The kind of thing you might want to do when you are stuck in traffic.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Where do you find the time to complete a survey the Ministry of Transportation has sent out on long-term transportation planning for the Greater Golden Horseshoe?

The results of the survey will help inform and guide highway and transit investment from today to the year 2051. Gathering input directly from communities is part of the government’s commitment to develop regional transportation plans that reflect local needs and priorities.

Greater Golden Horse graphc“We’ve received great feedback as we develop this transportation plan and are encouraging even more people to participate in helping to shape the future of transportation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “This survey is incredibly important. We need the community to take part in order to build a high functioning and efficient transportation system that will keep families and the economy of the Greater Golden Horseshoe moving.”

The survey is the latest step in continued engagement with the general public, municipal and freight stakeholders, businesses and Indigenous communities. A summary of the survey findings will be produced by the Ministry of Transportation and posted on the Greater Golden Horseshoe transportation plan web page.

Link to the survey is HERE

The survey’s closing date is October 26, 2020.

 

Return to the Front page

Daily Covid in the Schools information available to parents and the general public

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Saying that “The Premier and our government made a promise to parents, that we would ensure that they would have access to the same information that we have.” the province created a web site that will report on the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies.

If a COVID-19 case is confirmed at a school it will be posted to the web site.  Data is current as of 2:00 pm the previous day.

Click HERE for the web site.

Set out below is what one of the pages on the web site looks like.

 

Covid cases school report

Return to the Front page

“Mayor Meed Ward’s Weekly Update: September 7-13, 2020”

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

The taxpayers of Burlington can now get a peek at what Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has planned for a week.

This is a new feature coming out of the Mayor’s communications department.

It is described as “a regular and predictable communication of my high-level meetings, media engagements, events and regular communications”.

mmw updateAn example of what the Mayor is providing is HERE.

Look at the September 9th entry for Clearwater Development Discussion entry.  Was that meeting with the developer, who has revised the plan for two medium rise buildings in what is a single dwelling community or with the ward Councillor:  who was involved in that meeting?  This particular development is of serious concern to a number of people in the community.

One wonders if this weekly peek is being put in place rather than a Registry that has been proposed by ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns.

A Registry is a list of the people that an elected official meets with on city business.

A Registry entry would set out the name of the person the Mayor or Councillor met with, the company they represented, the business that was discussed and the length of time the meeting lasted.

There are a lot of people who want to do business with the city of Burlington.  Many think that the Mayor can serve their interests well and they look for an opportunity to meet with and impress the Mayor. Never hurts to have friends in high places.

A former Mayor of Burlington once told me “anything that happens in the city comes through the office of the Mayor”. A Registry is a much more  disciplined document and in some municipalities there are penalties for not complying with keeping an accurate and timely Registry – no noting that you met with someone three months ago.

During the presentation of a development by a large corporation at a public meeting the senior officer of a much smaller development organization approached a Councillor who was elected for the first time in 2018.  It was a very casual meeting, lasted just a few minutes during which a business card was presented.  I would bet dollars to donuts that there was a follow up meeting.

And there is nothing wrong with that – but, when public money is involved – you note the event.

This is a good and commendable effort.  More detail would make it what the public is entitled to.

 

 

Return to the Front page

Reader questions the appointment of new vice principals at public schools - the appointments were not new - they were re-locations.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Several days ago we received a letter with no return address. There was a single piece of paper with five paragraphs with which the writer explained that she had learned of 19 new vice principals being appointed at the Halton District School Board.

The full letter went as follows:

As a teacher I am sending this note anonymously for obvious reasons – but you might want to ask some tough questions publicly.

As you are aware, additional spending has been required by the HDSB to prepare schools for re-opening during the pandemic and money is tight.

However, on August 26th, this board announced 19 new vice principal appointments) note these were not replacements – new appointments) to oversee in several schools “Virtual Schools”. Vice principals are not cheap and this money could have been spent further reducing class sizes in some of the more high risk locations, particularly in Oakville.

While I understand that a significant (perhaps up to 20%) of Halton students have chosen to learn from home, this was accomplished in the spring for three months without any bureaucratic oversight. And I didn’t notice any shortcomings that more administrators will solve.

These appointments do underscore a philosophy in the administration on Guelph Line that nothing good happens without Board oversight. Sadly, this is at polar opposites from reality.

grebenc 3

HDSB Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc

We first communicated with the Chair of the Board of trustees, Andrea Grebenc, who answered our questions. She said there were just two new appointments. We asked for a little clarification at which point Grebenc, correctly we believe, said this was an operations matter.

We then put ourselves in touch with Director of Education Stuart Miller, who got back to us very very quickly saying:

Miller prep at Central

Director of Education Stuart Miller

As you know we created 4 Virtual schools (3 elementary and 1 secondary). They all needed administrators as they are now our biggest schools (16,000 students).

