Rivers: Premiers write Prime Minister 'impertinent' letters.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 14th, 2019


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



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


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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Provincial Review delivery date pushed back to after federal election - city talks about a Ford levy line on the tax bill

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2019



Seems like everything is being held up by the federal election expected to take place in October.

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario has been told to dummy up by the federal Conservatives; now we learn that the Provincial Review that was looking into what could be done to “improve efficiencies at the Regional level” will not produce their report until after the federal election.

The big concern for municipalities in Halton Region was that they would be taken out of play and the whole kibosh turned into a city of Halton.

We love logoOakville and Burlington were mighty upset and formed local advocacy groups.

All the changes being made at the provincial level are somehow going to find their way to your tax bill.

City council, in a frivolous mood, came up with some ideas to let the taxpayers know who was causing the financial pain.

Tax bills are produced by the city treasurer and have some room for an extra line or two.

There is currently a line showing people what portion of their tax bill goes to the Hospital levy as well as a line for the Infrastructure levy.

There is still some room for a third line – this council has asked Joan Ford to get back to them on adding a line that might be referred to as the “Ford” levy – pointing to increases that were necessary when the province changed the rules of the game.

Tax bills look like they may becoming pieces of campaign literature.

Will the city have to seek status as a Third Party advertiser?

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Karina Gould will kick off her election campaign on Saturday - all four parties will have candidates in place before the end of the month - what will THE issue be?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2019



Gould - Claite -Kyle - Fed Liberals

Karina Gould, on the right, with some of her 2015 election campaign team.

Karina Gould Campaign Kick Off & Office Opening will take place on Saturday, July 13th at 1pm.

Speeches will start at 1:15pm.

Location: 3485 Fairview Street

There wasn’t much more than that in the media release.

Expect a good turnout -Gould campaigns hard and has a solid team.

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Consulting firm wants shovels in the ground this October - will sit beside the planners to show them how to make that happen.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 11th, 2019



Sharman - bullying meet Feb 5-2018

Paul Sharman – a private sector advocate

In his heart Paul Sharman is a private sector advocate; he is of the belief that the private sector has always been a better producer of results that the public sector.

He chafes at the process many city issues get put through when the direction comes from the bureaucrats.

An opportunity to put forward a private sector approach to a city issue popped up in his ward when Endress + Hauser (EH) Canada Ltd., a world leader in high technology process control systems decided to increase their Burlington operation from 27,000 sq. ft to 46,000 sq. ft, expandable to 55,000 sq. ft. The new building is planned to be state of the art, LEED GOLD level, Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon.


Shovels in the ground in October for an application that will be in front of the planners on Friday – aggressive

The scheduled development goals are ambitious as EH wish to be “in the ground” by October 2019 to install geothermal infrastructure.

“This schedule” may be achievable said Sharman, “ if City processes are adapted to accommodate and process applications within the speed of business.”

In a memo to his colleagues Sharman advised that: “City staff are currently working with a company in Ward 5, Endress + Hauser (EH) Canada Ltd., one of several corporations who have successfully implemented Project Management, Lean Management and integrated process management/value chains and aligned performance measurement.

Several of their staff are Black Belt Six Sigma qualified and members of their senior management team are Green Belt Six Sigma.


It’s the E&H mantra – the planners at city hall will be gobsmacked with this stuff.

It is proposed that the EH application be engaged by the City of Burlington as a prototyping initiative to learn from EH about how to successfully implement leading practice Project Management, Lean Management with integrated process management/value chains and aligned performance measurement.

What this means is that city Council is being asked to let the private sector into the kitchen while city chefs put together a meal.

Sharman loved the idea and said he “wished to put forth the following staff direction:

“Direct the City Manager, Director of City Building and staff to engage with Endress + Hauser on their application to develop land on International Boulevard taking advantage of their Project Management, Lean Management with integrated process management/value chains and aligned performance measurement expertise in order to enhance City Planning and Development Application approval processes and achieve the applicants desired construction timeline.”

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was excited – mention Sigma 6 and green belts and you’ve got her attention.

Commisso stare

City manager Tim Commisso – happy to have a discussion.

The city manager didn’t seem quite as excited as he watched two people from E&H take Council and some staff through a presentation that had more energy than circus performers and more than enough corporate gobbledygook to require a different dictionary. City manager Tim Commisso said he would be happy to have a discussion.

Sharman commented that “you improve processes by actually managing them” and managing the process of what E&H is all about. They are intense, direct and they will be all over the planning staff.

The tag team from E&H were impressive. While one member was talking the other was scanning the faces of the audience to see who was paying close attention and who wasn’t. They were good – and in the corporate world they would be welcomed with open arms.

EH th e two

Tony Varga and his side kick Lisa paying very close attention to what is being said.

City hall is not the corporate world. When the people from E&H start working with people in the City Building department (that’s what they are calling the Planning department these days) the clashing of cultures will be painful.

Tony Varga, the lead presenter for the delegation said that a first step is to identify the “Apostles” in the planning department

E&H is hoping they can get the planners to move with a level of dispatch they need to get shovels in the ground by October of this year – yes this year.

the two a

Lisa and Tony doing their dog and pony show – council doesn’t get to see they kind of energy these two people pumped out very often.

To be fair, E&H was able to get the purchase of the land they are going to build on in close to record time; the BEDC was able to help them get around most of the obstacles.

The Gazette will be watching this one carefully – perhaps a real change in the culture at city hall will be seen, experienced and made permanent.

If that does happen – the young people who work as planners will want to come to Burlington – too many of them have left for what they hoped were greener pastures.

Promise is the word that will carry this one forward. Proof will be in the pudding.

