Is Burlington going to have to pay more to attract better people and keep those we have? What is this going to do to the budget?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2019



About 50% of the non-union staff at city hall are not paid all that well.

Laura Boyd, Director of Human Resources, delivered that news in one of the most frank and direct reports the Gazettes seen come from a senior staff person at city hall. It was refreshing.

Boyd’s report was delivered to city council in July. She was instructed to return to council with “more detailed information and specific recommendations regarding non-union salary market competitiveness.”

Laura Boyd 2

Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd

Boyd talked about the culture at city hall – it was about as bleak as the pay rates.

Human Resources undertook to “re-surveying staff this year to take a pulse on if, as an organization, there has been improvement on our workplace culture scores.”

What wasn’t made clear was – who was going to be doing the re-surveying. Having HR do it would be close to a conflict of interest.

While, compensation in and of itself does not motivate people, “if employees are compensated poorly in relation to the marketplace, it will lead to higher turnover and less engagement.” The Boyd report outlined “the current experiences with staff turnover, especially related to compensation, our current retirement outlook and our capacity to deliver on Council’s work plan.”

Boyd refers to a report from Mercer, a leading consultant on matters of salary matters in the public sector.

“Most companies align themselves with a market position of the 50th percentile – however in the highly competitive GTA, companies align with the 60th to 75th percentile to compete for employee resources.

V2F - policy

The policy is to give staff a better deal. Will the public go along with what that is going to cost?

“The City’s current Council approved market position is mid third quartile, between the 50th and 75th percentile.  Here is what comparable municipalities are offering:


Burlington does not compare all that well with comparable communities – the Region offers a much better deal salary wise.

“Actual salaries are aligned appropriately to our current job rates (the 50th percentile).

“Our market competitiveness varies across the salary grades and this could be an indication of challenges with our job evaluations system not being robust and up to date.

Given the current challenges the City is having in attracting and retaining talent, the following will outline options for Council to consider moving forward.

A compensation system comprises of the following elements:
1) Alignment with corporate strategy;

2) External competitiveness;

a. Market comparators
b. Market position/Pay philosophy

3) Internal consistency;

a. Job Evaluation System

1. Alignment with Corporate Strategy
Compensation strategy must be in line with corporate strategy.

Private Sector Comparators: Based on information provided by Mercer, municipalities within the GTHA do not typically lose employees to the private sector. Private sector compensation systems and philosophies can be very different from the public sector.

While the public sector provides base salaries, pension and a benefit package it is not uncommon for large private sector employers to offer this plus incentives and bonus programs which are not typically provided within the public sector and therefore from a total compensation approach do not provide a good match.

Conversely, smaller private sector firms are not able to provide some of the benefits afforded to the public sector and therefore, do not compare well from a total compensation perspective. Private sector compensation approaches are different from municipal practices and as such do not provide a good basis for comparison.

The Broader Public Sector: The broader public sector was also considered especially in the areas of hospital and academic employers. The size of employers in these two areas tends to be much larger and the core business or service delivery very different. In addition, employers in these areas tend to be more heavily unionized. Compensation approaches between non-union and unionized staff is quite different.

Finding good matches with these employers to positions across our entire organization is difficult and as such these employers do not provide a good match.

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

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

Regional Governments: In the past the City has compared its positions to those found both within municipalities and regional governments.  Regional governments and municipalities have both similar and dissimilar governance areas. Regional governments also tend to be much larger in size from both an FTE and operating budget perspective. However, as we have lost staff to regional governments, they are a potential source for comparison and should be considered when determining market comparators.

A business case of $180,000 (one-time funding) has been included in the 2020 operating budget to secure the services of a consultant to source, design and re-write job descriptions and develop a rating system against which all current and future non-union positions will be rated. Implementation of the salary impacts of a new job evaluation system will be included if required as a business case on the 2021 operating budget.

$450,000 has also been included in the proposed 2020 operating budget to initiate a multi-year phased implementation which will result in a renewed competitive market position.

The consultants have put forward a number of options and recommendations.  Thought was given to creating one salary policy for Managers and another for Director level people.  The Burlington salary schedule doesn’t attract much in the way of Director level talent.

Meed Ward hands out frnt city hall

The Mayor is having fun: photo ops are close to a daily event. Is city staff as happy?

Missing in the deep dive look at how the city pays its staff is this: who is responsible for the culture of city hall?  It isn’t about just money.  People have to be proud of the work they do and see that what they do is making a difference.  That stuff works its way down from the top.  Burlington has gone through so many City Managers that it is difficult for young people to see the city as a stable place to develop a career.

The people in the Planning department have been whip-sawed back and forth with all the changes.

Clerks give everyone that funny look all the time - and take best costume prize during the 2011 United Way fund raising event.

Is City Hall a fun place to work? In the 2014 municipal election there was a well qualified candidate for the Office of Mayor who said it was far too toxic – he took a pass.

Related news story:

Boyd lays it all out on the table: there is trouble in paradise

Find a way to recruit the right people and then give them reasons to come to work with all their energy and creativity.

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The 2020 budget is not going to be the gift that we got in 2019 - the increase in 2020 over 2019 could be as much as 100% MORE.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2019



During the federal election we heard members of the Liberal government comment frequently that people want to see something done on climate change but were not prepared to pay that much to bring about a change.

They certainly weren’t prepared to give up the gas guzzling pickup trucks.

The 2020 proposed budget attempts to strike a balance between identifying efficiencies, leveraging non-tax based revenue sources, revising service levels, and continuing to build towards long-term financial sustainability through additional investment in infrastructure renewal.

That’s what comes from the bureaucrats. The politicians have their agenda and for the current council climate change is a big issue – is it THE issue? The Mayor would like to think so but she may not have enough of her council colleagues on side with her.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Councillor Sharman read a well prepared statement into the record. He said:

1. I love trees and do not want to see them cut down unnecessarily

2. The people of Burlington feel the same way; based on the statistically accurate survey prepared by Forum Research in June 2013 for the City Burlington the evidence is clear:

I. The people of Burlington love trees and do not wish to remove them

II. Many Ward 5 and 6 residents felt there are insufficient trees, so do I

III. People agree that City oversight of the tree canopy is desirable

IV. Two out of three respondents also agreed that “a landowner should be able to remove a healthy tree if it is no longer wanted by the property owner without permission from the city.”

a) The big question in 2013 was and remains, is there a significant tree loss problem?

Staff reported at the time:

A total of 21 tree care companies were contacted. The following are key findings of the

I. In 2012, approximately 1,813 trees were removed by all tree care companies combined.

II. 78% of trees removed were dead, diseased or dying, followed by natural death due to age. 1414 trees

III. 17% of trees were removed due to landscaping modifications (presumably development), poor planting location or damage to property caused by the tree. 308 trees

IV. 5% of removals were a result of home improvements (e.g. additions, decks, etc.) 91 trees

b) What we believe is that the Urban tree canopy is insufficient and at, 15-17% coverage falls short of the 30-40% recommended.

c) What we know today:

Tree Guelph line close up -no name

These trees were on private property.

I. The City is going to cut down about 15,000 Ash Trees on municipal property in 2019. That suggests the number of diseased trees on private property is multiple times greater.

