An Apology isn't enough: a full, complete explanation how city Staff produced a newsletter with decisions that had not yet been made is required

By Pepper Parr

December 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Delivered to citizens on the 14th with budget decisions that had not yet been made.

It was less than a fulsome apology and it does beg a number of questions:

Who wrote the article that appeared in City Talk?

Who signed off on the content ?

When did the material go to the printer and when did it get sent to the delivery people ?

All the possible answers suggest City Talk was in one level of production at least four days before it was delivered on the 14th – which suggest that the material was written on the 9th – the day the Budget Standing Committee passed a recommendation that went to Council.

Did the Mayor get her way again – at the expense of the City Manager ?

It also suggest that the Mayor was involved. There is precious little information coming out of the mouths of the other members of Council but it appears that they did not see what was being sent out.

The information sent to citizens was purely political – Staff have no business getting involved in the political drama that pervades the Council Chamber even though as a Council they don’t meet there anymore.

City Manager Tim Commisso

This is no small matter. Anne and Dave Marsden made the point when they wrote us to say: “We find it very difficult to understand why Burlington taxpayers seem to have no understanding of how serious an issue the City Talk issue is. “Correct Anticipation” and “Mountains out of Molehills” leaves one wondering what the Gazette has to do to expose things like this which should have the City up in arms!

How the City Manager let this one take place defies rational explanation.  He knows better.

 

Related news stories:

The City Talk Newsletter

The City Apology:

The recently issued copy of City Talk, which is managed by City staff, was inadvertently sent out and delivered earlier than anticipated. City communications to residents about Council services and initiatives, like the City budget are never sent out prior to formal City Council approval. As much as possible, City staff work on communication materials like City Talk in advance, however, information isn’t shared till approvals. We apologize for the error.

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Police Officer charged by SIU for Sexual Assault and Breach of Trust

By Staff

December 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is one of the harder jobs a Chief of Police has to do – suspend one of his officers and ask the provincial Special Investigations Unit to investigate a a complaint.

Chief of Police Steve Tanner

In this case a Halton Regional Police Service Officer Charged by SIU with one count of Sexual Assault and one count of Breach of Trust.

Constable David Ardrey, a 14-year member of the Halton Regional Police Service has been charged in relation to an incident that occurred in September 2021.

At the time the Service became aware of the incident, Chief Tanner suspended the officer from active duty, and the SIU was notified and invoked their mandate.

As the matter is now before the courts, and as required by law, no further information can be provided by the Halton Regional Police Service at this time.

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Back and forth at a Council meeting - just to get to the point where they agree to take a half hour break.

By Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

To get a true sense as to how your City Council got to the point where they could approve the Operations budget for 2021 it helps if you can listen in.

We don’t have audio to pass along but our software does capture what is said (not all that well unfortunately, but it does give you a sense as to how things were going.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

The Mayor is in the Chair – the information in brackets is the time.

(38:23) Alrighty we are at the end of all of the individual items. So we are now back up to the budget as a whole. So we are at Item D having dealt with all of the amendments that were pulled. Perhaps we can get the revised amount it did change with that last vote. So we will need to if we need a recess. Let me know. Laurie, if or if you’ve got that number that we can insert into the revised recommendation on the board. As far as I know. Didn’t change.

The capital numbers did not change the operating main motion. The tax levy amount needs to be revised to 191, 550, 509. This brings the city’s portion of the tax impact of 4.62% and an overall impact of 2.87.

All right, so let’s get that up on the board. You know the number of clauses to vote on and we’ll take those individually.

Mayor: All right. I will read it into the record.

We have approved the 2022 operating budget including any budget amendments approved by the Corporate Services strategy, Risk and Accountability Budget Committee to be applied against the proposed net tax levy of $191,552,509, which as we heard delivers a tax impact city portion only a 4.62 and a region portion of 2.87

Overall, once you blend it with region and education, second approve the 2022 capital budget with a gross amount of 77,384,020 with a debenture requirement of $8,600,000 and the 2023 to 2031 Capital forecast with a gross amount of $752,172,369 with a debenture requirement of $38,975,000 as outlined in finance department.  As amended by the Corporate Services strategy, risk and accountability Budget Committee and approve that if the actual net assessment growth is different than the estimated 2.45% any increase in tax dollars generated from the city portion of assessment growth from the previous year be transferred to these tax rate stabilization reserve fund or any decrease in tax dollars generated from the city portion of assessment growth from the previous year. Is act 1997 and section five of the Ontario regulation 80 to 98. It is Council’s clear intention that the excess capacity provided by the above referenced works will be paid for by future development charges.

So I will pause for a moment I see our clerks hand in the air. Go ahead, Kevin.

Thank you, Mayor. We’re just wanting to confirm with council if they want to vote on everything clause by clause. So there are five clauses to this. This motion would you like to have it separated clause by clause or I understand that counsellor Bentivegna wanted capital that would be close to separated. We’re here to fulfill your needs. So just let us know.

Mayor:  All right. Well, certainly the first two have to be separated once we get to the second one. I will ask if there’s anything further to be separated out. Maybe we’ll handle that way. And then we’ll proceed sort of on the fly here. So we have oh, I just we just lost the screen. Are we going to get those motions back up, Kevin?

Clerk: Yeah, I think that we’re just separating them out for the vote. The screen that you see is what you’re voting on in the system. So if we have to separate things out, we have to redact them from the screen.

Mayor: So the first one up is the operating budget. Okay, so as amended and I will look to the board for questions and we will have to just pause momentarily to make sure that we tee up everyone’s time that they have left. And I I’ve been keeping some notes I hope our clerks have as well and the first person I have on the board is counsellor Stolte. Apparently you have four minutes left. Go ahead.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte.

Stolte: Thank you, Mayor. I’m actually not going to comment. What I’m going to ask for is whether or not we could please take a recess. The last round of voting on those amendments that were pulled has dramatically changed the work that we did where we last ended up last week. And I personally need a few minutes to decide to figure out where I stand on support or not support the budget at this point. So not being put in a position of having to do that thinking on the fly. I would appreciate if we could recess for a few minutes.

Mayor: Absolutely. I’m prepared to recess so I do see some hands on the board. If you are speaking to the budget, let’s hold that if you are speaking to the recess counsellor Bentivegna –   did you want to speak to the request for a recess?

Bentivegna: I don’t have problem I will go. recess. I would like to see the the numbers on up so that not only we could see him that the residents can see what the new numbers are.

Mayor: You’re talking about the tax rate numbers. Okay, we will we will endeavour during the recess to get that included in what you have here. Counselor current speaking to the recess.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

: “Thank you very much. I am speaking to the recess in regards to inviting the clerk with an opportunity to speak around procedural options should the budget not pass we received some commentary and committee commentary carries through to council.

