Police Identify Suspect Wanted in Burlington Shooting

By Staff

September 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police today issued a photograph identifying a suspect wanted in a shooting in the City of Burlington on September 9, 2021.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of David Ryan Lavoie (37) of Hamilton.  He is wanted for the charge of Attempt Murder.

David Ryan Lavoie – suspect in an attempted murder.

David Lavoie is a white male, and bald with a short, stubbly beard. He is 5’10” tall with a muscular build. He was last seen wearing a black shirt (possibly a tank top) and grey pants.

If you see David Lavoie, DO NOT APPROACH, and call police immediately.

The shooting took place at a residence in the area of Maple Crossing Boulevard shortly after 6 pm on September 9, 2021. One victim was transported to hospital and is currently in stable condition. We can confirm that the victim and the suspect are known to one another.

Residents can continue to expect a police presence in the area  while they hold the scene for the ongoing investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this incident who has not already spoken with police is asked to contact the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4777 ext. 2316.

Anyone with surveillance or dash cam footage in the area of Maple Crossing Boulevard and Maple Avenue between the hours of 5:30 – 7:30 pm on September 9th is also asked to contact police.

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

 

 

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Cars and climate change - is the plan in place realistic?

By Staff

September 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Other than why we are even having a federal election now – the burning issue is climate change.

The biggest opportunity for the average person in Burlington to take part in reducing C02 emissions is to take cars off the road.

The city has a target.

Reducing the use of vehicles by more than 10% could be described as a pipe dream. Nothing on how the city plans to do this.

A look at the modal split for 2019 shows us where we are.

The measure is for cars on the left and occupants on the right.

 

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Conservative Candidate a No Show for the Burlington Environmental Group Debate

By Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

The Conservative Party candidate did not participate in the Burlington debate.

 

The Halton Environmental Network held virtual debates last night for each of the ridings within the Regional boundaries.

 

While the focus was the environment the debate covered almost everything you could think of  and then some.

Nick Page spoke eloquently and with more passion that usually seen in Burlington debates.

Chris Cullis did just as well for the Green Party.

MP Karina Gould had an incredible grasp on just what the Liberal government had done for the city.  She was spitting out numbers at quite a pace.

Emily Brown didn’t make it to the debate.  No word on why at this point.

The debates are well worth the time if yo need to think through where your vote should go.

When they are available online we’ll let you know

 

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Abuse & Harassment of our Frontline Healthcare Staff & First-Responders has to Stop

Statement from Burlington’s Community Leaders in Support & Protection of our Frontline Healthcare Staff &

First-Responders from Abuse & Harassment

Community leaders have spoken out strongly against the harmful messages, harassment and misinformation targeted against our medical and healthcare professionals.

In their statement they said:

“We would like to take a moment to thank our front-line hospital and health workers, physicians and first- responders for your sacrifices throughout this pandemic and going above and beyond every day to keep us safe. We stand with you, and know that in these times of increasing volatility, our healthcare professionals and first-responders need to see our community’s support once again.

“Recently, there have been protests held outside of the Joseph Brant Museum, adjacent to Joseph Brant Hospital, and other healthcare settings throughout the province and country, as well as at the private residences of elected officials. We support everyone’s right to peaceful protest, even when we do not agree on the subject matter; however, recent protests have included harmful messages that result in emotional distress and moral injury.”

In the past week the Gazette has received a number of Letters to the Editor that spew the kind of comments we are seeing on national and local television.

When we think the content qualifies as hate messaging we will forward them to the police along with the IP address the words came from.

We are all for free speech – but this kind of hate stuff is not acceptable.

We along with the community leaders condemn, in the strongest of terms, this targeted and misdirected abuse and harassment of healthcare workers that has occurred during these recent protests.

“To protestors: Please take your messages to the decision-makers at City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill, and away from our hospitals and the private homes of our community leaders. We also ask you to be considerate of those who need access to our hospital for life-saving treatments and those visiting their loved ones.

Healthcare workers do not make policy.
“To our local hospital and healthcare professionals and first-responders: Please know there is an overwhelming majority in our community who support you and the enormous sacrifices you have made and continue to make during this pandemic. We’ve publicly shown our support and appreciation for your sacrifices by standing outside of our homes, on our balconies and on sidewalks applauding you through the FrontLine Clap; holding drive-by parades of emergency vehicles and elected leaders in front of Joseph Brant Hospital; lighting our pier blue and posting countless messages of support on social media.

“Additionally, the Burlington Pier will be lit blue tonight in support of our healthcare and frontline workers and the City of Burlington is planning for additional days later this month.”

“You have all gone above and beyond every day, putting yourselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. We are immeasurably grateful for your continued strength, perseverance, and commitment to caring for the people that you serve. Please know that we acknowledge and appreciate the positive difference that you are making in the lives of all your patients, their families and our community members.

“We thank you and we stand with you!”

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Are we ready for this?

By Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Are we ready for this?

They will stand on Lakeshore Road between Brant and Elizabeth Streets.

The required Pre-Application meeting took place virtually last night.

There was some expensive talent talking on behalf of the developer who wants to put up two towers: a 30 storey and a 24 story.

The plan is to have 23 studio apartments; 212 single bedroom apartments; 165 1 bedroom + den; 139 2 bedroom and some 3 bedroom.  No mention of price.

The panel was asked if there would be any affordable units – really?

There will be a significant bike tails system – but they won’t extend out onto the Pier. – even thought they appear to do so in the report.

View from the lake. Downtown Burlington will never be the same if this gets approved as it has been presented.

During the presentation, given by people representing the developer, David Faletta attempted to convince viewers that the old Urban Growth Centre boundary would apply arguing that the Regional Official Plan affirmed the new boundary but that the Minister had yet to sign off on the Regional decision.

There is a lot more to this story.  Stand by.

 

 

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Online registration for fall swimming lessons begin 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18.

By Staff

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington will open online registration for fall swimming lessons and aquatic leadership programs beginning 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Programs will be viewable online at Burlington.ca/recreation on Friday, Sept. 10.

A Burlington resident doing a well executed crawl.

To register on Sept. 18, go to liveandplay.burlington.ca. There is no in-person registration.

Aquatic leadership programs are those that can lead a person to becoming a lifeguard:

• Airway Management
• Bronze Cross, Medallion and Star
• Swim Instructor
• National Lifeguard Certification

All City programs will continue to follow public health guidance, including physical distancing, capacity limits and wearing masks or face coverings. All swimming lessons are low ratio to ensure physical distancing. Caregiver support is required in the water for participants enrolled in Parent and Tot levels up to and including Swimmer 3.

