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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Citizen committee sends recommendations to city on coyote problem - no response. Does a child have to be mauled before any action is taken?

By Staff

August 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Gazette published a report yesterday on recommendations a citizens committee gave to Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and City Manager Tim Commisso.

Within the report were a number of recommendations that we think were important enough to be made public.  They are set out below; they amount to a consultants report that didn’t cost the city a dime.

 

Those recommendations are set out below

1.     Conduct an impact analysis by neighbourhoods to identify various controls that should be implemented to safeguard residents, children and pets from coyote attacks.

 BOCM has identified several “hot spot” neighbourhoods in both Oakville and Burlington which have shown an unusually high number of coyote sightings and incidents. These neighbourhoods are as follows:

  • Samuel Curtis Estates in West Oakville;
  • Wilmot Creek Park in West Oakville/East Burlington;
  • Lakeshore Woods in West Oakville;
  • Sheldon Creek Trail system bordering Samuel Curtis Estates & Lakeshore Woods in West Oakville;
  • Shell Park in West Oakville;
  • South Shel Park & Beach Trails in West Oakville;
  • Burloak Waterfront Park in West Oakville/East Burlington;
  • Mohawk Gardens/St. Patrick’s R.C. School in East Burlington;
  • Bromley Park in East Burlington;
  • Sherwood Forest Park in East Burlington;
  • Pineland Public School in East Burlington;
  • Paletta Estates in Burlington;
  • Nelson Park in Burlington (including Shoreacres Road);
  • John Tuck Public School in

Many of these areas are adjacent to woodlots. The proximity of playgrounds to woodlots which is where coyotes den is particularly problematic. Many young children play in these areas, and the potential for interactions between coyotes and young people is extremely high. In all of West Oakville there are no coyote warning signs whatsoever.

SIGN AT ENTRANCE TO SHELDON CREEK TRAIL, THE SITE OF SEVERAL COYOTE ATTACKS. THIS IS A HEAVILY UTILIZED TRAIL AND CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUND IMMEDIATELY NEXT TO TRAIL ENTRANCE. COYOTES KNOWN TO USE THIS ENTRANCE TO LEAVE THE TRAIL SYSTEM AS THEY MAKE THEIR WAY TO THE LAKE VIA WILMOT ROAD AND STEVENSON ROAD.

2.     Improve both the quantity and quality of signage relating to coyotes, and ensure it offers meaningful information on what to do in the event of sightings.

 There are absolutely no coyote warning signs in Bronte and West Oakville, and the level of coyote signage currently in use in Burlington is vague and offers little in the way of useful information. BOCM believes that much more comprehensive and detailed signage is required that includes the following:

  • Warning signs on the prevalence of coyotes;
  • Encourage park visitors to call 911 in cases of emergencies or attacks;
  • Clear prohibitions aimed at discouraging the feeding wildlife;
  • Specific directions on what to do if a coyote stalks someone;
  • Advice on how to properly haze

Suffice to say that a picture of a coyote may provide a warning but it offers no viable information as to what to do when one is sighted or attacks. Oakville/Burlington need to follow the lead of Mississauga and install billboards, or at the least temporary mobile signs warning people of coyotes in hotspots and what to do.

 

Appendix A includes a cross-section of different pictures taken recently throughout Oakville and Burlington that clearly demonstrates either the lack of proper signage or a lack of relevant information.

3.     Current municipal by-laws should be amended to permit the laying of charges and assessment of fines for persons who feed coyotes.

Current direction from civic officials places an onus upon residents not to feed wildlife. Unfortunately, this advice is not reinforced with appropriate fines that act as a significant deterrent.

It is our understanding that the City of Burlington By-Law 083-2015 enacted September 28th,2015 provides for a fine of $100 for any resident found feeding wildlife. In the case of the Town of Oakville we examined By-Law 2018-006 and were unable to find any fine for feeding wildlife. The fine in the City of Toronto is $365.

BOCM maintains that a $500 fine should be imposed upon any resident or person who is identified feeding wildlife. We believe that a similar fine should be assessed in cases where residents carelessly discard food waste and scraps that become a food source for coyotes, raccoons, etc.

