Muir claims the numbers are fabricated with no public input

By Tom Muir

January 11th, 2020



These are all fabricated numbers from the dictatorship of planning at the province. They are not the product of any thinking about reality, and are not negotiable in any sense at all. All the Region does is follow the orders.

All this with no public input or involvement or process, except the six years or so of the Burlington and Region OP review and rewrites that are going to be put to waste in a wholesale policy nullification in what is looking to be a central planning basis from the Province. How this works explains itself.

The Province keeps increasing the population targets at increasing rates, with longer timelines, in the revisions to the Growth Plan and other elements of the Provincial Policy Frame. It is now spanning 30 years going to 40 years with a target of increasing Halton’s population by 500,000 or more people, essentially doubling the population.

These population targets outpace the City and Regional OP policies and development goals based on lengthy public consultation. The Growth Plan targets and policies basically amplify the populations used by developers to argue their proposals.

There are major omissions in the overall Policy Frame makeup, the context within which the several Provincial Policies are driving what we see, and development in general. They are always driving the same way as we have done in the past, like the world has not changed. In fact the context we live and decide in has changed in every respect.

I don’t think it reasonable to refer to all of the elements of the current Policy Frame as unchanged and constant mandates that have not been severely tested by COVID19, and will be by Climate Change. There is no consideration of these severe economic, public health, and environmental climate background changes and visible impacts on society, in the policy frames about development.

I say that this is not thinking about it, because it is clear that COVID19 has changed everything to do with the use and availability of space and spacing. Almost everything was closed for a time, and very much is still running at a low speed as we see many structural changes taking place, such as use, demand and supply of office space, which as an example, have large vacancies.

We have to ask about what is going to work in the new context. How are we going to get to the employment targets that are so casually just trotted out?

One piece of evidence that is emerging from the pandemic is that COVID19 prevalence is associated with overdeveloped/crowded higher density built form, transit dependence, too little green space, deficient amenity area, and other too many to mention decreased standards that are like what the mass development appeals in Burlington are about.

There is no Big Picture consideration of climate change (CC) and of COVID as a change in context. Both CC and COVID are what is known in science as “Extinction-level events” . Everything will be forced to change form and to adapt to the new reality. We are already experiencing this, but the Policy Frame ignores this fundamental background change completely.

I do not see how this disruptive change in context is being taken into account in the transportation and public transit planning aspects of the Policy Frame and Growth Plan being used and referred to in this development plan. The basic pillars of the entire policy frame and plans for future development are dependent on aspirations and assumptions about growth, transportation and mass transit. COVID19 has emptied a lot of transit vehicles and more people are driving.

As I said above, the timeline impact of the appeal is 30 to 40 years, and scope for 500,000 new people. Nothing in a path to this will be the same as our past experience, and this needs to be considered when changes in form, height, density and, really, everything we say we are planning for. Density and intensification made Toronto an epicenter. Transit dependence amplified that. This is a general feature of the disease prevalence.

I would bet that no witnesses will be giving evidence-based study and testimony on the public health aspects of urban planning, and impacts on transportation.

None of this should be tolerated.

Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has delegated to city council on numerous occasions.  A retired federal civil servant Muir likes to ski at Aspen.  He can’t wait for travel restrictions to be lifted.

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Nicer names for the development that will take place at the GO station locations

By Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2020



They were called Mobility Hubs in the beginning.

Then they got technical and called then MTSAs – short for Major Transportation Services area.

Not much colour or character in any of those.

So – the planners got creative and going forward they will be called:


Burlington Junction –  for what we know as the Burlington GO station

Appleby Gateway – for what we know as the Appleby GO station

Aldershot Corners – for what we know as the Aldershot GO station.

Much better – wonder what the Metrolinx people will think about the change.

The graphic is the story of a real success. It marks the decision to move a lot of the development around the GO stations and it notes as well that this city council got rid of that hub/MTSA at the bottom.

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What kind of growth might we see by 2051? A lot.

By Pepper Parr

January 11th, 2022



Another one of those pictures being worth a thousand words.

Council is currently debating the level of growth Burlington will have to experience based on numbers being developed at the Regional level.

Much more to tell on this story but for the moment – here is what they are looking at.


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Growth of Online Casinos in Canada and Government Laws


By Rupert Walters

January 12th, 2022



Online casinos are popular in Canada; it is one of the top countries with a high percentage of online players globally. In the era of the digital age, almost everything happens on the Internet. Games, sport, commerce have been digitized to accommodate and include a bigger percentage of people and to remove distance as a barrier.

With the introduction and growth of online gambling, especially in Canada, the popularity of online gambling keeps rising.

Before this age, gambling as a sport happened in land casinos. Gambling in casinos was viewed as exotic, and the most famous casinos attracted the elites. With the introduction and growth of online gambling, especially in Canada, the popularity of online gambling keeps rising.

As a result of the outright legalization of gambling in Canada, Canadians can easily play the game, win the games, and still enjoy the casino experience from the comfort of their homes.

Advantages of Playing Online Casino in Canada

Online gambling is a lucrative business and sport for players who play to win and gambling companies. Online casinos offer a diverse range of casino games, much more than regular house casinos. Players in Canada enjoy numerous features such as video poker, blackjack, slot lotteries, and live casino games.

Online casino games are safe and legal. Online casino sites that are licensed and registered are required by law to protect player information and data. Players are assured of their safety, credit card details, and password safety.

Online casinos are the best method to learn the betting game. Unlike the physical casinos where a learner plays against season players and most times loses money to the experienced player, online casinos give you a more balanced chance to learn without going bankrupt on your first tries.

