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

By Staff

August 26th, 2022



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

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


Those recommendations are set out below

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Related news story:

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

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

By Pepper Parr

August 25th, 2022



The following are some very direct questions.

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

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

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

City Manager Tim Commisso

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Staff

August 24th, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centennial Trail at Seneca Avenue

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

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

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

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

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List of School Boards candidates

By Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

Both Board trustees for Burlington were acclaimed

Here are the candidates standing for seats as trustees in Burlington

Halton District School Board Trustee – Wards 1 and 2

Matthew Diodati
Sebastian Dumitrescu-Georgescu
Omar Kayed

Halton District School Board Trustee – Wards 3 and 6

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

Halton District School Board Trustee – Ward 4

Roxanne Anderson
Michael Beauchemin
Varun Bhardwaj
Michael Duhacek
Margo Shuttleworth

Halton District School Board Trustee – Ward 5

David Biagioni
Amy Collard

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee –

Wards 1 and 2

Vincent Enzo Iantomasi
Kirsten Kelly

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee –

Wards 3 and 6

David Cherry
Trish Nicholls-Powell

Halton Catholic District School Board Trustee – Wards 4 and 5

Brenda Agnew
Rick Giuliani

Conseil scolaire Viamonde

Pierre Gregory (acclaimed)

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir

Dominique Janssens (acclaimed)

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

By Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2022



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

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

Democracy doesn’t work that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Townhouse developments have replaced bungalows on large spacious lots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Staff

August 22, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Nominees for Wards 4, 5 and 6 City Council seats

By Pepper Parr

August 21st, 2022



This review of the candidates who filed nomination papers is being done in three parts.  Those running in wards 1, 2 and 3 have been published.  This article covers wards 4, 5 and 6.  The third will cover the candidate running for Mayor.

Ward 4

Tony Brecknock candidate for the ward 3 council seat. OUNCIL SEAT

Tony Brecknock
Phone: 905-334-8118

The Gazette has yet to interview Tony Brecknock.  Basically due to scheduling issues.   He was active in the decision the Halton District School Board made to close two of the city’s seven high schools.

Olivia Duke candidate for the ward 4 Council seat.

Olivia Duke
Phone: 416-320-8843

Our attempts at meeting with Olivia Duke have not gotten us very far.  She has been actively campaigning.

Shawna Stolte, ward 4 incumbent

Shawna Stolte

Shawna is the ward 4 incumbent.  She has had her issues with the Integrity Commissioner and had her run ins with the Mayor as well. During what can only be called a ‘sparring’ match during a Council meeting Stolte made it very clear she knew how to stick to a principled position while the Mayor made it equally clear that she could use and abuse the power the Mayor has to amend an agenda to suit her personal agenda.  That sorry spectacle is HERE for viewing, if you haven’t already seen it.

Stolte has served the interests of her constituents very well and brought about changes in the way council processes and proceeds with its business.  Some were small, other quite significant.

Eden Wood
Phone: 905-630-4949

We have yet to meet Ms Wood.  Most of the first time candidates needed additional time to get their web sites operational.

Ward 5

The number of candidates that came out of the blue on the second to last day that nominations were open flooded ward 5  And probably stunned the incumbent who most people thought was going to be acclaimed.  Paul Sharman is now in a race.

We have no detail on any of the candidates listed below.  We will reach out to each of them and learn what wee can.  The first question that pops into our minds is this:  Was it pure coincidence that three people with very little in the way of a public profile all filed their papers on the same day?  Journalists don’t believe in coincidences

Guy D’Alesio
Phone: 905-483-5093

Andrew Hall
Phone: 289-962-2862

Denny Pirzas
Phone: 905-484-0105

Paul Sharman, ward 5 incumbent

Paul Sharman
Phone: 905-320-7467

Paul Sharman burst on the political scene in the 2010 election when he filed nomination papers for the Office of Mayor.  Shortly after that Rick Goldring, who was the Council member for ward 5 also filed papers to run for the Office of Mayor.

Sharman almost immediately withdrew his nomination for Mayor and filed to run as the ward Councillor.

Both Sharman and Goldring won the race they ran in.

Sharman was a member of the Group that put together the Shape Burlington report that set out what people were unhappy about with city hall. One might ask Sharman if what he was a part in 2020 has had an impact on the way city hall works with its citizens.

Sharman went on to become a very different member of Council.  He brought significant private sector experience to the job and a mind that could never get enough data.

He was described by Goldring as one of the best strategic minds that Gold rind had seen.

Many thought Sharman would run for Mayor this time.  It was never really something he wanted to be.   He chose not to and while he didn’t assume he was going to be acclaimed we don’t think he expected three people the public knew very little about to run against him.

He has been a useful member of Council forcing his colleagues to look at significant financial issues in a different light.

.Ward 6

Angelo Bentivegna, ward 6 incumbent

Angelo Bentivegna
Phone: 905-973-6923

Angelo Bentivegna is the incumbent.  He defeated Councillor Blair Lancaster by less the 50 votes in 2018 and has worked hard to gain a stronger foothold in the ward.  His command and grasp of many of the issues that come before council is at times limited.  He has positioned himself as the Councillor who cares about what taxpayers have to deal with.

He is very strong when working a room – a lot of bonhomie to the man.

Rick Greenspoon
Phone: 905-466-4449

Rick Greenspoon has up until this point in his working life been the man behind the scenes making things work better and getting the job done.

He has a clear idea of what he thinks can be done and is out on the streets doing the door to door work that is essential

Many ward 6 residents in the Millcroft area have a significant issue with the plans Argo Developments have for the  the changes it would make with the golf course the community was built around.