Mayor: Certainly and as chair, I will direct all questions to the appropriate Staff.  And Kevin I assume that would be you go ahead.

Clerk:
Oh, yes, council. So Through you, Mayor to the council. There are options. If the budget fails, then Council can then direct staff with with some direction and then we’d have to come back with a new budget. Or there can be an alternative moved at the same time. So there’s those are two options if the budget fails. At any point in this conversation if Council wishes to they could refer this back to staff with direction as well. So those are some of your options for today.

Mayor: Already, everyone clear on the options so we don’t have the four votes today we’re talking budget for a little longer. So I’m going to suggest given the significance of this vote and the the need for folks to have I think that we take a half hour break and come back at quarter to two so we will recess until 1:45 and come back and see where we’re at till three o’clock. Sorry. You want to go till three o’clock. Okay. Cancer. Galbraith has requested a recess until three I’m happy to. (41:57)

And at that point Council took a half hour break.

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Council passes a budget without letting the public see just how dysfunctional this tribe of seven actually is

By Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

The spin masters at city hall are doing everything they can to put the best possible spin on the budget decisions that were made yesterday afternoon.

A media announcement declared: “ City Council approves 2022 budget: 2.87 per cent overall tax increase to maintain City services and infrastructure, and address continued impacts of the pandemic.”

The statement is true – it is a fact – however it isn’t the fact that matters most to you.

You want to know how much the city increased your taxes: THAT number is 4.62% over what the taxes were last year.

That 2.87% number is the result of combining the taxes you will pay to the Boards of Education and the taxes you pay to the Region. The city collects all those taxes from you.

This is not a good budget – not just because of the size of the increase. The Mayor said it was less than the current rate of inflation – which is also true.

The media release also said: “For example, homeowners with a home assessed at $500,000 would pay an additional $111.80 per year or $2.15 per week.

When was the last time you saw a house in Burlington assessed at $500,000? Houses are now in the $850,000 range with $1 million prices showing up regularly.

The spending that the city does is the number that matters to you. And that spending increased by 4.62% over last year.

Council did manage to reduce the size of the budget Staff had presented – but by less than 1%

The five year simulation suggests that we are looking at higher tax increases for a number of years.  The best Council could do was shave off less than 1% from the budget Staff gave them.

These are very tough times; everyone knows that. What we have a right to expect is straight up honest answers and information from the people we elect.  That seems to be in short supply these days.

It is unusual for municipal counsellors to increase taxes in an election year.

There were a number of way this Council could have gotten the increase into the 3.5% range.

Getting what she wanted proved to be out of the Mayor’s reach.

The problem was Mayor Meed Ward could not convince her council colleagues to see things her way – All, except for ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, voted against this budget

Mayor Meed Ward called this “… a true collective effort of Council and staff in service of our community to deal with now needs and plan for our future.”

In truth it is the best this council could do given the level of acrimony between a majority of the council members and the Mayor.

Few are prepared to stand up to the Mayor and wrest the control she now has and ensure that the voices of the others are fairly heard. Councillors Stolte and Kearns need to stand up to the Mayor.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan chaired the Budget Committee: prevented Council members from moving motions on more than one occasion.

On just about every issue the Mayor has the full support of ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan.

The balance of the other four tend to side with Councillor Sharman who was certainly doesn’t get credit for making sure this budget fully served the people of Burlington.

Galbraith is perhaps not aware of the election race he is going to face next October. There are people in ward 3 considering giving Nisan a run for that council seat.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman with his eye on the prize

As for the Mayor – you heard it here first – Former Mayor Rick Goldring will run for Mayor in 2022. There is a substantial group that are urging him to run again.  He is positioning himself for a run – whether he throws his hat in the ring – only time will tell.

Councillor Sharman will also run for Mayor and because Goldring will take votes away from Meed Ward – Paul Sharman could well be the Mayor of the city for the 2022 – 2025 term.

This terrible budget exercise can and should be seen as the beginning of the 2022 municipal election.

Before then however, there is a provincial election that will take place. There are some changes needed at that level as well.

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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City Talk reports news before it even happens? Who tells them to do that?

By Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

The City Communications department sent us the following:

The recently issued copy of City Talk, which is managed by City staff, was inadvertently sent out and delivered earlier than anticipated. City communications to residents about Council services and initiatives, like the City budget are never sent out prior to formal City Council approval. As much as possible, City staff work on communication materials like City Talk in advance, however, information isn’t shared till approvals. We apologize for the error.

The 2022 election is a good time to re-think a council that approves news in a city publication. This is pure news spin.

Burlington has a communications group that puts together the vast majority of the material that is posted on the various social media accounts the city has along with City Talk, a print piece that is delivered to the homes in the city.

A Gazette reader, who keeps an eye on things at city hall reports that her copy of City Talk was delivered on Tuesday, the 14th at around 1 pm.

“I watched the council meeting this afternoon and if I am not mistaken it was close to or after 4PM when council voted on and passed the 2022 City Budget.

Reporting news before it happens: is this a new city communications department policy.

The first article in the current edition of City Talk was ” CITY COUNCIL APPROVES 2022 CITY BUDGET: BURLINGTON TAXES REMAIN BELOW AVERAGE IN COMPARISON OF LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES”

Our reader added that the story in City Talk makes one question if Council Meetings are simply for the public when decisions are made and published before the formal vote.

Good question, especially given that it takes several days to put together an edition if City Talk, then it has to be printed and then delivered.

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Can city council pass a budget? Might not happen but it did

By Pepper Parr

December 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

They got to the edge, looked over and backed away.  The budget will pass – 4.62% increase over last year.

Council has taken a half hour recess while some members re-think their original positions on whether or not the budget before them is a good enough budget.

Councillor Sharman has said he will not support it.

There were votes on earlier in the day on 16 different budget items – the Mayor and her supporters won most of those votes – but on a critical one she lost.

With Council now ready to vote on the amended Operating budget – which was at 5.47% increase over last year when Staff presented it to Council.

Meetings on November 30, December 2 and December 9th and today as well got that percentage down to 4.62%

Councillor Bentivegna, on the right, has depended on Councillor to explain the proceedings.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna has been the swing vote surprisingly often. Prior to today he usually sided with Councillor Sharman.

This Council has two people who stick with the Mayor on basically everything: Councillors Nisan and Galbraith. They have to entice Bentivegna to join them

Councillor Paul Sharman: His background and years of experience work to help him explain complex financial matters – especially at the policy level.

