Regal Road bridge that crosses Tuck Creek gets some public art. Slow down and have a look at it.

By Staff

November 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

New public art has been installed on the Regal Road Bridge. The work was done by bau & ćos. You can learn more about them at their web site: www.bauandcos.com

City residents were invited to share their thoughts on three finalists chosen by an independent jury. Comments received on GetInvolvedBurlington.ca, along with the technical and detailed design proposals, informed the jury’s final selection.

The artwork has been installed and features 10 laser-cut steel panels along the concrete sidewall of the Regal Road bridge that crosses Tuck Creek between Oakwood Drive and Swinburne Road. The bridge was upgraded in 2019 as part of the City’s flood mitigation project.

Art depicting life in and around the Regal Road bridge across Tuck Creek

The artists explain what was behind their thinking and design work. “Through changing seasons and everyday activities, the bridge over the Tuck Creek is the background, yet gateway to the community.

Tuck Creek days after the 2014 flood.

“From the bridge, we watch trucks and cars quickly swerving onto Regal Road. Evidently, the QEW spews into Walkers Line and then trickles onto the bridge. Lateral to the driving, we watch guardians and toddlers strolling; students running home for lunch and dogs walking with their owners, while small urban animals scurry away ahead of them.

Since there are physical relations between the silhouettes and community, this is designed to be a fun, relatable and interactive piece for everyone.

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Hayley Verrall will appear on the Performing Art Stage Sunday afternoon.

By Staff

November 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After nearly 20 long months, the dark Performing Arts Centre stages are once again lit and shining the spotlight on incredible local talent!

The BPAC LIVE & LOCAL Music Series returns to the Community Studio Theatre on Sunday, November 14 at 4pm.

This series ensures a great early evening of live music hosted by an impressive trio, made up of the area’s most highly sought-after professional touring and recording musicians, and features hand-picked emerging and established homegrown talent.

What makes this event kind of special for ACCOB (Arts & Culture Council of Burlington) and those involved in culture and entertainment is the appearance on the stage of Hayley Verrall (2020 BPAC Hall of Fame winner).

While the guitar is the instrument of choice she is just as good at the keyboard.

The Gazette has followed Hayley for some time and watched her performances grow in both strength and quality.

The first time we heard her was in the living room of her home where we were interviewing.

What we heard and saw was a soft sweet voice and a smile that won you over.

There wasn’t a reputation yet but you knew there was going to be in at some point in the not too distance future.

Performances in Nashville and her popping up all over the place in Burlington resulted in an audience that wanted to hear her.

She was bound for the stage at a really early age. Her Mother did everything possible that local groups and organizations knew Hayley was eager to perform at almost any event. She was once a part of an election debate where she was the entertainment.

Hayley is the featured guest who will appear with Terra Lightfoot, Mark Lalama, Davide DiRenzo and Richard Moore. Described as the city’s own country singer-songwriter and rising star Hayley Verrall is a fresh young artist who has quietly but quickly been edging her way into the Canadian country music community with her roots and contemporary inspired original music.

An internationally and locally awarded artist, Verrall’s passion for performing and for people has not gone unnoticed as she was most recently named the 2020 inductee to the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Hall of Fame which recognizes persons who have made significant contributions to the performing arts in Burlington.

“Being inducted into the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Hall of Fame is an unbelievable feeling. I am so grateful for the ongoing support that both BPAC and Burlington have provided to me and my music.” says Verrall. “I feel completely blessed to be a Burlington artist and am ecstatic that BPAC recognizes my worth as such.”

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre presents
LIVE & LOCAL
Hosted by The Mark Lalama Trio
Featuring Terra Lightfoot and Hayley Verrall
November 14, 2021 at 4 p.m.
Community Studio Theatre & Livestream
440 Locust Street, Burlington, Ontario

Tickets can be purchased online or by telephone:
905-681-6000 | https://burlingtonpac.ca/events/steven-page-trio/
Tickets: Regular $39.50 / Members $34.50
ALL-IN PRICING INCLUDES ALL TAXES AND FEES!

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Hospital suspends some staff and terminates others over mandatory vaccination policy

By Staff

November 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Eric Vandewall, President & CEO of the Joseph Brant Hospital, released the following statement:

In accordance with provincial direction, Joseph Brant Hospital established COVID-19 Immunization and Management policies in September that apply to everyone who works at and with the hospital.

Like many other hospitals in Ontario including those in our region, we recognize the importance of mandatory vaccination of health care workers as a critical tool in protecting patients, physicians, staff and volunteers safety, as well as avoiding disruption to vital hospital services and programs.

For these reasons, we made it a requirement under our policy that all JBH employees, credentialed staff (such as physicians), contracted staff, learners and volunteers are to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1, unless they have a medical or Human Rights code exemption.

As of November 9:

    1,770 (97.25%) of our active JBH employees are fully vaccinated

    38 JBH employees have been placed on an unpaid leave of absence for not meeting the requirements of the hospital’s policy

    13 JBH employees have been terminated

When it comes to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, each hospital is responsible for making decisions in the best interest of their patients and the communities they serve. All of our actions – including mandatory COVID-19 vaccination – are guided by our mission to provide quality patient care through our values of Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Excellence. It is what our community expects and what we strive for every day.

Eric Vandewall, President & CEO of the Joseph Brant Hospital

We also took this step with careful and thoughtful consideration of the potential impacts. Vaccination rates among our staff and medical professionals who work in our hospital have risen steadily since we introduced these policies two months ago. This helps reduce transmission of COVID-19 and decreases the risk of disruption to hospital operations caused by outbreaks and other unexpected staff absences due to illness.

Although the Ontario government has indicated that at this time there will be no province-wide mandate requiring all healthcare workers to become fully vaccinated, our commitment to our mandatory vaccination policies has not changed. We believe it is the right decision for JBH, to protect the safety of our patients, their loved ones, our teams and our community.

Thank you for your support of our hospital. Please, stay safe and take care.

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The all virtual council meetings will shift to a hybrid approach that will see public participation in March of 2022

By Pepper Parr

November 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Assuming the Standing Committee recommendation is approved and that City Council puts their stamp of approval on it – there will be a hybrid approach to attendance at council meetings.

While each member of Council can make their own decision there is said to be enough room for all seven members of Council to sit side by side separated by plexi-glass dividers.

The Clerk and the City Manager could also attend and there is provision for up to eight members of the public to attend.

Advisory meetings will continue to be virtual until there is a clear sense as to how much Delta version of the Covid19 virus increases the number of new infections.

Internal staff meetings will be dependent on the internal health and safety guidelines. Advisory committee meetings will be reviewed at a later date, and their meeting rules will build upon learnings gained from City Council and standing committee meetings and internal guidelines and policies.

The City Manager will be joined by some staff once the Council Chamber is opened up to public meetings.

If there are any changes made by Public Health Ontario, hybrid meetings will be adjusted accordingly to ensure participant safety, therefore the plan will be flexible and responsive. Modifications to the way meetings occur will be determined by the City Clerk and City Manager, in accordance with public health regulations, in consultation and with advice from the internal Health and Safety group through Human Resources.