With online casinos, you can play games any time of the day as it is accessible round the clock. It also includes amazing features such as toll-free support numbers, huge jackpots, welcome bonuses, and Canadian banking options.

The online gambling platform is prone to change from reviews and is always evolving based on the best info. As a result, the industry is always taking measures to create a safer, user-friendly experience for its consumer base. This has contributed greatly to online gambling thriving as a business and industry.

What Are the Canadian Government Regulations for Gambling?

Online gambling is legalized in Canada. The criminal code of Canada is a bill that involves illegal gaming and their federal charges in Canada,with the exemption of cases that are clearly stated in the bill or code. The code states that the provincial government can operate, regulate and control lotteries and online gambling. It also states the prohibition of gaming operations in Canada with some exemptions.

Online gambling laws in Canada can be regulated by each province in whatever way it deems fit. Each province is entitled to control and regulate gambling laws in its province.

First Nations culture and dance.

Gambling laws in Canada are divided into two broad categories, the First Nations law, and the provincial law. In Canada, federal laws are designed to pass online gambling regulations to the provincial government. There are, however, restrictions in some provinces.

Some local, provincial laws are difficult and restrictive, while others are flexible and simple. For example, places like Ontario and cities like Markham have restricted web-based gaming, and players experience difficulty in placing bets.

To enjoy the full experience of online betting in Canada, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local laws that regulate online gambling in whichever province you stay or are playing from.

Before an online gambling platform can operate legally, it must be licensed. The Kahnawake gaming commission is one of the licensing authorities in Canada. Once licensed, it is legal, and legality is guaranteed under Canadian federal laws.

Online casinos and gambling sites are, under the law, required to assure players’ safety. This means that players’ confidential and payment information is secure. In addition, licensed online casino sites use SSL encryption to guarantee and ensure data safety from hackers and fraudulent acts.

Players are also advised to avoid online casinos that are not licensed. Any form of fraud or danger you might encounter will be to your detriment. Offshore online casinos are prohibited by law and can lead to criminal charges.

Requirements to Own a Licensed Online Casino in Canada.

The requirements needed to establish and receive a license to operate as an online casino include the following:

  • Online casinos must use high-quality software.
  • Pass independent audit,
  • On line casino gambling is tightly regulated in Canada

    Provide all information on the company and shareholders

  • Ensure and guarantee a high sum of payout to players who win games,
  • Limit and restrict gambling access to minors below the adult age and people with gambling addiction
  • Provide accurate data on the payment system
  • Guarantee technical support system for complaints and guidance.

The license can be revoked or declined when these requirements are not met.

Online casinos are on the rise in Canada, it is huge, and it keeps getting bigger. It is played for fun, entertainment, and as a sport. Online casinos should not be perceived as full-time jobs or a source of income, and gambling should not be done with personal saving money. Players must be well informed on the laws that govern this sport in Canada before playing.



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Engaging with the citizens important to Council - it's an election year. They did score well on a survey.

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2022


Part 2 of a 2 part feature on the level of citizen satisfaction on how the city is delivering services

Engagement has been a prime concern for the members of the current city council. Mayor Meed Ward has made engagement her signature skill set.

She at one point said she had 17 different ways to communicate with the voters of the city.

All are one-way traffic lanes – from the Mayor to whoever is listening.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward engaging with the citizens of Itabashi, Japan, during a tour of one of Burlington’s sister city.

Meed Ward prides herself on her training as a journalist – she used to frequently make mention of how important local media is – yet – she has not once held an open media event where questions could be asked directly and follow up questions put to her when she might appear to be avoiding an issue.

None of this is to suggest that Meed Ward has been a failure as a Mayor. She understood the importance of moving the Urban Growth Centre from the downtown core and pushing it north and closer to the GO stations where the high rise growth is going to take place.

The Rick Goldring Council went along with the Metrolinx decision to designate the bus terminals an MTSA – Major Transit Service Area.

And – she made sure that a tiny bus terminal, smaller than many kitchens lost the designation it had as an MTSA – Major Transportation Service Area. That designation is what made it possible for a development to soar 26 stories on a lot that was far too small for that particular development.

In the survey done by a reputable organization 755 Burlington residents were randomly selected and interviewed using either a residential landline or cell phone number.

The 2019 community survey is the first time that interviews/surveys were conducted using cell phone numbers, this is an important distinction to make as more people are forgoing landlines in favour of cell phones. The Community Survey was also replicated online (from September 13 to October 15) the City’s decision-making about projects and services is reflective of the voice of a majority of residents, with two major differences; 1) it was open call where anyone registered to the Get Involved Burlington platform could take the survey and 2) the sample size was much smaller (234 online versus 755 facilitated by MDB Insight).

When it came to measuring satisfaction on engagement we saw the following:


One of the graphics asks where people got their news.

In 2017 the Gazette was on that list. Someone somewhere removed our name from the list of news sources people in Burlington use.

Our numbers have grown every year during the ten years we have been publishing. Thought you would want to know that.

Part 1 of the series

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With the horses out of the barn why does Council want to talk about ideas for a different barn design?

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2020


Council is going to hear a report this week on the The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study that was undertaken to comprehensively plan the  waterfront site at 2020 Lakeshore Road and guide the landowner in its redevelopment.

Given that the site has been referred to as Ground Zero for Burlington an in-depth study made a lot of sense.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study will inform an implementing Official Plan Amendment. Once approved, that amendment will form part of the City’s Official Plan and provide a strategic framework to guide the redevelopment of the subject property.