Councillors Sharman, Stolte and Kearns hang together – doing what they can to entice Bentivegna. This is not what Angelo Bentivegna expected when he finally won a council seat.

To the surprise of this reporter Bentivegna said he was not going to vote for the budget as it stood.

We will know by about 3:25 today if this Council can pass a budget.

City Manager does not see a pretty picture if the budget does not pass.

Last week City Manager Tim Commisso explained to Council that if they could not pass a budget they would have to return the document they were working with back to Staff with clear instructions to return with a budget that meet specific objectives.

City Manager Tim Commisso explained to Council that what Staff comes back with, if it should come to that, would not be pretty.

On balance this Council has not been very pretty for the past year. It isn’t what people thought they were getting when they replaced Rick Goldring with Marianne Meed Ward.

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Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit Being Extended

By Staff

December 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government is helping seniors stay in their homes longer by extending the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit by one year, to 2022.

The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is a refundable credit worth 25 per cent of up to $10,000 per household in eligible expenses, to a maximum credit of $2,500.

It can be shared by people who live together, including spouses and common law partners.

The extension will assist seniors, or those living with senior relatives, to renovate their homes to make them safer and more accessible.

Small upgrades make life a lot safer

“We are empowering Ontario’s seniors with the choice to live in their homes and remain in their community as long as they choose,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “Providing a tax credit for renovations will give seniors and their families real help to stay in their homes longer.”

Examples of eligible renovations include:
• Installing grab bars and related reinforcements in bathrooms
• Wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and elevators
• Light fixtures in the home and exterior entrances
• Non-slip flooring
• Automatic garage door openers
• Certain renovations to allow first-floor occupancy or a secondary suite for a senior

Extending the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario. The plan lays out how the government will build the foundation for Ontario’s recovery and prosperity by getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure, attracting increased investment, and restoring leadership in auto manufacturing and other industries. The plan also protects Ontario’s progress against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep the receipts.

Quick Facts
• The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is available to Ontario seniors or those who live with senior relatives regardless of their incomes and whether they owe any tax.
• Individuals can claim the credit for renovation expenses to their principal residence, either owned or rented, or to a residence that they reasonably expect to become their principal residence within the 24 months following the end of the year.
• To claim the tax credit, claimants should keep receipts from suppliers and contractors.

 

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Call Centres and the law in Canada

By Connie Price

December 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Have you found yourself calling an organization to resolve a problem and finding that the person you are speaking has a poor command of the English language and you have difficulty understanding what they are saying, The problem is often exacerbated by a poor connection.

Turns out there is an option available that will get you someone who you can understand.

Connie Price, active in a number of community initiatives came across a solution.

Any time you call an 800 number (for a credit card, banking, charter communications, health and other insurance, computer help desk, etc. ) and you find that you’re talking to a foreign customer service representative (with an accent, difficult to understand perhaps in India, Philippines, you can do the following.

Offshore Call Centre

After you connect and you realize that the Customer Service Representative is not working in Canada (you can always ask where they’re located) if you are not sure about the accent).

Say, “I’d like to speak to a Customer Service Representative in Canada.”

The rep might suggest talking to his/her manager, But, again, politely say, “Thank you, but I’d like to speak to a Customer Service Representative in Canada ..”

You will be connected to a representative in Canada – That’s the rule and the LAW.

It takes less than a minute to have your call re-directed to Canada .

Tonight when I got redirected to a Canadian Rep, I asked again to make sure – and yes, she was from Calgary.

Imagine what would happen if every Canadian Citizen insisted on talking to only Canadian phone reps, from this day on.

Imagine how that would ultimately impact the number of Canadian jobs that would need to be created ASAP.

If I tell 10 people to consider this and you tell 10 people to consider doing this – see what I mean…it becomes an exercise in viral marketing 101.

Remember – the goal here is to restore jobs back here at home – not to be abrupt or rude to a foreign phone representative. You will get correct answers, good advice, and solutions to your problem – in real English.

If you agree, please tell 10 people you know, and ask them to tell 10 people they know.

Price adds that she had also learned that Canada Post Customer service is headed to India before the New Year.

This can get a little sticky – people who don’t have a command of the English language will never improve if they are not given an opportunity to use the language.

Racist attitudes slide in here and the complaint is frequently based on race and not the quality of the service.

Some people are hard to understand.  Many can be understood – a little patience might be needed.

The issue could be resolved if those Canadian companies who use offshore Call Centres were required to provide a minimum number of hours training people who don’t handle English all that well.

Let’s not let those racist inclinations to come to the surface.

Connie Price

Connie Price is active with the Burlington Senior Community and her local church.

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Palettas puts their muscle behind bid to bring Commonwealth Games to the city.

By Pepper Parr

December 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The three of them were before a city Standing Committee to talk about a bid that was being made for the 100th version of the Commonwealth Games scheduled for 2030.

They didn’t come asking for money – they came asking the city to be part of the vision.
The site for the Games was going to be property owned by Penta Properties, the land holding part of Paletta International.

In the past, Angelo Paletta, the more ebullient of the four Paletta boys, spoke for the family company. Paul was made president of Penta; he sets the course and executes on the business plans.

Paletta chose to read from his notes.

“I’m Paul Paletta, the new president CEO of Penta properties. As some of you may be aware beyond simply taking over the operations of the family business with my brother Michael, we decided to alter the company’s vision and approach.

The Paletta clan: Late Patriarch Pat with his four sons.

Inspired by the example of our late father Pat, who loved this community, we resolved to better align our business activity with the needs of the City of Burlington, most especially as it relates to the importance of sustainability and wellness as our region emerges from the awful impacts of the pandemic.

One of the ways we’re working to demonstrate the seriousness of our resolve is in supporting the unique Commonwealth Games effort.

As you are hearing from Lou and Antonio the Games bid represents an internationally significant way of championing community, building sustainability and wellness in the area of urban planning and community programming. And owing to the Commonwealth Games process of advancing bids with business and the private sector and the need to have municipalities partner with the bidder to deliver venues with minimal government financial support, I’ve asked Lou to work with you to ensure that Burlington becomes a focus of the games efforts in building prosperous, sustainable and healthy communities.

The wording HWY 401 should read 403

And I’m proposing that this be done in part on our lands on and King Road. We have hired Dialogue, who are the game’s urban design firm to better support the development of our King Road lands as part of the game’s effort.

I’m excited to work with you in the coming months to explore other opportunities to partner with you around enhancing the quality of life of Burlington to more thoughtful development, the preservation of ecologically sensitive areas and in delivering affordable housing.

