Police believe they have captured an image of a witness they would like to interview.

Crime 100By Staff

July 22, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When there is high quality video available the police have a very good chance of identifying the person.
The people the police want to identify are not always wanted for something they may have done. There are occasions when the police want to speak to a person who they feel may have been a witness,

The Halton Regional Police Service Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit (CASA), is currently investigating a sexual assault that occurred in the evening of Canada Day, July 1, 2019. The female victim left “The COOP” restaurant located on Brant Street, just north of Lakeshore Road in Burlington, and accepted a ride with an unknown male party. The victim was sexually assaulted in the vehicle prior to being dropped off at her residence.

Assault Witness Photo

Police would like to identify this witness

Through investigation, officers have pieced together a timeline of the victim’s evening prior to being dropped off at her residence. Officers confirmed the victim was in the parking lot of a Shell gas station located at Walkers Line and Mainway between 11:50pm and 11:55pm on July 1.

Vehicle Photo

Police believe this vehicle may have been used in a sexual assault.

Police are asking the public for assistance in identifying this female witness and a blue four door vehicle (believed to be a Mazda). The witness and vehicle were also at the Shell station at that time.

Investigators have determined that this female witness interacted with the victim and may be able to assist police in the investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit – Detective Sergeant Chris Newcombe at 905-465-8965 or Detective Constable Andrea Moss at 905-465-8971.

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 www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca

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It can happen to the best of organizations, the city of Burlington knows that - Phishing scams. Learn as much as you can and remember the cardinal rule - if in doubt - don't.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 22, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

Originally published in Inc. magazine with some local content added.

Phishing scams are nothing new; most of us have heard about the “Nigerian prince” phishing emails that have been showing up in inboxes for years.

ID theft damageUnfortunately, phishing attacks continue to increase exponentially in volume, and are considered a serious threat to both companies and individual internet users since they can result in devastating financial losses. In addition, phishing emails can be much harder to recognize than many business owners think.

Cybercriminals have resorted to increasingly sophisticated phishing strategies as of late to get recipients to open, click, and share malicious code. And these tactics are paying off handsomely. Business email compromise (BEC) scams are more successful than ever, with losses reaching $2.7 billion in 2018.

Add to that the half a million that was scooped out of the city of Burlington coffers in 2019.

Here are some common phishing trends that business owners should know about and tips for educating employees about them:
What are phishing scams?

Identity theft - many facesPhishing scams typically consist of emails that seem harmless but are actually intended to trick users into sharing sensitive information. This is often accomplished by encouraging the user to click on a malicious link or attachment. Phishing emails get their name because the hackers are “fishing” for your personal information.

Most phishing emails appear completely legitimate, often by imitating a company’s logo using high-quality graphics and including opt-out instructions. For this reason, it’s quite common for recipients to be fooled, and even large companies have fallen prey to these scams. SiteLock has published a round-up of some recent phishing examples to demonstrate the prevalence of these scams and how to protect against them.

Common Phishing Trends and Techniques

There are many different techniques hackers use to launch a phishing attack. A few of the most common ones are provided below:

Invoice phishing: Invoice phishing scams emails claim the recipient has an outstanding invoice from a well-known company, bank, or vendor. The email instructs the recipient to click on a link to pay their invoice. But when they click on the link and access the site, the hackers steal their personal information and gain access to their bank accounts.

The virus or compromised account: Viruses and compromised accounts cause users to receive an email from a third party company claiming one of their accounts has been compromised. The email instructs them to log in to reset their password or to download a form, fill in their personal information, and return it. However, a legitimate company would never request your personal information through email in this manner.

Payment and delivery scam: This tactic involves sending emails from what appears to be a legitimate vendor asking for a user’s credit card information. They typically claim that your payment information needs to be updated before they will deliver your order. Be very careful with these emails, especially if you haven’t purchased anything from the vendor.

Downloads: Download scams send an email instructing recipients to click on a link. These emails often contain hyperlinks that could download a malicious file onto the end user’s computer. Never click on an email link unless you are absolutely sure that the sender is who they claim to be.

Tips for Spotting Phishing Emails

Although phishing emails often mimic actual companies and vendors, there are ways to detect them. All small business owners and employees should be aware of the following red flags that indicate a possible phishing email:

The email contains links or URLs that direct you to the wrong website or try to get you to access a third-party site that is separate from the email sender.

RBC scam attempt

Note the url that the email came from – it wasn’t the one the bank uses, Remember – look over email that is not familiar to you – carefully.

You receive an email from a company requesting sensitive information which can include your social security number, bank account information, or credit card numbers. Consider these emails suspect and never share your personal information without checking with the company first.

You find an unexpected email in your inbox from a person, vendor, or company that you rarely or never deal with. If this happens, the safest thing to do is delete the email without opening it, as there’s a good chance it’s a phishing email.

The email has obvious errors like typos, poor grammar, or incorrect information. A legitimate email from a company is very unlikely to have these kinds of errors.

The email address of the sender is incorrect, although it is close to the actual email address. This is another common sign of a phishing email.

ID theft screen

Good hackers, and there are a lot of them out there – are combing through your data looking for ways to get into your computer,

Phishing scams remain a very common type of cybercrime, and can cause major financial losses to individual users and companies. And phishing emails are much more sophisticated these days, making them harder to detect. If you’re a business owner, it’s essential to be aware of common phishing techniques and red flags and to educate your employees on them.

Related news story:

How much damage cam identity theft do to you?  Read how one young GTA resident had to deal with it.

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Arrest Made in Thefts of Packages from Front Doors of Residences

Crime 100By Staff

July 20th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Halton Regional Police have charged a male in connection with thefts of Amazon packages that had been left at the front doors of residences.

HRPS crestBetween July 16 and July 18, 2019, the Halton Regional Police Service responded to several reports of packages being stolen from the front porch of local residences and replaced with empty boxes. The suspect responsible for the thefts was captured on CCTV and appeared to be operating a black Mercedes.

With the assistance of the public and social media, a person of interest was identified. Police confirmed the identity of the suspect and arrested him on July 18, 2019.

Randy Potter (36) of Burlington was arrested and charged with:
-3 counts of Theft Under $5000
-1 count of Fail to Comply with Probation

He was held for a bail hearing which took place on July 19, 2019.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to contact Detective Constable Colin Macleod of the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 extension 2357.

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 www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca

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

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Poetry Slam comes to an end after an 11 year run in Burlington.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

July 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A phase of the incredibly interesting life Tomy Bewick has lived came to an end Thursday evening when he hosted his last Poetry Slam – it took place in the bowels of Nuvo – which Tomy regretted to say doesn’t have a bar yet and one couldn’t buy a meal.

