Housing spokesperson sees much needed but difficult changes about to take place

By Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Almost every economic sector has an organization that serves as spokespeople for their interests.  Electricians, architects, truckers, chemists, doctors – they all have an organization that represents how they relate to the public.

In our part of the world the development and home builders interests are represented by the now named West End Home Builders Association, (WEHBA), a not for profit organization that was formerly known as Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association.

Michael Collins Williams: CEO – WEHBA

The CEO of WEHBA, Michael Collins Williams has brought a new tone and approach to the organization.

He also put in play the new strategic plan put in place when he was brought on board.

He surprised a lot of people when he spoke very positively about the role the development industry should and would be playing in the creation of affordable housing.

Mike, raised in Mississauga, attended Ryerson where he studied urban planning.  He is a registered Planner who is firm in the belief that communities are living breathing places where people choose to live and become part of a place that is constantly evolving.

Change is the one constant Mike works with.  The WEHBA is part of the Ontario association that is tied into the federal association. There are 26 local associations in Ontario.   Mike came to the WEHBA from the Ontario association.

When asked to name the best city he named Copenhagen, a city that made a conscious decision in the 70’s to make cycling a critical part of the way people get around.

Changes of this magnitude take time added Collins-Williams.

He should know, the WEHBA is in the middle of a social change that is not going to go away any time soon.  Housing has become both unaffordable and unattainable for many.  “We are in a housing crisis that is proving to be a challenge at every political level.”

Change means tension he adds and that puts stress on all the players.

Development is a capital intensive business.  The bigger players have had land banked for some time.  And they have deep pockets – the developing of housing is a very complex with many layers that add to the cost of a home and are passed along to buyers.

The city and the developers are arm wrestling over what the development charges are going to be.  They have remained the same for years and the city wants them increased so that they cover all their costs.  The developers are arguing that some of the costs the city has included are not legitimate and add that the development charges end up being passed onto the home buyers.

In order for the growth to take place a lot of capital will be needed and much more sophistication that the small and medium sized builders have not been able to bring to the table.

Burlington has an active Housing Strategy Project on which Michael Collins-Williams is giving the participants a viewpoint from the development sector few have heard before.

“Expect to see some consolidation and changes in the way business is done. This is too significant an issue; one that has to be resolved and that means everyone adjusting.”

“Public policy will play a large role in getting the housing built, things will have to be done faster, time lines at every level, especially the municipal level where permits and approvals are issued.

“The needed changes are not going to be easy to achieve.

“If we fail to provide the housing people need at prices they can afford the young will move to places where they can afford to live and raise their families.

“We are going to see some interesting unintentional partnerships being formed.

“Labour and supply chain issues are a concern now – they need to be overcome.

The baby boomers changed everything as they became the largest demographic; the millennials will do the same when they become the largest demographic.  However the baby boomers are still the dominant social force and they have to be dealt with.

And we must not forget that the millennials are talented and more mobile than any demographic before them.  The best and the brightest are being educated here and while they are mobile, home still counts.

Collins-Williams swings between being optimistic and pessimistic.  He optimism is cautious.

We asked Mike to tell us what he saw as good architecture and he said he tended to favour the brutalist style.   That came as a surprise especially when he commented on the Robarts Library at U of T and the Manulife Centre in Toronto as favourite architecture.

Michael Collins-Williams preference in public architecture was a bit of a surprise.  Above the Robarts Library and the Manulife Centre to the right.

Related news story:

Housing industry spokesperson insists that developers and all three levels of government have to be at the table if there is ever going to be affordable housing.

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Barbetta: 'There are people who poison their trees in order to weaken them so that they have to be taken down'

By Staff

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Leslie Barbetta is part of the Active Community Teamwork (ACT) neighbourhood association. Her current focus is the Forestry Department Policy and the Private Tree By-law.

She lives in the Shoreacres neighbourhood in large part because of the mature trees. “They are a source of pride and joy, and as their “caretakers”, we have been rewarded in return by their beauty.

These trees will come down to allow high rise towers. It will take decades to replace them.

“There are occasions” she said, “when these pillars of the community create challenges and over the last few years, we’ve called on our Councillor and the Forestry department for assistance in addressing some of those concerns.

“We have learned a great deal as a result of these interactions and our own research. Today I’d like to speak to the Policy’s four categories of activities for a healthy urban forest, and highlight the partnership role that a community group can play in supporting this Policy by identifying some successes and areas of concern:

Barbetta set out the four categories and added comments on what the ACT people would like to see done.

Preserve and Protect
The City shall support the preservation of trees by:
‣ exploring all feasible options for retaining a viable tree before deciding to remove it;
‣ requiring that opportunities to preserve trees are considered through the development process for public and private lands;
‣ requiring special consideration for significant trees;
‣ generally refusing requests for tree removal based solely on reasons related to aesthetics or other similar factors;

Questions/Comments:
– Please identify when permission has been granted to remove a tree! It’s no exaggeration to state that the sound of a chainsaw sends a shiver up our backs and a flurry of texts or emails between neighbours about why a tree is coming down.
– What is the level of concern in Forestry that Arborists’ Reports may sometimes be “skewed” in favour of development plans? It is thought that some experts will support whichever narrative they are being paid to support.
– Within the significant tree description, would also like to see the inclusion of unique or underrepresented or endangered species (including non-native varieties)

Maintain and Monitor
The City shall:
‣ provide guidance to private property owners with respect to current trends in urban forest health and best management practices;

Questions/Comments:
– Please elaborate on what this guidance would entail. We have witnessed homeowners take “maintenance” of mature trees into their own hands, impacting the tree’s aesthetics, and comprising its health & safety, as well as their own personal safety. We often hear rumblings that some property owners have taken to “poisoning” their trees, in an effort to weaken them and ultimately circumvent some of the time and expense involved with the Private Tree By-law.
– In supporting all efforts to protect our tree canopy, we recognize that there are occasional unique circumstances where City trees cause unintentional problems for homeowners, particularly with mature trees in established neighbourhood. When these situations arise, we would like to ensure there is an opportunity to work with Staff towards a solution or reasonable compromise because complicated situations cannot always be resolved over email or by citing Policy & By-law.

Establish, Replace and Enhance
The City shall support proper tree establishment by:

‣ supporting tree planting initiatives of all scales on public and private properties with volunteers and partners as opportunities arise;
The City shall work to ensure the urban forest and tree canopy are sustained and enhanced by:

‣ implementing a plan for replacement where trees are removed on public and private lands;
‣ encouraging tree replacement on-site but evaluating the possibilities for off-site tree replacements, in part or in whole, where the compensation cannot be accommodated
on site and where feasible alternative locations are identified.

Questions/Comments:
– Within our community group, there are individuals who have volunteered to not only help identify private lands that would benefit from new or restorative planting, but assist with the physical planting effort as well. Sometimes the only thing that prevents these opportunities on private lands is lack of awareness of the issue.
– Where new development results in loss of trees and ultimately loss of privacy on adjacent lands, allow for replacement plantings on those properties.

Engage and Collaborate
• The City shall actively pursue opportunities to engage with members of the community and external partners to promote proper tree establishment and care, including use of incentives as appropriate.

• The City shall collaborate with existing and new partners to increase its capacity to establish and enhance the urban forest on public and private lands.

• The City is committed to employing communication methods and tools that are transparent, and to providing accurate information in a clear and concise manner that is also accessible.

Questions/Comments:
– We support any effort to work with community groups to assist with tree canopy goals.
As a result of establishing connections with the Forestry Dept, we have been able to achieve the following: share details about the City’s Tree Planting Program; answer our members’ questions about Forestry practices, saving staff time; when we don’t have the answer, we will forward those queries, which has a twofold benefit: helps to streamline the communication process and then share the response with a wider audience, and helps foster relationships between Forestry staff and one or two primary neighbourhood contacts.
– To share a recent success story, our community was recently given the opportunity to select a new tree for the neighbourhood that will symbolically honour several community-minded residents who are no longer with us. I cannot express how much this meant to some people. Such a simple example of the good that can happen when a City and its residents work together.
– Speaking to the communication & transparency component, a recent inquiry through the CRM platform informed us that the City does not bear responsibility for a particular tree matter. A By-law was cited, however this information does not appear to be available on the City’s website without doing a records request.
– ACT can arrange engagement opportunities between Forestry and our community to assist in the educational component of our By-laws and Protection Policy,

“With common goals, shared resources, and an open line of communication, there are many opportunities for ACT to work in partnership with Forestry – and any City department for that matter.”

Council liked what they heard, going forward the challenge will be to turn intentions into decisions that can keep the tree canopy we have and grow what is going to be needed in the future.

 

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Pop up events to make people aware of population growth plans to take place on Saturday

By Staff

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The growth that municipalities have to take on to reach the provincially determined population levels has a lot of people concerned about  losses of rural agricultural land to residential development.

The rural Burlington that the Stop the Sprawl group wants to keep.

Stop Sprawl Halton will be holding COVID-safe pop-up events this Saturday, February 5th, 1:30pm – 2pm

Oakville & Burlington — Stop Sprawl Halton announces two COVID-safe pop-up events, one in Oakville, the other in Burlington, to spread awareness to protect irreplaceable Halton farmland.

Locations —    N.E. corner of Trafalgar and Cornwall in Oakville

North Service Rd. and Brant St. in Burlington

What — Stop Sprawl Halton will host two peaceful, COVID-safe, pop-up events this Saturday, to spread awareness about the Region’s plans to expand the urban boundary, and to hand out free “Save Our Farms” lawn signs.

Safety – Participants must wear a mask and remain 6’ apart from others at all times. They must also remain on the intersection sidewalks, and not interfere with traffic.

About Stop Sprawl Halton – Stop Sprawl Halton (SSH) is a grass-roots organization that coalesced after Hamilton’s Stop Sprawl campaign won a “no urban boundary expansion” vote at Hamilton City Council on November 19, 2021. Like other Stop Sprawl campaigns developing in municipalities across Southern Ontario, Stop Sprawl Halton is a champion for vibrant, sustainable growth within existing urban boundaries. SSH believes the provincially mandated growth targets can be achieved through modest singles and semi-detached homes, combined with other low-rise forms, in mixed-use communities.

 

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Waterfront study resumes February 15th; expected to last four months - meanwhile Planning staff work flat out to complete their work before an April 17th deadline.

By Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Site Planning Study.

When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

The white dotted line is the boundary of the site – the dark blue in the centre is the site of the hotel property

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the city consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation.

The open house is on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform,

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.

And that is where this gets messy – very messy.

The Planning department is working furiously to have a report to Council before April 17 with either

A recommendation to approve the development
A recommendation to approve the development with changes
A recommendation to not approve the development.

The information given to the public last September was for two towers; one 30 storeys and the other 35 storey – both sitting on a five story podium.

The very painful truth with this development is that far too few people know very much about it.

The public first got wind of it when a pre-application community consultation took place.

Graphics and raw data on this project have been very difficult to come by – the Gazette had to threaten legal action to get a copy of what was a public report. The entrance to the site was to be from John Street, one block east of Brant. The light blue space in the very centre of this graphic will be a breezeway leading from Lakeshore to the steep steps that will lead into Spencer Smith Park. The light green will be amenity space for the tower residents. The tan coloured space will be open and where the public can gather The new hotel is shown in darker blue. The residential towers are in pink. The Gazette has not been able to have conversations with the developer’s planners.

The Gazette has been reporting on this situation for some time – all the way back to 2015 when the city was putting together some ideas as to just what could happen with the Waterfront Hotel site when it was eventually re-developed.

Centre – former city Councillor John Taylor in conversation with Linda Davies, owner of the leading condo real estate sales broker on the right and Dee Dee Davies at one of the public meetings in 2018

The city put together a process that had the developer agreeing to pay the full cost of a review that would include significant public input.

And those meetings took place – there were  four of them out of which came a number of concepts – but no consensus – and then for reasons which look pretty weak, the city put a pause on the waterfront study.