The formal application will be given to the Planning department on Friday.

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First look at the 2020 budget - big changes to the way it will be explained and it looks like the impact will be lower.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 11, 2019



An early look at what the 2020 municipal budget is going to look like had a couple of gulps and let the public see what the city council sense of humour looks like.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Director of Finance Joan Ford told Council that she was hoping to deliver a budget that will require a tax levy lower than last year.

The early projection for the city is 4.27 over last year with the actual impact on the tax bill amounting to 2.67 which City treasurer Joan Ford said that her staff were working on getting that down to 2.45 – which would get the number under the 2.92 for 2019

eaRLY PROJEC TAXMayor Meed Ward wanted to see several lines added to the tax bill and had a line saying “Ford Levy” showing which increases were the results of changes by the Ford government that are going to whack us in the wallet.

Couple of problems there – Ford said that she was running out of space on the tax bill and then told us that the province determines what the tax bill must look like.

These are early days in the budget process – we can see what is coming.

Meed Ward proudly tells anyone who asks that the council in place from 2010 to 2018 was never able to lower taxes.

This council expect to bring in a lower tax levy – despite what the provincial government has done to make life at the municipal level as tough as it can get.

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Section of Brock street to be closed for - two years - construction.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 11, 2019



Second of two structures on Brock now under construction.


Beginning Thursday, July 11, 2019, a portion of Brock Avenue, between Ontario Street and the entrance to the Brock Avenue parking lot, will be closed for a period of two years to allow for the construction of a development at 490-492 Brock Ave.

In accordance with to the City’s Delegated Authority ByLaw 99-2012, a full road closure request longer than five days requires Council approval. The Brock Avenue road closure was approved by Burlington City Council at the Nov. 12, 2018 meeting of Council in report TS-15-18.

During the construction:

• Pedestrian access to the sidewalk on the west side of Brock Avenue will be closed
• The sidewalk on the south side of Ontario Street will remain open with a covered pedestrian walkway
• The entrance to the parking lot on Brock Avenue will remain open at all times.

There are no residential accesses within the proposed closure limits.

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City building department sent back to their drawing boards for a do-over of downtown street design standards.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2019



The report was received and filed after more than an hour of discussion and debate. The version that council heard yesterday will not return to council in the same form.

Rory Nisan

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan thought that more than the colour grey was needed to suggest a nautical theme.

During the discussion Councillor Nisan asked why there was no mention of design excellence in the report that was about the Downtown Streetscape designs.

The Staffer explained that Design Excellence was inherent throughout the document. Nisan came back with – he was thinking in terms of something a little more attractive.

Things went downhill from there.

Burlington is currently working with design standards that were last reviewed in 1982 – it was time for another look. The document presented by Staff was a framework for a transformation from the old design standards to whatever the new design was going to be.

Dwntwn defined

Streetscape design standards to apply to the area shown above

Reference was made to the colours that were put forward – black, grey and a wood effect. The grey was going to be used on the Lakeshore Road part of the downtown that the guidelines were to be applied to – Nisan said that he thought the look of the Lakeshore area should be a little more “nautical” and was told that’s what the grey was for – to which Nisan came back with –”I suppose grey could apply to ships”.

Mayor Meed Ward asked if the staffer had gotten any feedback from the public on the design standards – he hadn’t, he said.

Meed Ward later added that she had heard from dozens and dozens of people and the people of Burlington didn’t want a steel and glass look to the downtown core.

They wanted the heritage feel of the core to be reflected in the streetscape – and that look wasn’t in the designs that were put forward.

Pathway - city bench

This bench could qualify as the most uncomfortable ever built. Ward Councillor wants to know who decided on the design

Nisan asked about benches that would be installed – those he had experienced were not very comfortable and had very little in the way of back support. He wanted to know who chose the design in the pathway through the parking lot south of Kellys. Most uncomfortable bench imaginable – certainly not something you would sit in for very long.

Meed Ward, Nisan, Kearns and Stolte had taken the position that streets become animated when people use them and putting park benches out is a way for people sit and talk with friends. If that concept exists within the Planning department – it wasn’t reflected in the report that was presented.

Blvd zones

The city has design standards that it wants to apply to downtown streets.

Lisa Kearns, ward 2 city Councillor wanted to know where the road fit into the design plans. She said that parts of downtown have deteriorated significantly and she wanted to know if there were funds to do some immediate upgrades. She mentioned later that some of the money the city is not going to be able to spend on the revitalization of Civic Square – could perhaps be applied to fixing up the scruffy look in parts of the downtown.

The City Building department had missed the mark on this one. What they presented just didn’t resonate with this council.

We saw much the same when the Capital Works people were unable to anticipate where Council’s thinking was going on a revitalization of Civic Square.

Related news story.
Capital works just didn’t understand the change that has taken place in the thinking being done at city council.

Most uncomfortable bench ever made.

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Mayor Meed Ward starts what she calls a movement at the Regional level of government to abolish the LPAT-OMB process.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 10th, 2019



MMW + Nisan at Region

Burlington Councillor Rory Nisan brought a friendly motion to the Meed Ward – Bonnette motion.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette sponsored a motion at Regional Council asking that the province abolish the current Local Planning Act Tribunal – Ontario Municipal Board process that reviews development decisions made by city councils.

The motion had an amendment from Councillor Nisan that was seen as friendly and was included.

Meed Ward argued that it would take a movement to bring about a change at the provincial level and she saw the motion as the beginning of that movement.

Council on July 10-19

The motion was passed unanimously on a recorded vote at the Region.

It was passed unanimously at the Region.