I have heard that it could be in the order of 300,000 trees in the City. Disease is the single biggest cause of canopy loss and will continue to be so for several years to come.

II. Trees on property subject to site plan approval in the development application process do not need to comply with a municipal private tree bylaw.

III. That clear cutting of development sites is known to happen, but it is not known how many.

IV. Roseland has had perhaps 4 applicable tree cutting permits issued under the bylaw

V. The suggested City private tree bylaw will not actually stop trees from being cut down, it is only designed to create a 2nd thought

VI. Trees do not provide significant climate change mitigation. Trees provide us with significant benefits, including carbon sequestration (storage), however, net carbon neutral can be achieved only by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. **

d) What we do not know today:

I. We do not know how many trees are cut down on private property

II. We do not know how many sites are clear cut by developers to avoid site plan control.

III. We do not know if trees are being cutting down unnecessarily*

IV. We do not know how many trees are needed to increase the urban tree canopy to 30 or 40%

V. We do not have a tree inventory of Burlington

VI. We have not identified alternative costed strategies that might be more effective than the Roseland bylaw or a derivative thereof.

e) Conclusions:

GreenUp 2017 tree plant

Will the city create working parties to plant the tens of thousands of trees needed?

• As much as I would like to support a valid and properly justified extended tree protection bylaw, we are not ready to have one because we have no adequate information to suggest we should.

• The data we do have suggests that we need to plant trees, a lot of them. I am told that we need in the order of 300,000 trees to increase the canopy to 40%. In the scheme of things, spending $100,000’s to stop people cutting down a very small number of trees, according to the 2013 research, is not the best use of money.

• I would rather use a carrot than a stick by providing a $250 grant to property owners for every tree they plant on their own property.

• Finally, for now and until we have a properly thought out tree strategy based on real supportable data, I will continue to only support the option to continue the existing Roseland private tree bylaw.

• Let’s plant 10,000 5cm trees a year, that could be 20-30cm in 20 years time, in order to recover the canopy. Of course, we need to make sure they are watered. That will give us the best ROI.

There is a reason for calling Councillor Sharman Dr. Data.

• His after thoughts:

Sharman hand to head

Councillor Sharman: Data. data, data – there is never enough!

o I appreciate that some people think that people who willingly cut trees for their own reasons should be caused to pay for the greater good of the community. Considering that the larger community loss is due to disease and simple old age (78% in 2013, possibly 95% currently re Emerald Ash Borer). It would be more equitable for all home owners to pay a progressive tax to pay for administration and execution of a properly justified and constructed tree strategy.

o Surely, we can figure out another way to get the few people to report that they are cutting trees than charge them in excess of $1000 per tree.

o Surely, we can figure out how to ensure that when trees are cut to facilitate development that the applicant ends up complying with site plan regulations.

o We need to figure out what the real problem is that is being addressed in this discussion?

* Note, we asked the Town of Oakville for data on how many trees were cut down and for what reasons since they introduced their bylaw. Oakville staff were not able to provide the data. The Oakville Green website does not have relevant statistics. City of Burlington staff acknowledge they have no data.

Appleby Village - trees on Pineland

These trees are in ward 5. They will probably have to come down if a high rise residential tower goes up.

** Climate change mitigation impact of trees. There are a wide range of sequestration rates in Canadian urban forests, from 0.2 to 1.2 Mg (megagrams; 1 Mg = tonne) of C per hectare per year. It likely depends on tree species and health of trees. If we planted trees across the whole land mass of Burlington (18,200 ha), it would only sequester around 79,000 tonnes of CO2e. Burlington’s community emissions are currently estimated at 1.2 million tonnes of CO2e.

This is based on using the highest rate of 1.2 tonnes of C per hectare per year (very high). (1 tonne of carbon = 3.67 tonnes of C02e; 3.67 x 1.2 = 4.4 tonnes of CO2e/ha) 4.4 tonnes of CO2e/ha x 18,200 = 79,000 tonnes.

Perhaps, if we replaced buildings, roads and traffic with trees, we wouldn’t have a carbon problem anymore.

Trees provide us with significant benefits, particularly to improve community resilience by providing cooling for the urban area and reducing the urban heat island effect, as well as reducing erosion with flooding events. However, we will only achieve our goal of being a net carbon neutral community by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. We will put more emphasis on the benefits of urban forestry in part 2 of the Climate Action Plan (the climate adaptation strategy

Councilor Nisan was less verbose but was clear – “it is about the climate” was the position he took.

The basics of the 2020-2021 budget are:

a proposed base amount of $172,060,655 plus recommended business cases of $1,574,524 for a total proposed net tax levy of $173,635,179.

This net tax levy represents 65.5% of total operating revenues in 2020. The 2020 proposed capital projects are approximately $85.8 million, with a ten-year program of $809.7 million.

The budget review process included:

• A line-by-line review of the base operating budget by the Chief Financial Officer and Service Owners (budget reductions of $1.02 million).

• The Corporate Infrastructure Committee conducted an in-depth review of the 10- year capital program.

• A corporate / strategic review by the Operating Budget Leadership Team. This team is comprised of the City Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Director of Human Resources, Chief Information Officer (rotating member) and the Director of Transit (rotating member).

• A corporate / strategic review by the Capital Budget Leadership Team. This team is comprised of the Executive Director of Environmental, Infrastructure and Community Services, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry (rotating member) and the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility (rotating member).

• Alignment to strategic objectives and review of operating business cases.

Joan Ford, the city's Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, the city’s Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

The recommendation?
Receive and file the proposed 2020 budget book; and Direct staff to present the recommendations, that is what is going to occupy much of the months of November and December.

The city Finance department hopes to have this budget wrapped up before the end of the year. That is probably not something you want to be very much money on.

An added note.  The Director of Human Resources has a report suggesting to Council that they might want to increase what they are paying the non-union staff – Burlington is no longer competitive and we are not getting the staffing quality we need.

How much higher will the 2020 tax increase be over what it was in 2019?  Council is going to struggle to keep it below 5%.  That isn’t going to be easy.

Related news stories.

The 2019 budget

How much was that tax increase?


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It was a horse race the Liberals could have won but they failed to deliver on that 2015 promise to change the way votes are counted.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 31st, 2019


Part 1 of a 2 part column.

There is no better way to determine the winner in horse races or athletic track events than first-past-the-post (FPP). It is crude and simple but very effective. However an election is not a horse race.

And as for gambling, there is a kind of gaming we employ in our politics – something we call strategic voting. In this last federal election over a third of voters claimed that they had voted strategically, switching their vote from their preferred party to another one. Almost 40% of those switches went to the Conservatives, likely in the west, where the Liberals were deliberately shut out from Winnipeg to Vancouver. And almost half of those who ultimately voted Liberal did so even though the NDP was their first preference.

Rivers lining up to vote

Canadians lining up to vote – do they have a chance of getting the representation they deserve?

Clearly something is wrong with our system. If not broken, it could at least be made better because politics should be a serious business, not a crap shoot. And like a crap shoot so many voters are playing the game blind – looking at the polls and making strategic decisions they can only guess will work out for them. A lottery might be a better metaphor.