The developer didn’t pause.

As early as August, the Burlington Urban Design group was meeting and providing comment on the development.

They engaged planning consults and architects and met with people in the Planning department to advance their development application.

Members of Council knew what was taking place – but the public didn’t.

Members of Council are still saying very little – they have all taken the position that they cannot make statements until they have a Planning Staff report in front of them.

So here we are with two very different streams of activity taking place at the same time about the same piece of land

The developer pushing their application – and the city reviving a study that should have been completed years ago.

Close on the heals of the study re-start is a Statutory Public meeting required under the Planning Act that is to take place on February 22nd at 6:30 p.m.  It too will be a virtual meeting.

In a media release from City Hall on Thursday we learned that Planning Staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018 (the Gazette interviewed a member of the Planning staff in 2015 on this study proposal) the City began looking at a planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Road., City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other priorities in the Community Planning Department.

A number of design concepts have come forward – no consensus yet.

Why the study can resume
In its media release the City said it is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,
• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as
• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:

Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.

• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

It all gets messier and tighter in terms of time frames.

When a developer takes an application to the city – the Planning department has 120 days to make a recommendation to council.  That recommendation can be to not proceed or to proceed with changes or to give it a rubber stamp and tell the developer to bring in the cranes and start building.

The developers submitted their plan on December 17th, the Planning department told Council they didn’t think the application was complete.  There was a lot of scurrying around and the city was able to say that the application was indeed complete.  Close to 30 days of very valuable staff work was lost.  The city will tell you that there was no time lost – don’t believe them.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns brought forward a motion at Council directing Staff to complete their work and make a presentation to Council before April 17th, 2022.   She wanted to be as certain as possible that the city did not find itself before the Ontario Land Tribunal for failing to deliver a report within that 120 requirement.

Nothing was to be built west of the line Plan B drew.

Included in all this are the brave efforts of Plan B – a small group of citizens who objected strongly to the concept designs that were being shown.  They had a concept that would keep development within a “thin red line”.

The city’s Mayor said: “We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed.

“We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline.

“The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. We welcome your input and look forward to those discussions.”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns said: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

The development plans as they stand now will result in a Burlington few significantly than what is in place now.

Renderings that show the development relative to Spencer Smith Park and the Pier.

On the left is the view of the lake from Lakeshore Road at Brant. On the right the view from the same spot looking north up John Street.

What is at stake here is the heart of the city – Ground Zero – the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street and the look and feel of the downtown core for decades.

How different city Councils let things get to the point we are at now boggles the imagination.

Related news stories:

Plan B was trying to get some traction within the Planning department and with the public.

The time line of a very sad story.

Are there other options.

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At one point 9% of city staff were impacted by COVID19 - it has lowered to 3%

By Pepper Parr

February 3rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Update at 11:05 am

Council went into a Closed session on what was described as a “personal matter with a staff member related to the city’s vaccination policy.  That policy required all staff to be vaccinated.

News does dribble out of city hall.

We learned this morning that at one point there was 9% of city staff impacted by Covid19.

That number has come down to 3%.

City manager Tim Commisso

Troubling was the request from the City Manager that council go into a Closed session to discuss – well Tim Commisso actually didn’t say.

The city is still addicted to keeping secrets.

 

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Election sign bylaws and a review of Closed Session meetings: will there be a change in the way the public is treated?

By Pepper Parr

February 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

City staff and Councilors are getting prepared for the fall municipal election.

Two items on the council agenda today are reviewing the election sign by-law and a Staff Direction for the City \Manager to include in a March report a review of the city’s closed session meeting policies and procedures and report back on options and recommendations to ensure the development of updated best practices.

How does on prevent this kind of clutter? You don’t – they are a foundational part of the democratic process.

Let’s take the election signs issue.  Several members of Council would ban election signs completely; they already  have the name recognition they need.

For those looking for a way to gain some name recognition signs on lawns are critical.

It will be interesting to see how Council reacts to what is put on the table.

As for Closed sessions of council there is nothing but shame for this Council; they have held more closed sessions in this term that in any other in the past decade.

Admittedly, there are development issues, especially those related to Ontario Land Tribunal matters that have to be in closed.

The City Manager has advised of his intent to bring forward a report to the March 2002 CSSRA meeting regarding enhancing the alignment and effectiveness of the City of Burlington’s governance related business processes, practices and policies.

The impetus for the report is tied to the need to issue a new RFP for the upcoming renewal of the five-year contract for the City’s independent Integrity Commissioner.

There have been issues raised over the past 12 months in regard to the procedures and processes by which matters before Council are dealt with in Open versus Closed Session Meetings which have substantiated the timely need to review, update and properly define these best practices and procedures and to utilize the findings from this
assessment to support the development of an updated Closed Meeting Protocol.

When Council meetings resume normal operations will we see as much of this?

It will be interesting to learn just what the City Manager thinks a best practice is.

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

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Black History Month begins today: this is not a single day event.

By Staff

February 1st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In recognition of Black History Month in February, schools in the Halton District School Board have planned initiatives to celebrate and honour the contributions of Black Canadians, past and present.

This year’s theme February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day reminds everyone that Black history is Canadian history and lives beyond a single month.

A large graphic that would say: Black Lives Matter

“Black History Month is a time to commemorate the important achievements, contributions and excellence of Black Canadians, ” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board. “This month provides our educators another opportunity to teach and discuss the strength, brilliance and achievements of the Black community, to acknowledge the diversity within, and the extensive role Black Canadians have played and continue to play in shaping this country.

It is also a reminder of our ongoing commitment as outlined in our 2020-2024 Multi-Year Strategic Plan to identify and eliminate racism and discriminatory barriers that limit the inherent giftedness of Black students.

At the Halton District School Board, we will continue to educate about, empower students and staff with, and champion for equity and human rights.”

In honour of Black History Month, schools and classes across the HDSB will be highlighting the contributions of Black Canadians and the African diaspora. Some of the events taking place to celebrate are:

Canadian author Yolanda Marshall will take students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 on a literary adventure through storytelling every Wednesday throughout the month (Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23)

Renowned Canadian author Lawrence Hill will visit the Milton Public Library on Feb. 10 to discuss his newest children’s novel Beatrice and Croc Harry. Board schools will join the conversation virtually.

Sizzlin’ Halton will turn up the heat for secondary students with Chefs Wayne General and Delvon Greene as they explore the secrets and spices of Caribbean cooking on Feb. 15, 17, 22; this event is sponsored by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton

International Spoken Word artist Dwayne Morgan returns this year, addressing students in Grade 6-12 about ‘Black Excellence’ through spoken word on Feb. 24

“Black History Month affirms Black identity in educational lessons and resources, as well as our collective duty to continue the learning and conversation beyond this month into everyday teaching moments within our schools and broader HDSB community,” says Rob Eatough, Superintendent of Education, with a focus on Human Rights, Equity & Inclusive Education for the Halton District School Board.

Celebrating Black History Month aligns with the Equity and Well-Being goals outlined in the Halton District School Board’s Multi-Year Plan. The goal is to champion supportive and inclusive practices to ensure equitable access to positive opportunities and outcomes for all.

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Make a note of this: GO-VAXX walk in Clinic at Sherwood Park has a new date February 5th.

By Staff

January 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Update to Feb. 5 GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics schedule

Feb. 5 schedule is now as follows:
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. : Adult Pfizer for ages 12 to 29 years of age
4 p.m. – 5 p.m. : Moderna for ages 30 years of age and older
5 p.m. – 6 p.m. : Paediatric Pfizer for ages 5 (on the day of the clinic) to 11 years of age

The GO-VAXX Indoor Walk-In Clinics will take place at Sherwood Forest Park. No appointment required.

Links and Resources
COVID-19 Resources
• For information about COVID-19 in Halton Region, including the latest public health guidance and the status of COVID-19 cases, please visit halton.ca/coronavirus
o COVID-19 Vaccine information
• Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 905-335-7777, by email at city@burlington.ca or online.


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The forthcoming provincial election needs some hard thinking - I like the look of a minority goverment

By Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

During her State of the City address on Thursday the Mayor would not declare that she is going to run for office again – she said she would declare in May (why the wait) but added that she loved the job.

A majority of the current council have indicated that they will run again; there are a couple that should re-think that decision.

But before we get our heads around deciding whether or not members of the current city council deserve to be re-elected we have to make some decisions on the current provincial government.

Do we re-elect Doug Ford? Personally I wouldn’t. In my view the smartest thing we can do, if we must, is return the Conservatives as a minority government.

I’ve not been impressed with the way Ford has handled the pandemic and his Highway 13 plans would be a disaster.
Doug Ford is a business man – that is what he understands – even if he isn’t all that good at it.
He once made the comment that he “detests” closing down the commercial sector – but that is what had to be done to limit the new Omicron variant from spreading.

Many had taken the position that this most recent variant wasn’t all that bad – failing to realize that more people died of Covid19 during January of this year than at any other time during this now two year pandemic – save one month.
We had children who were being infected.

On Thursday we had genuine nut cases lining the overpasses along major highways cheering on the Freedom Convoy – truckers who said vaccination mandate did not respect their rights; forgetting that not being vaccinated infringed on the rights of others.

There they were – by the hundreds at overpasses across the GTA. Which part of the solution to bringing the pandemic to an end didn’t they understand? And which part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms do they not understand?

The rank stupidity and level of ignorance is stunning; the crowds that cheered on the truckers to be so uninformed is disturbing – and dangerous. Those who drive a truck for a living have the right to refuse to be vaccinated – but unless they are vaccinated they can’t drive a truck across the Canada \US border.

There are people at city hall who have been told they cannot report for work if they are not vaccinated.
I’ve never had the feeling that this provincial government has a solid grip on the pandemic. The way they have jerked parents with children in school is a real shame.

I am of the belief that Andrea Horvath, the NDP leader would have difficulty forming a government in the very unlikely event that she won a majority.

And Stephen Del Duca has just not inspired me – he is trying to create a profile and get some traction. I like the look of John Fraser, the current Liberal leader in the legislature.

I think the provincial Liberals need a major conference at which they could flesh out just who they are and what their policies will be. Until they do something to let the public know what they will do differently they are wandering in the political wilderness.

Times have changed. The pandemic has brought a lot of the changes to the surface.

One of the issues governments have failed to effectively address is homelessness and Long Term Care.

Housing that is affordable; solving the homeless problem; get a grip on what oxycodin is doing to people – the number who die of this drug when they overdose has to be curtailed.

Learning how we as a society take care of the elderly and ensure that their “golden years” have dignity and the services they need. The long term care problems are far from resolution.

Mental Health – a new health issue brought on by the pandemic with no programs that can come close to meeting the need. More importantly – understanding the need.

Re-thinking the way we are educating our young people. Is what we are doing now the best we can do?

How we allocate the tax money collected needs a much bigger deep think – and it is the public that will have to do that thinking – don’t trust the politicians to do it for you.

With a provincial election less than six months away – it is time to move beyond partisan positions and think about what we as a society need at every level and then decide how we are going to make it happen.

Burlington is going to have three candidates that are very very different.

While canvassing a neighbourhood Manaa found herself on the doorstep of NDP candidate Andrew Drummond. He took the literature but did not invite her in for coffee.

Andrew Drummond, the NDP candidate, is at that point in his political career where he has to do much better or look for a different career choice.

Manaa gained some valuable experience working as a volunteer with Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff and Burlington MP, Cabinet Minister Karina Gould.

Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim women about whom we don’t know enough – the question with this candidate (she is running as a Liberal) is this: Are there enough Muslims to give this candidate the support she needs and are there enough voters in Burlington who can get beyond any level of racism they might have to elect her to office?

The current MPP, Jane McKenna will come out of hiding at some point. Don’t expect her to have very much to say – hopefully she will give up on that really stupid speech she made in the legislature that the pandemic was over-rated.

