City is currently paying some of its staff the minimum wage

By Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When budgets are put together there is the opportunity to get a closer look at all the wheels and cogs that make the city work day to day.

We learned last week that 47% of the cost of running the city is on the Human Resources side and that in this budget there was an expense of $40,000 to cover the cost of the provincial legislation that raised the minimum wage effective January 1st.

One of the Councillors asked why that amount was necessary and learned that the city has staff who are earning just the minimum wage.

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager added that it was people working part time, mostly students doing parks and recreation work or sprucing up the flower beds in the medians and working in the summer Parks and Recreation summer camp programs.

For a city that adds the phrasing “Burlington is a City where people, nature and businesses thrive” to every media release they put out the admission that people are paid that bare minimum has to be at least a little embarrassing.

There wasn’t a word from any member of council on ensuring that the city do better.

Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd

One can’t thrive on the current minimum wage; the new one ($15. an hour) won’t help much.

It was appropriate for both the City Manager Tim Commisso and the Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd to commit themselves  to ensuring that the city would always be above the minimums before they were forced to be by the province.

We didn’t hear that last week.

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Council unable to agree on a budget for 2022 - returning next Thursday to have another go at it

By Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Members of City Council met for two very full days and were expected to adjourn yesterday with a recommendation that would go to a Council meeting on the 14th at which the 2022 budget would be cast in stone.

It didn’t work out that way.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward during the 2022 budget debates.

When the Standing committee recessed yesterday, Thursday, they were able to whittle the Staff proposed tax increase down from 5.45% to 4.95% which wasn’t what they Mayor had in mind.

Mayor Meed Ward wanted a lower number and she wanted council to agree on a number.  The seven members of Councillors were not able to agree on that – worse they were not able to agree on what the recommendation would be.

In order for a recommendation to go to Council there had to be a majority of Councillors voting for it.

The four votes just weren’t there.

Council was stuck – unable to recommend a budget that Council could approve.

Budget Chair Rory Nisan

They figured out a way to recess the budget meeting and return on Thursday December 9th, hoping by that point they would have found the four votes needed to send a recommended budget to Council.  At the close of the meeting – there were just three votes for sending a recommendation to Council.

In Burlington all the heavy debates take place at Standing Committees where they do not make decisions – they make recommendations which are sent to Council where the decision is made.

When things get messy at Standing Committee  meetings they get procedural with amendments, points of order, points of personal privilege and challenges to the Chair.

In a follow up story we will tell what took place; what individual council members wanted and didn’t want and how the Mayor and the Chair of the budget committee wiggled and squirmed to get the result they wanted.

Rory Nisan, Ward 3 Councillor and Chair of the Budget explained his position: “As Chair of the Budget Committee I want to save the budget”.

Several members of Council didn’t think that was his job.

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Santa parade taking place on Saturday and Sunday

By Pepper Parr

December 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has been a hard year for everyone.

A wee bit of Joy will be Santa driving through the streets of the city in an antique fire truck.

The route maps and time frames are set out below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec. 4, morning route, starting at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: south-east Burlington

Dec. 4, afternoon route, starting at 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: north-east Burlington

Dec. 5, morning route starting at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: north-west Burlington

Dec. 5, afternoon route, starting at 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: south-west Burlington

Santa is unable to stop and chat or accept any letters, glasses of milk or bags of delicious cookies.

Milton chose to hold a real parade; the city of Toronto is holding one. Burlington chose a different route.

Set out at the bottom of this story is a link to an article on a parade that took place in 2012  We knew how to do it then.

The 2012 Burlington Santa parade

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First case of the lab-confirmed Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Halton region

By Staff

December 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

No need to panic but a need to know that the first case of the lab-confirmed case and two probable cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Halton region.

All three cases are linked with one of the probable cases that recently travelled to Nigeria. The cases are currently isolating at home. Halton Region Public Health has identified all close contacts and informed them of the need to isolate and get tested, despite vaccination status, out of an abundance of caution at this time.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and I urge all residents to be vigilant given the entry of the Omicron variant in our community. I encourage all residents to continue to follow all public health measures to prevent the spread of of COVID-19 and for everyone who is eligible, to get their two doses of vaccine as soon as possible,” said the Medical Officer of Health.

 

 

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Mayor chooses not to support budget in Standing Committee

By Pepper Parr

December 2, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A council Standing Committee completed their review of the 2022 budget Staff submitted and did manage to slim it down from 5.45% over last year to a 4.95% increase over last year.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – looking for a way to get a better budget number – 2022 is an election year.

But the Mayor isn’t happy and said she would not support the budget at this point. Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte took the same position while Councillor Sharman said he was Ok with the increase – saw it as responsible.

Councillor Bentivegna was disappointed that most of his change suggestions didn’t win the support he needed but he was going to live with what was on the table.

Councillor Kearns was impressed with the Committee’s fiscal prudence and Councillor Galbraith was pleased that Council chose to rip the band aid off and put up with the immediate pain rather than continue to kick the can down the path and let a future council deal with the problems.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

And problems there were – mostly on the Staffing side with some members of Council wanting to limit salary increase while others wanted to reduce staff.