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Burlington advocacy group puts their weight behind Mayor's motion at Region to abolish LPAT-OMB.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 10th, 2019



We love logoWeLoveBurlington is a small, non-partisan, grass roots organization that advocates on a broad range of issues that affect the City of Burlington and its citizens.

From its onset, we have opposed both the spurious rationale and the forced process of Bill 108; particularly the unilaterally imposed amendments that it makes to duly enacted, existing legislation. As such, we endorse the motion of Mayors Meed Ward and Bonnette to abolish the Local Planning Advisory Tribunal or LPAT, both a creature of the past and a monster of the present.

Our delegation is very brief and speaks to a single fundamental concept – that actions that affect people’s lives and community should have the active involvement and informed consent, or at least awareness, of those people. In other words, citizens have a fundamental right to know about and participate in actions that touch them.

MMW Regional pic

Burlington Mayor and Regional Councilor Marianne Meed Ward

Rick Bonnette -Halton Hills

Halton Hills Mayor and Regional Councilor Rick Bonnette

One of our tag lines, recently coined, is “Burlington’s Future Determined First and Last by Burlington”. Although this may seem simplistic or parochial we firmly stand by the precept that Burlington’s citizens should always be principal in decisions that involve their interests; that Burlington’s Council – duly elected and representing all the citizens – has a far stronger natural right, an obligation, to influence the City’s future than does an unelected, external tribunal appointed by a government more removed and distant. The government that governs best is not only that which governs least but that which is closest to those to whom it must answer; that is accountable to its neighbours and shares not only their concerns but their physical community.

We fundamentally agree with current wisdom that suggests that the OMB and more recently LPAT is a creature of the past, and no longer serves the interests of the citizens of the province. Any quasi-judicial construct, such as the LPAT, that has decision authority over a duly elected body such as a municipal council is a flawed creature, the product of a patronistic, dated and closed world view. We strongly advocate that Ontario take its place with the rest of Canada and enable municipalities to have a determinate role in their future. Abolish the LPAT.

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Call put out for indigenous artists to submit ideas for outdoor art for the transformed Brant Museum

News 100 redBy Staff

July 10, 2019



Burlington has invited Ontario-based Indigenous artists or Indigenous-led artist teams to submit an Expression of Interest to create a permanent public artwork for the exterior of the Joseph Brant Museum.


Rendering of the Brant Museum transformation – opening pushed back to September.

The museum is currently undergoing a major transformation, which will add more than 12,000 square feet to its current size. The artwork will be integrated into one of the garden areas (exact location TBD) and will serve as a landmark feature of the new museum.
Artwork Goals

In April 2019, a Steering Committee comprised of project and community stakeholders and representatives from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River came together to determine the goals for this public art project.

Staff noted that the intent of this project is to build on efforts to create awareness of the rich Indigenous cultures, peoples and heritage that are at the root of our territory, city and province. This commission is not intended to be a memorial or monument to Joseph Brant.

Indigenous 3 at ground breaking

Indigenous dancers taking part on the ground breaking of the museum site.

The Steering Committee suggested that the theme of the artwork focus on Indigenous language. Language is a through-line by which we are connected to our past, present and future. Language is crucial to the development of community and the sharing of knowledge.

However, Indigenous languages are under threat. Amongst the many efforts to protect and revitalize Indigenous languages, UNESCO has declared 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

An artwork proposal is not requested at this time. This is a two-phase process: in Phase One, applicants will be reviewed on the basis of artistic merit of past work, professional qualifications and experience. In Phase Two, short-listed artists will be required to submit a preliminary artwork concept proposal that will be displayed for public comment and jury review. Artists selected for the short-list will be provided with a full Request for Proposals outlining detailed artwork specifications prior to developing their proposals. Short-listed artists will be paid an artist fee of $1500 to develop their proposals.

Click here to learn more and submit an application:

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

Finally – something that actually represents the Indigenous world that Brant represented for so long – with not all that much in the way of success.

The challenge here will be to ensure that the community stakeholders and representatives from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River maintains control of the process and the selection. Keep the bureaucrats out of it.

The intent of this project is to build on efforts to create awareness of the rich Indigenous cultures, peoples and heritage that are at the root of our territory, city and province. This commission is not intended to be a memorial or monument to Joseph Brant.

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Vision to Focus (V2F) the next big leap of faith sets out five priorities and the action to be taken to achieve them.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9th, 2019



It is not bed time reading but if you find at some point that you don’t like what your city is doing – flip back to this Vision to Focus (V2F) work plan to learn when they said they were going to align the work they do with the Strategic Plan and determine if they are on target.

In a preamble to the document Mayor Meed Ward said:

There are many new faces around the table at City Council and I’m excited and proud of what we are committing to accomplish for the people of Burlington over the coming four years.

The chart below sets out what this city council wants to get done before the end of its term.  The Srategic Plan had four pillars – Staff added a fifth.

V2F focus areas

The five areas of the Strategic Plan city council wants the bureaucrats to focus on during the balance of their term of office October 2022

The City’s long-term 25-year strategic plan reflects many of the priorities we identified in our respective campaign platforms said the Mayor. The plan will continue to evolve as our city changes, and our new council responds with new ideas. We are also committed to taking action in our four-year term to begin to implement the plan, where it aligns with our collective vision for Burlington.

That is why we have created a four-year work plan: to focus on what actions we can take in this term of council to deliver on the commitments we made during our respective election campaigns, many of which are captured in the strategic plan. The good news is that there is already a high degree of alignment among our individual campaign platforms, and with the elements in the 25-year Strategic Plan.

The citizens of our community voted for change in the last election. They told us on the campaign trail, and through their votes, that they wanted to see limits to over-development and intensification, better traffic management, protection of our green spaces, and more respect and civility at City Hall.