I’d like to vote for the party whose platform, and perhaps even leader, most appeals to me – doesn’t everyone? Instead we play this game of second guessing the outcome. We vote for a party we may not really want, just to make sure that the one we really don’t want doesn’t get in. Crazy huh? A casualty resulting from relying on a very imperfect and outdated voting system which was never intended for a multi-party democracy.

In fact what voters are doing is playing the odds. It is a kind of intuitive preferential voting in a FPP system. But a real preferential or ranked ballot allows electors to prioritize their selection of candidates, and thus parties. If no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote then second and third choices are counted until somebody gets at least half the voters. That winner is a first, second or third choice of the majority of the voters.

Preferential balloting is a variation on the theme of FPP, since everything but the ballots and counting remain the same. The political parties use preferential balloting in their leadership contests and municipalities are jumping in with at least one foot. It better reflects the public’s wishes and is more democratic. So why not move this approach to, arguably, the most important political contest of all – federal elections?

Mr. Trudeau understands this, or at least did when he was campaigning and promising, in 2015, to get rid of our archaic FPP system. Why he just didn’t implement this system following his 2015 election win is a good question. He decided to follow parliamentary procedures and create a committee. But the committee was dominated by the opposition and they outwitted him, recommending proportional representation, but demanding a national referendum. And ranked ballots never got past the idea stage.

Rivers - Conservatives in House

Doomed to perpetual opposition under a preferential voting system.

The Conservatives likely have a larger and more loyal base than the Liberals and they certainly raise far more money. Half of those voting Tory had made up their minds before the campaign had even started compared with less than a third for the Liberals. But over 60% of Canada’s electorate prefer liberal-type to conservative policies. So the Conservatives, having become even more anti-progressive in the last couple of decades, would be doomed to perpetual opposition under a preferential voting system.

Yet, as we see, the Tories can and do win under the unranked FPP. For example Mr. Ford won Ontario’s last election with a majority of seats and only 40% of the total vote. And yes many of the party’s candidates failed to get 50% of the vote but slipped up the middle. It is little wonder some voters cannot be bothered voting, the odds are stacked against them unless they are fans of either of the two main parties.

And then there is the hope of political reconciliation. Since a preferential ballot more accurately represents the wishes of the majority of the voters, the main parties on the right and the left would be forced to move more to where the bulk of the voters are if they want to win. Political reality rather than abject ideology should end up playing a greater role in policy. And the third and fringe parties could continue to offer ideas, even though they would face the prospect of fewer elected members themselves, and possibly an eventual demise.

Rivers horse race

Had the Liberals decided to use a  preferential ballot they might easily have landed a majority. It was a horse race you could they’d have won.

That is the downside. That Canada under a preferential balloting system might devolve into a two party system. It would be nice to think that Trudeau was dissuaded from changing our balloting system for that reason – that he was primarily concerned about the consequences for the third parties. After all given the outcome of October’s election, a preferential ballot might easily have landed him a majority. A horse race you could bet he’d have won.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, 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:

Federal Election Results –   Strategic Voting

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It is a nasty, sneaky, dishonest way of explaining to tax payers how much of a tax increase they are going to be hit with.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 31st, 2019



It is a nasty, sneaky, dishonest way of explaining to tax payers how much of a tax increase they are going to be hit with.

The tax bill people get includes taxes levied by the school boards, taxes levied by the Regional government and taxes levied by the city of Burlington.

It was found to be more efficient to put all the taxes on the one bill – it also made it easier to collect.

HDSB trustees

The Board of Education determines how much money they need in the way of taxes; all the city does is collect it for them.

The city has zip influence on what the school board levy in the way of taxes to pay for the operation of our school system. All the city does is collect the money and pass it along to the school board.

Full region

Burlington has seven votes on the 24 member Regional Council – input on the tax levy – nothing more than that.

The city has some (not very much) influence on what the Region decides they need in the way of tax money to operate the services they provide: police, the water system, waste management along with health and social services.

The only tax level the city controls is what they spend on delivering the services they provide.

In the 2020-2021 budget that is to go before Council in November reference is made to “unfunded service enhancements which if added to the budget brings the city tax increase to 4.73% (2.76% when combined with the Region and Education taxes).

The public is looking at a tax increase of more than 4% – probably close to 5% once they decide just how much they want to spend on climate control matters.

What Council does when they play around with the numbers is akin to the 17 year old, single daughter who says to her Father: Daddy I am just a little bit pregnant.

Taxes are inevitable. Treat the public with the respect they deserve and tell them the truth. Stop the pussyfooting around.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

This city council has an opportunity to teach the bureaucrats to be more open and honest with the tax payers.

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Public gets a chance to learn just how the iSTEM program is working at Aldershot High School.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 31st, 2019



It was the best decision that came out of the PAR (Program Accommodation Review) of 2017 – an event that shut down two of the city’s seven high schools.

There were some issues at the time about the amount of unused space at the Aldershot High School, which was threatened with closure.

A trustee who failed to get re-elected came up with the idea and staff got a grip on it and created what came to be known as i STEM – Innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics program that takes a project approach to learning that requires students to solve problems with the subjects they are learning.

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

Superintendent Terri Blackwell with Director of Education Stuart Miller the night parents showed up to learn more about the iSTEM program.

The program started in September with a grade 9 class that has students from across the Region.

The response to the creation of the STEM program surpassed the Board’s most optimistic projections.

There will be a presentation on November 12th at the high school – the public will get a chance to see how well the program is working.

The grade 9 students will move on to grade 10 – when they graduate there will be a full high school program.

Available to students in Halton and beyond, I-STEM (Innovation – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) enables students to develop innovation skills related to engineering design and design thinking, entrepreneurial thinking skills and global competencies. Students will have enhanced learning opportunities through community and post-secondary partnerships.

“I-STEM has been designed to prepare students for future trends in the workforce and help students solve complex economic, social and environmental problems,” says Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the HDSB. “We are fortunate to work with an extensive group of advisors on program development, opportunities and learning.”


Superintendent Terri Blackwell

“I-STEM has been designed to prepare students for future trends in the workforce and help students solve complex economic, social and environmental problems,” says Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education for the HDSB. “We are fortunate to work with an extensive group of advisors on program development, opportunities and learning.”

“We look forward to sharing with families and the community what current I-STEM students and faculty are accomplishing in the program’s inaugural year, as well as showcase the new and innovative learning spaces.”

I-STEM Open House, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Aldershot School (50 Fairwood Place W, Burlington)
A presentation will be held in the auditorium at 7 p.m. and repeated at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Overflow parking is available at LaSalle Park.

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How we got to where we are with the Official Plan - it is not a pretty picture.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 31st, 2019


This is the second of a six part series on how the city is revising the adopted but not yet approved city plan.

The Taking a Closer look report was prepared by SGL,  a consulting group and delivered to the city last August.

The public didn’t become aware of the document until earlier this week. So much for “meaningful engagement”.

The report is the first step in the re-examination of the Official Plan. It is intended to provide a guide to the background to the City’s Official Plan (OP) Policies for the Downtown and the process the City is currently undertaking to re-examine the Downtown OP Policies.

Table work Action plans Thomas

Planning Staff met with citizens during an Action Plan meeting where the participants had workbooks to record their thoughts.