There was a lot of juggling numbers around; taking dollars from the Queensway area Park and letting the downtown Dog Off leach Park group use the funds so they could get their initiative moving forward.

The only true winner was ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman who convinced council to fund the paving of a path in Mohawk Park that serves two schools and a church.  He was ready to approve the budget.

The Mayor has a reputation staked on a lower tax increase – she has about ten days to pull a couple of rabbits out of a hat.

The difficulty appears to be that the Standing Committee may not be able to send a recommendation to Council that approves a budget.  That creates a very tricky procedural problem.

It all comes before Council on December 14th.

No wonder he was so happy.

.

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Are there grounds for dismissing the City Clerk?

By Pepper Parr

December 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

In the municipal world the Clerk used to reign supreme.

The person holding the office had years of experience and understood the needs of the people and knew both the strengths and weaknesses of Staff.

Like most things, the administrative needs grew and people with better educations and stronger administrative skills began to be hired and grew into becoming CAO’s or City Managers.

Kevin Arjoon came to Burlington from Halifax

The position of Clerk remained: bylaws require the signature of the both the Mayor and the Clerk before they can be declared.

When a new Clerk is hired the first task for the new hire is to get the lay of the land: what exists in the way of staff; get to know the members of Council; take a hard look at what there is in the way of Governance policies and scour the outstanding Staff Directions.

Staff Directions are documents that instruct staff to perform specific tasks and report back to Council.

They are debated at Council meetings, written into the minutes and with web casts, now archived, are available to the public.

To say the 2018 Staff Direction related to the issuing of taxi licenses was lost is (a) not true, (b) rank incompetence and (c) a sign of some pretty deep rot somewhere in city hall.

Kevin Arjoon, current city Clerk.

When a Staff Direction doesn’t get followed up on, it can lead directly into the hearts of the lives of people.

The lack of a taxi service limits in an often severe way the way some people live their lives.

This isn’t the place to dissect those instances.

This is the place to ask the current Mayor and Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman what they have to say about the Staff Direction that can’t be found.

Both have been on Council since October 2010 and were in the room when the Staff Direction was created and voted upon.

Time for a heart to heart talk involving the Mayor, Councillor Sharman and the City manager about what to do about the current Clerk.  This one can’t be blamed on City Manager Tim Commisso, he wasn’t an employee in 2018.  However, he did hire the current Clerk.

Some feel there are grounds for dismissal.

What is not acceptable is the cover up that appears to be taking place.

There is a very competent Deputy Clerk in place – a staff position Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wanted to get rid of to save about $150,000, but that’s another story.

Related new stories

New city Clerk

Managing an at times fractious council

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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Are the Canal piers going to be gated? Might happen

By Staff

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The piers that line the canal leading from Lake Ontario into Hamilton Harbour may be gated in the very near future.

Transport Canada will use gates to close the popular Burlington shipping canal piers to pedestrians in December: both Hamilton and Burlington are putting up a fight.

A fleet of tall ships sailed through the canals in June of 2013. At least 1000 people were on hand to watch the passage.

The federal agency angered local residents last year by threatening to ban the public from the pair of 321-metre-long piers that usher ships into Hamilton Harbour and serve as popular walking paths into the lake. Public pressure and Advocacy from former MP Bob Bratina resulted in a  closure “pause” last year to allow talks with Burlington and Hamilton.

Gates are in position – just waiting for someone to put the lock in place.

But residents watched nervously this month as three new swing gates were installed to block entrance to the piers from the waterfront trail. Transport Canada confirmed it will begin “restricting access” ahead of winter conditions, but added future recreational use is still up for negotiation.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said Friday cities on both sides of the canal would consider taking responsibility for pier maintenance and controlling access in dangerous weather — if the federal government first pays to make the crumbling concrete safe.

That could cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars to the low millions.

“We certainly expect that the federal government will make those investments,” said Eisenberger. “I imagine it’s not a small investment, but certainly not in the tens of millions of dollars, either.”

Related news story

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Vanderwal given Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence

By Staff

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Christine Vanderwal, an Itinerant Resource Teacher with the Halton District School Board, has received a prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence (Certificate of Achievement). She was nominated for her role as a teacher in Viola Desmond Public School in Milton in the 2020-2021 school year.

Christine Vanderwal, an Itinerant Resource Teacher at the Viola Desmond Public School in Milton in the 2020-2021 school year.

In receiving her award, Vanderwal is recognized for her teaching approach that incorporates a wide range of learning tools, creates an inclusive classroom where students feel their culture and identity is valued, and uses various technology methods such as photography, animation and stop motion to engage and motivate students.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence nomination said: “(Christine) begins every year with a focus on building authentic connections among all members of the class, including herself. This starts with an exploration of identity, as individuals and as a community, with engaging discussions and activities that allow every learner to share their perspectives and ideas, as well as their personal uniqueness and culture. She integrates concepts of Design Thinking and Knowledge Building using technology, art and drama to explore the topics that matter including Indigenous issues and human rights.”