Greenspoon appears to have made some deep inroads and been able to capitalize on the disappointment those people have with the incumbent.

Renato Velocci
Phone: 905-802-8808

We do know that Renato Velocci once ran against Linda Pugley for a council seat many years ago.

List of candidates for wards 1,2 and 3

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The candidates for city Council seats - Part 1 - Wards 1, 2 and 3

By Pepper Parr

August 21st, 2022



The list is long – we have broken it down to three articles: Ward 1, 2 and 3; followed by ward 4, 5 and 6 – then review of those running for the Office of Mayor

This is a very very different collection of people than what came forward in 2018.

There are some surprises; there is one from a jokester and one from someone who thought spending $100. to get his name in the paper was a good investment

Ward 1 boundaries

Ward 1
Robert Radway
Phone: 289-208-6474

Robert Radway – high school teacher running for the ward 1 Council seat


When we first learned about Radway we were told that he planned to continue working as a teacher and serve his constituents at city hall.  It was clear at that point that Radway had no idea just what the role of city councillor amounts to.  To be fair, Kelvin Galbraith didn’t know what he faced in terms of a work load when he was elected.  He operates a gym and has people who run the place day to day.

Radway has since changed his position and will now have colleagues cover his classes when he has to be at city hall.

Radway said he was encouraged by several Board of Education Superintendents to run for public office; whoever the Superintendent are – they should think in terms of early retirement.

Teachers can apply for a leave of absence which is almost always granted.  Radway missed the deadline to apply for a leave of absence this school year.  He has said he will apply for a leave of absence next year.

Kelvin Galbraith, ward 1 incumbent.

Kelvin Galbraith
Phone: 905-928-4513

Galbraith has some explaining to do.  There are perceived conflicts of interest that he needs to clean up.  The campaign may teach him to pay more attention to the needs of the voters rather than the interests of the developers.  That is not to say that Galbraith is a developer toady – it is to say that his inclination is to business rather than people

Ward 2
Keith Demoe
Phone: 289-259-0488

The Gazette has not had an opportunity to talk to or interview Keith Demoe.  We will get to him

Lisa Kearns is the ward 2 incumbent.. She has been an effective councillor

Lisa Kearns

Lisa Kearns is a very intelligent woman with a strong private sector background that gives her an understanding many Councillors don’t have of budgets and numbers.  She is perceptive, quite sharp with her tongue when she relaxes.  She has introduced a lot of new words to this council; some we are still trying to figure out what Kearns means – just what does she mean wen she refers to “the Delta”.  She has earned every penny she is paid.

Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien brings experience from the Catholic School Board to city hall; if one can survive in that environment – you can survive city hall.  We are schedules to interview Mr O’Brien this week.

Jennifer Hounslow – candidate for the ward 2 city council seat

Ward 3
Jennifer Hounslow

We have not yet managed to set up a meeting with Ms Hounslow.  She’s on the list and at some point we will get through to her. A statement on her web site says:   “I am running because we need a representative who can listen, lead, act, and execute. You deserve to have the right person on board to manage the city budget and keep us operationally and fiscally strong, impact policy, and advocate for your concerns.”

Luke McEachern
Phone: 289-941-2996

The Gazette has not been able to reach Mr. McEachern – yet

Rory Nisan is the ward 3 incumbent.

Rory Nisan
Phone: 905-464-7195

Rory Nisan became a member of Council in 2018  taking with him the expectations of a number of people that he would fill the shores of former Council member John Taylor who had done a good job during his 20 + years on Council.  At this point those expectations have not been met.

Perhaps a stiff challenge will reveal a different Rory Nisan

The list we have set out above has yet to be certified by the City Clerk.  That will be done on Monday.  We don’t expect any changes in wards 1, 2 or 3.

The Gazette intends to interview each of the candidates at least once



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Eleven new firefighters graduate - a lot of proud faces in the class photo

By Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2022



You have to have fought a fire and realized at some point that as a fire fighter you are truly in danger.

You have to have fought a tough blaze and learned when it was over that everyone didn’t make it out of the burning building.

That is what Fire Chief Karen Roche was talking about yesterday when she welcomed 11 new graduates to the Burlington Fire department.

She put it this way at the graduation event: “Our graduation event is always a great source of pride for everyone in the Fire Department. The new recruits have put in a lot of hard work to graduate and become full time firefighters, to serve the Burlington community and keep everyone safe. On behalf of everyone within the Burlington Fire Department, I welcome them to the family and am looking forward to working with them.”

Each recruit class is named for a fallen Burlington firefighter. This year’s class is proudly named the Tim Catterall Recruit Class of 2022.

Back row from left to right: Victor Paletta, Dan Prinsen, Tom Poliziani, Peter Dionisio, Alex Guptill, Caleb Cooze, Mike Moffat Front row from left to right: Stuart Buchanan, Matthew Manning, Lexis Ross, Zachary Tait

Why the ‘fish eye’ lens was used to take the class photo wasn’t clear – that is not what a fire engine looks like

Tim Catterall proudly served the citizens of Burlington for 29 years. He was a caring and capable firefighter that gave his all on every call, and ultimately gave everything he had to the Citizens of Burlington until his passing in 2018 with his recruitment classmates at his bedside. The presence of his fellow firefighters at his bedside exemplifies the tight bond that he developed with all he worked with and the bond that all firefighters share. 

Tim’s compassion for his fellow firefighters, and fellow human beings shined through by his creation of the FACE (Firefighters Against Cancer’s Existence) foundation which raised thousands of dollars for the fight against cancer, as well as raising awareness and support for firefighters suffering this disease.