A companion piece to this report is the Public Engagement Plan. It provides a roadmap of the engagement activities that were to take place over the next few months, highlighting at which points in the process engagement will take place, who will be engaged and the level of engagement. The plan also clearly defines which aspects of the process the City and public can influence throughout the discussion.

On February 7, 2019 the new City Council voted to re-examine the policies in the adopted Official Plan. The Council motion directs Burlington’s Director of City Building to commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan in their entirety as they relate to matters of height and intensity and conformity with provincial density targets.

A Council workshop was held on March 18, 2019 to obtain further Council feedback on this direction. Council’s further feedback resulted in focusing the work on the Downtown and on refinements to the Neighbourhood Centres policies.

A work plan for re-examining the Official Plan policies was presented by City Staff to Planning and Development Committee on May 21, 2019 and approved on May 27, 2019.

The outcome of this work will be a set of modified policies for the Downtown supported by a Final Report prepared by SGL – the consulting firm the city hired to produce the study and manage a large part of the public engagement.

It is amazing how many people do not fully understand what the purpose of an Official Plan is; what it does and how it gets revised.

An Official Plan is a statutory document that describes the City’s long-term, land-use strategy for the next 20 years. It is prepared with input from the public and helps to ensure future planning and development will meet the specific needs of the community.

An official plan deals mainly with issues such as:

• the location and form of new housing, industry, offices and shops;
• the anticipated needs for services such as roads, watermains, sewers, parks, schools and community amenities;
• where future growth will happen in the City and how to make effective use of land;
• opportunities for community improvement initiatives; and
• community identity, place-making and urban design.

The over-rising issue during the October 2018 municipal election was the matter of height – and where the tall buildings would be located.  Most people did not object to tall 25 storeys + buildings – they just didn’t want them in the downtown core – south of Caroline.  At this point in time the citizens are looking at three that have been approved (one has shovels in the ground) with three others working their way towards the planners at city hall.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

Once they were sworn in they got down to business – the day after this was taken they fired the city manager.

An Official Plan is typically intended to plan for a 20-year time frame but could provide direction beyond that time period. The Re-examination of the OP is intended to guide planning to 2031.

The Official Plan Burlington is working under today was approved in 2006.

The City commenced an Official Plan Review in 2011. The review included preparation of numerous studies, analysis and public engagement over an 8 year period including preparation of a Mobility Hubs Opportunities and Constraints Study, Employment Land Studies, and a Commercial Strategy Study. This review was intended to conform with and implement the Region’s Official Plan and conform to the new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

This is how we got to where we are.  The next installment is about the process being used.


Process history

How we got to where we are – it is not a pretty picture.

Mobility hubs were to be one of the planning approaches Burlington would use to accommodate the growth that was to take place.

Paradigm -3 from front

The Molinaro Group were the first to develop around a GO station – one of the three mobility hubs in Burlington.

A Mobility Hub, as defined by Metrolinx, is a major transit station area that has the potential to accommodate a range of employment, housing, recreation and shopping around it. Mobility Hubs are intended to be mixed-use neighbourhoods that are walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented and to be a focus for intensification. The Hubs will also take advantage of Metrolinx’s planned Regional Express Rail, which will feature two-way, all-day service every 15 minutes along the Lakeshore West line. The four areas included in the Mobility Hubs Study were Aldershot, Burlington, and Appleby GO Stations, as well as Downtown Burlington.

A major transit station area (MTSA) is an area around a higher order transit station or the area around a bus depot in an urban core or downtown. Higher order transit includes subways, GO lines, streetcars and buses in dedicated rights of way. An MTSA is generally the area within a 10-minute walk (500 to 800 metres) of the transit stations. However, the Region is required to delineate the specific boundary of the MTSA, which will be done as part of their current Official Plan review. Lands within an MTSA are required to provide a diverse mix of uses, support transit, be a focus for growth, and in certain cases achieve a minimum density.

The Halton Region Official Plan recommends that Mobility Hubs receive a higher level of development intensity and design consideration to support transit than what may be applied in other MTSAs.

Following the identification of Mobility Hubs by Metrolinx, the City’s long term 2015 – 2040 Strategic Plan identified the importance of Mobility Hubs near the City’s GO Stations and in the downtown.

Mobility hubs

The original view was that there would be four mobility hubs – the one in the downtown core was little more than a bus station. It is expected to be removed from the list.

In July 2016, Burlington City Council approved a staff report, which outlined a work plan, allocation of staff resources and required funding to simultaneously develop four Area Specific Plans, one for each of Burlington’s Mobility Hubs. An Area Specific Plan, also sometimes called a Secondary Plan, is a plan that is more detailed than an Official Plan and guides future development in a specific geographic area. An Area Specific Plan can include a variety of studies and contains specific policies to guide future development.

City Council unanimously approved the project, with the goal of completing all four Area Specific Plans no later than June 2018. In April 2017, the Mobility Hubs Team began a comprehensive public consultation program around the future vision for each of the Mobility Hubs as shown in the timeline for the Downtown Mobility Hub work.

mobility hub sched

Downtown Mobility Hub Study Timeline. The work on the Mobility hubs was put on hold when the city realized that the number of developments in the downtown core were overwhelming the planning staff and except for the Molinaro Group and the Adi Development Group, no one was doing anything within the hub boundaries.

Staff began working on the Downtown Mobility Hub Area Specific Plan in advance of the other three Mobility Hubs with the objective of including a vision for the downtown in the draft New Official Plan in late 2017. The New Official Plan provided an opportunity to strengthen the existing policy framework for the downtown.

The boundary for the Downtown Mobility Hub included both the existing “Downtown Mixed Use Centre” boundary in the current Official Plan as well as the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) boundary.  The Downtown Area Specific Plan was developed with a long term, full build-out perspective which extended well beyond 2031.

The City of Burlington Official Plan 2018 was adopted by Burlington City Council on April 26, 2018.

A new city council was sworn in on December 3rd, 2018.

On December 4, 2018, the Region of Halton provided a notice to the City advising that the adopted Official Plan does not conform with the Regional Official Plan in a number of respects including issues related to agricultural, employment, transportation and natural heritage. The Region did not identify any issues of conformity with the Downtown Precinct policies.

The Region informed the City that the City can make additional modifications before the plan is approved by the Region with appropriate planning justification and public consultation. Today, the adopted Official Plan is still under review by the Region for regional approval.

City Council together with the direction to re-examine the Official Plan also passed an Interim Control By-law (ICBL) and put the Mobility Hub Area Specific Planning on hold.

Part 1

Next installment: The Process.

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The Christmas sales have begun - Halloween is being bumped to the side.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

October 30th, 2019



And so it begins.

The Port Nelson United Church people remind us that Halloween may be two days away, but the Christmas season is in full swing at Port Nelson United Church!

Port Nelson sign Christmas 2019Port Nelson hosts the 67th annual Mistletoe Mart on Saturday, November 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. What makes this year even more special is that it’s the first Mistletoe Mart being held in the renovated church. After years of planning, designing and construction, Port Nelson can now display Christmas spirit in a bright, modern, accessible space that is just perfect for hosting Burlington’s favourite Christmas party!

“Come experience a true Christmas Bazaar atmosphere: artisans, jewelry, knitting, sewing, baking, crafts, books, silent auction, collectibles and more! Come early for your morning coffee and a muffin and stay for the best Christmas lunch in town!