Upon learning of her nomination, Vanderwal expressed her gratitude to her colleagues who nominated her. “I want to thank colleagues Pieter Toth and Matt Coleman who put together such a thoughtful nomination package, and I am honoured that so many people, whom I deeply respect, contributed such meaningful words on my behalf,” Vanderwal says. “It is humbling to be included amongst such wonderful educators. I also want to thank the students who I have had the pleasure of learning alongside throughout my career. It is from them that I have learned the most. It is a privilege to be an educator, and my greatest joy is to work in a community alongside young people, empowering them to use their voices, uncover their gifts and explore their passions.”

“We are so proud that an HDSB educator has been honoured with the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “Christine embodies the Board’s values by ensuring her students are learning in an environment dedicated to equity, collaboration and inclusion while focused on 21st century learning. It is wonderful to see our staff implementing the important elements of our 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan where students will learn from, grow with, and inspire each other. We congratulate Christine on this prestigious award.”

 

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City sets out what they will try to do to restore taxi service - long term plan not expected until December 2023

By Staff

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The city administration, with the blessing of city council has set out their plan to get whatever might be available in the way of taxi service to replace the Burlington Taxi service that ceased operations on November 30th.

Amendments made to Public Vehicle By-law provides opportunity for replacement of lost taxi service and applications arenbeing accepted starting December 2

The bylaw changes were made at a Special Council meeting yesterday, City Council approved amending the Public Vehicle By-law to allow exemptions to existing licensing requirements so other taxi services can apply to provide service for Burlington residents.

With Burlington’s main taxi service provider Burlington Taxi, ceasing operation on Nov.26, 2021, the amendments are intended to provide a temporary solution to quickly replace lost taxi service. The by-law that governs the issuance of new taxi licences was written to meet the needs of the taxi business model that existed in 2009. To allow new businesses to enter the Burlington transportation market, City staff recommended interim by-law amendments. These amendments will help provide flexibility in the application process and meet demands of current business models.

Starting Dec. 2, 2021 applications for new taxi owner licences/plates will be open until all spaces are full. The by-law amendment allows licences to be awarded on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis (similar to other City business licences). Complete applications will be processed as soon as possible to address the current service gap in Burlington.

Applicants can visit burlington.ca/taxilicence for more information on the criteria and documentation required. The City will continue to share updates as available. In the meantime, Burlington Transit bus schedules can be accessed at 905-639-0550 or at burlingtontransit.ca. Burlington Transit currently offers adults 65+ free transit on weekdays, Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The fee for the license is a reported $3,451.68.

The by-law amendments are intended to provide a temporary solution. City staff are aiming to undertake a comprehensive review and consultation and have a new by-law created prior to December 31, 2023. Further review is required not only to determine appropriate taxi licensing requirements, but to investigate the ‘rideshare’ businesses and options for regulating that market.

Related news stories.

Councillor explains part of the story.

Political will to do something quickly does not appear to be in place.

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Gyms, Rinks, and Community Rooms for rent this holiday season

By Staff

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City of Burlington is offering special rates for rentals of gyms, ice rinks and community rooms from now until January 2nd, 2022.

. Residents can book space for 60 or 90-minute intervals at a variety of locations across the city. This presents a great opportunity for families to be active together in a safe, controlled environment over the month of December.

Rentals can be made 48-hours or more in advance. All bookings can be done through liveandplay.burlington.ca.

  • Gym rentals are available at Tansley Woods Community Centre and Haber Community Centre for $28.90. Rental includes exclusive use of the gym and basketball nets and soccer nets. Renters must bring their own equipment.
  • Ice rink rentals are available at Appleby Ice Centre, Mainway Ice Centre and Mountainside Arena for $139.64. Rentals include exclusive use of the rink, hockey nets and skate aids. Renters must bring all other equipment.
  • Community room rentals are available at Tansley Woods Community Centre, Mountainside Community Centre and Haber Community Centre for $25. Rental includes two tables, 10 chairs. Renters must bring any other equipment they need such as crafts, fitness items or games. Sport balls or large sport equipment are not allowed in community rooms.

A steal of a deal at less than 30 bucks an hour.

All COVID-19 precautions and restrictions apply.

For more information, including booking and payments, visit burlington.ca/rentals.

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Legislative and legal challenges made it impossible to find a solution to the taxi problem

By Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

People at city hall don’t set out to hurt people.  Mistakes get made and the people who made the mistake, for the most part, set out to correct the error.

Some mistakes leave scars and diminish people who are already struggling to keep their heads above water.

The number of people going to food banks has risen: 300,000 households in Ontario made the trip this year.

The Food Bank can deliver some of the food needed – but not all of it.

The Burlington Food Bank is able to deliver food to many of the households that need help.

No one broadcasts that they need help feeding their families; while it is not something one should be ashamed of – there is a sense of shame for those on any form of public welfare.

Several of the churches in Burlington had a system that let them give families with no transportation a taxi chit that let them get to the food bank.

Now there is no taxi service and I personally doubt there will be one for something in the order of 100 days.  The “significant legislative and legal challenges”  made it impossible.

Those “legislative and legal challenges need to be replaced by “whatever it takes”. That is what makes a city great.

These mistakes cannot and should never be looked upon as a “learning opportunity”; a phrase that has achieved some currency at the Council table.