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

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Performing Arts Centre re-schedules and re-opens - it all begins February 20th

By Staff

January 31st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“Live, Local and Open for Business” said Performing Arts Centre Executive Director Tammy Fox who sat down crossed her fingers and whispered “I hope we can live up to the claim.

The box office re-opens February 1; Performances return February 20

The City’s music and cultural hub season resumes with three performances in the Community Studio Theatre to delight BPAC patrons in-person and online.

“Our 2021-22 Season was put on hold during the latest round of pandemic restrictions, so we went to work re-scheduling the amazing talent booked to play our stages and we’re proud to present our updated lineup that runs from local artists to musical legends.  Patrons can expect the same first-class entertainment we have delivered for the past 10 years, in an atmosphere where they can feel safe.”

February performances (listed below) will all be presented in BPAC’s Community Studio Theatre; each show includes the option of attending in person or live-streaming the performances from the comfort of your home. Please visit burlingtonpac.ca for show times and ticket pricing.

Ontario guidelines, require all patrons to show proof of COVID-19 double vaccination to be permitted entry into the facility. The Burlington Performing Arts Centre is pleased to accommodate our patrons at 50% capacity in our facilities at this time.

The Mark Lalama Trio hosts local talent as the Performing Arts Centre prepares to welcome their patrons into a venue that has been dark far too long.

The LIVE & LOCAL SERIES opens on Sunday, February 20, when STEVE STRONGMAN, JAMES OLIVER BILJAK and THOM ANTHONY join our musical hosts, THE MARK LALAMA TRIO. Experience the energy, spontaneity and magic of musical cross-pollination, as emerging and established homegrown talent combine with a house band made up of the area’s most highly sought-after touring and studio musicians.

Award-Winning Canadian blues man STEVE STRONGMAN is a versatile talent, and a restless one. By constantly pushing himself in new directions, he has kept himself vital. His talent is huge and impossible to miss, and it’s matched by his staggering musical ambition – as a guitar-slinger, songwriter or vocalist. The same structures and progressions that animate blues and roots music can also choke the air out of it, smothering it in caricature and cliche. But Strongman is a subtle shape-shifter who manages to slip that trap without betraying the music he loves. Throughout, he never sounds an inauthentic note or loses touch with the essence of the Blues.

JAMES BILJAK is The Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s own venue technician as well as an amazing musician, and his brother, THOM ANTHONY, is the frontman for the band Tenth Planet.

Thom Anthony

The MARK LALAMA TRIO consists of Mark Lalama on keyboards and vocals, Davide DiRenzo on drums and vocals, and Rich Moore on bass and vocals – all in-demand session and touring musicians who have played on hundreds of stages and studio recordings with top artists ranging from Tom Cochrane to Holly Cole and just about everyone in between. This trio is fast earning a reputation as one of the most engaging and intuitive bands around, and together they create a unique brand of incredible, genre-defying original music that never fails to inspire those who are there to take it all in.

March 11  STEVEN TAETZ brings his repertoire of contemporary roots, jazz, blues, swing and neo-soul music to BPAC on Friday, . As a lyricist and composer, he has written for many internationally renowned artists, and led a cross-Canadian collaborative project, where he co-wrote a concept album with JUNO-award-winners from each province of Canada. Since 2014, Steven returned to his training and early performance roots, focusing on the American Songbook and jazz standards, writing and recording traditional-pop, and swing originals. His musical style has been compared to greats like Roy Orbison, k.d lang, Norah Jones, and Chet Baker, and performances include innovative interpretations of classic hits, as well as signature originals co-written with top Canadian artists.

The LIVE & LOCAL SERIES returns to the Community Studio Theatre stage on Sunday, March 13, featuring Canadian music icon SUSAN AGLUKARK, as well as singer/songwriter and BPAC Board member PETE VAN DYK, with the MARK LALAMA TRIO expertly supporting this evening of musical collaboration.

Susan Aglukark – at the Performing Arts Centre this year as long as we can remain in Phase 2 of the Reopening Ontario Road map.

nuk singer/songwriter SUSAN AGLUKARK is one of Canada’s most unique artists and a leading voice in Canadian music. She blends the Inuktitut, Indigenous and English languages with contemporary pop music arrangements to tell the stories of her fellow people, the Inuit of Arctic Canada and her fellow Indigenous groups.

The emotional depth and honesty of her lyrics; her pure, clear voice and themes of hope, spirit and encouragement have captivated and inspired listeners from all walks of life. Susan was invited into the Order of Canada and was presented her Officer of the Order of Canada award in September of 2005 for her contribution both musically and as a workshop facilitator and mentor in the Indigenous community and was awarded the Governor Generals Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award in June of 2016.

21/22 WINTER/SPRING season continues with:

Sunday, March 13, 2022 LIVE & LOCAL Hosted by Mark Lalama Trio
Saturday, March 19, 2022 Classic Albums Live: CCR CHRONICLE
Wednesday, March 23, 2022 THE SEAN CULLEN COCKTAIL HOUR
Friday, April 1, 2022 Classic Albums Live: EAGLES GREATEST HITS
Wednesday, April 13, 2022 THE SEAN CULLEN COCKTAIL HOUR
Thursday, May 5, 2022 CHILLIWACK
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 THE DREAMBOATS
Thursday, May 12, 2022 JEREMY HOTZ: The Marquis de Sad Tour

21/22 Season Performances RESCHEDULED to the 22/23 SEASON:

Thursday, September 15, 2022 AIR SUPPLY
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 TOM COCHRANE with Red Rider
Thursday, September 29 & Friday, September 30, 2022 Love Someone – An Intimate Evening with JOHNNY REID
Thursday, October 20 to Sunday, October 23 ACROSS THE POND: The British Invasion
Saturday, October 29, 2022 CANADIAN JAZZ ALL-STARS
Sunday, January 15, 2023 PIAF! The Show
Thursday, February 2, 2023 THE ORIGINAL WAILERS
Saturday, March 11, 2023 THE IRISH ROVERS

It has been a long, awkward and at times a very disappointing experience – but the curtains will open and the house lights will come down and the show will begin.

At which point Tammy Fox reaches for an adult beverage.

Covid19 changes everything – the Performing Arts Plans were scuttled and had to be re-scheduled. Here is what they plan for the 2023 Season. Hope does spring eternal – doesn’t it.

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Keenleyside reports on state of affairs at Freeman Station

By Ed Keenleyside, President Friends of Freeman Station
January31st, 2022
BURLINGTON, ON
A Report to All FOFS Directors and Members at Large
We’ve been closed for a variety of reasons: normal winter shut down; Covid-19 restrictions and accumulation of snow effectively eliminating parking at Freeman station. In spite of this a few projects continue to move along, and a couple of new projects have begun.

Ed Keenlyside, on the right, explaining a project to a citizen at a community meeting.

First of all, re: the restoration of the caboose… Before the cold and the snow closed down operations Ken Brooks and his dedicated team of experts replaced the windows in the cupola after reattaching it to the main frame. Simultaneously the station’s electrical system is being
extended to the rolling stock and ultimately to the three shipping containers at the back of the property. In preparation for next spring, tongue & groove lumber is being stockpiled in the station half has already been primed and painted and the remainder is being prepared as we speak.

Meanwhile inside our long-awaited video wall, which acts as a backdrop for the diorama, is nearing completion. Following closely behind, will be the installation of an a/v link from the basement to the waiting room to provide a visual connection for those people unable to use
the stairs. Both of these projects are being completed thanks to the generosity of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

This is what they started out with – Sitting on some “cribbing” with a sign badly in need of several coats of paint, the Freeman Station gets ready for its big move.

Now that we have completed the restoration of the station (in record time, I might add) it is time to look at an important component of the station that needs updating. That is our website. We have struggled to find a person who has the time and knowledge to manage this
valuable communication and fundraising tool. Over the years items have been added which had a temporary importance but which were never removed. One of the most common comments is that our website could be more user friendly. Well, work is now underway to
remedy that concern. The original company in St. Catharines has been contacted about resurrecting the site. With the pandemic lock-down, there are no visitors and thus virtually no donations. Therefore the sooner the website is fixed so that it encourages donations and
makes it super easy to donate, the better.

Settled in the new home – the task now was to complete the refurbishing and make it a destination for railways buffs.

On the fundraising side of our corporation, I am proud to tell you that due to your generosity, we had a successful campaign this fall. As they say on PBS “THANK YOU!” In addition, I have recently received good news from the federal government. Our application for a $10,000 grant has been approved and those funds will be soon deposited in our account. Being a 100% volunteer organization, we depend heavily on visitors for most of our donations. Since we have virtually been closed for two years, that has put quite a strain on our bottom line.

Another new project is just getting started, and this is a review of our By-Laws. Last October 2021 the Ontario Not-For-Profit Act was enacted. All corporations, like ours, must ensure their by-laws conform to these new regulations. Thankfully, all corporations have been allowed time to make any necessary adjustments.

One more aspect of our heritage train station is to complete an accurate inventory of all items we own. Since we are a small museum, we are unable to store unused items, and we have only limited space to display other items. This has led to the establishment of a Collections Policy and a Collections Committee. This group is headed up by the hard-working Dave Ellis.

Currently they have spread out a large number of tools and other items at the station. Some of these will go into the eventual FOFS workshop in one of the three containers at the back of the property. Other items that are not needed will be sold or disposed of. The remaining items will then be properly identified and added to a comprehensive FOFS inventory.

The year 2022 also marks another milestone in the FOFS history. At the end of the year our land-use agreement with the Solenis Chemical Company will expire.

Contact has already been made with their manager in order to facilitate an extension of that contract. We are fortunate to be a partner with the city and Solenis in maintaining and operating this valuable heritage site for future generations. With the City of Burlington owning the building and Solenis owning the land we are indeed in good hands.

The pandemic has been a real challenge to your Board of Directors as well as the community we serve. The immediate future is uncertain from a health and safety point of view. We have been very careful with Covid restrictions, and so far, it has paid off. We will continue to make your health and safety our number one priority.

Please continue to support this wonderful architectural gem that has undergone a miraculous transformation in a few short years. From a utilitarian train station built in 1906 for less than $2,000, it has cost many times that amount to bring this historic piece of Freeman and
Burlington history back to life.

Please continue your support and encourage your friends to become FOFS members.

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Hospital still struggling with new outbreaks of Covid19 - this virus is still with us

By Staff

January 30th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Days after announcing that levels 4, 5 and  6 of Joseph Brant Hospital had been cleared of the Covid19 outbreak, the hospital announced that there has been an outbreak on Unit 6 South 200 (6S200) where two patients tested positive for COVID-19.

All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of patients, Essential Care Partners (ECPs), staff and physicians.

Staff struggle to keep up with new Covid19 infections at JBH

Joseph Brant Hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control team and Employee Health Services are ensuring all patients on the unit, along with staff and physicians who have been or may have been exposed, are being contacted, monitored, tested as required and self-isolating in keeping with Public Health guidelines. Patients on the unit are in isolation as of January 29 and have been instructed to continue the 10-day self-isolation when discharged from hospital.

A number of enhanced safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of our patients, staff and physicians. This includes closing 6S200 to new patient admissions and placing patients on enhanced droplet and contact precautions.

In addition, ECPs are no longer permitted to enter the unit except under very limited circumstances in consultation with the patient’s care team. Patients can still connect with their loved ones by telephone and video – both telephone and WiFi are available at no cost. Patients and their loved ones can visit the hospital website for information on how to book a video visit: www.josephbranthospital.ca/en/patients-and-visitors/visiting-hours.asp

JBH is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to work closely with Halton Region Public Health to bring a safe end to the outbreak as soon as possible. Patients or loved ones who have questions or concerns can contact a member of the JBH Patient Relations team at 905-632-3737 ext. 4949 or by email patientrelations@josephbranthospital.ca.

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Burlington introduces online lobbyist registry to promote greater transparency in local government decision-making process

By Staff

January 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington has launched an online lobbyist registry designed to document interactions between individuals who lobby members of Burlington City Council. The centralized, searchable registry found at burlington.ca/accountability helps ensure greater transparency in the local government decision-making process and meets the requirements of Burlington’s Lobbyist Registration Policy.