But the program was a fine send off – registration touched 80 which was good for a Poetry Slam.

Some of the oldies were on hand, some people taking to the mike for the first time – including a woman who got to Burlington from Buffalo.

Bewick and wife at registration - last

Tomy Bewick and his wife at the last Poetry Slam for Burlington registration desk.

Tomy opened the evening with one of the best pieces he has ever done – and from there it all depended on the crowd who hooted and hollered.

Slam registration

Trade at the registration desk was brisk.

Bewick wasn’t sure if the place would be packed – the last time we talked he wasn’t sure who was going to show up.
That’s the way Poetry Slams work.

There were 14 people taking part in the first round – they got whittled down to seven competing for the $200 cash prize.

The standard poetry slam procedure is of hounding the five judges if the audience didn’t like the scores they were given.

The second round had yet to begin when the Gazette reporter had to leave – Bewick will get back to us and let us know who took the top prize and when they closed down for the night.

Dan at last Slam

Dan Murray was in the house

Dan Murray was in the house and we know he did a fine performance – that’s just the way Dan is – the woman who did the piece on the ten foot cell phone charter extension made a point – we think.

The end of Poetry Slam experiences in Burlington was boisterous, fun, the place where some remarkable performances took place. You just had to be there to take it all in.

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Burlington Heights is in Hamilton - it's where British troops who fought the Americans during the war of 1812 were stationed.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

July 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While this is a Hamilton event – it is really interesting for Burlington residents; a Burlington Heights Tour of the battleground during the war of 1812.

Burlington was a big part of that even though the troops didn’t march through our streets.

The Dundurn National Historic Site is the focal point.

This federal government plaque, erected at Burlington Heights, overlooking Burlington Bay got it wrong and Rick Wilson wanted it changed and the public record corrected.

This federal government plaque, erected at Burlington Heights, overlooking Burlington Bay got it wrong and Rick Wilson managed to get it corrected. The War of 1812 battles that took place on Lake Ontario were incorrectly explained on the plaque.

The Hamilton Military Museum staff invite the public to join them for a dynamic guided 1812 tour of Dundurn National Historic Site for all ages on Jul. 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 610 York Blvd.

Pre-registration is required. Tickets are available online for $30 – price includes a family admission pass for a return visit.

dundurn-aerial-thumb

An aerial view of the Dundurn Castle grounds.

Burlington Heights, where Dundurn Castle now stands, was occupied by the British military from 1813 through 1815. Participants will uncover the history surrounding the property and discover evidence of military fortifications in Dundurn Park including the rarely-opened Cockpit. The tour concludes with a look inside Dundurn Castle focusing on the 1812 architectural features.

Quick Facts
• Burlington Heights was an important centre of defense, supply and refuge for thousands of men, women and children connected to the British army, local militia, refugees, and First Nations during the War of 1812.

• On June 5, 1813, American forces marched from Niagara and set up camp at the Gage family homestead (Battlefield House).

• In the early morning hours of June 6, 700 British troops marched from Burlington Heights and defeated 3,000 American soldiers under the cover of darkness.

• Sir Allan MacNab incorporated some of the components of the 1812 fortification when he built his Italianate-style villa in the 1830s.

• This tour contains outdoor components; participants are asked to come dressed for the weather and prepared for walking on uneven terrain.

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There is trouble in paradise - the troops are not happy and the different command levels don't really talk to each other.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

Human Resources is responsible for attracting and retaining City employees; staff/labour relations; employee benefits; health and safety; pay research and staff training and development.

This just might hurt a little – it is about what Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd called Enterprise risk – labour market, in a report to Council.  We are not paying staff the going rate, a lot of people are quitting and some critical people are retiring.  It got a Receive and File Recommendation from Council.

Laura Boyd 2

Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd

Boyd points out that with the focus on “the implementation of many strategic initiatives by the Burlington Leadership Team (BLT) through the development of performance measures and completion by dates, thought has to be given to the successful execution of the plan with its goals, resources, and budgets, and we also must consider the staff team who will execute the strategy.”

Management consultant Peter Drucker put the challenge that faces every organization very well when he said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

What this means is that while targets and performance measurements have been identified, it is workplace culture and focused leadership that will drive the execution of strategy. Culture will either strengthen or undermine our ability to attract and retain quality employees to execute this strategy.

Burlington is now on its fourth City Manager in as many years. The city now has a decidedly different city council that doesn’t subscribe to the approach taken by the Goldring councils.

The retention of employees and what we pay the employees working at city hall is an issue that needs attention.

The purpose of the report Boyd put before council was to review ”those attributes which make up a healthy workplace culture; identify risks to our own culture; and map out the steps required to move forward.”

The corporate culture is an issue. In her report Boyd described culture as:

• The critical organizational element that will attract talent, drive engagement, impact satisfaction and affect performance
• The personality of the business;
• The City’s employment brand;
• The sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviour and attitudes;

“Simply put – culture is the difference between having a performance driven, highly engaged organization which executes ongoing strategy and an organization where goals are set, targets are generally met, and staff are performing satisfactorily overall.”

Is Burlington meeting the standard? Not if the number of people who have quit is any indicator.

The following seven attributes define those areas that influence a workplace culture.

Boyd - HR graphic 1

The seven attributes define those areas that influence a workplace culture.

The following data was provided to Council to assess current workforce strengths and risks with regards to the ability to deliver Council’s priorities.

In 2016 the City conducted its first Culture Survey. While the results are now three years old, the following were the high and low scores at that moment in time:

High scores:
• Planning the work is ongoing and involves everyone in the process to some degree;
• There is an ethical code of conduct that guides our behaviour and tells us right from wrong;
• Teamwork is used to get work done, rather than relying on orders from management
• There is continuous investment in the skills of employees
• Public input directly influences our decisions.

Low scores:
• Leadership has clearly communicated objectives we are trying to accomplish;
• There is a clear and consistent management style, so employees know what to expect;
• There is a clear and consistent culture;
• We continuously track our progress against our stated goals;
• Our people are viewed as an important source of our competitive advantage.

“When the results were further analyzed, it became apparent that communication within the organization diminishes between hierarchical levels.

Specifically, between the Burlington Leadership Team and the Supervisors/Manager level and then between the Supervisors/Managers level and their direct reports.”

If that is Burlington’s situation – no wonder there is trouble in paradise.

In response to the 2016 survey four employee teams were set up to identify and execute projects/programs to improve our results. Specifically, the teams organized themselves around the following themes and have been developing and implementing programs to address our survey results and improve our culture:

• Innovation
• Staff Investment
• Organization Values
• Communication

“Turnover is a simple retention measure.”  Would that it were so and that simple.