And that’s something that delighted me earlier this week when I met with some of your senior city staff and talked about options for homes involving  a leading not for profit agency in delivering innovation solutions related to housing affordability.

They are just one the many new organizations and thought leaders  we will bring to Burlington in the coming months and years. I’m willing and able and available to meet with any of the Counsellors or members of the city staff about the future of our great city.

Related news story:

City Council gets detail on a bid to bring the Commonwealth Games to the city in 2030
.

 

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Municipal Alcohol Policy - Did you know we have one?

By Staff

December 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

To be Approved by Council on: December 14, 2021

The purpose of the Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP) is to define the conditions for the service and consumption of alcohol for Special Occasion Permit (S.O.P) Events which occur on City of Burlington property. The policy outlines the additional requirements beyond those set by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) through the issuance of a S.O.P.

Policy Statement:
The Municipal Alcohol Policy is designed to support responsible alcohol service and consumption in an effort to reduce corporate exposure to risk.

The City of Burlington is under no obligation to approve a request to use city property even if the AGCO issues a S.O.P and may impose additional restrictions deemed appropriate for the responsible alcohol service and consumption on City property.

Background:
In 2017, Halton Region and the Halton Regional Police Service introduced a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. The Plan sets out how community partners work together to improve the health, safety and well-being of Halton residents. Harmful alcohol use has been identified as a key issue and priority. The Alcohol Action Table was struck in 2018 to develop an evidence-based and comprehensive plan to mitigate alcohol harm.

As a municipality within Halton Region, the City of Burlington is aligning its MAP with the goals and objectives of Halton Region’s Alcohol Action Table to model responsible consumption of alcohol on municipal property.

Scope:
The scope of this policy applies to all City owned and operated Facilities.

This policy does not apply to facilties operated by local boards of Council nor to any school board properties that the City allocates space for under the Reciprocal Agreement.

Definitions:
For the purpose of this policy, unless otherwise stated, the following definitions shall apply:

Term Definition
Alcohol A product of fermentation or distillation of grains, fruits or other agricultural products, and includes synthetic ethyl alcohol.

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) The provincial regulatory agency responsible for administering the Liquor Licence Act and specific sections of the Liquor Control Act (LCA), which together, with the regulations made under them establish the licensing and regulatory regime relating to the sale and service of alcohol in Ontario.

City Staff Those employed by the City of Burlington who are identified by the City as the contact for either MAP purposes or the facility or premises in question as the context requires.

Term Definition
Corporation The Corporation of the City of Burlington.
Designate An employee, agent, servant, representative, partner or other individual designated by the S.O.P Applicant to manage the Event or to ensure compliance with the Event Organizer’s responsibilities under the MAP.

Event Any public or private occurrence requiring a Special Occasion Permit and occurs on City property.
Contract Holder Any person or organization applying to hold an Event at a facility and includes the person or organization on whose behalf such persons apply or seek permission to hold the Event.

Facility/Facilities A City of Burlington building, park, roadway or other municipal location that is owned and operated by the corporation.

Facility Rental Contract A city issued document, signed by the applicant under which the S.O.P Holder is permitted to host an Event on City property, subject to such terms and conditions as may be required by this MAP and the Standard Operating Procedure.

Licensed Area The area identified in the City of Burlington contract where alcohol will be allowed to be in possession by the contract holder, as per the conditions of the permit(s) and S.O.P.

Liquor License Act (LLA) Outlines the laws regarding the sale and service of alcohol in Ontario.

Term Definition
Municipal Significant Event An Event which is designated by the City of Burlington as an event of municipal significance.
Special Occasion Permit (S.O.P) A permit issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario or Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming. The S.O.P authorizes the holder to sell or serve alcohol on a prescribed special occasion.

S.O.P Holder The person whose name is identified on a Special Occasion Permit and may also be the holder of the Catering Endorsement. Where this term is used it also includes his/her Designate.

Standard Operating Procedures A document outlining the requirements to host a licensed event on City property.

Principles:
The following principles are taken into consideration to determine when and where to allow for alcohol consumption on City of Burlington property:

1. Alcohol is consumed at many occasions and is socially acceptable and sometimes expected as a service option.
2. There is a way to ensure responsible consumption of alcohol, limiting the health and safety impacts to the community.

Two drinks at a time.

Conditions:
1. Alcohol Service
In addition to the conditions outlined by the AGCO under the LLA the following provisions for the serving of alcohol must be adhered to:

a) A maximum of two (2) drinks may be served to an individual at any one time.
b) Alcohol shall not be left available for self-serve.

c) Adopt volumetric pricing across all beverage types and strengths (higher alcohol content products priced higher; lower alcohol content beverages priced lower; alcohol-free beverages considerably lower).

d) Food and non alcoholic beverages must be available at all times.

e) Event will sell and serve alcohol only between noon and 11 p.m. for outdoor events, and noon to 1 a.m. for indoor events.

f) The service area(s) from where alcohol is being served and consumed is secured on all sides by a single fence or wall a minimum of three feet tall and included on the site-plan. Any exceptions such as the use of natural barriers will require approval from the City’s Special Events Team.

g) There will be no “Last Call” promotion.

h) No drinks will be served to the public in glass containers.

2. Advertising and Signage
In addition to any signage requirements by the AGCO under the LLA the following must be adhered to:

a) No advertisements promoting liquor prices may be placed outside the Licensed Area.

b) Signage as required by the Corporation and outlined in Standard Operating Procedures will be displayed in the Licensed Area.

c) Event names which convey the message that drinking is the principal activity or the purpose of the Event are not permitted.

3. Insurance & Indemnification
In addition to compliance with all federal, provincial and municipal laws, Events must comply with all requirements as outlined in the Operating Procedures by the Corporation. A minimum of $5 million insurance in addition to security is required when alcohol is at an event.

An Event Contract may be revoked at the sole discretion of the City if the S.O.P Holder does not comply with all terms and conditions of the Event Contract and MAP. The City will not be subject to any claim for damages that the Permit Holder may advance as a result of the cancellation. City staff may randomly monitor Events.

References:

• Liquor License Act (LLA)
• Municipal Alcohol Standard Operating Procedures
• Zero Tolerance Policy

Roles:
City Council shall:
• Approve the MAP.
City Staff from Recreation, Community and Culture representing Festivals and Events, Sport and Customer Service shall:

• Review applicants documents and make recommendations to the City Clerk that the event be deemed as a Municipal Significant Event.

City Staff from Recreation, Community and Culture and Roads Parks and Forestry operation staff shall:
• Ensure on site compliance with MAP during an S.O.P event and intervene when there is non-compliance.

Kevin Arjoon: City Clerk has delegated authority to declare events.