4.     Provide appropriate coyote management education in schools and parks that border creeks.

 We believe that more prescriptive and defined education messages should be used to communicate the potential threat caused by coyotes. We believe that By- Law Officers should be routinely tasked with visiting schools in “hot spot” neighbourhoods to educate teachers, students and administrators about the threats posed by coyotes.

As coyotes are no longer afraid of us hazing must be taught to residents and children. Furthermore, flyers must be sent to every household in high density coyote areas instructing what to do, how to haze, and what to carry as a deterrent.

5.     Change municipal by-laws to permit residents to increase fence heights in order to deter coyotes from entering residents’ properties.

 Our review indicates that in the City of Burlington the maximum fence height is 2 metres. In the case of the Town of Oakville there is a similar provision, although in certain circumstances it can extend to 2.2 metres.

BOCM believes the current height restriction on fences is inadequate to protect residents from coyotes entering the backyards. We have several reports where residents’ pets in fenced backyards have been attacked by coyotes that have scaled wooden and wire fences.

We believe that in cases where properties are adjacent to “hot spot” areas an exception should be made, and that fence heights should be changed to 3 metres. This would provide a strong deterrent to coyotes from entering properties adjacent to parks while providing protection to homeowners whose pets are in enclosed areas.

6.     Permit residents’ whose properties back onto wooded areas to place an awning structure at the top of their fence to prevent coyote jumps.

 As was noted in point #5 above, coyotes have the ability to scale fences up to nine feet high. We believe residents whose properties are adjacent to “hot spot” locations should have the ability to erect awnings at the top of their fences to prevent coyote jumps.

7.     Request more frequent and nightly bylaw officer visits to wooded areas known to have coyote dens.

 BOCM maintains that Animal Control By-Law Officers have a low visibility and profile in the community. We believe that greater efforts should be made to provide nightly patrols in “hot spot” areas where coyotes pose a significant hazard and risk. Increased visibility will reinforce public safety and demonstrate concern for the needs of residents. In particular, better training for animal control and bylaw officers on how to be more empathetic and understanding when dealing with distraught pet owners reporting attacks and killing of their pets would be helpful.

As well, it is important to clearly articulate to residents who to contact in the event of an attack, kill or sighting. Residents are currently confused.

Several schools in Oakville and Burlington have woods that are adjacent to known coyote dens. Below are pictures taken at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic School on Kenwood Drive, and Pineland Public School on Meadowhill Drive. In these photographs you can clearly see that playgrounds and soccer fields are within close proximity to wooded areas and ravines.

8.     Scientifically measure the size of the coyote population in West Oakville, Bronte and Burlington.

 Much has been made about the fact that the coyote population is threatened by urbanization. While this may be true, at no time has scientific data been adduced to confirm the actual size of the coyote population in this area.

Until the 1800’s coyotes lived only in the southern prairies of North America, and the southern United States to Mexico. By the late 1800’s they expanded west to the Pacific Ocean, and by the 1900s they had advanced to the Maritimes, the eastern seaboard in the United States, and north to Alaska. Their rapid population growth is a testament to their hardiness and adaptability.

BOCM believes that making unsubstantiated claims that a species is at risk without corroborating evidence to substantiate it is both misleading and untrue. The natural predator of coyotes are humans, but if there are controls on hunting and trapping then the species reproduces unimpeded. Empirically, the number of sightings and interactions with coyotes would infer that the coyote population has migrated south towards the Lake Ontario shoreline and along adjacent creeks. This would suggest that a larger number of them are living in a confined area and in closer proximity to residents.

We believe that a scientific count of the coyote population would be helpful in identifying dens and imposing reasonable controls that would restrict the number of negative interactions with residents and their pets. Recently, attempts have been made in the City of Chicago using radio tracking to determine the size of the coyote population. Estimates suggest that the population in that City is somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 animals.

BOCM believes that similar activities should be undertaken by bylaw officers using radio control technology. Scientific evidence, not assumptions, are needed in order to develop proactive evidence-based solutions to the coyote population.

