Marina issues: First it was insurance - now its a crane operator strike. The question some are asking - what do you do with a drunken sailor?

By Pepper Parr

May 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There will be a detailed report on how council and city staff will do their best to get boats into the water at the LaSalle Park Marina. For today – look at what the issues were and how Council worked their way through what is a messy problem.

The major issue was not being able to get insurance coverage.

What made their situation just that more dicey was the strike by crane operators.

One of the things that about this story is that information slips out in bits and pieces.

We did not know that the LaSalle Park Marina Association (LPMA) pays the city a license fee of $159,000 a year for the wave break. What does the city do with that money? Do they put it back into the hydro reserve fund it was taken from?

While Tim Commisso, city manager doesn’t want to operate a marina – one of the stipulations from the insurers the city uses is that the city must have control over the marina if the city insurance policy is to include the marina.

City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol

Council looked to City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol to determine just what ‘control over the marina’ means.

While the city knows a lot about policy and process the Parks and Recreation people realize that they don’t know all that much about the day to day problems that crop up at a marina.

The solution they appear to be edging towards is having all the marina volunteers become city volunteers who would then be given some training. Those volunteers would run the marina as city volunteers.

Will it fly? That depends on the strength of the relationship between the city and the insurance company. City is big big client – some wiggle room might be found.

Another boat is hoisted out of the yard and lowered into the water as the LaSalle Park Marina opens for another season.  Just not this year – mid June at the earliest.

The marina is a profitable operation. They have 210 slips – with 160 of them rented – they are profitable.  The longer term hope for the operation was to have 310 slips and a decent restaurant on the site.

As important to anyone is – getting the boats in the water and to do that they need to find an independent crane operator with equipment big enough to hoist those boats off their cradles and into the water.

One boat has been sold – the owner apparently can’t get his boat out of the yard it is in.

Everyone has spoken about how whatever arrangement is worked out that the city will be revenue neutral. Not a dime of public money gets put into the operation of the marina.

The LPMA turns out to have a decent reserve fund of its own. They reported that they run a profit most years – something in the order of $64,000 annually. Last year was an exception.

Given that the marina association has a reserve ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte wondered if the LPMA would have some of that reserve used to secure any expenses the city did run up?

City treasurer Joan Ford told Council that any expenses that did crop up would be recorded in a new, separate account. What kind of expense might be recorded in that account?

Council learned that the city was hiring outside legal council to advise on what the legal issues were. The cost of those lawyers would be one that the city would pay and look to the LPMA for reimbursement.

Stolte put forward an amendment to a motion that was being considered. She wanted some of that LPMA reserve money set aside as a security for those unexpected expenses.  It went nowhere – Stolte couldn’t get a seconder. When asked if he would second the motion Councillor Galbraith took a pass. Smart man – no need for him to rustle the feathers of an influential group in his ward.

The Gazette has learned that one of the two slip and fall law suits took place on the docks late at night.

We don’t yet know just who made the claim and what the particulars of the claim are.

We do know that $97,500 has been spent by the LPMA defending the claim with a settlement on either of the claims nowhere in sight.

What is that phrase ”What do you do with a drunken sailor…”

Return to the Front page

Ward 1 Councillor meets with his constituents - virtually with 12 in the room

By Pepper Parr

May 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Kelvin Galbraith is now embracing the world of retail politics.

Kelvin Galbraith with Aldershot residents shortly after he was elected

In the retail world – you reach out to your customers, listen to them carefully and adjust your plans and approach to meet the needs the customer are bringing to your attention.

In a phrase – you service them – or as my Newfoundland friends would say – you kill them with kindness.

Galbraith held his first community meeting in a long time.  It was a hybrid event with about 12 people in the room and an unknown number taking part virtually.

When things run smoothly – Kelvin Galbraith is a happy man.

Galbraith knows his brief – he has a firm grip on what is taking place in terms of development in the ward and has a vision that is a little hazy but in time it will become clearer.

That vision, and his focus on a second term if he is elected, is Eagle Heights and the Paletta lands on the south side of 403 between King Road and basically the Aldershot GO station.

The property is zoned Employment lands – in the real estate world the money is in residential.  If you’re in the downtown core and close to the lake – there is real money to be made.

The Paletta’s are working with the 2030 Commonwealth Games committee with a plan to use the King Road property as one of the venues.

Galbraith loves the idea – he wants to see the South Service Road extended further west and if the Commonwealth games initiative will do that – fine by Galbraith.

He is basically on top of all the developments taking place in the ward.

He likes what King Paving is doing with the property on the west side of Waterdown – opposite Station West.  They are looking at moving their operation to what was once the municipal dump on the North Service Road.  That location is right beside the Mercedes Benz dealership – dust issues might become a major hurdle King Paving has to get over.

Despite a lot of effort Galbraith has not been able to get all that much for the community from the Vrancorp people who own Solid Gold. The best he might be able to get is a Starbucks franchise and a tiny park space.

There is nothing new – or positive on the development planned for the Solid Gold site.

The mess at the marina has Galbraith stepping very carefully – he needs to keep that membership happy.

The city manager is reported to have told a resident that he does not want to find the city running a marina operation – outsourcing the operation was the word that seemed to convey what the city manager would like to see.

Convincing Galbraith to take part in the Red Carpet Red Tape Task Force may not prove to be all that beneficial to him.

The Mayor finds herself trying to play with a very sticky wicket.  That raid on the hydro reserves to pay for the wave break that was essential if the marina was to remain viable has come back to haunt her politically.

Galbraith was asked by the Mayor during the early months of the current term of office to partner with her on the Red Carpet Red Tape Task Force.  The result was someone with good business credentials working with the Mayor and shoring up one of her weaker skill sets.

Galbraith is now paying a price for that early exposure.  He needs to put some space between himself and the Mayor.

The way in which Galbraith took part in the process that resulted in ward 4 Councillor being sanctioned by the Integrity Commissioner didn’t do anything for the Galbraith reputation.  That sorry situation is not over yet – there is a report due in June that will determine if Stolte decides to run for re-election

As part of a city council that voted to declare a climate emergency in the city, Galbraith still chooses to drive a gas guzzling pick up truck.  The optics on that one are terrible.

Galbraith is one of the few members of council facing a challenge to the seat he holds.  During an interview Galbraith said – anyone who decides to run against me doesn’t have a chance.

It is hubris like that that loses elections

 

Return to the Front page

Rivers still sees this election as Doug Ford's to lose.

By Ray Rivers

May 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Mike Schreiner – Green Party

There were a couple of political debates this past week. The four main party leaders met in North Bay to stake out their promises for northern Ontario. And there were no surprises, nobody fell on their face, and despite the odd jab there were no knock-out punches. If I had to pick a debate winner it would have been Green Party leader Mike Schreiner – methodical, pointed, passionate and considered – it is a shame he wasn’t leading a party with a better chance of winning seats.