In the short time we’ve been privileged to serve you, we have implemented an Interim Control Bylaw to pause development in our downtown core and around the Burlington Go Station to better evaluate the long-term vision we have for growth in this area and ensure it represents the wants and needs of our community. We launched the Roseland Private Tree Bylaw to help protect and preserve the tree canopy in one of the oldest parts of our city. We passed motions at City Council to make it clear to the Provincial Government that we would not support development in our greenbelt, and that we are opposed to amalgamation with neighbouring municipalities. We debated the hot topic of allowing retail cannabis stores to operate in our city and voted how our constituents asked us to, with respectful debate as we reached a final decision together.

We launched the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force to bring together business owners across all industries to identify obstacles to relocation and growth here in Burlington, and work together to remove them.

We worked together to pass a new budget that provided the lowest tax increase for our residents in 8 years while still adding new services that add value to our city.

Most importantly, we have prioritized connecting with our constituents and making sure everyone feels that their voice matters. We attend community fundraisers, local sporting events, flag raising and proclamations, new business openings and school tours, and meet 1 on 1 with constituents every day to help engage people from every corner of our city.

Our vision for the next four years is to continue on this very path. We will focus on key priorities like the environment and climate change, transit, and the health and well-being of our residents and businesses. We’ll deliver the customer service levels you deserve and ensure every voice in our community is heard and valued. We’ll do it all while operating with integrity, transparency and respect in everything we do.

This 2018-2022 Burlington’s Plan: From Vision to Focus document is the corporate work plan for the term of Council to align with the long-term vision of the 25-year Strategic Plan.

Burlington’s corporate alignment and accountability is built on Service Management and Results- Based Accountability Frameworks. A Results-Based Accountability Framework takes into consideration two types of accountability.

The following are the services the city currently delivers.

City services

These are the services the city currently delivers. Not every city delivers the same in the way of services; leaf collection is an example.

Now – just what is it they are going to do?

The Priorities and the Action that needs to be taken to achieve these priorities are set out below

Priority Focus area 1


The actions that will be taken to achieve this priority.

Priorities for Focus Area 1

Action Focus area 1 part 2

Actions for Focus Area 1

Action Focus area 1 part 2


Priorities for Focus Area 2

Priority focus area 2


Actions for Focus area 2

Action foucs area 2


Priorities for Focus Area 3

Priority focus area 3


Actions for Focus area 3.

Action focus area 3

Action focus area 3 part 2


Priorities for Focus Area 4

Priority focus area 4


Actions for Focus area 4 

Action focus area 4 part 2



Priorities for Area 5

Priority focus area 5

Actions for Focus Area 5

action focus are 5 part 1

Action focus area 5 part 2

Action focus area 5 part 3

The intention is to report to the public in June on each of the targets: were they reached and is it working.

The Road Map to getting all this done in time to decide if you want to re-elect this city council that looks like this.

V2F road map

This is a massive document that council spent hours going over in great detail and revising to be certain they got it right.

It was referred to as a “living document”; one that would change with the stresses, needs and desires of the community.  Staff will report to the city at least once a year where they are on the Actions side – they are determined to deliver on the bigger picture plan.

We will report later in the week on the debate and discussion that took place – it was interesting and refreshing to watch this council pull together as a group towards a common goal.

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Burlington Mayor comes out swinging at MPP Jane McKenna. Will this go 10 rounds?

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 8th, 2019



Mayor Meed Ward issued a statement earlier today pointing to factual inaccuracies in published by Burlington’s MPP Jane McKenna and published in the Burlington Post and, in a slightly different version on the We Love Burlington Facebook page.

In her statement the Mayor said:

Meed ward election night 1

She was Mayor elect in this photograph but clearly quite prepared to step into the ring and battle it out.

Democracy is the foundation of our country, and accurate information is a key pillar of it.

It’s therefore essential that our residents and local elected representatives have the facts when commenting on community matters and advocating to Queen’s Park on our behalf.

To that end, I’m writing to correct factual inaccuracies in an advertorial by Burlington Member of Parliament Jane McKenna, titled “Setting the Record Straight on Bill 108,” published in the Burlington Post newspaper on June 20 — and a slightly different version of the article posted on the local group WeLoveBurlington Facebook page (June 17) and to the MPP’s website (June 19).

I have also requested a meeting with MPP McKenna and Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos to ensure they both have accurate information, to best represent our interests at Queen’s Park as our elected representatives.

Here are the facts:

Bill 108 makes changes to 13 pieces of legislation. It was introduced in May and received Royal Assent in June — and much of the concerns raised by mayors and their residents across the province were ignored. The Region of Halton and the City of Burlington both passed resolutions detailing the problems with Bill 108 in advance of passage. You can read those here: https://bit.ly/COBResolutionBill108 and https://bit.ly/HaltonRegionResolutionBill108. Many other municipalities have also passed resolutions expressing their concerns with the legislation.

Two key changes are in the areas of development charges and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

Development charges are intended to ensure growth pays for growth. It doesn’t now — paying roughly 80% of the costs of growth, while taxpayers pick up the remaining 20%, for everything from community

centres to parks and transit. The changes in Bill 108 will make that worse as certain items we used to be able to collect for have been removed from the development charges and are now included in a new “community benefits” formula that is to be determined. However, that new formula has a “cap.”

If the actual costs of growth are higher, taxpayers will again have to pay the difference.

There are certainly challenges with the current development charges system and related to that is the determination of Section 37 benefits, which are cash or in-kind payments for things such as park amenities or parking — these are negotiated for extra height and density.