“If you play your cards right, you can get your Christmas shopping done without ever needing a mall, a big box store or an online delivery.

“We are accepting $2 donations to support our community outreach projects. After all, Christmas is the season of giving!”

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Civic Chorale Singers at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, Saturday, November 23 at 7:30 pm

eventsred 100x100By Staff

October 30th, 2019



The Burlington Civic Chorale Singers will celebrate humanity’s need for love, redemption and comfort with an evening of 19th- and 20th-century works at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, 662 Guelph Line in Burlington, on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 pm.

Sarah Q singer

Sarah Quartel

With her tenderly emotional “Snow Angel,” Canadian composer Sarah Quartel introduces a vision of angels in the form of the children among us who inspire us to be better than we’ve been. Patrick Hawes combines the ageless texts of “Beatitudes” with his stirring music to bring comfort to our present lives and hope for our future.

Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine,” Eric Whitacre’s innovative setting of “Go, Lovely Rose,” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ arrangements of British folk songs complete the program.

Tickets are $25, available at the door or in advance by calling 905-577-2425.

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Mayor has a dashboard that tells her everything she needs to know about her Red Carpet.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2019



The Mayor has a “dashboard”; a place where you can see everything you wanted to know about her Red Tape Red Carpet initiative, a personal project she dragged ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith into.

The initiative came out of the Mayor’s State of the City initiative to the Chamber of Commerce on January 30, 2019, when she announced a new initiative being launched from the Mayor’s Office in partnership with Councillor Kelvin Galbraith: the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force (RTRC).


They all wanted a piece of her; it was the first time the business community got to see her up close.

“The initiative’s goal:” said the Mayor was to “ identify and eliminate barriers to growth and new business attraction in Burlington so that new and existing businesses can locate here, expand and thrive.”

You couldn’t go wrong with a statement to the business leaders in the city.

On Monday, September 23,the Mayor proudly announced that the “22 recommendations were unanimously approved by council, and implementation is now underway. Our new City Manager, Tim Commisso will lead this implementation and city council will be updated on progress on a monthly basis.”

You get to see just what was achieved. The link is HERE.

RTRC dashboard

You can scroll through the “dashboard” and read what has been done with each of the 22 recommendations.

The dashboard with all 22 recommendations looks like this:
A break out of just one of the recommendations appears on the right.

RTRC breakout

RTRC looks like it is being merged with the Economic Development Corporation. Prediction: Economic Development, currently an arms length operation will be brought into city hall.

No word on what this initiative is costing.  If you’ve nothing better to do scroll through the 22 recommendations and see if you can find any value.

The RTRC initiative however is more than a list of minor tasks – it is the device that Mayor Meed Ward has used to edge into the work that the Burlington Economic Development Corporation is doing.

One of the RTRC results was the creation of a job description for a person who would work within city hall to make sure that any new business organizations that were considering Burlington as their new corporate home would have someone inside city hall the making sure the the wrinkles were ironed out and get some wiggle into bureaucrats who were not moving at that brisk and efficient business pace the Chamber of Commerce likes to see.


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Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2019


This is the first of a six part series on how the city is revising the adopted but not yet approved city plan.

It doesn’t carry the same weight as the Shape Burlington report but if we don’t manage what the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know report sets out – there won’t be all that much left of the shape people who voted for the new city council wanted.

The report is lengthy and we aren’t going to set it all out for you in a single document. What we are going to do is publish the report in six pieces based on table of contents which read as follows.


What is the Purpose of this Report?
Why is the City Re-examining the Adopted Official Plan?
What is the Purpose of an Official Plan?
How Did We Get Here?

Crowd small with maps

People who took part in the Walking Tour looking over the map.

The Process

What were the Objectives of the Downtown Precinct Plan?
What Public Events were Held During the Official Plan Process?
What did the City Hear During the Official Plan Process?
What is Involved in Re-Examining the Downtown Policies?

Governing Policies and their Role in the Outcome

What is The Provincial Policy Statement?
What is A Place to Grow, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe?
How does the Halton Region Official Plan Guide Planning in the Downtown?
What is the City’s Vision in the Adopted Official Plan?
What are the Key Policy Directions that Influence the Downtown?

Connections to Other Projects
What is the Timing of the Region’s Official Plan Review?

What’s the Status of the Area Specific Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub?

What is an Interim Control By-Law?

What is an Interim Control By-Law?

The Engagement Plan and What You Should Know
What is an Engagement Plan?
What Does Meaningful Engagement Look Like?
What Does Meaningful Feedback/Input Look Like?
What You Should Know to get Involved

The work being done on the adopted but not yet approved Official Plan is referred to as a Scoped Re-examination. The next step is to finalize the background technical studies that were initiated during the Mobility Hub Area Specific Planning Study including, but not limited to, studies on cultural heritage, municipal servicing and transportation.

We will use these themes to guide the creation of two land-use and built form concepts for the downtown. We will also use the themes and principles developed with the public to create evaluation criteria, which will be used to evaluate the two concepts.

We will then share the two land-use and built form concepts to start a discussion with the public. Based on public and technical inputs and application of the evaluation criteria, a recommended concept will be developed and presented to Council for endorsement.

The concept endorsed by Council will be used to refine the Downtown Precinct Plan policies in the adopted Official Plan. Those refined policies will in turn be presented to Council for endorsement. The concept and policies endorsed by Council will then be sent to Halton Region for final approval.

scoped timeline

The report was released to the public today – unfortunately it wasn’t given to the 150 people who took part in the Action Plan Workshops, nor was a copy given to the 40 some people who took part in the Walking Tour.

That was regrettable.

The Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know report is the first step in the re-examination of the Official Plan; it is intended to provide you with a guide to the background to the City’s Official Plan (OP) Policies for the Downtown and the process the City is currently undertaking to re-examine the Downtown OP Policies.

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Is it a 'football' or a peanut? It iis certainly the most important piece of land left for development in the downtown core. Probably the last chance to do something magnificent in this city.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 29th, 2019




The land between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road has been referred to as the football every since we started publishing. Why would the city want to name is the peanut?

Is it a football or a peanut?

What most people know as the “football” was referred to as the peanut by Director of Planning Heather MacDonald at one of the Action Plan sessions last week.


Is it a football ….


…or a peanut?

It is probably the most significant piece of developable land left in the downtown core.

In time it might equal Spencer Smith Park in importance to the look, feel and public open space in the city.

Right now there are developers crawling all over the land with proposal for developments that will rise more than 25 storeys.

The Carriage Gate Group subsidiary Lakeshore Old Burlington gave a presentation to a very small group at a public meeting recently. No one has yet to explain why that meeting was so poorly promoted.

model 3 d 0f the site

Not much of that quaint, walk-able community in this 3d model of what the CORE Development group want to dump into the ‘football’.

The CORE Development group gave the public a good look at what they have in mind for the properties to the west of the Burlington Old LAkeshore proposal.

They will be making the required Statutory presentation to city council on November 5th at city hall

Lakeshore Mixed use precinct

Lakeshore Mixed use precinct – on the north and south side of Lakeshore from Locust to Martha. Each property will have its own rules put in place.

During the two Action Plan workshops the city held for residents some people wanted to know why the “football” and the Lakeshore Precinct were not included in the public think sessions.