Physical in-person participation of members of Council is optional. Staff are configuring the Council Chambers to be hybrid, to accommodate in-person and remote participation. Members of Council will have a choice as to whether to participate in person or remote (for each meeting). Work will be completed to ensure that all participants have an equitable and seamless meeting experience.

The assumption is that elements of hybrid meetings will continue after the pandemic.

Will days like this return?

There is no update on proxy voting provisions, or recommendations at this time. Staff will monitor other jurisdictions and keep Council apprised.

Last July Council passed the following staff direction, for a report back in September 2021 regarding in person hybrid Council meetings.

Direct the City Clerk to initiate the planning and implementation of a gradual transition of City Committee/Council meetings (as well as public access) to a hybrid model of Committee/Council that accommodates both in-person as well as continued virtual options and report back on a plan at the September CSSRA Committee meeting with a projected transition/implementation goal of Q4 2021.

As the pandemic progresses some of this information may become out of date and guidelines may be required to change. Staff will work with the necessary groups to periodically review and ensure the health and safety of those physically participating in Council Chambers meetings. Any changes will be effectively communicated to all participants.

From a public health perspective there is no guidance or regulation limiting the duration of an event or gathering. Exposures less than 15 minutes are considered low risk (in most cases), exposures over 15 minutes would need to consider other factors to determine risk. Mitigation may help reduce risk, such as masks, distance, ventilation, and plexiglass barriers.

The City of Burlington has a relatively small Council, with only seven members. A review of the Council table yields that there is enough room to distance participants around the Council table to allow for 10 participants. It is recommended that the 10 participants include, all members of Council, the Clerk, the City Manager, and members of senior staff speaking to reports. Total capacity in the chamber has increased to 20 persons, 10 around the Council desk, 8 in the gallery, and two AV Techs.

Public delegations will be permitted if the initial phases of the plan are successful, and this item will be fully discussed in a subsequent report in February 2022. For health and safety measures, members of the public will not be allowed within the dais, the metal partition within the Chambers.

Masks in the Council Chambers
Those who are intending to participate at an in-person hybrid meeting will be required to wear a mask when they are not speaking. Only one person will be permitted to take their mask off in the Chambers at a time. After a participant speaks and they have yielded the floor to the Chair, or to another speaker, then the mask must be put back on.

Council Chambers equipment will be wiped down by facilities staff (current practice). At present, small internal meetings are permitted, through the City of Burlington Safety Plan, however all participants must be adequately distanced and must remained masked at all times.

Cleaning will increase when members of the public are permitted into the Council Chambers. In addition, masking requirements may also change when members of the public are permitted. Currently the City of Burlington’s Mask By-law, 62-2020 as amended, indicates once a space is open to the public, masking requirements as per the By-law are in effect.

Setting up a hybrid approach still leaves that sticky question of: Do people taking part in a meeting at city have to be vaccinated. Apparently not.

Mandatory vaccination is only required to access certain listed spaces considered as high risk. In contrast, meeting and event spaces that are used for the purpose of delivering or supporting government services and court services are specifically excluded from the mandatory vaccination provision. Therefore, vaccination to enter City hall and more specifically the City Hall Council Chambers is not required provincially.

The City has an option of imposing stricter requirements for either City Hall or Council Chambers, such as mandatory vaccination, on the basis of public health considerations. However, the regulation is quite clear that delivering or supporting government services is excluded from the vaccination provision, and restrictions may invite future challenges, including potential Charter challenges.

Air Filtration and Fresh Air into the Building
During the pandemic, the City’s air handling unit filters have been upgraded to a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of 13, MERV 13 as recommended by the City’s Health and Safety Team, in consultation with Facility Assets/Operations staff.
The air handler has also had an adjustment made to increase the fresh air intake and is equipped to monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations; the unit will automatically increase fresh air further, when needed. The system will be monitored regularly to ensure adequate fresh air is brought into the building.

Proposed Timeline
The following timeline is built on a best-case scenario. The timeline is iterative and deliberate to allow for staff to review how meetings occur, learn from experience, and adjust. We are constantly learning about the virus and prevention, therefore practices or procedures may be amended throughout the timeline. Should there be a spike in cases or another lockdown the timeline may be paused or rolled back to the previous stage.

Full Slate of standing committee meetings (Not Audit), staff making presentations will be permitted as a pilot.

Council meetings are relatively short, on average about one hour. In contrast, the standing committee meetings have extended throughout the workday into the evening. Council was selected as the pilot as it is customarily the shortest in the meeting cycle. In January, the hybrid pilot may include the Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee (EICS) which is customarily the shortest standing committee meeting at this time.

Each member of Council will be separated by a sheet of plexiglass and there will be additional cameras installed.

Should Council endorse the plan, staff will include in the December 6 report, how the technology will be mapped out, as to how the technology will affect the remote meeting mechanics and the guide. Further instruction will be provided in advance of the hybrid pilot, to all participants.

This picture was taken in March of 2019 – while many didn’t know it but we were headed into a pandemic – this group didn’t seem to know or care.

Procedural Changes
Currently, City of Burlington remote meetings operate in the authority of the Remote Meeting Guide, working in concert with the Procedure By-law. If Council chooses to pursue hybrid meetings, the Guide will be reviewed in terms of the new technology and hybrid processes that may be introduced. Staff will return to the December 6, 2021 CSSRA meeting with a path forward. It is anticipated that the Remote Meeting guide will be refreshed and formally adopted as a schedule to the Procedure By-law.

In order to conduct the December 14, 2021 Council meeting, a special Council meeting on December 6, 2021 will be required, to ratify any procedural changes before the hybrid meeting occurs.

Advisory Committees
At present, Room 247 in City Hall has been outfitted for in-person staff meetings. A potential venue for hybrid meetings, the room has the capability to incorporate use of a meeting room computer, and a mounted camera. If the strategy is approved, throughout Q1 2022 Office of the City Clerk staff will work with their respective committees to determine whether their committees wish to pursue a hybrid model.

A decision to pursue a hybrid model will require a majority vote of the committee. If they are to resume, only six members will be able to participate in person (with one Clerk to make seven total), and masks must be worn at all times when in the building and throughout their committee meetings.

Strategy/process
Committee must determine whether the risk of adding more participants to a meeting in the Council Chambers outweighs potential benefits. As the virus continues, with each infection, the chances of the virus mutating as it replicates increases.

Mutations may lead to dominant variants, which may be stronger than the previous. With the Delta variant in Ontario, cases are beginning to increase, and there may be a fourth wave of infection. This variant is strong and contagious. The Delta variant has changed the approach to gathering controls, which has challenged previous thinking on public health protection.

Options Considered
An alternate is to defer this report until the pandemic has subsided to allow for hybrid meetings to be piloted in safer conditions. This would allow for the hybrid pilot to take place without having to factor in as many public health restrictions. The elimination of in- person delegations, and by only having Council and staff who are subject to the Vaccination Policy in the Council Chambers may reduce some of the risk. This will also reduce reporting, and the background research required.

That line above about: The assumption is that elements of hybrid meetings will continue after the pandemic.  Is there any need for that other than some members deciding they don’t want to leave the house and drive to city hall?

