Plans to re-design the Millcroft golf course and add some housing: Mayor not in the loop at the beginning

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 20th, 2020



This morning, at around 10:00 am, the Mayor and a councillor issued a joint statement related to some development on the Millcroft Golf course property.  Within minutes of the statement from city hall there was a media release from the public relations people working for the golf course owners.

There is an interesting situation developing.  Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Councillor Angelo Bentivegna jointly said:

Angelo watching Roru

Councillor Bentivegna joined the Mayor in issuing a statement on the development plans at the Millcroft Golf Course.

“Some residents in the immediate vicinity of Burlington’s Millcroft Golf Club have received a notice from property owner Millcroft Greens Corporation outlining an intent to redesign parts of the golf course and develop small parcels of land for residential uses.

“Millcroft Greens is a joint partnership between the Millcroft Golf Club and Argo Development Corporation. The partnership was created with a mandate to continue to operate an 18-hole golf course while introducing select parcels of land for new development.

“The property owner has noted for reasons related to safety and the length of the course, it would like to reduce the size of the playing area.

MMW confused look

The Mayor was not invited.

“It is our understanding that Millcroft Greens met with selected residents earlier this week and that this meeting was an introductory conversation about their preliminary plans with the community. This was an invite-only meeting that I and Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna did not attend.

“Separately, Millcroft Greens met with me and Councillor Bentivegna, along with city staff, to provide an overview of its preliminary concept.

“The City of Burlington has not received a development application from Millcroft Greens for this property and has not even held a per-consultation meeting to discuss a proposal.

“A second neighbourhood meeting with the community will be required by the City before any applications are submitted. At this second meeting, City staff will be able to provide details about application requirements and conditions, and Millcroft Greens will collect feedback that can be used to inform any future development applications. This meeting will be taking place on Monday, March 23.

“Once a development application is submitted to the City, it will trigger a formal process that includes additional public engagement prior to any Council decision.

Miillcroft mill

A well designed community that was started in the mod 80’s

“Any property owner has the legal right to submit an application and the City has a legal obligation to process any applications submitted. City staff review and make recommendations to Council to either approve, modify or deny the development proposal.

“Input from the public is always welcomed and considered throughout the application process.

“We will continue to update the community throughout this process, including once details for a general public meeting are finalized. Formal notice of that meeting will be mailed out to all homeowners in the vicinity of the golf course.”

Minutes later the public relations agency for the land got its side of the story out. KG&A, a corporation the Mayor will certainly know something about, sent the following.

“Representatives from Millcroft Greens, a new 50:50 joint venture between Millcroft Golf Club and Argo Development Corporation, are pleased to announce their intention to redesign and develop select portions of the Millcroft Golf Club. The golf course will continue to operate and offer a new challenging, executive 18-hole experience for golfers.

Miillcroft aerial

The development has a golf course mixed in with the housing.

“Millcroft Golf Club has enthusiastically served golfers in the Burlington community and beyond for approximately 30 years,” says Ed Liptay, owner, Millcroft Golf Club. “However, throughout our history, the property owners surrounding the course have faced numerous challenges including damages directly related to stray golf balls.”

“This new partnership gives us an opportunity to address longstanding issues with the golf course, while introducing a few parcels of residential development that respect the existing fabric and residents of this community,” says Gord Buck, Principal, Millcroft Greens.

“To mitigate property damages experienced by community members for decades, the redesign of the golf course by Millcroft Greens will include complete hole redesigns, changes to course length, repositioning of tee boxes, strategic removal and replacement of bunkers, and additional tree planting, while maintaining an 18-hole course. Based on these golf course improvements, five select areas have been earmarked for residential development, focusing on new, high-quality, single family homes to extend and elevate the existing community.

Millcroft 2

The aerial view of the proposed redesign and development of Millcroft Golf Club, which will improve the course and introduce new, single family detached homes keeping in character with the community


“Located between Upper Middle Road and Dundas Street, Millcroft Community is a premium neighbourhood in the city of Burlington. With nearby schools, retail businesses, parks and recreation, and calming natural landscapes, the Millcroft community is connected, convenient, and an attractive option for couples, families with children, and empty nesters.

“The redesign of Millcroft Golf Club is still in the conceptual stage; Millcroft Greens will be formally consulting and then making an application to the City of Burlington in the coming weeks.”

“Millcroft Greens is eager to collaborate and cooperate with the City of Burlington, Halton Region and residents. A public open house will be held on March 23rd at the Burlington Convention Centre.”

Noses are out of joint at city hall for not being invited to those early meetings; the owners of the golf course see an opportunity to do something about the safety issues, and you can never go wrong talking about safety in Burlington, and at the same time put up some very tony and high priced homes in a very desirable community.  These will be million dollar plus homes that will sell very, very quickly.

The corporate web site for the golf course is:

Some background:

Launched together with the Millcroft Golf Club course in 1986, the Millcroft project in Burlington was a Monarch Development flagship community for more than a decade.

The 650-acre community already includes more than 2,400 single-family houses and townhouses, which wind their way around the rolling greens of the golf course. And as the community moves toward the 20-year milestone, Monarch launched the final phase of executive, single-family homes in the community, called Classic Greens.

They comprised of 166 houses on large lots. Some will back on to the 18-hole, semi-private golf course, and others will have basement walkouts. Homes will range from 2,051 to 3,778 square feet, and lots will be 50 and 60 feet wide.

Millcroft golf course

A large, safe community with a golf course built into it and now has a superb community centre, high school and library on the northern border.

Bungalows on 50-foot lots start at $422,900 while two-storey homes on 50-foot lots are priced from $427,900. The prices of houses on 60-foot lots range from $475,900 to about $585,900.

Millcroft residents will be able enjoy attractive natural surroundings, and be conveniently close to schools and shops. In addition to golfing, residents will have access to a 32-acre community park, which includes tennis courts, baseball diamonds and soccer fields. A short distance away is the Tansley Woods Recreation Centre.

Square footage: from 2,051 to 3,778

Price: houses on 50-foot lots from $422,900; on 60-foot lots from $475,900

Prices like those haven’t been seen in Burlington for some time.

The Monarch Homes Corporation was purchased by Mattamy in 2015

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Three arrested and charged with vehicle theft

Crime 100By Staff

February 19th, 2020



Here is how it went.

A van was stolen in Toronto.

Halton police - good angleThe driver gassed up in Burlington and then drove off without paying.  The garage attendant call the police – that was at 1:00 pm

The driver parked the van in a parking lot at Guelph and Upper Middle Road where the police spotted the vehicle.  That was at 1:25 pm.

The police report tells the rest of the story.

On February 18, 2020 shortly after 1:00 pm police were contacted by a gas station to report a fuel theft. The vehicle involved in the theft was stolen from Toronto.

Halton officers located the stolen van inside a parking lot at the intersection of Guelph Line and Upper Middle Road in Burlington at approx. 1:25 pm and parked behind it to initiate an arrest of the occupants.

The van attempted to flee the scene and intentionally struck the police cruiser and other surrounding civilian vehicles. With the help of one off-duty (Halton) officer who happened to be in the lot, police were able to arrest all three suspects without injury.

Arrested and Charged:
Gurdip Singh (27) of No Fixed Address
• Possession of Stolen Property over $5000
• Theft Under $5000
• Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
• Flight from Police
• Possession of a Controlled Substance (x2)
• Breach of Undertaking

Gursimranpreet Singh (20) of Brampton
• Possession of Stolen Property over $5000
• Theft Under $5000

Amarpal Singh (30) of Brampton
• Possession of Stolen Property over $5000
• Theft Under $5000
• Fail to Comply with Probation

All three accused were held for bail pending a court appearance in Milton.

The thieves had no idea just how much technology police have at their fingertips.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Candido Moniz at 905-825-4747 ext. 2316 of the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau.

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

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What Burlington offers that our New York neighbours do not

News 100 greenBy Thomas Blake

February 20th, 2020



Burlington is a fabulous city to spend time in, as any who lives there will know. Found in the Canadian province of Ontario, it is a vibrant place with much to recommend it. What those who are not familiar with this Canadian city might not know, however, is just how close it is to New York City in North America! Only a few hundred miles sit between these two cities and they both have a proud heritage to speak of. Rather than heading to NYC like everyone else does, for your next trip away why not give Burlington a try instead?