9.     Institute a program of coyote contraception to limit the size of the coyote population.

 Once an assessment has been made of the size of the coyote population BOCM believes that measures should be instituted to control the size of this species.

It should be noted that in addition to the obvious threat presented by bites and attacks coyotes are also known carriers of parasites including mange and, in some instances, rabies. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious to both dogs and humans, and there are cases where it can be passed from human to human. Rabies is a deadly virus that spreads from the saliva of infected animals. Treatment involves a series of painful shots that eliminate the infection.

Wildlife contraception is not new. It has been applied successfully in various jurisdictions in the United States to control wildlife including deer:

10. Initiate a program of aggressive hazing to instill fear in coyotes.

 The concept of aversive conditioning has been pioneered by Collen Cassady St. Clair at the University of Alberta who has been working with the Edmonton Coyote Urban Project. This program is based on the concept of teaching wild animals to mistrust humans and fear people in order to lessen interactions that may result in adverse close contacts or attacks. Certain areas of that City, particularly playgrounds, are considered “no-go” zones, and coyotes seen in these areas are aggressively hazed. One approach that is being utilized involves deploying service dogs to find coyotes, then shooting them with chalk balls fired from paintball guns. Residents are also encouraged to haze coyotes by throwing tennis balls at them.

Because coyotes are no longer afraid of people, we need to teach residents aversive conditioning, and providing this information both on the website and in flyers distributed to households.

  1. Institute a program of regular pesticide spraying of rats and other vermin consumed by Coyotes in our trail areas and known den areas.

 If the food sources for coyotes disappears, so will the coyotes. They will move to other more food abundant areas.

This will become increasingly necessary as urban development to the north of Burlington and Oakville proceeds quickly over the next few years. We will need to have plans in place well in advance to control and manage the coyote population. We all know that the coyotes will move south from Milton and Halton Hills to south Oakville and Burlington so they can be close to Lake Ontario where there is an abundance of shoreline and trail system wildlife.

SUMMARY

 BOCM maintains that previous coyote management efforts by civic officials have been both inadequate and a substantive public policy failure. Too much onus has been placed on local residents to manage this problem through appeals to refrain from feeding wildlife. While BOCM supports this measure in principle, it is our contention that this measure alone is inadequate. We strongly contend that the time has come for much more proactive control initiatives.

Related news story:

Report om controlling coyote problem gets the brush off from city hall

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On the matter of those coyotes - citizens produced a report with recommendations - city manager and council have been sitting on the report

By Pepper Parr

August 25th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The following are some very direct questions.

They relate to a report that was produced and provided earlier this year on the coyote problem that both Burlington and Oakville have been experiencing.

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?

To put the questions in context let me share an email I received from Stephen White, a frequent delegator before City Council

A colleague of mine, Julie Martin, lives in Oakville.  Back in 2020 she launched an online petition asking the Town of Oakville and the City of Burlington to adopt a more proactive approach in dealing with coyote management.  Julie lives in West Oakville, and she and her neighbours had many threatening encounters with coyotes.  In some cases pets have been attacked, and coyotes have managed to scale fences and get into residents backyards.  Julie lives very close to Wilmot Park in the Samuel Curtis Estates section of West Oakville.

In March of 2021 a teleconference was held with a number of Oakville and Burlington officials including Councillors O’Meara and Sharman.  There were dozens of residents in attendance.  Suffice to say the response was “status quo”.  Following that teleconference Julie and I connected, and we formed an organization called “Burlington and Oakville Coyote Management”.  In conjunction with several other residents we developed a series of recommendations and ideas on how Oakville and Burlington could better manage the coyote problem..  This culminated in a Report that was prepared in December 2021.

Julie and I met virtually with Councillors O’Meara and Robertson from Oakville, as well as Councillor Sharman, in late January 2022.  Our Report has since been shared with officials at the Town of Oakville and the City of Burlington.  The Town of Oakville sent us a reply on August 9th which Julie and I found disappointing.