 

 

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Wearing masks in public places will be required for some time - well past the end of year date that was in place

By Pepper Parr

November 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

That normal we are all looking for may not be as close as we would like.

Council met today to review the masking by law – looks like the best we are going to get is sometime in June 2022.

Discussion was on By-law amendments to extend COVID By-laws into 2022.  They started with a recommendation to extend the expiry date of the by-law to June 30, 2022

The wearing of masks is something the province put into place; the Regional government then put their by-law in place and Burlington followed the Region.

Mayor Meed Ward was not an advocate for the wearing of masks when it was becoming clear that the world was in a pandemic. To her credit she figured out that she was about to be on the wrong side of history and she began to wear a mask – she still does.

During debate Mayor Meed Ward said she could see the province making an announcement late on a Friday afternoon – “as they often do” she said – and the city would have to scramble to get onside with the province.

After close to an hour of discussion that focused on the messaging and the need to be consistent Council came up with a solution that will become official at the November 23rd Council meeting.

Couple of things that council didn’t seem to appreciate – first not that many people are following the mask rules – they apply to city locations so the city has to be onside.

However, the moment the Premier makes an announcement the news will zip around the province and the masks will come off in a flash.

If there is an announcement from the province it won’t come at the end of June – it will be made about a week before the provincial election on June 2nd of 2022.

Part of the reason for debating the bylaws today was that they are set to expire on December 31, 2021 and although statistics on vaccination rates and infections are improving, it is expected that Public Health recommendations regarding these measures will extend past December 31, 2021.

A date of June 30, 2022 has been chosen merely for administrative purposes to lessen the chance that another report is required to extend the by-laws – ultimately reducing the workload for staff.

While the Province has indicated that their mask mandate may be lifted as early as the end of March 2022, staff are not recommending this as an official expiry date as it would still cause administrative issues.

Removal of Community Centres from Physical Distancing By-law
The Physical Distancing By-law requires that a minimum distance of 2 metres be maintained between non-household members on any public property within the City of Burlington. The by-law includes our Community Centres and indoor fitness locations.
Community Centres and indoor fitness locations have also been specifically regulated in the Reopening Ontario Act (unlike other buildings such as City Hall). Until recently, provincial regulations and city by-laws have aligned.

Recent amendments to the Reopening Ontario Act, Ontario Regulation 727/21 have now eliminated the capacity limit for our indoor community/fitness centre locations as long as ‘proof of vaccine’ policies are applied.

We all got used to keeping our distance when meeting with people.

This means if Physical Distancing By-law 17-2020 is extended as recommended, staff will need to determine a capacity limit for these locations which will ensure users can still meet the 2 metre distance requirement. This may result in a capacity that is less than allowed under current provincial legislation which could affect programming.

Given Community Centres are specifically regulated in the Reopening Act Ontario, they are subject to ‘proof of vaccine’ policies and directives from both the Provincial and Halton Region Medical Officers of Health in relation to their operations (due to the sport operation), staff no longer feel it is necessary to also include them in Physical Distancing By-law 17-2020.

This does not mean that levels of protection will be reduced in these facilities or that physical distancing will not be maintained. Removing an additional regulation would make it easier for staff to program the facilities for the future and reduce the number of publications that need to be reviewed in tandem.

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Council to consider permitting year round patio operations

By Staff

November 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council is going to look into the idea of having year round patios directing the Director of Community Planning to report back in Q1 2022 with a report, including options and recommendations, outlining a plan and process for moving forward with a permanent city-wide outdoor patio program (post covid 19 recovery); and

Will this be the normal we are all looking for?

Direct the Director of Community Planning that the following areas and considerations be included:

  • Update and alignment of city patio related policies, zoning requirements and bylaws with current, pending or proposed Province of Ontario legislation/regulations inclusive of the Municipal Act;
  • Duration of the outdoor patio season(s);
  • Differentiation of patios on City-owned public lands and private property;
  • City patio fee options including potential waiver of patio and adjacent parking fees;
  • City departmental support to facilitate patio installation and safe operation of patios on City sidewalks, parking lots and/or road allowances;
  • Environmental scan of other GTHA municipalities related to the future of outdoor patios;
  • Access to potential funding and other small business support from federal or provincial governments;
  • Application of CaféTO best practices or similar patio program to the Burlington Downtown Business Areas; and

They will also debate directing the Chief Financial Officer to report on the future City operating and capital budget requirements to support the outdoor patio program in conjunction with the above report; and

Relaxing and enjoying much of what the city has to offer.

Direct the Director of Community Planning to complete a review of the City policy and bylaw changes (e.g. zoning) contributing to the effectiveness of the 2020 and 2021 outdoor patio program; and

Direct the Director of Planning and the Executive Director of Burlington Economic Development to undertake hospitality industry stakeholder engagement consultation, (including BDBA, Aldershot BIA & Burlington Restaurant Association) with the respect to the proposed plan for the City’s permanent outdoor patio program; and

Direct the Director of Community Planning to report on options for the standardization of patio materials for patios on municipal property.

The beleif is that expanding options for outdoor dining has the potential to improve vibrancy and community connections while accelerating recovery from COVID_19 impacts. Exciting changes were temporarily made to the way in which we utilize the public realm to expand hospitality space in Burlington. Best practice seeks to improve the look of the curb lane closure areas and increase options for café customization. Community vibrancy and municipal asset optimization can be enhanced by adding permissions for temporary platforms in curb lane café areas.

It is important to note the desire to create a unique café corridor in and around the downtown. As an area with unique conditions regarding encroachments on public lands that are not found elsewhere in the city, this includes the on-street parking assets – it is key to have clear program requirements to allow for certainty and investment in an expanded patio program.

Expanding support for hospitality businesses to provide safer spaces for liquor and food consumption will contribute to the economic recovery of a key employment sector within Burlington. A program that delivers standardized application and execution for the successful operation of expanded spaces will encourage further investment in our City by attracting patrons to additional local businesses and amenities. Allowing local businesses to establish temporary seasonal patios and seating areas utilizing on-street parking spaces within an articulated area or set of standards will result in improved longer-term uptake, improved financial planning for operators and an increased understanding of the program by other operators in proximity to outdoor patios.

Let’s see how this works out.

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It's waste management at the street level this time

By Staff

November 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Pot holes and waste removal – the bane of every council member.

They get the call. Some are better than others at responding.

When Marianne Meed Ward was first elected in 2010 she got a call Christmas Day about garbage bags rolling down a wind blown street.

What did she do? Hoped in her van and went out and picked it up.

Now she knows who to call.

It ain’t a pretty sight and it must smell.

The resident who dropped us a line on this situation said: “I just thought this might be something for you to follow up on. It’s a Reddit post about public trash cans on school property — or at least on the edge of it — that are overflowing with bagged dog feces.

People are saying this is a city-wide problem. Is this a sign that our public infrastructure and city services are not keeping up with the increased population?

The following comments followed her post on Reddit.

I feel like the cost of a second trash bin here would be less than the extra time it must take staff to dispose of this every week.