On the topic of debates, I also tuned into the federal Conservative leadership debate. It was fun, a kind of cross between a political blood-fest and a gong show. The game show host, also known as moderator, had a lot of fun tossing out hoops for the contestants to step through.

But the contest is really Poilievre vs the Charest/Brown tag team.

And if ever there was a need for fact checking, it is the stuff that the eloquent Mr. Poilievre is spouting. For example, he seems to have discovered a ‘new economics’ which no reputable economist can agree with. To be sure he speaks with conviction and sounds credible – but it mostly is rubbish. Still, if you say a lie often enough, some people will believe it.

And if you were looking for how these wannabe leaders were going to handle climate change that was the wrong channel to watch. Even Jean Charest, my former boss when he was Canada’s minister of the environment in the Mulroney government, didn’t spend anytime on the topic.

And I know he understands the science – I had written a few of his speeches and briefing notes.

The Ontario leaders’ debate was set in the north, a geographical construct which has been afflicted with climate change induced forest-fires and floods. Yet, I had to listen hard to hear mention of… let alone any promises to mitigate climate change. True enough, the opposition parties talked about Increased public transportation and support for electric vehicles (EV). But there was little from the governing Tory leader, other than boasting about some new investment for manufacturing EVs.

Doug Ford – Premier of the province pointing to what he saw as positive Covid19 numbers,

Mr. Ford renewed his promise for a road to the ring of fire and its precious metals. But even as he was bragging about landing a $5 billion lithium car battery plant to Windsor, the company was contemplating cancelling for lack of an assurance of electric power. Following the debate Ford promised a billion dollar new electricity line to Windsor from somewhere. Perhaps he shouldn’t have cancelled all those renewable energy projects.

The Green Party delivered their detailed party platform this week, promising a whacking $65 billion in new spending to transition the province to a “new climate economy”. It’s easy to make promises if you’ll never have to deliver. The party also has plans to make the province’s top doctor independent, to provide more affordable housing and a spattering of other social policies. The party would reinstate the environmental commissioner, a position which Mr. Ford axed early in his administration. And to that end Dianne Saxe, the last commissioner, is running for the Greens in the Toronto riding of University–Rosedale.

Steven Del Duca hoping to revive the Liberal Party fortunes

The Liberals released their platform earlier in the week with some interesting sound bites primarily intended for the ear of those struggling McDonalds-frequenting working class folks. After all, if buck-a-beer got Ford elected…. Del Duca plans to raise the HST exemption, or at least the provincial portion, on fast foods up to $20. He will also offer $1 a ride transit across the province for a limited time and will take the $10 billion the Tories have allocated for Hwy 413 and spend it on renovating schools. He would cap all class sizes to a maximum of 20 students and hire a bunch of teachers to make that happen. Like the other opposition parties the Liberals would end for-profit private long term care and guarantee all workers 10 sick days a year as well some kind of employee benefit package.

The NDP were the first party to actually lay out a complete policy platform and their plans dive deep into what they consider has been broken in the province since they last were in government. So rent control is back with a vengeance. Horwath is promising equity in auto insurance rates and to speed up implementation of the new child care agreement. Her party would be adding more renewable energy, fixing long term and other health care, and even speeding up development of the ‘ring of fire’. The NDP detailed election platform is only a little easier to read than War and Peace, which means that most voters will not bother. Still in the small print on page 85 there is a promise to “create a Mixed Member Proportional Voting system”.

Andrea Horwath _leader of the New Democrats

The Tories consider their last budget, implementation of which was deferred until after the election, as their policy platform – that and odd sporadic announcements they’ll make throughout the campaign to keep/bring voters in their camp. And given that their poll numbers haven’t moved much since they called the vote, they’re probably safe in doing that. Ford’s main promises include more privately operated long term beds, more highways and more auto manufacturing in the province.

The Ford nation is headed for another strong majority if the polls are right. So, Mr. Ford couldn’t be blamed for spending these nice warm days till election day at his cottage, confident he’s got it in the bag. Not that I am saying he’s doing, that mind you. And, of course, that could all change with the final leaders’ debate this Monday night. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.

With a candidate in every riding this new party is doing surprisingly well – they could eat away at some of the PC core vote

Then there are the other two even more right wing parties, Jim and Belinda Karahalios’ ‘New Blue’ and Derek Sloan’s ‘Ontario Party’. Together their polling is close to that of the Green Party, so they could be a insignificant factor if the radical/reactionary conservatives shift their support away from the Tories to the ‘real’ right wing. Still these are fledgling political outfits and it’ll be amazing if they end with more than the one seat each they have today. But nobody should forget the success of the Reform Party.

One of these four will be Premier – could it be a government with just a minority of seats in the legislature?

On the other side of the ideological aisle the Liberals, NDP and Greens all compete for pretty much the same political base but each with their own fine tuned refinements. And with three parties on the left and three on the right, perhaps it is time to consider proportional representation after all. But you’d have to vote for the NDP or Greens to see that happen this election. In any case it is unfortunate that these new ‘bluer than Ford’ parties have not been invited to all the electoral debates during this election. They are putting a lot of effort and money into winning hearts and souls of the voters and we should be able to hear what they are proposing even if they are new to the political game.

Ray Rivers is a retired federal civil servant who has been politically active in the Burlington community.  He has a degree in economics and has been writing a column for the Gazette for the past seven years.  when the election is over he will return to writing his second book

Return to the Front page

Two of Aldershot's best go up against Oakville Mayor Rob Burton

By Staff

May 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tom Muir, a committed advocate for stronger public voices at the planning table sent a note to Oakville Mayor Rob Burton on planning matters.  Burton responded saying:

Tom, all four parties with seats in the Legislature have embraced in their platforms the call for a million and a half new housing units over the next ten years, effectively double or triple what has been planned and financed out to 2031. One might expect significant changes to urban planning processes in the name of the supposed need for haste.

Greg Woodruff, an Aldershot resident who has run, unsuccessfully for both Regional Chair and Mayor of Burlington responded to Burton:

Hello Rob,
Whatever “changes” you imagine in the urban planning process – if you imagine required infinite growth on the same land area …

If your entire city was of single family houses, then knock them down for duplexes.

If your entire city was duplexes, then knock them down for 4 floor apartments.

If your entire city was 4 floor apartments, then knock them down for 12 stores.

And if your entire city was 12 story apartments, knock them down for 50 stores.

Instead of all that building and knocking down – why not jump to the 50 story buildings?

Why can there be no reasonable or nuanced building? Because if you concede infinite sustainable growth – every single location’s destiny is a building as high as technology allows.

And once you conceded that – there is no sensible limit to the building in any one location.