Also because of the number of students who chose distance learning, it meant the number of administrators required for schools in which they lost students to distance learning is not the same. Many schools became smaller and therefore could afford to lose an administrator (P/VP). Those were the ones redeployed.

There was one new appointment and that is because we had a late retirement of a Principal, the rest were not new assignments.

To our anonymous reader – don’t think there is any misbehavior here. The information you refer to does not appear to exist. If you have something that we haven’t managed to dig up – please send it along, and we will follow up.

I think you may have been misled or misinformed.  You did the right thing – you brought the concern forward so that questions could be asked.

At this point it looks to us that the board administration is scrambling to meet a dynamic and very fluid situation.

Our only comment is that 17 administrators for four virtual schools looks a little thick but the administrators are professionals and we have to trust them to do what they think is needed.  Better to have too many than not enough.

They are doing an impossible job in tough times.

Return to the Front page

Did the federal and provincial funding kill the hope for an electric transit fleet ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 10th 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When funding is given to a municipality it rarely comes as a surprise.

More often than not the city and the funding body work with the municipality work out what is available and what it can be used on.

The Member or in Burlington’s case the Members of Parliament are heavily involved.

MMW at transit funding Sept 8

Mayor Meed Ward leading the announcement of new transit equipment. She had them dancing about the funding before they all went home.

Thus the decision to lay millions of dollars on the city is something that was worked out between the federal government, the province and the city. The Region had nothing to do with this one.

The question that popped into my mind was: What does this mean to any electrification of the Burlington Transit fleet.

Every bit of professional advice Director of Transit Sue Connor got was that it was not possible to operate a fleet that was electric AND diesel. Not with the money that is available to Burlington transit. Everything about electric is different.

You have to go all in if you are going electric.

The charging stations needed to ensure that the bus batteries don’t fail are a million dollars each. It looked as if Burlington was going to need two of them.

Also on the table was the use of nitrogen as the propellant. There is a very strong argument for nitrogen over electricity.

Sue Connor at mike

Director of Transit Sue Connor

Sue Connor brought in a speaker who took council through the nitrogen argument explaining that Canada was at that time a bit of a leader in applying the use of nitrogen to transit.

Adding 12 diesel buses to the fleet does help Connor in meeting the demand that she hopes will come back.

Just before the covid shutdown took place transit was reporting double digit rider increases.

How quickly that ridership returns is an unknown at this point.

The 12 new 40 foot buses and the five conventional buses to replace vehicles in the fleet now are to be acquired over a three year period.

Perhaps Connors can hold getting those buses and make them electric when she does purchase.

Connor, AVK and Gould - bus money

Director of Transit Sue Connor looks on while the political set announce that she is going to get 17 new buses over a three year time frame. None were to be electric – does this kill her dream of an all electric transit fleet?

When Sue Connor was brought on board she made big changes at transit. There are people on staff there now who moved from other city departments to work at transit.

Connors has made the necessary changes; prior to her arrival there was some pretty incompetent leadership.

At one point a former Director of Transit had suggested that the terminal on John Street be closed and that bus tickets be bought at city hall (which closed at 4:30) or at local convenience stores around the city.

Problem was none of the convenience stores wanted to be bothered.

A lot of really stupid decisions were made before Connors took the wheel. Let’s hope that the senior levels of government that made the funds available have not killed the idea of an electric fleet for Burlington Transit.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

What makes politicians dance: a funding announcement.  Watch them do it.

Return to the Front page

Statement from the Office of the Mayor doesn't tell the whole story and doesn't give credit to those who got a better development for the community

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A statement came out of the Mayor’s office on Wednesday commenting on an appeal that had been made by a developer that was before LPAT – the Local Planning Act Tribunal.

The development was the one First Capital had for the Appleby Mall where they wanted to build two towers – one 17 storeys and the other 12 storeys that were going to be very close to the Pinedale Street sidewalk.

In the Statement the Mayor said:

At the City Council meeting on Aug. 24, 2020, Burlington City Council approved the recommendation to accept an offer to settle the issues in dispute between First Capital (Appleby) Corporation and the City with respect to First Capital’s appeal currently before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

The settlement between the City and First Capital resolves the issues in dispute between the City and First Capital on the basis that First Capital and the City will seek LPAT approval of a revised development concept for the property at 5111 New St. The City and First Capital will request the LPAT withhold a final order approving the development until the City and First Capital are satisfied with technical studies that are required to support the revised development concept.

Appleby Mall rendering 2 structure proposal 16 & 11 floors

The rendering of what was proposed at the first round of plans for the project. while the structures have a brutish look to them – they are quite close to towers that are not much lower less than a block away.

The revised development concept proposes 368 dwelling units in both apartment and townhouse forms located on a portion of the site of the former Appleby Mall that currently contains a parking area adjacent to existing retail/commercial uses. The revised development concept reduces the building heights of the original proposal from 12 and 17 storeys, down to a 9 storey and two 12 storey buildings that follow the Official Plan. The revised development concept also: increases setbacks from Pinedale Avenue; reorients and redesigns the buildings to achieve compliance with the City’s Urban Design Guidelines; introduces townhouse units at the base of the buildings; and provides enhanced landscaping, among other things.