The day before the Sound of Music kick off - possible to longe about the edge of the Lake.

Relaxing at the edge of the lake – Burlington – an easy going life style.

The great thing about this Canadian destination is that it as easy to get to as NYC but has a number of unique features that its American neighbour does not. This means you will get a totally different experience to bring home and something much more interesting than another Empire State Building photo to show friends! But what specific features make Burlington stand out when compared to its neighbours in New York?

Opportunity to play fun casino games online

One major difference is how playing casino games online is treated between the two. The state gambling laws in New York are complex to say the least, despite recent changes to federal law around sports betting and online gambling in the US. It is fair to say that NY laws fall on the restrictive side in general and New York as a state has not yet legalized online gambling officially within its borders. Burlington, on the other hand, benefits from a more relaxed approach to online casino play, which makes the city more attractive for many to visit.

As long as you use an online casino that is not registered within Canadian borders, you will be free to play slots, roulette, poker or any other online game, at your leisure. Canadian Casino sites like are the ideal place to find the best online operator to try out when in Burlington.

More relaxed way of life

There is no doubt that New York is a frantic place, with around 8 million citizens squeezed into its borders. This can make it an overwhelming place for many to visit, with crowds of people rushing about everywhere and plenty of noise. Burlington is not like this at all and benefits from a much more relaxed feel.

Sound of music - from stage

Sound of Music – one of the largest free concerts in the country.

With around 200,000 residents, it has a more laid-back atmosphere and feels much calmer to spend time in. This is perfect for any holiday as you can fully unwind without the frantic pace of life that a busier place like New York maintains. You will also find the locals friendlier in Burlington – while New Yorkers are usually too busy to say hello, you will find Burlington residents only too happy to chat.

Low crime rates

While New York has seen a drop in crime rates relative to its population in recent years, many fear the figure is starting to climb once more. This could make finding a safer alternative to NYC a good choice. Burlington is known for having historically low crime rates and this has actually seen it voted as one of the best cities to live in, across Canada, in the past. As noted above, this is a friendly city that offers visitors a safe environment. This is certainly true when you compare it against New York and the rising crime rate there.

Stunning outdoor action

Escarpment in the summer - green green

Mt Nemo and access to the Bruce Trail are all parts of Burlington

Although New York City has Central Park, it simply cannot compare with Burlington in terms of outdoor trails, spaces or activities. The wide-open appeal of Burlington and its surrounding landscape gives it a unique edge over its American cousin. The Niagara Escarpment is the main draw here and is classed as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve site.

You can only access the wonderful Bruce Trail, which stretches for almost 900 kilometres through awesome scenery, in Burlington. Burlington also has the Mount Nemo Conservation Area, which New York does not – this is a great pace to hike or try out rock climbing. If you add in the world-famous Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, it is easy to see what it has to offer to stand out as different.

Burlington has so much to offer

Chow down time - this was finger 'lickin' food.

Chow down time – this was finger ‘lickin’ food at the Rib Fest

When you also consider the many cultural events that are unique to Burlington, such as the Ribfest or Burlington’s Sound of Music festival, then it gets even clearer why more people are travelling there. While NYC does have its own charm, a trip to this Canadian city offers an experience that you simply cannot get in New York.

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Mayor has a plan on how she will attempt to have some boundaries and designations changed.

background 100By Staff

February 20th, 2020



Beside the issue of buildings that too many people thought were just too high – the issue of the boundaries for the Urban Growth Centre and the bus terminal on John Street were what irked people.

John Street bus terminal

There was once a proposal to close the terminal and tear it down. Had that happened would the Nautique have ever gotten OMB approval?

Who drew those boundaries and who in their right mind would describe the bus terminal as an MTSA (Major Transportation Service Area)?

A number of well-informed people delegated to city council urging that swift action be taken on both issues.

In a report to her constituents the Mayor recently said:

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Meed Ward: “Our decision, and one I stand by, was to let evidence and independent study inform our discussions.”

“Council recognized from the beginning of our review of the downtown the need, and the desire in the community, to review the MTSA and UGC designations which have been used to justify overdevelopment. The question was when to initiate that review.

“Our decision, and one I stand by, was to let evidence and independent study inform our discussions.

“To let the community know our process, council passed a staff direction last May to review the appropriateness of downtown’s Major Transit Station Area and Urban Growth Centre designations at the end of the Interim Control Bylaw/Official Plan review studies. The OP review study will be complete after new policies are considered in April, and after that we will be in a position to initiate the review of the MTSA/UGC designations sometime this spring.

Urban growth centre boundary“Those designations are set by provincial and regional governments, and only those levels of government can make any changes. The two consultant reports position us with solid independent planning rationale for these conversations with Halton Region and the Province.

“ We have kept Halton Region planning staff and our local Member of Provincial Parliament Jane McKenna apprised of our studies, timelines and process and all have been involved in and supportive of our work.”

The questions that derive from a very solid position is: So the John Street terminal loses its MTSA status – which would suggest that a developer could no longer rely on that status to justify a high rise development – and there are a few very close to that station which are in the pipe line – they appear to be parked at LPAT hearings.

The Urban Growth Centre boundary was set by the province. They didn’t “impose” it on the city. They set the boundary and the council at the time went along with it. Oakville didn’t go along with the boundary they were given and managed to have theirs changed.
At this point a lot of commercial and development investing has been done based on the boundary – does the city have a hope in ‘hades’ of getting it changed – at this point in time with the current provincial government?

It will be interesting to see how that initiative works out.

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Canada’s residential school history is to be told on the Main Theatre stage at Performing Arts Centre

artsblue 100x100By Staff

February 19th, 2020



The Mush Hole, a heart-breaking piece by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre that moves through Canada’s residential school history with hope and empathy, will perform on March 5, 2020 in the Performing Arts Centre Main Theatre.

The Mush Hole pays respect to the many Survivors, acknowledging the lives and spirits of generations of Survivors who “served time” at the school. The storyline follows two generations of Survivors demonstrating the intergenerational effects. The performance at BPAC will include a post show Talk Back and Q&A.

BPAC KahaWi dance

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is an Onkwehon:we organization and one of Turtle Islands’ foremost performing arts companies.

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT) is an Onkwehon:we organization and one of Turtle Islands’ foremost performing arts companies, acclaimed nationally and around the globe for exquisitely produced, powerful, poetic and resonant performances. Founded by Six Nations based Artistic Director Santee Smith, Kaha:wi (Ga-HA-Wee) means “to carry” in Kahnyen’kehàka (Mohawk). Exploring the intersection of Indigenous and new performance through resurgent process and practice KDT’s works are interdisciplinary, multi-voiced, intergenerational and inter-cultural. Drawing inspiration from research and collaboration, their performances question, re-story and transform while adhering to Indigenous process, connection to land, story and spirit of place. Kaha:wi Dance Theatre is Indigenous presence and narrative.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre
Kaha:wi Dance Theatre: The Mush Hole
Thursday, March 5, 2020 @ 7:30pm
Main Theatre
440 Locust Street, Burlington, Ontario

Tickets can be purchased by telephone, online or in person:
Tickets: $49.50 (All in), Youth: $39.50 (All in)

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Chilly Half Marathon March 1st - Road Closures!

eventsred 100x100By Staff

February 19, 2020



The true believer running crowd will be out on the roads March 1st for the Chilly Half Marathon, March 1, 2020 The event is supporting cancer care at Joseph Brant Hospital.

Coolsaet crossing the Half Chilly Marathon December 2014


Road Closures
6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Brant Street from Maria Street to Elgin Street
• Ontario Street from Brant Street to Locust Street
• James Street from John Street to Brant Street

9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

• Lakeshore Road from Brant Street to Maple Avenue

9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Brant Street, Lakeshore Road to Elgin Street (access to Bunton’s Wharf via Locust Street)

9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Lakeshore Road from Brant Street to Burloak Drive
• Burloak Drive from Lakeshore Road to Spruce Avenue for turnaround (Access to Old Lakeshore Road from the west maintained with delays)

9:55 to 10:45 a.m.