In his comment Mayor Rob Burton, BA, MS, signed off as Head of Council & CEO.

I thought the city manager was the CEO – with authority delegated to him by Council. Am I wrong?

Return to the Front page

Burlington Chamber of Commerce seems to have forgotten the reason for having democratically elected legislators

By Pepper Parr

May 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In an earlier news report we asked: Why did the Burlington Chamber of Commerce decide the Burlington candidate for the New Blue Party would not be permitted to take part in the Chamber’s Question and Answer session on May 19th?

We now know why.

They were told that they did not poll at least 5% of the vote in the last election.  True – they didn’t exist in the last election.

They do not have a member sitting in the Legislature – not completely true.  The New Party is represented in the Legislature by Belinda Karahalios  who was at one point a member of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Belinda Karahalios was elected as the MPP for Cambridge.  In July of 2020 she was expelled from the PC caucus after she voted against Bill 195.

The bill was in its third reading, and would allow the government of Premier Doug Ford to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

When she was booted out of the PC party,  Karahalios crossed the floor of the Legislature and declared herself a member representing the New Blue Party.   Crossing the floor is nothing knew – it happens federally and provincially.

The spirit of a democratic  society is to accept a party that is representative of the community; the New Blue party has 124 people nominated and running election campaigns across the province.  To put it more bluntly – the New Blue have a candidate running in every riding in the province as do the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.  The Liberal Party has 122 candidates.

Allison McKenzie: New Blue candidate for Burlington,

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce needs to take another hard look at the decision they have made and welcome Allison McKenzie, candidate as the candidate for the New Blue Party in Burlington.

Personally, I am not a fan of the party and most of the positions they have taken.

I am a fan and a strong believer in fairness and openness.  The New Blue belong at the table.

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.

 

Return to the Front page

Is it Kate or Kathleen? Both JBH nurses were recognized by their peers and given Celebrating Excellence Awards

By Staff

May 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We all know just how hard the nurses work, how critical they are to a solid recovery  but if asked to name two  most people would not have an answer

In honour of #NursesWeek2022, the Joseph Brant Hospital has announced the recipients of the  Celebrating Excellence Awards.

The nursing community recognizes that everyone at JBH works together to contribute to the care of their patients and to the patient experience.

Kathleen and Kate were nominated by their peers

Is this Kate or Kathleen ?

Is this Kate or Kathleen?

1️⃣Kathleen went above and beyond to ensure the best possible patient care for a very sick young patient who required a transfer to a hospital in Toronto. We were short-staffed on night shift and received notice shortly before shift change that a hospital in Toronto had a bed available for this patient who had been waiting several days for the transfer for specialized surgery. Kathleen worked a 17-hour shift, staying late to transport the patient to ensure that they received the care they needed. She knew the patient well, and provided continuity of care and reassurance to the family by seeing them through to the next steps in the patient’s care.

2️⃣Kate is a strong leader on the unit in two areas. Her approach with patients with challenging behaviours is calm, compassionate and therefore she is able to connect to them. This positively influences their patient experience here at JBH. She is an amazing role model to others with patients and families see this compassion as well.

Secondly, Kate is a leader with staff by supporting them throughout the shift, offering help and building the team to complete all the patients care needs by the end of the shift. This team work positively influences the patient experience.

The format in which the pictures came to us didn’t say who was 1 and who was two.  Maybe the readership can help us out.  Kudo’s to both women!

Return to the Front page

Just how is Burlington going to create the housing people can afford? There is a process and it is complex

By Pepper Parr

May 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a four part series

Every month the Rocca Sisters Team sends out a report on housing sales – both condominiums and ground based homes.

Their most recent report was published earlier this week.  See the link below

Housing is all about dollars for the buyers and the sellers and the real estate community.

The Rocca people are at that ground level where people feel what is taking place.

The bureaucrats and the politicians, the people who create policies, make changes to the Official Plan and the bylaws that set out what can be built where and by whom.

That level is quite a bit more complex.

This development did not require approval by city council – it met the Official Plan requirement and applicable zoning bylaws. The city does have site plan approval and the right to include inclusionary zoning rules which cannot be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal

Burlington is going through provincially mandated intensification.

The planning department staff has mushroomed to double what it was a year and a half ago.

Development applications at one point overwhelmed staff – so much so that the city had to create an Interim Control Bylaw which halted all development in the Urban Growth Centre – that boundary that has very few straight lines and changed frequently.

The Interim Control Bylaw is no longer with us, the Urban Boundary is now cast in stone and the bureaucracy runs much more smoothly.

Don’t take that to mean there isn’t all that much happening.

Alison Enns, planning lead of a team of planners putting together a Housing Strategy that will be presented to Council in June.

There is a Steering Group made up of Senior Staff who serve as oversight with what gets done at the Housing Strategy Group that is headed up by Alison Enns. This is the group that has been holding virtual on line meetings for close to a year; they also love surveys. They have gotten into the habit of doing very small mini surveys during the virtual events to get a sense as to how their audience is reacting to the work they are doing.

The work is very technical, complex and necessary. Building a community is a lot more than cement trucks, steel girders and cranes arriving at a construction site.

There is also a Working Group on Housing. This group is radically different than the Housing Strategy Group – it is made up of volunteers that were screened before being part of the Group. They do quite a bit of their work offline – they have in the past limited public participation in some of their events..

Those three levels are the basics of how plans for creating the housing that has to be built actually gets done.

At the very bottom of the hierarchy of groups involved in housing is the work being done by the planners who are putting the final pieces together for the MTSA sites. Major Transportation Service Areas are basically the GO stations.

The critical important element in the MTSA’s is the ability to include inclusionary zoning.

These were first call transportation hubs – and there were four of the. The one located in downtown Burlington at the bus terminal was not much more than a place where people could buy bus tickets. It was enough for a developer with a smart lawyer to convince the then OMB that the developer should be permitted to build a 26 story structure that is currently going up floor by floor.

Inclusionary zoning, also known as inclusionary housing, refers to municipal and county planning ordinances that require a given share of new construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes.

Inclusionary zoning typically creates housing for households earning too much to be eligible for social housing but not enough to be able to afford market rents or prices. These “low- to moderate-income households” generally fall between the 30th and 60th percentile of the income distribution.

All three are about 1000 yards from each other.

The developers have focused on high end condominiums on choice close to the lake properties. No affordable housing those buildings.

Public pressure and a lot of concern on the part of anyone who is looking for a place to live has brought Burlington to where it is in terms of creating housing people can afford.

This is part 1 of the series the Gazette is doing on the progress that has been made to resolve the housing problem

There is more to come.

Related news stories:

The Rocca SIsters – price report

How a transit station resulted in a high rise no one wanted.

CORE gets to build in a site that could have been a spectacular location.