There is a second bin less than 100 feet away. I don’t get it.

I haven’t been out walking as much lately, but I feel like all summer there were overflowing trash cans everywhere we went.

Happens all the time at a couple bins in the orchard as well.

We keep adding people, so some areas are gonna need more services. I’d like to see more green spaces as well.

Which ward is that in? Chat with your councillor about it. Mine’s always been awesome at getting these kinds of things attended to (and actually fixed long term, not just cleaned up for one week).

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Drug Arrests and Charges in Burlington

By Staff

November 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Investigators with the Street Crime Unit in Burlington have made four arrests and laid nearly 30 charges after a month-long drug trafficking and property theft investigation.

On November 4, 2021, officers executed a pair of search warrants (one at a residence in Hamilton and the second at a residence in Burlington). As a result of these warrants, the following items were seized by police (see attached photo):

• 28 grams of fentanyl
• $12,400 in counterfeit cash
• Stolen identification
• Stolen licence plate
• Stolen cheque book
• Replica revolver
• Stolen Ford Explorer
• Chevrolet Blazer

Investigators also arrested 4 people as a result of this investigation.

 

A 39 year-old male of Hamilton has been charged with:
• Possession of Property Obtained By Crime
• Possession of Counterfeit Currency
• Possession of a Controlled Substance
• Breach Probation

A 28 year-old female of Hamilton has been charged with:
• Possession of Property Obtained By Crime
• Possession of Counterfeit Currency
• Possession of a Controlled Substance
• Breach Release Order

A 30 year old male of Burlington has been charged with:
• Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Fentanyl)
• Weapons Dangerous
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime (3 counts)
• Possession of Counterfeit Currency
• Drive Disqualified
• Breach Probation (4 counts)
• Theft of Motor Vehicle

A 29 year-old female of Burlington has been charged with:
• Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Fentanyl)
• Weapons Dangerous
• Possession of Property Obtained by Crime (3 counts)
• Possession of Counterfeit Currency
• Breach Release Order

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the 3 District Street Crime Unit at 905-825-4777 ext. 2342

That might be a little on the difficult side – the police did not release the names of those arrested.  This is the second time the Halton Regional Police have done this.  We’ll check it out.  Usually because there is another ongoing criminal investigation

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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Are we stuck with a 29 storey building on Lakeshore Road because the Mayor trusted the Minister of Municipal Affairs ?

By Pepper Parr

November 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Bad enough that the two witnesses from the city’s planning department were not on the same page; now we know that the city was fudging some of the material they were presenting and that they tried to argue that a media release, supposedly put out on June 15th amounted to policy.

Worse – the press release was really a transcript of what a planning staff member recalled understanding what the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is reported to have said.

We don’t make this stuff up – it comes out of the written decision released by the OLT Ontario Land Tribunal last week that gave Carriage Gate approval to build a 29 story tower. The decision, which appeared to have surprised Mayor Meed Ward when she said:  This is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community, which completely disregards the vision of residents, council and staff for this area.

This decision completely dismisses the considerable feedback from residents in opposition to this file – and their valuable suggestions for what would be appropriate. This decision ignored over 100 people who took the time to attend a community meeting, delegate to council, and write pages of letters. There was no acknowledgement of our community’s voice in this decision.

The decision highlights the inappropriate application of Provincial Planning Policies to justify overdevelopment and underscores the importance of a speedy decision from the Minister to remove the Major Transit Station Area designation from downtown and adjust the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre to the Burlington GO Station, where this scale of development should be. We will continue to work to defend our plan and put growth where it belongs.

Unless the city can pull a rabbit out of a hat – the building on the lefty is a done deal.

The City had argued that on June 15, 2021, the Minister announced that he was moving the location of the Burlington Urban Growth Centre from its existing location to the area surrounding the Burlington GO Station. As a result, the City maintains that the Development is no longer within a UGC area.

The City originally submitted that an adjournment “is required to allow the Parties to provide supplemental witness statements in order for the Tribunal to have the opinions of the expert witnesses on the effect of the subject lands no longer being within a UGC at the time of the Tribunal’s eventual decision in this matter. Without this, the city argued, the Tribunal will not have expert opinion evidence that reflects the policy regime that must be applied to consideration of the applications.

The OLT decision said: “The position taken by counsel for the City and for the Region therefore wholly depends on the contention that a new policy regime was ushered in solely by the Minister’s June 15th oral announcement. This alleged policy pronouncement is claimed to have been captured in an informal transcript filed with the Tribunal – prepared by an unidentified person – of the Minister’s remarks made at the June 15th press conference.

“It appears conceded by the City that the ‘unofficial’ informal transcript that is attached as an exhibit to the sworn Affidavit of the City’s planning witness Mr. Plas is not a complete record of the Minister’s comments made on that occasion. An adequate explanation for this was not offered to the Tribunal.

“Despite the unusual evidentiary basis described above, there seems to be no controversy between the Parties about the main gist of the Minister’s remarks made at this press conference. However, Lakeshore’s (This is the Carriage Gate corporate name for the proposed development on the NE corner of Lakeshore Road and Pearl) counsel adamantly maintains that those verbal comments by the Minister did not and could not constitute the formal lawful introduction of new provincial planning policy.

For marketing purposes it will be known as Beausoleil

During the time period leading up to the hearings, the Region of Halton adopted ROPA 48 (Regional Official Plan Amendment) on July 7, 2021, which, among other things, reflects the noted change in location of Burlington UGC that was apparently mentioned orally by the Minister on June 15th (although Ms. Yerxa for the Region points out that the prior process leading up to ROPA 48 was of considerable duration and reflected much work and consultation along the way, much of which is contained in the supporting Affidavit of Ms. Poad). ROPA 48 is apparently now before the Ministry for approval.

“However, beyond the remarks of counsel for the City and the Region, there was no evidence to demonstrate that the Ministry will approve it beyond a statement to that effect from Mr. Plas in his Affidavit tendered before the Tribunal. In the Tribunal’s view, this is not proper subject of opinion evidence – it is merely argument, which was repeated in more detail by counsel for the City and the Region at the Motion hearing.”

“In response, the Appellant filed an Affidavit from Mr. Smith, an experienced Planner who challenges the conclusions expressed by Mr. Plas about the effect of the press conference announcement from the Minister and also the allegation that the Minister’s oral announcement was “supportive of ROPA 48”. Again, in the Tribunal’s view, Mr. Smith’s statements are also not proper opinion evidence determinative of this particular issue.

“The Tribunal is unable to accept the contention that the oral remarks made by the Minister at the June 15th press conference, taken alone, constitute the promulgation of new Ontario planning policy by way of an ‘update’ or other ‘revision’ of the Growth Plan in terms of the location of the Burlington It is to be noted that the Minister’s remarks do not specify the precise boundary of this apparent location change, nor do they indicate the effective date of the change. In any event, the Tribunal was not convinced by the City counsel’s submission that no written statement or enactment of the change in the Burlington UGC location is required by law.

Did the City of Burlington get screwed over by the Minister of Municipal Affairs or did he just plain forget what he said he would do?

