Pathetic performance - link to new city web site announcement didn't work

By Staff

July 19th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

UPDATE  July 20: Readers report that the city has since taken down the link.

Coming Soon! Our redesigned website burlington.ca

That was the announcement.

Find what you need. Easier. Faster. Better. Learn more about the website redesign project on Get Involved Burlington

The problem was the link provided didn’t work.

If you slip over to the current web site where the announcement also appears you will get to a link with a lot of outdated information.

This project is not ready for the main stage, – pathetic – an augur of what is to come ?

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Not much in the public eye when it comes to the Waterfront Hotel site development - city planning consultant drops a couple of bombs.

By Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Heard anything lately about the plans for the Waterfront Hotel site?

Pretty quiet – and that is not a good sign.

Architecturally stunning – just not appropriate for the waterfront. At 35 and 40 storeys atop a three storey podium – the towers would loom over everything. The Spencer Smith Park experience would never be the same.

Two things have occurred.

The Ontario Land Tribunal, that is the body developers (and sometimes the city) appeal to over planning and development issues, has issued a case number which means that organization begins pulling documents together to first determine just what the issue is and then determine when proceedings will begin.

The other “occurrence” is a letter from The Planning Partnership (TPP) – they are the people who represented the city when there was an extensive series of engagement sessions with all kinds of ideas coming to the surface.

In a letter to the city TPP Partner, Donna Hinde, told the Planning department that they “cannot provide professional planning and /or urban design support for any specific building height through the remaining approval process, including at any potential appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.”

When your independent planning consultant quits – you know you’re in trouble.

The first plan put forward was for a six storey podium on which the towers would sit. Access to the site would be through a passage way that would align with John Street. Given the grade level there would be quite a steep set of steps needed to get people into Spencer Smith Park

Earlier in the letter Ms Hinds said “we were directed by city staff to implement a building height of 22 storeys”.

Wow if that is true – and the Director of the Community Planning department said it didn’t happen, there is a serious problem.

Add to those problems the issues around park land dedication and the people of Burlington and the developer are looking at a development that may no longer be viable.

Which the Plan B people would not complain about.

You might want to ask your Council member what they can tell you about this mess.

They are out looking for your vote – this is time to stand on their toes so they can’t walk away.

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City Communications Advisors a Little Slow on the Response Side

By Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We had a small follow up on a media release from the city – the attachment didn’t appear to be attached.

Sent a note – nothing came back – we found a way too dig out the information we needed and published the story.

Two days later we got the following from one of the Communications advisors:

Our working hours may be different. Please do not feel the need to reply outside of your typical working hours.

Lackadaisical was the word that came to mind.

There should be one Communications Advisor on duty at all times – a common cell number would be made available to media who needed information.

This is your Burlington!

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Traffic lights aren't working for these people - can you add to their comments

By Staff

July 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A reader popped us a note asking if we were aware of what people are saying about the traffic light situation in Burlington.

Under the question:

Former Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowly, Regional Chair Gary Carr and former Mayor Rick Goldring stand at the intersection of Brant and Dundas with signs telling the public that red light runners will be photographed and fined.

What’s your least favourite thing about Burlington?

They got the following on

Lol. When we left the city in the family van, we played a game that we could make it to the QEW without stopping. I think we have 6 red lights in the 3 km distance. IIRC we made it….once.

i think i hit 6 just crossing the highway

walkers line and

fairview
harvester
toronto bound off ramp
hamilton bound off ramp
south service road
mainway

It takes me longer to get to work from Burlington -> Burlington than it takes my coworkers who live in Hamilton when there’s no traffic in the morning. They just have a straight shot down the highway, I spent 10 minutes sitting at red lights as no traffic passes in front of me.

Seriously what the **** is up with that. It’s like it’s designed to be as annoying as possible on purpose.

Stop the survey…this is the correct answer.

Yup. Traffic lights has to be the top answer.

Burlington, home of the red light.

Come for the simple life, stay because of the red lights

I was just saying to my dad that I would pay $10 to a fundraiser that is raising funds that will go to implementing the software like Hamilton. I can’t imagine it’s very expensive anymore it was in the early 2000s but Burlington didn’t go for it and Hamilton did! I would pay out of pocket outside taxes for this.

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Candidiate Marsden now needs to tell the people of Burlington how she would lead.

By Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is going to take more than a photograph of a woman in a wheel chair facing the Cenotaph to become the Mayor of Burlington.f

Anne Marsden spending a quiet moment in front of the Cenotaph in Veteran Square.

The 17,000 votes that were cast in the 2018 election will not translate into votes for Anne Marsden to be given the Chain of Office in October.

Those votes were for a different position and were more of a protest against Gary Carr, the Regional Chair Marsden wanted to replace.

Anne, along with her husband Dave have delegated before city council frequently, some say too frequently, but that was and is her right.

What the public wants to hear is what Anne stands for.

Where is she on municipal taxes; where does she stand on park land dedication and the development charges that are part of buying a home.

Anne is a strong advocate for affordable housing – how does she think this can be done in Burlington when housing is burdened with participation from every government of level in the country.