Individuals participating in an in-person program will be required to fill out the mandatory health screening form at Burlington.ca/screening before each session.

• Individuals who have questions or require assistance can email liveandplay@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7738 between 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends.

• Recreation fee assistance funding is available to resident individuals or families who need help to pay for City of Burlington recreation programs. For more information or to apply, visit burlington.ca/feeassistance. You can also leave a confidential voicemail message at 905-335-7738, ext. 8501 and staff will return your call to assist you.

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At a Statutory meeting last night the public got to see how changes get made - dozens had wanted to delegate and didn't know how

By Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a certain amount of satisfaction watching a political leader evolve.

They don’t all manage to grow into real leaders able to listen and to hear.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken – now she is on the other side of the podium. committee.

A number of years ago when Marianne Meed Ward was the council member for ward 2 she came to the realization that people were not aware of what was going on in their communities. A development was being proposed, notices were sent out but to a limited number of people. Meed Ward decided to do something about that and the practice now is to send notices to people within a 120 metre radius of a development.

During a meeting last night when there was a Statutory meeting about the Oval Court development a number of people complained that they had not received the notice of the meeting.

A staff member was asked if notices could be sent to a wider radius – he commented on possible limitations within the Planning Act.
Watching the web cast you could see the Mayor thinking it through – thinking perhaps about how she could arrange to have Statutory meeting notices sent to a larger area.

Watch for something like that in the months ahead.

Later in the same meeting as council members were preparing to wrap it up for the day – it was approaching 10:00 pm, the Mayor took a moment to comment on what things used to be like when development applications were filed..

There would be a Notice of a development application.

There was no such things as a pre-application meeting.

The application would be submitted and then things went quiet – not a word.

Then a Statutory meeting was called. The Planning Act required those meetings.

Council required a report from Staff with a recommendation on the development. They could say yes – it looks good or it is not a good development application and does not represent good planning.

What Meed Ward found amazing at the time was that the Staff Report would be submitted at the same time the Statutory meeting took place.

Whatever comments the public wanted to make during the Statutory meeting was irrelevant – the Staff report had already been written.

That said Meed Ward was the way things were done.

Councillors had been away from the business of getting things done for six weeks – it was a slow start plagued by technical issues. Delegations to the Statutoy meeting were coming in at a surprising clip – getting the equipment to work was a challenge.

Last night there was a Statutory meeting on the Oval Court development. There were some technical problems and it turned out that a lot of people wanted to delegate and found that they were not able to do so.

Again there were technical problems.

The Statutory meeting was very unsatisfactory to both the residents, staff and Council members.

But the meeting had taken place.

Mark Simeoni, Director of Community Planning, told Council that a Statutory meeting was mandated – a meeting must be held and it must be advertised and held in public.

He however added that there was nothing in the Act that said the city was limited to just one Statutory meeting.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: All the ideas, all the things she wanted to do while a member of Council can now be advanced as Mayor.

Expect the lawyers who were watching the web cast to be searching through their copies of the Planning Act to see if that was true.
This is a different council, breaking the practices of the past and finding new more effective ways to get things done.

Mayor Meed Ward is far from perfect – she has a lot of growing to do yet – but it is interesting to watch her as she thinks something through, makes a note and comes back to it later on.

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Climate change is the focus for an all candidate virtual event

By Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The election that few wanted does need attention – there are issues to be discerned.

The Halton Environment Network (HEN) and the Chamber of Commerce are hosting debates.

HEN is part of a North American event – for us in the Region of Halton the focus is on the federal election and a drill down into what the candidates have to say about climate change and the environment.

A panel has been created for each of the constituencies in the Region.

For the Burlington people that includes the constituencies of Burlington, Oakville North Burlington and Milton – which includes the northern part of Burlington.

There are 120 communities across the country holding similar events in every constituency – which is quite an undertaking.

There is a youth group involved with different moderators for each constituency – actually there are two moderators for each constituency.

There are two questions that will be asked at each event; then there is a rapid fire set of questions followed up by questions from the audience.

The two core questions will be asked at all of the 120 communities taking part.

There will be live polls taking place during the two hour event

The only regrettable part of all this is that is takes place at the same time as the leaders debate.

The upside is that HEN will be posting their debates to the HEN YouTube page on their web site.

So you can go back at any time and listen to what the candidates in your riding have to say.

You can check out their web site for the details and register.

Please join Halton Environmental Network (HEN), CFUW Oakville, Sustainable Milton and CFUW Georgetown on Wednesday September 8th, 2021 at 8 pm for the Virtual Debates on the Environment.

Click here to register

.

Where do your candidates stand on YOUR issues? This is your opportunity to meet and listen to your Federal Election Candidates and engage with them virtually on the issues that matter most to you.

Submit your questions! Register for the riding you live in and settle in for what looks like a well organized event.

You can register for the debate in the following communities.

Burlington

Milton

Oakville

Oakville North-Burlington

Wellington-Halton Hills

 

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More development - in the east, west and downtown. Nothing approved - yet

By Staff

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is not Toronto. This is Burlington and these are the buildings that developers want to construct.

They won’t dot the skyline tomorrow but they are in the works.

This is the oval Court development that is planned for the east end of the city. To be located on Fairview relatively close to the Fearmans pork processing plant.

The 24 story tower in the right is planned for Brant Street south of the Brant Street Plaze – right next to Joe Dogs.  How they build this tower and keep Joe Dogs open is more than a challenge.

The location is very controversial. The area will be razed – Bank of Nova Scotia would go. No one had an answer on what they will do with the width of Brant Street as this point – it is currently a narrow two lane road.

Residents were not opposed to a development – they just didn’t like the idea of a 24 story building.  The supermarket to the north will be moved closer to the street and will see a small park with a path along the edge of Rambo Creek.

There will be parking beneath the plaza.

John Street, which is to the east of Brant, will be extended north.  Currently John is not classified as a street – it is a lane way.

This is a Molinaro development planned for the Plains Road area on an odd shaped lot, If approved it will be done in two phases. It will be steps from Mapleview Mall.  This is the view from the QEW

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You've got mail - MoH has information for you

By Staff

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

You’ve got mail!

The Medical Officer of Health for the Region has issued an amended Letter of Instructions to workplaces to keep staff and patrons safe

The Class Order has also been revised to reflect Provincial directions for case and contact management

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani.

