that is an Appendix. It contains eleven specific recommendations that are intended to protect residents and their pets. These recommendations were predicated on a multi-faceted approach that encompasses Analysis, Education, Prevention and Protection. Underlying these recommendations is our belief that in order to combat this problem an integrated, multi-faceted approach is needed in conjunction with the Town of Oakville.

At the heart of BOCM’s recommendations is our belief that public safety is paramount. Every resident in Burlington and Oakville has the right, and expectation, to be able to walk down their street at 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., and know that they are safe. They should not have to carry sticks, pepper spray, stones, whistles, alarms, or any other personal protection devices, to protect themselves, their children, or their pets.

Julie and I, as well as members of BOCM, have read the proposed Coyote Response Escalation Strategy. We wholeheartedly support the measures embodied in this Report, and we are pleased to lend our endorsement. In doing so, I also want to thank City Manager Commisso, the Mayor, and Councillor Stolte for their tacit support of our efforts to raise awareness. I especially want to acknowledge, with sincere thanks, the support of Councillor Paul Sharman who has patiently endured my incessant pleadings for the City to get involved and do more, and whose steadfast encouragement of BOCM’s efforts over the past few months is genuinely appreciated.

That being said, let me be blunt: BOCM believes that it has taken this City way too long to respond effectively to this problem. The City’s previously passive, non-interventionist approach to coyote management which implies that reporting coyote sightings on websites, refraining from feeding animals, and essentially, learning to live with it, are somehow sufficient remedies. As the events of the last few weeks have clearly shown, they aren’t.

Simply, this reliance upon simplistic solutions has been ineffectual, naïve and short-sighted. The focus needs to be public safety, not coyote rights.

This approach has placed an inordinate onus on individual citizens, with far too little support, direction and engagement from the City. Cheery bromides such as “living in harmony with nature”, and “don’t feed the coyotes” are cold comfort to residents who feel unsafe walking down the street for fear of being attacked. The last time I checked, coyotes don’t pay taxes, they don’t vote, and they also aren’t on the hook paying thousands of dollars in vet bills for injured pets.

The recent attacks on several residents and children should serve as a clarion call to everyone concerned about public safety. Finally, to those who may say this is an over-reach, or unnecessary, let me respectfully suggest some of the probable consequences of not adopting the measures contained in this Report. If the current situation continues unchecked, my prediction is that one of, or a combination of, four things will happen in future:

1. A resident is going to be seriously attacked, or God forbid, killed.
2. The City is going to be on the receiving end of a massive lawsuit for damages from the individual or family of the person severely attacked.
3. There will be a public outcry that will make the recent publicity around coyote attacks pale in comparison. and
4. In the absence of clear and compelling direction from the City citizens will intervene and take the law into their own hands. They will l lay traps, or they will put down poison. When traumatized, untrained and alarmed people do things in a spirit of irrationality and anger bad things happen, and often, innocent by-standers are negatively impacted. And lest you think I am being alarmist, I’ve had it confirmed from one of my neighbours this is exactly what is going on in one Niagara Region subdivision.

In summary, BOCM believes this Report is responsible, balanced, and goes a long way to addressing a long-standing and serious safety risk in this community, and we urge Council’s adoption in its entirety of this Report.

Thank you.

 

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'Honour the Sacrifices'

By Anne Marsden

September 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Anne Marsden has had articles and a paper published at the International, National and local levels. These publications include sports reporting. a paper for an International Conference on Mental Health and the Law based on Halton Long Term Care and a newspaper column that discussed disability issues.

My municipal campaigns since 1997 have always included reference to the very poor municipal election turnout. My 2022 campaign to be Burlington’s Mayor and Chief Executive Officer is no different. Every family has a story of the sacrificial giving of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or grandparents. My husband Dave and I have never believed that simply recognizing this sacrificial giving on Remembrance Day is enough if, we are to teach this present generation what “Lest We Forget” actually means.