Julie and I had a meeting with Councillor Sharman in mid-May at which we expressed our dismay with the City of Burlington’s response.  We also had a teleconference on June 2nd with Councillor Sharman and several City of Burlington officials.  We were told by the City Manager, Tim Commisso, who was on the call, that we could expect a response to our Report the end of June.  It was never forthcoming.

On July 15th I met with Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. I provided her with a copy of our Report. She committed to following up on it.  On July 21st the Mayor sent me a detailed e-mail expressing support in principle with the idea of better coyote management.  She asked the City Manager to follow up.  In a July 22nd e-mail Tim Commisso committed to getting back to us by the end of August with a detailed response.  Julie and I are still waiting.

Both Julie and I are extremely disillusioned with the response to our Report by City and Town officials.  When residents come together and proactively advance a set of recommendations to address a problem the least we should expect is proper due diligence and a detailed examination of our proposals.  While we fully acknowledge the support offered by Councillor Sharman and Mayor Meed Ward the fact remains that civic officials have “dropped the ball” on this issue, and have failed to implement any kind of proactive measures to protect residents, children and their pets.

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Coyote incident results in the eliminating of the animal - also points to a situation that could have been disastrous.

By Staff

August 24th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte sent the following to her constituents:

The City of Burlington, with the expertise of a Certified Wildlife Control Professional, have eliminated the coyote identified by its victims in recent unprovoked attacks on humans in south central Burlington.

A third recent unprovoked coyote attack on a human was reported to the City yesterday evening. Animal Services staff played a key role in tracking the coyote identified as being responsible for all three attacks.

The Councillor misnamed the location – it isn’t a lookout – it is one of the many windows on the lake that adjacent property owners used to discourage the public from using. Great place to just while away some time

During the evening, an 18-year-old girl was lying in the grass at the municipal lookout at the end of Market Street, south of Lakeshore Road, when she felt a tug on her hair. She turned to see a coyote which then bit and scratched her leg as she stood up. The girl was taken for medical attention and was released.

The two other recent attacks were also unprovoked but during the day.

The first unprovoked attack was on a female adult on the Centennial Multiuse Trail at Seneca Avenue in the morning. The coyote jumped and bit her from behind.

The second unprovoked attack was on a 2 ½ year-old toddler seated on a deck in his fenced backyard less than two kilometres east of the first attack.

There was no food, small animals or any other activity to attract the coyote. The toddler was also bitten on the back of the neck. Both victims were treated at Joseph Brant Hospital and released.

The attacks are uncharacteristic of coyotes and are the first reported attacks on humans in Burlington.

Centennial Trail at Seneca Avenue

Municipalities are responsible for taking appropriate actions to manage resident encounters with coyotes and take appropriate action on municipal property. On the rare occasion that a coyote attacks a person, the City has a Council approved protocol in place that is currently being followed to prioritize and deal with the one coyote in question.

Anyone who sees a coyote is encouraged to let the City know by submitting an online report or calling 905-335-3030. Reporting coyote sightings, or potential problems related to overgrown building sites, garbage or someone intentionally or accidentally feeding a coyote, helps the City monitor the location and activity of coyotes in the community.

The coyote problem has taken on a new dimension; while the behaviour of this particular coyote is uncharacteristic – it is at the same time very serious.

There is some serious work to be done – hopefully City Manager Tim Commisso will pull together all the people who are involved in public safety and animal control and push the edge of that envelope to determine if there is something we are not doing that we should be doing and if there is new information that has not yet reached our people.
The incident involving a 2 ½ year-old toddler seated on a deck in his fenced backyard is more than a red flag.

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List of School Boards candidates

By Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

School boards used to be the first step that people who were concerned about the political health of their community took.

Now, there are times when trustees are acclaimed.  This time around there are no acclamations for the Burlington trustee seats which is healthy.

What confuses many people are the number of school boards we have.  There are the public and the Catholic Boards which everyone with children understand.

The Conseil scolaire Viamonde and the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir are probably new to most people.  They are both French language based.