Nice bit of news for which council is prepared to take most of the credit. In the Statement there are congratulatory comments from the Mayor and the ward Councillor about some help from a community organization.

Appleby Village site set up

Configuration of the new residential buildings went through a number of changes. At one point they were going to face Appleby. The large shape middle right is the Fortinos location along with a number of commercial retail units.

The City and First Capital will attend at the LPAT hearing scheduled to commence on Oct. 26, 2020 to seek approval of the Official Plan amendment, Zoning Bylaw amendment and revised development concept by the LPAT.

That is not the full story.

The proposed development goes back to the flooding that took place in the east end of the city in 2014.

First Capital was doing a major re-development that changed most of the property allowing for some intensification.

During the flood it was learned that there were serious problems with the storm water management infrastructure that required the Region to do serious upgrades that put the development on hold for a number of years.

During that time people in the community began to organize and oppose the development

END of part 1.

Return to the Front page

Performing Arts will put on performances starting October 2 - No more than 50 people in the theatre at a time - all wearing masks

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With Public Health saying holding an event with up to 50 people was now legit Tammy Fox, Executive Director  at the Performing Arts Centre has released her fall season program.

Abbreviated as it is – it is a welcome step forward.

That 50 people rule means that there will be no more than 50 people in the theater – they will be masked and spread out so that the six foot separation measure is met.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Tammy Fox is thrilled – she wants her patrons to return and has a solid program in place.

Tammy is thrilled – as well she should be.  She has been stuck at home pushing paper and working the telephone.  Tammy Fox is a people person – she needs interaction with people.

The Fall line-up of incredible live entertainment options to lift the community’s spirits in these unprecedented times is part of why the program was put together.

“As a facility, BPAC is perfectly positioned to welcome back audiences with patron safety at the forefront;  with its spacious Lobby, increased ventilation, physical-distancing ticketing system and additional health and safety measures to put theatregoers’ minds at ease.

“Many presenters have pivoted to exploring online content offerings and virtual performances, and while BPAC is also considering live streaming options, the organization believes that there really is no replacement for the experience of live entertainment in engaging the community and in supporting Canadian artists.

“All patrons must wear a mask, hand sanitize upon entry and maintain social distancing outside of their social circle. Patrons are expected to self-screen, and of course to stay at home if experiencing COVID-related symptoms or if suspecting recent exposure to the virus. Health and safety measures are also being implemented backstage to protect artists, and throughout the venue to protect staff and volunteers.

Most performances will be 70-75 minutes in length, and while the Lobby bar will remain open for one hour prior to each performance, intermissions have been suspended in most cases in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding in the Lobby.

Spoons - female lead

Sandy Horne – one of  The Spoons.

Kicking off the Fall line-up is an intimate evening with Burlington’s own THE SPOONS on Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd at 8pm, performing as an acoustic duo.

Canadian pop superstar CHANTAL KREVIAZUK will be presented over a three-evening period from October 8th to 10th. “We all have a need to connect so badly right now and there is no better way than through the music. If we can do this safely, I am thrilled and well, to be fair to my kids, they could use a break from their mother!” says Chantal.

gord-downie-in-tears

Gord Downie.

BPAC’s annual Cultural Diversity Festival will begin with its yearly fundraising performance LEGACY: A Tribute to Gord Downie in support of the Downie-Wenjack Fund, featuring Hamilton native TOM WILSON, Indigenous duo TWIN FLAMES, and more, on Thursday, October 15th and Friday, October 16th.

On October 17th and 18th audiences will be treated to BENEATH SPRINGHILL: The Maurice Ruddick Story, about the racial tensions that surfaced in a rural community as a result of a mining disaster, written and performed by Stratford actor Beau Dixon, who seamlessly plays 10 vivid characters. BPAC will also present four performances of DRAG QUEEN MUSIC BINGO with Fluffy Soufflé – each one featuring a different era of music, and tons of exciting prizes to be won!

Two events that had been scheduled for the second half of BPAC’s 19/20 Season, which had to be canceled due the pandemic, have been rescheduled – jazz artist ELISE LEGROW on October 25th and singer/songwriter KEVIN FOX: Songs for Cello & Voice on November 1st.

Sean Cullen

Comedian Sean Cullen

Toronto mainstay the ALTdot COMEDY LOUNGE will be presented at BPAC for the first time, in a series of performances over October 30th, 31st and November 27th and 28th. The October 30th performances will feature actor-comedian SEAN CULLEN with host ALI HASSAN.

Other performances will include comics Nigel Grinstead, Keith Pedro, Peter White, Patrick Haye and more.

Multiple Juno-Award winner SARAH SLEAN takes the stage on Saturday, November 7th and CBC Radio host and BPAC favourite TOM ALLEN presents A POE CABARET on Sunday, November 8th.