Sacrificial giving, has affected families for a full generation and more. In my family it affected two generations. The inability to just “suck it up” that was expected from those who returned to civilian life and those who had fought the battle on the home front, was often deemed mental illness that was genetic, as it was for my mom, with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia that lived with her until she passed April 9, 2006.

Mom was just 19 years old when dad left her and my brother, just a baby at the time “to go to war”. My father was a medic and anyone who has seen actual footage of the carnage he had to deal with knows what horrific memories it left him with. Mom lived in a high bombing area and worked at the ship yard during the day, which was bombed. She spent most of the war sleeping in the shelter at the bottom of the garden. There were no phone calls or leaves during that long six years, only letters that spoke of undying love. Their marriage ended in divorce when I was very young. Dad was told mom needed the divorce for a fresh start that would hopefully heal her memories. It never did despite the more than one hundred shock and coma treatments, that autopsy showed left her brain scarred, and finally drugs with horrible side effects.

Harold Stevens

Eva Bourgoin

One anonymous soldier’s words set out in a poem called “Memories” have never been forgotten. They illustrate why he could no longer walk in the woods as stepping on a twig created a noise that took him back in time. To ensure the frozen bodies he had to bury would fit a small grave, he had to force their legs together and the snapping noise haunted him forever. His words constantly remind me of how grateful we all need to be to all those who not only gave the ultimate sacrifice; but also for those who came back with their horrific memories/missing limbs/and shell shock from any war we as Canadians are part of.

God! How I hate the sound
A dead branch makes
When stepped upon

Even
The snapping of a stick of celery
Chills my spine
Calls up old memories
Makes the hairs
On the nape of my neck
Erectile!

So what has this to do with a Burlington 2022 municipal election? Most reading this know the answer. The sacrificial giving as described above is demeaned by poor turnouts at any election in any country in the world that claims to have democratically elected governments in place nationally, provincially or locally.

What can we as individual families do about it? We can decide that we will do our very best to do the research we need to do to cast fully informed votes rather than just vote for the incumbent or another name we know as they are a member of a social group we attend.

Talk the fact that we have an election October 24, 2022 up with family, friends and neighbours and encourage them to vote. Participate in the Honour the Sacrifices sign blitz I am proposing as my effort to bring up the numbers casting informed votes. While I would prefer no candidates’ names appear on each family sign just encouragement to Honour the Sacrifices and vote on or before October 24, 2022, everyone is free to design the sign they think will Honour the Sacrifices.

EASTER 1991 THE MARSDEN FAMILY MOTIVATED THE BURLINGTON AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITY TO FILL THE FOOD BANKS FOR EASTER AFTER JOHN TUCK SCHOOL ALERTED THEM TO THE EMPTY SHELVES IN LOCAL FOOD BANKS. . WITH THE SUPPORT OF LOCAL MEDIA AND SCHOOL BOARDS THEY RAISED OVER $1,000 TO BUY WHAT WAS NEEDED TO SUPPORT DONATED FOOD. THE EMPTY SHELVES OF THE SALVATION ARMY, COMMUNITY UNITY, BURLINGTON EAST EMERGENCY FUND AND OAKVILLE FAIR SHARE WERE FILLED. IT TRIGGERED LOCAL POLITICIANS, THE BURLINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT AND OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND THE NEED AND MEET IT ON AN ONGOING BASIS. THE MARSDEN FAMILY HAVE FOUND ANOTHER CAUSE TO BRING TO THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION, THE LUDICROUS LOW TURNOUTS AT MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS. THEY BEGAN ADDRESSING THIS IN I997 WHEN THE TURNOUT WAS 17%. THERE HAS BEEN SOME IMPROVEMENT BUT IT IS STILL FAR TOO LOW. THE MARSDEN FAMILY ARE ASKING THE COMMUNITY TO BRING ATTENTION TO THE NEED TO “HONOUR THE SACRIFICES” AND CAST VOTES IN THE OCTOBER 24, 2022 ELECTION. CREATE YOUR SIGN TAKE A PHOTO AND EMAIL IT TO anneandave@gmail.com AND LET US KNOW IS IT GOING TO BE A GARDEN SIGN, A CAR SIGN OR A T-SHIRT LOGO.. EVERY EMAIL WE RECEIVE WILL BE PUT IN A DRAW FOR FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT TREATS. WE KNOW WE CAN RAISE THE PARTICIPATION LEVEL – THE COMMUNITY FILLED THE EMPTY SHELVES IN 1991 IT CAN INCREASE THE VOTE TO A RESPECTABLE LEVEL IN 2022. WHILE THE MARSDEN FAMILY HAVE A GREAT ARTIST IN THEIR MIDST, USE OF PHOTOS, ETC. OR WHATEVER A FAMILY MAY UTILIZE TO GET THEIR MESSAGE ACROSS IS ACCEPTABLE.