Under Burlington’s Lobbyist Registration Policy (approved by City Council on Nov. 1, 2021) lobbyists are required to register themselves as a lobbyist and submit the subject matter(s) they intend to discuss with a member(s) of City Council. Lobbyists are required to register their lobbying activity within 10 business days of their meeting with a member(s) of City Council.

There are three types of lobbyists that exist in Burlington:

Consultant Lobbyist – an individual who lobbies for payment on behalf of a client (another individual, a business or other entity).

In-house Lobbyist – means an individual who is an employee, partner or sole proprietor, and who lobbies on behalf of his or her own employer, business or other entity.

Voluntary Unpaid Lobbyist – means an individual who lobbies without payment on behalf of an individual, business or other entity for the benefit of the interests of the individual, business or other entity.

Links and Resources

  • To learn more about the lobbyist registry, what is lobbying and who should sign up for the lobbyist registry and to learn more about other tools and processes the City has in place to ensure accountability and transparency in local government decision making, visit burlington.ca/accountability

Councillor Kearns had a Registry in place well before council decided it should do the same thing.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns has had a Registry that requires all her meetings with lobbyists to be listed on her registry.

 Mayor Marianne Meed Ward explains:   “The lobbyist registry is one of many tools the City has to ensure a culture of open, transparent and accountable government. It’s important that members of the public can clearly see who is lobbying the City of Burlington’s public office holders and on what topics. The goal is not to prevent interactions and communications but to make decisions more transparent.” 

Kevin Arjoon, City Clerk adds a comment: “The new online registry is designed to record the lobbying of City Council in meetings with representatives that have a business or financial interest and the goal of trying to influence legislative action. Lobbying is a legitimate activity that benefits not only lobbyists, but also public office holders and members of the public. The benefits of lobbying are lost, however, when they take place behind closed doors. This new registry ensures the process is transparent and easy to access by the public.”  

 

 

 

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Hospital back to normal - all the Covid infections are under control - visitors can return

By Staff

January 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a tough one – three different floors of the Joseph Brant Hospital were at one time working flat out to cope with Covid 19 outbreaks.
The hospital announced minutes ago, in consultation with Halton Public Health, that the outbreak has been declared over on inpatient Unit 4N700 and 5N400,

The outbreak on 4N700 was declared on January 12, 2022. In total, 11 patients and 5 staff contracted COVID-19. All appropriate actions were taken to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and physicians.

We thank our staff whose expertise and teamwork brought this outbreak to a close. Our thoughts are with those whose well-being may have been impacted during this outbreak.

Essential caregivers and support persons are now able to visit patients on 4N700 and 5N400 in accordance with the inpatient visitor policy outlined on the Joseph Brant Hospital website at: www.josephbranthospital.ca/visitors

Joseph Brant Hospital remains vigilant in following the Infection Prevention and Control safety measures in place to protect our patients, our staff and our physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Joseph Brant Hospital

Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH) is a full-service community teaching hospital located in the growing and thriving community of Burlington, Ontario, serving more than 185,000 residents in Halton, Hamilton, Waterdown, Flamborough, Milton and Stoney Creek. It is honoured to be recognized as one of Hamilton Niagara’s Top Employers for five (5) consecutive years, with a skilled staff of 194 physicians, 1,911 full- and part-time staff and more than 700 volunteers.

JBH is a Clinical Education site in conjunction with McMaster University, and designated as an Academic Community Teaching Hospital. Its expanded campus includes the state-of-art Michael Lee-Chin & Family Patient Tower, featuring a new Emergency Department, 172 acute inpatient beds, 9 new Operating Rooms and post-anaesthetic care unit to support expanded medical, surgical and outpatient services. JBH is also a partner member of the Burlington Ontario Health Team.

JBH inspires and empowers a culture of caring and this is demonstrated in many ways in our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of our people.

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Rivers: Which is it - Blaming the Victims or Passing the Buck

 By Ray Rivers

January 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

“This is a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. This is a direct challenge to the rules-based international order and an attempt to replace it with a world in which might makes right, and where the great powers, the nuclear-armed powers, have the authority to redraw the borders, dictate the foreign policies, and even rewrite the constitutions of sovereign democracies whose only fault is that they are smaller and their militaries are not as powerful.” (Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister about Canada’s support for Ukraine, Jan 26, 2022)

 One would think that Prime Minister Trudeau would be trying to appeal to people living in the western provinces, rather than deliberately offending them.   Winding down the oil and gas sector to achieve net neutral carbon levels is bad enough.  But Trudeau has no choice.  It was clear from the last two elections that Canadians are demanding action to combat climate change.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

So why would he then decide to offend Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, two thirds of whom also live in the west?  That is what he has done by thumbing his nose at a plea by the Ukrainian government to provide them with defensive weapons.  We know there is a multi-million dollar cache of anti-tank and small weapons, which had originally been destined for the Kurds in Iraq, just sitting in a warehouse taking up space.

That supply would be ever so welcome and it would cost Canadian taxpayers nothing, since we’d already paid for them back in 2014.  Some training might be needed, but Canada has 200 trainers already in place, and more coming, for exactly that purpose.  Ukraine is outgunned by its larger aggressive neighbour who has previously invaded and annexed part of the country and has now amassed over a hundred thousand troops on the border as it threatens to do more of the same.

And this isn’t Ukraine’s first rodeo with Canada when it comes to weapons supply.  Shortly after the 2014 Russian invasion, while Stephen Harper was PM and Jason Kenny Minister of National Defence, a large quantity of surplus defensive weapons were being considered for shipment to Ukraine.  However, the Harper government decided in the end to destroy the weapons instead.

Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland.

Trudeau’s deputy PM and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, a westerner, has some Ukrainian heritage.  As a strong advocate for Ukraine she was actually banned from visiting Russia several years ago.  One would expect her, of all people, to respect the wishes of the majority of Canadians, let alone those of Ukrainian heritage, and send the darn weapons they need and are asking for.

But in the end the Canadian government just said no.  Canada is proud to send more of those night goggles, a big loan and, probably, body bags for the inevitable casualties if and when the Russians do invade.  Freeland said “Ukraine is on the front lines of that struggle and that is why Canada is standing with Ukraine.”  But this Canadian government is actually leaving them on the front line to face death alone and unarmed.

Perhaps this is a moral issue for the PM.  Like the German government, perhaps Mr. Trudeau doesn’t believe in sending weapons into conflict zones.  So he refuses to send defensive weapons which would enable a democratic nation to fend off an autocratic aggressor. But somehow it is OK for Canada to send armoured vehicles and sniper rifles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a brutal autocratic monarchy, which has killed over a quarter million folks including it’s own people.

In 1939 Russia attacked Finland with the goal of annexing it.  They sent over 21 divisions totalling 450,000 troops and tanks, and they bombed the cities.  Finland was totally unprepared.  Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov told the international community that they were just dropping food baskets – Molotov food baskets.   So the Finns developed their own weapons made from Finnish alcohol with a flaming wick and called them Molotov cocktails.

The Finns lost some land (10%) which became part of Russia but they beat the Russians back with a highly successful insurgent warfare and against all odds.  That is what Ukraine would have to do should Russia decide to invade again, given the imbalance in lethal weapons.  To that end some fellow eastern European nations, the UK and USA are sending anti-tank weapons — but not Canada.

Vladimir Putin, as a former KGB agent,

Russian tanks – probably the biggest tank force in the world

Vladimir Putin, as a former KGB agent, is a student of history.  Perhaps the only reason he hasn’t yet invaded Ukraine is because he fears the same kind of response which Stalin faced in Finland; and Hitler and Napoleon in Russia; and every occupier since the beginning of time in Afghanistan.  Even if Russia’s military broke through to Kyiv, Putin knows his chances of holding it would be limited, given how unpopular he has become among the local populace.

Defensive weapons would make it harder to invade and occupy Ukraine.  And that would minimize casualties.   But Mr. Trudeau is talking in abstract terms about imposing some kind of as yet undefined sanctions once Russia invades.   But someone should have told him that sanctions have only rarely worked, and never with Russia.  Russia still occupies Crimea and still is fighting Ukrainians through its proxies in Donbas, despite sanctions.

Mr. Trudeau is calling for a peaceful solution – a diplomatic solution.  That is almost exactly what Neville Chamberlain told the British people.  Peace in our time – we just need to let Putin have Ukraine, I guess.   Mr. Trudeau hasn’t said that in those words but he must understand that Putin has no intention of stopping.

If Russia invades, as the Americans and Brits expect it will, and we have failed to provide arms to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, there will be political blood on the floor in Ottawa, as well as real human blood on the streets of Kyiv. And nobody should expect any self-respecting Ukrainian Canadian to ever vote Liberal again.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Freeland remarks –    Delusions –    Arms Cache

Finland’s Winter War –    LAVs Killing Saudi

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State of the City: Mayor Meed Ward sets out what she and her council did and where the growth will take place in 2022

2022 Mayor’s State of the City:

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
State of the City 2022
January 27, 2022
Full Speech Transcript

Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today for the 2022 State of the City address.

While I was genuinely looking forward to being together in person this year, I am grateful we could come together virtually and safely as we deal with the constant shift and flexibility required in these unique times we live in.

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce has once again found a way to carry on this local tradition and allowed me the opportunity to share important information with our community about where we are at and where we are going here in the great City of Burlington.

I want to thank the Chamber and today’s sponsors for bringing this event to life and for making it free to everyone this year. It takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes and I know our entire community appreciates it. Thank you.

I also want to note that today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and in honour of that, our Burlington Pier will be lit yellow to make this important day one of reflection and remembrance.

THE YEAR 2022

Focusing for a moment on the year that just passed and the many challenges we have collectively faced both here in Burlington and around the world, it is tremendously important to take the time to appreciate those who kept us safe, healthy and supported.

Our essential workers in healthcare, police, fire and emergency services, long-term care, education and front-line retail who we could not have survived without.

Our generous and compassionate community support groups, such as food banks and mental health resources, and the volunteers and donors who keep them going.

The public servants and city staff who not only kept plowing snowy roads and maintaining busy parks but also launched and ran extremely successful vaccination clinics.

Business owners across the city who demonstrated remarkable resilience and flexibility in the face of a constantly shifting landscape and all the residents who did everything they could to shop local and help keep them going.

And our city partners who never rested in finding ways to support our business community with advocacy, funding, personal protection equipment (PPE) and rapid tests, such as the Chamber, Burlington Economic Development and our local BIAs.

I often say one of the silver linings of the past two years has been seeing the way people and organizations have come together and collaborated like never before with the shared goal of supporting our community. The strength of these relationships will carry forward for many years and we are absolutely a better city for it.

One of the most important things we can do right now is focus on the good – and gratitude is a big part of that. Never underestimate how much a simple text or email with a few kind words could mean right now. It makes all the difference and I speak from a lot of personal experience here.

So, as we embark further into 2022, I encourage everyone to take the time each day to recognize the people who are filling our buckets with positive energy and good ideas, with notes of kindness and support, and with the hard work and flexibility that continue to help get us through difficult times.

AGENDA FOR SOTC ADDRESS

Burlington City Council – including myself as Mayor – had an ambitious to-do list when we took office more than three years ago. Working closely with city leadership and staff, we hit the ground running in 2019 and — despite a global pandemic — the business of the city has forged ahead.

I want to give you an update on where we are at in delivering on those commitments. I want to note that as I speak to that and share some photos of what we have done throughout this term so far, if you see any photos where we are close together and unmasked, be assured that those were taken early in the term as council and I have been very cognizant of all the pandemic protocols that have evolved since March 2020.

As is often the case, many new priorities also came to light since we took office, and I will fill you in on how those that have been incorporated into our mandate.

And as we approach the fourth year of this term, I want to share where we are headed looking forward. Brighter days and exciting projects are ahead as we support the continued evolution of this amazing city.