Notice the space between the southern part of the dotted red line and the edge of the lake. Who owns that property? Is it part of the hotel land or is it controlled by Conservation Halton? That’s an important question.

The Study began in early 2017 and included three public meetings/community workshops (a total of six sessions) and two community surveys. In November 2017, an update on the status and progress of the study was presented to Council at the Planning and Development Committee Meeting. This community and stakeholder engagement phase first explored eight design ideas, which were then refined to three preliminary design concepts, and then two emerging concepts.

As a result of additional community and stakeholder input in early 2018, a staff report was brought to the Planning and Development Committee in June 2018. At that time, a set of key policy directions to guide the development of a final concept were endorsed by City Council. These key policy directions were organized around the design principles of Land Use and Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility and Access.

In mid-2018 the Study was placed on hold due to other various priorities in the Community Planning Department such as the New Official Plan process and for staff to re-visit the Study workplan while considering the set of key policy directions endorsed by Council in June 2018.

While all the futzing and putzing was going on the developer beavered away at doing the design work and taking part in a pre-consultation meeting required to submit a development application.

The design is world class – the architects have made excellent use of the different views that will be available.

That application was submitted, but deemed to be incomplete by the planning department.

So what is the point of returning to the Study – the developer has wind in his sails and is on his way.

The Staff report makes mention of “height not to exceed three (3) storeys within 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road and eleven (11) storeys adjacent to John Street and beyond 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road” while the developer presents a plan for two towers that are very close to the southern edge of Lakeshore Road and soar 35 storeys high.  The second tower is just 30 stories high.  Both sit on a five storey podium.

The design of the buildings is superb, these are very smart looking buildings that would be a delight to live in.  The plan puts them in the wrong place. One wag described the development as “out of proportion; out of place and should be outa here”

The northern edge of the site is very close to the edge of Lakeshore Road. The five storey podium will loom over the street – with no view to the lake. The entrance to the east end of Spencer Smith Park will be through an opening in the podium.

The surrounding context of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study Area including changes to the northeast corner made through the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, will be considered in the development of the preferred concept for the Subject Property.

This will also include a review of the key policy directions endorsed by Council in June 2018, including the amended key policy direction #8 which was modified by Council to include the following language in bold text:

Enhance the Brant Street view corridor to frame views to the Brant Street Pier, and require a significant building setback from the west property line and define and consider a building setback from the thin red line and maximize the new and enhanced publicly accessible green/open space.

That “thin red line” concept came from the Plan B, a group of citizens that believe something much better can be done with the hotel site.

It was a solid idea but the city planners found a way to get rid of the idea.

At the January 23, 2018 Planning and Development Committee a council motion was carried to modify the block shown at the northeast corner of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road located in the proposed Cannery Precinct (22-storeys) to the Downtown Core Precinct with a maximum building height of 17-storeys including community benefits.

As a result of Council’s modification, the basis for the expanded public realm at the corner and enhanced setback limit was eliminated.

On April 26, 2018 City Council adopted a new Burlington Official Plan. On December 4, 2018, the Region of Halton issued a Notice of Non-Conformity to the City, which had the effect of extending the Region’s review process until such time as the Region determined that the non-conformity was rectified. While collaborating extensively with Regional staff on the issues of non-conformity the City undertook the scoped re-examination of the adopted Official Plan. This process took place while the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was on hold.

Through the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project in 2019-2020, the adopted Official Plan policies for the Downtown were studied. As part of that work the north-east corner of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road was revisited and was included within the Brant Main Street Precinct. The purpose of this precinct was to serve as a unique retail destination within the Downtown and city-wide.

The precinct provides a wide range of policies to guide development within the precinct. Specifically, related to built form, this precinct requires height not to exceed three (3) storeys within 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road and eleven (11) storeys adjacent to John Street and beyond 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road. In November 2020 the Region of Halton approved Burlington’s New Official Plan, which is currently under appeal.

The Subject Property was not included in the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project and the new Official Plan did not change the existing land use designation and permitted building height for the Waterfront Hotel property located at 2020 Lakeshore Road.

Former city Councillor John Taylor in discussion with Linda Davies and Dee Dee Davies during one of the six public sessions that were held shortly after this Council was elected.  The Gazette was asked to leave the room, at the instructions of the Mayor, when the conversation between the stakeholders was taking place.

Next Steps
With the re-examination of the New Official Plan (Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown) Project completed, approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48 it is the appropriate time to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study.

City staff with support from the project consultant, The Planning Partnership, the group that is leading the consultation process will resume the workplan where it left off in 2018 to complete the study. The work is anticipated to take 16-17 weeks and will be completed within the original project budget. The resumption of the study will build upon and advance the previous work and community input to-date to develop a final preferred concept.

There is a much better solution on what can be done with the hotel site.

A small group is working at building public support for a different look at the waterfront hotel site that includes possible land swaps and building a new city hall on the property; something that would be four or five storeys high and include a purpose built Art Gallery.

Burlington can do better than the application before the Planning department.   There are limits on what developers should be able to do.

This is a story that is going to be around for some time.  It is your city.

Related news stories:

More on Plan B

Some ideas on what is possible

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Some eye popping numbers in a 'satisfaction' survey the city spent $29,000 on

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2021


Part 1 of a two part report on how satisfied with citizens are with the services the city provides

Council got off to a fast start this morning. Just as soon as they confirmed that there was a quorum they went into a Closed Session. There were three different matters that had to do with litigation and the public seldom gets to listen to any of that stuff.

Rory Nisan was chairing the CSSRA Standing Committee – he advised that there would be another break in the proceedings for a different closed session later in the day.