 

Return to the Front page

NDP candidate Andrew Drummond expects to win this election in Burlington

By Jason Octavo

May 13th 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The race for the provincial seat in Burlington is being hotly contested.

Andrew Drummond, who has been the NDP candidate for the last three provincial elections, believes that based on the last election results (he got 29% of the vote) he is the man to beat this time out.

Andrew spent his childhood in Kingston where he attended high school and went on to earn a degree in history at University of Waterloo.

Door to door – harvesting votes

He is currently the product manager for Rogers Cable where he markets the business product coast-to-coast. He is responsible for ensuring distribution and sales to small and medium businesses that want a basic cable internet solution.

Realizing that Drummond is now in fill election mode he said that Burlington needs the NDP a strong community voice. “I think local representation really matters,” said Drummond. “We need someone who’s going to both stand up for Burlington at the government table and get the things that Burlington needs.”

Jane McKenna, the current MPP, has decided to run for the Regional Chair. Drummond pulled in a strong 29th against the Progressive Conservative candidate.

Andrew got 29% of the votes four years ago. This time, he has high hopes that he will win this election. “The candidate for a riding should be the best available for the job. “To be perfectly honest, the way things are going here we expect to win this one.”

Drummond loves going door to door and meeting people face to face. “It’s the best way to have a conversation,” said Drummond. “The only way you’re going to understand what people are actually worried about in this community is if you go and talk to them.”

Drummond was born into a political household. His parents managed Flora McDonald’s campaigns in Kingston. He grew up spending days in playpens in campaign offices. Starting from the 1999 provincial election, he grew into thinking about the NDP. And then in 2006, he was certain this was the party that really represented him and the people’s values of Ontario.

Spencer Smith Park is photo op central for the political set.

For the last four years, his message in the articles he has written is to highlight things that often fall under the radar. A good example of this is a piece he wrote about Woman’s Place. He had attended their Gala. However, after he looked at their financial records, he learned that government funding was going down, and they needed to hire private professional fundraisers in order to make up that gap. He wanted to make sure that people, especially women fleeing abusive relationships are properly protected.

Running as NDP, Andrew finds his biggest struggle is the split between federal and provincial branches.

In order to improve his chances in winning this year’s election, he started working the day after the election he lost. “When I lost that election, I realized if I have the time, the effort and the money to do this, I can win this riding and I’ve spent the last four years talking to people setting up events, writing articles, meeting with community groups advocating for different causes, and most importantly, building the team and getting the fund raising in place – very necessary to run a proper campaign,” said Drummond.

We’ll find out if the NDP is going to get those votes on Election Day.

NDP candidate Andrew Drummond expects to win this election in Burlington

 

Return to the Front page

Lots going on in ward 1- Councillor Galbraith opens the kimono a little

By Pepper Parr

May 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Galbraith meeting with constituents shortly after being elected

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith met with his constituents last night – it’s been literally years since he held a meeting.

Corvid prevented anything live so he did nothing.

Other members of Council did ward meetings that were hybrid – ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns led that way with regular meetings for her ward.

Bentivegnia has chosen to hold open door session and talk to whoever shows up.

To the best of our knowledge ward 3 Councillor Nisan has not met with his constituents but he is out knocking on doors.

Ward 3 Councillor Nisan

His personal and family health views keep him at home participating virtually in all city matters.

The Mayor has relied on Cogeco TV and radio to reach out to the public. She has so far not held an event where she can be held directly accountable.

Galbraith did quite well last night – a more detailed follow up on that meeting will be published – we are still waiting for a copy of his presentation.

He did come out with a statement on the status of LaSalle Park which certainly surprised us.

The Marina issues were another matter – the best Galbraith could do was assure those taking part in his meeting was that city hall is doing everything they can to resolve the insurance cover concern.

There is still some critical and vital information on that insurance mess that the public isn’t being made aware of at this point.

The property, the marina and the city of Hamilton are a toxic mix that could explode at any time despite the efforts being made at several levels to keep a lid on it all.

How this property line came about is an interesting story

The city currently has a long term lease with the city of Hamilton for the LaSalle Park property – the rate was $1.

Galbraith said last night that it was his hope that Hamilton will see their way to putting that current lease back in force for another 25 years.
The way things were done 25 years ago is not the way things between municipalities are done these days.

When former Mayor Rick Goldring took a shot at annexing part of Waterdown during the 2018 election Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberg didn’t take all that kindly to the suggestion.

Former Burlington city manager James Ridge listening to former Hamilton city manager Chris Murray who apparently said no to a sweet deal lease renewal for LaSalle Park

When James Ridge was city manager he started talks with then Hamilton city manager Chris Murray – but they didn’t get very far.

Awkward set of circumstances in play – it will be interesting to see how it works out.
Will Mayor Meed Ward slip over to Hamilton and take Eisenberg out for dinner and see if something can be worked out?

Is anyone lobbying the members of Hamilton city council – that’s the level at which the rubber is going to hit the road.

Related news story.
How former Mayor, the late Walter Mulkewich did the deal that had the city renting for 25 years

What does it cost to operate LaSalle Park?

Return to the Front page

Green candidate Kyle Hutton looking for 15% of the popular vote in Burlington

By Jason Octavo

May 12th 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

My task for the day was to interview Kyle Hutton, candidate for the Green Party in the upcoming election.

Kyle went to high school at M.M Robinson. He was there until Grade 10 before he dropped out due to circumstances as a teenager. However, he did complete a GED at Gary Allan High School. Afterwards, he went to Sheridan College at Oakville for the GAS program. He has lived in Brant Hills for about 20 years.

Kyle believes the key to a better economy is to lower taxes and gas prices. “Get down those costs, so that the next time we’re faced with a situation where our gas is going up to $2 a litre,” said Hutton. He also believes the amount of rental and housing laws that we’re facing is absurd. “For somebody just coming out of the pandemic, they can’t afford to live here,” said Hutton.

This is the first time that Kyle is being nominated as a leader of a party. So he may not have the experience as a candidate. However, as a full-time worker, he believes he can use his struggles in affording to live in this city to bring attention to these issues. And to finally have somebody in office who’s going to really talk about them and provide solutions.

Kyle believes the key to a better Ontario is by tackling the climate crisis. “Climate change is the crisis of the century,” said Hutton. “It’s killing our planet and its killing people. Kyle is worried that people are expecting future generations to deal with climate change; the time to deal with climate change is now.

“I love meeting people at their door, even if they’re just saying something like, oh, thank you very much and they just take the election literature.
said Hutton. “I think the interactions are good – people in Burlington are extremely polite”.

The Greens are focused on building a sustainable and renewable economy. “This economy that we’re living in right now, we have polluters continuing on their merry way, and we have a gas economy in the country that’s focused on propping up lots of new roads while everybody’s trying to get off to them,” said Hutton.