They were told by the Director of Planning, Heather MacDonald that those precincts were to be the subject of separate studies once the revisions to the adopted but not yet approved Official Plan are in place.

One can sympathize with the workload the Planning department faces but the “football” and what has been defined as the Lakeshore precinct are just as important as the look and feel of Brant Street if not more so.

What makes Burlington the city it is – is the lake.


At the eastern edge of the football – the tower will become the gateway to the downtown core.

CORE rendering

This structure is to the immediate west of the latest Carriage Gate Development.


The millions spent on the Pier; the millions spent on getting public access to the lake at the foot of the Bridgewater development and public access to the lake through that development will be for naught if there are no rules that apply to the football and the Lakeshore precinct.

At this point there are two mammoth development applications for the “football” on the table

Let us not repeat the terrible mistake with that Anchor Hub – the label that got stuck on a tiny bus terminal.

Related news stories:

The stunning development planned for the “football”

Can high rise development be brought to an end?

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Recreation services wants to know what you think of their new plans - they aren't playing around.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 29, 2019



Yet another survey.

City of Burlington looking for feedback on Recreation Services Department’s priorities

This began with the creation of a “Draft Framework for Community Recreation in the City of Burlington.”

The draft framework will be the guiding document used by the Recreation Services Department (formerly the Parks and Recreation Department) in determining how tax dollars are invested in future programming, facility development and partnerships.

Splash pad LaSalle - swimming

Splash pads and pools are vital for many parents – are there enough of them?

The framework will provide clarity, transparency and consistency in how we allocate resources for recreational services. This will lead to more efficient processes such as the facility allocation including scheduling of ice, pool, gym and sport field time.

Before the framework can be finalized, the City is looking for input on where the Recreation Services Department’s priorities should be.

As for that “draft” – wasn’t included. We have asked for a copy.

The online survey can be found at and will be open until Nov. 12, 2019.

Results of this survey will be shared with Council in an upcoming report in December.

The survey is quite short – not complex.

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation Services explains: “We want to ensure we’re offering the type of programs and services that benefit the population at large. It’s good to check-in with our residents to make sure we’re focusing on the right areas of recreation. Your input is important to shape our Framework for Recreation for our City.”

Survey Link

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The evolution of baseball's unwritten rules; the game is changing.

sportsgold 100x100By John Cole

October 29th, 2019



With MLB players expressing themselves like never before, author Jason Turbow explains how baseball can maintain its code of respect and fair play.

It’s Game 1 of the 2019 National League Divisional Series.

Acuman Braves basebakk home run

Ronald Acuña Jr: He stands and watches as it sails towards the wall, and remains in the batter’s box as it drops into the 10th row of seats. He lets out a roar and begins his slow, celebratory trot around the bases.

Ronald Acuña Jr. – playing in just the fifth playoff game of his career – launches a fly ball into left field. He stands and watches as it sails towards the wall, and remains in the batter’s box as it drops into the 10th row of seats.

He lets out a roar and begins his slow, celebratory trot around the bases.

Normal behaviour after hitting a home run, you might think, but baseball’s code has been broken.

Four games later, against the same opposition, Acuña Jr. steps up to the plate again. The Atlanta Braves need a hero. They trail 13-1 in Game 5, with their chances of reaching the next round all but extinguished.

Acuña will not, however, get a chance to be that hero. The pitch drills him on the arm. Revenge has been served.

Don’t celebrate a home run. Don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter. Don’t steal a base with a big lead late in the game. Don’t walk across the pitcher’s mound. These are just a few of baseball’s many unwritten rules.

If you break them, then expect consequences. More often than not, those consequences come in the form of a well-directed pitch, as Acuña Jr. now knows.

Such retaliation has been commonplace in the MLB for decades as players take it upon themselves to enforce their code, even when it’s their own teammate who is in the wrong.

mlb-graphic 1Jason Turbow, author of The Baseball Codes, recalls a story from 1996 involving Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Roger Cedeño.  The Venezuelan stole a base against the San Francisco Giants with an 11-2 lead late in the game, infuriating the opposition.

His team-mate, Eric Karros, headed over to the Giants’ dugout and told them: “We’ll handle this.”  When reporters were allowed into the Dodgers’ clubhouse after the victory, following the team debrief, Cedeño was wiping tears from his eyes.

Things are, however, starting to change.
Bat flips are becoming a common sight. Players are beginning to express themselves in ways the sport has never seen.

“The beautiful thing about the unwritten rules, for me, is that they are ever-evolving,” Turbow explains.

“The code that ball players abide by today is very different to how it was, even 10 years ago, which was in turn very different to a generation before that.

“People just aren’t as offended now as they used to be about these things.

“For example, it used to be you couldn’t dig in to the batter’s box – you co uldn’t shove your toe down into the dirt to get a good foothold – at the risk of offending pitchers back in the sixties and seventies. No one even notices that now.”

The move away from strict adherence to the code has been gradual, taking place over many years, and can primarily be explained by a change of mentality among modern baseball players.

Before free agency rules changed in the 1970s, movement between MLB teams was restricted, meaning many played for a single franchise for the bulk or entirety of their career.

This, Turbow explains, is why the unwritten rules were so strictly enforced.

“Up until the free agency era you were on a team, more or less, for life,” he says.
“Some players got traded, some players got released, but the only way you left a team was if they didn’t want you anymore. And thus, you built bonds with your teammates. You built antagonism with your opponents.

“In the modern era, players sometimes jump from team to team every couple of years. They go on vacations in the off-season with each other, they share agents, they do charity golf tournaments together.

“Every team is filled with players who have friends on every other team. The antagonism just isn’t there anymore.

“Whereas once you were offended by something a stranger, or an opponent who you already had antipathy toward, would do, now your opponent, who you like, is doing that same thing, you’re not even going to think about it.”

The increasing number of international MLB players – such as Acuña Jr. and Cedeño – has also contributed to this shift.

More than 25 per cent of players in the league now come from outside the USA, hailing from 20 different countries, all with their own way of playing the game.

“When it comes to integrating foreign players, there is going to be a transition process,” Turbow says.

“The brand of baseball they play in Latin America, for example, is very different.

“Celebrations are embraced down there. They are expected. This is the kind of baseball that those guys grew up learning, and now they’re bringing it to the United States.

“The Asian players, particularly the Japanese players, tend to play by even stricter rules than the Americans.
“Korean players flip the heck out of their bats. It’s all about getting used to each other.”

mlb-seo-headerRecently, however, the MLB has taken matters into its own hands. Advertising campaigns titled ‘Let The Kids Play’ and ‘We Play Loud,’ released ahead of the post-season in 2018 and 2019, explicitly condone behaviour that would previously have been condemned. Bat flips, showboating, celebrations. Anything goes.

“This officially codified the idea that these kids can show emotion on the field – they can flip their bats, they can celebrate themselves in ways that fans find appealing,” explains Turbow.

“It is baseball’s way of trying to grow the fanbase, especially among a younger demographic.”

Baseball traditionalists are, however, not making it easy for MLB. They continue to cling onto the code, passing it down to younger generations.

Right now when a pitcher throws at a batter who has only just stepped in and not yet begun his 15 step routine (touch helmet, grind foot, cock elbow five times etc) it’s called a “quick pitch.  That’s called unsportsmanlike like.