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, has issued an amended Letter of Instructions to businesses and organizations to support their efforts to protect their staff and customers/patrons from COVID-19, preventing the spread in their workplaces and our community.

The amended Instructions will replace two existing sets of Instructions issued on May 8 and February 12, consolidating the information and making it easier for businesses and organizations to understand and implement these requirements and current Provincial Rules for Step 3.

The amended Instructions outline key public health measures that workplaces must take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and also provide guidance to workplaces on what to do if one or more of their workers has COVID-19 presenting the potential for a workplace outbreak.

New in the amended Instructions are requirements for businesses and organizations with 100 or more workers physically present at the workplace (including those working in the community) to:

• Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 safety plan
• Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy

The amended Instructions also provide additional contact tracing measures in certain settings, including the collection and maintenance of customer/patron contact information for places where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure through closer contact or lack of masking.

This will help Halton Region Public Health to achieve prompt contact tracing for high-risk COVID-19 exposures – essential to preventing further spread of the Delta variant, which we know to be highly transmissible and present greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization especially for the unvaccinated.

The amended Instructions are effective Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

To read Dr. Meghani’s amended Instructions to businesses and organizations and for more information and guidance, please visit halton.ca/COVID19.

Class Order updated to align with Provincial guidance for case and contact management

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health has also amended Halton’s Class Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Effective 12:01 a.m. on September 10, 2021 to reflect new Provincial directions for case and contact management of COVID-19.

Key amendments to Halton’s Class Order, which requires those with or exposed to COVID-19 to self-isolate to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, include:

• Updated guidance for how long people must self-isolate based on their symptoms

• Reducing the length of time people with high-risk exposures must self-isolate from 14 to 10 days

• Relieving people with high-risk exposures who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 infections of the requirement to self-isolate, at the discretion of Halton Region Public Health

 

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Which constituency do you live in

By Staff

September 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington has three people representing them in the House of Commons.

The maps below set out the boundaries for each.

The northern part of Burlington is part of the Milton constituency.

 

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School board will rename Ryerson school - city will rename the abutting park

By Staff

September 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board wants ideas from the public on the renaming of Ryerson Public School.

The city wants idea from the public on renaming the park that abuts the school.

Could they not create a joint committee and come up with a single name ?

Not on your life – there is too much political upside for all the politicians to share this one.

The school will be renamed – as will the park that abuts the property.

The decision to dump the name of Egerton Ryerson was done very very quickly – basically on one delegation from an Indigenous parent.

The statue of Ryerson was toppled shortly after it was splattered with paint. The head of the statue ended up on an Indigenous reserve at the end of a pole.

There is tonnes of research on just what Ryerson did and didn’t do but those documents aren’t going to get much attention.

This is classic rush to judgement and lets pile on a good thing.

Community members are encouraged to submit a suggestion for the new name of the school by Sept. 24

In a media release the HDSB said: “Ryerson Public School was named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental to the design of Canada’s residential school system.

Students, families and community members are encouraged to submit suggestions for a new name for the school between Sept. 7 – 24, 2021.

The HDSB recognizes the significance of naming a new school as an opportunity to:

• reflect the geography, history, local environment, culture or traditions of the community;
• consider equity, diversity and inclusion in the school community;
• name a renowned person of historical significance to the Halton community, or a real person whose contribution to society or humanity is recognized and valued across Canada.

Suggestions can be made:

• By completing the online form
• By fax — 905-335-4447
• By mail — Communications Dept., Halton District School Board,
PO Box 5005 STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON L7R 3Z2

Suggestions will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Each name that is submitted will be reviewed by a committee which will include parent/guardian representation. A shortlist of names will be prepared and presented to the Board of Trustees who will select the final name at one of the regularly scheduled Board meetings in November 2021.

The selected name for the school will be announced in a news release and posted on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca) and social media.

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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For parents there is going to be one question: Is my child's teacher vaccinated? Unfortunately - it is not a question you are allowed to ask

By Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tomorrow morning when parents pack their children off to school or clear the dining room table and set them up for a virtual classroom they will begin the third years of living through a pandemic.

Classroom experiences will be different.

The Halton District School Board (HDSB) is as ready as it can be for the start of the school year.

Few fully appreciate that the HDSB has to comply with the guidance that comes from the province in terms of what they are required to deliver in the way of an education to the students.

The Board then has to coordinate with the Medical Officer of Health to ensure that the best practices are in place.

The province for their part seem to be always late getting out of the gate leaving the professionals who have to make it all work to continue to do “last minute” stuff

The Superintendents have to scramble to get the message down the line to the principals who will open the doors on Tuesday.

Board of Education cannot mandate that teachers need to be vaccinated – there is a mandatory vaccination disclosure policy.

That disclosure is confidential.

Don’t ask.

The Boards are required to advise the province how many people have been vaccinated, how many people are exempt and how many people chose not to be vaccinated and are being tested and going through an educational program.

The reporting to the province is done monthly. The first report will be sent in on September 10th.

The requirement to disclose applies to everyone: teachers, staff, volunteers, contract people working for the Board

The Rapid Tests those who chose not to be vaccinated are required to administer can be done at home and are paid for by the Board – they are not cheap.

The testing is to be done weekly.

The School boards report to the province and the province is understood to be publishing that information by September 10th – so we will know how many un-vaccinated people there are in the schools.

A teacher or teaching aide can choose not to be vaccinated.  So we have a teacher who is vaccinated who may have to work beside a teaching aide who has chosen not to be vaccinated and doesn’t have to tell anyone – other than the Board and that information is confidential.

Those who choose not to be vaccinated do have to undergo regular tests once a week – the test can be administered at home.

The testing kits come in boxes of 25 units.  The Board has to find a way to get those test units to those who chose not to be vaccinated without putting their personal private information at risk.

It might be like those sanitary napkin products that were wrapped in plain brown paper when I was a young man.

Councillor Shuttleworth wanted to know how long the Board would continue to pay for the testing kits – no one was able to give her an answer.

Milton Trustee Danielli wanted to know if a kindergarten teacher was vaccinated but the teaching aide was not vaccinated – did the teacher have to work with the unvaccinated person.

The rules are that no one is allowed to ask a person if they have been vaccinated.

Expect some blow back when this situation sinks into the minds of parents who are worried about what could happen to their child.

The Delta variant of Covid19 travels much more easily that previous variants.  The most recent report from the province for Saturday, September 3rd was: 807 new infections – six deaths.