“Neither Counsel for the City or the Region could cite any jurisprudence specifically on this point to support this unique argument. Moreover, in the Tribunal’s view this notion seems counter-intuitive in light of the very detailed provincial planning regime currently in force. The Tribunal specifically disagrees that the Minister’s remarks described above can be treated as a lawful, formal issuance of Provincial policy within the meaning of s. 1, 2 and 3 of the Planning Act.

“The Tribunal also agrees with Lakeshore’s counsel that for the purposes of this appeal the relevant provincial policy provisions include those set out in the current Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)  and the current GP. The Tribunal thus rejects the contention that the current GP has somehow been changed or ‘updated’ in relation to the location of the Downtown Burlington UGC by reason either of the June 15, 2021 oral comments of the Minister or the content of the draft ROPA 48 which has not been approved by the Province.

“The Tribunal is of the opinion that the City’s proposition that a hearing should be adjourned to deal with anticipated possible future changes in provincial policy is:

(a) without foundation and without case law authority;

(b) amounts to a repudiation of long-established jurisprudence since it requires the evaluation of planning applications on the basis of alleged “emerging” policy intended to signal a new evolution of priorities for intensification in the City; and

(c) is highly unusual given that the very notion of modifying the UGC boundary in the City was not introduced until nearly 2 years after the Appellant’s applications were deemed complete by the City.

This is the Urban Growth Boundary that Mayor Meed Ward fought hard to have changed. She thought she had – the Minister of Municipal Affairs said he would approve but had not yet signed the decision. So, legally it has not been changed and the Beausoleil development get the go ahead from the Ontario Land Tribunal

Nick Carnecelli had a stronger case and lawyers who knew what was acceptable in terms of evidence – something the city didn’t have .

The Tribunal also agrees with the submission of counsel for the Appellant that:

“the press conference statement itself goes no further than suggesting the Minister “will be moving” the UGC, not that it already has been moved. This is a statement of possible future intention and nothing more. It provides no indication of how or when. It does not discuss implementation at all. There is no reference to ROPA 48 despite the statement of Mr. Plas. It refers to “long-term planning” as opposed to immediate effect”.

As a final matter, the Tribunal further disagrees with the argument of the City’s counsel that the purposes and policies underlying the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure in any way require the granting of the City’s adjournment motion in the unique circumstances of this case, and the Tribunal declines to exercise its discretion to do so.

What does all this mean? First that the city is made to look like a couple of high school students screwing things up.

Secondly, it leaves the Mayor with a problem with the OLT decision, which, try as she might, is likely to hold.

This piece of land and the site of the Waterfront Hotel will be the next battle ground. Then there is the north side of Lakeshore Road from Brant to Martha that will get the developer treatment.

What impact is the decision going to have on the several development across the street in a piece of land known as the football where there are two developments working their way through the application process and at least two properties within the football that do not have any development activity ongoing.

Mayor Meed Ward had put everything on getting the Urban Growth Centre Boundary moved and she thought she had it done.

Both Planning and Legal are responsible for this one.

How many more like it are there out there?

Related news story.

City planner described as not an expert witness in OLT decision.

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Wink,wink and nod, nod practices are what lead to light level of corruption - which like rust only gets worse

By Pepper Parr

November 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

A reader sent in the following: It was in regard to the Heritage Advisory Committee and the recommendations it makes.

Sad to see the usual suspects piling on in this case.

As a person who has served on a number of voluntary community boards, I can only ask: would you not expect and welcome people with an interest in art to be on an art gallery board?

Or people with attachment to gathering artifacts to join a museum board? I could go on.

All governments depend on usually unpaid citizen groups to perform such roles, since the alternative is inexpert and uncommitted paid staff.

So it’s a win-win, as long as conflict of interest principles are well defined and managed, which seems to be the case here. Searches for absolute purity after the fact by self-appointed nitpickers will only discourage others from sharing their expertise.

The piling on is part of the way some people choose to express themselves.  It happens.

Here is where I think the problem exists.  It is my firm view that when people choose to serve they are there to serve the public not themselves.

And that, in my opinion is what has happened.

The people who serve on a heritage committee are advocates for protecting as much heritage as possible.

The people who are passionate about heritage tend to share a mind set: Alan Harrington is fierce when it comes to fighting for the preservation of our history. Rick Wilson brought to light a more complete story about the Burlington Races, a name used to tell part of the War of 1812 story. His efforts resulted in a plaque being erected, and hopefully in the fullness of time, a plaque being corrected.

It would be difficult for these two men, for whom I have the greatest of respect, to not recommend a grant for a house that is a superb example of what the city wants to ensure isn’t replaced by some ugly monster house.

What the Heritage Advisory Committee does not have is a clear set of guidelines or rules that prevent self serving.

The practice in Burlington is to have a member of Council sitting on each Advisory Committee: one would hope that Councillor would have a deeper understanding of what good governance is all about and explain it to the Committee members.

This is what you don’t want happening at any level of city business.

The thing you don’t want is a situation where there is a lot of wink, wink; nod, nod taking place when decisions are being made.  That is not the case with the Barker recommendations.

That kind of behaviour is the first step to the slippery slope that lets corruption take place.

It is not about “absolute purity after the fact by self-appointed nitpickers.”  It is about consistent good governance.

It is not enough to be on the right side of the rules; it is the spirit of the rules that matters.

It is clear to me that the rules need some tightening up.  What perplexes me is that Council chose to let it pass.  Staff advised the city that a previous grant had been given – that should have raised a red flag.

I recall a discussion taking place at Council when James Ridge was the City Manager and they were discussing what a Council member could accept in the way of a gift or a benefit.  Ridge at the time said all you had to do was document everything: if someone else paid for your coffee, note it.  At the time we had a member of council who saw someone one else paying for a golf game or a ticket to an event as quite acceptable.  It wasn’t and it isn’t.

The rules need to be tightened.

Related news story:

An example of what strong advocacy can do.

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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If the pandemic closed everything why do we have to continue spending ?

By Pepper Parr

November 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The message asked:  “Please don’t use my name because I have friends at all these institutions and look forward to going back to them one day.”

The request had to do with a piece we published on the services the city provides and what the delivery cost is.  Our reader writes:

Unfortunately, I have been unable to use any of their fine services or enter their buildings for a year and a half.

However – all these institutions have been CLOSED SHUT or severely reduced in their operations for the past 20 months.

1)  If they provide no service – why do they cost so much?

2)  If we can survive without them – is there a way to do them for less?

3)  I think each of them have a very strong volunteer support staff in place – so it isn’t staffing costs?

and if it WAS staff – then why were people not laid off and put on the CERB (or whatever is the right thing to do).

And the charts should show what each group earns (takes in) as revenue.   This of course is during non-covid times.

Like …

        • If it isn’t open – why does it cost s much

          Performing Arts Centre – lets say it COST $1M but they sell tickets for $1.1M and return the excess back to the city.

        • The Art Gallery has free admission but maybe they cover all their costs in the gift shop?
        • Tourism Burlington should theoretically “create” an extra million dollars from extra visitors coming to our city through their advertising and goodwill service.   We can measure this by whether hotels are full and restaurants (and their patron’s bellies) are full.

