Great hair – but there was no Trudeaumania at Art Centre when Justin Trudeau talked to 200 + as he seeks Liberal leadership

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 10, 2012  He isn’t his Father – has more of his Mother’s face, but he does have charm and a charisma that will probably build.  He also has very good hair – which he never fails to mention; three times in his talk to a room of 200+ people who gathered at the Burlington Art Centre.

I stood less than five feet away from his Father many times when he was winning the Liberal leadership race in 1968 – at that time Trudeaumania had taken over.

It hasn’t reached a fever pitch yet – it might not, but he does know how to pull all the heart strings,  Both his hair and his children get many mentions. The bold new ideas? – haven’t heard those yet. What he did assure his audience was that he had very solid values – but didn’t make much mention of what they were.

There was no Trudeaumania in the room this afternoon but there was a young man who knew what to say and was very good gathering people around him.  He is genuinely comfortable in crowds and tends to reach out and touch people when he is talking to them.  There is nothing wooden about this man.

He said all the right things.  He distanced himself from the old Liberal habit of convincing Canadians that they, the Liberals, made Canada what it was.  Justin instead said that the Liberals would listen to Canadians and work with Canadians to build this country into what everyone wants it to be.

He added that with all the communication tools available to use today Canadians should, can and will be able to talk to the politicians – and we are going to listen”, he assured the audience.

He said that in 2000 “we had 170 seats in the House; that dropped down to 135 in the next election and in a couple of elections after that we got to the 35 seats we have today”.   He assured his audience that the number would never fall below one seat because he was going to hold Papineau, the seat he has won twice.

As I stood before this young man who wants to lead the country,  I saw a harder face than his Father’s.  The hint of his Father’s voice was there, and the shy smile that I once saw on his Mother’s face as she was being introduced to a large crowd.

We didn’t hear anything in the way of bold statements – no “Just Society” initiatives.  He offered nothing other than a willingness to pull Canadians together and get away from ideological parties that think they can win an election even if they don’t hold Quebec or if they don’t do well in Alberta.

He looks you right in the eye, reaches out to touch you and has that light pleasant smile.

He used all the usual political tricks – mentioned that he would be away from his family on his Father’s birthday and that what he was doing was a personal sacrifice.  “My kids need me at home” he said “but this country needs all of you helping to make the country what it could be.” Trudeau wanted to get beyond the divisions, the envy and the mistrust.”   “We can do politics differently”, he urged the audience.

Trudeau is learning to use his voice – he is good and he will get better.  No soaring rhetoric yet nor is there the cockiness his Father brought to the platform.  This young man has yet to learn to reach out and boldly challenge an audience.  His Father once asked Alberta’s farmers why he should bother to sell their wheat for them.  Justin Trudeau will speak earnestly about how he wants to work with those same farmers to not only sell their wheat but to get a better price for them as well.  And he is going to have to go that far if he is to ever win a single seat in that province.

Is he what we want? The name doesn’t hurt – now what has he got in the way of ideas?

He visited three communities during this tour with a rally in Hamilton tonight where he will ask that city to not only select him as leader but to send more Liberals to Ottawa while they are at it.

Trudeau is polishing his road tour.  He knows he has a long road ahead and he wants to make sure that his run for the leadership of the Liberal party doesn’t become a coronation.  He knows that if he doesn’t strike a chord in the heart of Canadians he may win the leadership but he won’t manage to win an election.  And for Justin Pierre James Trudeau, winning the election is what’s it’s all about.

Burlington’s Paddy Torsney will be in that audience tonight.  Will she experience any stirrings and think perhaps about how many election signs she has in storage?

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Time once again to send a message – no road through our Escarpment – Get it?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 10, 2012   How many times do we have to tell those guys at Queen’s Park that we don’t want a highway going through the Escarpment.  Not now – not ever.

This is what we understand the Ministry of Transportation is putting forward as possible options for a road that will handle the traffic coming out of the Fort Erie part of the province and get it into the GTA – some of it through Burlington. Not on says the Mayor and the Regional Chair.  The gray areas represent where a road could be located.  That one to the right – the long thin one – that’s Burlington country.


The bureaucrats are in the final stage of preparing their recommendations which are believed to now be in the hands of the Minister of Transportation who will review the documents and eventually take something to someone and make a decision.

Burlington doesn’t want to give the government any reason to think we have changed our minds or that the government is going to be able to grind us down and is holding yet another public meeting to get our message to Queen’s Park.

Mainway Recreation Centre – 7:00 pm October 23rd

Some people wonder why there has to be public meeting after public meeting to convince a provincial government that a community doesn’t want what the government is proposing.  Don’t governments just do what they want to do anyway.  Actually no – public input can and has made the difference in the past.

The airport in Pickering never got built because of public protest.  The Spadina Expressway was stopped in its tracks because of public protest.  On that one, the then Premier Bill Davis made a decision, that all but stopped the Spadina from ever happening.

If the public keeps pushing back – the government does hear.

Regional Chair Gary Carr puts what we are faced with in perspective when he says: “For almost 10 years, Halton Region, the City of Burlington and a core group of concerned residents have been advocating against a new Provincial highway that would cut through the Escarpment in North Burlington”.

This is the Escarpment we are talking about. Our country, our rural country – forever.

“Halton Regional Council has fought hard to protect and preserve our environment and agricultural community.” “The proposed Provincial highway through Burlington would not only decimate our prime agricultural resource, it would also devastate the Niagara Escarpment and the Ontario Greenbelt. We are committed to advocating to the Province to protect our rural communities to ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

Carr adds that “Halton Regional Council has consistently and unanimously opposed a new highway crossing the Niagara Escarpment since it was first proposed by the Province. Despite political promises made, the Provincial Environmental Assessment (EA) for this plan still includes a possible route across the escarpment. With the Provincial Ministry of Transportation preparing to release their EA study findings, Halton Region and the City of Burlington, in conjunction with the Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition (SEHC) is hosting a public meeting to update residents on the Provincial process and hear feedback.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure the Province understands our position on this – we oppose any highway that would cut across the Niagara Escarpment,” said Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring. “Such a highway will irreparably damage the Greenbelt, the Escarpment and the very character of Burlington. I encourage residents to add their voices to this issue.”

These are the stages the province wants the process of deciding if there is going to be a highway – and if there is going to be one – where will it go. The public is a part of this process – don’t lose your opportunity to speak – bring your children to the meeting – they will be fighting this battle 15 years from now.

The Ministry of Transportation is expected to release the findings of their study shortly.  Regional Chair Carr and Burlington Mayor Goldring want to get a few words into the ear of the Minister before the recommendations are made public.  The meeting with the Minister of Transportation is scheduled to take place before the public meeting on the 23rd.  Carr says it is for some time next week, but the government might fall before then.. If the meeting does take place perhaps they will come back with some good news.

The people organizing the meeting on the 23rd have invited Burlington’s representative in the Legislature, opposition member Jane McKenna, who is getting quite a bit better at making a point when she wants to.  Expect her to work at gaining some political points at the meeting.

If the province finds itself in an election (and that is going to happen sooner rather than later) and they decide to announce a road is going to be built – forget getting the Burlington seat into the Liberal camp.

Expect to see some kind of a mealy mouthed statement from the province.





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Seniors begin to get a break on health care; Pharmacists can now give flu shots, renew prescriptions as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON October 10, 2012  – In what they are describing as a program to bring expanded healthcare services closer to home the provincial government has announced a new program that allows the delivery of some services from pharmacists including the publicly funded flu shot and getting their prescriptions renewed.

In addition to giving the flu shot, pharmacists can now also:

Renew or adapt existing prescriptions

Prescribe medication to help people quit smoking

Demonstrate how to use an asthma inhaler or inject insulin

Support patients who have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, monitor their condition

There are some people who never get used to a flu shot. These can now be given at a pharmacy – don’t need to go to the doctors office

Expanding the role of highly trained pharmacists is part of the McGuinty government’s Action Plan for Health Care. The plan gives Ontarians better access to family doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care providers, to ensure that health care dollars are spent most efficiently.

This will be the 13th year the flu shot has been offered in Ontario.

People (over the age of five) can visit participating local pharmacies starting Oct. 22 where specially trained pharmacists will give them the flu shot as part of Ontario’s Universal Influenza Immunization Program.

Hopefully the line up at the drug store will be less than the waiting time in a doctors office.

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Those Lasting Impressions on the pier could have been made up of 5000 signatures. Contractor nixed the idea.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 10, 2012   Under the circumstances it was the best they could do.

Later this month seven names will be drawn from those who enter the draw to have an impression of their hands made out of plaster that will later be poured into concrete and become a part of the decoration for the pier when it open – which we note is now set for the “summer” of 2013.  The draw location is HERE.  You have until October 16th to submit your name.   Children must have the permission of a parent or guardian and must provide name, age and contact information.

Seven elementary students will have plaster molds made of their hands which will later be turned into concrete castings that will be used to decorate the pier when it is open to the public – date set for summer of 2013

“This is an exciting opportunity for children to interact with Burlington’s newest landmark,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “I encourage all Burlington elementary school-aged children to enter to have your name drawn to leave a lasting impression on the Brant Street Pier.”

The selected children’s hand print impressions will be taken during a celebration event on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. in Spencer Smith Park, just east of the pier. Prior to the event, Mayor Goldring and each of the city’s six ward Councillors will draw one name from each ward and one extra name for a total of seven. The children will be asked to place a nut and bolt into one of the pier’s connecting plates for one of the final steel girders.