Everyone who sends a photo of the sign in place in their garden or as a magnetic sign on their car or posted on their car window will be entered into a draw for several family entertainment treats. Hopefully this can happen at the Friday Fish and Chip Night at the Legion with a veteran making the draw before the election. Send the photos of your sign in place to anneandave@gmail.com. Your email will be your ticket in the draw. Print shops can laminate your sign to protect from the weather.

I was told a pack of cigarettes was the price dad paid for a drawing of mom by a German prisoner of war. He drew it from a photograph mom sent. The first time I saw the drawing, long after their divorce and folded up with the crease lines wearing a hole in the bottom right corner, I pictured Dad in my mind’s eye soaking in every feature of mam’s beautiful face. Re-energized he would fold the picture up and put it in his uniform’s top pocket close to his heart and then get back to his difficult work as an army medic, dreaming of when his darling Eva would be back in his arms.

September 7, 1945 our family was complete with my birth. The words of the Dame Vera Lynn song mom sang so beautifully every day of her life are carved into my brain, the same as Jim Menken carved the veteran in my “Honour the Sacrifices Gazette Block Ad” into a dead tree, never to be forgotten “There will be joy and laughter and peace forever after, tomorrow when the world is free.”

Anne Marsden during a contemplative moment in front of the Cenotaph at Veteran Square

Paid for by the Anne Marsden election campaign

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Coyote report from the city manager has a number of Staff Directions that Council will be asked to approve

By Staff

September 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The coyote report is out.

It is a 16 page document with a number of appendices.

The Directions council is being asked to approve on the 14th are as follows:

Receive city manager’s office report CM-26-22 – City of Burlington Coyote Response Strategy update and, with regard to the City’s immediate response to the recent serious coyote attacks on Burlington residents, endorse the actions taken by staff under established authority as outlined in the report at an estimated 2022 one-time cost of
$22,850; and

Approve the single source of a Certified Wildlife Professional (CWP) and authorize the Manager of Procurement Services to sign a multi-year agreement with the CWP for the remainder of 2022 and the duration of 2023, with the option to renew for three (3) additional one (1) year terms; and

Direct the Director of Building and By-law to proceed immediately with the design and implementation of a new two-year Coyote Action and Awareness Program specifically directed at delivering enhanced coyote response services based on the program scope outlined in city manager’s office report CM-26-22; and

Direct the Chief Financial Officer to report back to City Council directly on September 20, 2022 with options and recommendations for funding the new Coyote Action and Awareness Program; and

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility to report back in Q1 2023 in conjunction with City Council’s 2023 budget consideration on the

establishment of the proposed new By-Law Compliance Department (as recommended in companion report CM-24-22 in this agenda) inclusive of an enhanced coyote response model as part of the Animal Services function; and

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, following the hiring of a new Director of By-law Compliance, to undertake a full review and update of the current City of Burlington Animal Services By-law (By-law 60-2005) and Coyote Response Strategy by Q4 2023; and