GROWTH IN BURLINGTON

In 2018, our community made it clear that their No. 1 concern was ensuring growth was better managed in Burlington. People wanted us to put a stop to the excessive heights and density of new buildings that were being approved — especially in our downtown core — and preserve the history, character and small-town feel that makes our city so wonderful. People told us they wanted greenspaces protected – and more of them created with new builds – that transit needed to be prioritized to help mitigate growing traffic congestion, and that neighborhood amenities and community centres had to be a priority.

Council and I heard these voices loud and clear and committed to better manage the trend we were seeing in overdevelopment going forward. And I want to very clearly say that mitigating overdevelopment and working towards responsible development are not the same thing as being “anti-development”.

I know there are some folks who wish we didn’t have to grow much at all and I want to talk a little bit about that.

In the past few years, I find more and more people I talk aren’t fully aware that Burlington and Halton do need to keep growing for the benefit of our city and region.

The Province of Ontario sets growth targets for each municipality – these are mandatory growth targets – and we will be expected to accommodate more than 70,000 new people in the next 30 years. That’s a lot of people. Our neighbours in Oakville and Milton are expected to take even more than that.

And why wouldn’t people want to live here? Burlington is an amazing place to work and play, and it is no surprise people continue to want to come here and raise a family. I know many of us also want our grown children to be able to afford to stay here and build their own families here too.

So we will grow – but the bottom line is as our city continues to evolve, future growth and development in the City of Burlington will happen in the right places and at the right scales to better reflect the vision of the community — and this change is the success I am most proud of in this term of council.

RIGHT PLACE. RIGHT SCALE. RIGHT VISION.

The way we are achieving this is two-fold.

One way has been to update our Official Plan to better reflect the ways we want to grow, and that includes heights and densities, and amenities and greenspace — and the other has been to remove a key obstacle that was consistently allowing overdevelopment to continue unabated by provincial land tribunal decisions and that was to adjust our Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) and Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designations and put them where they truly belong: near mass transit.

Council and I wasted no time after taking office and enacted an Interim Control Bylaw in early 2019 to pause development while the appropriate work could be done to assess the role and function of the downtown John Street bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street as Major Transit Station Areas, examine the planning structure, land-use mix and intensity for the lands identified in the study area, and update the Official Plan and Zoning bylaw regulations as needed for the lands identified in the study area.

After this work was dutifully completed by staff and in concert with external consultants, and with many opportunities for public input and feedback, we proposed and were successful in obtaining approval by the Province to adjust the boundaries of the MTSA and UGC away from the downtown and focus on the Burlington GO station. This change was solidified in writing by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in November of 2021. That was something that had never been done before by any municipality.

While a handful of developments already in the appeal process will still require us to fight for the community’s vision at the Ontario Lands Tribunal (OLT), going forward we will be able to avoid the tribunal’s pattern in past decisions of using the MTSA and UGC to further justify excessive height and density in our downtown core.

We have many thoughtful and innovative developers who want to help us in these goals and I have spoken with many of them throughout this term of council, such as at monthly meetings with the BILD leadership team, through speaking engagements, such as the Urban Land Institute, and through 1:1 meetings with developers. We are finding ways to work together to help our community grow while still respecting the community’s vision and we will continue to do so.

City Council this term also supported establishing the Burlington Lands Partnership (BLP) as a new organizational structure with key priorities to:

  • maximize business development opportunities and advance future economic growth and job creation;
  • implement major city building projects that enhance the quality of life for all citizens; and
  • deliver an increased supply of affordable housing through proactive long-term strategies and innovative partnerships.

The BLP has already advanced the due diligence to inform the offer to purchase Robert Bateman High School and created a strategic partnership opportunity filter to be used as an analytical tool focused on due diligence to ensure consistency and rigor in evaluating opportunities for land development and partnerships in the future.

STRATEGIC GROWTH

In the past three years, we have remained a growing city, we have just been getting more strategic about it:

  • We currently have 68 active major development applications at different stages of review in our system as you can see on this development tracking map that is available on the City’s website;
  • To keep up with demand, we have already added 15+ staff to our planning and building teams to help manage that growth and help applicants get to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ much faster;
  • In 2021, we saw 1,539 building permits issued, including 69 industrial, 155 commercial, 68 single-detached dwellings, 41 townhouses and 23 apartments and condo projects; and
  • 543 new dwelling units were created here in Burlington and all this development is a staggering $468 million in construction value here in our city.

Our new Official Plan for Burlington – and our Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA 48) with fellow Halton partners (Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills), who have been amazing collaborators — will work to help us build complete communities and neighborhoods that accommodate growth in ways that protect established neighborhoods, create parks and greenspace to engage and thrive in, and reduce the need for cars through proximity to transit, bike and walking paths, and new community amenities.

I’m so incredibly proud of the work all our staff and council have done to get us to this point and I’m excited to see Burlington’s growth and evolution continue in ways that honour our history, preserve what we hold dear, and accommodate innovative and well-suited development for generations to come.

BUSINESS GROWTH

Despite an incredibly challenging landscape since March 2020, due to the pandemic, especially in our restaurant and service sectors, we have also seen many local businesses continue to grow and thrive — and new ones locate their businesses here in Burlington.

More than 3,000 new jobs have been created in our city so far this term (1,573 in 2019; 843 in 2020; and 849 in 2021 = 3,265 total).

When it comes to new businesses and company expansions, 220 have happened this term (100 in 2019; 55 in 2020; and 65 in 2021 = 220 total), including Tandia Financial Credit Union’s global head office; Endress & Hauser began building their new $28 million, 47,000 sq. ft. customer experience centre; Deloitte’s 36,000 sq. ft. expansion, and MNP and Aslan Technologies’ each moving forward with 20,000 sq. ft. expansions.

Brock University will be moving a campus here to our city and finally bringing our first undergraduate post-secondary education campus to Burlington (Note: DeGroote is a graduate level program – MBA and Executive Level programs only – part of McMaster) – I am excited to see how this unfolds and creates opportunities for students as well as local businesses. My work continues with this sector to attract additional post-secondary institutions.

For our rural residents and businesses, I am happy to say we are supporting (through a third-party provider) essential high-speed Internet network installation in 2022 with some funding support secured from the federal government, as well.

The Red Tape Red Carpet initiative of 2019 partnering with local business owners to identify obstacles to relocation and growth here and creating 22 actionables to implement to make things easier, including the ability to submit development applications in digital format and the creation of a new business development liaison position at City Hall to help shepherd applicants through complex projects, and the in-progress creation of a one-window service centre on the main floor of City Hall and construction for that is getting ready to start next week!

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

Constituents and businesses repeatedly expressed concern they wanted a Mayor and Council who would be fiscally-responsible, keep taxes low, and ensure every dollar was spent wisely at the City.

Cities that are experiencing growth like Burlington and much of the GTA suffer increased tax pressures, as we saw in Milton, who is growing even faster than we are, with their 9% tax increase in 2019. Growth does not pay for itself, especially in the short-term. Before new taxpayers can start contributing, we have to build roads, sewers, sidewalks, parks and infrastructure.

Our community has high expectations for the levels of service we provide, as they should. This is one of the best cities in Canada to live in and our ability to deliver on essential services for our residents and businesses has to remain high.

It is important to mention the pandemic has considerably hurt the revenues of all municipalities as revenue-generating areas, such as transit and recreation programs, all saw huge declines through repeated lockdowns. Even with additional support from other levels of government, the losses were substantial.

Despite these pressures, we have continued to invest in our city and infrastructure and there have been many improvements that benefit every corner of Burlington thanks to council and staff:

BUDGET & TAXES

When comparing ourselves to other Halton municipalities, such as Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills, along with other nearby cities, like Mississauga and Hamilton, Burlington’s tax increases are reasonable and on par. They were slightly higher than the average in 2021, but in 2020 and 2019, they were slightly lower.

When looking around the province, it is useful to consider how much a homeowner pays in taxes as a percent of their home value. Here in Burlington, we have one of the lowest rates in the entire province, coming in at just 0.779% and now at 0.008% for 2022.

Our present council has maintained similarly low tax increases in our term than the previous mayor and council, who did not have a pandemic to content with nor the associated lost revenues. The two terms preceding us saw average increases in the city portion each year of 3.84%, including three years with increases over 4% and as high as 4.5%. This term of council has so far seen an average of 3.90%, including a 2.99% increase in 2019 that was the lowest increase residents had seen in 9 years.

Looking back as far as 2011, there has not been a year where the city portion of the tax increase has been lower than inflation. It is always higher. Except for this year – 2022. Inflation is well above 4% (according to the Bank of Canada) and our tax increase is 3.90%.

When combined with Region/Education, the number gets even lower. The previous mayor and council only achieved a combined tax increase lower than inflation once in two terms. We have already achieved this three times in just one term.

The 2022 budget is focused on maintaining and enhancing city services, ensuring the city’s assets are in a state of good repair, and addressing the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burlington has established our own self-imposed debt policy limit that is half the provincial limit, at 12.5%. The city’s current limit is as at 9.3%. The Region of Halton issues debt on behalf of the local municipalities, and we continue to enjoy the Region’s AAA credit rating.

CITY’S 2021 COMMUNITY SURVEY RESULTS

Moving on to high-service levels — since 1998, the City of Burlington has regularly conducted a community survey to uncover resident satisfaction. The surveys typically happen every 2-4 years, with the most recent surveys being in 2015, 2019 and 2021. The statically-valid survey provides an important opportunity for benchmarking and to monitor progress of community measures over time. This time, for the 2021 Community Survey, 755 Burlington residents were randomly selected and interviewed using either a residential landline or cell phone number.

Overall, I’m thrilled to report the results of the survey were highly positive.

There was a rating of 95% satisfaction with the overall quality of services in the City of Burlington. This rating was an increase from 2019 and is equal to the highest satisfaction rate compared to any of the previous measurements of resident satisfaction in the last 13 years. And to get that result during the pandemic is all the more remarkable.

Services that were identified as strengths included: Fire Services, parks, sports fields, trails, festivals and events.

Of the surveyed respondents, 71% said they would support a tax increase to maintain current service levels.

Gains were made in all areas of community engagement, including having enough opportunities to provide input, the City’s ability to engage with residents, being welcoming to public opinion in decision-making, using public input in decision making and decisions made reflect the voice of the majority of residents. There were sharp increases in these areas in 2019, compared to 2015, and 2021 continues to see positive growth.

There was substantial growth of 34% of those indicating they now currently find out about city programs, services and initiatives from their ward councillor or mayor and I’m really proud that our communications have added value to our community.

When asked the open-ended question, “What is the one issue you feel should receive the greatest attention from your Mayor and members of Council?”, the most frequent responses were around growth, especially in the downtown, related to high-rises, and the implications it might have on traffic congestion/traffic lights and transportation. This was followed by affordable housing, economic development and infrastructure.

Other common issues included parks/nature/paths, public transportation, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, as well as parking management, bylaw enforcement and transit service.

THE ENVIRONMENT

During the last campaign and throughout this term, residents consistently and emphatically asked us to address the global climate crisis at a local level by protecting greenspace, trees and rural farmland, mitigating flood risk, and reducing our carbon footprint.

One of the first things this council did upon taking office was declare a Climate Emergency. What that means is that all the decisions we make are done through a climate impact lens. Whether it’s how we allocate our annual budget or the types of infrastructure we choose to build, the protection and preservation of our environment is always a driving force.

What that looks like in practice are things like the community-based Climate Action Plan that was approved at Council in April of 2020. The plan includes seven key program areas to help the community transition away from the use of fossil fuels, particularly for buildings and transportation.

Council’s workplan From Vision to Focus supports the Strategic Plan targets for city operations to be net carbon neutral by 2040 and to work towards being a net carbon neutral community.

Staff are actively involved in partnerships with the Bay Area Climate Change Office and Council, and the Halton Climate Collective.