The meeting today was virtual virtual. The practice up until this point has been to have the Chair and the Clerk in Council Chambers. This time Nisan got to stay home and run the show from his residence. He was not wearing sweatpants or pyjamas.

On the agenda was a report on how well the city is doing on citizen engagement. A report from MBD consulting, that had a price tag of $29,000 + was presented.

Since 1998, the City of Burlington has conducted community survey since 1998 to uncover resident satisfaction. The surveys typically happen every 2-4 years, the most recent surveys were in 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2021. The survey provides the opportunity for bench marking and to monitor progress of community measures over time with the goal of continuous improvement. In addition to resident satisfaction, the last three community surveys (2015, 2019 and 2021) included asking residents questions regarding communications and engagement with the City.

One of the questions asked related to taxes.


There are additional graphics further along in this article.

The 2021 community survey was conducted using Computer Aided Telephone

Interviews where respondents were randomly selected from the city’s population using a mix of both residential landlines and cell phone numbers. The goal was to complete 750 interviews/surveys, with 125 completed interviews/surveys per ward. The total reached was 755 completed interviews/surveys with a margin of error of +/-3.6% with a 95% confidence interval.

The interviews/surveys were conducted between September 13 to October 18 and it took on average 18 minutes to complete. Responses were weighted based on the population by age and ward. Two items that are important to note one, that satisfaction of city services results were analyzed using a priority matrix that compares performance, room for improvement and the derived importance of each service (a measure which represents the level to which each service is related to overall satisfaction) and two a combination of both randomly selected Burlington cellular and landlines were included in order to obtain a variety of responses.

These were the issues that people were most concerned about

Levels of satisfaction with the services that are being provided





Overall, the results of the survey turned out highly positive across several measures.




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COVID19 outbreak at Joseph Brant Hospital

By Staff

January 7th, 2022



The Public Health people have said an outbreak of Covid19 has been declared on Unit 6 South 200 (6S200) at Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH) after three patients tested positive.

All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of patients, Essential Care Providers (ECPs), staff and physicians.

Joseph Brant Hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control team and Employee Health Services are ensuring all patients on the unit, along with staff and physicians who have been or may have been exposed, are being contacted, monitored, tested as required and self-isolating in keeping with Public Health guidelines. Patients on the unit are in isolation as of January 6 and have been instructed to continue the 10-day self-isolation when discharged from hospital.

A number of enhanced safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of patients, staff and physicians. This includes closing 6S200 to new patient admissions except for COVID-19 positive patients. In addition, ECPs are no longer permitted to enter the unit except under exceptional circumstances in consultation with the patient’s care team. Patients can still connect with their loved ones by telephone and video – both telephone and WiFi are available at no cost.

JBH is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work closely with Halton Region Public Health to bring a safe end to the outbreak as soon as possible. Patients or loved ones who have questions or concerns can contact a member of the JBH Patient Relations team at 905-632-3737 ext. 4949 or by email


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And we thought these things were behind us - Telephone Town Hall on the 19th

By Staff

January 7th, 2022



City will host another COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall on Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

The City of Burlington will host its eleventh COVID-19 telephone town hall event.

The event provides an opportunity for the community to hear how this latest Covid19 variant is impacting us and a chance to ask questions about the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and how it is impacting city programs and services.

The event will be hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who will be joined by a panel of local leaders, including representatives from Joseph Brant Hospital, to help answer residents’ questions.

How to Participate

Residents who would like to participate in the town hall can do so in the following ways:
Register in advance: Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. Residents who would like to be added to the telephone call list can email by noon on Jan. 18, 2022.

If you registered for any of the previous town halls, you are not required to register your phone number a second time. If you wish to have your phone number removed from the call list, please email by noon on Jan. 18, 2022.

Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-759-5308 just before 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19 to join the town hall.

For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again.

Listen to audio: Live audio from the Jan. 19 town hall will be broadcast on YourTV, channel 700 on Cogeco and on the YourTV Halton YouTube page.

Once the call begins, a moderator will provide participants with instructions for how to submit their questions to the leadership panel.

A recording and transcript of the town hall will be posted online after Jan. 19 

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Is Gary Carr leaving the world of politics? Will Tom Adams replace him ?

By Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2022



Word from a usually reliable source is that Regional Chair Gary Carr is not going to run for re-election in October.

Gary Carr as a goal tender.

Gary and his wife moved to Burlington recently and are apparently enjoying being in the city. Previously they were living in a semi-rural setting in Milton

Carr has done a good job at the Region. He was a good MPP and an excellent Speaker in the Legislature. He was a pretty good goalie when he played hockey.

The talk amongst the political set is that Tom Adams, an Oakville Councillor is looking at the job. The Region could do a lot worse.

Tom Adams – Oakville and Regional Councillor

He is the longest continuous serving Chair of Halton’s Planning and Public Works Committee as well as the longest serving Chair of Oakville’s Budget Committee. In these positions, Councillor Adams has worked to protect natural lands, build and renew infrastructure and strengthen Oakville’s strong finances.

Adams is young, articulate and well focused when he takes on a task. Good on detail as well

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Pedestrian dies in hospital after Collision in Burlington

By Staff

January 5th, 2022



On Tuesday January 4, 2022 at approximately 7:15 PM the Halton Regional Police Service responded to a 66 year old pedestrian who was struck by a motor vehicle on Lakeshore Road near Goodram Road

Paramedics transported the pedestrian to Joseph Brant Hospital for emergency treatment.

Unfortunately the pedestrian succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by medical staff. The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with the police investigation.

The Collision Reconstruction Unit has taken carriage of the investigation. Any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police are asked to call 905-825-4747 ext: 5065.