Tim would have been immensely proud to know that a class of Firefighters was named after him.

The new firefighters will be placed at various fire stations across Burlington.

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Sharman suddenly has to face three challengers for the ward 5 seat

By Pepper Parr

August 18th,2022



Paul Sharman at a community debate in 2018.  At this point in the campaign he was pretty sure he had it in the bag

One of the things that keeps me at the keyboard is the rapid, astoundingly surprising things that happen in the world of politics.

There was “my pal Paul” on his way to coasting to an acclamation.

It would take a very strong candidate to beat him.

Well, there are now three new people – yes folks – count them – three people who have filed nomination papers for the ward 5 Council seat.
And it isn’t over yet, which is the way one Council colleague explained. People have until 2:00 pm on Friday to file papers.

Paul Sharman at a community event where he was defending a development – the usual confidence he displays – you almost got the impression he was on the ropes.

Right now Paul is emitting the sound of spit on a hot stove – just sizzling.

To be fair, in a conversation (electronically) he did say that he doesn’t count his chickens before they are hatched.

The three scalawags are:

Guy D’Alesio
Phone: 905-483-5093

Andrew Hall
Phone: 289-962-2862

Denny Pirzas
Phone: 905-484-0105



Give Paul Sharman a call and commiserate with him

Paul Sharman
Phone: 905-320-7467



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Councillor gets a little touchy about his masking practice and his Council meeting attendance

By Pepper Parr

August 17th, 2022



We all have little habits, beliefs, things we stand strong on.  They are part of what make up our character.

Rory Nisan appears to have a phobia with things medical.

Covid19 sent him for a bit of a loop – he wears a mask almost everywhere, he stopped attending Council meetings and was seen a number of time on the monitor with his son in his lap.

Joan Little, the Hamilton Spectator took exception to the Nisan behaviour and gave it some coverage in her column.

Rory was not impressed and responded.

The image below tells part of the story.

Nisan is right – it is a personal matter and when a personal matter gets in the way of your job you take a leave of absence.

Burlington Councillor Rory Nisan with MP Effie Triantafilopoulos at the AMO conference

The questions that come to mind are:

No word from the Mayor on the appropriateness of Nisan not being at council meetings but having his child on his lap while council debates?

The Clerk might talk about that issue as well.

If Rory Nisan wants to put his child before his job – good on him, take the time off that you need to care for the child.

Can you imagine how Nisan and the Mayor would squawk if Councillor Stolte showed up with a child on her lap.





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What the planners think should be built in each of the MTSA's

By Pepper Parr

August 16th, 2022


The magnifying feature has been used in this article

The boundaries for each of the MTSA’s has been set.

The task now for the planners is to define what they call precincts and determine what can be built in a precinct.

A precinct is an area given a boundary.

By what can be built they mean the height, the zoning and a number of other requirements assigned to a piece of property.

While the MTSA boundaries are set, the boundaries for some of the precincts might be changed and what can be built will probably see some changes as well.  Members of Council had some comments when they first saw the MTSA’s with precincts in place.

Set out below are images of each MTSA.

When you run your cursor over the image you will see a second screen pop up with a magnification of the image – which should make it easier to read the map.

The magnification applies only to the image in front of you.  As you move from image to image you can enlarge at each image.  You aren’t enlarging the type face.

The Aldershot MTSA with what the planners are currently calling the “preferred precinct” boundaries”

The Burlington GO MTSA with the boundaries showing what the planners are currently calling the “the Preferred Precincts”

The Appleby Line MTSA with the boundaries showing what the planners are currently calling the “the Preferred Precincts”

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Ontario Court Decision on CN intermodal didn't give the Region everything it wanted but it did take the rug out from under the CN's main arguement

By Staff

August 12th, 2022



“On August 10, 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in a case between the Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton (the “Halton Municipalities”) and CN related to CN’s proposed Intermodal facility in Milton.

“The Halton Municipalities had commenced the application to protect the thousands of residents that live near the CN lands in Milton from adverse and harmful effects that would arise from CN’s proposed intermodal hub.

“The Court decision flatly rejected CN’s claim that as a federally regulated rail project, it was immune from over 60 provincial and local laws designed to protect people and the environment from adverse and harmful impacts that would be caused by the facility.

This was the same argument to Burlington Airpark owners used.  The city won the first case – they lost the appeal and decided to throw in the towel.  Had Burlington taken the case to a high court CN would have known that they didn’t have a leg to stand on

It will be interesting to see if the Region appeals.  They might want to chase down Ian Blue the lawyer who did a fine job for Burlington on a case that was very similar.

“While the decision did not grant the Halton Municipalities request for an immediate injunction, it did leave open the door for future activity by the Halton Municipalities to continue to enforce their laws in the public interest.

“The Halton Municipalities will continue to review the Ontario Superior Court decision and consider its options. In addition, the Halton Municipalities are continuing its litigation in the Federal Courts to review decisions by the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Federal Minister and Cabinet to approve federal aspects of the CN Project. The Halton Municipalities oppose CN proceeding with the truck-rail hub in Milton because it does not comply with applicable provincial and municipal laws and will cause significant harm to air quality and human health.

To view the Ontario Court’s decision and learn more about the Halton Municipalities’ position on the project, please visit

Related news stories:

Region and its municipalities decide to take CN to court.


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Some members of the 2018 team that helped get the Mayor elected don't see her in quite the same light

By Staff

August 11th, 2022



The readers are what count.