As noted in the MPP’s article, I have long been a critic of Section 37 benefits. However, Bill 108 does nothing to make this system better and for the reasons I noted above, it will, in fact, make it less likely that growth will end up paying for growth.

You, the taxpayer, will get the bill. Further, there is no guarantee that the savings to developers from reduced contributions to the costs of growth will, in fact, be passed on to homebuyers.

Citizenship head lineup

Mayor Meed Ward was with Burlington MPP Jane McKenna and Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos on Canada Day – they could have had a little chat at the swearing in ceremony and gotten the facts straight then.

The second change is to LPAT. The previous provincial government worked extensively with the development industry, municipal governments and citizens to reform the powers of the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to overrule local planning decisions and speed up the process of approvals so that housing could get to market faster and cheaper. Bill 108 essentially reverts the LPAT back to the older OMB rules where, once again, there will be extensive hearings with lawyers and witnesses that start from the beginning of the planning process and redo all the planning analyses completed by municipal governments and their trained and knowledgeable staff.

This will add more time and more costs to the delivery of housing — the exact opposite of the stated intent of Bill 108.

It is clear that as long as the tribunal exists (in whatever form), not only will housing be more expensive and slower to market, but democratic decisions will be overruled by an unelected body. Ontario is the only province in Canada with such a tribunal — and communities across the country are successfully being built without one. It is time to eliminate the LPAT entirely, and I will be introducing a motion to Halton Regional Council on July 10.

Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)


TO BE CONSIDERED:                Council Meeting – July 10, 2019

MOVED BY:                                Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

SECONDED BY:                         Mayor Rick Bonnette

WHEREAS The Government of Ontario, on June 6, 2019, passed the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, (Bill 108); and

WHEREAS the changes to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), contained in Bill 108 will give LPAT the authority to make final planning decisions based on a subjective “best planning outcome” approach rather than compliance with municipal and provincially approved official plans and consistency with provincial plans and policy; and

WHEREAS Bill 108 restricts third party appeals of plans of subdivision only to the applicant, municipality, Minister, public body or prescribed list of persons; and

WHEREAS Bill 108 takes local planning decision-making out of the hands of democratically elected municipal councils and puts it into the hands of a non-elected, unaccountable tribunal; and

WHEREAS the LPAT adds cost and delays delivery of affordable housing by expensive, time consuming hearings, contrary to the intent of the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019; and

WHEREAS Regional and City Councils have spent millions defending provincially approved plans at the OMB/LPAT, including more than $5 million over the last three years;

WHEREAS the reverting back to de novo hearings adds delays and costs to the housing delivery, as planning decisions start from scratch requiring lawyers, experts and witnesses, repeating the planning analysis already done by local councils;


THAT in the short term, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing immediately restore the amendments to the Planning Act that mandated the evaluation of appeals on a consistency and conformity with Provincial policies and plans basis;

THAT in the long-term the Government of Ontario eliminate the LPAT entirely, as an antiquated body that slows delivery and adds costs to housing supply via expensive and drawn out tribunal hearings;

 AND THAT this resolution be forwarded to the Premier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Halton’s Members of Provincial Parliament, Leaders of the New Democratic, Liberal and Green parties; the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario and Halton’s local municipalities.

Finally, some facts regarding Burlington’s Official Plan (OP). As required by legislation, the City’s OP is regularly updated, including an extensive update in 2008 to incorporate the intensification measures proposed by the Province in its Places to Grow Act.

Burlington was allocated a population of 185,000 by 2031. As of the 2016 census, we were at 183,000. With known and approved developments underway and recently completed, we have already reached our population target — 12 years early.

Further, there are specific density targets that are required in certain areas of the city. Downtown Burlington is designated as an Urban Growth Centre, with a density of 200 people or jobs per hectare by 2031.

According to multiple analyses by staff, we are well on track to meeting and surpassing that density. The most recent was included in the staff report for the 421 Brant Street development, which calculates the current density at 174 people or jobs. It also states that we are well-positioned to meet or exceed the density following the existing Official Plan provisions.

I have gone into more depth and details about how the changes Bill 108 will affect Burlington residents in previous posts on my website, mariannemeedward.ca.

It is critical for residents to have accurate information, and especially for our local representatives, to have the facts of Burlington’s situation and fully understand our concerns so they can best represent our interests to the Premier and Cabinet. We will be scheduling meetings to ensure that correct information is circulated to the public and will be circulating this information publicly, as well as to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier.

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Mayor manages to get dinner in Paris for $70 - merveilleuse!

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 8th, 2019



effiel towerShe didn’t spend what she could have spent.

She shared a room with the Staff member she took with her on the five day trip to France where she represented the city during the 75th Anniversary of the D Day landings.

The city has a $70 a day per diem for food – they kept within that limit – and if you know Paris – you know the two women dipped into their own wallets for that dinner bill.

Did the city get value for money? This mayor knows how to trim a budget.

There should be no public belly aching over this one.

The details:

graphic - cost of trip

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Mayor talks about her trip to Juno Beach and the impact that experience had on her.

Burlington’s Mayor along with a Staff member spent five days representing the city during the 75 th Anniversary of the D Day landings on Juno Beach in France. This is her story of what was a life changing experience for her.  It is also her first full public report on the trip that will be part of the Standing Committee meeting on Monday

News 100 blueBy Marianne Meed Ward

July 7th, 2019



On June 3rd I travelled to Normandy, France as part of a delegation of people from our great city to help commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Juno Beach. As most of you know, D-Day was a seminal moment in the liberation of Europe during WWII and a turning point in the war. Thousands of young men and women volunteered (that’s right: volunteered!) to fight overseas, some only in their teens. Many of them did not return home to their families.