Boyd’s report said: Over the past decade voluntary turnover at city hall has remained consistent between 4.2% to 5.7%. Voluntary turnover includes those staff who have quit or retired to date.

From the results below, Boyd reports that “we are trending to a much higher voluntary turnover in 2019 – closer to 10%.

Boyd HR retention quits 1

Boyd makes the critical point: “It is important to know why we are experiencing higher turnover. When voluntary turnover for the past two and a half years was reviewed, compensation came out clearly as the most significant factor.”

Number of quits mentioning compensation as a reason for leaving % of total employee quits

Boyd HR retention 2

Examples of other reasons provided for employees leaving varied and include promotions, job closer to home, position not the right fit and supervision to name a few.

Burlington has found that there are position difficult to fill.

A review was completed of the positions which were advertised externally in the marketplace from the perspective of how difficult it was to fill these roles.

Boyd HR diff to fill

Difficult to fill positions can occur for several reasons including compensation, not attracting qualified candidates, and being turned down by first candidates and having to offer to second or third choices.

As an example Boyd pointed to the Legal Department, the position of Solicitor was advertised, our offer was turned down, even after considerable negotiation, and we have now employed an outside agency to assist in sourcing appropriate candidates.

A forecasting report has been obtained from OMERS to assist the city in identifying who can retire with an unreduced pension up to 2023. Currently there are 185 employees who can retire with an unreduced pension by 2023. This represents 20% of the city’s full-time workforce.

Of the 185 people who can retire,  36% are people leaders while 64% are individual contributors.

This comes close to gutting the leadership level which some people feel is the best thing that can happen to the city.

Following is a yearly breakdown of the retirement outlook:

Boyd HR quits and retire

“A non-union compensation analysis was conducted by Mercer – the results were made Confidential.

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

“The City’s current Council approved market position is the 65th percentile however our recently surveyed actual job rates are now aligned with the 50th percentile.

“To realign with the 65th percentile, job rates will have to be increased by approximately 3% to 8%.”

By rates Boyd mean salary rates and while the percentage may seem small it will have a huge impact on the budget.  And that 8% will drift up to 10% – maybe more.

“Our market competitiveness varies across the salary grades and this is likely an indication of challenges with our job evaluation system, which was developed in the 1980’s, not being reflective of current workplace requirements and expectations.

There are processes and programs in the works.  Boyd reports that the ‘Following are examples of projects and initiatives that are either in process or that have been implemented which positively impact our culture:

Corporate Culture Area Examples of Completed and In-Progress Culture Activities
Leadership • Mohawk Future Ready Leadership Program.
• DeGroote Leadership Development Program
• Launch of Succession Management Program
• Review of the role and the function of BLT
• Introduction of Leadership Competencies

Management • Introduction of Mobile Workforce guidelines
• Discontinuation of performance appraisal form and the introduction of Coaching and People Leader Training for the setting and management of performance expectations

Workplace Practices • Introduction of BRAVOS Awards
• Realignment of Performance Excellence Program and Service Awards
• Development and launch of Organization Values.
• Restating the Dress Code policy to the more flexible “Dress for Your Day” guidelines.
• Staff BBQ and holiday gathering

City of Burlington Clerk's department did a great job last year during the United Way campaign drive. Interesting to see what they do this year. Burlington campaign has a $2 million target

There was a time when staff at city hall had some fun. This photograph is the crew from the Clerk’s department taking part in a United Way fundraising effort.

Communication

• The development and communication of Council’s four-year work plan identifying action, projects and initiatives with measurements.

The report concludes with the following:

“The City of Burlington has been and will continue to be a great employer however, we are exposed to considerable human resource risks.”

It is self-serving statements like the above that frighten people. The truth is there are some very serious issues that need immediate attention. Boyd is correct when she says:

“To deliver council’s work plan and to build upon our employment brand, we need to put a conscious effort into strengthening our workplace culture. We are experiencing workforce pressures not previously felt, pressures which will require targeted action to be able to retain engaged and skilled staff and to compete in the marketplace for qualified staff.

“We need to deliver on Council’s priorities through strategic focus and execution. Our Enterprise Risk Registry has identified our workforce as the number one risk facing this organization and the data outlined above supports this position on the registry.

“We are now starting to feel significant attraction and retention pressures which will impact our culture and therefore our ability and internal capacity to deliver the work plan. To address these pressures the following next steps have been identified:

Commisso stare

City manager Tim Commisso has his hands full keeping council out of the reserve fund cookie jar; developing a culture that is real and will hold

“Priorities and accountability for delivery of Council’s work plan have been clearly identified and assigned to members of BLT. A review of the corporate structure, one which will assist the City Manager to strategically transition the organization into a more flexible twenty-first century organization, will occur over the next few months.

“In addition, the City Manager, in keeping with the direction approved by Council during the 2019 budget, is completing the realignment of the City Manager’s Office to address the overall strategic management capability of the organization. The goal of this review is to ensure our structure is aligned to retain highly skilled staff and to attract new talent entering the workforce. In support of this goal, a review of the role of the Burlington Leadership Team is also underway.”

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.

A BBQ for staff – the sale of the burgers was part of a United Way fundraising effort.

A second culture survey will be done in the Fall of 2019. A comparison of 2016 to 2019 results will assist us in determining where there are further gaps so that we can target additional efforts in those areas.

There is to be a Diversity and Inclusivity strategy and implementation plan for execution over Council’s term.

“Expanding the recruitment channels, ensuring the culture within the workplace is open, welcoming to all and is reflective of our community will strengthen the City as an employer now and well into the future.”

The problems with hiring is that the municipal world has a culture and a set of conditions that are hugely different from the private sector. Municipalities end up stealing each other’s staff.

Boyd adds that “ this report has provided some information about the city’s current competitiveness to the marketplace, a follow-up report with detailed compensation system recommendations and potential cost impacts will be brought to Council in the early fall. The following items will need to be considered and approved by council in this follow-up report:

• The City’s competitive market position;
• Appropriate municipal comparators; and
• Development and implementation of a new job evaluation system.

In the meantime, the leadership team will be considering where temporary market premiums are required to retain highly skilled or at-risk employees and implementing these premiums as appropriate.

Boyd concludes that: “It is important to appropriately align the City’s resources, both budgets and staff, to ensure the successful execution of Council’s work plan. This report outlines the human resource and workforce pressures we are currently experiencing which puts at risk our ability to successfully implement Council’s work plan.

Put colloquially – Burlington isn’t able to put a solid team on the field – and we are all paying the price for past in-actions.