City Clerk shall:
• Have delegated authority to declare events of Municipal Significance.

Director of Recreation, Community and Culture (or designate) shall:
• Have final decision over any matters in question related to the MAP.

Accountable:
City Staff representing areas for Organized Sport, Arts and Culture, Festivals and Events and Recreation Services are accountable for the adherence and direct administration of the MAP.

The Manager of Community Development Services is accountable for the annual review and execution of the MAP process.

 

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Something fishy about a numbers report from Parks and Recreation

By Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Was it Santa who was counting the number of people he waved to?

During a Standing Committee Chris Glenn, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture commented on the Santa Trail that took place last Saturday and Sunday.

The Gazette assigned reporters to the event and we published an article on what took place on both the Saturday and the Sunday.

In his report to the Standing Committee Glennn reported that 15,000 people watched the event.

The spectators at any one point on the Santa trail were never any bigger than this – do the math to figure out how the Parks and Rec people got 15,000

That number didn’t square with what we photographed so I got back to the reporters. One said that if Glenn was counting the houses that the Fire truck with Santa drove by – then he might be right.

“But there was nothing near 15,000 people on the streets of the city.”

One reporter said that the picture he submitted was as large as any of the crowds got.

Something wasn’t right – we reached out to Glenn asking where he got his numbers – didn’t hear back from him.

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City invited to be a participant in the bid to hold the 2030 Commonwealth Games in Burlington

By Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is a multi part story.  The first part is about what the Hamilton Commonwealth Games Bid Committee is setting out to do and the part they think Burlington can play .

The second part is about what they are planning on putting together in terms of both a site location and how other stakeholders will be involved.

The third part is the discussion that took place with members of Council and the Bid Committee.

All three parts are very enlightening.  Commonwealth Games are not Olympic Games but they aren’t all that much different.  This is a big deal

 

Get ready to hear a lot about the Commonwealth Games – there are plans in the works to have them take place in Hamilton in 2030 which will mark the 100th anniversary of the games – which first took place in Hamilton in 1930

City Manager Tim Commisso met informally with the group preparing the bid.

At the December 9th Standing Committee  there was a delegation from Hamilton 2030 Commonwealth Games Bid committee which city manager Tim Commisso introduced and set up why they were talking to Council.

Commisso provided a bit of a context and a more in depth look at an opportunity and that is potential participation in the Commonwealth Games bid which would actually be centered in Burlington on the Paletta King Road property that fronts on Highway 401.

Louis Frapporti  is the chair of the committee that Commisso and senior staff have had some informal discussions adding that at this point “we want to bring it forward to council to formalize a direction with respect to looking at this further by the end of March 2022 which is a relatively short turnaround.”

The team that is driving the Hamilton bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games

Frapporti then took Council  through a detailed presentation during which the small lead group was introduced.  It was at this point that the public learned that Paul Paletta had been made President of Penta Properties and that the Penta holdings on King Road would be the local site of the Games.

Palleta, now the President of Penta Properties spoke at length about their role in the initiative.

The King Road site was once the focus of an initiative to build a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  That idea didn’t go very far – Burlington City Council did a quick scan of what it would cost and moved away from the idea real quick.  Link to that story set out below.

Antonio Gomez -Palacio CEO of Dialogue design took part in the presentation. He was engaged by the Commonwealth Games bid effort to act as the lead design curator around concept planning for infrastructure for the games. Antonio was also engaged by Penta in relation to the planning around the King Road. site.

The Hamilton Commonwealth Games Bid Committee (HCGBC) has been working on bringing back the games to Ontario for over three years.  The Commonwealth Games authority in Canada and the CGF in the UK, have selected and approved our community bid in relation to 2030 for international submission.

The process began years ago with 16 Canadian communities showing an interest; that was whittled down to the Hamilton bid that is now a regional bid which includes a number of municipalities.

The stakeholder group that is advancing the bid isn’t just a municipal stakeholder group; It is comprised of a variety of different types of stakeholders, including two First Nations, the Mississauga as of the Credit and Six Nations in Brampton as well as a significant array of educational institutions, Not for Profit groups, charities, private sector leaders and others who feel that this these games with their focus on social impact would be a fitting way of marking the centenary of the return of the games to Ontario  and leaving a lasting legacy for the region.

The Hamilton Bid Committee is heading into the final stages of the creation of an international submission and was before Council to explain its relevance to the city of Burlington.  They are working with a number of regional municipalities including the province of Ontario and the federal government to finalize this process.

“The uniqueness of this bid, said Frapporti  “is an attempt at really redesigning multi sport events to make them more relevant to their communities generally and to avoid some of the challenges and concerns regarding costs, and to accelerate their impact in the region so that the citizens of Burlington and all of the adjoining regions that are part of the games bid catchment area can enjoy the benefit of its impacts immediately.

“That’s going to be done in this case by an unusual and very innovative effort to combine private sector partners into the creation and the funding of the games bid upfront, which is an innovation that we have been working to bring to the games. “

“First of all, we’re not proposing, and this is very unique in the history of games in Canada, that any municipality be obligated to provide any funding for any aspect of games infrastructure. One of the innovative elements in our effort is that private sector partners are invited and incented to work with the partner municipalities around delivery of assets that can be used by the games at private sector expense. What we’d like to do, and this is a commitment we’ve made with every municipality, and as a function of our discussions with the province and federal government is to actually use the games to advance your municipal priorities.

The site has a lot going for it – access to the site by GO services. Interestingly the Bid Committee has yet to have a conversation with Metrolinx.

“We’ve had the opportunity to review your strategic planning priorities and over the course of the next few months, if we’re fortunate enough to work with you in Penta properties around the King Road site, we would look to be very deliberate in our approach to using this opportunity to address a variety of your current strategic priorities. And notably, and this again is the real innovation in efforts around bids, is to bring P3 or private sector partners into these opportunities from a development perspective, so that development opportunities can get activated immediately inspired by the games, but not dependent upon the award of the games.

“One of the things that we would have you understand in the uniqueness of the Commonwealth Games beyond their having been born in Canada in 1930, is that their value and mission statement is the beginning of  building or creating  peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities.

“When I got into this effort, I began to appreciate that this wasn’t primarily about a sporting event. It was about a vision and a set of values that the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth nations propound that we want to integrate in every aspect of the work that we’re doing. It’s, traditionally, at a very high level, the economic assessments of the games themselves as an event; please understand that this is about the event specifically, rather than the work leading up to the event, which we hope to commence with the private sector in a variety of municipalities almost immediately: Insofar as the event is concerned, the measurable impacts from the games have historically produced about one and a half billion dollars in regional GDP between 15,000 to 23,000 hours in full time equivalent jobs.