Classical pianist LESLIE KINTON Celebrates Beethoven on November 29th and Talk is Free Theatre will present INTO THE WOODS In Concert, a ‘lightly staged’ musical theatre production featuring both professional performers and 27 local youth from December 3rd to 12th.

The firsttwopeople to enter the Mian Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher.

The first two people to enter the Main Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher. Staff are hoping the audiences return.

Tammy Fox, BPAC’s Executive Director, is hoping that audiences will return with pent-up enthusiasm after months of having only online access to entertainment, and with a new appreciation of the importance of communal connection.

“Putting together a fall season full of incredible Canadian talent over the span of a week has been a little hectic to say the least,” she says, “however the applause really needs to go to our staff, who have been working tirelessly to ensure our safe reopening, to our Board of Directors whose unwavering support in resuming live entertainment offerings has given us the confidence to forge ahead, and to all of the amazing artists who have agreed to be included in the Season – because frankly they have all, in deference to our 50-patron capacity limit, committed to performing at rates well below what they deserve and are accustomed to.

It’s been a team effort, and I am beyond grateful to be surrounded by this community of dedicated artists and arts-lovers.”

BPAC Board Chair Nancy Brewer says “We’ve been holding your seat! And now, what a fantastic fall season we have for you. I’d love to see you in the audience as BPAC welcomes you back, safe, secure & ready to entertain you!”

Tickets go on sale to BPAC Members on Friday, September 11th, and on sale to the general public on Monday, September 14. Renew your BPAC membership to be first in line and to receive $5 off all regular-priced tickets!

Visit https://burlingtonpac.ca for a complete listing of performances.

Box Office Information:
Online: www.burlingtonpac.ca
Over the Phone: 905.681.6000 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
In Person: 1 hour before each performance.

Return to the Front page

City will hold 5th Telephone Town Hall September 23rd

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is going to host a fifth Telephone Town Hall on September 23rd that will focus on COVID-19 as we head into the fall season.

The event will be between 7:00 and 8:00 pm when information will be shared and questions answered.

These events have been very useful – it serves as a place for people to go when looking for answers and gives the city a sense as to where the concerns are.

That the Director of Education for both the Catholic and the Public Boards of Education are taking part suggests where the serious concerns are.

The Mayor will host the event; taking part with her are:

Tim Commisso, City Manager at the City of Burlington
Pat Daly, Director of Education at Halton Catholic District School Board
Stuart Miller, Director of Education at Halton District School Board
Eric Vandewall, President and Chief Executive Officer at Joseph Brant Hospital
Mary Battaglia, Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry, City of Burlington
Denise Beard, Manager of Community Development, City of Burlington
Allan Magi, Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services, City of Burlington
Rory Nisan, Ward 3 City and Regional Councillor

Members of Burlington City Council will be present and listening.

How to Participate
Residents who would like to participate in the town hall can do so in the following ways:

1. Register in advance: Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. Residents who would like to be added to the telephone call list can email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on Sept. 22.
Please note: if you registered for any of the previous town halls (held on March 26, April 14, June 4 or July 16), you are not required to register your phone number again. To remove a name from the call list, email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on Sept. 22.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-779-0904 just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23 to join the town hall. For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again.

Once the call begins, a moderator will provide participants with instructions for how to submit their questions to the leadership panel.

Many of the questions not answered during the call will be posted, with answers, to the City’s website at burlington.ca/townhall, along with an audio file and full transcript of the call after Sept. 23.

 

Return to the Front page

Politicians descend on transit garage and leave $12.8 million behind.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Nine politicians trooped into a Burlington Transit garage and jointly announced that they were leaving $12.8 million on the table.

Stoltr - Kearns - Nisan at bus money

No social distancing with these three, Councillors Shawna Stolte, Lisa Kearns and Rory Nisan look on stoically as politicians from higher levels of office speak.

Three federal, two provincial and four municipal politicians.

All the money was for transit stuff.

Sue Connors, Director of Transit for the city, stood quietly at the back of the garage wondering when people were going to begin riding the buses again.

Up to last March Ms Connors had done a superb job of building a customer base that had grown by double digits – the wheels fell off when COVID shut everything down.

Transit was free once the buses started running again. The public has had to pay full fare starting in September.

In her now close to daily publication, A Better Burlington, Mayor Meed Ward spoke for everyone saying:

MMW at transit funding Sept 8

The announcement event was led by the Mayor.

“Today, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development and Member of Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport) and Member of Parliament for Milton; Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Oakville North–Burlington; were joined by Jane McKenna, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Member of Provincial Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; Effie J. Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care and Member of Provincial Parliament for Oakville North−Burlington; and Her Worship, Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington, to announce funding for six projects that will modernize and improve public transit in Burlington.

Connor, AVK and Gould - bus money

Director of Sue Connors looks on as Milton MP Adam Van Kxxx and Minister Karina Gould, MP for Burlington.