Anne Marsden with her husband Dave

It is time for Anne to begin to tell the public she wants to serve how she will do the job – in some detail.

The disabled sympathy card has been taken as far as it will get her. Access for those who are disabled has to be cast in stone and never messed with – and on that score Anne Marsden will be there.

It is the other issues that people want to hear her views on as well as how she would lead – hopefully it will be more than a settling of old scores.

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Race for Regional Chair is getting crowded

By Staff

July 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The battle for the Regional Chair is going to heat up when a fourth candidate files nomination papers.

Ann Mulvale, former Mayor of Oakville, is rumored to be running.  She has been sounding out different people the past week.

Ann Mulvale appears to want back in to the tables where decisions are made

Mulvale got into politics in 1980 when she ran as Regional and Town Councillor, Oakville and was elected to represent ward 5 from 1980 to 1985.

Mulvale was first elected mayor in 1988, defeating incumbent Bill Perras, after unsuccessfully running against him in 1985.

She was acclaimed mayor in 1991 and re-elected three more times – in 1994, 1997 and 2003.

In 2006 she was defeated by Rob Burton.

Mulvale was a candidate for mayor in the 2010 Oakville municipal election. She lost to Rob Burton by 4838 votes.

Mulvale was the Progressive-Conservative candidate for the former Oakville-Milton riding in 1993.

Gary Carr has served at every level of government and has ensured the finances are stable and the community safe.

Gary Carr has said publicly that he will run again as Chair, a position he has held since 2006.  He has also served as an MP and as an MPP

Giving up the seat at Queen’s Park may well prove to be the end of a political career for Jane McKenna

Former Burlington Progressive Conservative MPP Jane McKenna is out campaigning for the Regional Chair.

And current Halton District School Board trustee Andrea Grebenc is running for the Regional Chair as well.

The Region has some major decisions to be made during the term of office they will go into.

A long shot by any measure: Grebenc brings a track record of creating consensus and speaking boldly.

Farming is not in a state of crisis but it certainly isn’t healthy or thriving.  The amount of land that is good for farming is shrinking – and urban boundaries are changing. The Escarpment lands in Burlington are threatened given the tendency on the part of the Ford government to favour development.

Transit and traffic are going to need a lot of attention.

The Region needs a Chair that can create a consensus around ideas and initiatives that serves the competing needs of a community that reaches north of 401.

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Anne Marsden in the race to defeat Mayor Meed Ward

By Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is not the image you were expecting to see from Anne Marsden as she announces the filing of her nomination papers and is officially in the race to be Mayor.

There is lots to say about what kind of Mayor Marsden would make – in due course.  For the moment lets see what she puts up on heer website.

Marsden said responses to her Tweets has doubled.

Politics is all about numbers and perceptions – a look at the number of Burlington votes Marsden got when she ran for Regional Chair astounded everyone.  17,000 people in Burlington wanted her as the Regional Chair – that was more votes than Rick Goldring got at the same time (2018) when he ran for Mayor.

Those numbers mean something.

The Gazette will interview Anne Marsden in the days ahead and track her progress

 

 

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Mayor Meed Ward does it again - shuffle tax increase projections to make then look less than they actually are

By Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Staff in the Finance department set out what they believed was going to have to be raised in taxes for 2023  They projected an increase of 7.97% and explained how they got there

That 4.55% on the far right needs to be explained.  The number is correct but it isn’t what the Mayor would have you think.

The city collects its own taxes, plus the taxes for the school boards and the Regional government.

Each of those jurisdictions levies a tax.

When the Mayor explains that what the taxpayer has to come up with is that blended rate – she is not wrong.

The blended rate is the tax increase the city is imposing, plus the tax rate the Region imposes plus the tax rate the boards of education impose and adds them up and then divides them by 3: the figure is called the blended rate.

Burlington has zero influence on the school board tax levy, the city has some influence on the Regional rate because all seven city council members sit on Regional Council.  Burlington has seven of the 24 Regional Council seats.

What the city controls is the tax levy that the finance department comes up with and which city council eventually decides on.  Council usually ends up at a tax rate very close to what the finance people recommend.

Mayor Meed Ward has said that in the past she has been able to cut $1 million out of the spending proposed.

The report the finance department put forward was labelled a Budget Framework – giving Councillors a solid heads up on what they are looking in terms of data at this point.

Councillor Rory Nisan got the debate started by saying what was clearly obvious: “… we have a pretty challenging budget ahead of us and this report isn’t locking us in anywhere but I’ve had the opportunity to sort of canvass with some residents about what’s being proposed through this budget and it’s not vibing very well.

“At this point. What I think we need is more options. The report does have some preview of options of what we can do to bring it down somewhat. But I think we need a sort of a low,  a middle and an upper range.  This what people are asking for –  I’ll be frank, some of this information is coming in kind of late and my own thinking is changing quickly.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan was not getting the vibe he wanted from his constituents – asks colleagues join him in asking finance to come up with some options. He didn’t get any takers

Nisan added that “If other councillors are interested perhaps we can do some work together. Just refer the report to September but I expect the response will be quite the opposite. So barring any other comments, I’ll just vote accordingly.”