• The streets along the route west of Brant Street will experience intermittent road closures

Resident Access Residents on Lakeshore Road or on side streets impacted by the road closure have the following options:

• Residents on the north side of Lakeshore Road are able to use the westbound lane, but expect delays

• Residents on the south side of Lakeshore Road will have restricted access and are encouraged to make alternate arrangements

• If your residence is within the road closure and you have to access your vehicle during the race, please park on side streets north of Lakeshore Road

Supervision Police will be at major intersections and traffic islands. Event marshals will be available at minor intersections and major multi-resident driveways to inform drivers of event details and road closures. Race notices were delivered to all residents, religious centres and businesses along the race route.


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MP reflects on value of listening, even to a small minority, to reach common ground

opinionred 100x100By Staff

February 19th, 2020



AVK stroke

Milton MP Adam van Koeverden in a former occupation.

Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport,) is the Member of Parliament for Milton, which includes a large part of northern Burlington.

He spoke yesterday in the Emergency Debate related to the Indigenous community protests taking place.

He said:

Madam Speaker, I sat in relative awe of a lot of people today listening to a variety of statements and perspectives. Like a lot of things, that is what makes the House great: a lot of different perspectives and opinions.

However, there is a degree to which this issue and the people involved in the project are being co-opted to reinforce multiple political narratives. One thing that is clear is that this issue severely lacks consensus. I have heard tonight conflicting reports of support from locals as disparate as the opinions in the House.

pipeline protest feb 19

Protests across the country have impacted commercial operations and put in stark relief what the country is going to have to do to recognize and respect the rights of the Indigenous community.

We can certainly all agree, I hope, that a peaceful process and a resolution that results in no violence is in everyone’s best interests. However, the language that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition is anything but peaceful, as he suggested that indigenous people “check their privilege”. The Leader of the Opposition doubled down on that statement today when he urged haste and force.

I am grateful that my colleagues on this side are able to learn from history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

My question for my colleague refers to his prior role as parliamentary secretary and his important work on the Indigenous Languages Act. Could he elaborate on the value of listening, even to a small minority, to reach common ground, sometimes in the absence of consensus?

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Spring/Summer Live and Play program registration opens February 22 - online and in person

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 19th, 2020



Burlington adults,  aged 19+ and 55+,  will be able to register for Spring/Summer Live and Play programs on Feb. 22 at 9 a.m.

Synchronized swimming

There are a lot of competitive events as well as lap swimming and swimming lessons.

Registrations are accepted online at or in-person on Saturday at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre, City Hall, Brant Hills Community Centre and Tansley Woods Community Centre.

Following Saturday’s launch, in-person registration can be done at any City facility during regular customer service hours.

Lawn Bowling Club is right beside the Seniors Centre. In good weather plenty of opportunity to get out and get some exercise and fresh air. The Library is a very short walk away. Much of wjhat Senirs need in the way of civic services are in the immediate area.

It’s going to be a couple of months before these lawns are used – but you can register now.

The City of Burlington’s Spring/Summer 2020 Live and Play Guide, featuring listings for recreation, sport and culture programs, was originally distributed in January and can now be found in City facilities including recreation centres, Burlington Public Library branches and City Hall, as well as online at

Non-residents aged 19+ and 55+ can register for Spring/Summer Live and Play programs on Friday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m.

• To receive future copies of the online guide by email, subscribe to the Live and Play e-newsletter at

• For details on how to register for fall/winter programs and events, see page three of the guide or visit

The Parks and Recreation department announced earlier this month that the Guide would no longer be published in print form going forward.

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Councillor gets a 'bum steer' from staff as she is learning to do her job.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 19th, 2020



During the very difficult meeting at which the Audit Committee discussed the report the auditor had prepared on what wasn’t working with the CRM system the city had decided to install, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns said she asked staff what she had to do to be a good city councillor.

Lisa Kearns Election Photo

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns. Wanted to be a good Councillor – staff didn’t help.

This was very shortly after she had been sworn in.

Kearns reported that the senior people she spoke with told her she should trust staff and work with them.

Staff mislead the new Councillor; whether knowingly is for them to determine.

What Staff should have said to the new city Councillor was:

Hold us accountable.

That began to happen Wednesday of last week when Lisa Kearns and Paul Sharman asked some very hard and pointed questions about what had gone wrong with the Customer Relations Management system.

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How much risk does the city tolerate? Flooding was never a serious risk before 2014; it is now . There is now a Risk Registry

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2020



The word risk is creeping into sentences in documents and conversations around city hall.

City Manager Tim Commisso is a big believer in knowing what the risks are and then being as ready as you can for what might be coming your way.

While it isn’t all that clear to many on just what the CRM system is going to do for the public once it is up and running – one of the things it will do is alert staff to risk. When a complaint comes in from a citizen, under the CRM system, it goes into the Knowledge Bank. If there are enough complaints about something that concern could/might work its way into the budget deliberations.

FLOOD red SUV rushing

Flooding wasn’t seen as a really serious risk before 2014 – that changed when several hundred homes were flooded as the result of a flash series of rain storms

Someone can ask: Does this concern we are hearing about mean anything?

An example (totally hypothetical) is the jet fuel line that runs through the downtown core of the city. It is at the top of the parking lot between John and Elizabeth. A number of people who appear to be very knowledgeable on the subject of fuel lines have delegated on this particular line. Is it an issue? How often has it been mentioned? Did Staff catch the concern?

Leah Busetti

Leah Bisutti maintains the Risk Registry – now a critical management document.

As part of the risk management approach to running the city that City manager Tim Commisso brings to the table there is now a “risk registry” that is maintained by a member of his office staff.

When the Registry was being discussed at the Audit Committee meeting there were no questions from council – they had bigger fish to fry.

The document that Leah Bisutti maintains is important – the number of items tagged as high risks is a little on the alarming side.

The creation of the list was quite detailed. In addition to interviewing all members of council as requested by Audit Committee, there were also 30-minute confidential interviews with members of Burlington Leadership Team and a risk workshop to come to a consensus on the top ten risks. Time was also spent to identify probability, impact, and present and future mitigation.

risk registry

Identifying risk and attempting to manage that risk are new city foci.

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Councillor Sharman: 'Not getting answers to my questions. Did we have any guidance on installing CRM from the very beginning?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2020


Part two of that awkward Audit Committee meeting last week.

Audit Tim 1 more vocal

City manager Tim Commisso defending staff and the serious problems with the CRM system.

Commisso kept coming back to the statement that being a city that understands, accepts and embraces change is where we need to be – adding that “we are not there yet”.

The Mayor said she will want to see regular reporting back on where Change Management is working – she wanted to see that come from the CSRRA committee.

Councillor Sharman then asked what the Customer Service Strategy actually was. Jones said she couldn’t answer that question – she was the Auditor and handed it off to Angela Morgan who was implementing the Customer Service Strategy when the city first committed to CRM.

Morgan explained that the city had hired AtFocus to help create a Customer Service Strategy for the city. With that report in hand the city then went looking for a software solution that would make the strategy a living service.

The City chose a solution developed by Rock Solid Technologies (RSTI), which is specifically designed to address customer relations management within small to medium-sized municipalities and is integrated with Microsoft Dynamics. The solution, containing Customer Relation Management (“CRM”) and Knowledge Base (“KB”) components, is branded as RESPOND and is designed to centralize the City’s customer contact centre.

The city then re-engaged Rock Solid to do the tactical plan for the implementation of a CRM service adding that they will be reporting back to staff on that early in March.

Sharman folded

Councillor Sharman wanted to know ‘who was providing guidance to our team?’

This wasn’t giving Councillor Sharman the comfort he was looking for. He wanted to know who was providing “guidance to our team” saying he wasn’t at all sure there was a Project Management Plan. He didn’t ask Morgan what the difference was between the Tactical Plan she had coming to her and the Project Management Plan that Sharman believed was essential.

Who was guiding the design and the implementation of the design? asks Sharman

Commisso cuts in and explains that “we did have a vendor and we also had some lady working with us.