Juno beach disembarking

Canadian soldiers rushing for the beach, often under heavy gun fire

Their sacrifices were not in vain, as they did their job and pushed inland despite many human losses to defeat German forces hill by hill, house by house, and town by town. It was the start of the end of the war, and the world owes them an immeasurable debt of gratitude we can never repay.

Many people don’t realize the strong connection Burlington has to the events of that day and the battles that followed. We have a few legendary D-Day veterans still living in our fine city who were there on June 6th, 1944, such as Jim Warford and Gordon Schottlander.

We also have an amazing group of residents who brought the Juno Beach Centre Museum to life, led by D-Day veteran and Burlington resident Garth Webb. It didn’t sit right with him that other countries had a museum remembering the sacrifices their soldiers made to secure our freedoms, but Canada did not.

Story has it that the idea for the Juno Beach Centre Association was hatched in a basement on Woodward Avenue, then shared with the world. Garth had to fight for the Centre too. The first town in France wanted it to be part cultural centre, part museum. Then permission was withdrawn altogether.

Undeterred, Garth moved down the coast to Courseulles-Sur-Mer. The mayor there fought local opposition to establish the centre on a favourite local camping spot.

Then Garth, his family and many local residents spent another few years raising the funds to build the Centre, which was designed by local Burlington firm Chamberlain Architects.

The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s only museum in France that tells the story of what our soldiers did for their country and for the world in WWII. The centre is Burlington’s gift to our country’s memory of D- Day.

Garth’s son, Don Cooper, who is now the President of the Juno Beach Centre Association, has taken the torch and continues to make it a place our whole country can be proud of. The Centre’s team is full of supporters from Burlington, whether they’re students spending time there as tour guides for the summer, or local Director Pam Calvert, who first opened my eyes to this amazing connection we have when she reached out to meet with me this past February.

My family has lived in Burlington for 19 years but didn’t know this story. We wondered how many other residents also didn’t know? Pam and I then conceived of an idea that day in my office to tell the story of Burlington’s contribution to D-Day, and the Juno Beach Centre.

Our Juno75 event on May 6th of this year was the result. It was a sold-out night at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and showed the dedication our residents still have to remembering the young men and women who made so many sacrifices for our freedoms.

You can read more about that special night and watch the event in its entirety via this link.

When I learned our Burlington Teen Tour Band and local residents were travelling to Juno Beach for the 75th Anniversary, I knew I needed to accompany them and represent our city and our city’s contribution to this national memorial and day of remembrance.


The day after we landed, I was able to tour the museum as part of a private delegation that included all the Canadian veterans who’d been able to make the trip.

In a ceremony before the tour, it was particularly moving to see Frank Godon from Manitoba, the grown son of Francis Godon, a Métis veteran from the Winnipeg Royal Rifles, presenting his dad’s uniform to the Museum along with the last letter he’d written home still in his pocket.

Juno Beach Centre France

Juno Beach Centre

Our tour of the Centre started in a dark room shaped like the landing craft that ferried the soldiers to land, some to their last day. A movie played on screens on three sides of us, surrounded by images of waves and the sounds of gunfire, to simulate what it must have been like to arrive on those shores and hear the words “down doors.”

It was incredibly moving, and it was just a simulation. We can never fully understand what it must have been like – the terror, the uncertainty of what they were facing, and not knowing if they’d ever come home.

Some were pulled under by the weight of their bags or the depth of the water and never came up. Some were shot and killed as soon as the doors opened. Others had to swim past the lifeless bodies of their friends who’d been alive only moments before.

14,000 Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches that day. 359 were killed along with many more in the days that followed.

The Juno Beach Centre Museum tells their story.

It is full of history and memorabilia from the battle on Juno Beach and the months of battles that followed. It’s an immersive and moving experience and one I will never forget. While it’s an ocean away, it is absolutely worth the trip and I recommend it to any school group, lover of history, and all Canadians who want to know more about why and how we enjoy the freedoms we have today.

It is a powerful testament to what can be accomplished when people from different countries and walks of life all work together for a common goal. It seems that every day we are faced with another reason to remain vigilant in the fight for peace around the world.

The recent anti-Semitic hate crimes in Burlington are a frightening and sickening reminder that we can never rest in the fight for justice, equality and freedom.

Museums like the Juno Beach Centre are an essential part of the history we need to help us avoid past mistakes and build a better future.

The museum also has a rotating exhibit. When we were there it was dedicated to the contributions women made to the War effort, at home and on the field of battle. I wept as I read letters between mothers and their sons, some just 18, the same age as my own son and daughter.

The next scheduled exhibit will remember the Holocaust.

Later that evening I was honoured to attend the Juno Beach Centre Foundation’s fundraising gala, the first of its kind. The Centre receives some government assistance but relies heavily on personal donations. I am committed to telling the story of the Juno Beach Centre and encouraging our citizens to give generously to ensure its ongoing success.

One of the fundraising initiatives is the buying of a “brick” on the concrete remembrance pillars at the Centre. The City of Burlington has a brick, as do a number of other cities, schools and businesses.  Residents can also purchase a brick in the name of a soldier or otherwise. You can find out more at this link here.

During the gala I had an opportunity to present the Canadian Peace Flag to Mayor Frederic Pouille of Courseulles-sur-Mer, the town that welcomed Garth Webb and his museum with open arms.

Each Peace Flag is flown on Parliament Hill for one day and there is a long list of requests to receive one. Given the importance of the Juno Beach Centre, and in honour of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we were able to secure a peace flag for the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer.