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Road Closure: Locust Street, between Elgin Street and City Hall, July 19 and 22

notices100x100By Staff

July 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

CITY HALL Cobalt

Doors on this side of city hall will be open.

Locust Street, between Elgin Street and the entrance to City Hall, will be closed on Friday, July 19 and Monday July 22, 2019 for crane activity.

The closure will be in place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Local traffic will be detoured along Elgin Street and Ontario Street and access to the City Hall Locust Street entrance will be maintained from Ontario Street.

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Burlington chiropractor will be running the New York City Marathon in November; one of 52,000 people taking part.

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How do you start a marathon when there are 52,000 people competing?

That was the question we asked Ashley Worobec, a sports chiropractor who practices in Burlington and has been accepted as a competitor for the New York City Marathon which is a 42km run that winds its way through all five New York City boroughs starting on Staten Island.

nyc-marathon

42 km marathon that will cover all five New York City Burroughs – with 52,000 runners.

 

Ashley Worobec - hair flying H&S

Ashley Worobec, sports chiropracter

Ashley was a participant in the Torch run during the 2015 Pan American games and has run the Boston Marathon.

She expects that her time in the New York Marathon will be in the 31/2 hour range.

The marathon selection is usually a lottery draw – she qualified at a half marathon run in Mississauga where her time was verified.

Why is she doing this? Not sure was the first part of her answer – to which she added that the challenge was a bog and given that she had not run a marathon since 2007 – two children will do that, she decided she was ready to get back into the game.

With her son now 10 and her daughter 7 – Ashley feels she can get away and do something her kids will understand.

The Gazette has decided to follow the 16 week prep time to the run which takes place November 3rd and then to cover the event as live as we can.

Each week we will be doing a piece on where she is in the prep event.

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Museums of Burlington get new Director: Kimberly Anne Watson takes the reigns September 9th.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Museums Board announces the upcoming retirement of Museums Director, Barbara Teatero.

Barbara Teatero began her career with the Museums of Burlington over 35 years ago as the Business Manager at Joseph Brant Museum.

Barb Teatero JBMF

Barbara Teatero before city council explaining what she needs to operate the museums once the Joseph Brant site is ready for the public.

For more than 20 years, Barbara has held the position of Director of Museums overseeing Joseph Brant Museum and Ireland House at Oakridge Farm.

Teatero withher husband

Barbara Teatero with her husband during the ground breaking ceremony for a transformed Joseph Brant Museum.

Barbara was responsible for amalgamating Burlington’s two museums under the authority of the Burlington Museums Board. She has been instrumental in guiding the Museums programs and events to unprecedented levels of participation. Her signature accomplishment has been the realization of a 25 year vision, which culminated in the renovation and expansion of Joseph Brant Museum, which will open in September. Barbara will begin her retirement in early September.

Kimberly Anne Watson will take up the role of Director of Museums effective September 9, 2019.

Ms. Watson joined the Museums of Burlington in 2015 as Curator, bringing with her various experiences in the cultural heritage field ranging from large national institutions such as the National Museum of Science and Technology, to small municipally run community museums.

Kimberly Anne Watson Museum of Burlington

Kimberly Anne Watson

Prior to taking up her post with the Museums of Burlington, Kimberly was the Curator/Manager of The Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum located in Vaughan, Ontario.

For the last several years, Kimberly has been very involved with the transformation of Joseph Brant Museum and has worked tirelessly to ensure that the ‘new’ Joseph Brant Museum will be everything it can be, while at the same ensuring the ongoing care of Ireland House Museum and its collection.

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Weather reports are not what they used to be - the climate has certainly changed.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The heavy rains that we are experiencing, sometime in just pockets of the Region, create serious flood potential.

The old approach to weather is a thing of the past – all the weather people can do is issue notices and monitor what is taking place tightly and keep the first responders a phone call away.

Flood watch graphicThe latest information provided by the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) indicates that Lake Ontario reached a mean daily water level of 75.80 m on July 14th, declining just under 1cm per day during the preceding week.

The latest water level is 12 cm below this year’s peak level (recorded on June 15th), but remains 78 cm above average and continues to be a record level for this time of year. Record high outflows (equivalent to the peak releases during June to August of 2017) continue to be released to lower the lake level and provide some relief to shoreline stakeholders, while also considering the effects of higher flows on interests in the St. Lawrence River.

Lake Ontario levels are expected to continue to slowly decline in the coming days, with the resumption of drier conditions combined with the continuation of record-high outflows. Notwithstanding, water levels will remain elevated for the next several weeks and well into the summer months as record inflows from Lake Erie are expected to continue.

All shoreline areas should be considered dangerous during this time. Localized flooding combined with the potential for waves to overtop break walls and other shoreline structures continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Conservation Halton is asking all residents to exercise caution around Lake Ontario shoreline areas and to alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

This Flood Watch – Lake Ontario Shoreline message will remain in effect until July 31st. Conservation Halton will continue to monitor Lake Ontario wind conditions and lake levels closely and will either terminate this message or issue further updates as necessary.

The Conservation Authority has a Flood Duty Officer whose job it is to keep a close eye on what is taking place and ensure that the people who take care of us are in the loop.
Forecasts: https://ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/forecasts

 

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Mayor's office staffing hits a bump - one of the three moves on to greener grass.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 18th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Put the best spin possible on the situation and bull on through it is about all you can do.

Six months into her term of office and the Mayor loses one of her staff or as the Mayor put it in her announcement:

“There’s been some recent changes in the Mayor’s Office — I’m looking for an Executive Administrator to help fill an opening on my team of three staffers.

“My former assistant Annemarie Cumber has taken an opportunity for career advancement and a secondment to assist with large corporate projects, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Enterprise Asset Management Solution (EAMS), at the City of Burlington. We wish her the best of luck and success in her new role.

“I have asked my former assistant from my time as a councillor, Georgie Gartside, to help us out in the Mayor’s Office during this transition phase. We are very grateful for her assistance — she is a true asset and great addition to the Mayor’s team. I also want to thank the Councillors’ Assistants team who are working together to provide coverage in the councillors’ offices during this time.

In addition, we’re very grateful for the time and dedication high school co-op student Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick has been lending us this month. Kaitlyn is assisting my office until Aug. 2 and has been doing very well in the time she’s spent with us already. I thank my office staff and City of Burlington staff for making her feel welcome and a part of our team.

Mayor-Office_Interior-768x576

The Office of the Mayor – she got to choose the colours.

“The Mayors Office Executive Administrator position is posted online on the City of Burlington’s website and is a contract position from September 2019-November 2022 — the posting closing date is July 30, 2019. Please click the links for more details.