The Mayor, sitting as Chair asks “:Do you wish to make a referral motion at this time or not?”

“Well, I would need a seconder for something like that but I’m quite content to vote accordingly. But if someone did raise their hand to refer it then yes, I would support that.”

No hands were raised

The data was pretty stark.

The top line in the graphic below is the line that matters.  It reflects what the finance people expect to need in the way of budget increases – expressed as a percentage over the previous year.

Councillor Kearns, no slouch when it comes to number crunching wouldn’t support the Nisan idea.

Councillor Kearns said “I will not be seconding it but I do want to just share that. The budget numbers that we did see of course are of concern. They are a deviation from what we would maybe have expected however, they are built out in our multi year simulation. I think a statement that only one council member is concerned with the numbers might not be reflective of everyone’s views and an opportunity to put forward everyone’s views would be inefficient at this time.

“So I’m going to just say that, you know, maybe those comments could be held back and I think we’ll work through the process as we should be.

Councillor Bentivegna tends to dig into numbers – expect him to be sharpening his pencil to go over numbers he doesn’t always understand.

Angelo Bentivegna, ward 6, said that  “at the end of the day, we were still going to be voting on the budget..  We make decisions at this table to reduce it or do what we think we need to do. So I won’t be supporting this either.”

Mayor Meed Ward, who was chair (this being a council meeting) said “I will offer my thoughts that we are receiving this file which is a  picture from our staff about what the future looks like if we wish to maintain services. At not only the expected level, but the level to account for the fact that we’re a growing municipality; we have well outpaced our growth 12 years early, but the development charges and other fees from that development and growth costs have not caught up yet.

“Because simply some of those units are still being constructed as we speak. So folks often ask us to try to keep our increases in line with inflation. Inflation is running at 8%  then adds that the tax increase before than was less than inflation.   So this budget picture actually is  less than inflation and in a post COVID world where everything has changed. I think it’s really important for us to start framing our conversations around what the final impact on our residents is going to be.”

This is an election year, it is very quiet at this point.  People are still coping with a pandemic that is supposed to be over yet hundreds of people are still getting very sick – with some dieing.

There are a lot of people in hospital recovering from and being treated for Covid19

 

With it now very clear that the Budget Framework report is going to be received and filed the Mayor moves to fudge the numbers  She doesn’t  lie – but the truth does takes a beating.

Mayor Meed Ward is going to have to find something that the public will like – and be ready to pat for if she is to come up with a budget that gets her through the election.

She explains hat what the taxpayer will be is actually a “blended rate” one that includes the Boards of Education taxes and the Regional government taxes.

We explained how that works above.

It is good to be eyes wide open. Our staff have certainly painted the picture of what’s coming and the five year projection out gives us that picture. And it’s difficult for every municipality and we would be doing a disservice to not be transparent about what the picture looks like.

So am I open to finding cuts? Yes, every budget I’ve tried to find roughly about a million bucks. That’s my average over 12 years. And I will always look for ways we can do things better and cheaper. But we have work to be done and we have service requests coming in from our residents that we have to that we have to respond to. And it’s not unicorns and fairies that do the work around the city. It’s real people. And we’re in a competitive labour environment as well. So it’s really important to have a transparent and honest discussion about the challenges we face and how this council is going to respond to them. Those are the comments for me and I will turn it to the clerk now for the recorded vote not seeing any other hands on the board.

The vote to receive and file the report carried.

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Sue Biggs Top Cop for Burlington

By Staff

July 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sue Biggs has been promoted to the rank of Superintendent and will serve as the Commander of the Burlington District.

Superintendent Sue Biggs commander of the Burlington District police operations

First couple of days on the job she gets a call from Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte who had received concerns regarding illegal and dangerous activities in Sycamore Park and reached out earlier this morning to introduce herself to Superintendent Biggs and request assistance from HRPS.

She responded within 10 minutes stating:

“Thanks for letting me know about these concerns. Would you be able to forward me the name and contact information of someone that reached out to you, so that I can have an officer connect with them to find out more specifics? If we are able to narrow down times and types of issues it would help us to focus our response and to see if we can connect with other community partners, and residents themselves, to become part of the solution.”

Good start.

Burlington has gone through a series of Commanding Officers in the last year or so – three that we can recall.

Both the Fire Chief and now the top police officer for Burlington are women – progress

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Council Approves the Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather Climate Resilient Plan

By Staff

July 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council yesterday approved Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather.

This plan identifies Burlington’s risks and vulnerabilities from climate change and is directly related to 2018-2022 Burlington’s Plan: From Vision to Focus.

About the Climate Resilient Burlington plan

This is what wet looks like

The purpose of the Climate Resilient Burlington (CRB) plan is to identify actions to manage the highest risks of warmer, wetter and wilder weather. While the CRB plan considers Burlington’s climate projections to the years 2051-2080 under a high emissions scenario, the plan outlines 32 actions under five themes focusing on building resilience and preparing for a changing climate over the next 10 years. Although this is Burlington’s first climate adaptation plan, work is not starting from scratch, but rather building on initiatives already underway.