I was pleased to offer Mayor Pouille this flag as a gift to symbolize the friendship between our two cities and signify the start of an even deeper relationship going forward. He returned the favour by offering me the medallion of Courseulles-sur-Mer, which I will proudly display in my office at City Hall.

The entire community welcomed us with open arms and treated us like royalty. They truly appreciate the contribution Canada made to liberating France, the role that our Burlington veterans played in those battles and in securing the Centre so that we will always remember.

The gala was also attended by Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette, Canadian Army General Jonathan Vance, The Honourable Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, and, among others, Mayor Brian Bowman of Winnipeg who attended the 75th Anniversary ceremony in honour of the significant contribution the Royal Winnipeg Rifles made to D-Day.


Day 2 of my tour was June 6th: the official 75th anniversary of D-Day itself and included two commemorative ceremonies on the beach in front of the Museum.

Band at xxx FRance

Members of the BTTB yards away from the beaches Canadian soldiers landed on 75 years earlier.

Our very own global music ambassadors, the Burlington Teen Tour Band played throughout the ceremony and, as always, made us proud. Over 167 band members and their leadership team camped out on air mattresses and in sleeping bags in a local gym the entire week, many finding time to study for the high school exams they would write the week they return home.

One band member had just been released from cancer treatments and faces an operation to remove a tumor upon return but did not want to miss this special trip. Several missed their high school graduation ceremonies, and one celebrated a birthday.

The dedication and spirit of this group is beyond measure. They put everything aside to represent Burlington on this historic day.

MMW laying a wreath

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward at a wreath laying ceremony in xxx

The Canadian ceremony began at noon and was attended by Canadian dignitaries including Canada’s Prime Minister, the Honourable Justin Trudeau, Canadian Army General Jonathan Vance, Minister of Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of France, Édouard Philippe. In the crowd of thousands, I met people from across the world, including some familiar faces from home in Burlington.

But the real VIPs in the audience were the veterans.

There’s Jim Warford, who I have had the pleasure of knowing since I became a councillor. Jim is now 96 years old and has continued to share his stories and the history of that time with residents young and old across Burlington and beyond. For our Burlington Remembers Juno75 event on May 6th, he gave us letters to read that he and his wife wrote to each other while he was in France during the war.

He knows the importance of passing on that knowledge and honouring the legacy of the friends and soldiers who are no longer with us. At his advanced age, you can imagine how tough it is to stay in good health, but despite spending many weeks in recent months in the hospital, he summoned the strength and spirit to fly back to Juno Beach this week with his grandson and the help of Veterans Affairs Canada.

Warford with Minister and Gould

Jim Warford in hospital weeks before he shipped out to Courseulles-sur-Mer to take part in the 75th Anniversary of the D Day landings of which he was a part. Taking part in the hospital visit are the Minister of National Defence and Burlington MP Karina Gould.

Jim joined dozens of his fellow D-Day soldiers at the Canadian D-Day Commemoration Ceremony on Juno Beach. He watched a moving ceremony that took place right in front of the Juno Beach Centre along with thousands of others from all over the world who had travelled there to pay their respects and ensure that “We Will Remember Them”. There were moving video and musical performances, speeches, and moments of silence that brought us to tears.

Much of the ceremony was live broadcast by CBC, and I heard from several residents who rose early at 6am to watch and were also moved to tears.

Later the same day, an International Ceremony of remembrance was held, with dignitaries, veterans and representatives from the 15 different countries that were part of Operation Overlord on D-Day.

Canada’s Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Republic of France returned, as did Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House from the United States among others.

Children from each country read a quote or a passage that told part of the history and stories of their soldiers. Dignitaries laid wreaths on Juno Beach for each of the 15 countries as their national anthems were beautifully played. It was, again, a great reminder of how countries can come together for the common goal of peace, and a wonderful way to end the day.


On June 7th, I joined the Burlington Teen Tour Band for the morning to visit spectacular Mont Saint- Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rising out of a rocky tidal island, this historic town is crowned by a medieval monastery in the sky and began its construction in the 10th century.

Mont St. Michel

Mont Saint- Michel,

It was epic in both scale and design. I felt like I was in an episode of Game of Thrones (or Lord of the Rings) exploring ramparts and archways and spiral stone stairwells. It was great to meet and spend time with some of our young band members and watch them explore this place in awe. It’s an experience they will not forget.

I then accompanied the band to the Canadian war cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer. Lovingly designed and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, it is a beautiful homage to our soldiers and their sacrifices. The 359 soldiers who died on D-Day are buried there, along with over 1600 more who died in the months of battle that followed.

Dog tag

Each BTTB member was assigned a different soldier to research and whose tomb stone they sat in front of holding a set of dog tags with the name of the fallen solider.

Each Teen Tour Band member was given a dog tag before the trip with the name of a soldier who was buried there. They found their soldiers and what I saw there made the tears flow once again. Some sat on the ground in front of their soldier’s tombstone and had a quiet conversation. Some did paper rubbings of the tombstone with crayon to bring home. And some brought special gifts from the families of their soldier, having reached out to them before the trip.

I know these students will carry these stories and memories throughout their lives, and help their generation remember this important history.

In front of tombstone

Burlington Teen Tour Band members sitting in front of Tombstones in the Canadian war cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer where those who fell on Juno beach were buried.

Many tombstones had a loving message etched in it from each soldier’s family, and they were deeply moving to read. I wept as I saw the graves of young men 18, 19, 20, 21 years old. They were just starting their lives and they were cut down in sacrifice for us. These souls came from across our country, of different nationalities and faiths, and united in a common purpose of freedom from tyranny. I noted many graves of Jewish soldiers, marked with the Star of David. They were fighting against Hitler, who was systematically exterminating Jews across Europe in the Holocaust.