Direct the City Manager, with respect to the February 2022 report, specifically the recommendations of the community association – Burlington & Oakville Coyote Management (BOCM) as outlined in Appendix B of city manager’s office report CM-26- 22, to proceed with the implementation of the staff recommendations and next steps and report back on the status in Q1 2023; and

Direct the City Manager to initiate meetings, as required, with the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town of Oakville and senior staff of both Burlington and Oakville to develop and implement a coordinated workplan related to both the BOCM recommendations as well as other City/Town coyote response initiatives including, but not limited to, joint procurement of external professional wildlife management services, joint coyote related data collection, research and analysis and public educational and awareness programs and possible mutual coyote response service agreements; and

Direct the City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to include for consideration in the 2023 proposed budget the recommended resources to fully address all of the above noted service delivery requirements for an enhanced coyote action and awareness program.

For reasons that are not yet clear, and probably never will be, there hasn’t been a report sent to the community at large.  The material above is a report the City Manager presents to Council.

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Engagement has become malodorous - city hall doing stinky stinky

By Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

It would appear that City Manager Tim Commisso and citizen Stephen White have different views on professional courtesies.

White was told that the Staff Report going to Council for the September 14th meeting of the CSSRA – Corporate Service, Strategy, Risk and Accountability would include his report as an Addendum and that if he wanted to delegate he would have to register.

Note something that happens in polite households – and if Burlington is anything – it is polite

He adds that “ If they sit on it until the 14th, and don’t release it before, then in fairness they should have advised Julie and I as a professional courtesy.”

So far the promised report has not been seen by anyone we know.

The city certainly has its own definition of “engagement” – something you talk about when it is to your advantage but neglect when it has an odour that isn’t going to pass the smell test.

This is not what the bulk of the people in Burlington think their city is about.

Some people at city hall need to change their diaper.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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There is a must attend set of meetings coming up next week - if a Candidate shows up at your door - ask why they aren't in the 'classroom'

By Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are 24 people running for seats on Council. That includes Walter Tuck about whom we know nothing

Lisa Kearns ward 4 Councillor once took part in a meeting while driving her children home from school – THAT is multi-tasking.

Few have any real idea as to what they are getting themselves into. The five people who were new to council in December of 2018 must have felt they were thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool without a life jacket when they began sitting at meetings.

In looking back at their individual performances there is a lot to learn – something we will dig into as we work our way towards election day.

Next week there is an opportunity for the 19 people people running for council seats for the first time to get a first hand look at what they are getting into.

City Council makes the policy decisions and decides if they like and want what they see in a Staff report. The actual decision gets made at those Council meetings when the Mayor is in the Chair.

Councillor Sharman loves Council meetings – that is his playing field – the place where he can show off, have fun and get cranky – all within the same meeting.

The work, the debate and the discussion involving members of council and staff along with outside consultants who have been brought in is where the rubber hits the road. These are the Standing Committees that Council, with significant Staff and City Manager input created: the Chairs of these Standings Committees are determined by Council and they change every year.

This is where you get to see what individual council members have in the way of strengths and skills sets.

When they show up at your door – ask them – did you attend the Standing Committee meetings – and then ask what they learned.

Councillor Stolte has perhaps the best attendance record – she may have missed two meetings. She chose to attend those meetings for which she wasn’t paid.

The four Standing Committees that will meet next week are:

On the 12th – the Audit Standing Committee meets. This is the one Committee that does not have a council member as chair; it also has to citizen members. It audits – anything it wants to audit. The city auditor takes direction from the committee members. There are some audit functions that are mandated.
’s role it to look at number and determine if the

On the 13th, CPRM, the Community Planning, Regulation & Mobility Committee meets. Statutory Public Meetings are part of what this meeting covers.

On the 14th CSSRA: Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee meets. This is the committee that handles the budget meetings.

Councillor Galbraith would prefer to work from home all the time – but he attends council meetings most of the time.

And on the 15th EICS, the Environment, Infrastructure & Community Services Committee meets.