Fabi Karimullah explained the structure that was used to handle design and implementation issues when they cropped up that involved Business Process Management and Business Process Reviews – all in collaboration with the vendor

Sharman came back with. “I’m still not getting the answers to my questions and asked: Did we have any guidance from the very beginning; seasoned CRM specialists who have done this dozens of times before and would help staff through or did we just make it up?

Jones added that the city had engaged the vendor as an implementer.

Sharman cut in and said: Who would do that?

The room got very quiet.

Audit Morgan and FAbi

From the left: Project Manager Fabi Karimullah and Executive lead for Customer Experiences Angela Morgan

Angela Morgan then said there wasn’t the needed buy in at every level – it is a change management situation and we are dealing with it.

She added that there are people in Service Burlington who are really excited and love working with it.

The pause that is taking place is because there was some background foundational work to get done – she didn’t elaborate on just what that work was.

Audit Kearns 5

Lisa Kearns told the Audit Committee that this was a very awkward meeting.

Kearns wanted to know: How are we going to untangle the buy in problem and the Change Management problems?

As Councillors we were told that we were going to use the system and that people would email us at in my case and everything would flow from there. The email sent to ward2 never got to me it went somewhere else to be resolved.

“I went along with that. But the experience didn’t feel like the experiences I had when I was procuring CRM services and when I was involved in implementing them.

“I want the city to help me untangle this mess.”

City manager Commisso said he would untangle it for her admitting that it was a mistake to put city Councillors at the front end of the roll out – without all the city departments involved there was going to be a disconnect.

That there was.

Commisso then added that the relationship with the vendor was that of a partner which was supposed to make it all right.

Partners have skin in the game. There is an upside reward for performance and penalties when targets and expectations are not met. No mention made of rewards or penalties for the vendor.

Commisso did say that the city could have put more into it.

The tough part for Commisso is that this wasn’t a situation he created but it is on his desk and he is going to have to work hard to clean up the mess. He thinks he is going to need as much as 18 months to achieve that.

The mess was former city manager James Ridge’s parting gift to the city. He was ushered out the door the day after the new city council was sworn in.

Kearns wasn’t a part of the city council that approved the project – she was a Councillor who had to deal with it and was looking for a level of agility to become part of the corporate culture with no gotchas or looking for people to blame but instead looking for possible positive outcomes.

“We are having a very uncomfortable conversation” she said – “we need to pivot to a more positive place.”

Councillor Sharman was going to close out the meeting with some very tough words for Staff. He wanted to know where the Project Management Plan was, where were the Gantt charts, the time lines. He wanted to see the “who does what when list created by people who have done this sort of implementation more than a dozen times.”

“Change management is part of this but Project management is the core; identifying the roles and responsibilities along with the implementation methodology.

“Where is the Project Management Plan?”  asked Sharman. “Where was it, can we see it; was it that complex or did we just start off down a path and stayed on that path?”

Audit Jones - said no

Sheila Jones had just told Councillor Sharman that it would be inappropriate to give him the Project Management plan he wanted. He suggested there may not even be a Project Management report.

Sheila Jones was not going to give Sharman what he wanted saying that the transition and the turn over was a part of the problem adding that “it was unreasonable for an Audit committee to hand out a Project Management plan – that would be a “fingers in” approach when what Council should be doing is a “noses in” approach.

Giving the Committee a copy of a Project Management Plan wouldn’t be appropriate or helpful.

“Management has taken the Audit report and taken action” said Jones.

Councillor Sharman’s response was direct and close to brutal: “Ok, so I understand you to be saying it is none of my business.”

The room went suddenly quiet

Mayor Meed Ward moved the report – it was to be received and file.

Council comments followed with Kearns asking: “What is Customer Service to us. People don’t like be treated as a ticket number. Customer Service has to have a community lens and we don’t have that now adding that she has little comfort with where things are now.”

This all comes back to city Council on the 24th. Will council buy the argument that it is a Change Management issue or will they look for deeper systemic problems and hope that with Sheila Jones at the helm and Tim Commisso riding herd on the work Angela Morgan has to get done the problems will get resolved.  He wants 18 months to do all that.will resolve the problems. Council will be in the third year of its first four year term.  Is this an election issue?

The Audit committee does not include every member of Council; several that we talked to had not watched the web cast.

They have work to do.

An observation:  Throughout the two hour Audit Committee meting there was never an occasion when Councillor Sharman, the committee chair was directly in front of the web service cameras.  It was difficult to capture decent images of him as he made strong arguments for a different approach.  Is the Councillor camera shy?  And has he asked the audio visual specialist not to zoom in on him with the cameras?

Related news story.

Part 1 of the Audit Committee meeting on the CRM system.

Below: Sharman at work in council meetings.  He can be very effective.

Sharman hand upSharman confusedSharman pickingSharman hand to head


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Are city staff both 'excited and dealing with internal terror' asks the Mayor and is there an answer to the Customer Relations Management problem?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2020


The Audit Committee heard the report from the Auditor on the problems with the Customer Relations Management (CRM) system that is long, involved and at times confusing.  It is broken into two parts.  This is part 1.

It started out quietly enough – there were those awkward moments when Council members know they are going to ask some tough questions and staff sit at their spots and wait for the questions about a situation they know is a real mess. Councillor Sharman who is the Chair of the Audit Committee with Councillor Lisa Kearns serving as the vice chair, were facing off with Sheila Jones, the auditor who produced the report. Jones is now the Executive Director, Strategy, Risk and Accountability.

Audit Sharman and Kearns

Councillor Sharman as Chair of the Audit Committee and Councillor Kearns put some tough questions to the city auditor and the city manager.

Sharman opened the meeting by saying to Sheila Jones: “I expect you want to speak.” He certainly wanted to ask questions.

Kearns asked Sheila Jones: What promoted the audit?
Jones replied: “The Business lead approached her asking her if she would consider doing an audit.
“I jumped on it” said Jones

During the discussion about the status of the CRM and the audit that was done by Jones the names of other staff were rarely, if ever, mentioned. It appears to be bad practice in Burlington, to actually name the people who did work in the past.
Kearns then wanted to know: What did we learn?

Jones: We looked at the Project Management activities to learn what had been done.

Angelo Bentivegna asked Jones to: Take me through what CRM does.  Bentivegna’s understanding of the technical IT side of the municipal sector has always been limited.

Audit Jones - said no

Auditor Jones: CRM is going to help us get to know our customers.

Jones explained that CRM was the best way to “get to know our customers”

The program administration started out in the Clerk’s office then he went to a Project management office. There were no timelines in the Auditor’s report making it difficult to pinpoint just when the CRM system configuration went off the tracks.

Angelo asks: The pause now then is to regroup?

How long before we know what happens next?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward chimed in saying she was a huge believer in customer service and was fine with technology being used but “the challenge with this one” is the way it has been rolled out and that it doesn’t give us what we need, which begs the questions “is this the solution for us”?

Mention was made of the institutional database that would get created and the issues with employee transition.

Do we need to go back to square one, she asked?

At this point city manager Tim Commisso spoke; not something he does all that often and rarely does he speak at length or with all that much passion.

We saw a different city manager last Wednesday, who said at the time that the software the city had chosen was “functionally rich; a platform you can build on”.

He added that he had considerable experience with CRM systems. “They do work” he said and the one we have chosen is amongst the top three on the market.

There will be a portal that people can look in on and self-serve themselves for information he said.

Tim Commisso - finger up hard eyes

CRM systems: They do work said the city manager

The people behind the CRM service decided that a staggered roll out was best; that meant that for those who were part of the early phase would be working with somewhat limited service.

The decision to make members of city council part of that roll out is one that the Clerk has admitted was a mistake. City Councillors find that they are stuck in the middle of a problem they didn’t create; didn’t have much input on either. They were new to the job of being a city Councillor and then were saddled with a system that didn’t meet their critical needs; that the Clerk’s office chose to use Councillors first is yet another example of the dysfunction of that office.

One of the reasons for the staggered roll out appears to be that the CRM project was not properly resourced and didn’t appear to have strong leadership at the top.

One Gazette reader wrote the city saying:

Ridge shilling for the developer

James Ridge – former city manager.