The game was designed by the best teams to move slowly.  Anything done to change that pace unsettles everything. For a game that throws so much money into tactical analysis, baseball is terrible at tactical innovation

As a result, the sport is currently going through a transition period where the old and the new coexist uneasily, particularly with regards to celebrating.

“In previous generations, bat flipping was a no-no. Pitchers would get viscerally offended, sometimes to the point of throwing a baseball at an opponent in retaliation.

“We’re now in this weird grey area in that there are still some pitchers who feel that way. Never mind that baseball has officially decreed it appropriate to flip a bat, there are still some pitchers who get annoyed at it.

“That creates some cognitive dissonance when it comes to how players behave on the field. They’re still trying to work it out.”

How, then, does baseball move forward? Can these unwritten rules, formed over a century or more, coexist with modern, fast-paced baseball?

“I think so,” asserts Turbow.

“These unwritten rules are fluid – they evolve. The idea of showing respect on the field is compatible with players having outside personalities, Twitter accounts and whatnot.

In the meantime it is a great game to wager on.

“It’s only when it comes to celebration that the hardliners and the traditionalists have a problem, and the traditionalists are dying off on a daily basis.”

So perhaps, in five years’ time, Acuña Jr. will be able to stand, admire and celebrate without fear of retribution being hurled at his ribs at 90 miles per hour.

John Cole has been watching baseball for more than four decades.  His Dad took him to his first game.  He likes the pace of the game and all those unwritten rules – but knows that changes are in the making.


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Brant Street and Lakeshore Road will be closed for short periods of time.

notices100x100By Staff

October 28th, 2019



We knew this was coming – that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with.

The intersection of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street is going to be a bit of a dog’s breakfast for the next couple of days.

The time frame is: October. 28th, today through to November 1, and then from the 4th to the 8th, 2019
Weather will determine just how long the roads will be closed

Brant Street will be fully closed at Lakeshore Road. There will be a road closure sign at Elgin Street and Pine Street with local access to businesses and residential buildings.

Lakeshore Road at Brant Street – Nov. 4 – 8

Lakeshore Road at Brant Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction.

This work is highly weather dependent, so dates will be changed if needed.

Full emergency access will be provided.

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Countdown has begun: race day is less than a week away. Worobec has two short training runs before leaving for NYC!

sportsgold 100x100By Ashley Worobec

October 28th, 2019



This time next week I will have completed the New York City Marathon.

One more week to go!

Status chart

This is exactly where I want to be a week before race day.

My taper is working, and today my watch showed me this fantastic “training status” screen that says “peaking.” This is EXACTLY what the taper is trying to do- the idea is that I worked hard through nearly 20 weeks of training, and now my body is in recovery mode where I can reap the benefits of that hard work.

It is often said that you cannot train too little during a taper, but you can definitely train too much. Over-training is a real concern at this point, as this is the time when runners start to feel antsy, and I’m definitely experiencing that.

My legs feel fresh and rested now and ready to run- and the taper starts to play mind games with you, as your mileage drops so significantly and so quickly, it’s almost as if you feel like you’ve forgotten how to run.

Ahhhh, the mental aspect of distance-running! I have two short runs this week (one 9k and one 8k) and then a quick little 3km on Saturday morning to shake out my legs, and then it’s raceday on Sunday!

My goals in New York are:
1. To enjoy the experience! I will be running with a dear friend of mine and we plan to soak it all in and enjoy the sights and sounds. This is a once-in-a-lifetime for me, and a goal I’ve been chasing for a few years.

2. A Boston qualification time would be nice; for my age group, that means I need to run a couple of minutes under 3 hours 40 minutes.

3. Ideally, I’d like to run under 3 hours, 30 minutes.


A goal of 3 hours – 30 minutes is well within reach. Is the Boston Marathon in the long range plan?

As you can see, this “race predictor” it shows that 3:30 should be well within my reach, but there are so many factors on race day that I can’t control; I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in a time goal. I’ve had many years of competitive running in the past, and my goals have changed now- these days it’s more about fun and fitness and friendships.

pumpkin 2

A white pumpkin?

We carved pumpkins this weekend and I used a NYC theme; I used a drill bit to shape the holes into the iconic “I love New York” sign. This year I’ll be abstaining from Halloween candy until after the race, as I want to give myself the best chance to perform on Sunday, and dozens of those tiny bite-sized chocolate bars will do me no good!

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Hubs, MTSA's, Anchors and Urban Growth Centres and a bylaw that brought much of it to a halt.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2019



There are mobility hubs

There are anchor hubs

There are MTSA’s – Major Transit Station Areas

There are urban growth centers.

They are all tied together but not all that well understood.

Transit terminal - John Street

We know it as the bus terminal – the bureaucrats call it an Anchor Hub; a developer saw it as a great stroke of luck.


A bus terminal made the height of this development possible.

One of them, the Anchor hub that had been proposed for what most people know as the bus terminal on John Street, put the city in a position where they could not deny a developer the right to put up a building – which really screwed up the plans the city had for property on Lakeshore Road close to where it meets up with Old Lakeshore Road. The developer used the existence of an Anchor hub as justification for the high rise.

The Anchor hub is basically a small bus depot that at one point was to be torn down.

Paradigm -3 from front

Three of the five towers that make up the Paradigm development on the north side of Fairview right next to the GO Station.

The Mobility Hubs are clustered around the GO stations where the developers have bought up as much of the and as possible. The Molinaro Group was ahead of the development crowd when they broke ground for the Paradigm development – five towers snuggled up beside the Burlington GO station.

Gailbraith Station west + cranes

Adi Developments Station West in the early development stage. Councillor Kelvin Galbraith has a number of major developments taking place in the western end of the ward that will increase GO train traffic.

The Aldershot GO station area has a very large two stage ADI development underway.

Nothing in the works yet for the Mobility hub that will be part of the Appleby GO station.

There isn’t all that much controversy around the Mobility hubs – although Dr. Shie would like to see the eastern edge of the Burlington GO hub moved to the east – to the other side of Guelph line so that it includes the property at Guelph and Harvester Road.

Urban growth centre

The boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre that the province required every municipality to have. Many now believe that the location chosen and the boundaries put in place need to be changed.

The Urban Growth Centre is something the city had to create. That was a provincial requirement. The city had to have one – but it had some influence on where it would be located and what the boundaries are. The current UGC boundary is a little too far to the south for many people.

It was created in 2006 – many think both the location and the boundary lines were a mistake. Members of the current council have come to believe that the location of the current UGC can be moved and the boundary changed.

You had to have one but you get to determine where it will be located.

The Anchor isn’t a gotta have. The story we got from Councillor Lisa Kearns is that the city will get rid of the Anchor Hub (bus station) just as soon as the Interim Control Bylaw is lifted – which is expected to happen in March of 2020.

McKenna at the door

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna stuck her head in the door, didn’t like the look of the meeting and left.

Getting the location and boundary of the Urban Growth Centre is not as easy. Kearns told the Gazette that the members of the provincial government: Jane McKenna, Burlington and ‎Effie Triantafilopoulos, Oakville North Burlington will be drawn into the discussions.