We have partnered with the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College to develop a home energy efficiency retrofit (HERO) program that will work to reduce household carbon emissions.

We have committed to reducing the GHG emissions from City operations overall by 21% by 2024 and 100% by 2040.

We’re using renewable energy at City facilities, including solar, such as a solar wall at Fire Station No. 8, and leasing roof space for solar generation at Mainway Arena, Transit and Roads, Parks and Forestry buildings.

Work on Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan is now underway. The plan will be built around eight pillars that, when implemented, will result in a new era of transportation that:

  • Provides a wide range of options for getting around regardless of age, means or ability, including walking, cycling, public transit and automobiles; and
  • Uses compact modes of travel like buses, bicycles and walking to efficiently move larger number of people.

We invested an additional $100,000 in annual tree planting and protection in/since our 2019 budget to contribute to the health of our tree canopy and help mitigate the loss of trees we have seen due to the Emerald Ash Borer

We launched and are continuing to evolve the private tree bylaw to protect against unnecessary removal of large older trees or requiring fees to replace them – will be reviewing the fee structure in March, as well as the process to make it more streamlined and ensure it is not unreasonably punitive.

We established the Aldershot Quarry Community Liaison Committee to create an ongoing dialogue with transparency and environmental accountability between one of our local quarries and the city and nearby residents.

We approved a resolution that we will not open the Greenbelt for development or compromise public safety protections by setting aside the Clean Water Act, as permitted in the Province’s proposed Bill 66 Open for Business legislation. After hearing voices from across Ontario, the Province eliminated the ability to bypass legislation from the bill.

Just last month, we were notified the City of Burlington has been approved for $200,000 we applied for from the Green Municipal Fund for the initiative: City of Burlington Zero Carbon Feasibility Studies for Four City Buildings.

As a member of the Conservation Halton board, we successfully pushed back on egregious changes the Province wanted to make to strip Conservation Authorities of their power and compromise some of their revenue generating services.

Prior to COP26 in Glasgow, the City also signed on to participate in the Race to Reduce campaign recognizing the City’s target to become a net carbon zero community by 2050.

And the City is working in collaboration with a number of staff and community stakeholders to develop Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adapting to Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather, expected to be completed and presented to City Council later this year.

MITIGATING TRAFFIC ISSUES

With a growing city that attracts new residents and businesses, traffic congestion is an issue that council consistently hears about from our residents. We know traffic flow on major streets is a concern, as is parking and noise from loud vehicles all across the city.

Burlington City Council approved a refreshed version of the 2016 Strategic Plan in May 2021. This version keeps the strategic directions consistent. They are A City that Grows, A City that Moves, A Healthy and Greener City and An Engaging City.

To support a city that moves, we know new development needs to be focused close to major transit, that is something our successful work to move our MTSA and UGC near the GO Stations has supported.

We also know new developments, particularly high-rises, require planning that builds complete communities around them, and that means parks, community spaces, shops and amenities that don’t require getting in your car. All our work on our Official Plan and Regional Official Plan recognizes this goal and supports these types of builds going forward.

We approved free transit for children under 12 and seniors at off-peak hours Monday to Friday (Council recently made the pilot seniors’ program permanent), and free transit for low income residents who qualify for the Region’s SPLIT subsidized transit pass. Free student transit is also on the table for next term of council. We also added more buses and drivers for conventional transit, and an additional bus and driver for Handivan service to increase frequency on main routes to better align with 15-minute GO service and respond to increased demand.

Parking concerns evolved after the pandemic began with extended residential street parking becoming more essential as people worked from home, and different needs surfacing downtown where shoppers needed to do quick curbside pickups from their favourite stores. The city responded effectively by flexing the rules around both in order to better support residents and businesses across the city, and offering periods of free parking at the pandemic’s onset as well.

Traffic noise is an ongoing issue we are tackling with our partners at the Halton Regional Police Service. Their aptly named “Project Noisemaker” has used proactive enforcement and in 2020 alone the campaign saw more than 1,420 charges laid for things like having no muffler or making unnecessary noise.

We are looking at adding two Level 2 chargers and one Level 3 charger to downtown municipal lots. These are the two highest level chargers in terms of speed and will complement the existing 12 chargers we already have in the downtown which accommodate up to 24 electric vehicles. One is included in the Elgin promenade project in Lot 1 with the other two locations planned for Lot 8 and Lot 5.

Our parking sensor project is ongoing with plans to complete installations in all downtown lots by the end of 2022. The sensors will be integrated with existing lot signage to accurately display and update parking lot numbers and the amount of available spaces. More importantly, the data collected from the sensors can be utilized to inform strategy on parking requirements for new and pending construction projects. The information provided by this system will enable us to work more strategically with developers and advocate for better parking planning when new construction developments are proposed in the downtown.

Last year, Council approved 40 km/h speed limits in 13 neighbourhoods throughout the city with a focus on improving road safety in residential areas, where our most vulnerable road users are.

The city also implemented technology to better monitor traffic flow and travel times along its major corridors allowing for improved identification and response to unexpected traffic congestion.

And finally, the City is nearing completion of the development of the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP), our 30-year transportation plan, that looks to how people will move now and into the future. The plan is heavily rooted in public consultation and we have relied on the vision and values of the community to shape an integrated mobility network that focuses on sustainability and equity, placing greater reliance on enhanced levels of transit and active transportation. This is the first-ever transportation plan for the City, and we are one of the first Ontario municipalities to apply an integrated lens to our mobility planning approach.  The IMP will be complete this summer.

So, a lot of great work being done by teams here at the City to get us moving more smoothly and keep us moving.

RESPECT AT CITY HALL

Residents throughout Burlington raised concerns for many years of not feeling heard, respected or welcome at city hall. They identified a combative, unprofessional atmosphere where they didn’t feel comfortable coming forward with concerns and ideas. They told us on the campaign trail that they expected better and this Council promised to deliver that.

We know politics means debate. It means fighting for the wants and needs of constituents. And throughout our community, not all constituents agree – so not all councillors will agree either. And that’s ok. Respectful debate is the cornerstone of democracy. We bring forth motions, we listen to the facts, we debate their merit and then we vote. We don’t need to agree, but at the end of the day, we do need to work together for the best interests of our community, and we need each person who interacts with council or city staff to feel valued, included and heard.

Since we took office in December 2018, this council has been busy. We have collectively seen more than 1,000 motions brought before us at council through the past three years — 1,022 to be exact —  and we have passed 1,006 of them – that’s 98%! Of those that passed, 91% were passed unanimously. That is proof positive that we have a council that is consistently aligned and works together to make things happen in our community.

I was also thrilled to see in the Community Survey that I mentioned a few slides back that we got an 84% performance rating for council decision-making in an open, accountable, transparent local government!

One of the best emails I got back in early 2019 was from a constituent who commented:

“The difference in how council, committees and staff work together is palpable at city hall and throughout the city. Citizens at city hall and council meetings are not only respected but are heeded. Thank you to council and staff for listening and adapting to a whole new mindset so quickly and graciously.”

One of the things I wanted to introduce when I became Mayor was to offer something new in the form of monthly 1:1’s with myself and each councillor to ensure we could connect on issues big and small, discuss ward-specific challenges and ideas, and learn what one another were working on to identify places we could work better together.

That is how projects have come about where we worked together towards shared goals or leveraged each other’s expertise, such as Councillor Kelvin Galbraith co-chairing the Red Tape Red Carpet initiative and joining the Aldershot Quarry Community Liaison Committee, Councillor Rory Nisan joining the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee meetings, or Councillors Lisa Kearns and Angelo Bentivegna joining the Burlington COVID-19 Task Force – just to name a few.

Many joint meetings with constituents and community groups have happened with myself and councillors, we have done many joint newsletters regarding the proposed Millcroft development (with Councillor Bentivegna) and the Nelson Quarry (with Councillor Nisan), had a drop-in booth at the Burlington Farmer’s Market with Councillor Shawna Stolte, and put forward many joint motions at council including:

  • The 2020 COVID-19 Mask Mandate with Councillor Stolte and myself;
  • The $900K decrease to the Dec 9 budget with Councillor Stolte;
  • 2 motions related to the Official Plan with Councillor Kearns and myself;
  • Councillor Paul Sharman’s initiative to improve the budget process; and
  • Councillor Sharman’s initiative to revise the private tree bylaw that I have been happy to collaborate on.

I also revised the process for appointing annual Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs to ensure that all councillors have an equal opportunity to be chairs and take on leadership roles throughout the term.

I am proud of how this council has evolved in its first term together, many of whom were new to the role and certainly rose to the occasion during a challenging global pandemic. I see how they each share their unique strengths, experience and knowledge with one another, and how they listen to and engage with their wards. Politics in a pandemic has not been easy, and I am impressed by each of them for the resolve and resilience they have shown.

All six councillors have joined me this past year on the Burlington Matters show on YourTV Halton to highlight amazing community organizations in their wards, and I appreciate the many, many events we have all come together to attend this term, from key to the city ceremonies to flag raisings to tours of rural Burlington to indigenous community celebrations. They consistently show up for our community and I know we are united in our goal to make every person feel welcome and appreciated here.

FROM YOUR COUNCILLORS

This is a great time to share a bit of insight from each councillor with you as we look at successes and learnings so far in this term.

When I asked Councillor Kelvin Galbraith about successes that have happened in Ward 1, there were a lot that came to mind. He said that his advocacy work for the business community would be his first choice and I have to agree there.  From the Red Tape Red Carpet experience to the Burlington Economic Recovery Network advocacy work to upper levels of government, he has really etched out his place on this council as a voice for the business community. He conveyed that he is very comfortable in this role and loves everything small business as his entire career has been in self-employment and entrepreneurship. His biggest learning from our community has been how caring and giving our local Ward 1 residents can be. The St. Matthew on the Plains church group that formed organically to collect food and other donations on a regular basis when the pandemic started to help those in need is a great example of a community that cares. In addition, Partnering Aldershot is a community liaison group the has many partners, with most of them being volunteers that have formed groups to assist people with anything they need.  There is need everywhere, but from what he has seen, the Ward 1 community has responded and he is very proud to be a part of it. Looking forward he told me he is focused on completion of the MTSA work with staff as this is one of the main drivers of economic and residential growth in Ward 1.  It is very important that we get this work completed prior to many more applications being submitted.  We want these communities to be complete communities with Residential, Retail and employment all within the MTSAs. West Aldershot is in need of more retail, and food operations so we need to complete the work that requires this type of mixed use in all new applications and developments.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns is most proud of continuing an engaged community voice that is at the forefront of decision-making. Together she and the Ward 2 community has made many improvements that have improved the quality of life here, including large infrastructure investments, funding for businesses, traffic safety, the Urban Farm, and many local events. Her biggest learning thus far has been that Ward 2 is compassionate and resilient, and truly a community that cares for each other. Looking ahead she is focused on recovery and rebuilding of our local business community and improving control over growth management.