Of those infected 628 were not vaccinated.

The Public Health people believe that the province is into a fourth wave and the Science Table has reported that numbers will rise in October when people will be indoors much more.

To add to the issues that have to be managed are the school buses.

Getting the buses out of the parking yard on time might be a bit of a problem the first couple of weeks.

There are enough drivers trained and in place – the problem is getting buses out of the yard they are parked in overnight.  First Student Transportation has their yard on Dundas where the Region is doing some major road work – there might be some delays in getting the buses out of the yard on time for them to make their rounds

 

 

 

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Curtis Ennis: Well grounded with a welcoming approach to getting the job done

By Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Curtis Ennis started his new job as the Director of Education of the Halton District School Board on August 1st.  There was a lot of work to be done and Ennis was confident that the staff he had was more than up to the job.

His job was to get to know them better and to get to know as much as he could about the Halton Region with its 2,934 elementary teachers, 1,373 secondary teachers and 2,500 non-teaching and support staff.  Add to that the more than 200 principals and vice-principals that are on the front line.

Curtis Ennis: From the largest school board in the country to the Director of Education at one of the highest ranking school boards in the province.

Ennis came to Halton Region from the Toronto District School Board.  His first career choice was not teaching – he studied business at Ryerson and spent more than a decade in the financial sector including a stint as an Assistant Manager with Bank of Nova Scotia.

It was when he found himself in front of students while volunteering in a school that he found his true calling.  “The missing link in my life was waiting for me in those classrooms” explained Ennis.

He returned to the classroom – this time as a student at York University where he earned a degree and was ready for a classroom filled with students.

Ennis takes a welcoming approach to what he does. “I made everyone of my students feel welcome; that I wanted them in my classroom and that they knew I was there to help them.

“I said good morning to every student and good day when they left the classroom.  They knew I was happy to see them.”

Curtis Ennis is a Jamaican.  He was born on the northern part of the Island – has four brothers and a sister.

His cultural base is West Indian.  That he was Black became evident when he came to Canada. ” I knew I was different; that awareness is something you learn to live with and adapt to as best you can.

“Yes it has an impact on you but I was fortunate to come out of it with an understanding that I was different but so were they”

“The big lesson for me was that  what matters is that there be a sense of equity – that we are all born equal.

“That has been the driving force that guided me as a teacher and what I took with me when I moved into management with the Toronto District School Board.

“It is what guides me as I get the feel of the people of Halton.”

He is married with four daughters; all study at the undergraduate level.  He and his wife Beverly; 29 years as a couple, face the challenges that every couple experience.

Heading up an organization that has more employees than the Ford motor plant in Oakville is not something you run into.

What you see is what you get – at least at this point: a straight shooter with a well grounded philosophy on what the classroom is all about..

The approach Ennis takes is to know your people at the granular level – that takes time but if you are open and transparent and make it clear that you are there to listen you can lead and you will succeed.

The challenge for Ennis is just that much bigger as he, along with the rest of the province deal with having to operate while the 4th wave of the pandemic is dealt with; the predictions that by October the 4th wave will be worse then the third wave don’t make it easy.

Ennis leaves you with the impression that you take it all in stride.

During his Director’s Report at his first Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week we got a sense as to how he works with his people.

He delegates and follows through.

During the meeting we learned that the Halton District school Board is going to report a deficit for the third year in a row.

We don’t know yet what kind of a spender Ennis will be nor do we know what his big picture is.  Right now he is working with a Multi Year Plan the trustees approved last year.

There are some big issues and still some emotional baggage from the closing of the two high schools.

We learned that the expansion of Nelson High School needed to handle the students from Bateman that now attend Nelson is not complete.  The library is on the second floor and the second floor and the second elevator is not in place yet.

Curtis Ennis will-work his way through the problems; working with his team adapting to the pandemic problems.  We will need a year to get a sense as to just how well he is working with the trustees.

Right now they are as proud as punch with the choice they made.

 

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What will be open and what will not be open - weather is expected to be good - watch for pop up events

By Staff

September 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City of Burlington administrative services will be closed on Labour Day, Monday, September. 6.

*Important information regarding COVID-19: The information provided below is accurate as of Aug. 31, 2021. In the event of any changes made by the Province of Ontario to current COVID-19 public health measures the Gazette will report them.

City Service – Holiday Closure Information

Animal Services

The Animal Shelter at 2424 Industrial St. remains closed to the public due to COVID-19.

To report an animal control-related emergency, call 905-335-3030 or visit Burlington.ca/animal.

The transit station on John Street WILL NOT be open.

Burlington Transit

Burlington Transit will operate a Sunday schedule on Sept. 6. For real-time bus information and schedules, visit myride.burlingtontransit.ca.

The downtown terminal at 430 John St. and Specialized Dispatch will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6.

City Hall

The Service Burlington counter at City Hall (426 Brant St.), will be closed to all appointments and walk-in service on Monday, Sept. 6. To submit a customer request to the City’s contact centre, please email city@burlington.ca.

Many service payments are available online at Burlington.ca/onlineservices.

Halton Court Services – Provincial Offences Office

Court administration counter services at 4085 Palladium Way will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6.

With the exception of the Labour Day closure, telephone payments are available at 905-637-1274, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. All in-person services are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday. Many services are also available by email at burlingtoncourt@burlington.ca or online at Halton Court Services.

Parking enforcement officers will be out there – looking for you.

Parking

Free parking is available downtown, on the street, in municipal lots and in the parking garage (414 Locust St.) on weekends and holidays, including Labour Day.

NOTE:  The Waterfront parking lots (east and west at 1286 Lakeshore Rd.) do not provide free parking on statutory holidays.
Paid parking, on weekends only, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Beachway Park (1100 Lakeshore Rd) is in effect, using HONK Mobile.

Residents of Halton Region can apply for 10 days of free parking at Burlington.ca/parkingexemption.
LaSalle Park Community Marina trailer parking fees are in effect on holidays.

Parking exemptions are required to park overnight on city streets and for longer than five hours. Visit Burlington.ca/parkingexemption.

Recreation Programs and Facilities

Drop-In Swimming and Skating

Drop-in swimming and skating times vary over the long weekend. Outdoor pools are open on Sept. 6 for the last day of the season, weather permitting.

Tim Hortons Free Summer Swimming

Tim Hortons presents free swimming for the community on the following dates:

– Friday, Sept. 3 at Tansley Woods Pool, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

– Saturday, Sept. 4 at Nelson Pool, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

– Sunday, Sept. 5 at Mountainside Pool, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Pre-registration for all swims is required. Online registration opens for residents 25 hours prior to the start of a swim. Visit Burlington.ca/dropinandplay.