“It is evident that the senior leadership team and the then city manager James Ridge were not invested in the process from day one. FTE were never fully deployed from the respective departments from what is (sic) sounds like. Like any large scale enterprise change, if there is resistance at the top there is inevitably failure. I am sure the project team had a good rollout strategy that did not include the mayor and council being on the forefront of the bleeding edge of a pilot. That blame will need to sit on the lap of the politicians. They should have been late adopters after process gaps were identified and corrected. But here we are getting Lisa Kearns to tell us all that the staff didn’t get it right. It is a corporate system built for staff to handle the operations of the city through a public lens. There is certainly lots of bashing going around. In a nutshell, overworked staff, a pathetic budget, a non-strategic senior leadership team and a champion now retired and writing books.”

City manager Tim Commisso admits that “we are not there yet and suggested it might be as much as a year to a year and a half before the city is getting what it believes the CRM service can deliver”.

Audit Tim 1 more vocal

The CRM mess is something that was well along before city manager Commisso arrived. But it is now his problem to resolve.

To be fair to Commisso – the project was in really bad shape before he was brought in as an interim city manager.

He was hired in January of 2019; Sheila Jones produced her report in November of 2019. Commisso was stuck in the middle of a mess that he had nothing to do with – to his credit he is soldiering through it.

Mayor Meed Ward is completely onside with the technology, which she admits she doesn’t understand all that well – she has chosen to trust the man council hired to make things work at the administrative level.

Her question to Commisso, Jones and the rest of the people involved was: “What do you need from council? And how do you help us help you?”

Fabi Karimullah told the Audit committee that the software is not difficult to operate. Previously Commisso had explained that staff do not have to write any code to get the benefit of what a CRM system will do. It does however have to be configured properly. Poor execution on the configuration, no independent support on doing that configuration along with very poor buy in from a number of departments combined, led to the mess staff are now working their way through.

No one appears to have understood just how big an impact the creating of a CRM system was going to have on staff – it meant that a lot of things were going to be done differently but no one did anything to bring staff onside.

Change management just wasn’t something that anyone gave any thought to. Sheila Jones told council that to the best of her knowledge there is just one person on staff who had any training in Change Management.

Jones admitted the subject wasn’t anything she had any experience with other than being aware of the discipline. Jones was the auditor and was doing that job very well. She had succeeded in bringing a higher level of discipline into processes.

When the Business Review process was put in place back in 2014  when Jeff  Fielding  was the city manager, Sheila Jones spearheaded the introduction of the service and did a fine job of explaining what it would do.

The job she did then didn’t get done with the CRM program -as that became evident during the meeting Councillor Sharman began probing – he had some idea as to what had taken place and how serious the mess was.

Audit swerner not taking the heat 1

Christine Swenor, the Chief Information Officer, realizes now that her staff are going to be more embedded in working out the CRM problems.

Councillors Sharman and Kearns were almost like a wrestling tag team in the way they stick handled the questions they put to staff.

The Information Technology (IT) people realize now that they should have been embedded in the CRM process. They did take part in determining which vendor would provide the service. Christine Swenor said that IT was not responsible for the implementing of any Change Management; she did agree that IT should have been more embedded in the process that was taking place.

One wonders just what the Burlington Leadership Team (BLT) was doing while the problems were getting more and more serious. The BLT is the organization that has representation from every department, usually from the Director level.  Apparently there were no red flags raised at that level.

So, a pause is in place. For how long? And what is it going to cost? No one asked that question.

One resident asked the Clerk:

“Did it ever occur to anyone in 2015 when you engaged “citizens, council members, staff and citizen advisory groups” that the public would not want the City to have “their personal information” on record, no matter how “committed the City is to protecting our personal information confidential and secure”. We are well aware that nothing is “secure” on the internet.

“As for the staff who are currently using the new CRM System they seem not to know just what is expected of them. When I go to the Service Burlington desk with my case number after two weeks of hearing nothing and I am told that I have to contact the Mayor’s office, with no attempt at even checking to see if the email ever was received in the Mayor’s Office there is a problem.

“When Councillors indicate that they haven’t been receiving any emails that is a problem. Please explain how this new system is going to streamline engaging with residents “to better serve and respond to customer information and service requests?

“I hope that the Mayor and Council take a very good look at this system and how it impacts communicating with residents, especially since most residents have no idea that their personal information is being kept on file.”

City manager Tim Commisso said “we can see the big picture but we are not there yet.

The resources needed are in place and the Executive lead, Angela Morgan, reports to the city manager. Commisso said: “We are in a good place now and I am comfortable.

Fabi Karimullah, the current project manager, explained that the CRM is more than just the software – we had to determine what the software was going to do and how it would be configured, and also to determine if we were ready for the change.

There were customer relations people in departments whose role was going to change.

Commisso said on more than one occasion that what was needed was stability, focus and execution – none of which appeared to be in place. “We have to explain to people what the service is going to do and then to deliver on that explanation.

Kearns wanted to know what was different now; Commisso responded that the product and the vendor are what is needed to do the job and that there is now a dedicated project management person in place.

Karimullah added that there are still a number of steps to be taken before everyone is truly talking to each other.

The scope of the project has to be determined, she said. Asked if the CRM service will be integrated with other systems Fabi said “if you throw enough money at a program it can be integrated with anything but that may not really serve the customer’.

Christine Swenor added that process efficiency was another serious consideration; there had to be a single source for the data.

Audit Kearns 5

Kearns: Was a Staff Direction needed?

Kearns asked if a Staff Direction was needed.

Commisso didn’t think so but suggested that CRM could issue reports that were similar to what the ERP project is delivering.

Audit MAyor commenting

Mayors wonders if “internal terror has taken over city hall.

The Mayor added that city hall is “both excited and dealing with internal terror”. How are we going to manage that?

Angelo Bentivegna asked about the risk involved: Will we lose everything we have done so far?

Commisso admitted that there is a risk – and that is in developing a culture at city hall that accepts and embraces change.

Sheila Jones added that she was working with Prosci (the Change Management consultants) and that different departments were at different stages of getting on board the need for change. Her immediate target was a state of “structured discipline that is fully understood and embedded in everything that is done.”

So – up to this point we know the planned CRM system is a mess and no one is sure just how the mess is going to get cleaned up.

The report that was “received and filed” goes to city council at the end of the month.

In part two we learn just how deep the problem is and we learn that Staff want council to be “noses in and fingers out”. Sheila Jones basically refuses to give Councillor Sharman what he wants.

The question that hangs in the air is:  Is this really a Change Management problem or was it a monumental screw up with no one prepared to take responsibility.

Part two follows;

Related news story:

How Results Based Accountability was introduced in 2014.

Councillor Kearns raises the first red flag the public saw on the CRM problem.

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Has the Mayor returned to a classroom? Good move for the city if she has.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2020



Has the Mayor returned to the classroom to learn more about governance which is now a hot topic for members of corporate Boards of Directors?

A number of Universities offer these short but very intense courses that are pricey. The DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University offers two different courses.

Innovation Governance for Directors
Imperatives of Good Governance

Meed Ward style

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – listening carefully to what is being said at a council meeting.

While the Mayor has a busy schedule – she is the kind of person who would make the time to improve her skill set – she has the kind of personality that would make her an excellent student as well.

During the discussion over the problems with the CRM system that has hit nothing but snags, Mayor Meed Ward made a passing mention of some training she had or was taking on governance.

Mayor Meed Ward has been an advocate of stronger governance for some time.

Assuming for the moment that the Mayor has returned to the classroom and the course fees, which are pretty steep (a 2 ¼ day course comes in at a bit under $5000 – it would be money well spent.

There are far too many people who want to jump right into political service with a really poor background on governance matters and, for some, precious little depth or experience to do the job.

We’ve sent out a query to her office – we’ll let you know what comes back.

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PROSPECTS brings together dancers and choreographers to present creative interpretations of several forms of dance

artsblue 100x100By Doreen Nicol

February 14th, 2020



Aeris Kőrper Contemporary Dance is hosting an evening of dance and discussion. PROSPECTS brings together dancers and choreographers to present creative interpretations of ballroom dance, disability dance, Bengali folk dance as well as works charged with powerful content. Each performance will be followed by a discussion with the choreographer, giving the audience a unique opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and explore themes.