In the direct correspondence, their emails and the comments they leave in the newspaper for others to enjoy they reflect ideas and thoughts of some of the people in the city and the several thousand that don’t currently live in Burlington.

One reader sent the following as a comment and we have “upgraded it to stand alone Opinion.

Mr. Parr asks the right question and, wisely, leaves the reader to arrive at their own conclusion. Here is mine and it is only mine. The context for the quote referenced in the article was Meed Ward’s response to the Ford pronouncement that he was proposing to give the Mayors of Ottawa and Toronto veto rights over their Councils.

Meed Ward (along with the Big City Mayors) was very quick to support “investigating” the broader application of this veto power and cited the remarkable synergy of the Burlington Council in support. ‘We’re a cohesive group anyways, are we not?’ Well, no, and the video clip attached to this article demonstrates more vividly than words could ever do, how dangerous such power would be if placed in the hands of any Mayor.

It is particularly worthwhile to watch the expressions of Council members (even Galbraith and Nisan) and the City Manager while our Mayor attempts her ‘ad hoc’ agenda management.

Marianne Meed Ward on election night in 2018

Whether you are one of her many followers, true believers in her brand of social media populism, or one of her detractors, often once part of the faithful who now view her with an open cynicism – Marianne Meed Ward is, I believe, a divisive figure; she polarizes. There are few in Burlington, if they draw breath and are on the right side of the grass, who don’t hold an opinion on Her Worship.

She is exceptionally charismatic; she can make someone feel that they are the only focus of her interest and commitment. She attracts followers as if by a force of nature. She is also resourceful, insightful and one of the hardest working politicians you are likely to meet. She picks the popular issues and rides them until they are exhausted. And she knows no “time out”. If she fails in something, it will never be because she has not put the time and effort into winning.

But she can also be, in my opinion, impatient, spiteful and self-absorbed. She does not appear to forget a slight or a perceived harm and she seems to lose perspective when an opportunity to “get back” presents itself.

Her treatment of Shawna Stolte is a glaring and shameful case in point. (Click HERE to view the video) So, does she work well with her Council? I would suggest that if the criteria are toleration of opposing views, natural ability to lead or a desire to selflessly mentor all subordinates equally, then the answer is a rather resounding “NO”. But this is only my opinion and my conclusion, of course.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward doing a Cogeco TV show with Blair Smith and Lynne Crosby

Blair Smith is a life long Burlington resident who has been active in representing the views of his peers.  He was part of the team that worked with Marianne Meed Ward to get her elected Mayor in 2018


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Public School Board appoints Human Rights & Equity Advisor

By Staff

August 11th, 2022



The Halton District School Board is pleased to announce that Pardeep Nagra has been appointed to the role of Human Rights & Equity Advisor. Nagra will join the senior administrative team on Aug. 11, 2022.

Pardeep Nagra appointed to the role of Human Rights & Equity Advisor for the Halton district School Board.

Nagra will advise the Board on human rights-related strategic policy issues and provide direction on matters of equity, inclusion and human rights obligations. The role of the Human Rights & Equity Advisor is to build and maintain a culture of respect for human rights and supporting the resolution of human rights complaints.

With decades of experience in human rights, diversity, equity and inclusion, Nagra brings critical expertise in these areas to an educational environment. Nagra is the Executive Director of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada and serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

His most recent role has been as Manager of Employment Equity at the Toronto District School Board. Nagra is also a motivational and public speaker and former Canadian boxer who has visited HDSB schools to speak with students and staff on numerous occasions. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012).

“I am most excited to connect with students, staff, parents/guardians and the community of Halton,” says Nagra. “I encourage you to reach out to me and invite me to your classroom, school, department, community organization or event. I am here to serve you.”

“The Board is committed to providing an inclusive environment for all students and staff that models a culture of equity and respect,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “We look forward to working with Pardeep to proactively support HDSB students and staff and address human rights issues”.

This appointment fills the vacancy of the Board’s former Human Rights & Equity Advisor Jewel Amoah.




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Stronger Mayors proposed for Toronto and Ottawa - if it works - will Burlington be next ?

By Pepper Parr

August 11th, 2022



What the province is proposing:

“The Ontario government introduced legislation that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa more responsibility to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities, including building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.

“If passed, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the ability to move priority projects forward and get more homes built faster. Proposed changes include:

      • hiring the Chief Administrative Officer and municipal department heads, and create and re-organize departments
      • appointing chairs/vice-chairs for identified committees and local boards, and establish new identified committees
      • bringing matters for council consideration related to provincial priorities
      • vetoing bylaws approved by council if they relate to matters of provincial priority
      • proposing the municipal budget

Steve Clark,Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs has tabled legislation that would mean a much different form of local government.

If we are reading this correctly the Mayor – not Council would hire the CAO (City Manager)  It would the Mayor’s hand picked choice – the Mayor could hire the departments heads – a task that is the responsibility of the city manager.

Those are sweeping changes and in our view not the kind of power and control you want to put in the hands of the wrong kind of Mayor.

A Mayor could propose a budget – were this to happen any self respecting city treasurer would resign.

To us this looks like the thin edge of a wedge that would/could do a lot of damage.

“This legislation is an important tool to get more homes built faster, and is one of a number of initiatives being taken by the Ontario government to address the housing shortage.

“The reality is over one third of Ontario’s growth over the next decade is expected to happen in Toronto and Ottawa, and too many families are already struggling with housing and the rising cost of living.

“We need to support efficient local decision-making to help cut through red tape and speed up development timelines,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “While there is no silver bullet to addressing the housing crisis, the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act is another step in the right direction to provide more tools to municipal leaders to deliver on their platform commitments to constituents. The province is actively deepening our cooperation on all fronts across all municipalities to get 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years.”