“Reporting directly to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff the Mayor’s Executive Administrator will provide administrative, communications, logistics and constituent relations support to the Office of the Mayor. By managing the Mayor’s schedule, overseeing incoming communications and requests, providing event support, and liaising with constituents, internal staff and external partners, this role is essential in contributing to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the Mayor.

“We’re looking for someone who thrives in challenging environments and can juggle many balls at the same time. You are comfortable interacting with people and don’t mind being out in the public eye. You are empathetic, diplomatic, a great problem-solver and can work independently and confidently, while making sound judgement calls on a host of matters.”

There has been an interesting upgrade to the titles that are used in the office of the Mayor. The last time we talked to Victoria Al-Samadi she was Mayor’s Chief of Communications & Strategic Advisor; now she is referred to as the Chief of Staff .

Also, what’s with the secondment?  Our understanding of the term is; “The term secondment describes where an employee or a group of employees is assigned on a temporary basis to work for another, ‘host’ organization, or a different part of their employer’s organization. On expiry of the secondment term, the employee (the ‘secondee’) will ‘return’ to their original employer.”

The job opening is posted on the city’s web site

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Very well done - convincing - but a scam nevertheless. The rule: If in doubt - don't

Crime 100By Staff

July 16, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This scam is good – they’ve done a good job of looking legit – they aren’t.

Simmons scam graphic

It is scams like this that caught a Burlington city staffer off guard – it happens.

Dear Client,
Please press the ‘Review Document’ button to review your Service Agreement and complete the e-signature process.

Upon completion you will automatically receive an email with an attached signed copy of this Service Agreement.

Regards
Simmons Canada Inc

Do Not Share This Email
This email contains a secure link to DocuSign. Please do not share this email, link, or access code with others.
About DocuSign

Sign documents electronically in just minutes. It’s safe, secure, and legally binding. Whether you’re in an office, at home, on-the-go — or even across the globe — DocuSign provides a professional trusted solution for Digital Transaction Management™.

This message was sent to you by Simmons Canada Inc who is using the DocuSign Electronic Signature Service. If you would rather not receive email from this sender you may contact the sender with your request.

This email was sent by: Simmons (Mouldings) Ltd
661 University Ave, Toronto, ON, M5G 1L7 Canada

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Parking lot on Locust to be closed for a couple of days.

notices100x100By Staff

July 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

Lot 8 on Locust Street is closest to city hall. It serves people who meet at the Upper Canada location where Regus has been located for years.

Locust Street parking lot to be closed while paving is done.

 

Temporary Closure of Locust Street Parking Lot, between Caroline Street and Ontario Street, starting July 16.

The municipal parking lot on Locust Street in downtown Burlington (Lot 7), will be closed for paving beginning Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

The parking lot is expected to re-open by Friday, July 19.

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Local start up gets acquired by Royal Bank .

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tech place logoThe dream, at least a part of it, came true for HalTech and Tech Place, when RBC announced the acquisition of WayPay, a cloud-based payments fintech from Burlington, Ontario that offers business clients a best-in-class solution for accounts payable automation and payment optimization.

By seamlessly connecting to leading accounting platforms, WayPay specializes in helping companies reduce their payables pain points by improving the reconciliation and approvals process, creating significant time and cost savings.

In a statement RBC said: “This acquisition enables us to expand our portfolio of digitally-enabled capabilities and advice for our business clients and further strengthens RBC’s position as a digital leader in the market,” says Greg Grice, Executive Vice-President of Business Financial Services at RBC.

“By integrating WayPay’s innovative payment solution, we’re able to provide clients with a secure, simple and automated payables and payments solution as part of RBC’s comprehensive suite of business offerings to help them manage and grow their business with greater ease and efficiency.”

Way Pay logo“Many businesses are already planning the transition from paper cheques as manual reconciliation is a time-sensitive process prone to errors. The acquisition of WayPay will add new capabilities for RBC to bring all payment types together onto one platform, providing clients with a more comprehensive view of their accounts while facilitating the shift from manual, paper-based processes to digital payments.

“WayPay was built to allow businesses to automate their payables process regardless of their accounting software and how many, what type, or where in the world they wish to send a payment. We are helping businesses spend less time approving and reconciling their payables and providing greater visibility so they can focus on building and growing their business,” says Robert Bast, Co-Founder at WayPay. “We are thrilled to join the RBC team where we see incredible synergies which will create even more value and ensure many more business owners benefit from the power of automated reconciliation and digital payments.”

Annita Cassidy Hoey retirementAnita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director at Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is thrilled with the announcement. “Since its launch in 2014, WayPay has been an innovation ecosystem leader in Burlington,” she said. “Our team has had the opportunity to get to know the leadership team at WayPay and witness firsthand their dedication and enthusiasm for what they do. We are incredibly excited for them because being acquired by a larger company is an incredible achievement for a start-up. WayPay was founded with the goal to scale, and so being acquired by RBC demonstrates the value in their technology.”

WayPay will continue to be an agnostic solution which means users can benefit even if they wish to use products from other financial institutions on the platform. Learn more at www.waypay.ca.

Burlington’s approach to economic development has been, in part, to focus on the small, start up tech sector which was the rationale for the creation of Tech Place located on the North Service Road and dedicated to the start up tech community.

That approach is being reviewed by the city.  Mayor Marianne Meed Ward heard Rob Burton Mayor of Oakville tell an audience that Oakville lost interest in shelling out tonnes of cash but not having the deciding vote on the direction taken by the economic development people.

That didn’t hurt the interest the Mayor has in bringing that work in house – after a thorough review is done.

What added to the discomfort within city hall was the news that Tech Place is a high rent rate over the six year period they are in the space.  They got a year of free rent to get them into the space they occupy on the North Service Road.

Expect to see some changes in the way economic development is handled in the city once everyone is back from summer vacation.

 

 

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Burlington's 2018-2022 Plan: From Vision to Focus prioritizes key strategic directions for City

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The 2018-2022 Plan: From Vision to Focus is the City’s work plan that prioritizes key strategic direction from Burlington’s long-term 25-year Strategic Plan. From Vision to Focus details key goals and actions required to move priorities forward during this term of Council and was approved at Council last night.

News anal REDIn the media release the city sent out there is very little in terms of detail. The Gazette put together a lengthy piece setting out what the city wanted to get done in each of the five focus areas. That article can be accessed HERE.

City staff did a lot of work leading to the completion of the document that now takes on a life of its own. Council members were given the opportunity to talk at length on what they saw as the vision for the city; those conversations were one-on-one which was important.

There was a series of joint workshops with the 2018-2022 Burlington Council and the Burlington Leadership Team to reconfirm the specific focus areas and define goals and actions required to execute on the plan.