“There are and will be much in excess of 10,000 volunteers trained in a variety of disciplines for the purposes of conducting the games. The games themselves for a variety of reasons become critical magnet for attracting incremental funding. And this is important from not only senior levels of government, but the private sector. To what extent can we use the game’s opportunity with private sector partners to incent them to make commitments and investments.

“There is a timeline and critical path for the games. We’ve been at this for a number of years, the beginning of the completion of the International things is a bid and at the moment we’re working with the province and federal government and other municipalities to finalize a concept plan, which the province and federal government will then use to determine whether they wish to commence what is referred to as multi party agreement negotiations for the finalization of the bid.

“This process will take the next eight to 12 months.

Time line at this point.

“We hope to have that done by the fall of this year immediately after the 2022 Birmingham games. The announcement of the 2030 host city is expected to be made in November of 2023.

“Appreciate that the work  we’re doing, which is very novel, is intended to activate private sector development.

“The big concepts for our bid are not what you might expect –  they don’t primarily relate to sports or sporting events. In our case consistent with the CGS priority and focus on building prosperous, sustainable and healthy communities. We are using the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals as our design rubric.

“As Antonio will explain, are working with Dialogue and the Conference Board of Canada to integrate specific initiatives centered on sustainability and wellness as the focus of our efforts in designing the bid and we hope to activate these sustainability priorities.

“As part of all of the private sector development projects that will be part of the game’s footprint.

“As a result of two years of work looking to redesign the approach to games we came up with a number of core concepts that are important for you to understand. First of all, we acknowledge the concern by many internationally that games are overly reliant on government funding. And so we worked very hard to create a structure that prioritize private sector funding for infrastructure in relation to the games further, we created a structure which anticipates that there is no demand or expectation of prescribed municipal financial support for infrastructure. It’s not that we’re precluding municipalities from making commitments or adding value to specific initiatives that are primarily funded by the private sector.

“But we’re not mandating them as part of the bids.

“This is part of a process that we see unfolding when disability in discussions with a private sector partner work to create something in relation to a development project that would be used as a site for the games that makes sense. But there is no requirement.  Notably, in all of this work, and in the inclusion of private sector partners around specific development projects, we wanted to get away from the idea of the games as an event in time that is something that happens every four years, but to create a movement that in this case, is centered on healthy, sustainable and prosperous communities.

“And in doing that to create a framework by which all of the stakeholders including municipalities, First Nations, private sector partners, educational institutions, and so on, continue to consult and work together, not just in the completion of the bid, but in all the subsequent years from the delivery of the projects and sites and the creation of the programming related to the effort actually important to understand that this is not a single city that not only is it not a municipal baby, it’s not even a local bed.

The catchment area is wide – if the Games take place they will be a huge draw.

“What we have done is to expand very significantly the catchment area for the games, in consultation with the province of Ontario and federal government to make the games regional. This adds value to the games expands the impact area for the games, it differentiates the games internationally, it reduces and mitigates the risks of the game to sitting on or being primarily related to one community because we are really focused on expanding the the experience of these impacts and their measurement over time.

“Expanding the games to all of these municipalities has been the work that we’ve been engaged in over the course of the last three years, which has accelerated meaningfully recently. The question of the City of Burlington involvement will be entirely a function of your interest in the interest of private sector partners like Penta and your willingness in the next few months to come up with an approach as to what opportunities the city would like to engage in and have them included.

“So I’m going to turn it over to Antonio here to explain his role and to speak to you from his perspective.”

Part 2 will be Antionio Gomez -Palacio explaining what he will be doing and why.

City Manager Commisso said the time frame given to prepare a response was tight but he felt it could be done.

The promise.

Related news stories:

Moving the Tiger Cats to the Paletta King Road site

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We are still in a State of Emergency dealing with a pandemic - how much longer ?

By Staff

December 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Will the State of Emergency be lifted soon?

And if it is – what difference will it make to the lives we live each day.

Definition and Authority
An emergency is defined under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as “a situation, or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise”

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, only the head of council of a municipality (or his or her designate) and the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Premier have the authority to declare an emergency. The Premier, the head of council, as well as a municipal council, have the authority to terminate an emergency declaration

Criteria
established to assist the Mayor/Council in determining if/when our existing state of emergency should be terminated.

When considering whether to terminate a declaration of emergency, a positive response to one or more of the following criteria may indicate that a situation, warrants the termination of declaration of emergency.

City Staff are thinking through what will have to be clanged if the State of Emergency is lifted – but we aren’t there yet.

The Covid infection numbers for the day – province, Region and Burlington,

 

Regional Covid19 infections as of December 8th

 

Burlington Covid19 infections as of December 8th

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Standing Committee recommends a 4.46% budget increase - goes to Council on the 14th

By Pepper Parr

December 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a terrible budget process – everyone of them came out with mud all over themselves. Nisan the budget chair displayed some nasty habits.

It looks, at this point, that a tax increase of 5.47 % has been whittled down to 4.46% for 2022.

It has been a struggle and a lot of backing away from hard held positions.

City Manager Tim Commisso explained to Councillors that they were in the process of setting a $1 billion budget

The finance people have been put through a wringer – they have had to come back again and again to justify and explain what was very difficult for many Councillors.

That Standing Committee recommendation now goes to council where changes can be made – but they are much harder to make at the Council level.

Four budget motions were brought to the table; all created by Councillor Stolte and Mayor Meed Ward who have not been known for working all that well together.

Some hatchets were buried and this Standing Committee approved some budget changes.

One last vote – to get the amended budget passed at the Standing Committee level this afternoon.

Later ….

They got there, they voted and there is a recommendation that goes to Council on the 14th.

Don’t think it is over yet.

Some of the people who voted for the recommendation can now sponsor a reconsider – only people who voted for the recommendation can ask that their vote be reconsidered.

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Critical Information Technology budgeted at $9 million is expected to require an additional $3 million

By Pepper Parr

December 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Without information technology the city could not open the doors each day.

A lot of very smart people make the technology do what it is expected to do – and making it work is a challenge.

Chad MacDonald: Chief Information Officer

Different computer applications have to learn to “talk” to each other and feed information to each other so that senior staff and council can have an up to date (sometimes up to the minute) information on which to make decisions.

The other given for the technology, the people is money – this stuff is wickedly expensive and the people who work in Information Technology are not cheap – and there aren’t enough of them to go around.

Municipalities will poach from each other to get people who can make it all come together.

Earlier in the week Council got a Status Report on some of the projects for the period August to October.

It wasn’t all bad news – but there wasn’t a lot of really really good news for Council.