The CRB plan was developed with City staff and community stakeholders representing 12 City departments and 17 community organizations. The community was also engaged throughout the process through a number of measures including a dedicated project page, a public project launch and surveys.

CRB Themes and Goals

Theme 1: Resilient Built and Natural Infrastructure
Goal: Manage infrastructure to prepare for future climate conditions and carbon neutral goals
Goal: Enhance resilience of infrastructure exposed to high flood risk
Goal: Invest in proactive measures to prepare for increased extreme events to avoid post-storm reactive costs

Theme 2: Thriving Natural Environment
Goal: Reduce damage to trees while increasing the value of the services they provide
Goal: Value, conserve and enhance the multiple services that natural areas provide

Theme 3: Extreme Heat and Health
Goal: Provide City services to support the community during extreme heat events

Theme 4: Disaster Resilience
Goal: Build capacity in the community to prepare for and respond to more extreme events and long-term climate stresses
Goal: Encourage climate adaptation actions from citizens and businesses

Theme 5: Strong and Resilient Economy
Goal: Support agricultural community in preparing for climate change
Goal: Support and develop resilient local supply chains to help withstand impacts associated with extreme climate events outside of Burlington

This isn’t what warmer did – that 2013 winter storm

Projects with links to climate actions underway

There are several climate actions already underway through various City departments and projects. Each item listed has a direct link to reducing risk, reducing emissions or preparing for climate change effects.

  • Alert Burlington – Community Notification System
  • Cooling and Warming Centres in partnership with Burlington Public Library
  • Home Flood Protection Assessment Program
  • Plumbing Permit Fee Grant Program
  • Stormwater infrastructure improvements such as larger creek culverts and creek channel improvements
  • Burlington Stormwater Management Design Guidelines
  • Urban Forest Master Plan
  • Municipal Natural Assets Initiative – Grindstone Creek Watershed Project
  • Spencer Smith Park and Beachway stabilization and wave breaks
  • Asset Management Plan
  • Climate Action Plan (focusing on reducing community emissions)
  • Corporate Energy and Emissions Management Plan
  • City View Park pavilion and solar installation
  • Anti-idling campaign and bylaw
  • Expansion of the City’s electric vehicle charging stations
  • Electric Mobility Strategy
  • Corporate Green Fleet Strategy
  • Integrated Mobility Plan (focusing on active and public transportation)
  • Rural Active Transportation Strategy
  • Cycling Plan, a component of the Integrated Mobility Plan, which includes projects such as the Plains Road bikeway improvements
  • Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA)

Pretty wild

Related news story;

Lawson Hunter urges Council to take the report seriously – they said they would

Climate Resilient Burlington, Get involved page: getinvolvedburlington.ca/crb

 

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Commisso undergoes an hour long grilling over his performance - council decides to exercise the provisions of his contract

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We reported earlier today that the Mayor had some “Urgent Business” on the Agenda which she wanted to revise.

After a bit of time on some procedural stuff Council did go into CLOSED SESSION, stayed there for a bit over and hour and came out with a motion that read:

Direct the executive director of human resources to execute on the performance clause in accordance with the city manager’s employment contract.

The public has never seen the contract – they are rarely made public.  It is clear now that there was a “performance clause”

Councillor Kearns was the first to comment on the motion saying:

Councillor Kearns was chosen as the person who would speak to the decision made on the Commisso contract.

“This motion is a strong signal, although it is contained within a contract. It’s a strong signal about accountability and responsiveness to deliver results for the constituents that we serve. We know that this happens from the very very top and the very, very top also sets culture and objectives and we’ve moved from a year to year to a four year to a much longer view.

“And the objectives that are set out with the city manager, you know, are very much tied to those. So what this reflects is us having the ability to carry out and execute on a section within his contract that is directly tied to performance and it is our role through our governance roles to make sure that we are asking for and having those deliverables met and also stretching out to performance development.

“So this really is something I’m quite proud to support as anyone who has been watching along we did have quite a long time have a very robust dialogue and all of that dialogue centered around how we can all together serve our constituents in the best way possible. So I am of course pleased to support this and I have it seconded by Councillor Sharman.”

There were no other speakers.  The Mayor added “we appreciate the work you do for us, Tim and subjecting yourself to a review like all others in the corporation have to go through is leadership by example. We had a thorough discussion, and we’re happy to have you.

A recorded vote was required – the decision to approve the motion was passed unanimously.

At the close of the meeting Tim spoke for a moment and said this assignment is the one he is most proud of in his municipal career.

There were clearly issues with at least some of what Commisso was getting done and what wasn’t getting done.

The Mayor was not exactly effusive with her comments.  As the seconder Sharman made no comment.

What was it that made this matter one of “Urgent Business” ?  Something.