The Green Party is the only one right now that’s admitting ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) is actually in poverty. “The only solution we can do to lift people out of poverty is to double ODSP,” said Hutton. “They have laws around ODSP, if you make more than $200 for a job, ODSP gets clawed back.”

Kyle says that public transit is worked around poorly. “When I was going to college at Sheridan, I would have to get on the bus. Go down to the GO Station probably waited 15 minutes for the train to arrive. And then I’d go to Oakville, wait for the buses there to go to Sheridan College. Overall, that took me 45 minutes to an hour to get from Brant & Upper Middle to Trafalgar,” said Hutton.

Kyle is tired of receiving decades of empty promises from governments. He has been living long enough to be around all three parties in power in this province. He is confident that not much has changed.

Kyle is hoping to aim for between 15 and 20 percent of the votes. If his party begins to really catch fire, he’ll go as far as intending to win.

We’ll see if the Green Party can make deeper inroads as the election moves forward.

Return to the Front page

Chamber limits which political parties can take part in their all candidate event.

By Staff

May 12, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce will be holding an all candidates event on May 19th, 2022.

It starts at 7:30 am – will take place at the Holiday Inn.

The Chamber has sponsored this event for all the federal and provincial elections for decades.

It isn’t an actual debate – those attending can write out a question which gets screened – the objective is to merge similar questions.

The Gazette learned late yesterday that the New Blue Conservative party had asked to take part in the event and were turned away.

Progressive Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and the Green Party are understood to be taking part.

 

The political party that didn’t get invited

It was too late in the day to ask questions of the Chamber.

Our question is: Why?

Return to the Front page

Brynn Nheiley announced as Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation & Mobility

By Staff

May 12, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington announced the hiring of Brynn Nheiley as the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation & Mobility.

Nheiley has nearly seven years of public sector experience, including three years at the City of Burlington as the Manager of Development & Design in the Community Planning Department.

Brynn Nheiley

As the Manager of Development & Design, Nheiley led a number of initiatives that has led to improvements in development planning that support better outcomes for Council, residents and staff; these include:

Establishing a two-stage reporting strategy in order to provide Council with the opportunity to make a decision on an application within the legislated timeline, while also enabling the flexibility for staff to work with applicants to create the best planning outcome for development applications.

Bringing together staff from key departments to collaboratively build a development review process that gives applicants a single point of contact, and single application to satisfy multiple pre-approvals, from multiple departments, which are required before a building permit can be applied for.>

Bringing together a management team that included staff from building, planning, forestry, site engineering and Information Technology Services departments in order to launch an entirely digital review process for all forms of development applications. The result was that the City’s development review process was delayed by less than two months from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to working at the City of Burlington, Brynn worked for the City of Hamilton as a Senior Planner and as the Acting Director of Planning and Building Services for the Town of Antigonish in Nova Scotia.

Brynn has a Masters of Planning from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Architectural Science from Ryerson University.

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

There goes the football and the opportunity to do some spectacular planning

By Pepper Parr

May 11th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

WHERE   While much of the recent attention has been on the ongoing saga related to the Waterfront Hotel site, under the radar there has been a lot happening at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

The Lakeshore (Burlington) Inc.(referred to as a Carnicelli development) that would be built on the east end of the football.

Within two hours of city council announcing publicly that it intends to oppose the Lakeshore (Burlington) Inc. application for a high-rise building at the easterly tip of the Old Lakeshore Planning Precinct (“the Football”), the Ontario Land Tribunal issued its decision for the 27-storey high rise development proposed by CORE  Development applications, immediately next door. We find it odd that the public was not advised by city council that a hearing was being held for the Core applications yet now makes public statements about another appeal.

How did this one get away?

The city went to some lengths last week to explain how and why they were appealing the Ontario Land Tribunal decision on the Carnicelli (Lakeshore (Burlington) Inc.)  development on the eastern side of where Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road meet.

There are a lot of questions to be asked about how the opportunity got away.

There was the hope as far back as the 2010 election that something unique would be built in this space. Instead developers bought up the properties and sought to develop high rise towers. This was the second lost opportunity in this part of town.

Later in the day while Council was debating a decision from the OLT on the Carniceli development the OLT released their decision on the CORE development.

The two are side by side in the football.  That brings to an end any opportunity to do something smart and spectacular with the space between the Old and the current Lakeshore Road.

In its decision, the Tribunal states:

This isn’t what citizens were expecting. It appears to be what they are going to get.

“The Tribunal finds that the proposed instruments [applications] constitute good planning. It finds that they facilitate development that is compatible with the existing and planned context and will make a positive contribution to the area in terms of improvement to the public realm, access to the waterfront, and built form, while optimizing the use of under-utilized lands through appropriate intensification for the area. Taking these factors into account, the Tribunal finds that the proposed instruments are in the public interest.”

In addition, the tribunal was not convinced by the testimony of the special planning consultant hired by the city to oppose the development or the city’s urban designer.

A Gazette reader described the decision:  “The failures at the Ontario Land Tribunal keep adding up for Mayor Meed Ward. We are not aware of a single hearing the city has won since she became mayor. What has become clear through several decisions from the tribunal is that the new Official Plan that the mayor boasts about has no legal status at appeal hearings because it has been appealed. Consequently, the evidence put forward by the city is based on the old Official Plan — the same one that has been confirmed to be out of date and non-compliant with existing provincial policies. In other words, the city’s witnesses have no real defence and are left blowing in the wind without approved policies to support them.”

How is that idea going at this point.

“How will the city fare at the Lakeshore (Burlington) Inc. hearing? Only time will tell, but it will certainly be a rough ride.

While Meed Ward ran on a populist, anti-development platform promising the world to the public, her ability to deliver on her promises is nothing more than a dismal and complete failure.

Related news stories:

The development on the eastern end.

The idea that CORE development brought to the table

 

Return to the Front page

The Port Nelson Park is going to get an upgrade - and the Green Street Window on the Lake will get the attention it needs

By Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Progress!

We wrote about the Windows on the Lake last week as the result of an inquiry from an area resident.

Link to that story is HERE.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns dropped us a note bringing us up to date.

From the Councillor to a resident:

Thank you for reaching out to the City to inquire about the status of the Green Street Window-to-the-Lake. The City is in the process of awarding the shoreline construction contract for execution this summer. This contract includes the rehabilitation of both the water’s edge at Green Street and Port Nelson Park. Work is anticipated to start in early July. As you can appreciate, the shoreline must be complete to provide stable conditions for park/window development. Construction of each park will follow in 2023.

A saw mill operated at the Port Area. Burlington used to ship tonnes of lumber to Europe. Some may have arrived at the Port as logs that were cut and loaded aboard what would have been sailing ships.