Mushtari Afroz trained in the North Indian Classical Dance form.

“Having produced six successful editions of PROSPECTS, we are excited and motivated by the enthusiasm and positive feedback we received from participants and community members,” said Lisa Emmons, Artistic Director for Aeris Körper.  “We believe our approach to dance is unique and that all movement is expressive and powerful. Our show is created with the intent of presenting multicultural and diverse dance in an informal, warm environment in order to create connections within our community.”

Faith from Faith Dance fuses together belly and Bollywood-style dance with K-Pop music. Her performance, Obscurity, explores an artist’s journey through a mental health crisis, examining how the loss of energy, focus, cognitive processing and lack of desire for being physically present with others can obscure the artist’s creative process and arrest inspiration.

Mushtari Afroz trained in the North Indian Classical Dance form ‘Kathak’. In 2016, the dancer and choreographer established Kathak Bandi Dance Collective which celebrates universal human stories and experience.

Me is a window into Afraz’s private time inside the studio. In those personal moments, Afraz is tempted to break rules to explore new possibilities within her art form. While her body relates to the space and time, her mind challenges the way the audience connects with a performance by exposing the artificiality of the stage.


Project Oswald

Project Oswald is the fresh, ethnographic dance company founded by Rufi Oswaldo. The company produces heart-felt and humorous dance-theatre works whose themes most often emerge from liminal social and cultural spaces in Canada.

Oswald’s performance embodies the uncomfortable comparison of love to bullfighting, Gentle(hu)man sheds light on the messiness of human vulnerability complicated by societal expectations of masculinity, while offering a silver lining through gentle courage.


Original contemporary disability dance

The Cyborg Circus Project, created by Shay Erlich and Jenna Roy, specializes in original contemporary disability dance that reflects the reality and everyday experiences of disabled people for the enjoyment of audiences with divergent abilities.

Safe Words explores what it means to have no choice but to appear hyper-competent in everything we do. The work questions the limits these expectations place on bodies and minds, and how in utilizing trust, risk taking, vulnerability, and community, these expectations can be subverted.

Thea Sachade, a professional dancer from Burlington (Ontario) is currently a freelance artist showcasing her talent throughout Canada and the US.


Thea Sachade,

Sachade’s performance, 20+, embodies a collection of moments of personal healing and growth through the exploration of self-compassion and the discovery of a healthy self-concept.

Aeris Kőrper is a contemporary-based dance company that produces live performances, hosts community platforms, and leads accessible movement workshops in Burlington, Hamilton, and across the Greater Toronto Area.

Web sites for the performers.
The Cyborg Circus Project
Kathak Bandi Dance Collective
Faith Dance
Project Oswald
Thea Sachade

Saturday, February 22, 2020

7:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Doors open at 6:30 PM)

Burlington Student Theatre

2131 Prospect Street, Burlington, ON, L7R 1Z2

The event is wheelchair accessible, please contact for details.

To purchase tickets click here.

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Another survey - this one is on a values issue: think in terms of opium dens

News 100 redBy Staff

February 14th, 2020



The City of Burlington is asking residents to share their thoughts about whether cafes and lounges serving and allowing the consumption of cannabis should be allowed to operate in the city.

This survey will help inform the discussion at Burlington City Council on February 24th, to respond to the Ontario Government’s online consultation for potential cannabis business opportunity additions.

The City’s survey will also ask residents their feedback on potential extension of Special Occasion Permits (SOPs) identified in the Ontario Government’s online consultation. SOPs would allow cannabis to be served and consumed at festivals and events in public places and spaces.

To help gather the community’s input, the City has also launched an online survey at open to Burlington residents until Sunday, Feb. 23.

To complete the brief survey, residents must first register or be a member of Get Involved Burlington.

cannabis yes no logo

Your opinion on lounges where cannabis flavored products can be sold.

The city of Burlington city council voted to permit the sale of cannabis in locations that were not close to schools.  It was a split vote with Councillors Stolte and Bentivegna opposed and Mayor Meed Ward, Councillors Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan, Sharman voting to approve.

There are currently at least five retail cannabis locations operating in Burlington.

The Ontario Government’s public consultation was announced on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 and the province will accept feedback until Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Visit to register and take the survey about cannabis lounges and at events in Burlington. CLICK HERE to start.

The registration process is a little tricky – pay attention; the city will be using the Get Involved site as its primary way of gathering information.

Quick Facts
• On Oct. 17, 2018, recreational cannabis was legalized by the federal government of Canada.

• On Jan. 14, 2019, Burlington City Council voted to allow the operation of retail cannabis stores in Burlington

• On Apr. 1, 2019, the first round of brick and mortar, privately-operated retail cannabis stores opened across the province

• The AGCO is licensing and enforcing regulations related to retail cannabis stores in Ontario

• On June 26, 2019, Health Canada published regulations for the production and sale of three new classes of cannabis products:

o cannabis edibles – cannabis products that can be consumed in the same manner as food (e.g. food or beverage)

o cannabis extracts – cannabis products that are produced using extraction processing methods or by synthesizing phytocannabinoids (e.g., oils, capsules, hash, wax)

o cannabis topicals – cannabis products that can be used on a body surface (e.g. lotion)

• These new federal regulations came into force on Oct. 17, 2019 and the new classes of cannabis products became available for sale in Ontario on Jan. 6, 2020.

• The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) and the regulations under that Act prohibit the smoking of cannabis and the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to vape any substance (including cannabis) in enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places, as well as other prescribed places (e.g., restaurant and bar patios or within nine metres of these patios).

Links and Resources
• Provincial online consultation – comments due March 10

• For more information about legal cannabis and the City of Burlington, visit

• Visit Halton Region for more information about Smoke Free Ontario

• For more information about legal cannabis in Ontario, visit

• For more information, on an open market for retail cannabis sales in Ontario please visit

• Visit, Health Canada for their rules for edibles, extracts and topicals

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That plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean is ending up in the fish we eat.

News 100 greenBy Ray Rivers

February 14th, 2020



The baby boom generation has a lot to answer for. How many boomers can recall that epic 1967 movie, ‘The Graduate’. A young Dustin Hoffman was the dazed and aimless anti-hero stuck in a fractured picture of an overabundant American civilization looking for its next drug. And there it was, on the strength of advice from a well-intentioned guest. “Plastics… There’s a great future in plastics”.

plastic bio-degrading

Sifting through debris at a plastic bottle recycling plant has led to the unearthing of a plastic-munching microorganism that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The researchers who discovered the bacterium hope that it will provide a new way to recycle PET plastics by breaking them down into their building blocks.

Watching the news today it is hard to get beyond the threat to all of us posed by the Coronavirus, recently named COVID-19. A pandemic is an immediate, and acute threat and we are pretty sure that it will peak and then pass. Contrast that with the chronic challenges of global warming and something we’ve heard less about until recently, plastic pollution.

Micro plastic particles are omnipresent in our environment, the air we breathe and the food we ingest. We may not fully comprehend what that means, but it’s not good. Even in the most remote reaches of our oceans, fish now contain significant amounts of plastic in their bodies… and so do we when we eat them. And unlike the nasty COVID-9 virus, which will eventually be gone, the plastic pollution we have created will be with us for a very long time.

Who could have envisioned the potential impact of such a seemingly benign and inert product, developed to improve the state of our lives. Little more than a half century after our young graduate was turned-on to plastic we learn that there is now an island of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean, three hundred kilometres wide and three times the size of France.

Back when they were filming the Graduate the biggest threat to our survival was the bomb and the Soviets. Whoever had thought of this bigger risk to our survival – big fossil fuel? Yes, the very people who are delivering rising sea levels, acidification and warming of the oceans, melting of the polar ice caps, and increased storms are also the same culprits who have given us plastics.

plastic in ocean

A huge belt of plastic photographed floating off the coast of the Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras.

Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, and its production has doubled every 15 years. So unless we do something radical, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish, ton for ton. Of the billions of metric tonnes of plastic that have been produced, fully 80% goes in the waste bins and over a third of that is ‘single use’ – used once and discarded.