Splash Pads

Cool off at one of the city’s splash pads. See locations at Burlington.ca/outdoorplay.

Book your tee time on line

Tyandaga Golf Course

Book your tee time at Tyandagagolf.com.

Follow @BurlingtonParksRec on Facebook and @Burl_ParksRec on Twitter for the latest updates.

Roads, Parks and Forestry

The administrative office will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6. Essential services will be provided as required.

This morning, Friday September 3rd, the province reported there were 870 new infections of which 624 were people who had not been vaccinated.

We are in this 4th wave because people chose not to be vaccinated.

If you know people who have chosen not to get vaccinated – talk to them.

 

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Will the hospitality sector begin standing up for their clients?

By Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

So – there is going to be a vaccine passport. Took the Premier long enough to get a wiggle on. He is right however – why isn’t there a federally issued Covid19 Passport?

Being able to prove that you are vaccinated is critical. Getting everyone fully vaccinated is proving a little difficult but we are at close to 80% and with the need to have that passport to be able to get into a restaurant or an event will push the number to, ideally 95%.

Provision has been made for the exceptions.

For those who don’t want to get vaccinated there are limits to what they can do in a public setting.

The one that really galls me is this. I have to be able to show that I have been fully vaccinated but the person taking my order in a restaurant, but the person serving the food and the person cooking the food does not have to prove they are vaccinated.

I was in a restaurant in Guelph talking with the owner and he said that he could not ask his employees if they were vaccinated.

Really?

That restaurant owner wants me to have a meal in his restaurant but he isn’t prepared to ensure that his staff is Covid free.

I want to go to a restaurant that has the courage to put a sign on the front door saying all their staff are vaccinated.

Those that aren’t – tell them not to bother coming to work until they are vaccinated. What about their human rights? What about my right to stay alive?

There is something wrong with a set up that requires me to be vaccinated in order to be served but does not require the server to be vaccinated.

If the restaurants want our business, which many of us really want to give them, then let those restaurants step up and be bold enough to make it clear they are watching out for us.

Restaurants turned to the city for help and they were given help. A lot of taxpayer money was shoveled out the door to help the hospitality sector and most people were happy to see this done.

Our Council members urged us to support the hospitality sector and to begin shopping locally.

I’d like to see those in the hospitality sector looking out for me while I dine in their establishments.

I’d also like to see the Burlington Downtown Business Association counseling their members to care for the people that they want to attract.

There is a film crew using the third floor of the building my office is in.   I rent office space on the third floor.  Every member of the film crew is masked.

Juliana Robertson

Juliana Robertson, a paramedic by training, asked me to come to the table she had set up so that she could put a little stick up my nostril to ensure that I was not infected even though I told her I have been fully vaccinated.

Sorry she said – you have to do this. I surely had the right to go to my office and do my work.  I decided not to challenge her right to “invade my privacy” She asked me to wait 10 minutes for the results and then told me I was good to go.

Robertson runs Reel Medics in Motion – her market is the film production companies  doing their filming in Hamilton. She is the Medic/Covid Supervisor on the Ghosts of Christmas Past production.  She does the Covid testing and is the first responder for anyone hurt on the film set.

It would be really nice if the hospitality sector was as conscientious.

 

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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Dupuis running a virtual NDP campaign in Oakville North Burlington

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

September 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first thing Oakville/North Burlington NDP candidate, Lenaee Dupuis, told the Gazette in our interview was that this is an unnecessary election and that people are apathetic about it.

Lenaee Dupuis

Despite that, Dupuis spoke at length about running a virtual campaign while the community deals with a fourth wave of COVID; the need for respect in politics after NDP signs in her district were vandalized; immediately achievable climate change action, and the NDP’s efforts to create a more equitable society in areas of healthcare, education, senior care, and housing.

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Dupuis is not running a traditional campaign, participating mostly  in virtual events. Dupuis said she has heard from the public they are unhappy with candidates knocking on their doors, and criticized the candidates participating in traditional campaigning for putting volunteers and constituents at risk.

“This is an unnecessary election so I think because of that there is a bit of apathy around it, when I’m talking to constituents a lot of them ask ‘why are we having this election?’ We’re going into a fourth wave of the pandemic and my immune system is compromised so I want to be cognizant that not everyone wants to speak publicly. I’ve heard some complaints in my neighborhood that some of my opponents are actually walking the neighborhood and knocking on doors, and people don’t like it so I think the fact that the election has been called unnecessarily is probably one of the biggest things to keep in mind.

In a virtual campaign – this is about all you get.

“I feel that knocking on doors puts our volunteers at risk. It also puts our constituents at risk and I know if somebody were to knock on my door right now I wouldn’t answer it. I feel that it’s not necessarily the safest thing. I think people do not have the appetite for it right now and we are in a fourth wave and numbers are increasing. We chose not to have a campaign office. We are doing a lot of things virtually so for instance we’re doing some meet and greets virtually, we’re also doing some virtual meet and greets in parks as well, but it is with COVID protocols, masks on, we have hand sanitizer, we’re six to 10 feet apart from each other. So we had a really good one last weekend where we had probably about 25 people there, and people asking really good questions as well,” said Dupuis.

Dupuis was unconcerned her decision to abstain from traditional campaign canvassing put her at a disadvantage, the candidate focused on the positivity being generated from the events that are happening. She also thinks voters appreciate the responsibility of the decision. Despite the positivity Dupuis has felt around her campaign, two NDP campaign signs were vandalized, located on an Oakville supporter’s residential property, the words “NO COMMIES” spray-painted over them. Dupuis said the candidates have put their hands up for big jobs and spoke of the importance of running a respectful campaign.

“You know, my biggest thing is, we have all put our hands up for a really big job. So whether it be the incumbent like Pam Damoff, whether it be somebody relatively new like Bruno Sousa, in the Green Party I think all of us should respect one another, no matter what our political views are, no matter how people feel about signs. We’ve put our names in the hat, which those people that are vandalizing haven’t done. And you know, respect is how I live my life. I want people to respect me but I want to give the same respect back. And that’s really how I think it should all be because I respect all the people I’m running against very much,” said Dupuis.

Few houses like this are being built – the word affordable wasn’t used to describe them.