The Conseil scolaire Viamonde is a public-secular French first language school board, and manages elementary and secondary schools in the Ontario Peninsula and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The school board operates 41 elementary schools and 15 secondary schools within that area.

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir is a Roman Catholic French first language public-separate school board that manages elementary and secondary schools in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The school board operates 46 elementary schools, 11 secondary schools, and two combined institutions within that area.

Both Board trustees for Burlington were acclaimed

Here are the candidates standing for seats as trustees in Burlington

Halton District School Board Trustee – Wards 1 and 2

Matthew Diodati
Sebastian Dumitrescu-Georgescu
Omar Kayed

Halton District School Board Trustee – Wards 3 and 6

Nathaniel Arfin
Chris Goff
Stephen Green
Alison Hodd
Anna Sophia Jodhi
Dan Smith
Xin Yi Zhang

Halton District School Board Trustee – Ward 4

Roxanne Anderson
Michael Beauchemin
Varun Bhardwaj
Michael Duhacek
Margo Shuttleworth

Halton District School Board Trustee – Ward 5

David Biagioni
Amy Collard

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee –

Wards 1 and 2

Vincent Enzo Iantomasi
Kirsten Kelly

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee –

Wards 3 and 6

David Cherry
Trish Nicholls-Powell

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee – Wards 4 and 5

Brenda Agnew
Rick Giuliani

Conseil scolaire Viamonde

Pierre Gregory (acclaimed)

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir

Dominique Janssens (acclaimed)

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Tim O'Brien: I can beat the ward 2 incumbent if I work hard enough.

By Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With nominations closed and the official list of candidates running for positions certified by the City Clerk, Burlington moves into a 62  days to go campaign that will elect seven people who will guide the city through a complex period of time during which critical long term decisions are going to have to be made.

The Gazette will do its best to interview each of the 23 candidates, several of whom feel they can ignore media, put out their own story and assume the public will buy it without any questions.

Democracy doesn’t work that way.

There are 23 candidates to interview.  Some candidates ask if this can be done by telephone.  An in depth interview is a one on one event that takes at least an hour.

The Gazette has brought in Denis Gibbons, a former editor of another Burlington based newspaper, to do some of the interviewing.

Tim O’Brien: His move to municipal politics, not unusual, was brought about by his dissatisfaction with the way the HDCSB operated and his interest in city wide issues.

Yesterday we interviewed Tim O’Brien, a current Halton District Catholic School Board (HCSB) trustee who is not running for trustee re-election.

O’Brien spoke reluctantly about his HDCSB experience explaining that the protocols in place were such that he was not permitted to speak.

He does however talk about some of the changes that trustees were able to make, the most important one from Tim O’Brien’s point of view was input on the hiring of Superintendents.

Burlington city council does not have any formal input on the decisions City Manager Tim Commisso makes on his hiring decisions.  The decision Council makes is who they want as City Manager.  That manager does the staff hiring or delegates it to Executive Directors.

Tim O’Brien was born in Sarnia, moved to Burlington in 1990.  He was a music teacher with the HDCSB; retired in 2018 when he was elected a trustee.

His move to municipal politics, not unusual, was brought about by his dissatisfaction with the way the HDCSB operated and his interest in city wide issues.

These days he is knocking on doors and hearing what the issues are.

O’Brien  does not live I ward 2 – he does live across the street on the other side of the ward 2 boundary.

During his door knocking O’Brien found that intensification is the number one issue for the people he is talking to on their doorsteps.

“Every third household I talked to said their concern was with the level of intensification” he said.

Quality of life was the next big issue for people followed by dissatisfaction and concerns with the services provided by Parks and Recreation.  O’Brien wants to see more park space and points out that if you drive along Guelph Line from Dundas to Lakeshore Road – note how little open green space exists.

He wants to see more and soon before the developers build on the land that could be available.

He said that people don’t understand why all these high rises have to be built.

O’Brien has deep concerns over life in a condo.  It might be Ok for empty nesters but he doesn’t think it is the kind of place where your raise children. Site plan of a development that is planned for FAirview just west of Guelph Line.