“These proposed measures would allow council to have the ability to propose amendments to the municipal budget. Council would also be able to override the mayor’s veto of any budget amendments and by-laws related to provincial priorities with a two-thirds majority vote.

If passed, the proposed changes are intended to take effect on November 15, 2022 — the start of the new municipal council term.

This is a debate that needs close watching.

The proposal is to apply to Ottawa and Toronto.  Are smaller cities next?

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Home renovation fraud - Regional Police aware and looking for information.

By Staff

August 10th, 2022



When there is a change in the way business is done the thieves in the world will find a way to exploit the change and take advantage of people who are not fully aware of the change.

Try hiring a trades person. They just aren’t available. What happens – Home Renovation Fraud takes place.

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) is issuing a warning to residents about a home repair fraud believed to be operating in the region.
Police believe these suspects may be intentionally targeting older adults.

The fraud involves contractors travelling door-to-door selling services that are unsolicited by a consumer. The suspect will provide quotes with prices lower than market value and once a deal is reached, will request a large cash payment. Based on complaints, initial work may start, however the work will be sub-par and/or incomplete.

After this initial work, the consumer may be approached to provide more money for supplies or to complete payment for the project. Once this additional or final payment is received, the contractor disappears and phone calls and text messages will go unanswered leaving the consumer with a damaged or partially completed project.

If in doubt DON’T And ask questions

There have been two complaints with this similar mode of operation and suspects in Halton. Police believe there may be additional victims in Halton, as well as outside of our region.

The suspects are described as two white males with Irish or possibly Scottish accents.

Suspect 1 is 25-35 years old, approximately 5’9” – 6’0” tall with a heavy build and dark black hair.

Suspect 2 is also 25-35 years old approximately 5’9” – 6’0” tall with a heavy build and short light blonde or light brown hair. This suspect was also wearing a moustache.

In both cases the suspects had a younger man with them claiming to be a son of one of the suspects.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Regional Fraud Unit at 905-465-8741.

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

The “contractor” or suspects that traditionally perpetrate these types of scams can be aggressive and eager to acquire an initial cash deposit from victims. A series of business cards, pamphlets, and printed contracts may also accompany door-to-door sales pitches.

The following consumer protection tips and information are being shared to help consumers when hiring a contractor for their home.

• Get recommendations from people you trust.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
• Do your research.
• Don’t be pressured to make a quick decision.
• Ensure the contractor is insured.
• Get multiple written estimates.
• Check references.
• Be cautious of unsolicited offers via the phone, or door to door.
Put it on Paper
• Work requested and agreed upon.
• Dates – Start, benchmarks, and finish.
• Exact Cost of the project.
• Acquire a receipt.
• Acquire a guarantee / warranty information.

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Is this what the next city council will look like ?

By Pepper Parr

August 9th, 2022



In ten days we will know who the candidates for city council are going to be and have a pretty good idea what the next council is going to look like as well.

Kelvin Galbraith: Could be in trouble

Ward 1 was a given.  Kelvin Galbraith has a high school teacher campaigning against him thinking that he can continue as a high school teacher and serve as a council member at the same time.

There appears to be a change. Robert Radway now realizes that he can get a leave of absence from the Board of Education but that will not apply to his first year as a Councillor. Radway said he has a plan in place that will allow him to perhaps do some teaching and still serve as a member of Council.

Lisa Kearns: Probably has the finest mind on this council – needs to work on some issues.

Lisa Kearns should prevail in ward 2 – candidates do keep coming out of the wood work but Kearns has earned the right to a second term.  A real race for the seat will test Kearns in a way that will make her very uncomfortable but she will be better for it.

Rory Nisan has proven to be a disappointment for many – apparently not those working with him for re-election and certainly not for the Mayor.  She now has a new lap dog.

Rory Nisan: biggest disappointment

Jennifer Hounslow has a chance but she is pushing a rock up a hill – but Councillors that disappoint consistently do lose.   and on that level Rory Nisan has proven to be a disappointment.  The Gazette supported Nisan in 2018 – mentored him a little, urged him to get a copy of the Procedural bylaw and know it well.  He certainly did that – took a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner that found Stolte had broken a rule.

Shawna Stolte should retain her seat.  There are those who have issues with the Integrity Commissioners reports and the sanctions they handed out – the Gazette will comment on just what that is all about in the near future.

Paul Sharman will be acclaimed in ward 5.

Angelo Bentivegna faces a stiff contender.  His less than 50 seat plurality in 2018 and the serious dissatisfaction on the part of a lot of people in Millcroft over the attempts to build on golf course land have not helped.

Rick Greenspoon has his work cut out for him but he seems more than able to take the seat.

While there are many that don’t like what Mayor Meed Ward has delivered – Anne Marsden just does not have what it takes to be a Mayor.

What she might manage to do is significantly reduce the Meed Ward vote enough to smarten up Marianne.

These are the people you elected in 2018. Time to think about how many you want to serve you again.

So what will that deliver?

Meed Ward as Mayor

Galbraith in ward 1

Kearns in ward 2

Ward 3 could be a surprise

Stolte in Ward 4

Sharman in ward 5

Greenspoon in ward 6

We might want to revise these suggestions after nominations close.

In the weeks ahead we will interview and spend time with each of the candidates.

The options will be clearer on the 19th which is when nominations close.

There is a hope out there that Kimberly Calderbank will take a run at the Office of Mayor.  Calderbank  is a strong strategist and there are some very respectable people who will support her.