The program budget for the Enterprise Resource Planning program is $9,480,000 with more required in the near future.  A Council report and funding request will be presented in April of 2022.  The ask then is in the $3 million range.

One of the problems with keeping on top of these essential but very essential programs is that few of the seven members have much in the way of an understanding of what is involved. Councillors Sharman and Kearns have a good grip on the subject: Kearns is the sharper of the two.

Sharman is good at holding senior Staff to account.  There was an “iconic” Council session last year when Sheila Jones went toe to toe with Councillor Sharman with Jones reminding the Councillor that the approach for members of Council was “noses in – fingers out”.

Councillor Sharman does, from time to time get down into the weeds – the Senior staff in place now are quite good at curbing that Sharman habit.

Burlington has a number of projects delivering customer centric services with a focus on efficiency and technology transformation. Specifically, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Asset Management Software (EAMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) have a corporate designation reflecting the breadth and depth of the scope of these projects and their contribution to achieving customer first approach and digital transformation.

This report also provided information on the theory of status reporting and the key elements of status reports in the City of Burlington including:

Overall project status that considers scope, budget, and schedule and where clear criteria is established to objectively assess the status within each area.

A brief description of the project and alignment to strategic goals.

Highlights of key achievements since the last reporting period and key tasks planned for the upcoming period.

Highlights of critical risks and challenges that form part of the risk management plan.

Key tasks that address communications and engagement and information related to staff resourcing.

Links to documents or tools and other information that may be relevant based on the project status.

In keeping with open communication and engagement, the report provides Committee and Council with an update on each of the three corporate initiatives including overall status, key milestones, critical risks, and other relevant information with the goal of providing assurance that project governance is working effectively.

While the criteria and guidance for assessing a project’s health status have recently been amended within the context of overall project management practices with Information Technology Services, we are deferring its use until 2023. This deferral will provide us with an opportunity to take a refreshed look at the report template to enhance the information reported to council. In addition, we are reviewing our inventory of corporate- wide projects to appropriate status reporting is provided to Council.

 

The most critical computer application that is being worked up has too many serious risk points. It is too late to go back. The CRM application should be dropped. Hydro installed one that works just fine – borrow from them.

Councillors Nisan, Bentivegna, Stolte and to a considerable degree Councillor Galbraith are lost when technology is the issue. They are easily snowed by Staff.  Burlington has a mix of computer applications that have reached the end of their life cycle and are no longer being supported; other applications have to be revised or replaced in order to communicate with the larger more robust applications that are being used now.

Some budget items can baffle people because of their complexity. It becomes very difficult to hold Staff accountable.

Understanding complex integrated information technology matters is beyond most Councillors.

To understand the size of the challenge calls for some literacy which most of the Councillors don’t have.  The Mayor tends to take what she hears on faith knowing that she can collar the city manager during their weekly meetings that are not on the record.

Sometime ago the city began integrating a Customer Response Management (CRM) program – the first step did not go well.  Members of Council were livid and demanded that the city administration not get in between the Councillors and the voters.

There were solid reasons for putting a CRM program in place when it went kaflooey the Councillors were in a position to demand immediate changes.  That dynamic is unlikely to apply to other situations.

It is generally realized and understood that data is needed to make decisions and that for the most part the data is “in there somewhere”  Isolating the data and setting it up so that it is accessible by other applications is the expensive challenge the city faces.

The Business Information reviews have been completed; they gave the Information Technology people a deep understanding of their operational needs. Chad MacDonland, Chief Information Officer told Council that the work has gone so well that his team has been able to show staff demonstration version of what the completed integration will look like.

Is this the kind of thing a Council member would lust over

However, all the information requirements were not met. Councillor Sharman said that he “lusts after the sense of confidence” he would get from seeing Gantt Charts – and asked if they existed and if they existed were they available.

Executive Director Jones reminded Sharman that the Councillors role was: “noses in, fingers out”.

The Gantt charts exist – no assurance that Sharman will get to see them.

 

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City spins out a media release on the new taxi service

By Pepper Parr

December 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City Hall communications people put out a media release on the taxi situation in the city.

With the Public Vehicle By-law amendments providing a temporary solution to replace lost taxi service, the City of Burlington is sharing that Blue Line Taxi company has been issued a new taxi licence. Blue Line Taxi will start to service Burlington residents today. To book taxi service, Burlington residents can call Blue Line Taxi by phone (905) 525-0000 or book online at 525blue.com.

905-525-0000 will bring one of these cabs to your door

The by-law that governs the issuance of new taxi licences was written to meet the needs of the taxi business model that existed in 2009.  To allow new business to enter the Burlington transportation market, City staff recommended interim by-law amendments.  These amendments provide flexibility in the application process to meet the demands of current business models.

 

Quick Facts

  • Burlington’s main taxi service provider Burlington Taxi ceased operation on Nov.26, 2021
  • At the Nov. 30, 2021 Special Council meeting, City Council approved amending the Public Vehicle By-law to allow exemptions to existing licensing requirements so other taxi services could apply to provide service for Burlington residents
  • The by-law amendments allowed applications for new taxi owner licences/plates to open on Dec. 2, 2021 until all spaces are full
  • The by-law amendments are intended to provide a temporary solution. City staff are aiming to undertake a comprehensive review and consultation and have a new by-law created prior to December 31, 2023.
  • Further review is required not only to determine appropriate taxi licensing requirements, but to investigate the ‘rideshare’ businesses and options for regulating that market.

 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “I know we all welcome the news that taxi service can resume in our community as early as today, and in time for the holidays. I want to thank the successful applicant for coming forward, and I’m grateful to City staff and my Council colleagues for working quickly to find a temporary solution to restore taxi service in Burlington immediately. I also thank staff for their ongoing efforts to bring forward a permanent solution to this issue. As well, thank you to Burlington Taxi for their 53 years of dedicated service to our community.”

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte said: “As we learned earlier this morning, amendments to our Vehicle/Taxi Bylaw will allow us to welcome 13 new taxi vehicles onto to our streets as of today, Tuesday, December 7, 2021.  Staff are open and eager to review additional licenses to increase this number of available taxi vehicles as multiple companies in the taxi industry continue to come forward with applications.  It was unfortunate that these changes and amendments were not considered before the closure of Burlington Taxi as this could have avoided the subsequent transportation crisis for many Burlington residents, but I am relieved that an expedient way forward was sought by staff and I look forward to the renewed commitment to this valuable mode of transportation for Burlington residents in the future.”

There is some “shame on you” to be spread around on this one.