“Everyone is invited to witness this milestone, sip a hot cider and enjoy this celebration at the pier,” said Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure. “Having children become part of the pier construction connects the Burlington community with the pier they will enjoy for many years to come.”

It’s a good idea – but it could have been better.  The contractor sort of got in the way of an idea that would have given everyone and anyone in Burlington a chance to leave their mark on the pier.

A couple of months ago we took a trip to Kitchener to look around one of the companies that was doing the welding of those beams that created so much difficulty for both the city and the contractor.

On the way back from that tour an idea got put out and everyone in the car liked the idea and people that can make things happen at city hall began to look into it.

The idea was to have one of the girders that is to be installed on the pier set out on the promenade in front of the construction site.  The girder would be mounted on a platform where everyone and anyone could sign their names to the 40 foot length of steel.

The hope was that thousands would show up and take advantage of the opportunity to be part of the history of the city.  People in Burlington would be telling their grandchildren that their signature was on one of the steel beams out on that pier.

But alas – it wasn’t to be.  The construction company owns the site and they get to decide on what gets done with the steel and all the other parts of the pier.  And they weren’t able or prepared to loan the city a steel girder for part of a Saturday afternoon.

This pier is so far behind schedule that half a day just wasn’t available.

So the city has to live with the impression of the hands of seven elementary school children.



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The Dauphine will be in town this week; he, being the son of the best Prime Minister we ever had. Justin, son of Pierre, in town.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 10, 2012  Things are just a popping in Burlington.  We went for close to 100 years with a Prime Minister never even stopping in Burlington for a washroom break – and that was in the days when Freeman Station was operational.

Justin Trudeau, in town to charm the local Liberals. Expect Paddy Torsney to be in the room. Mike Wallace as well? I don’t think so.

Then last year we have the Prime Minister in town for an opening thingy at the Performing Arts Centre and then a month or so later and he is in town again to meet with an ethnic group.

The Dauphine, was the title used by the eldest son of a King  – and Pierre Trudeau was the closest thing this country ever had to a King.  It is fitting then that the son, Justin, be referred to as The Dauphine.  The title was used in France from about 1349 to 1830.

Justin Trudeau will speak at the Burlington Arts Centre at 3:00 pm this afternoon.  The Liberals would like to know if you plan to attend.  Email them at: 

They might ask you to sign up or take a lawn sign when the election call comes.

Debra Coyne, another Liberal leadership aspirant was in town recently to woo the Liberals in this city.

Earlier this month Debra Coyne was in town to speak at the annual meeting of the federal Liberals. Coyne is the former lover of the late Pierre Trudeau.  Her daughter is Justin Trudeau’s half-sister.

That could get a little awkward on the Liberal leadership campaign trail.  Who ever said Canadians were dull boring people?



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GO trains will move through the King Road crossing – the BIG MOVE went spectacularly well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 8. 2012   The BIG Move was done – successfully. CN rail people are now on the site doing what railway people do – readying the tracks for GO  and freight traffic Tuesday morning.

CN rail workers pause while a freight train passes through a very busy construction site.

Business is business and railway traffic needs to move – so while crews laid down steel track and stone ballast to keep everything in place CN still moved long freight trains – very slowly.

Steve Taylor and Jeb Pittsinger from Hatch Mott MacDonald, the consultants on this project,  were on site to observe and comment if they had to.  In a wonderful  Irish lilt Taylor commented “this has been a joy to observe.  It went without a hitch and it is, based on what I know about these things, the biggest that has ever been done.  And Taylor should know – he’s done 23 of these moves.

Bob Jurk, Burlington’s senior project manager on the Big Move project has his daughter on the site, all suited up with safety gear, looking over what kept her father away from home much of Thanksgiving.

Bob Jurk was on site again with his daughter. He had to do something to show why he had been away from the house for the past three days.

There were a few members of the public still in the little reviewing stand the city put up.  It really wasn’t possible to see very much from the stands but the city made the effort.  All the action was taking place down in the pit that was being excavated – and you just couldn’t see anything down there from the stands.

Vital work getting done if the GO train is to run on these rails Tuesday morning.  While it is busy – it seems much less exciting than watching a five million pound tunnel get pushed into position.  Biggest project of its type – ever – here in Burlington

Front end loader bounced around over and around railway tracks dropping stone ballast over railway tracks.

People working on the site continually used the phrase “a live site” and it was certainly that.  Trucks with tires that would dwarf the average man roared through the place.  Big front end loaders with a couple of tons of stone bounced around over and around the railway tracks as they laid down the stone ballast that keeps the steel rails and the ties they are attached to in place.

Looking down into what will become the roadway leading into the King Road underpass as heavy equipment removes the base the hydraulic jack hammers worked from as they inched a 5 million pound concrete box into place. Railway tracks were then relaid for GO train traffic the next day. Oh that construction on the Pier could go as well!

The various teams who made it all happen were on the site dis-assembling their equipment and getting it ready for the next job.  Three of the four rail lines are in the process of being re-laid while the fourth is close to ready to be laid down this afternoon.

Public viewing stands were a good gesture on the part of the city – but people really couldn’t see very much from the location. It’s all that was available.

The track bed for  the first GO train,  scheduled to depart from Hamilton will leave the Aldershot station at just after 4:00 am on Tuesday – and the tracks will be in place and fully tested.   Most of the people on that train will be a little dreary eyed and may not even know that one of the most complicated and impressive engineering feasts ever done for a railway underpass took place in Burlington on the Thanksgiving weekend of 2012.

The Pier, we regret to inform you, has not done as well.  The crew down there were given the weekend as a holiday.

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Freeman Station should see itself sitting more safely and securely 95 metres from where it has been since 2005. Home forever – soon.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 8, 2012   The Friends of freeman Station have a three year lease at the princely sum of $1 a year with an option to renew the least for an additional three years.  The property they have leased is just to the east of the Fire Station on Plans Road on a piece of land three quarters of an acre in size.

The Freeman Station, said James Smith, President of the public group that has banded together to save the structure, will sit on a foundation and be clearly visible to people driving by on Plains Road.

We all know what we want it to look like; we all know where we want it to go. The Friends of Freeman Station have found a location to refurbish the structure on and they’ve raised the money to move the building. Council now needs to approve the Joint venture with the city.

Getting to the point where they can move the structure from where it has been since 2005 onto a piece of property and begin the process of refurbishing the building and getting it back to pristine condition, has taken a long, long time during which our city council certainly didn’t surpass themselves.  With federal stimulus money in their pockets the city couldn’t find a place to put the structure and got to the point where they ran advertisements asking if there was anyone who wanted the building.

It was only when Councillor Marianne Meed Ward stepped forward and put together a community based committee that looked for a way to save the station.  Councillor Blair Lancaster joined Meed Ward and that kept the building away from the wrecking crew.  Councillor Sharman was quite solicitous during that stage of the stations life urging people who delegated to accept the fact that the station just might have to go.

Councillor Meed Ward was the person who took the steps to keep the Freeman Station alive while a citizens group was formed to raise the funds and refurbish the building. The city itself failed miserably to ensure the building was saved even with federal Stimulus Funds in their pockets.

Meed Ward managed to get some Section 37 money from a Molinaro Group project assigned to the fund that was being created.  There was still some money in a city reserve fund available – if the community could do some fund raising of their own. The Friends need between $80,000 and $130,000 to secure the building, build a foundation and move the structure.  They have $75,000 in hand and Heritage Burlington has pledged $10,000 and will also match donations up to $5,000.  This is a done deal!

The Friends succeeded at with two objectives.  They found a place to put the station and the managed to raise a reasonable amount of money.  They were able to convince Ashland Canada to rent them a piece of property which was beside the location the building was parked in.  With those two feathers in their cap they could now go to the city and get approval to enter into the rental agreement and obtain permission to move the station.

The Friends of the Freeman station are now in the final stages of entering into a joint Venture Agreement that will have the Friends renovating the station with funds they raise.  The city will still own the structure.

The city came perilously close to seeing the historic structure becoming firewood for anyone who would cover the cost of hauling it away.

People in the Project Management offices of the Corporate Strategic Initiatives department of the city, who should have known better,  led a council committee astray by making it sound as if the building needed a little more than a strong wind for it to fall apart.  My parents called some of the statements made “fibs”.  Council listened at the time but didn’t buy all they heard and went along with the citizen effort to save the building.  Not whole heartedly mind you.  Remember that come election time when they tell you how much they did to save the station.  Councillor Meed Ward, along with Councillor Lancaster are the people who stopped the destruction of the building; they gave people like James Smith and his Board the time needed to find a home and raise funds for the renovation.

So the place has a home and it should be moved the 95 metres in the very near future.

The next step is signing a Joint Venture with the city – and that seems to have a few wrinkles in the document but the Friends of Freeman are certain they are on the right path.

There was a move to locate the Freeman Station on a site in Spencer Smith Park at a spot close to where the old railway line ran into Maple Street and curved north close to the Burlington Art Centre but that failed when the then Council members for Wards 1 and 2 chose not to annoy the tenants in nearby apartment buildings.

What’s delaying Freeman Station’s move?  The city needed to know if the structure was going to sit on a foundation or just on concrete pads?  The Friends Board met last week and decided that they would put a foundation beneath the station and then arrange to have it moved from beside the fire station to their new home some 95 metres away.