Dupuis addressed cost of living concerns with a focus on expanded health coverage and affordable housing. Dupuis championed universal Medicare and universal Pharmacare, and suggests more accessible health coverage in all areas will be balanced fiscally by reducing avoidable hospital and emergency visits. The NDP plan for affordable housing includes a 20% foreign buyers tax on the sale of homes to individuals who are not Canadian citizens and waiving GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units to expedite growth.

“We’re talking about Pharmacare for all and Medicare for all. So, in addition to Pharmacare to have dental in there, because I’m very aware of the linkage between poor dental care and heart disease, diabetes can be affected, several different things so that dental care is also under there. A lot of the time what is happening is we have Medicare, in the sense of people can go to the hospital, they can go to the emergency room, they get the prescription, but they can’t afford to fill the prescription. So, even, you know, if we had the prescriptions filled the additional cost that is put out for hospital visits and emergency visits will be reduced and everything will balance out fiscally.

“In the time that the Liberals have been in government, you can see the trajectory of housing prices going up over $300,000. You know I have a 15-year-old son and I am scared for him and his opportunity for having affordable housing in the future. That’s owning a house but rental prices are not attainable either so affordable housing is a priority. The NDP has the everyday person in mind, not, corporate, not the big polluters, not the big money makers, it’s the everyday person so the result is that the everyday person, benefits, not just the home builders, not just the big, big manufacturing companies, it’s the everyday person who will get the results of the NDP party,” said Dupuis.

Nursing homes like this experienced a death rate the could have been prevented were they in the hands of better managers.

Jagmeet Singh suggested Trudeau allowing for-profit long-term care homes to continue to cut corners for their financial bottom line resulted in Canadians living and working in the homes being hit hardest by the pandemic. The NDP are proposing to take profit out of long-term care homes altogether, Dupuis explains.

“So, along with affordable housing, pension plans, etc. We feel that seniors are one of the populations that need to get a little extra help wherever they can. You know, CPP hasn’t gone up over the years so we want to make life more affordable for seniors, so improving CPP, working towards getting better plans like PharmaCare dental care a lot of seniors don’t have dental care, because it’s not part of their benefits once they’ve retired. So those types of things will help to make them healthier and live longer, as well, long term care homes, you know, de-privatizing and making them more universal with stronger employed people upping the minimum wage so that we get better a better standard of people working in the homes as well,” said Dupuis.

It is going to take a lot more than bold statements to save this planet.

Fighting climate change is a passion for Dupuis, who has a background in environmental waste management from school. Dupuis thinks there are many changes Canada could immediately make in addressing climate change.

“There are simple wins like banning single-use plastics that’s one of our forefronts and I think it’s a quick win and low-hanging fruit. I think it’s something we could very easily do as a society. Trying to electrify along the transit systems that go through Oakville/North Burlington. It is a commuter area so encouraging more commuting, utilizing the GO train more, making it electrified. Additional pollination spots encourage more bumblebees. There are so many things that we could do that are quick wins. Making it mandatory for recyclable products for restaurants so instead of Styrofoam containers you have to use something that’s more biodegradable. There are little wins that we can get but then there are big ones like fossil fuels so, not giving subsidies to the big polluters, instead of making them pay for the impacts that they’re having.

“And also wreck retrofitting so when we’re when we’re building big apartment buildings or building more areas, or, you know, taking older apartments and making them more affordable for living, you know, retrofitting those buildings and having the big builders, doing things in a more green process, having them LEED-certified, etc.,” said Dupuis.

The NDP platform discusses working toward free tuition for Canadians, a plan that would require provincial government cooperation, but in the interim, Dupuis is advocating for an immediate stop to interest on federal student loans and elimination of $20,000 of initial debt per student.

Wearing the NDP colours – Dupuis mingles at a time when mingling was possible.

“One of the things I always like to say is that education is an equalizer in society. So no matter what socioeconomic background that you have been born into you can rise from that level. Canada, for instance, is a place where if you get an education, you can move outside of the background that you’re born into. And so the fact that our cost is so outrageous, and not everybody can pay needs to be fixed. I came from a home where my father had his grade nine education, but I have a degree, I have two degrees and a couple of post-secondary diplomas, and that was because I fought hard to get them. My parents also helped me, but they didn’t help all the way. So one of the things that we have announced as the NDP, is that we will eliminate any interest on loans and any tuition. We’ve also said that we would grandfather I believe it’s $20,000 so that you know we will kind of get rid of the initial $20,000 that you spend in debt. But we have to get elected for those things to be followed through,” said Dupuis.

Lenaee Dupuis is a mother, wife, and small business owner who has lived in Burlington for over 15 years. She is a human resources professional and has been for over 20 years. Dupuis has a biology degree and diploma in Environmental Waste Management.

Dupuis was the NDP candidate for Burlington in the 2019 federal election

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Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff sets out why she should be re-elected

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

September 1st, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Oakville North Burlington Liberal incumbent Pam Damoff spoke to the Gazette about her work representing the community, where she hopes to leave her mark on public service.

First elected in 2015 Pam Damoff is asking the people of Oakville North Burlington to send her back to Ottawa.

Damoff is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services. She was open and transparent about the Liberal administration’s shortcomings on boil-water advisories in Indigenous communities, the national conversation residential school discoveries have started, gun control as a public health concern, and the job she’s done so far.

Damoff spoke about lifting long-standing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, a 2015 Trudeau campaign promise that  is  poised to be missed by years. Damoff was asked what message the Liberal government had for Indigenous people on the failure to lift long-term water boil advisories to reiterate their seriousness and commitment to the project. As with most comments on this topic so far by Liberal representatives, Damoff focuses on what has been accomplished rather than where the Liberals have come up short.

There are still boil water advisories in Indigenous communities.

“We’ve lifted 109 long-term drinking water advisories, right now there are 50 remaining in 31 communities. So, that includes 535 projects, 99 water treatment plants, and 436 upgrades that have been funded. So we’ve invested $4.27 billion to achieve clean drinking water. We prevented 188 short-term drinking water advisories from becoming long-term. So, we’ve done more than any other government in history to end long-term drinking water advisories.

“There is a plan in place for all of the remaining advisories to be lifted. One of the things that we want to ensure is that, first of all, we’re working with the community to the solution that they want for their problems. They are the ones that lift water advisories, not the federal government. So it’s up to the community itself to lift that long-term drink water advisory. And we’ll want to make sure that they also have the tools they need to ensure that when water advisories are lifted they have the people in the community to service, for example, water treatment plants. So it involves training, it involves working with the first nation to ensure that once they have clean drinking water that they can maintain that infrastructure. Every community has a plan in place to end their long-term drinking water advisory and a timeline,” said Damoff.