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Rivers on Ford: Was he at the cottage or hiding in the basement of Queen's Park?

By Ray Rivers

January 4th, 2022



Dog Logic – If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. And Ontario’s Premier Ford figures that’ll work for him. If we stop testing, recording and reporting our cases of COVID infection the pandemic will seem… like it’s gone away.

Ontario is in the midst of the largest COVID wave ever and the government is overwhelmed and over its head. Ontario residents got angry last month when the Premier didn’t show up for a briefing on Omicron just as we were entering the Christmas period. Where was he while this new variant was wreaking havoc everywhere and spreading like wildfire is still unknown. But apparently he has a cottage and there is a basement at Queen’s Park where one could hide.

Is the medium the message? Going to take more than a T shirt to command public trust

Nobody blames Ford for the arrival of Omicron, it’s everywhere. But his inaction in the face of this new public crisis is indefensible/inexcusable. Unfortunately it’s a familiar pattern for this premier. He’s been late to act with every wave of COVID – each delay actually exacerbating the problem.

Anybody could have figured out that the viral surge in South Africa, last November, would land on Ontario’s doorstep by December. So what was Ontario’s government waiting for…Christmas? Even the World Health Organization had warned everyone that it was coming. The feds got the message, and Canada banned travellers from seven southern Africa countries as far back as late November.

Mr. Ford referred to the latest variant as spreading like a wildfire. So one would have expected him to have got the water hose out before the flames were already in the living room. But now he acknowledges that it’s too late, and is content to just slow it down. But he’ll use the same tool as always – lockdown restrictions to limit social contact.

No masks required if they are learning at home – question is – are they learning?

He has once again paused in-class education, after a good deal of dithering. Sadly, even as we move into the 3rd calendar year of COVID our schools are still not safe enough to fully resume in-class instruction. And that means there would have been almost certain student-to-student transmission with this highly transmissible variant. So initially the government plan was to hide the statistics – not report cases of infection in schools.

If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. Except parents, teachers and health care professionals were not going to let him get away with that. Rather than suffer a backlash over reporting, Mr. Ford just closed the schools and Ontario is back to remote learning.

And when it comes to transparency, it isn’t just schools. The rules on PCR molecular testing have changed and are now limited only to health professionals and some most vulnerable folks. If you have symptoms and you’re vaccinated, just stay home for 5 days. That is unless you need to show your boss an official positive test result.

The government has suggested people use one of those antigen rapid tests to see if they are positive, as an alternative. But, despite the federal government giving 50 million test kits to Ontario, there are none available. Ontario had been distributing these free rapid test kits in some malls and the odd liquor store – but not apparently anymore. People lined up for hours to get a kit – bearing a close resemblance to characters from the movie ‘Hunger Games’ as they scrambled over one another.

It was pretty much the same sad story when it came to getting a lifesaving booster shot. The province opened up eligibility to non-seniors only after the Omicron wave was on us. People scrambled to make a booking and the booking systems did what they had done before – disappointed or crashed. Even the National Post, a Tory friendly paper couldn’t hold back its disgust.

The government may be right on reporting infection test statistics. What is the point if they are unreliable and unrepresentative? That is a sad admission – so we will be treated to hospital and ICU admissions data from now on instead. Ford’s is not the first government who has wanted to end testing and reporting COVID numbers. Alberta’s Kenny and former US president Trump also tried to trick the public into thinking things were better than they really were by stopping testing.

It’s a new year, but unfortunately it feels even worse that last year, given that we should have learned something from past. The government’s failure to act in a timely fashion is disgraceful. Some experts believe the variant will peak in the next couple weeks and then crash, as it has apparently done in South Africa. But what if it doesn’t? What is Plan B? Dog Logic?

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Ontario Restrictions –   Anger at Premier –  School Case Reporting – 

Stampede for Boosters –    Hospital Surge –    Rapid Tests

Other opinions

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It is a fractious city council unable to work together all that well - the city suffers - there are some very significant decisions to be made

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2020



The three things the city wants to focus on in 2022

Fractious council

Losing the football

Waterfront Hotel

With nothing but virtual Council meetings for just about two years now it is difficult to read just what is taking place.

Councillor Kearns is missing the Standing Committee Clerk and the City Manager are included

If you know the players a little you can pick up some of the discord – and there is certainly discord but this council works very hard to ensure that very little of it gets seen by the public.

The hope that many Burlingtonians had, including this reporter and the Gazette, when Marianne Meed Ward bent her head forward as the Chain of Office was placed around her neck is not today what it was that December evening in 2018. The hope hasn’t entirely disappeared but there is discord and differences.

Council is split into two factions:  The Mayor who will be supported by Rory Nisan until the day he is no longer in office and Kelvin Galbraith who likes the way the Mayor accepts his – let’s build stuff approach to being a ward Councillor.

One the other side, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman are usually on the same page – and it is seldom the same page as the Mayor.

The factions are not cast in stone with Nisan being the exception.

The swing vote – didn’t see that coming in 2018

The swing vote is ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna (who’d thought this is how things would work out) who has taken to developing his own view on those matters he understands. And while he is frequently with the Mayor – not as much as he used to be.

Five of the seven members of Council have now been in office for three years and are gearing up for re-election. With one exception the expectation is that all seven will seek re-election. And no – I am not prepared to say who the exception is at this point.

The important things is the the newbies have found most of their footing – they have developed a good working relationships with their constituents; feel comfortable with most of the issues and are tiring of the way the Mayor treats them. Lisa Kearns thought she would like to serve on the Police Services Board and chose to put her name forward. The Mayor did not support Kearns – and the seat went to a Council member from Oakville.