The matter goes to a council meeting later this month after which the Friends have to prepare  a site plan drawing, get a Geo-technical assessment for the design of the foundation completed, stick handle the required approvals through city hall then construct the foundation and the relocation of the station.

Smith will want to know if he can head to the Building permit counter at city hall once Council approves the Joint Venture, pay the fees and walk out the door with permit in one hand and a shovel in the other. Not so fast James Smith.

The Friends of Freeman Station have passed a critical milestone.  They have a site, the building will be in their hands very soon and they expect to be able to build a foundation within the next couple of months.  Their hope is to be able to have the structure on its new foundation by the end of the year.  That could get stretched into Spring.

During that time the Friends want to bring back the many people that had given up on the station ever being saved and to mount a stronger fund raising campaign. “We really couldn’t be serious about raising funds until we knew we were actually going to get possession of the station” said Smith “and that we had a place to put it and then authority to refurbish the building.”

The station has sat on some pretty shaky wooden blocks since 2005. It will soon be moved and have a safe solid foundation.

No one has come up with what the building will be used for once it is completely renovated. Smith wants to do two things with the public in the next few months the first of which is to invite anyone interested to a public meeting to talk about the long term plans for the building. “Now that we have possession of the structure we know we can fix it and make it usable” explained Smith, “but what use do we put it to?  A railway museum is one possibility for as Smith explains a large part of Burlington was developed because we had that train station”.

It is going to take as much as five years to completely renovate the building so there is no rush to decide what it will be used for.  Smith and his Board want the broadest possible public participation; they want to hear every whacky idea there is out there.

Once there is public input the Friends Board will develop a strategic plan and build their fund raising targets around the plan.

Does the Freeman Station have to stay at the Plans Road site forever?  The Friends have a three year lease with an option for a second three years – so after six years they may have to look for a new home.  The foundation that is going to be put in, with donated at cost foundation blocks made of a Styrofoam product, will be done in such a way that the building can be easily lifted off its foundation and moved.

There are many within the Friends community who truly believe the structure belongs on the Beachway, alongside the old railway embankment where CN rail trains used to run.

The Pump House was once a residence after it was no longer used to pump water for the city. Trains ran along the rail line at the edge of the picture. The city is now looking for a commercial operator to put the structure to a new use. A coffee shop/wine bar is a favorite choice for many – the city wants to keep their minds wide open on this one. Got any ideas?

The decision on the part of the city to look for a private partner to run some kind of establishment out of the Pump House – with a coffee shop/wine bar being the most popular choices, suggests there is an opportunity to develop a small cluster of destination points in the Beachway which the city is in the process of taking a long second look at to think through how that part of the city can be developed.

No one is thinking of high rise condos on the Beachway,  but many feel there is an opportunity to improve on the 28 building down there now.  The Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital is in the process of building the Halton McMaster Family Medicine Clinic that will eventually get attached to the expansion the hospital plans to start building in 2014.

That hospital, which will be re-oriented to face the lake, is a very short five minute walk from where the Pump House is located.  Add a renovated showcase level Freeman Station and the Beachway begins to take on a whole new look.

We can expect something back from the Regional government by the end of the year or early next year on what their thoughts are for the Beachway, which is property owned by the Region and leased to the city.

You can also expect to eventually see the Freeman Station sitting alongside that old railway embankment.

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Construction crews complete move of a five million pound tunnel – the trickiest part of King Road grade separation is done.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 8, 2012  The tunnel will get buried and the hydraulic jack hammers removed – the aggregate will get dropped into the sides of the tunnel and the crews will focus on getting the railway tracks back in place for the rush hour traffic on Tuesday morning.

It was one of the biggest construction projects of its kind.  No one had ever moved an object this big, weighing this much before. And the time frames were wickedly tight.  It had to be done over a long weekend and it had to be done on time – thousands of commuters on the Hamilton to Toronto GO train lines were depending on those trains.

Here is what the rail crossing on King Road looks like before the work to put in a grade separation began.

This is what the objective looked like before the first of the four railway tracks came out Friday night. It would be a much different looking crossing on the Monday morning

As big an undertaking as it was, it was completed without any major hitches.  The rain slowed things down but there were no major equipment malfunctions and no injuries.  This was a very professional team of people working in a very tight space with no wiggle room, literally or figuratively.

The rail line crossing usually handles more than 100 crossing a day, a combination of commuter and freight traffic made the intersection one of the busiest in the country.  King Road was becoming more and more congested.  A grade separation was necessary.

The city and the railway argued over who had to put an underpass in place with the city eventually suing the railway – after which the work began.  King Road couldn’t just be shut down for a month while the grade separation was built – there were too many large corporations along the road that needed access.  There wasn’t an acceptable detour route that could be put in place either. The architects came up with a plan that would have a large pre-cast concrete tunnel built in place that would later be pushed into an excavated space. Four railway lines would be taken out on the Friday evening of Thanksgiving weekend and be put back in on the Monday so that rail traffic could resume by the following Tuesday morning.

At just after midnight of the Saturday, as one construction crew clocks out and a new crew takes their place, a CN freight train slows to a crawl and slides over the diversionary rail line  Excavation is well under way – with the moving of the tunnel into position scheduled for 5:00 am on Sunday.  Bob Jurk, the city’s senior project manager settles into being on the site all night while General Manager Scott Stewart settles into his bed at home with his alarm set for 4:30 am Sunday to be on hand for the movement of the tunnel into position. The freight train takes 20 minutes to complete its passage – it travels slowly but it is also a very long train.

The solution was to build the tunnel onsite before hand – have it in position ready to be pushed into position using hydraulic jack hammers and air pressure that would lift the 5 million pound tunnel slightly off the ground so it could eased forward.

While all this is being done freight trains continue to roll through the site – slowly and carefully.

Every once in awhile a large back hoe would come out of the excavation pit and scoot along a road – it was going to get gassed up. The contractors had a large fuel truck that would ensure all the equipment ran.

First few minutes of the hydraulic jack hammers moving the 5 million pound tunnel. Circle to the left is the jack hammer assembly that move it all forward. On the right are a collection of workers watching it inch forward. It was the most exciting part of the three day project. If it didn’t work there was going to be a massive commuter problem. It worked.

It was both a mammoth engineering feet and a tricky task given the extremely short time frames. Four rail lines had to be taken out while the excavation work was done. It wasn’t a rail crossing that could be shut down completely.

It all got done.  It was exciting to watch the on line live feed of trucks moving huge loads of earth, highly technical equipment moving earth out and then going back later to return much of it.

What’s next?  Having the tunnel in place is the hard part but there is a lot of work to be done yet.  A creek that was diverted now has to be brought back and it somehow has to cross King Road.  The solution: build an aqueduct and have the water run over the top of the tunnel that was pushed into the excavated space.  That hasn’t been done anywhere before either.  The King Road project really is a construction marvel.

But the first thing was to have the train tracks back in place.  Before that can happen the sides of the tunnel have to be filled with varying sizes of aggregate that has to be tamped down – and that takes time.

With the tunnel moving into position some of the earth taken out now has to go back in.  Jack hammers can be seen on the left and the right sides.

Then the roof of the tunnel has to be covered and a final layer of what is called rail ballast put in place. Once that is done the tracks, which were cut into 30 metre lengths, have to be lifted and eased into position and then everything tightened down so that trains can cross the tracks early Tuesday morning.

Three of the four tracks taken out MUST be put back in place.  The fourth can wait a day or so but it will eventually have to go back in and then the diversionary track that was put in taken out as well.

The schedule lost 11 hours of time and while there was enough wiggle room – there isn’t any wiggle room left – so somehow the project team needs to make up some of the time lost without compromising safety.

The project this long weekend was accident free.  No equipment failures either.

King Road remains closed to traffic until the 22nd. Jurk couldn’t say enough about the neighbours and the noise and disruption they have had to put up with during the construction.  They all seemed to understand what it took to move a concrete box that was 5 metres high, 18 metres wide and more than 20 metres long –and weighing more than 5 million pounds.

The back hoe that did the bulk of the excavating work, is a very specialized and expensive piece of equipment, can’t be just left sitting out overnight doing nothing. CN wanted to get that back on the road and so crews will work around the clock on Sunday night getting the railway tracks back in place.

“It is a little damp out there” commented Jurk who arrived at the site at 4:45 in the morning and wasn’t able to head for home until 6:00 in the evening. “I didn’t realize I’d had nothing to eat until 2:00 in the afternoon when Metric, the company doing the excavation work,  told us all that there was a truck filled with pizza for everyone.  That kind of thing doesn’t happen on construction sites these days” added Jurk.

Tonnes of aggregate were trucked into the site.  With one truck in the tunnel a second waited outside with a full load.  Everything moved very quickly and very briskly.  Not a single accident during the BIG MOVE.

The public viewing stands weren’t in a place where the public could see very much.  Jurk, who had his RIM Playbook with him, videoed some scenes and took them up to the viewing stands so people could see what was being done.  And it was quite a sight.  Watching the back hoes dance around as if they were on a stage in a very, very tight space is not something one gets to see very often.

Helen Walihura, one of the city’s communications specialists was on the site with both still and video cameras filming away commented that “this is really exciting”.

Once the tunnel was firmly in place the hydraulic jack hammers were taken out and returned to Western Mechanical, a company located in Barrie, ON “These were great guys to work with” commented Jurk.