“Public transit users will benefit from the purchase of 12 new 40-foot conventional buses to expand the fleet over the next three years. This will make public transit more efficient and convenient for riders by increasing service frequency and enabling connections between bus routes and regional transit. In addition, five new conventional buses will replace buses that have reached the end of their life cycle, helping to maintain a reliable, high quality service.

“In addition, three specialized accessible vehicles will be added to Burlington’s fleet over the next three years to support the community’s need for more accessible public transit. Devices will also be installed on traffic signals and buses to help improve the transit system’s on-time performance, while the implementation of intelligent transit system technology will enable on-demand transit service to be introduced to under serviced areas.

“The Government of Canada is investing more than $5.1 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $4.3 million, and the municipality is contributing more than $3.4 million.

That’s 12.8 million. Most of it will be spent by Burlington but not in Burlington. No job creation out of this bit of pork barrelling.

All the buses are gas driven – pushing the Connors dream of an all-electric fleet that much further into the future.

Where did the money come from and what will it be spent on?  First – it came from your pocket – then got passed back to you in the form of a grant to improve the bus service.

transit grant 1

transit grant table 2

Return to the Front page

Public school board trustees hold their session in the Board room - six trustees take part.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It started as 1-1 conversations that Andrea Grebenc had with trustees on the virtual meetings the Halton District School Board was holding.
Grebenc thought it was time to hold meetings that took place in the Board room and not have all the participants communicating from their keyboards and cameras.

Grebenc frown

The technology at the School Board Board Room was at times not up to the demands of a meeting that was live and local for some and virtual for others – they made it work.

Once she had canvassed the 13 trustees she met with Director of Education Stuart Miller to look into the possibility of moving back into the Board room.

The question was brought up at an Agenda Review meeting early in August.

“We had to find out if public health regulations would allow us back into the building and how it would restrict us.

“Once we received guidelines from staff and reviewed them, we had a short conversation about it in private session.  That resulted in  the outline of a plan to see about moving forward. The limitations,  physically and technologically, were known.  I then posted a sign-up sheet for the first regular board meeting on September 2.”

Roche xx

Trustee Rocha

Trustees Gerrits, Gray, Rocha, Shuttleworth, Vice Chair Ehl Harrison and Grebenc were there as well as Director Miller.

“We were limited by the board room technology in the room right now as it is hardwired to our desks (which are not even a metre apart. The two cameras would not be able to capture everyone because of the social distancing.

“We settled on six as the maximum number of Trustees to take part.”

However after the first run Grebenc is looking at being in the Board room a little differently.

“There were some problems – but after last week’s pilot, that may be reduced as we had some difficulties with feedback and mics not working properly.

“Bringing the Board room up to the different technical standard was not something we wanted to do. The limited resources (yes, we spend a lot of money – but there is never enough to go around) result in our deciding not to funnel  resources from the classrooms and central administration to expedite the technology changes needed for 13 people (11 Trustees & 2 Student Trustees) who are still able to meet and complete their work online. We felt it was  more important to have the whole system focused on student and staff safety and the learning environments.

grebenc 3

Ear buds were driving her frantic – the six screen she had to keep an eye on made it a busy meeting.

“No worries – we will get there – it is just not a top priority – nor should it be.

“We are following the public health guidelines that were created for the board office. Facilities staff have measured out and designated places we are able to sit to meet the guidelines. There is hand sanitizer available in several places and masks as well. Washrooms are now single person. There are arrows directing us around, etc.

“Personally, I have to say that my set-up at home was a lot easier as I had my three monitors to work with (2 personally owned monitors and my board laptop) and didn’t have to wear the truly uncomfortable (verging on painful) earbuds.

“There are quite a number of screens that I need to use for the meeting to run smoothly:

voting screen,
voting responses,
request to speak form,
speaker’s list,
the google meet screen itself for the meeting,
email for emergency notifications (when someone is having technical issues like getting kicked off.

“The regulation is still in place that would allow the board meetings to happen remotely, so if we have to, we can function completely at a distance again. We are going to be in the board room again on the 16th and probably every meeting going forward.

Gray

Trustee Gray

“As for a public gallery, no. At this time, we are not opening the gallery to the public, but are continuing to live-stream and record board meetings as usual. We do not have any broadcast of the Google meeting available in the board room due to sound feedback issues, so the public would have to sit in the room with earphones watching on a personal device to have access to what everyone is saying – people might as well be doing that at home as there is nothing special going on in the room itself.

“We don’t even talk amongst ourselves in the room because we have to watch our screens and wear the earbuds to hear what is going on.

“We don’t have barriers between us physically in the room, but it sure feels that way socially.”

What is really interesting is that it was the Board of Education that was the first to edge forward a little bit and have at least some of the trustees in the room while conducting public business.

If Burlington city council wanted to come out of their closet as it were they could do so easily – there are just seven members of Council – there are 13 trustees plus two student trustees.
.