The apology from the City Manager just isn’t enough.

Related news story.

Councillor explains.

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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Council decides not to seek a review of Ontario Land Tribunal Ruling on 2069-2079 Lakeshore Rd

By Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a hard decision to accept and one that will have an impact on the way the city develops in the months ahead.

The city decision not to seek a review of or appeal from, the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decision of October 27, 2021.

“Council is disappointed and continues to disagree with the Tribunal’s decision, however, Council has determined that the most effective course of action is to focus its time and resources on pushing forward with the approval of the City’s new Official Plan, which is currently under appeal at the Tribunal.

“Once the new Official Plan has been approved, Council expects to be in a stronger position to require that significant growth occur only in the areas of the City that Council has planned for such growth.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward n her city hall office

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward issued a statement saying: “I know this will be very disappointing news to residents who wanted us to challenge this decision. Council deeply considered all options and the best long-term interests of the community in making this difficult decision. I know that all of council will continue to do what we collectively believe is best to protect our community’s interests and vision for the downtown now and for the future. We also know the Minister’s decision and its effect in grandfathering certain applications as not subject to the adjustment of the Urban Growth Centre boundaries downtown has made our task more challenging. But we will continue to advocate that the vision of our staff, council and the community as outlined in our city and regional official plans, and in provincial decisions, be respected by developers and be considered at hearings before the Ontario Lands Tribunal.”

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns added her comments: “I assure community members that the commitment to advocate and advance our downtown planning vision and values remains steadfast. Planning matters that far exceed the planning vision for downtown and especially the waterfront continue to be an incredible concern amongst residents city-wide. We know the community expects Council to take the time to do the additional diligence that examines legal options to lessen impacts of the unfavorable decision delivered by the Ontario Land Tribunal for 29 storeys at Lakeshore Road and Pearl Street. So at this time, the best path forward for our community is focusing on having our new Official Plan in place. We look forward to defending and implementing our new Official Plan, so we can properly manage the growth in our downtown and beyond.”
What is probably needed most is a pause and time to think through what the city is really up against.

The south side of Lakeshore Road may now become a concrete jungle.

The threat to the future of the land known as the football is very real.

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Council and staff at the City of Burlington owe Burlington Taxi an apology.

By Staff

December 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte said on her Facebook page that she” chose to take a lead role in this issue as Burlington Taxi has been a well-respected, long time member of the Ward 4 Business community.

The fleet that is no more.

“I have been aware, as we all were, of the challenges facing the taxi industry such as exorbitant insurance rates, competition with Uber and Lyft as well as economic impacts of the pandemic.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

“I had met with management of Burlington Taxi in mid-October and learned of their decision to cease operations as of November 30, as well as their desire to transition their vehicles and drivers to another taxi company in order to maintain services to the Burlington community. During this meeting I encouraged management at Burlington Taxi to put their concerns and issues in writing to all of Council so that we could work towards a potential solution, which resulted in the Burlington Taxi letter to Council of November 8, 2021.

“During subsequent internal communications and meetings with staff and Council, the conversation was presented that these were “new issues” being brought forward and due to significant legislative and legal challenges it would not be possible to accommodate Burlington Taxi’s plan to transition their vehicles in time for their November 30 closure.

Former Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster in conversation with Scott Wallace, proprietor of Burlington Taxi.

“What unfortunately was not shared, in all of these internal discussions, was the knowledge of a very similar letter from Burlington Taxi that had been sent to the previous Council in April of 2018 that resulted in a May 2018 Staff Direction to “Initiate a comprehensive review of the Taxi By-law that will make recommendations to address the current needs of the industry”.

“Reading the letter that Burlington Taxi sent to Council in April of 2018, knowing now that the owner delegated to Council in May of 2018 to be sure his needs were clear, and understanding the subsequent support from the previous Council in the form of a Staff Direction in May of 2018, clearly demonstrates that Burlington Taxi did everything they should have to seek assistance from their elected representatives and the staff at the City of Burlington.

Papers got lost in the shuffle.

“In October of 2018, a new Council was inaugurated. This Staff Direction was “lost” in the transition to the new term of Council and was never spoken of again until a concerned resident sent me a copy of the 2018 Staff Direction on November 24, 2021.

“Had this Review of the Taxi Bylaw been followed through on in 2018, it is quite possible that Burlington Taxi may have been operating under a very different business model over the past few years that may (or may not) have resulted in a different outcome for them as a business and for the residents of Burlington. We will never know.

“What I do know now is that former Council and staff at the City of Burlington “dropped the ball” in 2018 and for that we owe Burlington Taxi and the residents of the City an apology.

“I cannot accept responsibility for a mistake that was made before my time on Council, but I will take responsibility to apologize to Burlington Taxi for the historic mishandling of this situation and I will take responsibility to continue to advocate for improved transparency and accountability in our practices and processes at City Hall.”

There is more to this story – the Stolte comments are part of it – what city council isn’t doing is the other part and the distress the lack of a taxi service is creating in the lives of people is something they can only be ashamed of.