While positioning of the tunnel was the major milestone the project “is not done by a long shot” said Jurk.  The north side creek work has to be done and there is a lot of concrete work yet to be done. Dufferin Concrete  will be back on site next week getting the north side of the tunnel opened up.

This is the trickiest and most critical part of the job.  The jack hammers have been tested, the air pressure system works – but those tests were done in near perfect totally controlled conditions.

At one point the BIG MOVE was 11 hours behind schedule due partly to some rain. Bob Jurk, senior project manager for the city explained that the rain fell when the crews were excavating sand which wasn’t much of a problem.  If they had been excavating clay the site would have been a real mess – we might not have made it.

What is the net benefit to the community when all the work is done?

King Road is in Ward 1, Rick Craven country.  He has been waiting some time for this work to get completed.  In a statement he put out earlier today Craven said: “The new underpass is critically important to the future of Burlington’s west end. It will: make it easier for traffic to get to and from the North Service Road, reducing pressure on Plains Road, improve access to downtown and Joseph Brant Hospital for Tyandaga residents, eliminate traffic congestion in the immediate neighbourhood, caused by train crossings, (which on occasion has completely shut down the adjacent residential streets), and finally, it will serve as a catalyst for the long-term plan to open up the nearby “employment lands”. A next step in the Councillors eyes is the building of the South Service Road which will open up employment lands and create more jobs in the community. 

The city’ has an agreement with Paletta International that has that company building a South Service Road extension at their cost.  The developer hasn’t announced any plans for new commercial development in Aldershot and we hope the city isn’t holding their breath for shovel to go into the ground anytime soon.

Many developers think the city has more employment land than it needs and they would like to use some of their holdings for the development of residential housing.

The city is in the middle of a “big think” on the subject of employment lands.  The Economic Development Corporation hasn’t managed to convince anyone to come to the city and locate here; and the working relationship between the developers and the Economic Development Corporation isn’t as tight as it needs to be if there is to be any significant commercial construction.

The city is currently reporting negative commercial assessment for 2012 – it was flat for 2011 and small, small for 2012.  The developers have waited a long time for the kind of development that suits their bottom line best and they seem prepared to wait quite a bit longer.

King Road will be vastly improved, the bridge over Highway 403 will be widened and improved – which certainly make that part of Aldershot more appealing to the commercial sector – but we aren’t there yet.

Back hoe comes out of the tunnel – the excavation is complete – the tracks for the tunnel to slide in on can be seen in the back on the right and the left . Project is a little bit behind but things are running very, very smoothly.

Tuesday morning thousands of commuters will get to work on time while hundreds of construction workers share the smug satisfaction that they pulled it off without a hitch.

Right now the city is going to celebrate the completion of a major engineering feat – even though they didn’t actually handle the construction – that was done by CN Rail.  However, it was Burlington that pushed CN to move with the project.

For Bob Jurk, a day that began at 4:45 am ended just after 7:00 pm when he got an email from CN saying the tunnel was in place at 6:15 pm.  That brought out a response from Jurk which went like this: Yahoooooooooooooooooo!

Yahoo indeed.

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Rain creates problems at Big Move site on King Road; some of the best construction people in the world working on the problems.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 7, 2012   They had hoped to get it going at 2:00 am on Sunday but it rained a bit and one of the things about rain is the water has to go somewhere and that somewhere is usually down a hole – problem was the people working on Burlington’s Big Move were in that hole and they had to deal with that water.

This is a view of the construction site before serious work started Friday night.  You can see the earth that had to be excavated before the concrete box could be pushed into place up against the diversionary rail line that is supported by scaffolding so that freight trains can cross.  The rail line crossing at King Road, is seen on the right.

All the earth had been excavated, which was quite a feat in itself, then the rails that the tunnel was going to move along when it was time to push it forward needed to be dropped in place.  A massive crane that had sat on the site while the excavation was done fired up its engines and completed the delicate job of getting the rails exactly where they were supposed to be.

The 2:00 am got moved to 5:00 am and then on to  10:00 am and now it looks like sometime around noon when the 5 million pound structure will be raised just enough using air pressure to inch it forward onto a set of rails that will then allow the “tunnel to slide forward and into position.

That’s when the water problems became evident.  Things were fine on the east side, but the water build up on the west side had to be managed.  Steve Taylor, an American engineer who has done 23 of this kind of project, has been on the site since the beginning.  He had been brought up from Boston to oversee and offer advice and direction, where it was needed.

This view is a look into the tunnel, which is really a 5 million pound concrete box that will get pushed into place.  The first task, which started Friday night at 9:00 pm was to excavate tonnes of earth.  With that done rail lines had to be dropped into the excavated space. Those are the two light coloured patches on the left and right of the excavated hole way at the back of the tunnel.  You can see the front end of a massive truck at the very back, with a second truck out front loaded with additional aggregate that will be used to level out the ground

A little more excavation, pumping out water and getting some aggregate in place seemed to be what was needed.

The working space is quite tight and there is a lot of equipment in there.  At times there were two back hoes, a small bulldozer and a truck loaded with aggregate.  Not a lot of room to move around.  Add to that the frequent passing of freight trains almost directly above.  They move very slowly – five miles an hour – but these are long, long freight trains and there is a lot of noise.

This isn’t a Burlington project.  CN Rail is the lead on this, but if something goes wrong and the rail lines are not back in place, a lot of problems fall into the lap of the city.

The Mayor is out of the country, the city manager is with family in London, ON – so that drops things into the hands of the “get it done” guys in engineering with Bob Jurk, senior project manager on the site, running the city’s part, which Jurk explains is “doing what you are told”. Scott Stewart, city General Manager is on site – he arrived at 2:00 am and has put in the first eight hour shift and moves into his second shift. “It’s a little chilly down here” was his first comment and McDonald is doing a brisk business. Stewart is there to do whatever the city has to do to allow the CN contractors to get their job done.  There isn’t all that much he can do other than think through the various contingency scenarios should the delays result in commuter trains not moving when they usually do on Tuesday morning.

This is a view of the construction site at midnight Saturday, where a new underpass is being put in at King Road and the CN rail line.  You can see a freight train passing through.  The large yellow crane wait to drop rail lines into place that will be used to inch forward the tunnel into the space that is being excavated.  The rail line panels are in front of the truck that is next to the yellow crane.   The tunnel or underpass that was pre-built is in the middle – the roof of the tunnel is black.  This is a very active construction site.  For part of the project CN allowed the public access to the web camera by streaming it live on the internet.  Security and IT server problems had it go off line late Saturday night.

The construction site is referred to as a “live site” which means there are all kinds of people all over the place and while safety is a prime concern – there is a job to be done.  Some of the very best construction people are on the site doing incredible work under trying and changing conditions.

CN had installed two web cameras that streamed everything that was happening live.  Sometime either late Saturday or early Sunday that took out the visual feed to the public.  The legal and the IT people had security concerns – you know that whenever a large corporation stops feeding information to the public there is reason for concern.

The camera that was taken off line is the one that allowed a view from a  higher level – you could see the freight trains passing through and see what the back hoes were doing as they loaded trucks.  The public wasn’t able to see the rail tracks that were lowered into the excavated space.

It has been absolutely fascinating to watch huge truck come in at quite a clip, back up into the tunnel in one move – no going back and forth – these guys get it right the first time, every time.  They arrive, back in, take on their load and are out and on their way in under two minutes.  Professionals that are a delight to watch.  The back hoe operators move the arm up of their machine up and down and sideways as smoothly and as beautifully as a ballet dancer.

The water problems have delayed things – but there was some slack in the schedule.  It looks like the schedule is going to be met but maybe you should do what the city staff on site are doing – thinking through the various options if things don’t go right.

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Massive yet intricate construction of King Road grade separation being web cast.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 6, 2012  The size and scope of the project is daunting – and the time frame allowed is really pushing it; but CN Rail and the  city’s engineering department are actually going to lift out four rail lines and build an underpass beneath King Road and have everything – all four rail lines – back in place for Tuesday morning at 5:00 am.

Trucks back into the tunnel, which will become the King Road underpass, to load up with excavated earth. The picture was taken at noon on Saturday from the web camera.

The construction can be seen on line.

Go the to the City of Burlington web site.

Go to the Project and Initiatives box on the right hand side.  The last line in that box says more.

Click on that line – that will get you to a new page.  Go to the Box with a list of construction projects.  Scroll down to King Road Grade Separation.  Click on that line.

That will take you to a screen that lets you choose between Camera 1 and Camera 2. (You can if you want – open up a second browser and toggle back and forth and see what each camera is showing.)

Camera 1 is a view from some height and shows you the top of the “tunnel” that was pre-built as well as the part of the area being excavated.  There are two back hoes and at times a small bulldozer in that space.   The diversionary railway line is at the top of the picture.  Sometimes you will see a freight train passing by.  Camera 2 is a view into the front of the tunnel that will eventually be the underpass that traffic uses to pass beneath the rail lines.  You can see trucks backing into the tunnel to take on loads of excavated earth.

You never see work like this being done on the pier.

The start of pushing the tunnel into place is due to begin at 5:00 am Sunday, October 7th.

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Graphic presenation of the King Road grade separation. Plan is to have this mammoth job done in just over three days.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 5, 2012  Here is what the rail crossing on King Road looks like before the work to put in a grade separation began:

The plan was to take out the four rail lines, build a supporting wall and install a diversionary rail track that would handle freight during the three and a half days of round he clock construction. It was a mammoth task that would be done by CN Rail’s contractors with the city as part of the team.