We have some information but the source would be identified were we to publish.  The practice of keeping everything under wraps is never healthy – but that is the route this cancel is taking

Related news story:

Council agenda get revised to handle some Urgent Business

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The City of Burlington is ready to help: Choose the option that works best for you

By Staff

July 12, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

 

This – direct from City Hall!

It’s easy to connect with the City of Burlington. Whatever City service you are looking for, we are ready to help you. Connect with us online and virtually, via email, by phone and in-person. Choose the option that works best for you. Book appointments that suit your schedule.

Here’s how to connect with us

Phone

Call Service Burlington at 905-335-7777 Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Email

Send us an email at city@burlington.ca.

Visit

You can visit Service Burlington in its temporary location on the third floor of 390 Brant St., beside City Hall. Enter from Elgin Street. Some in-person services such as marriage licences and commissioning require an appointment. Visit burlington.ca or call 905-335-7777 to arrange a time.

Additionally, the Burlington Bus Terminal at 430 John St. and City recreation facilities are also available for in-person help.

Virtual

You can connect with us virtually via Microsoft Teams. Call 905-335-7777 to set up a time.

Online

Visit us at burlington.ca.

Quick Facts

  • The following in-person payments are available at Service Burlington, Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.:

–          Parking permits and tickets

–          Property taxes

–          Freedom of Information requests

–          Garbage tags

–          Dog licenses

–          Property information requests

–          Recreation services

  • Many services are also available online at burlington.ca/onlineservices.
  • The average wait time to answer phone calls to 905-335-7777 is five seconds or less.

Angela Morgan, Strategic Lead, Customer Experience

Angela Morgan, Strategic Lead, Customer Experience and a former City Clerk had this to say about communicating with the city:

“We want our customers to know we’re here to help. As we emerge from wide-spread lockdowns, and as the construction continues on the main floor of City Hall, we have had some customers ask us how they can connect with City staff.

The City of Burlington is operating with a mix of in-person, remote and off-site work and is ready to help customers with whatever City service they need in the way that is most convenient for them.”

 

 

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Something is up - Council in closed session to Review City Manager performance - outside counsel taking part

By Staff

July 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Two items were added to the City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon as “Urgent Business”

The Mayor revised the Agenda to bring these two items to the top of the Agenda because outside counsel was to take part

They two items are:

14.1

Integrity Commissioner RFP/Contract Approval

Re-Appoint Principles Integrity as the Integrity Commissioners for the City of Burlington and its local boards pursuant to section 223.3(1) of the Municipal Act for a term to December 31, 2026.

Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute an agreement and any ancillary documents between the City of Burlington and Principles Integrity for integrity commissioner services, in a form satisfactory to the Executive Director of Legal Services and Corporation Counsel.

14.2

Confidential verbal update regarding City Manager Performance Review

Pursuant to Section 239(2)(b) of the Municipal Act, personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees.

 

It would be hard to come up with a reason for outside Counsel to be involved in the issuing of a new contract for the services of an Integrity Commissioner – but one never knows.

The second item – a Performance Review of the City Manager and the job he has done.  The review is a normal part of how municipalities operate – by why a need for outside counsel?

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the Closed Session.

Has Tim Commisso finally had enough and wants out of his contract and has a lawyer in the room?

Something is up!

 

 

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Has Kimberley Calderbank taken the first step to running for office in 2022 ?

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is this the first step[p into entering the race for the ward 2 council seat?

The line in an item on the LinkedIn platform read:

Is Kimberly Calderbank getting ready to get back into politics ?

Looking to hire a Coordinator.
Work from home/Virtual opportunity.
The candidate will work with both Yellow Robot Marketing and Black Robot (Print shop).
Detail-oriented, and experienced. Positive, can-do attitude.
Tasks may include –
Liaise with clients
Coordinate print schedule
Review/Proof-read social media posts and schedule
Source opportunities for speaking engagements/business growth
Excellent customer service.
Past work experience with not-for-profit/charity is a great asset.
Please email your interest/resume to Kimberly@yellowrobot.ca

I never saw the Yellow Robot operation as a not for profit – it is certainly a going concern.

The background story might be that Kimberly Calderbank is bringing in some administrative help to free up the time she will need if she decides to challenge Lisa Kearns for the ward 2 city council seat.

It will be a much smaller list of candidates in 2022

In the years since the 2018 municipal election Kimberly has grown professionally. She serves as the media lead for the Halton Police Services Board and for the Ontario Police Services Board. She does media for the Food4Life and was a Cogeco commentator during the Sound of Music parade.

Kimberly Calderbank has an itch for public service. This may be the year she makes a move.  She once told this reporter that she wanted at some point in time to be Mayor of the city.

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School board trustee Leah Reynolds hangs up her spurs - passes the torch

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For Leah Reynolds it was always about the students

After 8 years of public service Leah Reynolds said: “I’m retiring at the end of the school board term.”

“I have decided not to run in the 2022 Municipal Election.

I’m humbled and grateful to have served as a Trustee for the Halton District School Board (HDSB) and represented students and families from the Aldershot and Downtown Burlington Communities (Wards 1 and 2) these last 8 years.