‎Triantafilopoulos understands the complexity of the issue and is for the most part approachable and works at having good, strong working relationships with her peers.

Many residents have not had the same experience with McKenna.

It will be interesting to see how this work out. We weren’t able to get much in the way of a sense as to how long this will take from Councillor Kearns.

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Pinball exhibit on at the Joseph Brant Museum.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 28th, 2019



It is there for the whole family to enjoy.

The Joseph Brant Museum and the playable pinball exhibition is on display until January 12.

Pinball at museum

A totally different look at the world of Pinball machines – now on at the Joseph Brant Museum.

The exhibition is included in the price of Museum admission, and features rock-themed, playable pinball machines alongside merchandise and artifacts related to artists and bands.

Regular Museum Hours
Monday / Closed
Tuesday / 10:00am-4:00pm
Wednesday / 10:00am-4:00pm
Thursday / 10:00am-7:00pm
Friday / 10:00am-4:00pm
Saturday / 12:00pm-4:00pm
Sunday/ 12:00pm-4:00pm
Evenings and other times by appointment

Adults: $10.00, Seniors-students: $8.00
Children: $6.00; 3 to 12 free.
$30. Family, which is defined as up to 2 adults/seniors and up to 4 children.

Other than a little landscaping to be completed it looks as if the construction is completed. Now to see what the inside of the place looks like.

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Councillor keeps an election promise: Creates a Registry of who she meets with and what they talked about.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 28th, 2019



Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns.

Part of getting elected for Lisa Kearns was a promise to maintain a Registry of the people who visited her and wanted to talk about city business.

She laid down some rules:

You will need to register if you are meeting to discuss:

a decision or matter that is going to Committee/Council

information that intends to advance the business of the City

a matter to which you may receive any form of remuneration or benefit.

Please be advised this is a voluntary business meeting registry to support the transparency, accountability and integrity of the government decision-making process, and to promote open dialogue between the many stakeholders that complement our community.

And who has had the pleasure of her company and what did they talk about?

It’s all laid out in the Registry.

Kearns by the way is the only member of Council who set up a Registry.  While what happens at the ward level is important – what happens in the Mayor’s office is much more important.  No Registry there.  Why?

Kearns meeting registry

Who asked for what and when?

An election promise that was kept!

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Foxcroft gets a hole-in-one at Pinehurst North Carolina; wife saw him do it.

sportsred 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2019



We checked in with Ron Foxcroft to get a sense as to just where the Tiger Cats are in their quest for the Grey Cup – eastern finals are November 17th.

Foxcroft with ball and flagAfter beating the Alouettes today- 14 and 3, Foxcroft was expansive adding that “We play a nothing game November 2nd against the hapless Argos.

The Fox said “things are good” but that isn’t what he wanted to talk about.

Foxcroft preparng for the shot

Foxcroft: Shoots hoops pretty good – with a hole-in-one under his belt no telling what’s in his future.

While at Pinehurst in North Carolina playing on the Forest Creek course with his wife Marie, son Ronnie and Tom Davidson, who is the Club Champion at Legacy Pinehurst GC, Foxcroft shot a hole-in-one on the 150 yards 14th using a seven iron.

We will of course want to see that score card. It will probably be kept in the same place as his Order of Canada medal.

This was the third hole-in-one for Foxcroft.  Ya gotta play a lot of golf to rack up a record like that.

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The Michael nomination - how it came about.

federal election 2019By Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2019



Michaels with election sign


In the closing sentence of this article we said: “They wonder why Burlington could not find a decent Catholic candidate to represent them..

The they was the Catholic community.  Several readers questioned the Catholic  reference, informing us that the candidate didn’t have to be a Catholic and that is correct.  What we were saying is that many in the Catholic community in Burlington wanted someone to represent their views in the House of Commons.  The Conservative party leadership appeared to like the look of Jane Michael.  Many Catholics in Burlington didn’t.  And many who were not Catholic were terrified that Michael would get the traditional Conservative vote and take the seat.  Sanity prevailed.

It is just a little after the votes were counted and the riding of Burlington re-elected Karina Gould that the Gazette was finally able to communicate with a second person who was able to confirm what we were given by a Burlington resident on the way Elizabeth Jane Michael was named as the Conservative Party candidate.

We wanted someone to corroborate what we had learned – but were not able to do so before the election.

Our source wrote the following. We have been able to confirm that the writer is real but for personal job related reasons we cannot reveal the names of either source.

“I could easily add to all the ‘unusable’ dirt I hear you have been receiving about Jane Michael, but I’m not going to do that now.

“The line you have about Burlington conservatives not being able to understand how Jane Michael became the Conservative candidate is certainly true. The information I have will shed some light on this and explain why CPC chose Jane Michael to be Burlington’s candidate. This is just me putting the threads together.  Jane Michael’s Campaign Manager is Paul Marai. Their history goes way back. They served eight years together as trustees on the HCDSB. Marai also has a big connection to the Conservatives.

“Here are a few of bits of info:
Elizabeth Jane Michael was sanctioned by the HCDSB in May of 2018 for ‘violating code of conduct’ at an in-camera meeting.

“In a news report in another publication HDCSB Anthony Quinn said: “The reprimand may not seem like much, but it’s the strongest sanction available to the board under the legislation.”

Marai Paul

Paul Marai was Michael’s Campaign Manager. He is also the Director of Digital operations for RMG – The Responsive Marketing Group Inc

“At the board’s public meeting May 15, 2018, vice-chair Paul Marai read a motion announcing the sanction and stating the penalty: Michael is barred from attending two board meetings, removed from her position on the discipline committee and excluded from the search for a new director of education “from the beginning to the end of the hiring process.”

“Michael had the highest trustee expenses while with HCDSB. Many other controversies.

“Michael’s Campaign Manager, was Paul Marai who is a Digital Director of RMG – The Responsive Marketing Group Inc. This company does work for political parties, and election work from federal to municipal. One service they provide is robo calling.

“In RMG marketing material RMG is described as an industry leader for over 20 years. “Responsive Marketing Group is Canada’s preeminent integrated political marketing services company. We bring together decades of experience in voter contact, fundraising, and cutting edge data science to offer unparalleled audience insight and engagement services.”

“RMG does work for the Conservative Party of Canada and has done work in the Burlington and neighbouring ridings for years provincially and federally. Paul Marai, through the company RMG, has a connection to Andrew Scheer’s campaign team and Conservative party staff.

“Marai was helping Jane when she tried to win the PC nomination in 2016.

“This ‘Michael to Marai to Scheer/Hamish Marshall connection’ is  why Burlington conservatives ended up with Jane Michael.”  Hamish Marshall was Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager.”

Our source adds that “there is certainly nothing wrong with all these connections.” She felt the public had a right to know.

Our first source gave us basically the same information.

The Conservative Party liked the strong Catholic anti abortion position Michael had taken and were prepared to go to some lengths to get her there.

But there was just too much that didn’t smell right and the voters of Burlington decided to stay with the incumbent.  Many strong Conservative Catholic voters in Burlington spoke to the Gazette saying that they couldn’t stomach the candidate they were told they had to take.

They wonder why Burlington could not find a decent Catholic candidate to represent them.

They are out there.

Related news stories:

Gazette hacked.

Pepper Parr is 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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