These are the stages the construction project will go through.

This graphic shows where the supporting walls were going to go. They are in blue; one on either side of the trench that was to be excavated and another where the diversionary railway line was to go.  The green line is a creek that had to be diverted during the construction phase.

The first stage was to build all the supporting walls and then to excavate a large trench using an open cut approach.

In this schematic the diversionary track is shown between the blue line and the green line, which is the creek that gets diverted. The green boxes indicated where the “box” that will become the tunnel under the railway tracks is also shown. The box is a single hunk of concrete that weighs over 5 million pounds.

The passageway or tunnel that was to be created is a box that was built before hand and laced in a position where it could be shoved into position once all the excavation was done.

In this photograph a freight train is using the diversionary track put in place. That track is supported by a wall that was built to hold the track up while long freight trains cross. That support wall will be punched through once the concrete tunnel box is in place.  The stretch of King Road that will disappear when the underpass is built can be seen on the extreme right.

All the earth from the green box up to the blue line has to be excavated and taken off the site.

This schematic shows the rail lines out and the concrete box that will become the tunnel traffic will drive through when the underpass is complete ready to be pushed into place.

The next step is to remove the four railway lines that currently carry freight and commuter traffic.  These lines come out on the Friday evening at 9:00 pm and excavation begins.

In this schematic the railway tracks are back in place, the tunnel is in position and the diversionary rail line has been taken out.

When the tunnel has been inched into the excavated space it is back filled in with gravel and the four rail lines that were removed are put back in place.  All that has to be done by 5:00 am of the Tuesday, October 9th.

An aqueduct will be built to carry the creek over the tunnel.

Traffic can’t use the tunnel yet but commuter trains and freight can resume normal schedules.  The final step is for the creek that was diverted to be brought back. It will now flow over the tunell that carried traffic north on King Road.  This represented a challenge until they decided to build an aqueduct that will carry the water over the tunnel.

This is an aerial view of the work being done at 4:30 pm Saturday afternoon. The black topped shape to the left of the yellow crane is the tunnel that will be pushed into place with hydraulic jack hammers.  You can see the orange back hoes in the space that is being excavated.

The work started promptly at 9:00 pm Friday and by midnight Saturday most of the excavation work was done.

This is a view of trucks coming out of the tunnel loaded with earth that has been excavated. A truck got loaded with earth in just under two minutes.  The jack hammers that will nudge this tunnel into place can be seen in the lower left.  Identical jack hammers are in place on the right hand side.  The King Road that used to cross over the tracks is on the right.

Giant truck back into the tunnel that wil get pushed into position when all the excavation is completed sometime between 2:00 am and 5:00 am on Sunday the 7th of October.

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They did good, they did very good and deserved the robust round of applause they got. Now they get to work.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 2, 2012  “You did what we could not do” said Councillor Craven.

”We are very proud of you” added Councillor Meed Ward.

Mayor Rick Goldring said “this is a major issue that Council has not handled very well in the past, we have come a long way.”  Council was so pleased with the way the Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee took on and then delivered on the task they were given that they gave the committee a robust round of applause – not something done very often at a council committee meeting.

Is this house a Heritage property? The owners don’t think so and they made a very compelling case to have it removed from the list. Not as simple as it seems.  The new approach to heritage report will prevent mistakes like this.  How did we get into this mess in the first place?

The unanimous acceptance of the report, which was titled: “A new approach to conserving Burlington’s heritage” was the result of many months of work on the part of a committee of fourteen people who were aided by Councillor Meed Ward.

The report now goes to Council on the 15th where it becomes policy for the city.  The report is both a set of recommendations and a guideline for the research and testing of the broad outline in the report, which we will report on in detail later this week.

What was different with this report, on a subject that has been contentious in Burlington for many years, is that the Advisory Committee was “at the table” participating fully with Council on the objective – to come up with a way to recognize and manage heritage issues in the city.

The advisory committee was just plain well managed.  Chair Jim Clements and vice chair Kathleen White sat where staff normally sit and, there is only one way to put it – they delivered.  They showed that well run advisory committees can work.

Jim Clemens, chair of the committee didn’t do this all by himself.  He had a strong committee that had to work through some difficult, different points of view – which they did.

The Heritage Burlington Advisory committee left the room with an endorsement of their recommendations that were outlined in their report and a Direction to Staff to work with Heritage Burlington to implement the recommendations.

Council decided that the Advisory Committee would lead on this file with the Planning department commenting  to council in a separate document.

What this boils down to is council handing off a major file that has plagued the city for a number of years, to an Advisory committee and then directing that advisory committee to report directly to the council committee.  The practice is usually for an Advisory committee to work with a department and the department takes the file forward to council.

Heritage Burlington will report back to the Community Development Committee with final approval of the key components of the recommendations.

That crew that pulled this off  included:

J A Clements, Jim Clemens (Chair), Kathleen White (Vice Chair), John Vice, Jacquie Gardner Johnson, Sarah Thompson, Geoff Cliffe – Phillipe, Randy McLachlan, Tim O’Driscoll, Morgan Warren, Linda Axford, Chelsey Tyers, Rick Wilson, Jeff D. Sutcliffe, James O’Neill, and Albert Faccenda

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The JBMH site is in the process of becoming a medical campus. Shovels should be in the ground in less than 100 days.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 3, 2012  Well we now know what the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital campus is going to look like and Councillor John Taylor knows what the parking garage he didn’t want to pay for looks like as well.  It’s all pretty nice actually and it is certainly going to change the Lakeshore Road that we have today into something very, very different.

The unfortunate part of this story is that the news was delivered to about 25 people from Ward 1 who happened to hear of the meeting.

This is what the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital “campus” is going to look like when all the construction is completed in 2017-18 The front entrance will be oriented to the lake.  That red circle on the lower right, near the number 4 will become the new entrance.  There will be several entrances to the hospital.  The emergency entrance will remain where it is. The Family Medicine clinic and the parking garage are at the bottom # 2  There will be a roadway through the “campus” – that’s where the number 8’s are.

The hospital is far too important an institution for this news to be delivered to such a small crowd.  Councillor Craven sold the city short when he limited the distribution of this news.  This event should have taken place in the Family room of the Performing Arts Centre or in one of the rooms at the Art Centre.

The story is here for your viewing pleasure.

The garage is going to be four stories with a structure that will take an additional three stories if needed in the future.

The garage is at the western end of what the hospital is now calling a “campus” – which is a nice name for the place.  At the front of the garage, facing Lakeshore Road, the new Halton McMaster Family Clinic will be placed.  There will be an elevated, climate controlled walkway from the parking garage directly into the new addition to the hospital that will be built once the garage/Family Clinic is completed.

This structure, a combination of a Family Clinic at the front – on the left – and a four level garage, with the capacity to be grown to seven levels, is Phase 1 of the JBMH renovation. The walkway, shown on the right, will allow people to walk through a climate controlled passageway right into the new addition to the hospital when it is completed in 2017-8

The building of this structure is Phase 1 of the renovation of a hospital that was built in 1961 and has had few fixes to the structure since then.  The upgrade,  which is going to cost something in the order of $300 million,  will be complete sometime in either 2017 or the year after.

Taxpayers are contributing $60 million, the Hospital Foundation is contributing an additional $60 million with the balance of the money coming from the province.

What are we getting for our money?  A very different community medical service.

Site Planning co-coordinator Jamie Tellier explains what is going to be built where on the JBMH campus.

The Family Clinic, which will be a teaching hospital, will have six family physicians and ten residents.  All the family practitioners will have privileges at JBMH and those doctors who have privileges at the current JBMH will be able to apply for privileges at the new Halton McMaster Family Health Centre.

Eric Vandewall added a very positive note when he explained that doctors who train at a hospital often stay in the community once they have completed their training – a nice way of saying that we are going to have new doctors.  The plan is to have them in place by the end of 2014.

Henry Decker, the hospital official who is overseeing the building of Phase 1 explained at the meeting that he expects to have a building permit in hand by the end of the year and shovels in the ground very early in January, which was a concern to people who live at the Maple-Lakeshore Road intersection where there will be some construction traffic for a number of years.  Councillor Craven who hosted the event assured residents that his office would do everything it could to “mitigate” the traffic problems.

There is much more to tell you about what is being built but we want to get these pictures posted – we will come back with more detail.


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Vital signs – interesting numbers that highlight some very disturbing problems to which we don’t have the answers right now.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 3, 2012   A robust crowd gathered early in the morning at the First Credit Union branch to be taken through some “vital signs” about our city – it was not a pretty picture.

The research report, launched by the Burlington Community Foundation,  measures the city across ten areas of focus, including health and wellness, environment, youth, and newcomers.

Burlington Community Foundation Tim Dobbie confers with Executive Director Colleen Mulholland about the research report with some stunning data that was made public on Tuesday.

“As a public foundation created by and for the people of Burlington, we help people, corporations and agencies accomplish their charitable goals and address our city’s most pressing needs,” said Colleen Mulholland, Executive Director of Burlington Community Foundation.  “To accomplish our mission, we first need to deeply understand the community: our strengths as well as areas of need. This is why we have created our first-ever Vital Signs report, a community check-up that evaluates Burlington as a place to live, work, learn and grow by identifying trends that are critical to our quality of life.”