Something has always struck me about the waterfront and that area between St. Paul and Port Nelson Park a spot that was once the location of the largest port for what is now Burlington.

When I look at the property and the drop to the water level I can’t figure out just where the wharf or jetty would have been.

Anyone out there that knows? Might make some time to mosey along to the Historical Society and look through their archives.

Return to the Front page

Service Burlington counter moving to new temporary location at 390 Brant St., directly beside City Hall, starting Wednesday, May 11

By Staff

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Service Burlington, currently located at 426 Brant St., will temporarily move to a new location on the third floor of 390 Brant St. beginning Wednesday, May 11.

390 Brant, better known as the Sims building; the city bought it a number of years ago. It is right across the street from the Queen’s Head – a spot where an Adult Beverage can be enjoyed.

The new location at 390 Brant St. is directly beside City Hall (to the south) and can be accessed by customers from the entrance off of Elgin Street. (See map attached).

The relocation of Service Burlington is being made to limit the disruption experienced by customers visiting the Service Burlington counter during the construction currently underway at City Hall. Service Burlington is closed to walk-in customers on Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 10 in order to complete the move, with the exception of marriage license and commissioning appointments.

During the move, it is still easy to connect with the City by calling 905-335-7777 or emailing city@burlington.ca to receive service. Many City service payments are also available online at burlington.ca/onlineservices.

Additional services and meeting updates
Individuals wishing to submit nomination papers for Burlington’s 2022 municipal election can do so by appointment only. Appointments can be made by contacting the Office of the City Clerk at 905-335-7777 or clerks@burlington.ca. The location of appointments to file nomination papers will temporarily move to the third floor of 390 Brant St. More details will be shared by the Office of the City Clerk when appointments are confirmed.

Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 426 Brant St remains open to the public for Committee and Council meetings.

Burlington City Council has implemented hybrid Council meetings and members of the public have the option to participate in or observe Council meetings in person at Council Chambers or remotely. For more information, please visit burlington.ca/delegate.

Angela Morgan, Strategic Lead – Customer Experience

Angela Morgan, Strategic Lead – Customer Experience is the person having an experience of how own striving to get a new approach to serving the people of the city and at the same time be in a location where everything doesn’t have to be dusted every day and staff don’t have to wear ear muffs.

“Moving the Service Burlington counter to the building beside City Hall will ensure that we can continue to offer customers a positive experience when they come to visit us. We sincerely apologize for the disruption and look forward to seeing our customers soon at our new temporary location on the third floor of 390 Brant St.

We will continue to update the public about when Service Burlington will move back to City Hall.”

Return to the Front page

How City Hall refused to share information: We push for better transparency - your job is to demand it.

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Every reporter strives for accuracy – they listen hard to what people are saying – waiting for that quote that just makes the story.

Accuracy matters – not as easy to get as people think.

Technology has made a big difference; it allows a reporter to capture what a person said and then transcribe it and use it in the copy being written.

As everyone knows – the technology can bite your bum.

The people best at getting what is said down perfectly are the Court reporters – they have a device that lets them capture what is said and instantly read it back

A number of years ago the City employed what would be the equivalent of a court reporter to capture what was said at Council meetings.

A Court Reporter with the transcribing equipment

The transcript produced was something the Gazette was very interested in getting a copy of.

We asked if we could have a copy.

We were told we couldn’t have the document which we thought was a public document.

We asked if we could buy a copy of the transcripts.

No the city wasn’t interested in doing that either.

We asked for the name of the company doing the work.  We thought we could buy the transcripts directly from them.

No – the city was not prepared to give us the name of the company that was doing the transcribing.

Kwab Ako-Ajei.,Director of Communications

All this back and forth was done by email with the Director of Communications Kwab Ako-Ajei. Director of Communications for the city.  Kwab reports directly to the City Manager.

Someone somewhere at city hall made the decision that the Gazette, a credentialed online newspaper, operating for more than ten years (longer than the people who have their fingers on the flow of news information to media have held their jobs), that the Gazette was not to be given access to the data they need to do their job effectively.

Council talks about the importance of media in the process of engaging the public. At one point the Mayor of the city publicly praised the Gazette for the job it was doing.

We may have done the job a little too well for some.

What to do?

Folks, Burlington is your city, your home.  You elect the government you get and they appoint the administrative leadership.

We push for better transparency – your job is to demand it.

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

 

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Impact of COVID19 on 131,624 Halton caregivers: what were the lessons learned? Not very many

By Staff

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2: Caregivers.

This Community Lens, the second in a two-part series on caregiving, will draw from the findings of a 2021 survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on caregivers.

The survey was carried out by the Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) deep into the second year of the pandemic, between September 24th and October 12th, 2021.

Released in November 2021, entitled, ‘Spotlight Report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Caregivers: Year Two’ , it is the second pandemic caregiver survey undertaken by the organization. Its first pandemic survey, ‘Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers COVID-19 Edition’, was released in December 2020.

Former Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon speaking with seniors at a meeting in the Library.

The OCO defines caregivers as “ordinary people who provide physical and/or emotional support to a family member, partner, friend, or neighbour”. Funded by the Government of Ontario, the OCO is a nonprofit that was created in 2018 “to support Ontario’s estimated 3.3 million caregivers”.

In publishing this Community Lens, CDH intends to raise awareness of the experiences of caregivers, in our view, an increasingly important, but often overlooked, area of life for many people and families across Halton.

COVID-19 Impacts on Caregivers
Since the OCO’s first pandemic survey in December 2020, the findings from the 2021 survey indicate that many of the negative and difficult personal caregiver experiences deteriorated further. There were 801 “self-reported caregivers” aged 16 years and older who participated in the online survey between September 24 and October 12, 2021. As part of its research, the OCO also conducted a series of ten in- depth interviews alongside the online survey.

In the second year of the pandemic, caregivers reported increases in “feeling tired, anxious, overwhelmed, trapped, frustrated and unappreciated”. In fact, according to the 2021 survey findings, caregiver burnout was at record high levels.

While one in three caregivers in the 2021 survey reported that they had “no one to ask for help” if they needed a rest or if they became sick.

The climate of heightened anxiety around COVID-19 transmission, among other factors, impacted caregivers and care recipients, with 56% of caregivers reported worrying about “managing care recipient’s anxiety due to Covid-19”.
COVID-19 caused significant service and care support disruptions, which would have been felt disproportionately by caregivers who were already overstretched, such as those with smaller family and friend networks.

Mary Alice St. James talking to seniors during an election campaign.

The increased pressure on the healthcare system during the pandemic impacted 75% of caregivers who were required to take on “responsibilities that would otherwise go to a personal support worker or nurse”. Overall, caregivers reported that more time was spent caregiving during the pandemic, “61% say the hours they spend providing care has increased”. According to the 2021 survey, almost one in five carers (18%) were “caring for more than one person”. The pandemic not only created additional complexity for that group, but for many caregivers, 59% of whom said their responsibilities were more difficult in 2021 “than before the pandemic”.