Councillor Nisan has worked from his home since the beginning of the pandemic

Traditionally the meetings start at 9:30, the br4eak for a one hour lunch and run until 4 pm. If the agenda is full the resume at 6:30 and run until 10 – they can add a half hour if they wish.

Those full day meetings are not the exception – it all depends on the agenda – Planning and the Budget take up a lot of the oxygen.

If any of the candidates running for the first time doesn’t log into these meetings – you know for sure that they are going to be lousy councillors if they are elected.

These are the seven people who want to be re-elected. every seat is at risk: some much more so than others.

 

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Are we about to get another round of election based robo calls ?

By Pepper |Parr

September 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Do you remember those robo calls the last time we went to the polls municipally?

They were quite nasty and resulted in criminal complaints being made, an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police and charges laid that were for the most part dropped.

The Mayor was sued, and we believe that matter is still before the Courts – the city hall communications people don’t put out media releases on that matter.

Marianne Meed Ward accepting applause from her supporters the night she knew she was going to be sworn in as Mayor

What we do know is that the Mayor has in the recent past declared a conflict of interest when discussions, held in closed session, about just how much the legal department is spending.

We might be about to get another round of robo calls if a message sent out to the candidates is any indicator.

One candidate sent us the following:

As you are well aware, yesterday- September 1st was the first day that Voters’ Lists were made available to all municipal candidates. If you picked up your voters’ list, you would have noticed that telephone numbers were not included. This is where we can help. You can order a match and append of all phone numbers from various directories to your voters’ list.
Please inquire today on pricing for our match and append telephone directory service to the Voters’ List.

I can be reached at 416-816-0443 or via email — ferd@bellwethertechnologies.ca

One candidate asks:

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon – candidate has a question for him on the voters list.

“Is this not an inappropriate use of Voters Lists ?” The candidate goes on to say the the Clerk’s Office was asked just that question and then added: “If not answered I will be looking for an answer at the Zoom Candidates meeting September 6, 2022 at 6pm.

A meeting via Zoom for the candidates? Is the public invited? And if not – why not?

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The promised report to the public didn't arrive - it was an ambitious schedule that didn't get met. Maybe on Tuesday

By Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Well Friday came and went.  Stephen White was logging into his email on the quarter hour to see if the city had managed to meet the commitment it had made to get a report out to the public on how they were going to manage the coyote problem by the end of Friday.

Signs and whistles are the tools the city is using at this point – citizens were waiting for a report that was scheduled to be released on Friday.

Many thought it was a target that would not be met.  The two meetings on the Thursday: one at 10:30 and the other at 1:00 pm didn’t leave enough time for the communications people to put together a solid review of what they had discussed  – things just don’t work that quickly at city hall – especially if you want to get it right the first time.

On the Thursday evening I was with a group that was singing as a choir that wasn’t competing, wasn’t preparing for an event – just singing and enjoying themselves.

When it was over I was heading back to my car and Jane Kelly Cook, the organizer of the event – it was held in her back yard which borders on the Centennial Trail, said she would show me the way – as we approached Seneca Street she paused and said: “It was right here, on this spot that someone was bitten by a coyote – it wasn’t a serious bite – but more than enough to scare the daylights out of the person.

Many think that city hall and some of the Council members are just not really in touch with their constituents – and if they are they aren’t saying very much.

There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of leadership from the Office of the Mayor or the city manager.  And none of the members of Council have chosen to be a voice the public can pay attention.

What the public was getting was statements that appear to have been written by the communications department.

One Gazette reader, who isn’t always that reliable but he did seem to have information that wasn’t made up, told of a program the city of Thunder Bay has in place.

Alfred Facenda, at times known as Albert Facenda, a small developer who has made Burlington the market he works in, sent the following comment to the Gazette:

Let me give you an example of what leadership looks like.