Burlington is a prosperous and affluent community where its individual, household and family median income is 20% higher than Ontario as a whole. This means it is sometimes harder to see the gaps that exist between rich and poor and the rise in mental health issues among youth. .

We are growing,  but not at the rate we have grown in the past and in a direction that brings a lot of problems with it.   More than 80,000 of the 174,000 people in Burlington are over 45 years of age and 1 in 5 of us come from some other country.

To fully appreciate just how wealthy we are as a city – look at that field in the middle of the stadium. Burlington’s parks equal 3,303  of those football fields.

Burlington has 1463 hectares of parkland – which is the equivalent of 3,303 football fields.  That is a lot of parkland.

In a telephone survey to 300 people done by an outside research firm, more than 91% of the people called in Burlington said they donate money to others who are less fortunate.

More than 33% of the people in Burlington volunteer some of their time to helping others make the city a better, nicer place to live.

That’s the plus side – we are, on paper at least, a caring, giving community.

More than 42% of the people in Burlington earn more than $100,000 a year.

The value of the average home in Burlington is $466,000.

We are a rich community as well but we aren’t all rich.

The bad news is very painful.  The vacancy rate for apartments is 1.3% which means the market is very tight and that drives up prices.  Nice for the landlords but very, very hard for those living below the poverty line – and Burlington has a lot of people living below that poverty line.

The researchers tell us that within a decade we will see 24% of the population living below the poverty line.

Day care in Burlington costs $60 a day.  It isn’t possible for low income people to afford day care at that price,which means they don’t work and require social assistance.

We know who does the bullying and we know for the most part where it is being done. Why aren’t we able to bring an almost immediate halt to this kind of behavior. Is the problem with the children who do the bullying or with the parents of those children. That wasn’t a polite question.

31% of newcomers live in poverty – given that 1 in 5 of us were not born here – that is not a nice number.

24% of the minorities live in poverty.

24% of those who are unattached – a polite word for single mothers, live in poverty.  That poverty just grinds these women down and their children suffer.

63% of the people using food banks have been doing so for more than three years.  Many thought food banks were a top gap measure.  For far too many their  trip to the food bank is your trip to the supermarket.

This is what poverty looks like – bleak, cold, few prospects and little hope.

What does poverty look like?  Living on $20,778 a year with one in three living in extreme poverty – getting buy on less than $10,389 a year.

In her remarks Colleen Mulholland told of a woman who said she has to steal to care for her family.  Why is this happening?

31% of newcomers in Burlington live under the poverty line and tend to earn 50 cents for every dollar other people earn.

Our social problems are not limited to the newcomers.  Our youth are suffering from problems they see as staggering. Four out of every 12 young people between the ages of 12 and 15 experience bullying.  We know who is doing the bullying – why have we not managed to have it stopped?

Between 10% and 15% of the teenagers have thought of harming themselves.

Between 19% and 27% of teenagers feel they have too many problems.

Between 6% and 11% of teens have thought of committing suicide.

This is a part of the rosy picture we paint of the city we call the nicest place to live in Canada.

When the data was delivered to a room of more than 60 people, BCF chair Tim Dobbie, with a dazed look on his face said “Wow”!  It was not a happy wow.  He followed that up with a “so what do we do now?”

And indeed that is the question – what do we do now?

Why do we have these problems?  Is it all the result in an unequal distribution of the wealth we have?  Is it because parents are too busy to do their job of raising their children?  Are the schools failing us?  Is this happening because we are no longer much of a faith based society?

Len Lifchus, CEO of the Burlington/Hamilton United Way, the organization that raises funds which are delivered to agencies that deliver support services, listens to data he is all too familiar with.

These aren’t polite questions – but when a parent is called to the hospital to talk to the emergency staff about their child having harmed themselves or worse, and this is happening now; when the police knock at your door to tell you that your child has committed suicide, being polite just doesn’t matter anymore.

This report comes out as we get into the 2012 United Way campaign where we need to raise $2.1 million to take care of those who live under that $20,778 poverty line and especially for those that have to try and get by on $10,389.

Do we see the link between the drug use and the social problems?  Our Burlington covers the police stories and note that the police are kept very busy tracking down the drug dealers.  Having been offered a “joint” as I was coming out of the library a number of months ago I can attest to the size of the problem – the kid was less than 20, taking a break and inhaling that funny smelling cigarette.  We all recognize the smell – do we recognize the problem?

It was a tough report that we had to hear and the BCF people deserve full credit for seeing the need and the courage to put the facts before us.  Hopefully we will have the courage and the concern to do something about those facts.

Vital Signs is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. The check up is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada.

The Burlington Community Foundation was established in 1999 by a passionate group of local volunteers and philanthropists to improve the quality of life in Burlington.  Several of the city’s  former Mayors were instrumental in getting the organization off the ground.

The initial funding came from a Mayor’s Gala sponsored by Rob MacIsaac; the first meeting of the Foundation was chaired by former Mayor Walter Mulkewich.

The Foundation helps people create funds and support meaningful local causes. The Foundation’s experts understand the community and help donors respond to vital needs by providing grants to charities.

The Masquerade Ball, the Foundation’s annual fund raising event tries  to sell 600 tickets to the event.  They have a lot of fun and the expensive tickets raise the money for the Foundation to operate.

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He said, she said and they kept trying to talk over each other. Rang bells too but the tax credit passed – where do we apply?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON October 2, 2012  According to a Liberal Party press release Burlington MPP Jane McKenna hasn’t given it the old college try for the home team and voted against the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit which the Liberals say will create more than 10,500 jobs.

The Liberals, using dramatic language that creates an emotional response rather than convey information said:   “McKenna, along with her party leader Tim Hudak,voted against a new $1,500 tax credit to help local seniors stay in their homes and relieve pressure on long-term care costs.

“This tax credit is good news for our seniors and our economy. It helps small businesses create jobs while helping more of our parents and grandparents stay in their homes longer,” said  Liberal MPP Brad Duguid. “It is so disappointing that Jane McKenna and the Hudak PCs continue to put politics ahead of our families; this is the type of strong action needed to grow our economy and help Ontario families.”

The people in this building passed a law that gives you a tax credit. It took them more than 100 days to do that. Now we need to find out what we have to do to take advantage of the tax break. They haven’t told us that yet.

Despite Hudak PC opposition and delaying the bill for months, the senior’s tax credit, introduced by Ontario Liberals, was passed into law today.

The credit, worth up to $1,500 per year, will cover home renovations — such as chair lifts, handrails, and ramps — that help seniors who want to continue living safely and independently in their homes. It is expected to support about $800 million in home renovation activity and around 10,500 jobs in Ontario each year.

MPP McKenna and the Hudak PCs continue to oppose every job creation measure for local families. They blocked this legislation from coming to a vote for more than 100 days. They banged on their desks, rang bells and repeatedly tried to shut down debate. They have no plan to create jobs; also voting against jobs funds for Eastern and Southwestern Ontario earlier this year.

The Horwath NDP have been silent on eliminating the deficit and creating jobs. They are quick to criticize new ideas but have no suggestions of their own. Duguid is talking about Andrea Horwath, leader of the New Democrats in the provincial legislature.

“Only Ontario Liberals are taking strong action with the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit to create more jobs, and protect our gains in health care and education,” concluded Duguid. “These are serious times and we need programs like the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit; not the kind of inaction we’ve seen from the Hudak PCs and Horwath NDP that will put our health care, our schools and our economy at risk.”

Sounds like kids in a sandbox doesn’t it.  It does however look as if the tax credit is in place – now how does one take advantage of it? They don’t tell us that.  If I call McKenna’s office will they tell me where to get the forms?

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Will Burlington’s heritage get the boost and the support it needs from Council this week? Time for some decisions.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 1, 2012  This could be a great week for the city’s heritage integrity. The Pump House and Freeman Station fates get considered – good for a go on both of those.  The Heritage Advisory report will get taken through a long exhaustive debate and discussion.  Will this be the definitive report on heritage buildings for Burlington or will the battle continue for another couple of years?

Burlington has both rural and urban heritage. The fight to save good examples of both has been an ongoing battle with two distinctly different views in the city struggling to dominate. While they battle, some good examples of heritage building get torn down. We lose about one a month along Lakeshore Road.

The Heritage Advisory Committee’s report is before the Community Development Committee this evening and both the Freeman Station and the Pump House get talked through at the Budget and Corporate Services Committee on Tuesday.

We will go into detail on the Heritage Advisory Committee recommendations once it has gone through council committee.  In the past there have been numerous delegations at the podium – there are just three registered to speak this evening. We might all get home at a decent hour.

We can tell you now that the committee considering the Pump House Freeman Station has a staff report that has as many hurdles as a 200 metre race but the staff recommendation is to take a “rolling process”  approach as they weave their way through the more than ten jurisdictional and government agencies that have to be dealt with.

Try this for a maze of agencies:

Provincial Policy – Regard for the Provincial Policy Statement and Places to Grow; City of Burlington Official Plan and Zoning By-Law. These lands fall under the City’s control (through the lease), so the City may use the rights it has under the Public Authority clause of the Zoning By-Law to permit alternative and complimentary uses, however, only through careful consideration.

Add in the City Permits/Building Code; don’t forget  Taxation  and then there is the  Heritage Designation and then  Conservation Halton (CH) has to be included in the mix.  The pump house is located within the “Dynamic Beach Regulated Hazard Area” as defined by CH.  Any change in use will require CH approval. No building additions are permitted in this zone so any exterior patios, decks, concrete pads, waste facilities, and servicing works all require CH approval.