The process of filing a nomination is cluttered – you have to make an appointment with the city Clerk.  Should Calderbank file papers the news will have been flashed to the Mayor before the ink is dry on her papers.

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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Ward 6 Councillor struggles with issue being debated - confuses capital spending with operating costs and revenue to be generated

By Pepper Parr

August 8th, 2022



Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna has for the most part taken a different approach to looking at the city’s financial matters.

He inevitably has questions – some which make it evident he doesn’t fully understand what the issue is.

But on a number of occasions he has asked THE critical question: How much ?

Some of that confusion with just what the issue is came out during the debate on the $39 million the city is going to spend building a new Skyway arena which is in ward 5.

“My question has to do with the incremental budget impact. On page six of the Staff report”.  Bentivegna points to the “program and rental revenues of $100,000 which obviously becomes a credit to the whole process.”

Bentivegna is referring to revenues – the debate is about a capital cost and who is going to pay for the building.

Due a number of factors, set out in an accompanying article the tax payer is going to have to cover $2 million of that cost that will be raised by the issuing of a 15 year debenture that will carry a 4.5% interest rate.

In referring to the $100,000 incremental revenue.  Bentivegna said he found that “number actually extremely low. From my experience being in hockey rinks. My calculations give me almost four and a half times that. Can you explain how we got to the $100,000, please?

A financial department staff member responds: “I’m not certain as the dollar quantum that was arrived at; it was probably done through our parks and recreation area. But that $100,000 was included in our multi year simulation and that number will be updated obviously as part of our proposed 2023 budget, if there are any changes or in increases to that.

Bentivegna frequently requires an explanation from other members of Council.

The $100,000 was a figure that was based on what the Skyway was bringing in before the decision was made to demolish the building. It was almost a place holder.

Bentivegna comes back: “Okay, so is it possible we can still get some sort of report even in the next days or whatever, from Parks and Rec as to how we got to that 100. So at least from my stand point, I could do some homework and email back with Parks and Rec so thank you for that answer.

Staff respond: “I believe the number that is shown there is just that it’s an incremental number. It’s not the total number. So this is in addition to revenue that we would have received for the old arena, the basic arena that was there before – so this is showing the difference, I believe. And so these numbers that are presented in the operating cost impacts, they will not impact the capital costs that we’re talking about today with respect to the tender award.

These are meant to be here to reflect the ongoing sort of net operating costs once the facility is built. And it’s really the difference between this sort of new facility which is expanded has other features, community rooms, walking track, etc. In comparison to what the old facility would have cost us.

The increase in the cost of building a new Skyway arena stunned everyone – despite the rise Council decided to proceed taking the position that the prices were not going to come down in the near future


That tax supported debt will show up on the tax bill once the budget for 2023 is set sometime after the election.

Bentivegna isn’t about to give up: “I appreciate that. But at the end of the day, it’s the incremental budget impact will affect our multi year budget simulation and if we’re using numbers – we’re obviously looking forward here and I think the numbers, if you work from a 40 hour week, which is minimal, I come up with $450,000. (Which would be revenue once the arena is built, open, operating and generating revenue)

Bentivegna is stuck on the “multi year budget simulation moving forward, which is really what we’re looking at here is going to be affected. So I think we should know, really we should have known previously what those impacts would have been but I’ll go with the flow here.

My second question is, “again in the report it talks about user obligations. Ice users were asked to participate as they have in the past many, many times and unfortunately have some commitments to the city and cannot participate in this project. My question is, again, maybe it’s a little premature but what is the commitment from the ice users presently with regards to Appleby in terms of when those numbers fall off the chart for debt, charges and how will that affect the tax supported number once those numbers fall off?

Staff respond: “With respect to affecting the tax numbers, they’ve all been included within the updated cost before you here today. The impact of the Appleby ice debt is taken into consider into consideration

Bentivegna comes back with: “I do want to remind us all that this was budgeted and approved. The reason why we’re here today is because we are over that budget and we have to determine how we are going to raise the $7 million shortfall.

“And I want to make sure that residents are aware that not all that money is going into tax supported dollars. We do have infrastructure renewal of $4.7 million. We do have a corporate accessibility of $400,000.

“So my question was originally the $2 million tax supported because this has been discussed for about four or five years now in terms of getting this project up and running now.

Doesn’t have the look of a hockey arena – it will be much more than that: meeting rooms, walking track, pickle ball courts all placed in a park like setting that is just north of a 6 tower residential development that is north of Burloak park. A big, much needed boost to part of south eastern Burlington.

“ I’m convinced that over time, with revenues of this particular Skyway arena and its amenities, it is going to be a first class facility. And I think this community is looking forward to having this open and it will support the fund the financing through the revenues that it will receive and I know we don’t always see that front row center but I am convinced of that.

So I will be supporting this today.

One could almost feel the sigh of relief.

Related news story:

Spending $39 million when you are $7 million short

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Last week Council went for a $39million spend to build a new Skyway Arena - Stolte chose fiscal prudence and voted no.

By Pepper Parr

August 8th, 2022


This is a long article.  It focuses on one new arena but sets out how this council is going to spend to provide the infrastructure it thinks the city needs.  See it as a cautionary tale.

Council met on Thursday to decide if they were going to go forward with the construction of a new Skyway arena in ward 5.

Referred to as the Skyway Arena – the structure in place now was taken out of commission WHEN because it no longer met the rules related to Freon.

The rink was small.

The city did a lot of planning on this project – it was to be carbon free, solar panels on the roof, two regular size ice pads, pickle ball courts, community rooms and a walking track.