In Thunder Bay the citizens were experiencing an incredibly high motor vehicle collision rate. In the  urban part of  Thunder Bay  the  amount of deer vehicle collisions numbered 800 per year. Clearly the thought of a 250 pound deer slamming through your windshield at 60 kmh began to concern citizens.

Taking everything into consideration the City council decided to reduce the number of deer in the city.  They then did the unthinkable. They allowed the citizens to hunt deer within City limits. Now remember this is a City of 175 thousand people, about the size of Burlington. The stipulations were archery only, shooting from stands or platforms 10 feet or higher. Resulting in shooting at close distances into the ground for safety reasons and you had to be a licensed hunter having completed all the safety courses.

The deer vehicle collisions dropped by 700 and citizens are much safer. To date no archery accidents This program has been in place since 2012. The “Citiots” of Burlington might learn something from people who hunt and fish and routinely see bears, moose, deer and other incredible species and understand what has to be done to manage animal numbers.

Not to mention knowing what a great venison roast tastes like.

. 2% of the population should not be telling the 98% what to do.

City Manager Tim Commisso

Editor’s note: The irony of this is too much to keep to myself. On Thursday when Stephen White was on a Zoom call with City Manager Tim Commisso, he told the Gazette that Tim was in Thunder Bay, his home town and where he has family. He also served Thunder Bay as city manager for a period of time.  He retired from that job, worked in the private sector for a period of time – until Marianne Meed Ward invited him for a cup of coffee.  And we know where that led.

 

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City Manager will meet with Stephen White (virtually) then a larger group later in the day

By Pepper Parr

August 31st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Has it all really come to this:

A Hamilton radio station is reported to have referred to the Burlington Coyote problem as “whistlegate”

Whatever happened to the best mid-sized city in the country to lIve in?

Other than the city and some of the Councillors handing out whistles to anyone who passes by, there was the sense that nothing was going to get done until the middle of September when a report was to be presented at a Standing committee.

City Manager Tim Commisso

Not so – there is to be a meeting on Thursday with Stephen While, one of the authors of the Burlington Oakville Coyote Management report and the City Manager to be followed by another meeting later in the day that appears to include a larger participation.

If all the members of Councillor are on the call – would that make it a meeting of Council ? – perhaps the City Clerk might want to rule on that.  Nothing on the city calendar at this point.

There is no agenda that the Gazette is aware of – however this would be a perfect opportunity to verbally ask the questions he put to the city when his report was first made public – something, by the way, that the Gazette first published.

The five questions were:

 

1) Why does BOCM have to wait over six months for City of Burlington officials to read BOCM’s Report and provide comments and feedback on our recommendations?

2)            Why did Nick Anastasopoulos say that our Report had not been sent to Coyote Watch, but Rosemary Fitzpatrick advised us in mid-May that is what had occurred?

3)            Why did Tim Commisso say in a June 2nd meeting that he would get back to us with a response shortly, but we are still waiting?  How long are we expected to wait?

4)            Why did Nick Anastasopoulos feel it was all right to forward a Report created by an outside advocacy group to another third party advocacy group without our prior knowledge or approval?

5)            Why does City Hall not have a formal, established process for reviewing Reports and recommendations from outside entities and organizations?

While this whole business is an embarrassment – there is as well a serious public safety issue that many don’t feel is going to be solved with people blowing a whistle when a coyote is spotted.

The upside is that there do not appear to be anymore reports of people being attacked by a coyote.  Was it just the one animal? With at one “eliminated”?

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If there was ever a time for a Strategy, some serious Risk analysis and Accountability on the part of the city - this is it

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

City Manager Tim Commisso has advised Stephen White that Staff will be producing a report on the coyote problem that will be presented to the Corporate Services Strategy Risk and Accountability Standing Committee on September 14th

Is the city manager losing his grip on an issue that trouble many people in the city.

He also plans to meet with Mr. White on Thursday of this week. White said he has no idea what is going to take place at that meeting.

Commisso is reported to have said that he is prepared to add additional funding to the problem.