Traditionally members of a Council support each other when they have something they want to do outside of Council.  Meed Ward may have had some very good reasons for supporting someone else for the Police Services Board but common courtesy called for her to talk to Kearns and explain her position. Kearns was apparently blind-sided by the Mayor.

Without a doubt the quickest and the fastest mind on Council; a workhorse as well – does her homework

Kearns, by the way, would have been an excellent Police Serve Board member – she does her homework (better than anyone else on Council) she would have kept the Board members on their toes.

Councillor Stolte looking for some clarity.

When Councillor Stolte isn’t asking for additional clarification on a matter she struggles to get around the interference the Mayor pushes in front of her.

If Stolte has an event going on and invites the Mayor – it becomes the Mayor’s event.

The differences in approach and philosophy became glaringly obvious when the Mayor could not find a way to get the tax increase number she felt she needed going into an election in October.

Her thinking had merit – it deserves an explanation and some analysis and in the fullness of time we will get that to you.

Meed Ward had a well thought out position – the other council members just didn’t buy it. This Council came very close to being in a position where they were not able to agree on a budget which would have put the creating of a budget in the hands of staff – which City Manager Tim Commisso advised would “not be a pretty picture”.

There are times when the Mayor bends over backwards to get her colleagues to “collaborate” with her. The city does not have someone serving as Deputy Mayor because the members of Council could not agree on just what the job would entail.

When the Burlington Land Partnership was set up every member of Council wanted to be on it – wasn’t something the city manager wanted so no one sits on the BLP – which by the way is a significant venture that the general public knows very little about.

Transparency became her middle name – she draped it around her like a flag

In 2010 there were three new members on Council. Meed Ward, newly elected had a lot of time in as probably the leading delegate as a citizen knew the ropes. Paul Sharman had a lot of senior executive experience in the private sector and knew his way around process and financial reports. The only really new ember in 2010 was Blair Lancaster. There wasn’t nearly as much learning on the job for the newbies.

And Rick Goldring who had become Mayor had a good feel for what the job was about – which is not the same thing as being able to actually do the job.

Normally wears a winning smile.

Meed Ward is now in a similar situation. She is Mayor but has yet to create the set of skills needed to make it happen. Politics is the art of the possible with grey being the dominant colour – black or white doesn’t work.  Meed Ward doesn’t do grey.

Listening intently and being able to read the wind as well as the tea leaves in a cup are vital. It is an art with an understanding of the little bit of science that matters.

What a Councillor is made of should be evident by the end of the third year of the term – and with Meed Ward it is evident but it isn’t all that useful.

Expensive but well worth the price – great legal counsel solved a problem for the ADI Group – shovels are in the ground and the cranes are hauling concrete.

There have been some major wins. The Mayor managed to get rid of the Planner in place when she was elected. She did get the Urban Growth Centre moved north and proved that the a bus terminal that is the size of the average kitchen is not an MTSA – despite what sharp legal counsel was able to convince an OMB hearing that it was.  That was a big win for the ADI Group

Meed Ward seems adrift when it comes to solving the football, almost missing in action on the redevelopment plans for the Waterfront Hotel.

She gave Black Lives Matter the coverage it needs and then got totally silly with her drive to put Rainbow Crosswalks in every ward while learning to live with a budget that needed some time in a Weight Watchers class.

In 2018 the Gazette said Meed Ward was the best of the three people running for the job. We expected her to grow into the job – that hasn’t happened and unless she has a horse shoe in her purse that can be put to good use, or knows how to pull a rabbit out of the hat, she is in trouble.

Rick Goldring seldom wore his chain of Office outside Council Chambers

So much so that Rick Goldring is understood to be looking at his chances of once again wearing the Chain of Office.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Are there other candidates that might want to reach for that brass ring? There are – but they are nowhere near ready to show their hand.

As for the members of Council Meed Ward will have the support of at least two – one of which may not win his seat come October 2020.

The problem with the football and the strange situation with the Waterfront re-development project will follow.

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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Hearing directly from municipal and Regional leadership would be useful at this point

By Staff

January 4th, 2020



Support from the leadership at the provincial, regional and municipal levels are going to be given by media release.

The Premier laid down the decision to move back to Stage 2 for a 21 day period.

Mayor Meed Ward on the porch of her home preparing to do a YouTube broadcast during the early days of the pandemic.

Nothing in the way of a message from the Mayor (unless you count the quote at the end of this article) or the Regional Chair. We have a Mayor who will get out on the street to support the front line workers at the hospital but unable to find a way to put together a message on YouTube or work with the City Administration to put something out on the city web site.

Could our Mayor not wear the Chain of Office and sit in the Council Chamber and talk to the public.

In 2018 when she was running as a member of Council she asked people to not just vote for her but to trust her.

Your Worship – the public needs to be able to demonstrate that you have their trust and they will work with you.
Please – work with them.

The impacts on City services as Ontario moves to modified Step Two of the Road map to Re-open are as follows:

The Province of Ontario has announced a return to a modified Step Two of the Road map to Re-open with new public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The following temporary changes will be in place from Jan. 5 until at least Jan. 27, 2022.