The new Skyway arena will be to the north of the proposed 6 story Lakeside Plaza development. Not a word was said about the development plans during the decision to spend $37 million

Way back when Councillor Paul Sharman was first elected he tried, in vain at the time, to get in touch with the owner of the plaza that had seen better days. It took a couple of years but eventually there was a development proposal that included eight structures.

During that time the Burloaks Park was completed – it is one of the better parks in the city that is seldom crowed that way Spencer Smith Park is.

The community amenities will include pickle ball courts, meeting rooms and a Walking Track.

This is the background behind the decision to spend twice as much as was originally planned on the Skyway arena.

The decision was to a contract for the construction of the new arena to Norlon Builders London Limited for $37,021,769.55

Staff asked that Council

Approve the revised total budget of $39,433,100 with revised financing proposed.
Authorize the additional funding of $2,000,000 from Tax Supported Debt; $403,000 from the Corporate Accessibility Implementation Project and $4,710,100 from the infrastructure renewal reserve fund.

Significantly looking structure for an arena – walking track, community meeting rooms and pickle ball courts make it more of a community hub. Something badly needed in the community.

What makes the development awkward is that it is a 1.4 km and a quarter away from the Bateman high school site that the city is in the process of buying – the public will not know much about the cost until sometime in September when the deal is expected to close.

The figure of $500 million was mentioned by Councillor Stolte, who was sanctioned by the Integrity Commissioner for revealing information that was discussed in a closed session of Council. The figure Stolte made public was, as she explained it, an approximation.

The Bateman and the Skyway arena are all about creating more in the way of space for a growth in population that will add three new communities to the city around the GO stations.

The Bateman and the Skyway development are in the south east sector

Lisa Kearns Councillor for ward 2 asked a procurement question, wanting to know how far into the process was the tender?

Staff had already decided who should be getting the job – all they needed was approval from Council to go forward.

Jennifer Johnson on the left, listening to a resident when public feedback was being gathered about the residential plans.

Jennifer Johnson, the staff member who oversaw the redevelopment of the WHICH ONE explained that three compliant bids and were ready to give the contract to Nolan for $37 million plus.

Given that Councillors are in the middle of an election Kearns wanted to be seen as being on top of everything said: “I’m looking to understand or hear what within the bid tender document and or agreed upon by those compliant bids would potentially help the city in a situation where the vendors work fell short or compliance with specs was not met. Those types of things. I want to understand what our insurance plans are, so to speak, so that we can be very much guaranteed that we have the best quality for our you know, the best quality when this work gets undertaken?

Johnson explained that “through our pre-qualification, we went through two rounds for general contractors where we asked them to qualify, electrical, mechanical and landscape because those were a very big component of the project. So they actually had to name the consultants they were using and had to close the bid with them. So through the pre-qualification process, we knew who those trades were, they were local trades, good trades. And basically, we pre-qualified five general contractors prior to even releasing the tender documents.

Solar panels on the roof will cover a lot of the electricity costs?

“Our specifications were very tight, because we tried our best to include designs that were all locally sourced. We also went through a review process with the consultants to ensure that all the equipment that we included in the design and specifications were still able to be sourced without you know, extended lead times. Contractors, are obligated to fulfill their contract under that lump sum.

The Skyway arena is in ward 5, Sharman territory. He said: Just slightly more than half of this cost is more than the city expected, but this is not a unique situation- that’s happening to everything. The question raised from time to time is should we wait for things to get better? The Staff report concludes that it’s going to be at least five years before the current pressure on costs decreases.This is not going to get better. If we don’t do it now.

It’ll just get worse and where does that leave us? It raises all sorts of concerns about improving the infrastructure in the city and increasing the infrastructure in the city. And we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. But for now, I believe that we’re doing something that is badly needed by the city. We need the ice pads and the community rooms and the walking track.

Bateman won’t solve the ice pad problem, it won’t provide the walking track for the seniors who live in the immediate arena. And the pressure to build the pickle ball courts. So we’re going to be there. This is a wonderful addition to our recreation facilities in Burlington. Much needed, much appreciated. And we can just hope that cost isn’t going to be with us as a problem for ever.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte took a much different position. “I’ve certainly brought up concerns before about the commitment to projects located 1.4 kilometers away from each other. We’ve made a huge commitment to debate and project and I just feel very uncomfortable with as Councillor Sherman has brought up the increasing cost of this which I know is realistic. I know that costs are going up across the country. We’re all aware of that. But the reality is too is that by utilizing the limited funds that we have available to us and the limited room that we have in our debt capacity limit, we’re committing most of our eggs into two baskets that are in the southeast corner of Burlington and I’m just not convinced that that’s an appropriate decision for us to be making at this time.

That walking track and a community rooms would be nice. I think that we could scale this project back to ensure that we have the ice rinks and I think that we could make sure that we have transportation options available to seniors to get them up to the proposed community rooms that we hope to have at the maintenance project. And that would leave us some funding available to ensure that we are able to take care of other infrastructure projects and that we have other opportunities to use our debt capacity limit because there certainly are a lot of a lot of other projects around the city that need attention. I wasn’t in support of this before. I’m still not. I know that it would be a great project if money were no object, but money is an object and I won’t be able to support this today.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan said: “This is a higher price than we anticipated. No doubt about it. We’ve made the Skyway a priority for a long time. I believe we can still pursue upper level government funding and I’m sure we will but we can’t just bring everything to a standstill.

Ward 1 Councilor Kelvin Galbraith said: “I’m in support of this. I am part of the ice user group that knows there is a big need for another ice rink. It’s the ice users have been hurt for the last couple of years now that Skyway has been taken out of the inventory and replacing it with a full size rink is very important and will be very valuable to the ice user groups.