Related new stories:

Scott Wallace Talks Back

Burlington Taxi announces the need to close

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Milton decides to live with a 5.45% tax increase

By Pepper Parr

December 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Town of Milton bit the bullet and accepted a 5.47tax increase last night is there a message for Burlington Marianne Meed Ward?

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz has been saying for some time that Burlington is going to have to get used to higher buildings and higher taxes.

The antics at city Council last week look like an attempt to stem the tide.

With the budget being debated at 4.95% perhaps council should quite while they are ahead.

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Taxi cab owner: 'We reached out at regular intervals trusting in their reassurance that the by-laws would be changed'

By Pepper Parr

December 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Did you ever had a puppy that you had to train not to piddle on the floor? I had one and when he did his business where he wasn’t supposed to I’d give him a stern look and call him a bad dog and put him in his business box.

Scott Wallace did just that, gave Mayor Meed Ward a couple of paragraphs of some strong language when he wrote the following letter:

Our response to the Mayor’s statement on November 24th has not come easily. We must speak to the facts that outline our last few years urging for change in our local taxi industry. We could not be more proud of our Burlington Taxi team for their hard work and dedication over the last 53 years.

With all due respect, we take strong exception to our Mayor’s statement that asserts, “the Taxi By-Laws were written to protect Burlington Taxi” and that our “closure was unrelated to the by-law review request in 2018.”

We ask, what exactly has the By-Law protected? Did the By-Law protect the taxi drivers now out of work since November 2021? Did the By-Law protect Burlington Taxi from having to shut down its operations? Did the By-law protect taxi companies from unregulated competition; ride share companies that have enjoyed the luxury of no city license fees, no federal taxes, no commercial insurance, no vulnerable sector criminal checks, nor an obligation to support wheelchair accessible transportation?

Former Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster talks with Scott Wallace, proprietor of Burlington Taxi. Lancaster was on the Council that Wallace had taken his concerns about the taxi industry in 2018.

It gives us no pleasure to say that the city’s process failed to support its business community, taking little notice of our repeated pleas over the years for comprehensive change.

We saw the tsunami coming (Uber/Lyft drivers, the pandemic, a severe labour shortage, a spike in insurance rates). What we missed was the acknowledgement that our By-law request in November was one small part of a fulsome City By-law review initiated in 2018.

For the record, our final plea in November was to allow our drivers to continue working as employees under new Burlington Taxi ownership, and further give them the ability to align themselves with other Cab companies of their choice as independent operators, as every other city does in North America.

Facts don’t lie. The last time the City of Burlington reviewed its taxi by-laws was in 2009, which was written based on the recommendations of a consulting firm hired by the city of Burlington, not the taxi industry.

In 2016, the City was urged to review the new unregulated ride share service (Uber). Council and staff agreed to complete a review of these services. Our industry concern had little to do with Uber itself, but everything to do with regulation of the Uber business model. Regulation is what keeps people safe and ensures fair play among businesses. In Burlington’s case, the ride share industry has no responsibility to anyone – not to the city, not to its drivers, and definitely not to its customers. As a rider, if you experience an unsafe ride, or are a victim of excessive surge pricing, there is no one to call. The city has not regulated ride share companies, perhaps a way to absolve its responsibility, but it certainly doesn’t solve the problem.

Our former council, recognized that our Taxi By-Law was antiquated and in desperate need of comprehensive review. That is why, in early 2018, the former Mayor directed the City to commence a comprehensive review. Public record shows the details surrounding this direction. Nothing came of this.

Not liking the sound of that letter. Was it even read?

We thank our current Mayor for her recognition and issuing her statement on December 2nd regarding taxi, that, “In 2019, city staff formed a small team to look into the by-law review and removed the motion from the regular reporting list, with a plan to report back to council on progress. That report didn’t happen… We acknowledge that the review should have occurred. It didn’t, and for that, we take responsibility.”

“Facts don’t lie. The last time the City of Burlington reviewed its taxi by-laws was in 2009, which was written based on the recommendations of a consulting firm hired by the city of Burlington, not the taxi industry.”

It should not go without mention that we have reached out at regular intervals to the city, each time trusting in their reassurance that the by-laws would be changed.

The election of new city representatives unfortunately sidelined the former Council’s directive for a comprehensive review of the taxi industry and our hope for actual change.

Following our closure last month, Council has re-committed the City to reviewing and updating the Taxi By-Law.

Our hope is that the City will NOW actually follow through with meaningful change.

Our thanks to Ward 4 Councillor, Shawna Stolte, for taking up the torch and advocating for change.

Our City deserves it.

One small ray of hope.  There will be a Verbal Update on Licensing of New Taxi Businesses in Burlington at a Standing Committee on Tuesday.

 

 

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$50 million and we can put our name on it: Council votes to make an offer to purchase Bateman property

By Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Fifty million – and not enough information in the hands of the public.

City Council agreed this afternoon to make a formal offer to purchase the Bateman High School property for $50 million.

Council agrees to make an Offer to purchase the Bateman site

Mayor Meed Ward said the site will become the biggest facility in the city –more than twice the size of Tansley Woods which is the largest at this point.

To the surprise of this reporter we learned that the pool is not owned by the city – Halton District School Board (HDSB) appears to be the owner.

It will be a shared space with plenty of space for community events

There are all kinds of details that are not known; the HDSB will retain some of the space, Brock University is in talks with the city to rent space, Tech Place is going to need an affordable place to operate and has eyes on the Bateman location and the Library might become a tenant as well.

Councillors Stolte and Kearns hold off on fully agreeing to the decision to purchase; they want much more information in the hands of the public.

Councillor Sharman put is quite clearly when he said this was not an agreement to purchase – this was an agreement to continue discussions with the vendor.

The task now he said “ is to figure out how to pay for it.”

The matter comes up again in March of next year.

At the Special meeting of City Council this afternoon two of the seven members of Council voted not to approve the decision to make a formal offer: Councillor Kearns and Stolte took a pass on putting their thumbprint on this one.

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Santa was there - the crowds were on the sparse side.

By Ryan O’Dowd

December 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Call it a Christmas Caravan – a collection of vehicles that worked its way through the city on Saturday and Sunday. Santa was there – but no chance to hand out cookies.

The Good things was that the weather held.

The crowds in the different neighbourhoods were small but enthusiastic.

That little lady on the right had things to say to Santa when he got to her door.

And everyone held the hope that the Santa Claus parade in 2022 would be the real thing.

The city did put together a set of routes that got the Fire truck that was subbing for a sleigh into a lot of neighbour hoods.

It was one of those “you do what you can with what you have”.

There he was – not quite what the event is usually about – but the kids seemed happy and the parents may have done something to add to the event.

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