The political will needed to fix this problem just isn’t there which is indeed unfortunate

 

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Liberals would kill the issuing of MZO's - that doesn't come as a surprise.

By Staff

November 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the provincial election more ta six months away – the political parties are getting serious and beginning to jockey for position.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford – has always been business focused.

The Liberals to say announced they would scrap the Ministerial Zoning Orders to Progressive Conservative government has used to permit development that municipalities may not want.

The Liberal media release, released this morning said: “Under the cover of a pandemic, Doug Ford has been abusing his powers and recklessly using MZOs to push through a list of rewards for his rich buddies over environmentally-sensitive land.

“Today, Ontario Liberals are releasing their plan to eliminate MZOs and bring in strict rules to ban Doug Ford’s abuses of power.

“Doug Ford has weaponized MZOs and is abusing his power to attack our environment and reward the well-connected few,” stated Ontario Liberal Leader, Steven Del Duca. “Ontario Liberals will scrap MZOs and bring in strict rules to protect our environment while responsibly building communities.”

Ontario Liberal Leader, Steven Del Duca. does not have a seat in the provincial legislature. He was Minister of Transportation in the last Liberal government.

Ontario Liberals would only allow fast-tracking of critical provincial projects, like affordable housing, employment lands/projects, and not-for-profit nursing homes to provide better care for our loved ones in communities across Ontario, or expansions to protected greenspace. Ontario Liberals would also add transparency measures, like required consultations and judicial reviews, to make sure projects respect environmental protections and aren’t being recklessly forced on communities like Doug Ford is doing now. The government would no longer be able to steamroll local communities to force through rewards for well-connected friends.

In just over three years, Doug Ford has issued 57 MZOs — more than triple the number that the last Liberal government issued over 15 years, and he expanded his powers three times. Ontario Liberals would give that power back to communities, making sure they are consulted on any critical projects the government advances.

“We desperately need to build more housing in Ontario,” added Del Duca. “Today’s announcement is about building more affordable housing, not-for-profit nursing homes, and creating jobs without attacking our environment. It’s about sustainable growth to build a better future for all of us.”

 

 

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Sharman wants to defer a $3 million transit item to take some weight off tax payers shoulders

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.

Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman looks to transit deferrals to skim more than $3 million from the budget Staff has put before Council.

Keeps a community project in – voters like that kind of thing.

Gone are the days when Councillor Sharman would push hard enough to get a 0% budget increase.

1) Defer by one year the proposed 2022 conventional transit vehicle replacement in the amount of $3,382,000 and retain gas tax funds to partially offset $30m shortfall in annual capital funding.

2) Add funds to tree planting to achieve desired urban forest renewal $100,000

3) Add funds to pave gravel path in Mohawk Park $60,000

4) Remove all 2022 operating budget gapping from new staff positions such as was the case in 2021 along with any other expected un-utilized expenses $190,000 for personnel plus any other expense items.

Reasons:
1) recent review of infrastructure identified that infrastructure renewal funding gap is much larger than the $126m determined in 2016 and is in fact $512m. It is estimated that annual shortfall since 2016 has been about $30m, or about $150m in the 5 years leading up to 2022.

Meanwhile, transit ridership is well below planned/hoped for levels due to Covid and perhaps over optimistic projections to meet long term modal split goals. Keeping buses an additional year over assumed 12-year life span is a viable modest extension given the relatively light ridership utilization generally made more so during Covid years in Burlington.

2) To better support objectives of private tree by-law in increasing urban tree canopy by providing $100,000 to be funded by reducing overhead in item 2 above.

A $60,000 goody for the community

3) The path is used by many parents of young children attending both Mohawk Gardens Public School and St Patrick Catholic Elementary School. During inclement weather the path becomes impassible due to flooding and ice.

4) Partially offset 2022 prior and pending impacts of council decisions $885,666

Outcome Sought:

2022 Budget adjustment

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Nisan wants specific one year staff cuts to the 2022 budget

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increases and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.

Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wants to direct staff to reduce the budget by removing the following items:

Dedicated operations space for building/bylaw ($110k)
Remove BI (Business information)position ($114k)

Remove bus cleaning/maintain status quo with external contractors ($223k)

Remove committee services, deputy clerk position ($157k)

Manager, total rewards and analytics ($157k)

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan wants to use staff cuts to keep the tax levy down.

Overall rationale:
With COVID-19’s economic impacts, council needs to be more careful than ever in balancing costs for our taxpayers and mitigating organizational risk. The following projects very narrowly weigh towards delays and temporary de-prioritization to provide tax relief for 2022.

Dedicated operations space for building/bylaw ($110k)
I would like this request to be brought forward again for 2023.

Remove BI position ($114k)
I would like this position to be brought forward again for 2023 budget.

Remove bus cleaning/maintain status quo with external contractors ($223k)

I would like this request to be brought forward again for 2023. With lower use of buses at present, we can manage the risk of an inferior outcome in terms of cleanliness for 2022.

Remove clerk position ($157k)
I would like the city manager to seek short term internal support, internal re-assignment, one-time contracting and/or external contracts for projects to mitigate risk. I would like the position to be brought forward again in 2023.