Riders cover the costs – if not don’t operate a transit service

Parking, Transit, cemeteries should be self funded. Court services should be self supporting through fines they issue.

If we earn $100 from parking fees but spend $125 to collect it?  Wouldn’t it be wiser to make parking free – or charge 25% for parking?

If these groups are not self sufficient – that falls on the management for that group to figure out how to make it work.

Also as far as “dipping into reserves for a rainy day” 😮 – we have suffered 500 COVID rainy days running now.

This is the worst crisis since WWII.  This IS the rainy day. 🌧🌂☔

It isn’t easy doing up a budget. Especially for government services at union dollar rates.

I am very happy with the things in our beautiful city of Burlington and hate to see services and amenities taken away.

When they started charging for parking to go to the waterfront – I just stopped going to the waterfront.

I say let the people in other towns (who pay lower taxes and therefore have more money to spend) come and pay for parking here and fund our revenue stream.

The story that resulted in the comment

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A tighter look at what your tax dollars are spent on

By Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Budget building is an art and a dance that involves Staff and the members of Council.

Staff understand how municipalities work.  They don’t have a bottom line that they have to meet – they do strive to provide great service – but they need funds to do that – and they aren’t shy about asking.

Set out below are the services the city performs.

How much of your tax dollars go to each of the services. That data is also available. Do you feel you are getting value for the tax dollars spent delivering that service to you?

Notice that they talk in terms of millions of dollars

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Burlington residents asked to select from list of names to rename Ryerson Park

By Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The park currently known as Ryerson Park at 565 Woodview Rd. will be renamed to reflect the City’s current naming policies for City assets.

The park is tucked in behind the school.

Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 11, residents were invited to suggest a new name  consistent with today’s standards. The name submission portion of this project is now closed and a small working group of City staff, Indigenous Leaders and community stakeholders have created a short-list of names that residents can now vote on.

Staff will take the voting results and report back to Burlington City Council with a recommendation for a new name early in the new year.

Voting is open now at and will be open until Nov. 19, 2021.

Shortlist of Names
More than 500 names were submitted in phase 1.

The Shortlist Committee has considered all the names and chosen three names.

A fourth naming option has been added from Indigenous Elder Stephen Paquette after consulting an Indigenous linguist: Sweetgrass Park.

Sweetgrass is one of the sacred medicines to many First Nations. It is used as a purification medicine in ceremony to purify ourselves and to heal.

For years the contribution Edgerton Ryerson made to the creation of the public educational system we have today was held in great esteem. Public sentiment changed when hundreds of graves were discovered at residential school sites, which were built long after Ryerson had passed on. His statue was defaced and then toppled.

The proposed park names and rationale:

• Head of the Lake Park: This name was chosen to reflect the name of the current land agreement in place that allows settler communities to occupy the location of the park in question, as per the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

• Unity Park: When forms of hatred and attempts to divide people are on the rise we need to find ways of expressing what we think is important. Unity means that we embrace our differences, that we value other people’s experience and beliefs

• Truth and Reconciliation Park: To heal as a nation we need to speak the truth and reconcile our relationship with the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

• Sweetgrass Park: Sweetgrass is used as a purification medicine in ceremony to purify ourselves and to heal.

Why are we renaming Ryerson Park?
At the June 16, 2021 meeting of the Halton District School Board (HDSB), trustees unanimously approved a motion to rename Ryerson Public School on Woodview Road in Burlington, in accordance with the Board’s Naming and Renaming Schools Policy and Governance Procedure.

Mayor Meed Ward meets with Andrea Grebenc, Chair of the Halton District School Board

As part of the Board motion, the Chair of the Board sent a letter to inform the City of this decision. Burlington City Council then unanimously voted to rename Ryerson Park. This was done out of respect for Indigenous residents in our community, particularly following the recent discovery of mass graves at former residential schools.

Burlington’s Ryerson Public School, and adjacent Ryerson Park, are named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental in the design of Canada’s residential school system. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded this assimilation amounted to the genocide of Indigenous people.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward explains: “Earlier this year, Burlington City Council unanimously voted to rename Ryerson Park, in line with the recent HDSB decision to rename the adjacent school. This was done out of respect for Indigenous residents in our community and visitors to our city — particularly following the recent discovery of mass graves at former residential schools.

 

 

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Road Closure - Mainway at Guelph Line, Nov. 4 - 6, 2021

By Staff

November 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mainway, between Northside Road and Guelph Line will be closed nightly:

Nov. 4 to 6, 2021
7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
for resurfacing work.

Emergency vehicle access will be permitted, and local access will be maintained up to the closure points. Through traffic will be detoured as per map.

 

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High rise is coming to Waterdown Road - 29 storeys is what they are looking for. No mention of any parkland.

By Pepper Parr

November 5th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Rendering of the proposed development.

 

We have been told they were coming and indeed they are coming.

Not all the development is taking place in the downtown core either.

Infinity Development is holding their required pre-application meeting on November 17th via Zoom.

Their proposal is for a 29 storey, mixed-use development, including 295 residential units within a tower portion and retail/commercial land uses on the ground level of a 4-storey podium. The remaining three (3) floors of the podium are proposed for above-grade parking area. A total of 320 parking spaces (and bicycle parking) are proposed in a combination of two levels of underground and podium level parking.

No comments are received by the City during the Pre-Application phase. Public comments may be directed to the applicant during this time. Once a complete application has been received the public will be notified, and comments will be received by City staff.

The planner on this development has, as in other developments it has presented in, been sparing in the amount of detail they choose to share.  Listen closely and press them for details when you get the opportunity.

The two houses on the left will come down. Not the kind of street that is safe for children.

This development seems to be the cookie cutter of choice design that is being offered: Four level podium with a tower rising up to the 29th level.

This is a part of the city where development is being encouraged; it is within the Major Transit Service Area.  What is missing is something in the way of public space; Waterdown is already a high traffic area – cars move along at quite a clip.

Check the ward 1 Councillor’s web site for zoom details.  The Gazette will publish those details the day before the event.

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David Barker explains the Heritage restoration grants he was awarded by Council after being recommended by a Committee he served on. He did recuse himself.

By David Barker

November 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Setting the record straight.

Are there problems with the way Heritage Fund grants are awarded? Should members of the Advisory Committee be eligible for the grants?

Notwithstanding the Gazette no longer permits me to post in its comment section to articles it publishes, it has allowed me this opportunity to respond to its article which was ostensibly about grants made available by the City to the owners of Designated Heritage properties, but was very much focused upon me, my designated heritage property, and the three heritage grants I have received over the years from the City’s Community Heritage Fund.

The Gazette‘s article has some inaccuracies and misconceptions. Here I shall try to set the record straight. To do that and provide context it is important to understand a bit about the designating of properties as Heritage, the City’s Community Heritage (grant) Fund, and the role of the Burlington Heritage Committee.

The house is located in a part of the city where there are a number of designated homes.