Is it worth saving? Without a sensible heritage policy Burlington has flip flopped and let some real historical gems have an encounter with the wrecking ball.

The Region is at the table in a big way.  Beachway Park is designated as a Regional Waterfront Park and an Environmentally Sensitive Area in the Region’s Official Plan, and therefore is subject to various policies and regulations regarding use, development and protection. Water and sewer connections require the Region’s approval. Full urban sanitary sewer connections are currently not permitted in this area.

Are you getting the drift here?  Then there are the licensing Agencies. The Alcohol and Gaming people need to be dealt with – the Health Department for a food service establishment.  Then there is the actual lease agreement.  Did you count them?  More than ten.

However, if the political will is there and so far it is very much there, this can happen.  Will it happen before the pier is open – with the Burlington Pier this is not one I would bet on.

What appears to come out of the staff report is that they would like to see this happen but there are some issues out there that need time and attention.

A solid move on the part of city council to seek expressions of interest in turning the pump house into a coffee shop/pub/wine bar. Might be the beginning of a shift to giving the heritage of the city more integrity than it has had in the past.

Before this opportunity can go forward staff wants the city to issue a Request for Expressions of Interest to the retail sector and see who might be interested in leasing the space.  If there is the kind of interest the city is looking for – this one could actually happen.  Many people want to see something  quite a bit more upscale than the “Burger Stand” 50 feet or so from the pump house that has sanitary facilities that curl the nostrils.

However, getting someone to take the bait may not be that easy.  When the city went looking for someone to take over the operation of the Paletta Mansion – there weren’t the kind of opportunities and the request for Expressions of Interest was withdrawn.

Hamilton has a very well-run and very popular coffee shop on their waterfront that you have to line up to get into.

The pump house was built in 1909 as part of a new waterworks system to provide piped water from Lake Ontario to Burlington residents and reduce reliance on well supplies.  Construction of the new waterworks system was seen as a catalyst for the growth, development and betterment of the Village of Burlington.

More than 100 years later and we are looking at the development of the Beachway Park that now has a very small residential community within it.  There was a time when the community was large and very robust but at the time not seen as a nice part of town.

Historically significant? How many of these does the city want to save and will taxpayers go along with the cost of keeping these buildings? Council has not shown a tremendous amount of leadership on this file. The Heritage Advisory committee has come forward with a new approach. We’ll tell you how Council reacts to the recommendations.

The pump house was in service from 1910 to 1936. The building was then used as a residence for the next 50 years. The building was purchased by the City in 1987. It sits on Conservation Halton (CH) lands, however the building itself is owned by the City.

While CH owns the majority of the lands that comprise Beachway Park, both the City and the Region of Halton own various adjacent parcels. The City is responsible for the operational aspects of the Park under a lease/operating agreement with CH.

The pump house was designated as a heritage property in 1992, recognizing the historical and architectural significance of this building.  After acquisition, the pump house was used as an operational centre for lifeguard staff when the beach was directly supervised by city staff.  Currently the building is used for storage to support the beach pavilion concession and Parks and Recreation Department operations.

The pump house is a one-storey building with a full basement. It has a concrete foundation structure and solid brick exterior.  The main entrance access is 4 steps up from grade level which presents an accessibility challenge.

The building is serviced by a 5/8” water-main and a ½” natural gas supply. The sanitary system is a septic tank and weeping tile system which is currently not functional.  A new slate roof and gutters were installed and the fascia and soffits were restored along with a new 200 amp electrical service that the city spent  $45,000 to have done.

The city estimates it might take as much as $70,000 to get the building to the point where it could be leased and advises that there is $62,000 tucked in an envelope somewhere for just this type of thing.

On a very optimistic note the staff report has a pub opening in October of 2013 – that might be before the Pier opens; imagine that.

The Freeman station is quite a bit further along.



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All Aboard! Freeman station just might be back in business. Tickets will be sold as part of the fund raising?


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 1, 2012  The Friends of the Freeman station will know by the end of the week what they are going to be able to do with the building.

If Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster step forward and speak forcefully enough they should be able to convince their fellow council members to approve the Joint Venture Agreement staff has prepared.

The Friends already have a three year lease with the owners of the property that is to the immediate east of the Fire Department headquarters on Plains Road where the station is sitting on blocks.

If the Friends can get the approval they need at committee this week- they then head for Council where it should get rubber stamped and then they move into fund raising mode.

She sits on blocks that don’t look all that secure but she is still at least in one piece – sort of. The Friends of the Freeman Station are ready to move the structure onto land that is less than 100 yards away from where she sits today. Progress.

Financially they are in pretty good shape and have enough money in hand or readily available to them to get the building off the blocks and over into the property they’ve leased and begin preparing the foundation it needs to rest on.

There is a bunch of excited if slightly exhausted people who will breathe a sigh of relief and a cheer when this deal gets one.  The historic station came close to becoming firewood for someone in the province.

For the longest time the city couldn’t find a place to put the structure.  Back when the city had federal funds to rehabilitate the station council couldn’t agree on where it should go.  The Art Centre didn’t want it on their property.  Councillors Craven and Thoem let themselves be badgered and bullied, by residents in high rises across the road from Brant House, into voting against putting the building on the edge of Spencer Smith Park close to where the Brant Inn was once located.  Councillor Craven can make amends for that gaff made years ago by voting for the Joint Venture.  Councillor Thoem moved on to his reward after losing his seat in 2010 to Meed Ward who moved at the last minute to save the station.

Councillor Sharman could let the spark of a social conscience rise in his breast and vote for the venture.  He wasn’t a believer when the idea of saving the station was on its last legs.

Councillor Taylor can support this – it isn’t going to cost much and citizens deserve his support for the really hard work they have put in.  City staff estimate it is going to cost between $80,000 and $130,000 to design and construct a foundation and then move the building.

That the building survived several winters on the shakiest of settings is not something the city can take any credit for.  They should be ashamed that they seem prepared to just let the thing rot or fall over. Citizens ensured it was saved now staff needs to get out of the way and let the committee get on with the job or get on board and let the ill of the community prevail. When Friends of Freeman come looking for support – be generous.

The Friends have raised $30,000.  That along with $25,000 available for the project from a Section 37 payment the Molinaro’s negotiated with the city.  Include the $20,000 the city has in an account created to save the Freeman station when there was federal stimulation money on the table – gives the Friends  $75,000 to work with.  This is looking more and more like a slam dunk.  Kudos to Meed Ward for jumping in to support a community that wanted to save the station.  Now all she has to do is make sure it gets through committee.

Councillor Dennison may have had a train set as a young boy and he may manage to see beyond  the budget visor he tends to wear and go along with this one.

For a while, the location for the station is now along Plains Road – everyone knows it will eventually be on the waterfront somewhere in the Beachway where it belongs – beside the rail bed that once directed trains to the station.  Jack Dennison may not be on Council when this eventually happens but he does want to sit out on a deck at the Pump House and enjoy a glass of wine.  He can do that and look with some satisfaction at the Freeman Station – home at last.

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City hall staff use part of their day to give the United Way campaign a strong local boost. Firemen take the truck pull prize – again.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 27, 2012  The vehicle pull down Brant Street by those marvelous people at city hall who keep the wheels turning in this city usually marks the beginning of the annual United Way program.

Great weather to be outside, enjoy a burger and contribute to the United Way Campaign and be part of a team that pulls a fire truck down Brant Street.

The weather is usually good, the crowd is enthusiastic and they have some fun while they are at it.  The Fire Department has been the traditional winner of this event but last year Planning took the trophy – if memory serves me right they had two teams in last year.

While the firemen took the trophy their anchor took a tumble for the team when he got the rope tangled around his feet.

This year the Fire Department took the trophy back – Planning didn’t seem to be able to find the trophy they were given so it might be a bit before they actually get the thing.

It has to be noted that the vehicle being pulled this year was a fire truck – and while we aren’t suggesting the man behind the wheel had his foot on the brakes when others were pulling the thing – you know, the fireman might not have liked the idea of people who use their brains and their fingers to get their work done taking the prize for an event that calls for muscle and brawn. .

Kim Phillips, one of the city’s General Managers with a focus on the administrative and financial side of the place – gave it the old high school try when she jumped into the line, grabbed the rope and pulled. Wasn’t quite enough – the firemen took the trophy this year.

Not to be the least bit negative but last year the Clerk’s department had costumes that were a delight to see and the day had more teams out on the street – at least that was my recollection.  Last year Lee Oliver played a bigger role in this event – bring him back.

City hall has been doing this vehicle pull for more than ten years and it might be time to come up with something new and different – jazz it up a bit more maybe.  Staff clearly want to be part of an event.  They have fun; Civic Square was close to packed.

The Burlington portion of the 2012 United Way Campaign is $2.1 million.  That’s a big number that Burlington chair Paddy Torsney is going to have to be very creative to achieve.  She has a strong team with a lot of new people taking part – many who are quite a bit younger than what United Way has been able to recruit in the past.



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It is going to be an absolutely beautiful pier and you are going to love every minute you get to spend on it.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 29, 2012  I was out on the Pier Friday afternoon – I mean out on the real pier, not just the part that is built on land – I was out there over the water.  I wasn’t out on the trestle that is in place for heavy equipment to use.  I was out there, right over the water, and I can tell you – you’re going to love the place when you get your chance to walk out on that Pier.