Manager, total rewards and analytics ($157k)
I would like to see this position brought forward in 2023 and if needed that there be internal reorganization and prioritization.

Outcome Sought:
Budget approval.

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Galbraith budget motion memorandum sparse - which is putting it mildly

 

 

 

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.
Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelven Galbraith frequently cuts to the chase – his response to a budget that has many more than concerned, is brief to the point of being irresponsible.

Any aspirations Galbraith had to be elected Mayor went out the window with his budget reduction response.

Galbraith tends to align himself with the Mayor who, along with Councillor Nisan, creates a block of three votes on a seven member council.  Not enough to hold court.

The people of Aldershot voted for what they thought was an experienced business person who was tuned into the needs of the community.

None of those attributes appear in his budget memorandum.

In his memorandum the Councillor asks his colleagues:

I would like to explore the deferral of purchasing 2 of the 4 buses as our transit usage has been much less than expected during COVID19. The costs of adding the drivers, staff and maintenance follows the adding of buses to our fleets which is driving our budget increase.

With regards to the bylaw officers located within Aldershot arena, I am comfortable with them staying there for the foreseeable future. It was suggested that the room was needed for community use but I do not anticipate demand for this room for a few years.
Outcome Sought:
7 votes in favour.
Does Galbraith no longer want the job of ward councillor?


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Councillor Bentivegna knows where the re-election sweet spot is - pushes for $2 1/4 million in budget cuts

By Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.
Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna wants his colleagues to consider removing a number of items from the 2022 Budget.

He has declared his intention to run for office again in 2022. There is at least one rural resident considering a run at the council seat.

Bentivegna has figured out how he can get re-elected.

Maintaining Assets in Recreation Services to meet lifecycle requirements and reduce risk -$100,000

Stabilizing Management Structures and Managing Risk – $585,000 (4 full time staff).

Operationalization of the Bus Cleaning Pilot -$223,000 (7.6 FTE).

Dedicated space for Building Inspection and By-law – $110,000

Gypsy Moth Control Program – $110,000 (one-time)

 

Not big on overtime pay – likes salary reductions as well – wants to share the pain – speaks for the small business sector

Consideration to reduce Non-union HR increases in the 2022 Budget from 3% to 2% – $640,000

Consideration to reduce Overtime costs estimated at $1,745,517 by 30% from the 2022 Budget resulting in a savings of $523,655.

Consideration to remove tax funding from the 2022 Budget and move to Covid budget:

Additional By-law Enforcement Officers – $232,000 (one-time)

Free Transit for Seniors -$95,000

Rational for reducing impacts of the 2022 budget.

This global pandemic over the last 21 months has had many residents experience financial hardship. The economic impact has caused many families see declines to their household incomes. We have heard repeatedly through our committee Covid updates the result of unfavorable cash flows in our city and residents and businesses needing some type of financial assistance.

Many businesses have reported losses of upwards to 70% and some have shut down.

My experience in discussions with residents and having read the budget survey comments provided to Committee emphasizes the need to take a hard look at reducing this proposed budget increase of 5.45%.

Outcome Sought:
Reduction of $2,276,655 of on-going costs and $342,000 of city one-time costs.

Bentivegna has positioned himself as the voice of the small business operator.  Ward 6 has a significant number of rural residents who seem to have been forgotten in his budget reducing requests.

Spoke for the the small independent sector

Pushing for a two and a quarter million dollar reduction is a stretch – it will be interesting to see how his council colleagues respond.

Even if he doesn’t get support on any of his suggestions – he will come out of it as the Councillor who wants smaller tax increases.

Bentivegna has figured out what the public wants to hear in an election year.

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Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte sets out where she wants to see cuts made in the budget - Rainbow community takes a bit f a hit

oBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Each member of Council has the opportunity to put forward a motion that sets out the changes they want to see to the budget staff has put forward.

Keep in mind that taxpayers are looking at a pretty stiff budget increase and that Staff don’t see tax increases falling below 4% a year for the next five years.
Also, keep in mind that 2022 will be an election year.

How much fiscal prudence and how much political skin is there in the Stolte budget change proposals?

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte set out the changes she wants to see.

Motions for Council to Consider:
1) Pride (Rainbow) Crosswalks
Remove $45,000 in funding for three additional Rainbow Crosswalks that are addition to the 4 that have already been committed and encourage community groups to engage and fund raise for future installations.

OR for further consideration:

Rename and repurpose the $45,000 to fund public art installations that support additional marginalized groups in the community (ie. a “Seven Feathers Crosswalk” in support of our First Nations/Indigenous community)
And Direct the Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry to generate “City of Burlington Decorative Crosswalk Guidelines” to ensure consistency for future funding requests of this nature.
2) Dedicated operations space for Building Inspection and By-law Staff
Remove $110,000 from proposed Risk Mitigation Measures budget increase.
3) Sherwood Forest Community Centre Facility 
Recommit previously approved funding, 2022-2024 capital funding totaling $6.2 million as well as 2022-2023 capital reserve funding totaling $600,000 to the Capital Infrastructure Reserve Fund until such time as the plan for cost sharing is approved by Council and the applicable Joint Venture Groups can provide documentation confirming feasibility of financial commitment.