“I think the city needs more of these type of facilities and the longer we wait, the more expensive it will get. I think the time is now and I’m prepared to support this today.

Lisa Kearns put her financial concern, chase down the details spin on the building of a new arena.

Lisa Kearns joined what was now a majority of Council and said: “I think the whole conversation we’re having here is really reflective of the petulance that I’m starting to see around some of these really, really big ticket items. We know that we’ve already committed to prioritizing Skyway community centre and it feels a lot like this is one of those projects that we’re so far into that is difficult to turn around in, in response to escalating prices. Now, in my view, there are two things to look at here. One is of course the community value which we can’t put a price tag on it’s clear we do need more ice rinks. And in fact, we need the type of ice rinks that can host and hold tournaments and things of that nature so that we can really capitalize on those additional tourism dollars especially in light of having our municipal accommodation tax now ushered in so we do need to look at this really big picture.

“It’s one thing to award a tender. It’s another thing to award a tender with really strong terms that despite escalating costs still puts the city in the driver’s seat around ensuring the diligence used around those funds. Those are many types of causes like clawback clauses, there’s the dispute resolution, there’s payment terms certainty of terms limitations of liability. I want to be really really sure that when we are embarking on projects this high visibility and this high of a price tag we have covered all our bases.

The table below shows the change to the Total Project Cost over the last three years. The lowest compliant bid has resulted in an increased construction cost to $36.7 million, including soft costs, and project contingency, the new total project cost is estimated at $39.4 million (including the parks revitalization component). This is an increase of 22% from the Class A, most recently completed in March 2022 or $7.1 million.

It’s really important that we don’t have bumps along the way from today’s meeting where we’re proving this to when we can actually open the doors and welcome our residents across the city into a facility like this. I do want to also put on record and echo the comments of Councillor salty in that I am worried about our debt limit and our debt threshold. We still have a really big ticket in very similar proximity that hasn’t even had its capital costs disclose to the public yet. And that will no doubt require some support from our tax base and of course from our infrastructure renewal reserve fund so that fun will quickly be dwindling and it’s I’m hopeful that they’ll be a lot left for some of the other areas where we are really putting a focus on growth.

I am supporting this today with caution. And you know putting everyone involved in this in this project on notice that we want it to be an absolute and true success and we want it to be handled with the greatest level of diligence as possible.

The project was short 7 million – they dug into reserves and pushed $2 million onto the backs of the taxpayers – by taking out a 15 years debenture at 4.5%. Don’t you wish you could get that interest from your bank

Councillor Sharman added later in the meeting before the vote saying he recognized that his comments about money were made the way they were said because I think that it’s just a fact of life that cost is increasing. The arena had to be closed because the Freon system became illegal. Otherwise, we would have continued to have Skyway arena open, but it was grossly inadequate. It was built in the 60s. It was no longer up to standard in terms of installation and efficiency and effectiveness and it was undersized so it needed to go. So it’s going to be built. I think that’s one point with respect to money or No, I have a fairly reasonable understanding of money and my view of the world is very oriented towards future cash flow and where it’s coming from.

Paul Sharman: “I have no concerns about money.”

“I have no concerns about money, it will be resolved and especially in Parkland dedication, even if I do think it’s a bit rich it’s going to pay for a lot of stuff. We will still be building within the urban boundary. We will have the cash to pay for the facilities we need for another 70,000 people in the course of the next 30 years. And if anybody’s thinking differently than I ask you to talk to me, because planning and cash flow forecasting is an important way of thinking and I have no concerns about the money. And that’s about it for me. I’m delighted that we’re getting on with this.

Mayor Meed Ward decided it was her turn to take a kick at the can. “I am really looking forward to the ground-breaking in October. We know that we need more community facilities for our growing population period full stop – we are at capacity, we are bursting at the seams. This will be a facility that is used and loved by people from across Burlington the ice pads the community meeting space the parkour out front and also it will be really the future of how we build community facilities in Burlington. It will have solar panels on the roof. It will be a low carbon building, that is the future and we are not done yet. Our community amenities our parks or community centers have not kept up with the growth that we have seen in population in Burlington – this is one more opportunity to not only refresh what was there before, but expand it. The Walking Track is was really important.

It’s not so much about what we spend, it’s what we spend on and this there’s no question in my mind that this has been a priority. And so we just need to get on with it. We need to because the price isn’t gonna get any cheaper. And the cost escalation that we have seen is due to factors that are outside of the city’s control for sure and there’s no time like the present to get going.

This will put us at 11% debt ratio, our city imposed ratio is 12 and a half so we’re still well below that. The province imposes a debt ratio of 25%. Tax supported debt is only one of many sources of funding. We have reserved funds – revenue from users that will come back to us. I know the pickle ball courts will be very well used and played.

We have just increased and really level set the development charges that we will be charging for new growth and our Parkland dedication fees we were way behind, leaving money substantial amounts of money on the table.

I’m enthusiastic about finally getting on with this centre and we will mean we need more we’re not done we are not done yet with parks and community centres. Because we still have a lot more growth coming and we still have some catching up to do. And we have the money. We have the money to do it.

We do need a recorded vote on this. So I will turn it over to our clerk to take the recorded vote.

Councillor Bentivegna had some interesting questions and concerns about what was going to happen to the taxpayer.  His views will be covered in a seperate article later in the week.

Councillor stuck to her guns; the only Council member to talk about fiscal prudence.

City Manager Tim Commisso sat in on the meeting – didn’t say a word

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