Return to the Front page

HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts. Director is OK with that – no sense yet as to how the trustees are going to react.

The Halton District School Board trustees were given a close and disturbing look at just how big the COVID-19 financial hole was going to be. It was not a pretty picture.

financia updated

 

The financial story for the Halton District School Board is far from complete.  The $12.4 million in COVID funding came from the provincial and federal government.  The drill down on what those funds are going to be used for is set out in the table below.

funding

Here is how you spend $12.4 million.

 

covid exp

The above are expenses the board expects to incur when schools open on the -14th

The spending priorities as the Board sees them at this point are shown in the table below.   There are a tasks that still have to be fully costed – at this point they are at $9.6 million

spending prioities

The Board has $40 million in reserves.  Those funds are set aside for specific projects and a source of funds for unexpected situations.  The COVID-19 virus was one of those.  The Board is going to have to pull about $4 million from the reserves to cover the immediate expenses.  This is not something they can do without permission from the province.  School boards across the province were given permission to use up to 2% of their reserves on COVID related expenses.

Board administrators have not yet asked the trustees to approve the spending – they are just telling the trustees that this is the way they see the finances working out.  The HDSB may find itself having to take that 2% from the reserves which amounts to $8 million, which Director Miller said he “is OK with”.

What was of interest was the question Director of Education Stewart Miller put to the trustees on deficits and what they had in the way of a comfort level.

Miller told the trustees that budget shortfalls and the use of reserves are as much a philosophical question as it is a financial matter. What Miller doesn’t have to deal with are tax payers who look askance at increases in their tax bill.  That is the ire that falls upon trustees.

What Miller has to cope with are trustees who do their home work and press the Director for details and teach him how to find efficiencies.

Collard and Miller

If looks could kill – the Director was toast. Amy Collard, Ward 5 Trustee holding the Director of Education to account during the high school closing discussions.

Up until very recently Ward 5 Trustee Amy Collard was the only trustee prepared to and capable of going toe to toe with Miller.

In the past year the Chair, Andrea Grebenc, has gotten stronger and may now be at the point where she can bear down a little harder on the Director and ask awkward questions of some of the Superintendents.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee chair listening to what Director of Education thinks on an issue.

The Chair of the School Board is a job that doesn’t pay very much and for the most part amounts to following staff recommendations. It is a job that takes time to learn – and things can get very sticky if the Chair is having problems – all too often they have to look to the Director of Education for guidance. The biggest job trustees have is hiring and holding the Director to account. It takes several terms as Chair to get to the point where he or she is independent enough to fill the role.

Grebenc showed some of her mettle with the two letters she sent the Ministry of Education; the second had a certain edge to it.  Ms Grebenc may soon be ready for a higher level of office.  She is the Trustee for Ward 3 – that ward could use a voice like the one Grebenc is developing.

Someone to keep an eye on.

Related background articles:

First Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Second Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Letters from the Board are sent on behalf of the Board

Return to the Front page

Robbery investigation at the Plains Road Esso Station wrapped up with the arrest of a minor.

Crime 100By Staff

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service has concluded a robbery investigation which occurred at an Esso Gas Station in the City of Burlington on September 6th, 2020.

At approximately 6:10am on Sunday September 6th, 2020, a lone male entered the Esso Gas Station located on Plains Road and proceeded to jump over the counter with a knife in his hand. The lone male lunged towards the store clerk causing the victim to put his hands up in order to defend himself. As a result of this altercation, the victim’s hand was cut by the knife. The male continued to lunge towards the victim who proceeded to run into the main store area to get away from the knife welding male. The lone male then proceeded to grab approximately $550 cash from the till before fleeing the Esso on foot.

police cruiser second

Police attended at the crime scene and were later able to arrest the suspect.

The victim immediately contacted 911 and police and ambulance responded. The victim suffered a large cut to one finger and had the tip of another finger cut off. The victim was transported by ambulance to Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital where he received a number of stitches. The victim was eventually released from hospital after receiving medical treatment.

Investigation by Halton Police revealed that the lone male had attended the Esso Gas Station on September 5th, 2020 at approximately 6:00am and had attempted to break in through the back door. The male was confronted by the victim at that time and fled the scene. As a result, police identified a 16 year old male responsible for the robbery.

On Monday September 7th, 2020, investigators located and arrested the 16 year old male outside of his residence in the City of Burlington.
Police executed a search warrant at this residence and as a result of the search; Halton Police located and seized a knife, cell phone, clothing and recovered Canadian Currency.

Investigation by the Burlington Criminal Investigation Bureau has led to the following charges against a 16 year old young offender from Burlington whose identity cannot be released:

Young Offender

The Young Offender Act was designed to attempt to intercede in the lives of young men and women who are in conflict with the law and treat them differently by protecting their identity.

• Robbery
• Aggravated Assault
• Disguise with Intent
• Attempt Break and Enter

The Young Offender was held for bail and will appear in Milton Court on September 8th, 2020.