4) School Playground Improvement Strategy 
Transfer $550,000 from the capital budget for School Playground Improvement Strategy to the Park Dedication Reserve Fund to assist with future strategic Halton District School Board land acquisitions and;
Direct the Office of the City Manager to re-negotiate the Agreement with the Halton District School Board regarding the use of City tax dollars to replace playgrounds on private HDSB property.

Reason:
1) The competitive bid process for the three additional Rainbow Crosswalks approved in 2021 resulted in a cost of $27,324 for crosswalk markings at the 3 locations. An additional cost of $32,000 was realized as a result of repaving required at 2 of 3 locations in order to maintain integrity of the markings
for a total of $59,324 or $19,775 per crosswalk.

Mayor Meed Ward has put a lot of her political capital on the Rainbow Crosswalks – that capital could be at risk.

The LGBTQ2S+ community in Burlington feels very welcomed and supported with the four new Rainbow Crosswalks around the City of Burlington and greatly appreciates that with the addition of these four Rainbow Crosswalks Burlington now, proudly, has more Rainbow Crosswalks per capita than any other community in the country.

The City of Burlington strives to be a place of diversity and inclusion and to that end the residents of the city are widely supportive of this funding being repurposed to include additional valued community groups and initiatives.

2) While the rationale for dedicated space for the Bylaw and Building Department needs are sound, it is premature to commit $110,000 to new leased space when the required space within existing City owned facilities has not been determined based on remote work arrangements. Efforts to confirm and consolidate existing City owned space allocations needs to be completed before committing to newly leased space.

3) Funding for projects that require Council approved cost sharing arrangements should not be committed until such cost sharing arrangements are confirmed.

Additionally, applicable Joint Venture Groups should be required to provide confirmation of feasibility of financial commitment before commitment of capital assets.

4) Upkeep, maintenance and improvements on properties owned privately by the Halton District School Board should be funded through Provincial Ministry of Education funding.

Will Councillor Kearns, on the left, second the Motion Councillor Stolte brings to the debate this week

Stolte now has to find a member of Council to second her motion.

This Budget Memorandum approach is different – it will be interesting to see how the other members of Council react to what Stolte has proposed.

2022 is an election year and members of this Council are going to have to defend the increases.

This just not a sustainable number – where will the cuts be made?


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The five year budget simulation doesn't do much to lessen the tax burden

By Staff
November 29th, 2021
BURLINGTON, ON
Elsewhere in today’s news (these will follow) there will be memorandums from each member of Council on the changes they would like to see in the budget they are considering this week
As part of the budget exercise city council will be going through this week there is a five year simulation on what the public can expect – the assumption being that there will be no radical changes in the economic environment.
Not exactly something you can bet on.
To start – have a look at the tax levy numbers – they are not a pretty picture.

You might want to clip that and put it on the fridge -beside the “Burlington is the best city in Canada to live in.
The purpose of the simulation is to resent a 5year operating budget forecast as part of the City’s longterm planning.

The City’s LongTerm Financial plan contains the following key strategic objectives for the city:
1. Competitive Property Taxes
2. Responsible Debt Management

3. Improved Reserves and Reserve Funds

4. Predictable Infrastructure Investment

5. Recognized Value for Services


This simulation uses the 2022 proposed budget as a starting point and
adjusts the 20232027 forecast based on estimated budget drivers, information gathered in the Service Information Workshops and forecasted Operating budget impacts resulting from Capital projects.

As with any modeling tool, the simulation forecast has the greatest precision in the first year. It is imperative that the results are simply used as an information tool regarding major budget drivers and future projected tax impacts. It provides an analysis of what the future financial picture for the City of Burlington may look like, helps assess financial risks and the affordability of existing services and capital investments, and provides an
opportunity to analyze sensitivities to assumptions.


Magnitude and duration of COVID impacts

Senior Government Grant Programs

Changes in economic conditions and market demands

Fluctuations in customer expectations

Legislative changes

Reassessment impacts

Operating impacts from approved capital initiatives

Business process improvements

Climate change impacts


Staff have shown a realistic scenario where assessment growth is maintained at 0.6% in 2023, increasing to 0.75% in 2024 and then remaining steady at 1.0% for years 2025 2027. These estimates are based on future development projections including an allowance for assessment appeals. Infrastructure renewal funding is consistent with the 2021 Asset Management Financing Plan Update and repurposing of the hospital levy to infrastructure renewal as the commitments for the hospital decline.

These components provided the basis for estimating budget drivers and include the following assumptions within each item:

Maintaining Current Service Levels Base Budget

Inflationary Impacts and User Fees
With the exception of human resources and commodities (hydro, water, fuel etc.), 2.0% inflation per year has been applied to other expense categories (materials
and supplies, purchased services) and 1.75% increase per year applied to contributions to Local Boards and Committees.

Most User Rates and Fees are assumed to increase at 2.0% per annum, which is dependent on the nature of the revenues and external market conditions.

However, included in years 2023 and 2024 is an estimated normalizing of
revenue based on shift in consumer behavior and ongoing operational impacts postCOVID, resulting in projected revenues losses of $500,000.

