Anne Marsden in the race to defeat Mayor Meed Ward

By Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2022



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

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

Marsden said responses to her Tweets has doubled.

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

Those numbers mean something.

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



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

By Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2022



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

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

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

Each of those jurisdictions levies a tax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No hands were raised

The data was pretty stark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

We explained how that works above.

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

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

The vote to receive and file the report carried.

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Sue Biggs Top Cop for Burlington

By Staff

July 13th, 2022



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

Superintendent Sue Biggs commander of the Burlington District police operations

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

She responded within 10 minutes stating:

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

Good start.

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

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

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

By Staff

July 13th, 2022



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

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

About the Climate Resilient Burlington plan

This is what wet looks like

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

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

CRB Themes and Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Projects with links to climate actions underway

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

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

Pretty wild

Related news story;

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

Climate Resilient Burlington, Get involved page:


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

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related news story:

Council agenda get revised to handle some Urgent Business

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

By Staff

July 12, 2022




This – direct from City Hall!

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

Here’s how to connect with us


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


Send us an email at


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

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


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


Visit us at

Quick Facts

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

–          Parking permits and tickets

–          Property taxes

–          Freedom of Information requests

–          Garbage tags

–          Dog licenses

–          Property information requests

–          Recreation services

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

Angela Morgan, Strategic Lead, Customer Experience

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

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

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



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

By Staff

July 12th, 2022



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

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

They two items are:


Integrity Commissioner RFP/Contract Approval

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

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


Confidential verbal update regarding City Manager Performance Review

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


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

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

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

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

Something is up!



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

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022



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

The line in an item on the LinkedIn platform read:

Is Kimberly Calderbank getting ready to get back into politics ?

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

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

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

It will be a much smaller list of candidates in 2022

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2022



For Leah Reynolds it was always about the students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related news story:

Reynolds accused of being coached during a school board debate

Resident writes Open letter on the coaching issue

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

By Pepper Par

July 12th, 2022


Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 / 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Light Refreshments & Small Group Tours

Burlington Green has pulled of a really smart opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The inside was basically bare – running water and heat.

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

The building was empty – again.

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

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

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

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

You are asked to reserve at:

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

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eight new electric vehicle charging stations coming to Burlington

By Staff

July 8th, 2022



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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all part of the climate change response:

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

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

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

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



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

By Lawson Hunter

July 7th, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The impact of the 2014 flood on a Burlington basement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 2013 ice storm blocked roads for days

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

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

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

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


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

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BurlingtonGreen has a new home - The Pump House in the Beachway

By Staff

July 7th, 2022



What a great idea?

The Pump House is a big part of the Beachway history.

Not sure how it came about – didn’t see anything about the space being available – but if it can be put to good community use – go for it.

BurlingtonGreen has a new home.

Plaque tells the story

Located at the historic Pump House at Beachway Park, they have put down roots at this new home to make it easier for you to join with us to take action for the planet, locally.


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AGB has a new Executive Director who might have some explaining to do to the tax people

By Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2022



News from the Art Gallery is hard to come by.

They now have a communications/marketing person; Nadine Heath. She reached out to point to what she thought were misunderstandings on my part as to just how that annual meeting in June went.

Emma Quinn, new AGB Executive Director

In her email note to me she also mentioned that the new Executive Director is Emma Quinn who comes to the AGB with 30 years of experience working with cultural, charitable, and not for profit organizations in Ontario, paired with deep knowledge of the arts and craft sector. Emma will transition to her new role on July 25, 2022.

Quinn was the Executive Director of the Textile Museum in Toronto for a number of years

Settling into the job might require some time going over the AGB’s Charitable Annual Return for the 2021 fiscal year which has been published on CRA’s website, and it appears to have a few truly strange errors.

Whoever completed the return sets AGB as a charity with revenues of under $100,000, when they were in fact required to complete Schedule 6. The consequences of this are that significant financial details, including fundraising costs, are not broken out as they should be, making the AGB impossible to compare to its past returns and to other medium to large sized charities, and making it appear on the “Quick View” that their fundraising costs were 0.

Strangely enough, they also reported the City of Burlington grant as “other revenue” instead of “government revenue”.

Lots of questions.  Want to talk to the two lawyers who were directors but are no longer on the Board.  The Chair who was re-elected at the June meeting resigned shortly after.