Damoff’s claim that it is the community who lifts water advisories, not the federal government, begs the question as to why Justin Trudeau would make such a promise in the first place. NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, was recently asked if he would write a blank check to solve boil water advisories and he asked if this question would even be raised if those without clean water lived in Toronto or Vancouver.

Canada has not legislated drinking water as a human right but has recognized a UN declaration on human rights to safe drinking water in 2012. Nine years later and there is a question of how valuable progress can be treated on what has been an abject failure.

Before the dissolving of Parliament, Bill C-230 was in progress to redress environmental racism, which encompasses boil-water advisories among other injustices, it would have been the first of its kind. Damoff said she planned to support the bill. The language of the bill called not only for urgent action against environmental racism but defined timelines and transparency. Due to the election call Bill C-230, which had made some progress, is dead and legislation will have to be re-introduced in the next Parliament.

Canada still needs to do better on Indigenous curriculum Damoff says, but adds the discovery of the mass graves in residential schools has opened the eyes of many Canadians and while the country has to do better going forward she says it has improved and young people are becoming more aware of Indigenous issues. Damoff alluded to reconciliation and discussed what that looks like in practical terms.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations addressing members of Parliament from the floor of the House of commons.

“I think listening to indigenous people, and recognizing that they are the first peoples of this country, and the days of the government determining what is best for indigenous people need to be over. We need to work in partnership with them and support them in the decisions they choose to make for their own people. So I think all of us can commit to learning more and being allies to indigenous peoples and supporting them. If you go back to the residential school site, each community just determines what is best for themselves, whether it’s searching for the graves, for example, whether it’s preserving residential school sites, which is what they’re doing at six nations at the former Mohawk Institute. In that situation, the government was able to provide funding to complete the restoration in partnership,” said Damoff.

When asked if all residential schools needed to be searched for mass graves Damoff said that is the decision of Indigenous communities and that she, and the government, will support them.

(Damoff asked the Gazette to include the residential school survivors phone number if we wrote about the topic, that number is: 1-866-925-4419)

Elsewhere, Damoff criticized the Conservative’s characterization of gun restrictions and said it’s time to treat firearms as a matter of public health. Damoff pointed to the gun lobby and member, Burlington Conservative candidate, Emily Brown, failing to take suicide into consideration among other alleged oversights.

“It’s time we start treating firearms as a public health issue and that’s what our government has been doing. 75% of people who died by firearms are dying by suicide. There are women that are terrorized by their partner, who has a firearm, who are often killed. There was a woman in North Burlington, if you recall, a few years ago who was killed by a former partner. The measures that we’ve taken include extended background checks, which will include social media history, a history of domestic violence, and several other measures.

“So, the Conservative’s focus is on guns and gangs, and we rightly need to take action on that so we restored funding that was cut under the Harper government.  We’ve also invested in police services and enhanced programs in the community to try to ensure that community organizations are in place to ensure people aren’t joining gangs in the first place.

Rifles seized by the Oakville detachment of the Regional Police

“So, a multi-pronged approach to preventing crime in the first place. Preventing guns from being smuggled in is an important part of that as is the ban on military-style assault rifles, like the kind used at the attack at École Polytechnique in 1989. One of the guns that we’re banning is the firearm that was used in that shooting, where women were targeted. And if you look up the perpetrator of that crime, he was a law-abiding gun owner. The man who killed people in the mosque in Quebec City had a legal firearm.

“So, you know, the rhetoric from the gun lobby, of which the Conservative candidate in Burlington is a part of, doesn’t take into account the devastating impact of firearms on families when someone uses their weapon to die by suicide. They will often say that well if you ban guns people will just use another method and if you talk to the emergency physicians, and people who deal with these things that are professionals in this area, they will tell you that firearms are deadly there’s no second chance. Most people who attempt suicide. If they’re not successful, they told us that they don’t try it again. So, you know, it’s just not true. The measures we put forward are supported by doctors and many others,” said Damoff.

Reflecting on her work serving the local community Damoff addressed COVID-19 response and support provided for residents, businesses, and not-for-profits. She also highlighted acquiring funding for summer jobs programs and cancer research.

Damoff has been a huge supporter of women who need help. She has a large group of young women who have worked in her Oakville office.

“During the pandemic, we provided support for residents and businesses who needed it. We provided support to not-for-profit organizations, like Halton’s Women’s Place and Goodfellow that help them to still be able to serve the public through an incredibly difficult time. Habitat for Humanity is another that I’m very proud to have in my riding and to support them. Funding for Canada Summer Jobs, when I was elected in 2015, because it was a new riding, the funding for Canada Summer Jobs that first year was only about $240,000 this past year it’s 2.5 million. We advocated strongly to get more funding for organizations and owners willing to support young people in their jobs. It’s a program that I’m proud of.

“In 2019 I was able to procure $115 million for cancer research and the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. The federal government collaborates with the Terry Fox Research Institute and provides matching funding, the government’s contributing $150 million to that. And that’s a roadmap to cure cancer which is quite exciting. In the 2021 budget, there was $30 million for childhood cancer research and that was something that I’ve worked with families and survivors to, to provide funding for the number one killer of children,” said Damoff.

The implementation of a national affordable childcare program is where Damoff wants to leave her mark on public office if re-elected. Damoff wants to see through the fight against COVID-19 and combat the growing cost of living concerns in the community that is seeing housing become untenable.

Damoff, centre, has in the past taken part in the New Year’s Day Polar Dip – part of a climate change initiative.

“I really want to see implement a national affordable childcare program, Ontario is one province where we don’t have an agreement. But we know that childcare that costs $10 a day is not only good for the family but it’s good for the economy. And it will allow women to fully participate in the economy, and it will increase our GDP. So it’s good for everyone. And something I feel strongly about is affordable housing that was announced in our platform. I hear from a lot of young people who want to leave the community because they can’t afford to live here. So that’s something and then also finishing the fight against COVID-19 We’re not done.

 

“I know that climate change is top of mind for residents who I speak to, and one of the reasons I got into politics. So I think climate change needs to be top of mind, as does gun control, and childcare,” said Damoff.

 

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Temporary Drive Test Centre to be opened at Burlington GO September 7th

By Staff

August 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, on

 

In the coming weeks, the Ontario government will open additional temporary road test centres in Burlington to increase the number of passenger road tests (class G2/G) available in areas where demand is highest.