To qualify for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act a property must have “heritage attributes”. A heritage attribute is defined by the Province as a feature of the property which should be protected and preserved for the future. The Ontario government has set out a detailed process to be followed by municipalities when seeking to place a heritage designation status on a property. A critical part of that process is the requirement for a heritage assessment undertaken by an accredited third party. That assessment, amongst other things will identify any heritage attributes. Assuming the property is worthy of heritage designation, to bestow the designation status on the property the municipality must pass a bylaw which identifies the heritage attributes. The bylaw is placed on the title deed of the property.

The City, in common with many Ontario municipalities, has a heritage property grant program, known as the Community Heritage Fund. Here are some relevant excerpts from the City’s Community Heritage Fund Guidelines document.

OBJECTIVE

To encourage the preservation of buildings with identified cultural heritage value by providing financial assistance for the conservation of these buildings.

ELIGIBILITY

• Properties designated under part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.

• Any work which conserves or enhances heritage attribute elements specified in by-law.

• Short-term, routine maintenance is not eligible: that includes minor repairs, general painting, repair of non-original siding or roofing or landscaping.

The quality of the restoration work done is superb.

• Conservation of heritage attributes important to the resource’s heritage value is eligible.

• Restoration of heritage attributes where the original from and materials can be clearly determined from documentary evidence.

• Work necessary to restore the building to structural soundness.
o Includes the correction of serious structural faults which threaten the building’s survival, but does not include routine maintenance.
o Structural work necessitated by modern renovation is not included

OK, so the owner of a designated heritage property determines to seek a heritage grant to help mitigate the cost of eligible work required on the property. The property owner files an application, which is reviewed by the City’s heritage planner, who assesses the application, provides a report to the Heritage Committee. The Heritage Committee discusses the application and makes a recommendation, for or against, to City Council. That recommendation is first sent to a standing committee of Council (most if not all members of council are members of the standing committee). The standing committee reviews the entire matter including the recommendations from both the Heritage Committee and from city staff. Should the standing committee determine to approve the grant applied for, the matter is sent to City Council as a consent item. So it’s not as if council members are seeing the item for the first time at the meeting of Council. Those members already saw it at the standing committee stage.

So you will note these grants are not awarded for general improvements to a property, such as building extensions or kitchen renovations, as implied in the article. Grants are awarded so as to mitigate the cost of maintaining or restoring heritage attributes or other non-regular maintenance items that safeguard the heritage property as a whole. Those costs are generally considerably of a higher magnitude than say a house in a modern sub-division.

Now to the specifics of the four items relating to my heritage property referenced in the Gazette’s article.

Please note the Gazette asked me to provide to it for each grant I received:- the date awarded, the amount awarded, and the scope of work that was undertaken. I willingly and in very short order voluntarily provided that information to the Gazette, along with links to the relevant Heritage Committee meeting minutes.

The western part of the property was severed once the Heritage Advisory Committee said it had no objections.

The Gazette is incorrect in its report that I have made application for four (4) heritage grants. I have applied for and received three (3). The fourth item referenced by the Gazette is with regard to my successful application to the City via the Committee of Adjustment to sever my property. Being a heritage designated property any alteration to the building exterior or to the property’s lot lines must be referred to the Heritage Committee for review and its recommendation to Council. I received no funds from the City in this regard. In fact the opposite is true. It cost me $50,000 in fees to the City to gain the severance, not to mention another $100,000 in professional fees

Two (2) of the three (3) grants awarded are in respect of work that was required so as to restore the front porch verandah, which is a heritage attribute cited in the heritage designation bylaw. The total awarded was $1,577.15. The first grant for the replacement of the verandah’s decking boards was awarded September 16, 2020 was not paid to me until May, 2021. Those decking boards are not the usual 1×6 white cedar generally used for decks. They are 2×6 BC red cedar. Way more expensive. The grant awarded September 7th, 2021 has not as yet been paid. Though the work, to repair and repaint the turned columns and decorative sun motif, clearly shown in the photographs in the Gazette’s article, was completed in June 2021.

The first grant awarded was in fact back in 2017, not 2019 as reported by the Gazette. At that time I was not a member of the Heritage Committee. That grant related to the cost of retrofitting weeping tiles and installing a sump pump to combat the rise in Lake Ontario’s water table which was causing ingress of water through the unfinished basement’s floor which jeopardized the building’s foundations.

Readers should note not all work is eligible for grant. For example the $15,000 cost to re shingle the roof in 2019 was not eligible. There is huge inconsistency and illogicality as to what work is eligible. For example the weeping tiles work was eligible because inaction would have imperiled the entire structure. The re shingling work was not eligible even though inaction would also have imperiled the entire structure. Should I have elected to re-roof with shakes the original material used in the 1890s at three times the cost, I would have been eligible for a grant.

The Gazette has correctly reported that in respect of the 2017 and 2021 grant applications I recused myself from participation in the consideration process by the Heritage Committee. And as respects the 2020 grant I was out of the country when the Committee considered the application.

I believe of the eleven resident committee members I (maybe one other) am the only one who actually owns a Designated Heritage property. If being a heritage property owner eligible to apply for heritage grants made one ineligible to serve on the committee, how would the committee be able to get an owner’s perspective of the unique issues owning a designated heritage property brings?

The Gazette states in its article:-

“Where we have an issue is with a member of an Advisory Committee benefiting financially as the result of a decision made by the committee.”

The Gazette is incorrect. The Heritage Committee is an “Advisory” body that has no decision making powers. It makes recommendations to Council. Council then makes the decision.

The Gazette also states:-

“Also, where was Council on this? The Staff report made mention that Barker had been given grants in the past.”

What’s the Gazette’s point here?

Under the terms of the grant program an owner of a designated property is entitled to receive one grant each year but only for eligible restoration or non-regular maintenance works. Receiving three grants during my 28 years of ownership of this designated heritage property does not seem to me like I’m milking the system.

 

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Getting public response to what City Manager calls a 'difficult budget'

By Pepper Parr

November 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the days before the pandemic got a grip on the world some members of the public would gather in a public place and go over literature on the budget that was being proposed.

There was never an opportunity to change any of the numbers but there were lots of chances to ask questions.

Carol Gottlob who was a candidate in ward 4 and Angelo Bentivenia a candidate in ward 6 – both lost the first time around – would show up for public budget meetings.

Attendance at these budget Public Information events was sporadic. During those occasions when there was to be a municipal election the attendance was very good.  People planning on running for council would all sit at the same table and busy themselves with how their candidate would manage the budget.

Those years when there wasn’t a municipal election coming attendance was sparse.

It was a cold winter night, snow was falling. The city had called a budget presentation event. No one showed up except for a couple of people who had run for office and wanted to stay in the loop. The Mayor hung around for a while then left. Staff packed up their equipment and headed home. The event took place at the Mainway community centre. Less than 20 yards away the arena was close to packed with parents watching their kids play hockey. The budget that set out how much of their tax money would be spent on recreation services was something they didn’t appear to be of or concerned about.

One evening, it was snowing and except for two council hopefuls – nary a soul showed up.  That evening right next door was a rink filled with parents watching their children playing hockey.

This time around the communications people are doing their best.

There were full day Council Workshops where Service Presentations were given by staff.  They were intense and took place on September 22, 23, 28 & 30, 2021.