Councillor Rory Nisan is deservedly proud to have brought an engaging new splash pad into Ward 3 – the first one in the area. While the pandemic delayed its implementation until last year, when it was ready last summer, he expected to see kids having fun on hot days as you’d imagine – but what he didn’t expect was that the area would become a highly used social space where families would spend the whole day under a tree, bring their lunch and meet up with friends. The splash pad has become a beloved community hub that was not there before and filled a well-timed need as we all seek to come together more often outdoors. Councillor Nisan told me his biggest learning this term has been how important communication is to the community. He noted, they raise their concerns and they will listen to your response and it has been a pleasure for him to problem-solve with constituents. The year ahead for Ward 3 will see some long-awaited playground renovations and progress on the quarry application: the most important issue for many of his constituents.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte has found her role as Chair of the Housing Strategy Working Group to be the most challenging and rewarding work undertaken thus far this term of Council.  The financial security of property values in Burlington is a comfort for many, but for our community to remain stable and healthy it is critical for us to continue to create opportunities for reasonably attainable housing for the youth, families and seniors of our community and Councillor Stolte is tremendously proud of the continued hard work being done by the Housing Strategy Working Group to this end. In addition, Councillor Stolte said she would like to take the opportunity to highlight the incredible learning she has gained from her work with newly developed neighbourhood groups such as the Shoreacres ACT Group.  The support from this group of engaged citizens for their fellow neighbours, as well as their incredible advocacy for issues in their community has been truly inspiring and Councillor Stolte looks forward in 2022 to encouraging and supporting even more neighbourhood groups around Ward 4.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is rightfully proud of his work with PACE – the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly –and their efforts to keep older adults out of hospital and long-term care homes for as long as possible at the same time as improving their quality of life. His work was recently spotlighted on CBC’s The National, showcasing this program and the Burlington pilot site at the Halton Community Housing 410 John Street community.  PACE provides 360 degree wrap-around integrated services and social programing where people live. It includes re-configured community spaces, for social engagement as well as service and primary care providers, all to keeps older adults healthier, improve their quality of life and welfare. With our growing population of older adults and the pandemic impact we know our healthcare system and LTC capacity are becoming overloaded, which will only get worse as the number of community members aged 75-yrs and older doubles in the next 20 years. This work has never been timelier and more important as it enters the critical scaling up stage so that all of us can hope for a brighter future. Amazing work by Councillor Sharman.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna has worked diligently through no less than 36 meetings so far with stakeholders to help keep things moving and secure the Federal funding needed to provide long-awaited rural broadband, a journey that began in 2019 and only became more urgent due to the pandemic – and we anticipate that installation to be complete this summer. He is proud to have witnessed countless acts of kindness throughout his ward in recent years from Friday porch pick-up food drives to coat donations from local restaurants to the Salvation Army to the Music in the Streets concerts in ward 6 neighbourhoods and how neighbours have truly gotten to know each other better in these challenging times. Going forward he is focused on working with city staff to support more of these local events and small street festivals and continue supporting positive community engagement.

Our city is very fortunate to have these six committed council members on their side, working hard to ensure Burlington is strong, healthy and vibrant for everyone who lives, works and plays here.

FROM YOUR CITY MANAGER

We continue to have an experienced City Manager at the City of Burlington who is committed to collaboration and truly exemplifies integrity in Tim Commisso.

Tim and his leadership team have led city staff through this challenging pandemic and done an amazing job in keeping essential services like transit, roads and park work going while adapting to evolving pandemic guidelines and handling exponential growth in areas like building permits.

I asked Tim what the biggest accomplishment he is most proud of since stepping into this role in 2019 and he said that in his three years since returning to Burlington as City Manager and his 10th year as a City Manager overall, he is most proud of the meaningful and measurable work completed collectively by City Council and staff.  He feels very privileged to serve such a passionate and dedicated City Council whose No. 1 focus is protecting and enhancing what we most enjoy about our wonderful community.

The recent 2021 Community Survey results that I mentioned earlier says a lot for Tim. He was most impressed that: 89% rated Burlington as the Best Place to Live Overall and we had a 94% satisfaction rating with the COVID 19 City Emergency Response Overall. Across the board, Tim noted the results overall are the best since the City started conducting the community attitudes survey approximately 25 years ago and he is particularly proud of the satisfaction rating related to our COVID emergency response that is now approaching 2 years of sustained effort and commitment by both Council and staff… he calls it “living over the department store.”

He continues to be inspired by the passion of community members to see Burlington prosper and advance while preserving what is special and unique about the City – its PEOPLE (that was the No. 1 reference in the community survey Word Cloud). One focus area in particular that he is excited about is the important role the City needs to play in advancing our collective understanding and actions towards achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Looking forward in 2022, across many strategic and operational priority areas, Tim pointed out that Council and staff has another extremely “full plate” of workload items. His No. 1 priority as City Manager will remain the same…to ensure every day that City staff provide the best possible advice, including report options and recommendations, to allow Council to make the best possible decisions in the interest of the community.

EQUITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

Back to our deliverables and moving along in our agenda to issues that rose up and became essential to address as we moved through our term.

Equity, diversity and inclusion became an issue that needed ongoing attention and care. We saw the Black Lives Matter movement accelerate after the devastating death of George Floyd in the U.S and troubling deaths of minorities here in Canada involving police as well. We saw innocent Muslim lives taken in a senseless attack in London, Ontario. We saw the discoveries of thousands of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada. We saw a lot of pain and division. And we did what we could to help.

We continued our work to expand our rainbow crosswalk initiative and selected 3 new locations for the next ones to come.

We supported an art installation in support of Black Lives Matter outside of City Hall shortly after the local protest walk here in Burlington in spring of 2020. I hosted two of the organizers on my Burlington Matters show shortly after to talk more deeply about the issues they faced growing up black in our city.

Our art fund supported the Promenade of Pain REDress project to highlight missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

We supported a public prayer event to support our Muslim community after the London attacks and saw hundreds of people come together in unity at Spencer Smith Park.

We lowered our flags after the unmarked graves were found at residential schools and supported the Hope for Healing art installation at civic square and Spencer Smith Park to express our shared grief, and we saw thousands turn out for the first Day of Truth and Reconciliation event this past September, including staff who are now given that day off work to spend time remembering and reflecting. We worked with the community to change the name of Ryerson Park to Sweetgrass Park.

Council unanimously signed the Halton Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Charter, committing to understanding diversity through the lens of allyship and embracing inclusion through acceptance of all residents in Halton and subsequently updated our sponsorship and naming policies to ensure they reflect that commitment.

PANDEMIC RESPONSE & RECOVERY

And how can I not mention the biggest initiative at all that we didn’t see coming – a global pandemic.

Our city – our staff – our council – our healthcare and essential workers – our teachers – our community support organizations – our government partners – and every resident and business here – all came together in this extraordinary and challenging time.

Burlington was the first municipality in Halton to declare a State of Emergency and start the work that needed to be done. We met daily for months to address urgent and evolving communication needs for our community, make timely decisions to keep people safe, and partner with people and organizations all over the city to get help to those in need.

The Burlington COVID-19 task force met regularly – 24 times now and counting – and brought together political leaders, city leadership, councillors, our hospital, food banks, business supports, hydro, library, and so many more to identify needs and come together to meet them.

All Halton Mayors and our Regional Chair began meeting biweekly to share information and coordinate our response.

The city waived fees for restaurant patios and worked to accelerate the sidewalk patio approval process.

We delayed property tax payments without penalty for our residents during the initial lockdown which cost the city $625K in revenue that stayed in people’s pockets.

The City and TEAM Burlington joined Burlington Economic Development, our Chamber of Commerce, and by forming the Burlington Economic Recovery Network to support the unique challenges our local businesses faced.

The Digital Main Street Program launched and supported hundreds of businesses pivot to online sales.

With $240,000 in support approved by city council, the Burlington Safe Restart Grant program – the first of its kind at the municipal level – helped more than 150 local businesses purchase PPE and make renovations to make their spaces safer to reopen.

TEAM Burlington also provides free rapid antigen screening tests for workplaces to help them keep their staff and customers safe and healthy.

And most importantly we partnered with our healthcare agencies across Halton Region to roll out a hugely successful vaccination program that is ongoing and evolving weekly.

We are now working towards a world where we are living with covid rather than living in lockdown.

RAISING BURLINGTON’S PROFILE

Many initiatives and relationships have taken shape and been strengthened this term that has elevated our profile locally as well as internationally.

Canadian and International journalists and fellow governments from as far away as Ghana and Korea have reached out to ask about how we do things well here in Burlington and learn from our best practices, from our COVID-19 task force to the Red Tape Red Carpet initiative to our festivals and events and our parking management programs.

I have had the privilege of speaking to audiences at the Urban Land Institute here in the GTA, at the Smart Cities Connect conference in Colorado, the Toronto Chamber of Commerce and countless local groups like our Rotary and PROBUS Clubs as well as school groups, model UN challenges and girl guides.

I am honoured to sit on the boards of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Large Urban Caucus, the rural mayors of the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario (TAPMO), the Small Urban GTHA Mayors, and contribute to the great work being done from the Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM) caucus including hosting our in-person fall meeting last October. Councillor Nisan sits on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as well. Sitting at these tables ensures Burlington has a strong voice in the decisions being made that affect our community.

Advocacy work we have done through these groups has focused on topics from COVID-19 recovery funding to opposing Bill 21 in Quebec to securing more support for mental health and addictions, affordable childcare and successfully avoiding provincial budget cuts. We are most effective when we all work together and our relationships with our municipal peers have never been stronger.

Each member of council and many staff and members of the city’s leadership team also sit on countless boards and provide support and volunteer work at many charities throughout our city and this work has only intensified throughout the pandemic. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by people who are so giving of their time and energy, and committed to bettering our community and our reputation.

COMMUNITY AMENITIES

On to the last part of our agenda: Looking forward. We have exciting priorities ahead for 2022 and beyond.

One of the best things about Burlington is how active and engaged our residents are. Our sports teams are competitive and plentiful across every age group. Our arts and culture groups create music, ceramics, paintings and sculptures across the city and in classes and workshops. Our seniors gather throughout community centers and public spaces to connect, exercise and volunteer. Our libraries are brimming with avid readers and curious learners. Rotary and Probus clubs meet regularly to share ideas and intellect. Religious groups hold services and celebrations that inspire and illuminate. Our parks are full of picnics and public events through every season.

With this passion and participation comes a constant need for the spaces and places we can come together. And after the challenges of the past two years, we all know how vital this is to our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

That’s why one of my main priorities looking ahead will be to focus on creating more community spaces and amenities to bring us together. And we’ve already gotten started.

By entering a process to purchase Robert Bateman High School, we have started a journey to repurpose 212,000 square feet of space in the east end of our city, near established neighborhoods, schools and transit. We have seen how amazing this type of project can be with the QEPCCC in Oakville having been created out of a prior high school and now seeing hundreds of thousands of users per year in their woodshops, ceramics studios, performance and recording centers and public pool. With plans to potentially have Brock University expand part of their campus there, along with our TechPlace innovation hub and expand and relocate the Appleby branch of our public library network, this will be an exciting and engaging place for our entire community.

Our No. 1 priority for funding from upper-level government partners is the Skyway Community Centre and Park Reconstruction Project to expand the ice pad using more environmentally friendly materials, have warm and cold spectator seating with accessibility, create multi-use program space, add change rooms with showers/washrooms, install a walking track, and utilize a low carbon design.

We know we need to build more complete communities with engaging city amenities around all our Go Stations and we are prioritizing that while also creating a policy through the Burlington Lands Partnership to buy and repurpose all closed school sites for future community uses.

There is a lot ahead for our city and the people who live, work and play here – so please keep watching my news feeds and the city channels as well because there are exciting announcements happening often and lots of good news to share.

AFFORDABLE, ATTAINABLE HOUSING

We know that housing affordability is one of the biggest issues facing urban communities across Canada and especially in the GTA. The Canadian Real Estate Association says 2021 was the busiest year ever for Canada’s housing market, with average selling prices climbing 18% across the country.

In Burlington, the average price for a single family dwelling went from $892K in January of 2020 to over $1.3M by the end of 2021.

It is clear that prices are out of reach for many families, not to mention the next generation of home buyers – our children. The creation of attainable housing is a goal that we work toward with our partners at Halton Region – who oversee assisted and attainable housing in Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton – as well as with our provincial and federal governments, who provide needed funding and related legislation to help make housing more affordable across the board.