These temporary road test centres will help increase testing capacity across the DriveTest network and help people who need a road test book sooner.

The province finally opened up additional Testing Centres. Burlington GO station is the location for the temporary location. Register on-line.

Throughout efforts to clear the backlog, the health and safety of DriveTest customers and staff will be of utmost concern. Customers will be required to wear face masks inside centres and during road tests, sanitize their hands, complete the Patron/customer screening developed by the province and share their “passed” results prior to the road test or admittance to the centre.

Starting Tuesday, September 7, 2021, DriveTest will offer class G2 and G road tests seven days a week between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., at temporary locations at Burlington GO Station

These sites are in addition to the temporary road test centres that opened in August 2021.

To book your road test, please visit DriveTest.ca – the only official channel for booking a road test. You should never give your driver’s licence to a third party or an unknown website. DriveTest will never charge you an additional fee to book or reschedule a road test.

The inability to complete road tests to qualify for their driver’s has been a serious issue for far too many young people who have found jobs but need to be able to drive.

The province failed to notice the significant increase in demand.

Finally some action.  The demand will be heavy expect delays.

Quick Facts

  • In addition to opening temporary centres, Ontario is hiring an additional 251 temporary driver examiners, extending weekday operating hours for passenger road testing and offering passenger road tests on Saturdays and Sundays at select locations to clear the backlog of road tests.
  • Because of the high demand for road test appointments, we are unable to prioritize customers with cancelled appointments. As measures to address capacity are implemented, additional road test appointments will be made available. Please continue to check DriveTest.ca for new blocks of road test appointments.
  • If your road test was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, you will have a credit on the system to rebook your test.
  • Road test applicants may be required to provide a contact phone number should contact tracing be required. Applicants may be required to keep vehicle windows open to ensure proper airflow.
  • All DriveTest staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment when serving customers, and driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.
  • For inside services and road testing for other licence classes, customers will need to visit a permanent DriveTest location.
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Rivers on the role Canada has played in getting Afghan citizens out of the country before the Taliban gets their hands on them

By Ray Rivers

August 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban,” said Monsef. “We call on you to ensure the safe and secure passage of any individual in Afghanistan out of the country. We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings.” (Maryam Monsef, August 2021)

 

Maryam Monsef

The media and social media frenzy that followed that address by the federal minister responsible for the Status for Women, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, was horrific.   She clearly had been chosen to speak to the new government in Afghanistan, given her Afghan Canadian nationality, as well as the special role she plays looking out for women and their human rights.

But it didn’t take long for Conservative Leader O’Toole and the conservative media to attack the minister for using the term ‘brothers’ which has a cultural significance they obviously don’t understand.   And of course it is election time.

To be clear, Canada ended its combat role in 2011 and it’s training role in 2014.  There were seven years since then for Afghans and Canadians in that country to leave.  Anyone living there should have understood the inevitability of a Taliban victory once Donald Trump demonstrated his ‘art-of-the-deal’ in February 2020, which sealed that country’s fate.

Canadian immigration officials admit they might have acted sooner or faster to short cut screening rules and allow more people to migrate here.  But what would be the public reaction had an ISIS-K terrorist slipped through the cracks?  Regardless that we rescued 3700 people, many Afghans were disappointed they couldn’t be airlifted.  Still, Canada has offered to eventually take in over 20,000 more refugees, making us one of the largest host nations.

Canadian armed forces were reluctant participants in Afghanistan – their role was to train the Afghan Army.

And we must remember that this was not Canada’s war of choice.  We only went there because the USA invoked NATO’s Article 5 following 9/11, albeit on the thinnest of rationales.    Still that demanded collective reaction by NATO.  And it was America that changed the war from a retaliatory strike against al Qaeda to the doomed nation-building project which mostly ended up as waste of time, money and lives.

And it was the Americans who managed the panicked exodus of extra-nationals and those Afghans who had helped them in the war effort, once the Taliban seized Kabul. Canada was a bit player and, no sooner had commercial flights stopped operating we, along with other minor players, were signaled to end our humanitarian evacuation.  And the situation as we have seen became increasingly dangerous as time went on.

The Taliban has committed before 98 nations that it will respect human rights, including the right for its citizens to be able to leave the country.  Once the US Marines leave the airport, commercial flights may resume, though few people expect the Taliban to stick to the letter of that agreement.

Thousands have already fled the borders to Pakistan or one of the other bordering nations.  That is how most people vacate a war zone, much as Minister Monsef’s family fled to Iran during the Soviet invasion, before ending up in Canada.

The ignorance of the critics damning the Minister for her use of the cultural term ‘brothers’ is indicative of how democracy in this country has deteriorated, particularly since the advent of social media where many people now look for their news.  And as the more traditional media has become politically polarized, alternated facts and outright mis-information, have made truth whatever you want it to be.  Yet, a democracy cannot continue to function in the absence of a well informed public – information is perhaps the most important pillar of our system of governance.

It was a big lie by the former president that the 2020 US election was stolen, which set off an insurrection, siege and the occupation of the US Congressional assembly, the heart of American democracy.   The image of a violent mob ransacking and defacing public buildings in places all around the world is not new – but this had never happened before at the Capitol.

It could have been a scene from Tehran or Kabul.  But it is what is becoming more commonplace in America precipitated from both the political right as well as the left.  Intolerance and disrespect have led to the breakdown of the great American society.  Society has been fractionalized along artificial lines of we and they, right and left, Republicans and Democrats.

With more protesters than supporters on hand for a visit to Bolton, ON – the Prime Minister’s handlers asked the OPP to escort their bus out of town.

And now we see civil discourse turning to confrontational, angry, violent protest here as well.  Hate charged articles in the Rebel and Toronto Sun are picked up and translated on social media so as to drive the wedge among all of us.  Erin O’Toole, to his credit, has spoken against these kind of demonstrations, but the people who support him were in the crowds in Bolton and Cambridge.  They made it a point to shout obscenities and racial insults and violently heckle to the point that one of the events had to be cancelled for the safety of the public.

And finally the Honourable Maryam Monsef, who has been beaten up by a highly partisan mob media may well lose her rural riding because of the bad press.  And that will just demonstrate that some of us anyway are no better than those people in that hell hole from which her parents saved her.  It just shows that you don’t have to be a woman in the Taliban’s Afghanistan to become a victim of hatred.

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

 

 

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