Corporate Expenditures/Revenues

An annual increase to the provisions for Insurance and Contingency Reserves of $50,000 each.

An increase in Investment Income of $50,000 per year starting in 2024 subject to a moderately increasing interest rate environment.

Additional Base Budget Expenses
The simulation highlights larger scale base budget pressures for additional detail. The main drivers are the ongoing market competitiveness initiative with a phased funding plan of $1M from 2023 thru 2025 and the $280K reversal of the onetime funding provided in 2022 to address the shortfall in assessment growth is shifted to the tax base.

Impacts of Prior Council Decisions
As some decisions approved in prior budgets have financial impacts than span further than one year, the model identifies these under Impacts of Prior Council Decisions.

These include:
Tax base support for Tyandaga (2023 & 2024) 
Revisions to the Private Tree Bylaw fee structure (2023)

Impacts of Previously Approved Capital Projects
There is an estimated $1.7M in funding required to meet Corporate Infrastructure and Software needs over 20232027. Funding schedules align with Information Technology forecasts.

Infrastructure Renewal Funding
An annual increase of 1.6% from 2023 to 2027 for Dedicated Infrastructure Renewal Funding. This provides funding for capital renewal, as per the 2021 
Asset Management Financing Plan.

Includes the repurposing of the hospital levy to infrastructure renewal in 2023 ($150K), 2025 ($110K) and 2027 ($2.84M)

An annual increase of 4% to the Vehicle Depreciation Reserve Funds to sustain the City’s fleet and equipment inventory Risk Mitigation Measures
Key investment priorities identified in the simulation are classified within the 3 categories highlighted below.

Sustaining City Operations and Financing
Funding for the maintenance of Recreation facilities

As outlined in Business Case 2022039, Maintaining Assets in Recreation Services to Meet Lifecycle Requirements and Reduce Risk, staff estimate a $700K funding shortfall to adequately maintain Recreational assets. In 2021, a phased approach was endorsed, allocating $100K in each of 2021 and 2022, with the balance phased in over 5 years 20232027 in $100K intervals.

Improved investments in Forestry operations
As communicated in the Service Information Workshop, Urban Forestry faces funding challenges to address the level of service required for pest management and tree planting initiatives. As such, the simulation assumes a $100K increase in expenses in each year from 20232026 and a provision to a Forestry Reserve Fund of $350K in 2027 to be used toward future funding gaps and new initiatives.

OMERS for Part Time Staff
Effective January 1, 2023 part
time/temporary/casual employees will have the option to enroll in OMERS without a waiting period. In the past, these employees had to meet specific hours of work or earnings criteria for a twoyear period to have the option to join. Both the criteria and twoyear waiting period will be removed effective January 1, 2023.

At this time, it is hard to predict how many employees will take advantage of this change. To inform the multiyear budget simulation, Finance has modelled the impact at various levels of participation and it is estimated that the impact will be $420K based on a participation rate of 67%.

Designing and Evolving Our Organization
The forecast includes the continued phased implementation of the Designing and Evolving Our Organization (DEOO) initiative to be implemented over the period 2023 2027.

Enhancing Services
Investment in Transit services

Does Burlington Transit need new buses ?

As per the Capital Budget and Forecast and in alignment with the 5 year Transit Business Plan, the forecast assumes an additional $836K in annual expenses for 8 Transit drivers in each year from 20232026 and $135K for a Specialized Transit driver in 2023 and in each year 20252027.

This is based on the purchase of the vehicles through the capital budget the year prior to the operating expenses being realized.

Provision to Green Initiatives Reserve Fund
In April 2019, Council declared a Climate Emergency. Burlington’s Draft Climate Action Plan identified a number of initiatives to assist the City in reducing its overall carbon footprint.

As part of the city’s reserve and reserve fund review report (F2820) the city created a Green Initiatives Reserve Fund.  The simulation includes an estimated $550K in provisions to the Green Initiatives Reserve Fund over 20242027.

As we move forward, the city will need to carefully balance the increasing costs associated with being more environmentally conscious against the city’s other funding demands.

The upgrades to the Skyway arena show some of the best forward planning the city has done – the challenge is to get it funded.

Skyway Arena Revitalization
Enhancements at Skyway Arena lead to an operating budget impact of $304K in 2024.

Modifications to Service to address COVID

The simulation includes an estimated $500K in lost revenues over 2023 and 2024 as ongoing operational impacts postCOVID and a longerterm shift in consumer behavior impact City operations.

Allowance for Unknown Factors
As with all forecasts, it is imperative to recognize that there are unknown factors that will likely occur in the future that could impact the model. In order to address these unpredictable factors, an amount of $150K has been included in the 2024 forecast,
increasing by $50,000 per year until 2027. This allowance has been included to recognize that factors in the simulation such as future efficiency savings and assessment growth can be increasingly difficult to predict the further out into the future they are.

Conclusion:
The 5 Year forecast is a tool that provides a highlevel summary of major budget drivers and the expected tax impacts. This will be helpful to establish future budget targets, as well as provide the ability to undertake tax impact sensitivity analysis should circumstances change.




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