Burlington’s relationship with Strategic Plans in the past was disappointing. The Gazette got to look at documents that were decades old that were not much more than a collection of photographs accompanying clichés and bromides.

StPlan flip charts

The ideas were all over the map – it was the first time there was a deep dive Strategic Review exercise for the city in more than two decades.

The 2010 Strategic Plan was a serious effort to pull staff and council together on a vision – it didn’t work out quite that way. When it came to using little coloured dots to indicate choices and preferences it became painfully clear that staff and council were not only not on the same page – they weren’t in the same room.

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera faces off with Councillor Meed Ward at a Strategic Planning session. Each ciouncillor was new to municipal politics and each brought different personalities and styles to the job. They both add to the colour and flavour of Council

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera faces off with Councillor Meed Ward at a Strategic Planning session in 2011 They work together more easily two elections later.

The 2014 Strategic Plan was better but the leadership on Council just wasn’t there to ensure that the views of the elected were heard and made front and center.

Strategic-Plan-Workbook-400x330

We started here …

Strat-Plan-logo-25-years-1-768x488

… grew into a 25 year plan.

That changed when the Strategic Plan was made into a 25 year document rather than a four year term of council document. It was a huge step forward. There however does not appear to be any record of a debate on doing from four years to 25 years – it just got done.

The Strategic Plan has four pillars that were turned into focus areas for the V2V document – with a 5th added.

City resources will be aligned to ensure progress is made in the 5 identified focus areas:

• Focus Area 1 – Increasing Economic Prosperity and Community Responsive Growth Management (updated based on Council approval on July 15, 2019)

• Focus Area 2 – Improving Integrated City Mobility

• Focus Area 3 – Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure and a Resilient Environment

• Focus Area 4 – Building More Citizen Engagement, Community Health and Culture

• Focus Area 5 – Delivering Customer Centric Services with a Focus on Efficiency and Technology Transformation

V2F focus areas

The vision and a summary of the goals that will get us there.

“This plan is a living document. Other updates to this document are in progress and an updated version will be available September 2019. Of note, some initiatives identified in this plan may go beyond the 4-year term and will be carried over into future years for continued implementation.

“The 2018 to 2022 Plan: From Vision to Focus will be monitored and reported to Burlington Council on a regular basis and progress evaluated and reviewed. (It wasn’t clear during debates if the review was to be every six months or just once a year – what was very clear is that this initiative is in the hands of council and not something the planners get to keep to themselves. It is perhaps the most ‘political’ document this council has produced.)

“There may be changes along the way, such as: global, regional, and city circumstances changing, events occurring, and other levels of government influencing further updates to the plan document.”

V2F reflects what Council wants in a way that Grow Bold did not; if Council takes the document seriously it should serve the residents well going forward.

Some members of the current Council struggled with the level of detail. Others had interests that took them in a different direction. Others still had different ideas on what a council member is really supposed to do.

Mayor Marianne Meed-Wards said: “This work plan lays out what we want to focus on as a City and Council in the next four years to get us to where we want to be by 2040 (our vision).

This is a living document that will be re-calibrated year over year — we want to get the wheels in motion to make it easy to fulfill the matters that are top of mind among our residents: the tree canopy, green space, and growth and development.

“I believe there is an appetite for visionary aspirations among staff at the City of Burlington, and I can tell you the community is already there — they are ready for this. I’m proud of this plan and want to thank and congratulate staff on all the great work they have put together in it.”

V2F timeline

There is a road map with time frames.

Mary Lou TannerMary Lou Tanner, Deputy City Manager, the woman who gave the city the Grow Bold concept said: “The commitment from the Burlington Leadership Team and Burlington Council to work towards common objectives in partnership with our community is at the root of this important four-year plan.

“The City has clear focus areas and key actions we need to achieve”; that point is now at least clear.

“Our capable staff continue to work hard to move our strategic priorities forward so that our city sees the benefits and residents feel the positive impacts to their quality of life. Staff is committed to letting Council and our community know how this work is progressing and how we have moved the needle for Burlington. ”

Staff at this point is to a considerable degree a beleaguered bunch of people. The turnover rate is high – good people are seeking greener pastures – for good reasons.

During one of the presentation last week given by Director of Human Resources pointed out that Burlington is at the 50th percentile when its pay rates are compared with their peer groups.

Burlington is not paying people terribly well – the benefits are good – but the salaries are not attracting the best and the brightest.

The Escarpment and the lake are great attractions but the cost of housing means many of the younger people who are in that 50th percentile cannot afford to live in the city – and have to spend an hour or more getting to their jobs. The only upside is that parking is free.

Burlington is looking at ways to get to the point where staff are at the 65th percentile – something that is not going to go over all that well with the voters.

Background links
burlington.ca/vision2focus

Related new story:

V2F – in depth.

 

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Public school board association drafts some HDSB talent into their ranks - smart move.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

July 15th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At its Annual General Meeting on July 5, 2019, the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) selected its Executive Council/leadership team and members of Work Teams for the 2019-20 school year. Trustees of the Halton District School Board were selected for four of these positions.

OPSBA represents public school boards across Ontario and advocates on behalf of the best interests and needs of the public school system in Ontario. OPSBA is seen as the credible voice of public education in Ontario and is routinely called on by the provincial government for input and advice on legislation and the impact of government policy directions.

danielli-trustee

Donna Danielli – trustee representing Milton.

Donna Danielli, HDSB Trustee for Milton – Wards 1 & 2, will serve as Regional Chair for the Central West Region on OPSBA’s Executive Council/leadership team for the 2019-20 school year.

Members of OPSBA’s two core Work Teams help advance the Association’s priorities and provide recommendations to the Board of Directors/Executive Council on issues related to education program reform, children’s services and social policy.

Amy Collard 1

Amy Collard – Burlington school board trustee.

On the Education Program Work Team, Amy Collard, HDSB Trustee for Burlington – Ward 5 was selected as a member for the Central West Region. Joanna Oliver, HDSB Trustee for Oakville – Ward 4 was selected as an alternate for this committee.

Jeanne Gray, HDSB Trustee for Halton Hills, was selected for the Policy Development Work Team, which provides recommendations to the Board of Directors/Executive Council on issues related to the analysis of legislation and the development of OPSBA policy in areas affecting education finance and governance.

“It is great to see strong support for HDSB trustees in the provincial organization for initiatives to support all students in Ontario,” says Andréa Grebenc, Chair of the Halton District School Board. “As these positions are voluntary and beyond the duties outlined in the trustee role, it demonstrates the deep commitment to student achievement and well-being.”