Anyone with information in regards to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Constable Colin MacLeod of the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2357.

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

Please be reminded that all persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Return to the Front page

BurlingtonGreen taking Climate Action to the streets - a Shoe Strike - stay tuned.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

BurlingtonGreen is doing it again.

They are reminding us that despite the pandemic and the serious concerns parents have with the way Return to School is being handled – Climate Change is the biggest issue before the whole world.

On September 25th Burlington residents will demand more action from different levels of government with a Shoe Strike.

BG shoe strike

Starting Mon. September 21st, you can drop off shoes to three locations around town. We will bring them to the demonstration site on Friday the 25th.

They will be silent reminders to politicians that we need CLIMATE ACTION NOW. Details to follow.

In the past few months Burlington Gazette columnist Ray Rivers has shifted his focus from political issues to the biggest issue facing the world.  The first in a three part series on climate change – what it really is, what it is going to mean to every one of us and what we can do individually to being about change.

The Shoe Strike is one step – the Rivers column is another.  Link below to what Rivers had to say; he will be following up on climate change.

Ray Rivers: The Problem – our problem – don’t walk away from it.

Return to the Front page

This was public service far beyond the call to serve and protect.

Crime 100By Staff

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The furniture has been loaded on the moving truck and you are on the way to your new residence.

The men driving the moving truck pull into a gas station – you are following the truck.

They tell you that it is going to take an additional $2000 to complete the job – the movers had already been given a cash deposit.

The customer didn’t like the look or feel on what was taking place and called the police.

police move 2

Police unloaded the furniture and household items from a van that was suspected of being used in a moving scam. A very grateful citizen.

Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) officers attended a gas station for what is now being investigated as a moving company scam.

Police officers emptied the moving truck and helped the victim get their possessions to their new home.

A criminal investigation is still ongoing into this occurrence and charges are expected.

The HRPS is investigating similar style scams that may have taken place throughout the region. If you believe you may have been a victim of a moving scam within Halton please contact Constable Sarah McCullagh at sarah.mccullagh@haltonpolice.ca or call 905-825-4747 ext. 2405.

Police moving 1

Do the Regional Police now have a new unit – The Ace Moving company? Great public service on the part of police detachment.

Police would also like to offer the following tips to residents looking at hiring a moving company:

• Do your research (search the company online). Look for reviews from customers and/ or a website. Be wary of a company that has no online presence.

• Where is the moving company coming from? A company travelling from another province to complete the move is suspicious. Also be suspicious if the company is using a rental truck with out of province licence plates.

• Read your contract prior to signing.

Return to the Front page

Back to school: Did you register properly and can you change your mind.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Deciding to send your children back to school has been an anxious exercise for most parents.

parent with child - directing

Deciding what is right for your child – and changing your mind later.

It has been a challenge for school board staff who have to figure out how many students will be taught in a classroom and how many will be taught virtually.

Will there be split classes – possibly was what trustees learned earlier this week.  They were assured that there would not be any three different grades in a single classroom.

Where is the wiggle room for parents who have not yet made up their minds or who want to change their minds.

Parents can change their minds: The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, September 8. You must call the school and advise the principal.

Every school goes through a bit of a re-organization during the second half of September – there is sometimes a need to move students around to balance the load.

The opportunity to change a delivery model (i.e., in-person, virtual) will be: November 30 or end of Term 1 (mid-February).

For Secondary students (Grade 9 – 12) the time to change delivery model (i.e., in person, virtual) will be aligned with the end of quadmesters: November 12 or February 5.

School office staff will follow up with every family who has not completed the survey as the survey requires parents/guardians to complete the Self-Assessment Acknowledgement form (part of the survey).

Return to the Front page

School bus challenges - the service will be stretched to the limit

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

School buses and Covid-19 are just one more worry for parents.

Sitting together on a school bus makes social distancing almost a silly idea.

School buses

Will the school boards be able to set up bus routes that cope with the need to keep students in their cohort everywhere possible – and will they be able to service every family?

The school board administration, in a partnership they have with the Catholic school board, run the school bus service using rented vehicles.

The routes will be quite a bit different and the students will be organized as cohorts – they will ride the bus with the students they are in a classroom with.

It is a logistical challenge and at this point the Board administration is not certain that they will be able to provide service to every household.

There will be no school bus service for the elementary students who will be at school on either Thursday or Friday of next week for their dry run at what a school day is going to look like.

Parents might want to think of ride sharing – and figuring out how to work within cohorts.

That phrase – we are all in this together – will take on much more meaning in the weeks ahead.

Return to the Front page

Dry run for elementary students Thursday and Friday of next week

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Halton District School Board Elementary students will get to do a dry run on returning to school next week – the “letting students experience” a return to classroom takes place on Thursday the 10th and Friday the 11th.