“I want to express my thanks to the constituents who allowed me to represent them at the HDSB board table. My gratitude goes out to all my volunteers and supporters who inspired me and did everything they could to get me elected.

“My decision to step up and get involved was because schools are the heart of our community. As a parent, I advocated and volunteered for well over 20 years, including as a council member and school chair. I volunteered for in-school reading, and nutrition programs. I was active in community projects that included fundraising for playground equipment and auditorium renewals.

“Those early years provided a solid foundation for me to serve eight years as your Trustee. I am proud to deliver on my commitment for improvements to the future of high school programming, with support for skills trades, and a solid plan for school amalgamations that included transitioning and expanded programming for students with special needs.

“While these last few years have been the most challenging, I supported changes always with the lens of student achievement and well-being. Leading through a pandemic, I did my best within the limits of what we were provided. I was so proud to have been part of a system that shifted our collective focus to improving wellness, equity, and inclusion, and increased awareness of Indigeneity and the environment. We did this while encouraging innovative new approaches to how schools can evolve and continuously improve.”

Reynolds represented wards 1 and 2 during a period of time when the high school in her wards was threatened with closure.

Leah Reynolds with Marianne Meed Ward The two women were always close when they both represented ward 2 residents.

Reynolds, who has always been close to then ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, got tangled up in a sticky situation during the tumultuous school board debates.

“We all want our students to see themselves at our board table. It is my hope that candidates from all backgrounds will put their names forward in the next election.

Related news story:

Reynolds accused of being coached during a school board debate

Resident writes Open letter on the coaching issue

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Burlington Green is pumped! They have set up their offices in the old Pump House

By Pepper Par

July 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 / 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Light Refreshments & Small Group Tours
OUTDOOR EVENT – RAIN OR SHINE

Burlington Green has pulled of a really smart opportunity.

I was tipped off that there was a major news story coming – that was as much as the informant would say.

Then the announcement came out that the Pump House on Lakeshore Road was going to serve as a EcoHub for Burlington Green – what a great idea.

Then I wondered how that came about – put a bunch of questions to Any Schnurr who tried at first to slide by them – a little more poking the near and Any explained.

A significant piece of the city’s infrastructure history has been repurposed – fitting that it becomes the new home for Burlington Green

The city had posted a Request for Proposals i=on their web site.

Someone at Burlington Green immediately saw the benefits for their organization.

The Pump House served as a private residence when it no longer pumped water

They put together a response and the city bought it – and why not. The Pump House is a significant part of the city’s infrastructure history. At one point that location pumped all the water Burlington needed to households across the city. Burlington was probably a town when all this happened.

The building underwent some major upgrades – the roof was replaced and some of the architectural features were given some help.

The inside was basically bare – running water and heat.

The basement is dry – for a building that close to the lake to have a dry basement attests to some solid construction work.
The city then put out proposals and found a woman who wanted to set up a beach xxx operation. You could rent chairs, umbrellas, paddle boats. It was a good idea but when Covid19 shut down the city it wasn’t viable – rent had to be paid and there were no customers.

The building was empty – again.

This is one of those win win situations. A part of the city’s heritage was being put to good use and an important part of the city’s not for profit community had a new home.

The current pumping station and water treatment plant are just across the road.

Hopefully Amy will learn from this experience that getting as much information as possible out as early as possible is part of being transparent and accountable.

The Mayor will apparently cut a ribbon – we thought she might go for a swim.

You are asked to reserve at:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/burlingtongreen-eco-hub-launch-tickets-382645351547

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Many elected leaders determined to be managers - Elected officials need to concentrate on where they add value.

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Many elected leaders determined to be managers – Elected officials need to concentrate on where they add value.

“Leading: The Real Value of a Mayor and Council” by George Cuff, is back on shelves. 

Council members have a budget that will cover the cost of the book.

Municipal management guru George Cuff makes a compelling argument that municipalities today are not nearly as well served as they should be – because their elected leaders have, in many instances, determined they would rather be the managers. As a result, far too much effort and time is being spent on how staff can do a better job in their roles, without recognizing that, in order to do so, elected officials need to concentrate on where they add value.

Leading others is a simple yet profound duty and privilege, writes Cuff, as he digs into questions around leadership and what it requires from those who step forward at the local level.

Coming from someone with a excellent reputation backed by years of municipal level experience and tonnes of consulting assignment – this is a guy Councillors might want to listen to.

The Gazette has blown its gift budget for this year – we would haved like to have been able to buy a copy of the book and have it sent to the seven members of Council.

George Cuff barely got through high school having found sports and girls a distraction from his studies. As a result, he did not go directly to University but began work as an accountant with the Royal Bank and then after a couple of years there, he moved on to an oil and gas company where he continued his frustration as an accounting clerk.

George B. Cuff – has wisdom to share with municipal Councillors.

Cuff set up his own firm of George B. Cuff & Associates Ltd. (1984) and since then has focused on providing advice and counsel to rural and urban governments, provincial departments and agencies and other groups involved in some aspect of governance and public service. His work has become more focused over time on the art of governance and the elements that help organizations become more effective.