Industry’s claim that plastic can be recycled is largely a myth, since less than 10% is actually recycled. In fact, half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year. And eight million tonnes ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of the planet’s ocean coastline.

The prime minister promised that if re-elected he would ban single use plastic starting next year, but the devil is in the details. To that end the government has just released a scientific assessment of the plastics problem. Besides the potential of government regulations, there is already some action afoot to deal with the problem.

Clearly the place to start is to avoid the use of plastic. To that end many grocery stores are no longer offering plastic bags at cash outs, though a good deal of everything in the stores still comes wrapped in layers of plastic film and sits on trays of single use styrofoam. Many restaurants have switched to paper rather than plastic straws, or just eliminated them entirely. And many customers are refusing to accept plastic bags, when offered, for the products they buy.

Then there are a number of environmental non-profit organizations taking the plastic in their own hands by starting to clean it up. One of these is a Vancouver outfit called Ocean Legacy Foundation. Started in 2014, this organization claims about 25 staff, most of whom are volunteers to clean up the plastic refuse which gets washed ashore on the west coast every day. Since 2015 Ocean Legacy has collected 170,000 pounds of waste plastic from Canada’s western shorelines.

Though not presently operational in the Great Lakes, Ocean Legacy is active in Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. In addition to hands-on clean ups, the organization has structured a program of information, education and advocacy which they offer to help communities get involved on their own and on their own shorelines. They have received some funding from governments as well private entities, and they do accept online donations.


The damage plastics in ocean water are doing to the fish we eat.

As important as these voluntary clean up actions are, runaway plastic pollution is a problem that drastically needs government regulation. Some of the larger manufacturers of plastic film and other packaging would have you believe they maintain a cradle-to-grave responsible corporate policy, something which was in vogue a few years ago. Yet they are missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they have inadvertently created, since virtually all plastic is created as a product of oil and gas mining.  So why are big oil and the plastic manufacturers missing in action when it comes to cleaning up the mess they are responsible for?

Canada has become a highly divided nation. There are those who live in oil producing provinces and then there are the rest of us. That was made evident in the last federal election. The only political party promoting big oil won almost every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There is a simmering conflict and an emerging political crisis at our doorstep. The political leaders of those oil producing provinces may not personally be in the pockets of the oil companies but they are there to do their bidding as the industry endeavors to extract that very last barrel of bitumen.

The fight will be between the legitimate right of a federal government to protect the health of its citizens and the right of the oil companies and their sub-national political allies to monetize that last grain of bitumen laden sand. And the consequences of failure may well be the kind of protest action we are seeing among indigenous folks today over pipelines.

Plastics may have played a big role in our economic lives over the last sixty years but it has left us with a poisonous legacy. And its future is no longer great, given the unintended consequences of its widespread adoption.

Background links

Draft Science Assessment –     Great PacificGarbage Patch –     Fish to Humans

Plastic Waste –    PM’s Promise –   Swimming Through Pacific Garbage

Ocean Legacy

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City wants your help in naming three new trails.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 13th, 2020



Time to take part and be engaged in the way your city works.

There are three distinct trails in Burlington that need a name. Below, you will see the three areas where the trails are located. The actual trail is shown by the red line.

You might want to consider the history of the area, location of the trail, important people in the city past or present. Use your imagination and suggest your three best ideas.

Trails - first

This trail is along the Hydro corridor north of the QEW, between the North Service Road at Roly Bird Park and Berwick Drive.

Trails Maple - Fairview

This trail is part of the downtown hydro corridor, east of Maple Avenue, between Ontario Street and Graham’s Lane.

Trail Upper and Mainway

This trail is east of Centennial Drive, between Upper Middle Road and Heathfield Drive (extending in the future to Mainway.)

Click here to get to the survey.

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Audit committee to hear a tough report on what has gone wrong with the CRM service.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 12th, 2020



Earlier this week we wrote about problems with the CRM Customer Relations Management (CRM) service that was reviewed by the Auditors – their report didn’t hand out many gold stars.

We weren’t able to cover everything in the 36 page report yesterday.

The report said there are a few areas where private information could be compromised because access procedures were not clear.

What becomes very clear is that there were problems with this project from the get-go. There was no effective leadership and people with the skill set and experience were not part of the team.

CRM brilliance logo

It was a project that didn’t seem to have a leader; the staff turn over made it difficult to get any momentum.

In mid-August 2019, the CRM project steering committee considered issues raised by the project manager and made the decision to pause the implementation of the CRM application for 3 months. This pause is intended to provide the opportunity to:

Define and approve long term Customer Service delivery model including staffing strategy

Expedite Business Process Management, reporting and statistical analysis to estimate departmental staffing and service impacts
Confirm the project and operational teams required for CRM and Service Burlington implementation

Plan a coordinated approach for online customer experience to rationalize the number of tools used.

The decision to ‘pause’ was made because the “current implementation point, CRM Phase 1 has not delivered the intended benefits and advanced the Service Brilliance Strategy. The technology and processes have not been embraced by all current users. The steering committee has paused the implementation to address the on-going operational model and how CRM aligns with other initiatives to achieve the Service Brilliance Strategy.”

Getting rid of the ‘Service Brilliance” name might help. For some reason Burlington bureaucrats choose names for projects that create an expectation that doesn’t get met. Grow Bold was an example.

1 CRM graphic implementation“The people side of change for the CRM implementation was not sufficiently developed to realize the benefits that this system was expected to deliver. As such, more time and resources have been, and will likely continue to be, required to re- work the solution and re-train the staff all within an environment that will be implementing more large-scale and complex changes

“CRM is a high impact project with long term impacts and benefits for the City. The Steering Committee supports a pause in the project to address lessons learned during the Phase 1 implementation in Clerks and Transportation and incorporate a broader approach, beyond software implementation, to support the Customer Service Strategy and align with corporate strategic goals. An external consultant has been engaged to address key areas of focus to strategically reposition the project for success. Findings and recommendations will be delivered at the end of January 2020. Action items arising from this audit will be addressed in a timely manner and may be influenced by the outcomes of this engagement.

“The management team recognizes that there has been significant staff turnover during the course of the project on the project team which has presented challenges in managing project risk, deliverables and timelines. The audit represents an opportunity to address gaps and reposition the project and governance structure to ensure an effective project outcome and achievement of project goals.”

That’s putting a positive spin on an awkward situation.

The concept of going the CRM route to create lines of communication between the elected, the staff and the people paying the tab has been in the works for a long time. Does it work well anywhere else? No mention of that in the Auditor’s report.

CRM graphic meetings“Since its February 2018 inception, the CRM project steering committee met 7 times in 2018 and 6 times in 2019. In these meetings, member participation was as low as 50% in 3 meetings and as high as 80% in 3 meetings.”

This is not an attendance record to brag about.

Something had to be done.

Prosci Canada is the Canadian operations of Prosci Inc., a world leader in change management best practice research and provider of change management methods, tools and certification. Prosci Canada were engaged to perform a best practice audit to assess the effectiveness of the change management practices within the CRM project.

The summary of the Prosci findings indicates that the people side of change for the CRM implementation was not sufficiently developed to realize the benefits that this system was expected to deliver. As such, more time and resources have been, and will likely continue to be, required to re-work the solution and re-train the staff all within an environment that will be implementing more large-scale and complex changes.

“The CRM project charter identifies critical success factors; specifically, “Staff buy-in achieved through a robust change management strategy resulting in system acceptance, comprehensive training and end user understanding.”

“From responses to the risk management practices survey, the most problematic area is that of People risks – resource, adaptation and change. Across the steering committee, working group and project team, the level of confidence is very low regarding how this risk is being managed.

CRM graphic 100 adoption“The people side of change for the CRM implementation was not sufficiently developed to realize the benefits that this system was expected to deliver. As such, more time and resources have been and will likely continue to be required to re-work the solution and re-train the staff all within an environment that will be implementing more large- scale and complex changes.”

“The successful outcome of the CRM implementation depends on 100% adoption, usage, and proficiency in the new system. Each of these human factors have a direct correlation to the expected benefits from this project.”