Those students with family names that begin with A through to those whose family name begins with L will go to their school on Thursday the 10th.

student being hand sanitized

The Halton District School Board has a secure supply of PPE

They will be met at the school door, have their hands sanitized and get a face mask test to ensure the thing is being worn correctly.

Then they are taken to their class and given instruction on how school will operate for the foreseeable future.

Parents will not be allowed to enter the school.

On Friday, those students with family names that begin with M through to the end of the alphabet, will go through the same routine.

There will be no curriculum taught on those days.

Nor will there be school bus service to the schools.

Director of Education Stuart Miller asked parents to be patient and careful as they approach the school entrance.

desk spacing

Classroom spacing will be different. No passing notes from desk to desk.

The focus will be to teach them the importance of staying within their cohort and “exposing them to the new reality”.

The Board is working at making video material available to parents so they can prep their children for these introductory sessions.

outdoor exercise

Teachers are encouraged to get students outside as much as possible and to ensure that they stay within their cohort.

There will be washroom rules, recess rules, lunch rules and exercise outdoors rules.

Walking around the school will not be what it was when they left school in March. There will be direction markers along the hallways.

Intent to Return Survey

Parents/guardians (and students 18+) were asked to complete the Intent to Return survey by Aug. 23.  If you have not completed the survey, or if you have completed the survey and would like to change your response(s), please contact the main office at your child’s school. The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

 

Return to the Front page

Tents as classrooms - not in Halton

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember that idea of holding classes outdoors? Some people were thinking year round outdoor classes.

It didn’t get very far at the Trustee meeting this week.

tent classroom

School Board administration found all kinds of reasons for killing the idea of using tents as classrooms.

Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc raised the thoughts about fundraising for tents that would be used for outdoor classrooms.

They didn’t get very far.

In order to be at all useful – the tent would have to be quite big.

What would go into the tent? And who would be responsible for the cleaning and safety of whatever was placed in the tent?

There would be some vandalism.

In order to put a tent in place the Board would have to get a permit from the city – just the way they have to with portable classrooms.
Insurance and liability issues also had to be figured out.

The killer issue was that parents cannot fundraise for anything related to student accommodation.

That idea was off the table.

Return to the Front page

Class sizes for the Halton Public School Board - below what most of the other boards in the province have been able to achieve.

News 100 yellow

By Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Wednesday evening the Halton District School Board met – it was another long meeting.

No more desks set out in neat rows. The classroom furniture is now such that students can sit by themselves or in groups of two or three - up to eight. The objective was to create situations where the students learn to work as groups and to collaborate on a problem - question or assignment.

The number of students in the elementary classes is low – not the 15 many parents would like but nowhere near the 30 that was feared.

The fear that the school board would be jamming as many as 30 children into the elementary classes is unfounded

There are 244 kindergarten classes in the Halton Region. The regular class size in the past has been as many as 29 students. The average for the kindergarten classes starting September 14th will be 20 students.

In the primary grades 1 to 3 there are 450 classes in the Region. 90% of those classes must be capped at 20. There are 16 classesthat have more than 20 students.. The average is 18 ½ in each class.

The Junior Intermediate level there are 809 classes in the Region. The Board is funded for 24 ½ students. The average for the Junior Intermediate is 22.6

Return to the Front page

Director of Education: 'these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property'

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is still a lot of confusion on the part of parents as well as many of the teachers.

But come Tuesday of next week you will be taking your young ones to school – assuming you didn’t opt out for a virtual classroom.

Your job as a parent begins today: students – especially younger ones will need help in coping with the really big change that will take place at every school.

Parent talking covid

Explain to your child what will be different when they return to school – and why things are going to be different.

The Halton Board of Education will be meeting this evening; we will report on what we learn – expect updates on a number of issues.

Let’s stick with the bricks and mortar structure. There will be one door to enter and a different door to leave the building.

Don’t have the child take very much to school the first day – the rules on what elementary students can bring to school will be set out for them by a teacher who will be dressed in full PPE – which might be a little startling for the student.

There will be a lot of rules and as a parent you can do a lot of the prep work in the next handful of days.

Take your younger children to places where there are markers on the floor and explain what they mean and why they are in place.

Explain why they have to wear a mask and why they can only play with the friends in their class.

And that they can’t get too close to those friends.

social circles graphic

Explain what social circles are and how that might limit who your child can actually play with.

The job for parents of early elementary children:

• Tighten up social circles
• Practice physical distancing
• Follow good hand hygiene and respiratory
etiquette
• Wear face coverings in indoor public places and when physical distancing cannot be maintained
• Explain to the child that at some point what that means.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Director of Education Stuart Miller sees himself as personally responsible for every student in the HDSB

Schools are doing their best to keep parents fully informed – the difficulty is that the rules change – sometimes by the hour.

The Board of Education has to listen to what the Halton Region Public Health Units requires and follow the dictates of the province.

Halton District School Board Director of Education sets out just what he has to deal with – “everything is fluid and dynamic”. “We have to be smart, be focused and realize these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property.”

Return to the Front page