I realize I’m beginning to sound like a public relations flack on the Pier.  It is a significant project that has had every problem you can imagine and it is going to cost close to three times the original price.  We will tell you the full story once we have all the pieces.  For now – we want to tell you about a Pier you are going to be immensely proud of and one you will want to walk out onto frequently.  The Mayor’s office is already penciling in some plans for the opening ceremony.

Yes, the thing is costing us a fortune – and the spending isn’t over yet.  And we’ve not heard a word about how much we are spending on the lawyers.  They must just love this case.

But the focus today is on the pier and its progress.  It is taking forever.  When I was on the site there weren’t very many people around.  The construction crew had been sent home and given a chance to get an early start on what looks like a great fall weekend.  Some bolts – 450 of the things – needed to continue with the construction work weren’t on the site – so the crew got sent home.

The site is cold in the mornings now – the constructions workers wear hoods over their helmets. The fall weather is going to cut into the time the crews can work.  They now work Saturday’s and they will be working Sundays as they get into the fall.  That is going to mean getting a waiver on Sunday work and there will be people at the Waterfront Hotel who won’t like the sound of a construction crew on a Sunday morning after a wedding reception.

Brad Cassidy, current project coordinator, serving as a fill in for the project manager, shows how thick the concrete base will be. Up to half way between his knee and his ankle.

Next week there will be more steel on site and the hope is that come the end of the week the concrete people will begin to actually pour concrete.

I wasn’t quite sure what the construction people meant when they talked about pier caps so city project manager Craig Stevens did a drawing on a scrap of paper.  The wavy line is the water, the horizontal lines are the deck.  Immediately beneath the deck is the re-bar and the concrete that will be put in place to bind the deck to the caissons.

The pier is built atop seven sets of caissons. Atop each of these caissons they build a pier cap, which is what keeps the deck and the caissons together.  Concrete and re bar – loads of the stuff get laid down.  The concrete forms are put in place and then concrete poured.

Concrete can’t be poured in cold, cold weather.  They can use propane tanks and large tarps to shelter the decks but it gets very windy out there.  The real hope is that we be favoured with an “Indian Summer” and that the crews are able to get a lot of work done in the next 30 to 45 days.

That’s where we are now.  The going forward part is dependent on the weather and while everyone hopes and many think the weather will hold – that’s something the construction crews have no control over.

Those bars at the front of the picture are where the first set of seven caissons is located.  A cap will be built atop the caissons and then concrete poured.  The second pier cap will go in seven diaphragms up – the diaphragms are those cross beams keeping the girders apart.

The last of the steel is expected to be on site the second week of November but we may see that steel sitting out there over the winter.

The project has had its problems on the city side of things but there are problems as well on the contractor’s side.  Doug Dillon, the Graham Infrastructure Project Manager is no longer with the company and that has much of the day to day load falling on the shoulders of Brad Cassidy, a nice guy who certainly has the capacity to grow into a Project Manager.  He is currently the Project Coordinator.  Jim Rosien is going to serve as the Project Manager for now.  Rosien is also the General Manager for Graham in eastern Canada – so the top man on this project is working his way through a very full plate.  Not a confidence inspiring situation.

The contractor, Graham Infrastructure, has had six project managers cycle through this site – far, far too many.  The city staff are at times close to spitting out teeth in frustration.

Quality Control and Quality Assurance are being a little overdone but don’t expect the city to tell you that. Everyone is making darn sure that there are no mistakes.

The beacon section of the Pier is being put together and the railing that will be in place is having small adjustments to the design done.  We might be able to show you pictures of those parts in the near future.

Right now – the focus is on the weather – will it be a mild fall and early winter?  If it is – we will see a Sound of Music opening.  If there is snow soon – all bets are off.

On the legal side – things are moving along like molasses in December. The next step, Examination for Discovery was scheduled to start in November, has now been moved back to late January because of a conflict with a vacation schedule.  This time it was a senior city staffer that decided it was a good time to take a vacation and January is a nice time to go south.  Problem is that this staffer is a key element in the city’s case.  There are some people at city hall very, very ticked off.  This sort of thing wouldn’t be tolerated in the private sector.

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Mayor has now determined the kind of message he wants to send out – it won’t be show business.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 28, 2012   Every Mayor decides at some point, what kind of a mark they want to make on the city they are leading.  That mark is a combination of their hopes and dreams for the city; their background and experience and then the people they know who can help them fashion the mark they are going to leave.

That’s the dream – and it bumps into the cold hard reality of the world of politics and people and the economy they have to deal with.

There is a load of frustration and disappointment in being a Mayor and while many think the Mayor is “popular” and can call anyone for help – the truth is – it is very, very lonely at the top.

Saturday evening the Mayor’s Cabaret will be held at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.  Getting the production to the stage was a bumpy road.  A delay with the show date and a tremendous amount of work by the Mayor’s staff hasn’t produced the results they wanted.  These events have to be carefully worked through to determine who the audience is supposed to be and then figuring out how you get them into the building.

It isn’t going to be a sold out event – and there probably won’t be a second Cabaret.

Burlington doesn’t have a long tradition of Gala’s headed up by the Mayor.  This type of event became popular in the 90’s with former Mayor Rob MacIsaac holding the first event and using it to raise funds for the Community Development Foundation.

Former Mayor Jackson ran a different kind of Gala and then ran afoul of the city manager and didn’t hold an event his last year in office.

Mayor Jackson ran a different form of Gala and then ran into some difficulty during his final year in office with his event.  Jackson went on to lose the election – not because of the way his Gala`s were run we might add.  After leaving City Hall Jackson became a lobbyist for a professional organization.  We are advised that he has since left the group he was representing.

There are former Mayors who don`t feel events like this should be run out of the Mayor`s office.  Mayor Goldring has found that putting on an event like this eats up far too much of his staffs’ time.

The event won`t be a bust – but it will probably be the last one sponsored by the Mayor.

Rick Goldring is doing something else that matters – and it is with his Inspire series of speakers that we can expect to see change – albeit not in the short term.  Planting new ideas in the minds of a community that tends not to take on new ideas easily is a challenge.  What Goldring has done is find speakers who have ideas and something to say that can lead the city in a different direction and give us something to base our decisions upon.

The first speaker was Chris Hume of the Toronto Star who made no bones about what he thought of what McMaster University had done to the city.  He saw their decision to back out of putting a campus into the downtown core as “morally repugnant”

Hume got the event off to a strong start and it has been uphill from there.  The events have been held at McMaster’s DeGroote campus on the South Service Road but have moved to the Performing Arts Centre where they come close to full house events.

The speaker at the Mayor’s next Inspire series will be Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospital

And it is on this level, stimulating the minds and the imaginations of the community where Mayor Goldring has chosen to make his mark.  Later this Month Dr. Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals, will speak on how we care for our aging population, which for Burlington is going to be a huge challenge.

While it is the hospital that will actually deliver that care – it is the community that is going to have to communicate to the hospital what kind of care that it wants, needs and is prepared to pay for.  The $60 million given to the hospital by the city on behalf of its taxpayers has to stand for something.

Ken Greenberg explained the role the large pension funds are playing in the development of the downtown cores of Mississauga and how his group had worked with developers in Toronto.

It is now clear what this Mayor wants to do – he wants to get people thinking; he wants to bring new ideas to the table and create discussions that result in a public ready to do things differently.  He has certainly brought in excellent speakers.  Andre Picard talked about where the public health business was going; Ken Greenberg talked about the way major developments were being done and who the players were in the development game.

Gil Penalosa  told the city how we could make more and better use of bikes and “create vibrant and healthy cities for all: from 8 to 80 years old”. His focus was the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on walking and cycling for recreation and transportation. Out of that talk came the two Car Free Sundays we had this summer.  One of the two was a strong success – closing Brant Street didn’t go as well.  Will we do it again?  We should.

The city got a bronze level award for the way we have begun to focus on getting people outdoors and using bicycles more frequently.  Burlington loves getting awards and this one will probably spur the city into doing more bike related stuff.  There is a night ride scheduled by a group in the city this weekend.

The two Car Free Sundays went well enough to try again next summer – although many of the people stuck in their cars may not think it was a good idea.  The idea was to get those people out of their cars.

All very good speakers – BUT, and this is not meant to rain on the Mayor’s parade – is anyone listening to these speakers; are they being heard?  The city is currently looking into what it wants to do and can do with its employment lands – those properties that will hold the office buildings and high tech, high value added manufacturing operations the city needs.

Time and again we hear the consultants we hire telling council to “do your homework”.  The Molinaro’s recently announced the purchase of the large lot in front of the GO station on Fairview, to the east of Wal-Mart and will be moving forward with their plans to develop the property.

During the Workshop the city held earlier in the week on the Employment Lands Councillor Jack Dennison (Ward 4) asked if maybe the Molinaro’s could be asked to include an office building in their plans.  The Molinaro’s  didn’t get to where they are with that kind of woolly thinking.  They have already decided what they want to do with that property and have it all costed out.

That the city doesn’t know what they have planned suggests that perhaps some Council members are still using rotary dial telephones and have forgotten how to use them.

The Mayor fully understands the gravity of the problems we have and he is doing a part of the job that needs to be done.  He does need to immerse himself into the talks with the developers and not leave that to the Economic Development people – nothing is getting done over there.

But the Mayor can’t do it all – the rest of us have to do our homework.

If we don’t do things differently – we won’t continue to exist.

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