O’Brien met with people in Oakville where they appear to have managed to keep the high rise development out of their downtown core.

Some think that is because Oakville hires better legal talent to represent the city at Ontario Land Tribunal hearings and ask aloud if Burlington has the right person leading the legal department.

Some clarification:  The appeal level for anyone who differs with a municipality on the decisions it makes on planning matters used to be the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that got renamed to the Local Planning Authority Tribunal (LPAT) and was recently changed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)

Post war bungalows on large lots were the norm in the Queensway community. Developers bought up half a dozen properties, consolidated and put up rows of town houses.

While door knocking in the Queensway (west of Guelph Line, south of the QEW) O’Brien learned about what residents in the area called “needle park” – the vacant lot on the south west corner of Harvester and Guelph Line. “The bushes in the park give the drug users a place to do what they do without being seen” said O’Brien adding that the community doesn’t have a park.

It is in a quiet part of the city that has undergone significant development.  Where there were once quarter acre lots with small bungalows that were created for veterans just after WWII; developers did some consolidation and the area now has some significant intensification – but no high rise – yet.

O’Brien found that taxes were not the number one issue – it was third on his list based on what he heard at the door. “People were telling me that if higher taxes were needed to maintain the quality of life they want then they are Ok with that.

Townhouse developments have replaced bungalows on large spacious lots.

What people don’t want to lose said O’Brien  was the almost small town feel of the city.   They don’t like the sense that the city is becoming a place for “rich strangers that we don’t know.”

O’Brien has deep concerns over life in a condo.  It might be Ok for empty nesters but he doesn’t think it is the kind of place where your raise children.

Tim O’Brien has figured it out: Knocking on doors beats the photo op every time.

He would want to see a lot in the way of amenities where kids could play and learn – he wants libraries, swimming pools, gymnasiums and playing fields.  Outdoor ice rinks that are maintained by the community is what he wants to work  for.

Dogs and off leash parks – a big problem now that is only going to get bigger.  The one planned for Drury and New Street is too small said O’Brien.

He likes the idea of creating time for people to use the dog park as unleashed space for two hours or so in the morning and another two  hours late in the day – maybe early evening.

It will have to be monitored but O’Brien thinks it is worth a pilot effort to see if people can learn to share space.

Can he beat the incumbent and win the council seat we asked.  “I can if I work hard enough.

And with that Tim O’Brien was on the phone setting up a meeting and getting ready to knock on more doors in the evening

 

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Two Arrested: Multiple Charges Laid in Relation to Gym Locker and Vehicle Thefts in Burlington

By Staff

August 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) – 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau arrested two suspects in relation to a series of gym locker thefts which began in June 2022.

The suspects would break into the lockers, steal the contents within, attend the parking lot where they would steal motor vehicles and attend nearby stores to fraudulently use the (stolen) credit cards.

The suspects have also been identified as being responsible for additional offences across the region and neighboring jurisdictions.

On August 16, 2022, the suspects were located and arrested by HRPS officers at a hotel in Cambridge. During the arrest the suspects were jointly in possession of a stolen Kia motor vehicle. Each suspect also possessed a quantity of methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Taylor Gillard (23) of No Fixed Address has been charged with:
• Theft of Motor Vehicle (6 counts)
• Unauthorized Possession of a Weapon (3 counts)
• Theft Under $5000 (6 counts)
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000 (3 counts)
• Fraudulent Use of Credit Card (3 counts)
• Possession of Break and Enter Tools (2 counts)
• Possession of Automobile Master Key
• Possession of a Controlled Substance (2 counts)
• Fail to Comply being on Release Order (2 counts)

Michael Salverda (36) of No Fixed Address has been charged with:
• Unauthorized Possession of a Weapon (3 counts)
• Theft Under $5000
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5000
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000 (3 counts)
• Fraudulent Use of Credit Card
• Possession of Break and Enter Tools (2 counts)
• Possession of Automobile Master Key
• Possession of a Controlled Substance (3 counts)
• Fail to Comply with Probation
• Fail to Comply with Undertaking

Both accused have been held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4777 ext. 2316.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

 

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