Donna Danielli brings significant depth at both the Board and classroom issues level.  They are lucky to have her.  Amy Collard is one of the most direct to the point school board trustees we have seen in more than four decades of covering school boards in Ontario.  This woman is being wasted at the trustee level.

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Joey Edwardh, CDH Executive Director to retire in October.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 15th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Edwardh-Joey

Joey Edwardh, the Executive Director of Community Development

Joey Edwardh, the Executive Director of Community Development Halton advised the board last week that she planned to retire in October.

The Board accepted the retirement notice and wishes Joey well as she moves into this next phase of her life.

The CDH Board has just completed an exhaustive vision statement process and is now working on a business plan that will deliver on the vision.

The CDH Board Executive Committee will begin the process of hiring a new Executive Director once the business plan is in place

The CDH is also in discussions with another Ontario, Halton based NGO to share administrative services.

CDH logoCommunity Development Halton is a leader in social planning activities in the Region and has, in the past produced research on social trends, needs and issues relevant to a variety of constituencies in their communities. They have undertaken independent research and publish on a regular basis

Community Lens and in depth look at social trends, needs and issues relevant to a variety of constituencies in their communities. The most recent of which was data on the opioid crisis.

CDH supports the communities of Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills and is funded by the United Way and the Region of Halton.

They offer a number of programs that help the NGO sector improve their service delivery and improve their administrative capacities.

Community Lens, a regular series of reports on issues vital to the communities they serve; the most recent of which was data on the opioid crisis.

CDH organizes a service that connects people who want to volunteer with organizations that need volunteers. They supports nonprofit agencies with training, consulting, and the promotion of volunteerism.

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Rivers: Premiers write Prime Minister 'impertinent' letters.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 14th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

Canada is a federation of provinces but the provincial premiers do not elect the federal government – the people of Canada do. So it was, at best, inappropriate and, at worst, an outrage that Canada’s sub-national leaders concluded their most recent Council of the Federation (COF) meeting in school-child fashion, by writing letters to the country’s federal political leaders.

Provincial flagsThese impertinent letters each contain eight questions covering: economic competitiveness; skills training; immigration; healthcare; climate change; the Arctic; indigenous reconciliation; and federalism. Interestingly Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party didn’t get a letter. Was that an oversight or because a vote for Bernier would end up as a vote for the centre-left parties?

When Mr. Trudeau came into office the majority of the provincial/territorial leaders were progressives and all but one supported carbon pricing. Only four years later B.C., Quebec and a couple east coast provinces are all that are left in that category. And so this COF had the distinct aura of a conspiracy by the right-of-centre provincial leaders to get rid of Trudeau, the interventionist PM.

Moe Sask

Premier Moe of Saskatchewan.

There was the eternal musing about reducing restrictions on interprovincial trade. Then, as expected, COF host, Premier Moe of Saskatchewan, found his nerve and addressed the elephant in the room. He wanted Quebec to sign onto Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenny’s dream of a transnational oil highway. But Quebec’s François Legault wasn’t going to be goaded into allowing an oil pipeline through his province.

And even Kenny’s argument that Quebec’s equalization payments come from Alberta’s oil revenues, failed to move him. Unlike Kenny and Moe, Legault understands that there is no long term future for oil, and consequently no social acceptability, as he put it, for an environmentally risky pipeline. After all Quebec is currently Canada’s leading jurisdiction when it comes to the environment.

Legault PQ

Quebec Premier François Legault

Manitoba’s Brian Pallister challenged Quebec on its cultural symbols legislation. But again it was a waste of time. Quebecers are committed to a culturally neutral public service – so leave your religion at the door if you want to work for the people in that province. Given earlier discussions of the constitutional division of powers and provincial rights, this was, at best, an inappropriate intrusion into another province’s social policy.

There were reports that the premiers ended on a note of unity. But that was hardly the tone Jason Kenny echoed as he went on at length to, once again, threaten secession. “The level of frustration and alienation that exists in Alberta right now towards Ottawa and the federation is, I believe, at its highest level, certainly in our country’s modern history.”

Seriously? Where does he think landlocked Alberta would go? Does Kenny really believe that Alberta would be able to move its bitumen any easier through B.C. if it were a separate country? He really doesn’t get it. In any case Trans Mountain is almost certainly the last interprovincial oil pipeline to be built in Canada regardless which political party holds power after October. He should be thankful.

The western premiers had already pretty much exhausted their discussion on the evils of the federally imposed carbon tax. But with two courts deciding in favour of the federal government, and the Supreme Court likely to go the same way, it will take an election of Mr. Scheer or Mr. Bernier to get rid of this regulatory instrument. Besides not all provinces disagree with carbon pricing so the issue didn’t get the profile some premiers would have liked.

But Quebec is on-side with the Tory ideological struggle against the federal carbon tax. Quebec is exempted from the federal carbon tax, given its California-linked cap-and-trade program, exactly as Ontario had been before the Ford government killed it. So Legault’s position is parochial – solely about minimizing the potential role of the federal government and its policies in Quebec. And in that Quebec has become an odd bedfellow to its Tory-led provincial counterparts.

Quebec based Bombardier’s impending layoff of over 500 workers in Thunder Bay provoked calls for the federal government to get the US government to drop its Buy American policy on federal contracts and grant funding. Seriously? Good luck with that in Trump’s America. And it’s not like Canada doesn’t have its own domestic content rules in areas like media broadcasting (Can Com).

The Ford government is on the defensive over Bombardier. There might have been additional orders for rail cars if only the province had got its act together and got its paperwork for federal co-funding together. Of course Bombardier has developed an unfortunate reputation when it comes to management and government handouts. So who knows? Perhaps the company is just playing politics…or even economic blackmail.

Nen in white hats

Jeans, white Stetsons and cowboy boots were the rig of the day for some of the Premiers.

Climate change is one of the questions the premiers asked in their letters to the federal party leaders. And this one was a trick question because the answer is found in the preamble. “Provinces and territories are implementing climate action policies that make sense in regard to their distinct needs and priorities.” In other words don’t impose anything like a carbon tax on Canadians in our province or territory.

But mind-your-own-business is not going to cut it. Canada is on the hook to meet its Paris global commitment and, if Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta are examples, leaving it to the provinces will only result in failure. Pretty much the way this latest Council of the Federation ended.

 

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:

Politics, premiers, pipelines and religious symbols

Kenney tells premiers’ meeting national unity still threatened

 

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Globe & Mail: The secret to lower housing prices? It’s all in the zoning

opinionred 100x100

 

July 13th, 2019
BURLINGTON, ON

 

 

Globe and Mail editorial has a viewpoint on both the character and built form of a community that sheds some light on what Burlington faces. Several words have been set in bold by the Gazette.

g&m LOGOThe defining feature of North American cities is the single-family detached home. It is the least efficient way to house people, yet municipal zoning laws have historically served to ensure its primacy.