Today the Budget Overview took place.  Staff set out what they saw as necessary and yes there were a number of asks as well.

A bit of discussion took place related to a position in the Clerk’s Office that was understood to be needed.  Discussion on that job came to a quick end  when City Manager Tim Commisso explained that the job had already been filled.

The FTE (Full time employee) number is going to grow by an additional 70 people during 2022.  That’s above the 14+ that are going to be hired by the Planning department – those 14+ positions will be covered by fees paid by developers to have their applications approved.

There will be a Virtual Budget Townhall to be emceed by the Mayor on November 22, 2021.

The CSSRA Standing Committee will do a 2022 Budget Review & Approval on November 30 & December 2, 2021

It all goes to Council for Budget Approval on December 14, 2021.

There is one rather interesting change to the way members of Council can influence the budget directly. There was in the past a BAR form (Budget Action Request) that members of council would fill in setting out where they felt cuts could be made or additions made.  Council members would use the BAR form to promote something they wanted to see done in their ward.

This year they are being asked to prepare and submit a memo setting out their rationale for proposed budget amendment(s).  This was to increased transparency for the public.  Those memorandums would be summed up reflecting all the proposed changes.

Those memorandums are due in the Finance Department by 4pm on November 23.

Not sure where the idea of the memorandums came from – it will certainly stretch the capacity of at least three current council members.

 

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Reserve funds, those rainy day dollars, are in very bad shape. No plan for repairing them either

By Pepper Parr

November 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Municipalities cannot show a deficit. They can’t go broke either.

If their finances are suspect the province moves in and takes over.

What municipalities do is set aside money for those rainy days. Well run municipalities that are financially prudent, and the current finance leadership is prudent,  as is the City Manager who struggles to impress upon Council the need to be more responsible when it comes to protecting the reserve accounts..

Early in the current council’s term of office at least two of the city reserve funds took a hit.
Four million was taken from the Hydro Reserve fund to pay for the wave break needed at the LaSalle Marina.

During the 2022 Budget Overview that took place Wednesday Council was shown the condition of the reserve funds

These are not healthy numbers.

The practice in Burlington has been to put10 to 15% of net revenues into Stabilization reserve accounts.

Currently the best the city has been able to do is set aside just 10.4%

Municipal old-timers like Tim Commisso and Joan Ford know all too well how foolish this practice is.

Councillor Paul Sharman has in the past refused to vote for budgets that chip away at reserve accounts.

The five newbies don’t have enough experience to fully realize how dangerous the approach the current Mayor has chosen to live with.

To be short $60 million in the Capital Reserve fund borders on recklessness.

There are no words for Councillors that do not put in place a long term plan to cover the shortfall of more than $70 million on corporate and other reserve funds.

One suspects that some members of this council assume that at some point all those high rise towers that they swore they didn’t want to see get approved would some day bring home all kinds of commercial and residential taxes that would solve all the problems.

And we elected them – didn’t we?

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Ontario Expanding Booster Eligibility: Will Expand Gradually Based on Age and Risk to Delta Varia

By Staff

November 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is expanding eligibility for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to additional groups of high-risk individuals starting November 6, 2021, providing them with an extra layer of protection against the Delta variant. Over the coming months, Ontario is also prepared to gradually roll out booster doses to all Ontarians aged 12 and over.

While the province continues to report one of the lowest rates of active cases in the country and continues to make steady progress in vaccinating more individuals, offering the extra layer of protection provided by a booster dose will contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

“Keeping a low rate of infection in our communities and protecting our most vulnerable is how we can keep our schools, businesses and social settings as safe as possible while avoiding further lockdowns,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To provide every individual the best protection while learning to live with the virus for the long-term, we are prepared to expand booster eligibility to all Ontarians pending clinical recommendations, with eligibility expanding this week to individuals who face a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.”

Based on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recent recommendation, the province will begin offering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the following vulnerable populations if at least six months have passed since their last dose:

• Individuals aged 70 and over (born in 1951 or earlier);
• Health care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings (including long-term care home and retirement home staff and designated caregivers);
• Individuals who received a complete series of a viral vector vaccine (two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine); and
• First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members.

Booster doses are being offered to these groups based on evidence of gradual waning immunity six months after receiving their second dose and a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Starting on Saturday, November 6 at 8:00 a.m., eligible individuals will be able to book their booster dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies, and primary care settings.

Eligible individuals can book appointments at a Halton Region Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic through Halton’s online booking system, starting Saturday, November 6, 2021.

Hospital-based health care workers are encouraged to reach out to their hospital employer to get vaccinated directly through their hospital’s vaccination program.

Locations and timing for booster doses may vary by public health unit based on local planning and considerations.

In addition, Ontario is once again supporting northern and remote fly in First Nation communities by launching Operation Remote Immunity 3.0, this time through the co-development of plans with Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, to support Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, First Nation health organizations, to administer booster doses in their communities with transportation and vaccine supply assistance from Ornge and local public health units.

While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, the province is prepared to expand eligibility for a booster dose to all Ontarians over time. Based on Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout for first and second doses, expansion of eligibility for booster doses will be based on age and risk, with an interval of six to eight months from the second dose.

“Ontario is continuing the success of our vaccine rollout by expanding eligibility for a booster shot based on age and risk,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue rolling out our Last Mile Strategy to vaccinate as many Ontarians as possible, providing an extra layer of protection starting with our most vulnerable is critical as we continue to safely reopen and manage COVID-19 for the long-term.”

During the height of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a large population of Ontarians received their first and second doses at a longer interval than indicated on the product monograph. This longer interval has now been shown to improve duration of protection, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization now recommends an optimal interval of eight weeks between first and second doses.

“The expansion of eligibility for booster shots is one more step that our government is taking to protect Ontarians and keep our communities safe,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “As with the initial administration of COVID-19 vaccines, the phased rollout of booster shots ensures that vulnerable groups are prioritized and can easily access booster shots through pharmacies, clinics and health care providers.”

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for children aged five to 11 is subject to Health Canada approval. Ontario is working with public health units across the province to prepare to vaccinate children aged five to 11. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 is a distinct formulation at a lower dose and supply of vaccine that will be rolled out in parallel to booster doses.

 

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Budgets are a numbers game: which ones do you want?

By Staff

November 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Budgets are a numbers game – for members of Council it is a real life situation that they have to deal with and then explain to the people that elected them.

In order to explain what they are faced with Council members have a series of visuals that set it all out.

On the left they list four factors that impact the budget and tell you (the orange ball) what the impact on the budget is.

On the right they do the same thing with four other factors and use that orange ball to tell you what the impact is on the budget.

Then they add another graphic to show what the tax increase is going to be to that point.

They aren’t done yet. Consideration has to be given to the risks involved in running a city.   Three more factors are added and another orange ball to tell you what the impact is going to be on the budget.

Add in the cost of risk mitigation factors.

And there you have it – the final tax increase number. And with that you now know what the 2022 budget exercise is going to be all about.

What do you cut where to get a number Council can live with and still get re-elected and something the public will swallow.

No one seems to think that 5.45% increase will sit all that well with the voters.

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