We also learn that there is now a sign at the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Guelph line advising/informing the public about the coyote problem.

A Gazette reader, in a comment she wrote in the Gazette comments section  “A small child was dragged out of their backyard by the neck by a coyote before their dad saved them.´

We suspect the comment stretched the truth quite a bit – the point however is that there is a population worried, afraid and uncertain.

Stephen White has been asked to attend a meeting with the City Manager to “talk about” the coyote problem in the city. White doesn’t know what the agenda is.

That population also has a problem with a city Council that does not appear to know how to address a serious issue – the safety of the public.

There is an opportunity here for the City Manager to ask the Mayor to call an emergency meeting of city council to bring the public up to date on what has happened, with a lot of detail, and to set out the immediate steps that can and will be taken.

If there was ever a time for some Strategy Risk and Accountability from the city manager and City Council – this is it.

A sign at an intersection doesn’t quite cut it.

We have a public that is worried; we have members of Council who had, until very recently, not seen the report and we have some dangerously exaggerated comments being made.

An Emergency meeting before everyone leaves town for the Labour Day holiday is in order.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Something very very wrong with the way information is being disseminated by city hall on the coyote problem

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In a statement put out by Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte she said:

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

This Report was not circulated or communicated to all of Council.

I only learned about this Report and Recommendations within the last 3 days while participating in meetings aimed to address the community crisis of the recent aggressive coyote attacks.

I look forward to hearing in more detail of the recommendations provided by this community group who has taken the time to research and provide valuable input.

The report Stolte is referring to is one researched and written by Stephen White and Julie Martin on the coyote problem Burlington is experiencing.

The Gazette reported on three coyote interacting with people and either scratching them or biting them but apparently not drawing blood.

The city hired an expert to track the animal and kill it.  The word used by Stolte when she reported on this was “eliminate”.

In the report Stolte is referring to there is a clearly laid out time line setting out each step the Burlington Oakville Coyote Management group took.

Councillor Sharman was by this date fully aware of the report that the Burlington Oakville Coyote Management had researched and written.

There is something very very wrong here.

The Mayor has said she is deeply concerned.  The City Manager has had the report for some time.

City Manager Tim Commisso

Yet at least two city Councillors say they had not seen the report.  Councillor Kearns last week asked the Gazette where she could get a copy of the report.

The report is out there, the city administration and the Mayor and at least one city Councillor had been fully briefed.

Which leads to the questions Stephen White and July Martin put to the City administration:

 

1) Why does BOCM have to wait over six months for City of Burlington officials to read BOCM’s Report and provide comments and feedback on our recommendations?

2)            Why did Nick Anastasopoulos say that our Report had not been sent to Coyote Watch, but Rosemary Fitzpatrick advised us in mid-May that is what had occurred?

City Manager Tim Commisso

3)            Why did Tim Commisso say in a June 2nd meeting that he would get back to us with a response shortly, but we are still waiting?  How long are we expected to wait?

4)            Why did Nick Anastasopoulos feel it was all right to forward a Report created by an outside advocacy group to another third party advocacy group without our prior knowledge or approval?

5)            Why does City Hall not have a formal, established process for reviewing Reports and recommendations from outside entities and organizations?

Good questions.

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That tree bylaw - is it doing what people want it to do - some see it as a cash grab

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington’s citizens have had significant differences of opinion over just what the tree bylaw should do for some time..

Some don’t want the city telling them what to do with trees on their property while others welcome the practice of requiring people to get permission to cut down a tree on their property.

Adding to the number of trees is an ongoing project – keeping climate change at an acceptable level requires that everyone be on board.

Climate change is taking place and the canopy coverage is now not just a nice thing to have but something that is essential if we are to have any hope of how we individually manage climate change.

One Gazette reader said:

I’m not sure most people are aware of how expensive it is to have an unhealthy tree in Burlington now.