Recreation Changes
• City of Burlington facilities for indoor sports, recreation and fitness activities will be closed, and the start of all in-person Winter programs will be postponed

• All indoor programming, including recreation courses and drop-ins are cancelled or have transitioned to online. Registered participants and pass holders are being contacted directly, and those who wish to withdraw for a full refund may do so

• Facility rentals at City recreation locations, as well as Halton District School Board and Halton Catholic District School Board are cancelled. Renters are being contacted with details around rental contract adjustments and credits

• Faith-based rentals and renters who provide child care may continue to operate in modified Step 2

• Registered recreational virtual programming will continue, and online registration can be found at Options to stay active at home are also available online at

There are still opportunities to be active for your physical and mental health, including:

• tobogganing, neighbourhood rinks and parks and open spaces. Please stay off any artificial turf as it can be easily damaged during winter.

One of the places where people can get outdoors, exercise and maintain social distancing. Registration necessary.

• The Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond is open with pre-registration required for outdoor skating. Online registration opens 25-hours in advance of the skate time at Please remember to complete COVID-19 screening before arrival for your skate.

• The Play Lending Library has outdoor equipment to borrow. Contactless pick up and drop off is available at Brant Hills Community Centre at 2255 Brant St. and a full listing of equipment is available at

Impacts to other city services
Service Burlington
City Hall, located at 426 Brant St., remains open for in-person service by appointment only for commissioning services and marriage licences. Walk-ins are not permitted.

Please visit, or call 905-335-7777 to book your appointment. Residents can also visit to access a variety of City services online.

Service Burlington is available to answer questions by phone during regular business hours, at 905-335-7777 and
Burlington Transit

Burlington Transit will run a COVID-emergency schedule beginning Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. For schedules and routes, visit

Halton Court Services
The Court administration counter services at 4085 Palladium Way will remain open for in-person services from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Where possible, members of the public are encouraged to access court administration services online by email at or on the Halton Court website at Halton Court Services.

Parking Services
Parking enforcement requests and parking exemptions may be delayed. Urgent parking enforcement requests posing a safety concern will be given priority.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

For more information on the City’s COVID-19 response, visit

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said:  “We know how difficult it is to once again face restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19. These last two years have been so hard and you’ve all made so many sacrifices. Thank you for hanging in and caring for each other. We’ll get through this.

“Our Emergency Control Group has met regularly throughout the holidays to review the impact of recent announcements on City services, so we can respond appropriately to this rapidly changing situation. Our key focus remains delivering the essential services you count on, while keeping staff and residents safe.”

Links and Resources
• Province of Ontario media release:
COVID-19 Resources

• For information about COVID-19 in Halton Region, including the latest public health guidance and the status of COVID-19 cases, please visit

• Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 905-335-7777, by email at or online

• Residents can stay informed at as well as on our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter and

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Consultant's recommendations for GO station area development delivered to council - will be debated next week

By Staff

January 4th, 2022



WE are about to get a first look at what has come out of the meetings that were to determine what the development at the GO stations could look like.

A 250 page report has been released and will be debated at the January 11th Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee Meeting.

Council will consider ‘in-principle’ endorsement of the Recommend Preferred Precinct Plans for Burlington’s Major Transportation Areas.

The time line that is currently in place

Council’s endorsement is a critical check point in the project that will enable staff to move forward to the next stage of the project which involves the creation of area-specific plans and supporting Official Plan Amendments for each of the MTSAs.

The Interim Report prepared by Dillon Consulting provides:

  • The project background and context
  • The policy and legislative context for MTSAs
  • The work underpinning the MTSA ASP Project and the Preliminary Preferred Precinct Plans including key growth assumptions and complete community elements
  • A discussion about how public engagement informed the Preliminary Preferred Precinct Plans
  • A summary of the technical work required to support the project and a status update on each
  • An outline of the changes made to the Preliminary Preferred Precinct Plans resulting in the Recommended Preferred Precinct Plans and the underlying policy directions to support them and the future area specific planning process
  • Next steps and conclusions

The staff-prepared Fall 2021 Feedback Report outlines each of the tactics undertaken during October and November to engage with the public around the Preliminary Preferred Precinct Plans and includes the methodologies used, the results of the engagement or feedback received as well as some of the lessons learned.

The steps that have to be taken to arrive ast an Area Specif Plan. There will be one for each of the GO Station MTSA’s

Further changes to the Recommended Preferred Precinct Plans are expected and will be required as a result of technical studies underway, as well as other inputs including Council and stakeholder feedback and further project work.

The very unfortunate part of the process is the severe limitations COVID19 will put on genuine public participation and serious delegation.

The number of delegations that have been heard has been reduced significantly.

Alison Enns watching a group of participants on a walking tour.

Also – the opportunity to read a 250 page report a week before it is debated at council isn’t being fair to the public that is going to live with whatever is decided upon for decades.

The Gazette will read the document and report on its contents and provide some analysis.

This is difficult for staff as well.  They have worked very hard on this project; they know how significant the final decision will be and everyone on the team would love to hear some sound community response.


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City announces Arts and Culture Funding for 2022: $75,000 will be distributed

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2022



It is one of the more imaginative programs to come out of Parks, Recreation and Culture.

For those who have applied and been given a grant – it has allowed them to put together some really nice community programming.

For those who weren’t even aware – they got to benefit from some imaginative entertainment.

The city is inviting artists to apply for the 2022 Burlington Arts and Culture Fund (BACF), an annual grant program that provides $75,000 of total available funding to local artists, multicultural groups and arts and culture organizations to foster creativity and enrich how Burlington residents experience and engage with arts and culture.

Fencing was repaired and upgraded at a community ball park with funding.

Applications will be accepted until noon on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 and will fund projects from April 2022 to March 2023. Successful grant applicants will be announced at the beginning of April 2022.