Cuff has published over 450 articles as well as ten books on local government. He has three “how to” books (Cuff’s Guide Volumes One and Two as well as his “Executive Policy Governance” which was published in 2014.

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Two of the Seven Members of Council Managed to make it to City Hall on a Beautiful Summer Day

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Council met this morning – as a Standing Committee to review a major report on Community Benefits, Section 37 and Development charges.

It was an important matter that had good discussion that we will report on at length later this week.

Council attendance – those with an X didn’t manage to make it to city hall. That 5:00 is the clock that lets people speaking how much time they have left..

The “news” at this point is that two of the seven members of Council actually made it to city hall.

Councillors Sharman and Bentivegna were in the council chamber – the other five:  the Mayor, Stolte of ward 4, Nisan of Ward 3, Kearns of ward 2 and Galbraith of ward 1 chose to take part from the comfort of their homes.

This is becoming a habit – and not a particularly positive one.

Getting ready to announce her candidacy for Mayor Anne Marsden said:

“Speechless especially following a great weekend weather wise. Perhaps they don’t want any delegations to look them in the eye, given they have managed to avoid that for most of their term. It took forever and repeatedly banging away at in-house delegation was a right.before they folded but chose to protect themselves from delegations looking them in the eye by allowing Council and Committees to be hybrid full-time rather than if sick and should not be attending in person.”

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Eight new electric vehicle charging stations coming to Burlington

By Staff

July 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If this were a chicken and egg issue – we are talking about the eggs on this one.

With funding support through The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), the City of Burlington is adding eight more level two electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout the City. Each station will have two charging plugs.

With these new stations, the city will have 30 EV charging stations.

The new charging stations are expected to be operational by the end of 2022 and will be located at:

  • Appleby Ice Centre (2 stations), 1201 Appleby Line
  • Haber Community Centre/Norton Park, 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr.
  • Mainway Ice Centre, 4015 Mainway
  • Mountainside Community Centre, 2205 Mount Forest Dr.
  • Nelson Recreation Centre, 4235 New St.
  • Tansley Woods Community Centre (2 stations), 1996 Itabashi Dr.

The TAF funding is helping the City to expand our existing inventory of charging stations that are primarily located in the downtown core, many of which were also supported through funding programs, to other areas of the city.

This is all part of the climate change response:

Electric mobility was identified in the community-based Burlington Climate Action Plan approved by City Council in 2020 as a key program area.

Supporting electric mobility efforts will help Burlington meet the target to become a net carbon neutral community by 2050 and is a top priority of Burlington’s Plan from Vision to Focus, “Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure and a Resilient Environment.”

The City is also partnering with BurlingtonGreen to develop an Electric Mobility Strategy as a community road map to support future investments in this area.

The City is also working on an Integrated Mobility Plan with a focus on moving people via sustainable options such as active transportation (walking, cycling, etc.) and public transit.

 

 

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Lawson Hunter ask Council not to become a 'lame duck' and have the report get lost in the transition to a new term

By Lawson Hunter

July 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Lawson Hunter delegated at a Standing Committee earlier today to comment in support of “Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adopting to Our Warmer, Wetter, and Wilder Weather”. He said:

To my mind, this is one of the best reports I have seen this Council receive this term. I have every confidence that this committee will accept this report. My hope is that you will embrace the messages contained within and set in motion the recommendations with the urgency and the full commitment that they require.

Unfortunately, this report comes at a time when Council is near the end of its term, a ‘near lame duck Council’. Please do what you can to see that this report does not get lost in the transition to a new term and more importantly, that the City implements many, if not all, of the plans of action.

Lawson Hunter: “we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly.”

I have delegated to Council on more than one occasion about Mitigating Climate Change. Today, I’m here to say that I’ve turned a corner in my thinking. I still believe in Mitigation but my personal viewpoint is that we need to shift more towards Adaptation.

In 2019, Burlington City Council, along with many other municipalities in Canada, declared a “Climate Emergency”. At the time, the International Panel on Climate Change stated that we had 12 years to ‘mitigate’ climate change. Well, we’ve got 9 years left before we pass the point of no return. Nine years to keep global GHG emissions below 350 parts per million. Sorry to tell you, but we passed 410 ppm a mere four months later. The IPCC (which the report references) told us that we needed to limit average temperature level increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’ve blown past that. We now talk about 2 degrees, or even 3 or 4 degrees by the end of the century.

The dilemma, we face is our brains protect us by pushing those events from the past further and further out of our minds as we tend to focus on our day to day activities. ‘Live in the moment’ our coaches, and trainers, and self-help gurus tell us. Well, we can’t do that anymore. Not when those “climate events” keep coming, more frequently and harder and closer to home.

Sure, Burlington experienced the Ice Storm of 2013 and the Flood of 2014. A year ago, we watched on TV the drought and fire and flood that hit B.C. And in May of this year, less than two months ago, we narrowly missed the Great Canadian Derecho that tore a path of destruction from Windsor to Quebec City. A derecho is when a thunderstorm marries a tornado and creates a hurricane on land.