It’s time for change – and urgently so. The cost of housing in Vancouver and Toronto is stratospheric, and even in more affordable cities like Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, it is way more expensive than a generation ago.

Expensive housing hinders economic growth. Cities are the engines of the economy but are increasingly inaccessible, and the financial challenge of moving to Canada’s biggest cities, to study or to pursue a career, is daunting.

The high cost of housing also leaves a generation of young Canadians facing the prospect of a lifetime of renting, never able to build equity, or shouldering a worrisome amount of mortgage debt that will take decades to pay off.

There are many factors at play – British Columbia has done much to address the issue of foreign speculators – but the core problem is the allocation of land. Our zoning is forcing cities to expand endlessly outward, by preventing them from building up.

Alton Village is not a cheap place to live - it is also sassy and brassy - these people worked hard to be able to live in this community and they are going to make the city a different place.

Alton Village

The bulk of municipal land zoned for housing – at least two-thirds of it in many cities – is reserved for detached homes, while multiunit housing is restricted to small designated areas, generally in the city core but often far beyond or on abandoned industrial lands. That leaves the supply of housing artificially limited, particularly in areas near transit lines and city centres.

Meanwhile, owners of detached homes, who have the ear of elected officials, argue the so-called character of their neighbourhoods must not be disturbed. The long-standing status quo serves them well, effectively enriching them through government policy.

But the argument about character is a smokescreen. Where there is a neighbourhood of single-family homes, there was once a forest or a field. No one mourns the lost character of what had been there before. Character is wielded as a weapon against change. As Globe and Mail architecture critic Alex Bozikovic put it in June, “’Character’ means exclusion.”

There is an answer. It’s called the missing middle: small-scale, multiunit housing, from duplexes and triplexes to mid-rise apartment buildings. The missing middle is not a fix-all, but it is an essential step forward.

Minneapolis is a beacon of possible change. Last December, city council passed a plan that ended the dominion of single-family zoning. It is regarded as the first of its kind in the United States, but it’s hardly radical. Where a single house was previously permitted, a building with three units, a triplex, is now allowed. The rallying cry has been “Neighbors for More Neighbors.”

Oregon was the next to move. State legislators in late June passed a bill that will remake single-family zoning to allow fourplexes in cities of more than 25,000 people, and throughout the Portland region.

In Canada, the prospect of change is depressingly dim. In the City of Vancouver, a one-year trial allows applications for duplexes in single-detached zones. This is in a region where the typical house costs $1.4-million and median annual household income is $73,000. Meanwhile, city council is ponderously debating whether to get work started on a new citywide plan that will take three years to complete.

This is the opposite of urgency.

In Toronto, the story isn’t much better. The province in June approved new rules for downtown and midtown Toronto, after reworking plans the city had submitted, but the geographic reach of change is limited. There is no serious talk of rezoning what’s dubbed the “yellow belt” – the 70 per cent of available land limited to single-family homes.

The moves in Minneapolis and Oregon are interesting, but modest compared with what is needed in Vancouver and Toronto. Small apartment buildings – of three, four or five storeys – would go a long way. Then there are important questions about low-income housing and rental housing. And there’s the issue of how cities should benefit from increases in land values sparked by zoning changes.

But first we need some political will. There are 10 million Canadians between the ages of 20 to 40, the time of life when people make a first foray into home ownership. Canada’s zoning rules are antiquated. They should be rewritten to serve the present, not the past.

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Council adjourns after four days of hard work that produces major recommendations - public might like some time to review them before making it all final.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 12th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

At a few minutes before 4:00 pm yesterday afternoon Council adjourned and will meet again on the 15th to approve (or not approve) all the reports that were debated.

It has been a mammoth session for this crowd.

On Monday they went from 9:30 am to 10 pm
On Tuesday they went from 9:30 am to 10 pm
On Wednesday they went from 12:30 to 10 pm (the forenoon was spent at a Regional Council meeting
On Thursday they convened at 12:30 and adjourned at 4:00 pm

In June Council revised their working schedule and had Standing Committee meetings start at 9:30 am instead of the standard 1:00 pm start.

The work load and the amount of time to read, think about the reports, discuss them with constituents and then stay at a desk for those lengths of time is going above and beyond.

This is a determined bunch of people – Mayor Meed Ward is right in her element – she is just loving it. Others however, are wondering if this is the best way to run a municipal government.

Angelo B

Bentivegna – “Agenda just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna said that the agendas are “getting bigger and bigger and bigger” and keeping up is a challenge for both Bentivegna and several others.

We are seeing some quality work being done and we are also seeing some shifting as to where the decision making is actually being done.

City manager Tim Commisso has adopted a style that has him commenting on a matter rather than leading the discussion.

When council was in the process of determining what they needed in the way of a city manager the Gazette suggested someone with depth and experience who wasn’t necessarily going to be around for ten years or, someone younger who was ready for the kind of challenge Burlington is and could put in the time to rebuild the ranks and develop a different culture.

Commisso – doesn’t say much, tends to lean into his chair and listen. Doesn’t pick up his cell phone that often and rarely speaks at any length. The only time the Gazette saw him fussed at all was when it looked as if council was going to empty all the cookie jars (known as reserve funds) and leave him and the Treasurer to figure out what to do when there was a real crisis.

Commisso stare

The Commisso stare.

Our view of Commisso’ s approach is not intended to suggest he is slack or not paying attention. When he becomes aware that a staffer is not really answering the questions adequately they get what can only be called ‘the Commisso stare’. At one point he chose to lean forward and point to a document to direct the staffer – who we understand might be leaving the position he holds.

Commisso is fully engaged – but he is not immersed the way former city managers tended to behave. He is prudent – he will spend when he has to but he doesn’t reach for the wallet all that quickly.

Too early to tell, but he likes the people he is leading, and make no mistake, Commisso is leading. He serves at the will of council and this council is very happy to have him lead them – certainly at this stage of their political careers.

The round of Standing Committee meetings this council just completed some vitally important recommendations that will go to council Monday evening.

The downside to all this is that there is not much time for the public to be aware of what was done and then time to reflect and discuss with their neighbours what is being recommended.  The agenda itself is five pages long.

This approach is not what one would describe as “fully engaging the public”. Given the recommendations coming forward there is no obvious reason why the council meeting could not have been held on the 22nd or the 29th. We asked the Office of the Mayor for comment – our contact is away until Monday.

Are they that anxious to get started on their vacations? which by the way they deserve, but let’s complete the work and then start the vacations.

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

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