The top three reasons that caregivers gave were:

“Being at home all the time, the care recipient is unable to get important social interaction (38%) Difficulty accessing the doctors and/or other healthcare professionals (36%)

Delayed/cancelled appointments require more time and effort in rescheduling (33%)”.

Enhanced health and safety protocols in hospitals and long-term care facilities, introduced to keep the most vulnerable safe from COVID-19 transmission, were nonetheless difficult experiences for many caregivers and recipients, particularly those that were already isolated and lonely pre-pandemic. Due to enhanced COVID-19 health and safety rules, “26% [of caregivers in the 2021 survey] had to send the care recipient to the hospital alone”.

Canadian caregivers also reported worse personal pandemic impacts than their global counterparts. A survey by Embracing Carers, released in 2021, found that, “70% of Canadian carers say that the pandemic has worsened their emotional/mental health, compared to 61% of the 12-country average” and “61% of Canadian carers say that the pandemic has worsened their physical health, compared to 46% of the 12- country average”.

Burlington has a very strong network of seniors who have clout that spreads throughout the Region of Halton. This crowd was focused on transit while the MP, Karina Gould and then ward 2 Councillor, now Mayor Burlington, Marianne Meed Ward look on.

Post-Covid Financial Pressures: Rising Living Costs to Impact Caregivers
Financial hardship exists among caregivers, just as it is experienced by individuals and families across our communities. The OCO 2021 survey reported that, “20% of caregivers took out a loan or a line of credit to help pay for the expense [of caregiving], up from 17%” in the 2020 survey. 9 It found that 45% “experienced financial hardships [in 2021], compared to 41% in 2020”, an increase of 4% during the two pandemic surveys. Perhaps a more concerning trend was that the 45% of caregivers experiencing financial hardship in 2021 was up 13% (from 32% in 2019). Moreover, the 2021 level of self-reported financial hardship (45%) is more than double the 22% reported in the 2018 survey.

The current rise in living costs being witnessed across the country will only serve to increase the financial hardship of many caregivers. In “January 2022, Canadian inflation surpassed 5% for the first time since September 1991”. 10 In February 2022, national average prices climbed further. Canada’s inflation level for February 2022 sat at 5.7% (12-month average, compared with February 2021).

Staple food items are increasing faster than the 5.7% inflation level. In February 2022 (compared with February 2021), fresh or frozen beef prices were up 16.8%, chicken was up 10.4%, and “dairy products and eggs were up 6.9%”.  These macro economic price trends support the personal reflections of caregivers in the OCO 2021 survey: 47% of whom said that “there have been more costs related to providing care” during COVID-19.

Councillor Sharman has held two public sessions with Senior’s as part of his effort to understand their needs and develop policy that Council can put in place to serve this vital community.

Caregivers fortunate enough to have access to a motor vehicle are experiencing much higher price increases than the 5.7% inflation level. In February 2022, Canadians “paid 32.3% more at the pump compared with February 2021”. 14 Such fuel price increases are likely to put caregivers under increasing financial pressure, disproportionality impacting more rural and isolated caregivers and those with inadequate access to public transport. The associated tasks around providing caregiver support, some of which are heavily reliant on transport, such as attending doctors’ appointments, prescription runs, buying medical and care supplies, are now more expensive post-Covid.

Conclusion
This Community Lens showed that the negative experiences of caregiving during COVID-19 were exacerbated by a pandemic that affected service provisions, contributed to increased anxiety and burnout, impeded crucial social interactions, and increased financial pressures on caregivers.

Unfortunately, the post-COVID economic climate is unlikely to offer much respite for struggling caregivers in the months ahead. Gas and essential food item prices are fast outpacing Canada’s 31-year inflation high of 5.7%, which was announced for February 2022. 15 These post-COVID price increases, caused in part by higher “input prices and heightened transportation costs,” come on top of already increased costs that were associated with caregiving, as reported in the 2021 OCO survey.

If there is to be a positive takeaway from the pandemic it may be, as the CEO and board chair of the OCO put it in their opening remarks to the 2021 survey, “the expanded understanding of what caregivers do and why they are essential partners in care”. We hope this Community Lens series has contributed, in a small way, to this understanding, and helps shine a light on the role that an “estimated 131,624 Halton caregivers” play in supporting families, friends, and the wider healthcare and social system.

Further Resources for Caregivers
If you are a caregiver, or know someone who is, and would like further information around resources and support, we recommend visiting the Ontario Caregiver Organization website:    https://ontariocaregiver.ca

As always, if you have any feedback about this Community Lens or about any of our other social policy and planning work, please reach out to data@cdhalton.ca

Community Lens is prepared by Community Development Halton to disseminate and interpret important community data as it becomes available. For more information please contact us at data@cdhalton.ca or 905-632-1975

Community Development Halton 3350 South Service Road
Burlington, ON L7N 3M6
905-632-1975 www.cdhalton.ca

Caregivers:  Part 1

Return to the Front page

The chess pieces on the election chess board are moving into place.

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On the surface there isn’t all that much in the way of news about the October municipal election.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman filed his papers – he likes the job and is having fun.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman – waiting for the voters to come to him

Don’t be at all surprised if you see him doing the reverse of what he did in 2010 when he first ran for public office.

At that time he first filed nomination papers for the office of Mayor. When Rick Gold also filed papers for the job of Mayor, Sharman withdrew the papers for the job of Mayor and filed for the ward five seat – which he won and seems to be saying he would like to hang on to for an additional four years.

Paul Sharman would like to be Mayor but he needs to be certain that he has the support to defeat Marianne Meed Ward, the current Mayor.

Sharman is the best long term thinker this Council has; he has the best numbers mind – Kearns comes close but doesn’t have the depth or experience Sharman has.

Sharman has a clear vision for the city and knows how to get there.

The abrasiveness we saw during his first term of office does not appear to exist in the man’s makeup anymore. What changed – hard to tell but what we saw regularly six to eight years ago we just don’t see anymore.

Stop digging!

Meed Ward is already in a bit of a hole – Sharman just wants to let that hole get deeper – so deep that she can’t climb out of it.
Events at city council this past week suggest she is doing a fine job of digging a deeper hole. A marine term might be apt here; Meed Ward is being ‘deep sixed’.

There is that well known phrase when you find yourself in a hole – Stop digging.

Paul Sharman with his eye on the prize.

That one doesn’t appear to be one that our Mayor has read about.

For Sharman it is a waiting game. In the event that he decides he can’t beat Meed Ward – he is a shoe in for ward 5.

Keep a close eye on what he does in the next couple of months

We do.