“As part of the preliminary assessment and contractual arrangements with the vendor, a third-party audit report was reviewed for security control issues that may affect the vendor’s environment. The report was not reviewed for operational issues. This review was the only review performed; a formal process to have the external third- party audit report requested and reviewed on a regular basis has not been implemented.

The high-level summary of the recommendations is for the City of Burlington to provide:

1. Active and visible executive sponsorship
2. Dedicated change management resources and funding
3. Structured change management approach
4. Employee engagement and participation
5. Frequent and open communication about the change and the need for change
6. Engagement and integration with project management
7. Engagement with and support from middle management.

Prosci research shows that when the organization understands “why we need to change”, “why the change is necessary now”, and “what the risks are if we do not change”, the impacted people are more open and willing to go through the change process.

“Sponsors did not understand their role in engaging with the organization to build awareness, supporting change management and the need to be active and visible.

“There were no resources to develop change management plans and no one to guide to a structured change management process.

“Stakeholders were not identified for the end- to-end solution.

“No real understanding of how the system would fully impact the internal and external stakeholders, therefore, the awareness building activities were not effective.

“Communication was limited to the users in Phase 1A and did not extend to the rest of the participants in a customer inquiry.

“In the end, the Phase 1A group was disappointed with the final version of the system as they did not feel that their feedback was incorporated.

“The Phase 1A negative experience has caused a shift from what would have been change cheerleaders to the voice of dissent.

“When phase 1B was asked to provide feedback to the ADKAR assessment, however, only 2 of 24 responded, which indicates a lack of desire to participate in the change.

“Training was inadequate and poorly executed.

“Initial training was by PowerPoint and difficult to absorb.

“Focus was limited to technical side of how to use system.

“The business processes were not understood and incorporated in the training.

“Middle management is the closest to where changes actually occur. Their relationships, trust, knowledge and proximity make them crucial allies.

“Managers and supervisors who become change champions and act as early adopters and vocal advocates of the change to direct reports and other impacted groups play a critical role in the adoption of the change.

“When the technical and people sides of change are integrated, projects are more successful and more likely to deliver intended results. Integration of change management and project management allows for more effective sequencing of work and enables the delivery of a “unified value proposition” for creating successful and sustained change”

Sheila Jones

Sheila Jones: Executive Director of Strategy, Risk & Accountability. The report is both transparent and wondering just where the accountability was with the CRM program.

It is a tough report. That’s what Auditors are supposed to do. The then Auditor Sheila Jones is not known for equivocating. She was recently promoted to Executive Director of Strategy, Risk & Accountability.

The news itself is not good – what is good about it is that it is now on the table and corrective action can be taken.

The Auditor can be commended for making the information public – letting people know that there are problems and then making sure that the right people are in place; that professional change management procedures are in place and that the problems will be resolved.

Hopefully staff will take part in the Audit committee meeting and be encouraged to speak up.

Sharman hand up

Will Councillor Sharman have sharp questions about this report?

Audit committee meetings are as boring as watching paint dry. Let that not be the case on Wednesday.

The two sharpest minds on this city council are Lisa Kearns, who is the Chair of the Standing Committing hearing the report and her vice chair, Paul Sharman. Let their tongues be as sharp as they have been known to be in the past.

Before Council votes to receive and file this report let there be some very clear directions and the outcomes that are required.

Related news stories.

Is it a service or a system?

Kearns expresses concern with CRM service

First look at the Auditors report

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Halton District School Board joins nine others in an agreement with Mohawk college to focus on students and climate change

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 11th, 2020



The Halton District School Board announced an historic agreement today with Mohawk College and nine Ontario school boards for a voluntary agreement establishing a large-scale learning partnership offering students opportunities for new skills, curriculum connections and research, as they learn first-hand how to reduce the carbon footprints in their schools.

istem Cafeteria-crowd-Nov-2018-768x371

Parents listening to how the iStem program at Aldershot was going to work. The second grade 9 class will start in September.

The initiative, called Climate Change Leaders, has a potential audience of 270,000 students in the participating school boards, giving young people a more active role in reducing carbon emissions in their schools while helping Canada move one step closer to meeting its obligation to the Paris accord.

In addition, Mohawk College will introduce micro-credits in Climate Change and related topics for students, teachers and staff.

This exciting partnership is exploring enhanced experiential learning opportunities for students and teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), offering new pathways for students toward co-op placements, apprenticeships and new jobs in a low carbon, circular economy.

To transform schools to lower carbon will require school boards to examine deep building system retrofits for mechanical and electrical building systems. Once most of the energy waste is removed, the next phase is to develop on-site renewable energy systems such as solar, geothermal and battery storage. The investment funding aspiration is to use energy saved from retrofits and energy produced from renewable technologies to fund capital investment. Financially, this will have no impact on taxpayers, while exploring the creation of many new jobs, apprenticeships and student co-ops.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, HDSB Director of Education

Today, the partners gathered to sign a non-binding, collaborative memorandum of understanding, agreeing that the climate crisis is well documented and the path is clear: we must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. Working together, they commit to increase their efforts to help solve the climate crisis and explore opportunities to combine technology demonstrations with experiential learning, while building the capabilities and capacity to transform to a low-carbon community.

Stuart Miller, who was interviewed on CBC Radio earlier on Tuesday said that the MOU between Mohawk College and a number of School Boards in this area is a wonderful opportunity and an example of educational bodies collaborating to address the challenges of climate change.

The school boards represent 250,000 students and it is the synergy of us all working together that will do much to address our environmental issues in this part of Ontario.


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How to Reduce the Cost of Car Insurance in Burlington

News 100 blueBy Jason Cartwright

February 11th, 2020



car accident paid

Accidents happen – be sure you are effectively covered.

Car insurance is a necessity for any and all driving in Canada. If you don’t have enough coverage, you could be at risk for having your assets claimed in the event of a collision or major accident. Having the right type of insurance can provide you with the protection you need if this problem occurs, and it’s important whether you own the vehicle outright or have a loan on it. It’s important to know the costs associated with insurance as well as methods for reducing these fees.

Average Costs
The premium rate you pay for coverage really depends on the specific company you’ve chosen. As with all other types of insurance, some providers are simply pricier than others. Residents of Burlington will find that coverage is comparable to many other cities in the area. For this reason, it is important to compare rates and receive quotes before you actually sign up for any one plan. However, the majority of drivers in Burlington who are looking for coverage can find plans that are reasonably priced at under $2,000 a year, though it’s not unusual to find options that cost $5,000 or more annually. This amount is broken up into 12 payments, so the costs are usually low for individuals who need either full or partial protection.

How to Find the Best Rates
Before signing up for a policy, you need to compare rates with several companies. This allows you to know what’s available to you so that you’re opening an account without it becoming a financial burden. If you’re currently paying too much for the insurance that you have, it’s time to make a change and switch providers.

car insurance screen

You can buy your insurance on-line – there are some great offers.

The fees associated with taking out a new auto insurance policy will have to do with your age, driving record and the type of vehicle and driving that you do. For example, someone who is younger, has had a few accidents and drives regularly in the city may pay more than someone who is middle-aged with no accidents and who drives leisurely. Car insurance quotes for Burlington drivers can be easily obtained online and takes just minutes. You could save yourself thousands of dollars each year simply by receiving these quotes and making a switch.

Tips for Reducing Costs Associated with Auto Insurance
There are several ways for you to reduce the costs associated with coverage. First, you’ll want to consider altering the amount of coverage that you actually have. If you don’t need a specific type of protection, like comprehensive, removing this can prevent high costs associated with taking out a policy with a provider.

You might even want to consider taking a defensive driving course, as this can help to improve safety behind the wheel and reduce insurance-related fees. Taking this type of course is essential if you have a bad driving record, as it’ll prove to the insurance company that you’re looking to change your ways and clean up your presence on the road. The type of car you drive can also cause some policies to become more or less expensive. Sporty, bright vehicles are more expensive to insure while SUVs and minivans are typically less pricey.

Jason Cartwright is a retired insurance professional who now advises both insurers and people looking for the best insurance buy on what their options are.

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