Related news story

AGB directors are elected and then they quit


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Surprise candidiate running as Regional Chair - Andrea Grebenc school board Chair moving up the food chain

By Staff

July 6th, 2022



Here is a candidate announcement that surprised many – Andrea Grebenc, business owner for over 20 years, elected Trustee in 2014 and 2018 in municipal elections and elected Board Chair for four annual terms (2018-2021), is seeking the office of Halton Regional Chair in the October 24, 2022 municipal election.

Andrea Grebenc

Grebenc appears to be taking the position that younger more energetic leadership is needed at the Regional level. She wants to bring new ideas that meet the needs of those who are raising families and appreciate just how safe life is in the Region – she wants to build on that

Andrea is currently in her final year of her second four-year Trustee term with the Halton District School Board (HDSB). The organization is one of the largest organizations within Halton and one of the largest school boards in the province with an annual operating budget of $850 million dollars, over 100 facilities and 10,000 staff that serves the entire region.

The HDSB has been one of the top performing boards in Ontario during her tenure and while sitting as Chair she was often sought out by other Ontario School Board Chairs for advice. Halton Region functions under similar laws and governance rules and processes as the HDSB.

Andrea is known by many media outlets for providing frank and factual insight on education issues. A listing of interviews and articles is available on the website. She looks to continue to serve the people of Halton in an alternate leadership position at the Regional level.

“The role of Regional Chair requires passion, energy and accessibility to fight for the well-being and interests of Halton Region. I have demonstrated these assets as a Trustee, Board Chair and entrepreneur.” – Andrea Grebenc

Grebenc:: core values include transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement.

Andrea has developed relationships with local, provincial and federal elected officials and is always ready to listen and serve her constituents. She has an excellent record as Trustee and Board Chair, with stellar attendance and trying to improve the system by sitting on and often chairing standing and ad hoc committees. Andrea’s core values include transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement.

As a business owner/consultant in the Information Technology (IT) field, Andrea has worked with organizations large and small to provide services and solutions. Her largest clients have included Toyota Canada Inc. and McMaster University where she has taught for over 20 years. She is a problem solver and collaborator.

Andrea has lived most of her life in Burlington. She loves Halton and has chosen to raise her three children here with her husband who also works in the IT field.

To be a part of this bid for fresh, strong leadership in Halton, join the campaign by volunteering, donating, and ordering a sign. Invite Andrea to events, large or small. Information is available at Reach out to Andrea at or call (905) 510-4847. Follow Andrea on Twitter at @AndreaGrebenc or on Facebook at @Andrea4Halton.

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Standing Committee gets off to a rough start - both the Chair and the Vice Chair don't show up - sent their regrets

By Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2022


Update:   Both showed up after the lunch break

Here is a first.

For the first time in my memory, which covers 12 years of covering council meetings, both the Chair and the Vice Chair of a Standing Committee could not make it to the meeting.

Stolte was a no show.

Nisan was a no show

Councillors Stolte and Nisan sent their regrets.

Committee Clerk Jo-Anne Rudy had to draft Councillor Sharman to take the Chair of the Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee.

No word from either Council member.  Stolte has been emailing earlier in the day.

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Early look at city tax increases for 2023 come in at just under 8%

By Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2022



Council will debate the tax increases they expect to impose during a meeting on Monday.

They will dance around a lot of numbers – the ones that count and set out for you below.

The number that matter is the top line; that is the amount the city is going to levy.

When the city tax levy is added to the total tax bill it looks lower.

The city collects taxes for the Region and the Boards of Education


How did they get to the 7.97?

The Finance people, amongst the best in the province have done a very good job cutting and chopping – they are up against hard reality. The challenge for the taxpayers is to hope that the members of Council will spend more conservatively.

Tough weeks ahead for the city treasurer.

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Housing strategy fundamentals in place - now for the really hard work in an uncertain economic environment

By Pepper Parr

July 3rd, 2022


City Council decided January 2021 that there had to be a housing strategy that would make it possible for people to be able to live in Burlington and at some time in their lives buy a hone.

The provincial requirement that the city grow meant intensification had to take place which amounted to growing up  – translate that to mean high rise towers – rather than growing out because there was no more greenfield land left.

At the same time the value of single family dwellings sky rocketed – due in part to cheap money from the banks and the realization that if you didn’t get into the marker now you might never get in.

Traditionally municipalities do not involve themselves in the supply of housing – they determine what can be built where through the zoning bylaw.

In June City Council took the first step in recommending the creation of a Housing Strategy.