We, as a global society, recovered from the long list of environmental crises but did we learn anything from them? In her book, “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters”, Juliette Kayyem says, for the most part we did. She writes, “It isn’t that you can manage a disaster so that no harm will occur, … Essentially, we can learn to fail, more safely.”

My point is, we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly. And even if we are affected we, “Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again” as the song says. We take pride in Building Back Better. In a word we become ‘Resilient’.

And that brings me to my one, small uneasiness about this report. Words are important. They can spur us into action or they can lull us into complacency.

For example, in this report the word Resilience is used quite often in place of Adaptation. Resilience is described as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”, or “the ability to cope with and recover from setbacks”, or, “to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune”.

The impact of the 2014 flood on a Burlington basement

Climate Change is neither a difficulty, a setback or a misfortune. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s not a ‘what-if’ scenario. It’s a when-it-will-strike, there will be consequences kind of thing.

The report talks a lot about ‘collaboration’ as if that were a new thing. One has to hope that the City already ‘collaborates’ with entities like Burlington Hydro, Enbridge, the RBG and other stakeholders. I respect that stakeholders were invited to the table, but the collaboration must go further than a dozen or so meetings. It must infuse the landscape. Every organization, every company, every developer, every resident, should ask themselves “Is this the best we can do to respond to a climate change event?” And, “what part can I play after a disaster has impacted my neighbours?” rather than let ‘the City’ clean up the mess.

We are fighting against a system that none of us created. A system of global off-shoring, over consumption, externalities, short-term thinking, a ‘make it-break it-toss it’ society that is leading us over a cliff. Burlington used to be, largely, self-sufficient. Broken global supply chains have shown us that that is not sustainable anymore.

I get it. Your e-mail boxes are over-flowing with residents’ complaints about garbage, about potholes, about not enough ice rinks in the city. But you know what? Those fall into the category of the short-term thinking that got us here.

We, all of us, need to have the courage to say, “Stop it for a moment.” We need to shift our focus to ‘What will the impact of our decisions today, have on future generations?”. I’ve already spoken to Council about thinking, not in 20 years, or 50 years, but using the Indigenous wisdom of ‘seven generations’. In seven generations, 200 years or so, hurricanes, drought, floods, war, famine, will all probably hit Burlington. What will we construct today that will help future generations to Adapt?

We need to commit to the recommendations in this report. We need to set priorities. We need to ensure success by directing enough of the City’s budget now and into the future towards these goals. Let me tell you, it’s going to hurt, but future generations will thank us.

We also need to acknowledge the things that we’ve done wrong, but also what we did right to respond to disasters. We can adapt to a rapidly changing environment. COVID taught us that. Will we heed that lesson?

Biologically speaking, adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism, or species becomes better suited to its environment”. Not us trying to change the environment to suit our needs.

We are heading down the train track and no one’s got their hands on the brake. Here’s an example. And it is in no way a slam against Burlington Hydro. Burlington has experienced 33 power outages since January 1 of this year.

The 2013 ice storm blocked roads for days

My question is – is sixty plus outages acceptable when every house and building could have its own renewable energy source? Is 60 plus outages the new normal that we should expect? Again, I’m not blaming Burlington Hydro – it has to deal with flooding, wind storms, ice build up, drivers knocking down poles, and a few instances of preventative maintenance by the utility. Burlington Hydro is working with a system that was designed in the 1950’s, built in the 60’s and 70’s, and feeding power from a transmission system that was created some 100 years ago. Doomed to fail.

But see, there I go talking about a Mitigation to the climate change problem. It’s difficult to separate the two. We need both courses of Action. I’m here to ask you to take the next 15 or 20 minutes and really concentrate on what this city – not City (with a capital C), but the community of Burlington can do to prepare to ‘fail more safely’ because we will fail when it comes to climate change, it’s almost guaranteed.

I’m not an expert. You’ve got plenty of smart people on staff. You’ve already got a shelf full of reports, and you’ve got partnerships with good organizations with all kinds of environmental experience. What I want to impress upon you is the sense of urgency that I feel.

I don’t want Burlington to just ‘Build Back Better’. We can ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ or we can prepare for the worst and hope that it never comes to that.

Take-aways:

• Don’t be lulled into complacency with aspirations and buzzwords.
• Give all City staff adequate training in first aid and disaster relief.
• Empower employees to assist and support the rest of the community, be it disaster, physical condition, mental health situation, knowing what to do and where to go in an emergency.
• Create more heating and cooling stations, and emergency shelters.
• Make floodplain maps easily accessible and support Conservation Halton’s program and frequency of new maps created.
• Instill a long-term vision in City staff, residents, local employees that we need to work together, support each other, for the common good.
• Work with developers, the largest group of game-changers, to build better, more equitably, and with robust safety features – additional stair egress, adequate fire protection and services.
• Recognize that disaster could happen at any time, in any location, and know how to respond.
• Learn to fail, more safely.

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