Return to the Front page

What do the Political Parties Have to say About Income Security - Subject Experts will do a Deep Dive on the Problems

By Staff

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Community Development Halton and the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton are hosting a web cast on the 18th starting at 6:30 pm

Link to registration page is HERE

The panel consists of subject experts that will guide a conversation on income security issues in advance of the election in Ontario on June 2. Minimum wage, social assistance, basic income, employment precarity, and childcare, are all on the docket for this important discussion.

This stuff matters – this is the time to get informed.

SPEAKERS

Tom Cooper, Director, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

Carolyn Ferns, Public Policy Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

Pam Frache, Organizer, Workers’ Action Centre, and Coordinator, Justice for Workers campaign

Return to the Front page

Rivers makes an early election call - leaves some, but not much, room for an upset. Four more years for Doug

By Ray Rivers

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

When the results are all tabulated sometime after June 2nd, Doug Ford will be back in power as Premier according to today’s poll numbers.

The 2022 election has just begun but already the consensus is that it’s Ford’s to lose. Mr. Ford has travelled a long and rocky road since he first became premier. Still while things look good now for his reelection, as others have found, in politics anything can happen.

Poll positions the day the election started.

Ford’s popularity dropped like a stone almost right after his 2018 election victory. His personal vendetta against Toronto city council, arbitrarily slashing their representation was petty and abusive. His cancellation of renewable energy and other environmental initiatives were irrational and costly. His war against teachers was mean and retrogressive. And his failed campaign against the revenue-neutral carbon tax was a complete waste of energy and tax payers’ money.

Ford took the limelight in briefing Ontario about what needed to be done during the pandemic,

The arrival of COVID saved Ford’s premiership. He took the limelight in briefing Ontario about what needed to be done during the pandemic, though he misplayed his hand on at least a couple occasions.  Other premiers, like Alberta’s Jason Kenny, made Ford look good. And the pandemic forced Ford to work cooperatively with the federal government which ended up serving both of their interests. After all, the feds did the heavy lifting – provided the vaccines and massive subsidies to just about everyone. That federal support was largely responsible for keeping the province from falling into a huge deficit which would have made today’s economic recovery difficult.

Ontario’s jobless rate has fallen to 5.3%, even below what it was pre-pandemic. Strong economic growth is a good thing for a governing party at election time. And further driving that growth is the massive near $20 billion provincial deficit forecast for this year. It seems that Ford’s earlier preoccupation with deficit has been put on hold, or forgotten, these days. Still, with a bit of luck and good management he’ll be able to claim that the province in on track to balance its budget in a only a couple years from now.

Incumbency, particularly during the pandemic has been working for governments facing re-election. And the pandemic is not yet over. Besides voters tend to reward first term governments with a second term, unless they have been really bad to them. And you can’t be all bad when you’re handing out gifts, even if that means bribing people by giving them back their own money – cutting gas taxes and eliminating license plate fees. What’s not to like about getting back two year’s worth of licence fees?

Andrea Horwath: the fourth and probably the last time,

As for Ford’s opponents. Andrea Horwath is leading her party for the fourth and probably the last time, and it’s not apparent that she’s learned much from her previous losing campaigns. Her most recent attack ads, especially at her Liberal opponent, appear desperate. Clearly she’s just trying to hang on to those Liberal voters who supported her last time. But attack ads are more likely to turn them away.

And attack ads don’t replace a solid policy platform. In fact her policy cupboard is pretty scant and so yesterday,  implementing two of her main planks, universal dental and pharmacare, will be redundant and probably a waste of money since the federal government is planning its own nation-wide programs before long. And her performance as opposition leader was barely noticed. She may be the most trusted political leader in Canada but she has been one of the least vocal opposition leaders over the last four years.

Stephen Del Duca; a relative unknown with a swimming pool problem

Stephen Del Duca is a relative unknown for most people. Having held a couple of ministerial posts under the Wynne government he lost his own seat in the last election and now leads a party which doesn’t even hold party status in the legislature – leading it from outside of the legislature. And he did himself no favour when he got into hot water with local authorities over building his backyard swimming pool. But unlike Horwath he has been taking political risks with his ongoing stream of policy pronouncements – though some, like re-introducing Grade 13, do not appear to have been well vetted.

Del Duca is a fighter In the game of politics, and he is willing to take risks which might get the public’s attention, for better or worse. Still, for an aspiring politician any news is good news. He provides a sharp contrast to the more cautious Horwath, something his rising poll numbers are beginning to reflect. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner has been an effective and rational voice at Queen’s Park but nobody will put money on the Green Party winning anything but Mr. Schreiner’s own seat after the dust settles for June 2nd. The Green’s mainstay is protecting the environment, including climate change mitigation, but the other two opposition parties also claim that as one of their priorities. And that provides an alternative to Doug Ford’s conservatives, who have shown little regard for things environmental, climate change in particular.

The opposition parties all support carbon taxation of some sort, and Horwath has even mused about bringing back the emissions cap and trade program which Ford killed almost immediately after winning last time. They support subsidies for electric vehicles to make them more price competitive, so new car buyers will make the shift away from gas guzzlers. And for some reason education and health care have also become right/left issues, with the opposition parties wanting to see smaller class sizes in schools and the end of private, for-profit, long term care.

The highway Doug Ford will build if he wins – because the Progressive Conservatives don’t think climate change is not a winning issue.

Everybody is promising more affordable housing. But only Ford’s plan has some detail and that involves ramping up urban sprawl into the rural landscape in the GTA. Ford clearly sees the Greenbelt as a land reserve just waiting for new development, rather than a natural endowment for future generations. Consequently it should be no surprise that his proposed new highways projects would run through a good part of the Greenbelt.

As the campaign kicks off, the PCs with 35-40% of Ontario voters backing them, are almost 10 percentage points ahead of the second place Liberals. And when translated to seats that should produce a solid majority for Mr. Ford.

That means that the three main opposition parties will be competing for almost 60% of decided voters. Should the Tories stumble enough to lose that majority seat count, either the Liberals or NDP might be asked to form a minority government. But none of the opposition parties are interested in supporting a Ford minority.

Although there is always someone saying it’s time to unite the left, personalities and tribal party loyalty never allows that to happen. Horwath hopes that her attack ads against Del Duca might give her the edge. But this could backfire since attack ads often say more about the attacker than the victim. Besides all the NDP supporters I know would prefer to win by promoting what they stand for, and not just attacking the the other candidate. More more like Gandhi and less like Putin.

And if Del Duca were to respond to those ads in kind, the anti-Ford crowd might well decide that neither party deserves their support, and just stay home on voting day. And that would ensure another four years for Mr. Ford and his Progressive Conservatives.

Ray Rivers will be with us every Monday until May 30th.

Return to the Front page