We have taken the following steps to address this issue at the municipal level:

  • Burlington finally got its first homeless shelter for women and families;
  • Halton Region has created 1,005 new assisted housing opportunities since 2014 and progress continues. 92 new assisted housing opportunities were delivered in 2021 with a total investment of $15.0 million – $7.1 million funded by the Region and $7.9 million funded by the Provincial and Federal governments;
  • Halton Region is well positioned to deliver a mix of up to 600 units of purpose built rental and assisted rental housing opportunities through both capital and operational programs between 2021 and 2031, if support from senior levels of government is made available;
  • Burlington supported the Habitat for Humanity build on Queensway Drive in support of helping families ladder up into private home ownership;
  • In November of 2021, Regional Council approved a Portfolio Approach to Achieving Comprehensive Housing Strategy Objectives + the Regional Chair wrote to the Federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion as well as the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing requesting federal funding for Halton Region’s housing portfolio in order to deliver new assisted housing projects in Halton Region;
  • The City of Burlington is creating a Housing Strategy to give current and future residents more housing options across our city. In January 2021, City Council endorsed the Burlington Housing Strategy Terms of Reference, directing staff to start work on the Housing Strategy – an opportunity to develop creative and innovative solutions for housing issues in Burlington that will build on and support the Region’s Housing Strategy;
  • Council approved the Housing Needs & Opportunities Report last month which acknowledges that we consider housing a basic human right and that there is a collective responsibility to ensure that the supply of housing in a community can accommodate the varying needs of residents throughout their lifetime, including financial needs. The report also outlines policies, tools, identifies partnerships, and actions to address residents’ current and future housing needs such as authorizing inclusionary zoning or expanding permissions for where shared housing can be located;
  • And just last week I joined the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and fellow mayors from across Ontario at the Provincial Housing Summit where we agreed that for significant progress to be made, federal, provincial and municipal governments must thoroughly explore all options and use economic levers, like tax, spending and regulatory powers we well as work together to review parts of the process that could be improved such as approval timelines, streamlining processes and data collection. We plan to take full advantage of the recently announced Streamline Development Approval Fund to help us modernize, streamline and accelerate processes for managing and approving housing applications and providing status updates including getting more of those processes online and digitally-friendly.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With Superbowl LVI just a few short weeks away, I am reminded of this quote from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

The past few years have been a group effort beyond what we ever could have imagined and we are fortunate to have so many superstars on the field playing for our team as you’ve heard here today.

I’ll leave you today with my heartfelt gratitude for all the ways each of you have contributed to making our city the resilient, healthy place we know and love.

Your engagement with the issues that matter, your involvement in volunteering and donating your time and money to local charities, your flexibility and resilience as healthcare workers, teachers, front line staff and business owners – all of it has added up to keeping Burlington going strong.

We will continue to recover, grow and thrive together in Burlington by staying true to the values of hard work, collaboration and kindness in the year ahead.

Thank you.

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The Joseph Brant Museum re-open February 1st: True or false ?

By Staff

January 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the Phase 2 Roadmap to Reopen Covid19 restrictions due to be lifted on February 1st – the Joseph Brant Musem announced the opening of True or False? The Fun Science Exhibition on February 1.

This exhibition invites visitors to use their critical senses to examine three principal categories of information: nature and animals, humans and food, and science and technology. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Monday is the day with the highest number of heart attacks. An ostrich eye is larger than its brain. True or false? Visitors will have to watch and listen to evaluate the information and meet the challenges presented through various interactive stations.

The exhibition was produced by the Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science and made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Museums Assistance Program of Canadian Heritage, the Jardin des animaux, Tim Hortons (Estrie) and Amgen Canada.

Chris Selman, Curator – Museums of Burlington explains: “True or False contains lots of fun, interactive elements and also presents its content as a game that folks have to work their way through. Importantly, though, it asks visitors to use their reasoning skills to assess a range of topics in order to separate fact from fiction. I really think that it’s this element that makes True or False a timely show for the Museums of Burlington.” –

True or False? will be on view at Joseph Brant Museum Museum from February 1 to May 21, 2022. Museum hours of operation are Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 3:30pm. In accordance with COVID-19 protocols, the Museums of Burlington has procedures in place to allow the public to safely enjoy the galleries and exhibitions currently on view.

Visitors to the Museum are asked to pre-pay admission online for a designated entry time. Entry times are available on the 1/2 hour. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated space permitting.

 

About Museums of Burlington
Museums of Burlington encompasses Joseph Brant Museum and Ireland House Museum.

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It is not exactly wide open - but a step in the right direction. You can get out for a beer on the 31st

By Staff

January 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Provincial government is exiting Modified Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen. The city can now adjust its plans and reopen the city on January 31st. The plan is to stay with the reopen plan until February 21st when it will be reviewed again.

Recreation Facilities and Programs
When City of Burlington recreational programs, services and rentals resume, occupancy will remain at 50 per cent of room capacity for rentals, events and programs.

Rental and program participants must come to the facility dressed and ready for their activity and leave the facility promptly following the activity. As a result of the capacity restriction, change room and dressing room space is also limited to 50 per cent and may not be available. Spectator seating areas are also limited to 50 per cent, and occupancies will be posted.

Proof of vaccination with an enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code is required for entry into City recreational facilities. Individuals can save the electronic version of their certificate with a QR code to their phone or print a paper copy. Both paper and digital versions of the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code will be accepted. Medical exemptions and clinical trial exemptions will require a certificate with a QR code. Physician notes will no longer be accepted.

Download your enhanced vaccine certificate at ontario.ca/getproof.

In addition to proof of vaccination, requirements for screening, masking and physical distancing remain in place for all recreation facilities.

Parents and/or guardians may enter a facility for a maximum of 15 minutes to drop off and pick-up a participant for a program, without showing proof of vaccination. Parents who are required to stay in the facility for the duration of the program must be fully vaccinated.

Facility Rentals and Program Providers
• Recreation facility renters and program providers will be able to resume scheduled rentals in City and school board locations starting Jan. 31. Organizations and individuals have been contacted directly by staff for rental contract adjustments.

• Booking requests for winter and spring rental times are now being accepted. For more information visit burlington.ca/rentals or email requests to rentals@burlington.ca.
In-Person Registered Recreation Programs

• Winter 2022 courses with program dates within the closure period up to and including Jan. 30 will be cancelled or rescheduled where possible. Registrants are being notified directly for refunds and credits.

• Courses that were intended to start in early January and program dates extend beyond Jan. 30 will resume with the first scheduled date on or after Jan. 31.

• Swimming lessons will resume with the first scheduled date on or after Feb. 5.

• Registrants are being notified directly and credits issued for classes cancelled during the shutdown.

• Recreation courses with dates starting on or after Jan. 31 will run as scheduled. Registrants will be contacted directly by staff if a change is required.

• There are still spots available in upcoming courses with start dates through February and March, including March Break Camps, and March Break swimming lessons. Browse and register online at burlington.ca/recreation.

Drop-In Programs and Book-A-Court
• Drop-in recreation programs for Jan. 31 onwards are now viewable online at burlington.ca/dropinandplay.
• Registration opens for residents 25-hours before program start time.
• New for this season, Drop-in programs for Adults will open for registration seven days before the program start time. Adult drop-in programs will resume on Feb. 7.
• Pickleball Book-A-Court times will be available for booking online starting Jan. 31 at burlington.ca/pickleball.

Recreation Passes
• Recreation passes were put on hold during the closure, and pass holders who wish to return can request to reactivate their pass by contacting customer service at liveandplay@burlington.ca or 905-335-7738. Please allow two business days to reactivate.

• Recreation passes will be available for purchase online starting Jan. 31 at burlington.ca/memberships.
Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond

• Outdoor skating at Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond will require pre-registration for skate times up to and including Jan. 30. Completing COVID-19 screening is required for all skaters and those using indoor washroom.

• Starting Jan. 31, pre-registration and screening will no longer be required. Skating times will be open for casual drop-in daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. conditions permitting.

• Residents are encouraged to call the ice conditions hotline, 905-335-7738, ext. 8587 before leaving their house, to make sure that the Pond is open.

Recreation customer service can be reached at liveandplay@burlington.ca or 905-335-7738 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends.

Impacts to other city services

Service Burlington
The Service Burlington counter at City Hall, at 426 Brant St., is open to the public to offer in-person services beginning Feb. 1, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

A reminder that Service Burlington is temporarily located on the second floor of City Hall during construction for the City Hall Modernization Project. Please enter City Hall through the Brant Street entrance and proceed to the second floor using the lobby elevator.

Service Burlington accepts payments for:
• Parking permits and tickets
• Property taxes
• Freedom of Information requests
• Garbage tags
• Dog licenses
• Property information requests
• Recreation services

Electronic payment methods are preferred.

Commissioning and marriage licensing services are also available by appointment. Please visit burlington.ca/marriage, burlington.ca/commissioning, or call 905-335-7777 to book your appointment.

Residents can also visit burlington.ca/onlineservices to access a variety of City services online. Service Burlington is available to answer questions by phone at 905-335-7777 and email at city@burlington.ca.

For more information on the City’s COVID-19 response, visit burlington.ca/coronavirus.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said:
“The gradual reopening is a step in the right direction. While this pandemic continues to throw us curveballs, we must now turn our minds to how we can go about our daily lives while still protecting our health, safety, mental health and hospital capacities.

“Public health protection measures and protocols can also help our local businesses and schools remain open, and the City continue to offer the programs and services you depend on and enjoy. Thank you again to all of you who have been doing, and continue to do, your part.”

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Kearns teams up with the Foxcroft people - whistles intended to scare away the animals

By Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Coyotes in Burlington were ward 4 and 5 issues. There must have been something about the downtown core they didn’t like.

That is no longer the case.

When ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns began to get calls – she, to use a phrase the Mayor likes, got into giddy-up mode and began to put together a ward 2 approach to the problem.

Then happenstance came into play.

Walking path along Maple Lane. No coyotes

The city’s Animal Control people bought 1200 Fox 40 whistles – the coyotes don’t like them all that much.

Signage with what to do should you see a coyote

When Kearns learned that Ron Foxcroft made a whistle she put out a call to him.

Turns out the two of them go back some distance.

When Lisa was in high school, at Cardinal Newman on Grays Road in Stoney Creek, she did a project on Fox 40. Ron says she got “100” on her high school project.

They have been BFF as a result.

On a cold Wednesday Ron Foxcroft, his son Ronnie, and Lisa Kearns will be outside blowing on whistles.

It would be nice if a couple of coyotes would show up to see just how good the whistle sound is on scarring the critters off.

Where do you get a Foxcroft whistle?

Team Aquatic Supplies just placed an order for these, so they have plenty in stock. They are also available at Al’s Source for Sports, Team Aquatic Supplies to go along with SAIL, MEC, Canadian Tire and Fox40Shop.com.

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UPDATE: Project Lynx Sentencing - 13 years and 222 days for Singh in a federal prison

By Pepper Parr

January 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is not unusual for the public to express dismay and concern when bail is given to an accused person for what many feel is a serious crime.

The sentences handed out seem very short at times.

A recent very serious case that involved a number of jurisdictions came to a close last week when a number of people were sentenced to prison for a long time.

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has an update to provide on a sentence delivered in connection with Project Lynx, a seven month investigation that targeted a highly organized and sophisticated drug network involved with drug trafficking, importing and money laundering.

In April 2021, the HRPS announced 7 arrests and more than 40 charges in connection with this investigation.

On January 20, 2022, Ajmer Singh (45) of Mississauga received a sentence of 13 years and 222 days for 1 count of possession for the purpose of trafficking fentanyl. Singh also received a 10 year (concurrent) sentence on 2 counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine.

In addition to these sentences, the courts also ordered the forfeiture of $727,883 cash, a vehicle used in the commission of the offences and several pieces of high end jewellery.

Deputy Chief of Regional Operations Jeff Hill

Deputy Chief of Regional Operations Jeff Hill stated, “Mr. Singh’s sentencing sends a strong message that those who put some of our most vulnerable community members at risk will be held accountable. This type of activity will never be tolerated in our community and our members will remain relentless in battling the ongoing opioid crisis and bringing those involved in trafficking to prosecution.”

Community safety is a shared responsibility. We urge anyone who can provide information regarding the trafficking of illicit drugs to call the Drug and Human Trafficking Unit at 905-825-4777 ext. 5331.

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.

Related news story

Original arrests

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