A good friend of mine has a large tree in his backyard that is hollow for several feet from the base and obviously in danger of falling.  He already had a similar tree brought down by a bad storm that took out a fence.  He contacted the city to access the tree and the city arborist said it was healthy.  A lay person can see it’s not.

For my friend to cut the tree down it will cost several thousand dollars and will require he pay an application fee to have it cut down.   He also has to plant 5 trees because of it’s girth that his yard cannot support.   Thus he has to pay a penalty because he can’t plant that many trees.   It’s hard to believe this is a democratic country right now.     In the past if a tree was sick or close to the house the fee was waived but no longer.   The bylaw was changed last year and now makes it nearly impossible to protect your property from a falling tree.   He is willing to let the tree fall now and damage his own or neighbour’s house than cut it down.   What a sad city we have become.

Not sure you have done any story on our tree loving bylaw recently but its worth a look on what the city has imposed with little communication.

Was it necessary to cut these trees ? The current tree bylaw would require getting permission and replacing five tree for each tree cut down

We are clearly not yet at the point where there s a wide consensus on just what a tree bylaw should do and who should pay the costs involved.

Is this an issue that should be given serious attention during the election campaign that will become much more active once the holiday weekend is over ?

 

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Candidates are gearing up for what is now a 57 day drive before ballots are cast

By Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

And what did you do over the weekend?

It just might become a “whistle while you walk” exercise for people in several of the city wards. Councillor Lisa Kearns handing out Fox40 whistles.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for ward 2, was handing out whistles to anybody who wanted one.  They are supposed to scare away any coyotes that crossed your path – which is a common occurrence in the ward.

Tim O’Brien, who would like to replace Kearns as the Councillor for the ward said that “his feet were killing him as he walked from door to door telling his story.

Just about all the candidates running for the first time have their web sites in place and their volunteers lined up.

The concern over the coyote problem isn’t just in the minds of the people who are out walking.  Members of Council are complaining that they did not see the report prepared by a small group of Oakville and Burlington citizens nor were they aware that it even existed.

Related news stories:

The time line

The report and its recommendations.

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OLT Hearing phases

By Pepper Parr

August 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When the Interim Control Bylaw was put in place in a number of years ago, close to 40 development applications were taken to what was then called the Local Planning Authority Tribunal (LPAT)

That organization is now called the Ontario Land Tribunal

With 40+ appeals the Tribunal needed to get a handle on just what it is the each appeal was about – the specifics.

It took some time – but the Tribunal has now put each appeal into a category where the specifics of the appeals are similar.

There are nine categories that are being called phases.  some phases have several categories

Phase 1: Rural

Phase 1A: Agriculture

Phase 1B: Natural Heritage

Phase 1C: Aggregates

Phase 2: Implementation / Development Approvals Process Phase 3: Growth Framework/Urban Structure/Land Use Phase 4: Downtown Urban Centre & Urban Design

There might be a book to be written on the impact this rinky dinky bus terminal has had on the high rise development in the downtown core

Phase 5: Major Transit Station Areas

Phase 6: Supporting Growth

Phase 6A: Parkland

Phase 6B: Public Service Facilities, Infrastructure & Utilities

Phase 7: Housing

Phase 8: Employment

Phase 9: Site-Specific

Dates for each of these Phases are still being worked out – it is clear that the process is going to require years – perhaps longer than the term of Council citizens are going to elect in October.

So – what is it that gets litigated during these hearings?  This details are mind boggling – the details take up 60 pages.

We will follow up with those before the end of the month.

This is a Friday – there is nice weekend weather ahead of us – so the Gazette might be a little quiet.

Update on Waterfront Hotel redevelopment plans:

One interesting bit of news.  The first Case Management Conference on the Waterfront Hotel appeal took place this morning.

The city appears to have decent legal counsel in place.

They will be back at it on October 7th, 2 to argue a motion on the applicability of the decision to move the Urban Growth Centre boundaries north – which would impact the density levels for the Waterfront Hotel property redevelopment

 

 

 

 

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