To be eligible for BACF funding, applicants must be located in Burlington and must be:

  • An incorporated not-for-profit arts and culture organization or a charitable arts and culture organization;
  • An individual artist or arts and cultural collective (defined as three or more individuals) that exhibit high achievement in arts and culture programming;
  • A multicultural group that fulfills a significant role in the Burlington community through the arts and culture.

Grants will be evaluated in part by a peer assessment jury for artistic merit and by City staff for program merit and strategic initiative, citywide and community impact and economic impact.

To learn more about this fund, the jury opportunity and the application process join City staff and arts and culture professionals for a virtual information session on:

Date:               Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Time:               7 to 8 p.m.

Location:        Microsoft Teams

Applications can be completed and submitted online at

Angela Paparizo, Manager of Arts and Culture in conversation with ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

For more information, contact Angela Paparizo, Manager of Arts and Culture, 905-335-7600, ext. 7352 or email  She comments on the program and the impact it has had on the community.  “The  Arts and Culture Fund grant program has successfully supported many amazing arts and cultural projects across the City since its inception in 2019. The wonderful thing about the projects that evolve through this process is the wide range of benefits to our community.

“We continue to see the program nurture the capacity of the arts and culture sector in Burlington, while fostering creativity, encouraging social cohesion and stimulating cultural and economic advancements. To find out more, I invite anyone who is interested in applying for a grant to attend our virtual information session on Jan. 17. We look forward to hearing from Burlington artists and to receiving their applications.”


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Temporary closure of exhibitions and studio spaces effective immediately

By Staff

January 3rd, 2020



Administration at the Art Gallery announced this afternoon that “In response to the Government of Ontario’s announcement regarding a return to a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, the Art Gallery of Burlington will close for a period of at least 21 days, effective immediately. This closure includes all exhibitions and studio spaces.

At least three weeks before we see anything like this at the AGB

The health and safety of the community are always our top priority and, at this time, we are working to review and revise our programs, courses, and services planned in the upcoming weeks. Here’s a look at a couple of important updates regarding the closure:

Winter 2022 In-Studio Courses

If there are any changes to our Winter 2022 in-studio courses, registrants will be notified by AGB staff in advance.

Shop the AGB

This lovely piece of jewellery is available – you just drop by and pick it up.

The AGB Shop will remain open for curbside pick up only. Click here to browse the AGB Shop online.

Stay Connected to the AGB Virtually

The best way to check for announcements and updates is to visit our website, here. Here are other ways to engage with the AGB digitally:

Visit us on Instagram to view our IGTV videos for a series of fun, family-friendly activities you can try out using items from around your home.

·    Learn more about past and upcoming AGB exhibitions by visiting our website. Take a look at exclusive content including, exhibition text, artist interviews, audio clips.. Click on any of the underlined hyperlinks to visit an exhibition page on our website!

All of us at the AGB thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided us during these times, and we are so proud to be part of this extraordinary community. We look forward to the time when we can open our doors and welcome you again!

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Communications people at city hall are limiting what they choose to say

By Pepper Parr

January 3rd, 2022



A report from City Hall on how the Emergency Control Group was looking forward and beginning to think about when the State of Emergency could be lifted had a couple of bits of data that raised some questions.

The report mentioned that a “few” staff members described themselves as reacting from “suspected workplace transmissions”.  Not quite sure what that means – but with a positivity rate of more than 40% in the overall provincial population and the Premier talking about hundreds of thousands of people flooding the hospital system and the folks at Joseph Brant saying don’t come to the hospital – self diagnose – that few (five people) doesn’t resonate all that positively.

We also asked if there were any members of Council, members of the Emergency Control Group and the Burlington Leadership Team had reported symptoms or gone into self isolation.

We were told that information wasn’t available due to privacy and confidentiality protocols.

That’s equivalent to what the ostrich does with its head.

City Manager Tim Commisso, above and Sheila Jones are the core strength of the administrative side at city hall. Were both to be ill at the same time – things would be difficult.

Were Tim Commisso, the City Manager and Sheila Jones the best Executive Director the city has to both be coping with the Omicron variant at the same time the city would be in close to dire straights.

There are a lot of people referred to as leaders – Burlington has precious few who bring to bear the experience, skill set and command know how that Jones and Commisso – with the exception perhaps of the Fire Chief.

Several of the other bright Executive lights at city hall know their jobs exceptionally well – Joan Ford leads at that level, but that doesn’t quite equate will tested, proven leadership.

A touch of transparency would go quite well about now.

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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Premier address the province: Here is the gist of what he had to say.

By Staff

January 3rd, 2022



In response, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.

These measures include:

• Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.

• Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.

• Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.

• Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.

• Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.

• Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.

• Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.

• Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.

• Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.

• Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.

• Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.

• Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.

• Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.

• Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.

• All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.

• School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.

• During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers

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Premier missing in action - not a peep during the holiday - expected to make announcement soon

By Pepper Parr

January 2nd, 2021



Have you noticed what is different this time?

When the Delta variant was hospitalizing hundreds and scores were dying daily the Prime Minister was before the public almost daily.

When the Delta variant of Covid19 was running rampant the Prime Minister stood at a lectern outside the front door of his house, almost every day of the week, reporting on what was happening.

He left the country with the sense that someone had their finger on the pulse of what we were dealing with.

During the Omicron wave the Premier was hard to find.

The Omicron variant, while not as devastating in terms of the reaction most people experience, this variant moves from person to person faster than anything seen or experienced before.

Cabinet met on the weekend and we are to expect an announcement – when?  No one is able to say.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore

The sense over the holiday weekend is that people were on their own.  Stay home, hunker down and wear the mask. The Provincial Medical Officer of Health did say this wave could be with us for six to eight weeks and that there was more information coming.

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