The lead up to getting to the point was an 18 month process that resulted in a report yesterday that set out

12 actions – six of which were priorities

5 themes

5 pathways

1 vision

Most of the city departments were involved in putting the report together but there were five women who were at it every day of those 18 months.

It was a very proud day for Alison Enns and her team: Laura Daly, Kate Hill-Montague and Alexandra Mathers.

Increasing options for housing across the city was identified as a top priority and goal in the From Vision to Focus Plan. A key action item associated with this priority was ‘to complete the City’s Housing Strategy and implement the plan to address the needs related to young families, senior’s housing, affordable housing, special needs housing and newcomers by Q2-2022’.

A key action associated with this priority is to employ a range of communication and engagement tactics to ensure citizen involvement.

The objective was to

“…develop an innovative Housing Strategy for the City of Burlington that sets out policies, tools and actions to address residents’ housing needs now and in the future and will build on and support the Region’s Housing Strategy through the development of local solutions to housing issues in the City of Burlington.”

The Housing Strategy provides a road map for addressing local housing needs and increasing housing options that meet the needs of current and future residents at all stages of life and at all income levels. It identifies the key players in housing and their respective roles, including the role of the City of Burlington (See Action 1 of the Housing Strategy).

Burlington, as a lower tier municipality, has two key opportunities to do its part to “make moves” in addressing the broader housing crisis:

  • First, through partnership and advocacy to help deliver the deep affordability and housing options needed by residents of Burlington within the lower income deciles; and
  • Second, through focusing on implementing the direct actions that the City can take to increase housing options and opportunities for residents of Burlington within the middle-income deciles.

The key findings of the Housing Needs and Opportunities Report are summarized below:

  • Rental housing supply is not meeting the needs of existing and future
  • Housing is not affordable for many Burlington In the City of Burlington, the supply of housing that is affordable for all incomes is diminishing. In particular, home ownership for middle-income earners has become a challenge;
  • Burlington residents do not feel there is enough diversity or options for housing in the City to meet residents’ needs throughout their lifecycle;
  • As Burlington continues to grow and evolve, housing options will need to reflect this growth and change;
  • As a lower-tier municipality, one of the greatest actions and areas of focus will be to leverage relationships with upper levels of government and local community organizations to advocate for housing affordability and foster partnerships for the delivery of housing to address needs across the continuum; and
  • A lack of understanding among the general public about the benefits of a range and mix of housing options in the City often results in opposition to development that would address housing gaps.

The need was clear, what wasn’t as clear was how to get this done.

The pathway that Enns and her team had to determine was cluttered with what the other jurisdictions were doing.

The federal government was going to provide funds.

The Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) would be heavily involved

Ontario produced a report saying the people would just have to get used o the idea that there were going to be four plxes on streets that were single family dwellings.  Try that idea on a city councillor who has to deal with property owners who say – certainly, great idea – but not on my street if you want my vote.

The Regional government had the task of determining what the urban growth boundaries were going to be – and had to work aganst a lot of deeply rooted resistance from the farming community.

Locally the team had to work within a planning department environment that was struggling to cope with close to impossible work loads and significant changes at the leadership level.

This was an initiative put in place by a city council was about half way through its term of office and at a time when the leadership of the Planning department was experiencing some stability issues.

The Chief Planner found that her position no longer existed on the City Organization Chart so was given the opportunity to find employment elsewhere taking a significant financial settlement with her.

Mayor Meed Ward was never able to create the kind of relationship she wanted with Mary Lou Tanner who was the Director of Planning, which made her departure inevitable at some point.

Despite this Allison Enns and her team were able to work very effectively.

The presented their report and got the endorsement they needed quite quickly.  The recommendation vote was unanimous and went to Council on June 21st.

Then what?

Getting to this point meant loads of virtual meetings, all kinds of survey work.  Enns was particularly good at creating a pause during a virtual meeting and doing a quicky survey of those participating on line

The Housing Strategy is underpinned by extensive technical work by Dillon Consulting and SHS Consulting

And of course there was an engagement plan that drew more than 1,400 responses over the course of 4 online surveys and hosting 6 virtual Open Houses.

One key element of the engagement was the Housing Strategy Working Group who along with the Steering Committee guided the preparation of the Housing Strategy.

The Housing Strategy identifies 12 Actions to move toward the vision for housing in Burlington. It provides a set of action-oriented housing objectives (Themes) and an associated implementation plan that also identifies a list of Prioritized Actions and Quick Wins.



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