Their sacrifice put an end to Hitler.


On June 8th, the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer went above and beyond in creating an event to commemorate D-Day and honour our Canadian veterans. It started with a parade through the centre of town, accompanied by the Burlington Teen Tour Band, stopping at the memorial for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, where the mayor of Courseulles-sur-Mer and I together raised the Canadian flag.

We then marched on to the memorial square for a formal ceremony with the Canadian veterans who
were able to join us. This included Burlington’s own Jim Warford along with others like Richard Rohmer.

I had an opportunity during the ceremony to meet Mr. Rohmer, a local veteran born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, who is now the Honourary Lieutenant General of Canada. Mr. Rohmer flew 135 missions in WWII, including two on D-Day. His face was on the posters and banners throughout Courseulles-sur-Mer promoting the Juno75 ceremonies.

MMW with Rohmer in France June 2019

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward with WWII hero Richard Rohmer

He is now age 95 and has been married for 70 years to his wife Mary. His countless medals and passionate storytelling impressed me beyond words. We are so lucky to have veterans like him to keep those important stories alive and pass them along to new generations.

Mayor Pouille and I read aloud the names of every Canadian veteran who was in attendance:

Lloyd Bentley, Art Boon, Colin Brown, Richard Brown, Hugh Buckley, Jack Burch, Bill Cameron, Emard Court, Rod Deon, Benoit Duval, Joe Edwardson, Alyre Gallant, Roy Hare, Alf Hebbes, Warner Hockin, Winston Judson, Earl Kennedy, Norman Kirby, Frank Krepps, Eugenie (Frankie) Turner, Jim Parks, Hugh Patterson, Alex Polowin, Charles Scot-Brown, John Stoyka, Jean Temple, Jack Miller, William Tymchuk, Alphonse Vautour, Jim Warford, Bill Wilson, Gérénal Richard Rohmer

Accompanied by the singing of national anthems and a moment of silence, wreaths were laid by myself, Mayor Pouille, veterans and others at each of monuments in the square:

Other Canadian dignitaries participating in the ceremony were Stéphane Lauzon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins – James Bay.

Again, Burlington residents were there in the crowd, and a few called out a greeting to me when myself and the Mayor Pouille walked by.

Mayor Pouille was a gracious host to myself and everyone from the Juno Beach Centre, and I was blown away by the level of organization and intention they had put into this event.

WWII aircraft flew overhead, and local school children gave handmade poppies to every veteran in attendance.

Courseulles-sur-Mer did so much to show us how they value our veterans, our country, the City of Burlington and the Juno Beach Centre. The mayor has asked us to twin with them and I believe this is a fitting relationship to honour Burlington’s role in creating this Canadian memorial and ensuring we continue to tell that story at home and abroad.

I am looking forward to fostering this special relationship between Burlington and Courseulles-sur-Mer and seeing it deepen and evolve in the years ahead.

And with that special day, our D-Day commemorations came to an end. We drove the three hours back to Paris that night ahead of our flight to Burlington the next morning.

Related new story:

How many cities does Burlington want to twin with?

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How many cities does Burlington want to twin with - is this a need to have or a nice to have?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 7th, 2019



Elsewhere in the Gazette we report on the trip Mayor Meed Ward made to France to celebrate the landings on D Day 75 years ago.

Marianne Meed Ward wrote about the feelings she experienced during her five days in France.

Of the numerous things that came out of this was a strong interest in a twinning relationship with Courseulles-sur-Mer, France.

Apeldoorn palace

Intricate gardens in Apeldoorn, Holland

Spring trees will bloom in Itabashi, Japan and hopefully in Burlington as well.

Spring trees will bloom in Itabashi, Japan and hopefully in Burlington as well.

Burlington is currently twinned with Apeldoorn in Holland and Itabashi in Japan which begs the question – just how many communities does Burlington want to be twinned with?

Is the cap on twinning three –or could it go to five?

Juno beach disembarking

Film footage of Canadian soldiers racing for shore on June 6th 1944

Burlington’s relationship with Juno Beach, the site the Canadian Landing Craft rushed onto the beaches of France, with hundreds of Canadians soldiers aboard who, in many cases, raced ashore once the front ramp had been dropped and faced withering gunfire. Some didn’t get beyond the end of the ramp.

Her report to a COW Standing Committee directs the City Clerk, in cooperation with the Burlington Mundialization Committee to report back to Committee of the Whole in Q4 2019 with options for twinning with Courseulles-sur-Mer; and

It also directs the City Clerk to provide proposed criteria, for committee’s consideration, for future twinning relationships including consideration of a city in a developing country.

In the report Meed Ward said: “I believe it is essential to formalize and continue our relationship with Courseulles-sue-Mer and the Juno Beach Centre.

During her runs for city council and her run for the Office of Mayor, which she now holds, Meed Ward has also said that the city needs to focus on the “need to have” and not so much on the “nice to have”.

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Nisan and Kearns explain why they donated the maximum - $1200 - to each others election campaign

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2019



The Gazette is taking a look at what city council has managed to get done since they were sworn in just over six months ago.

Council perf reviewWe will be looking at what the members of council promised when they ran for office, what they have done in the first six months; where their campaign funding came from and what we might expect from them going forward.

As we do our due diligence some interesting data comes to the surface.

The two documents set out below are interesting.

The donations that were made were perfectly legal.

Lisa Kearns explains her donation to Nisan:

“All donations are in accordance with audit requirements. My personal pledge to Rory’s candidacy was made significantly in advance of my own consideration to run as a municipal candidate. I recognized his experience as a Foreign Service officer and strong community advocate as an asset to our City and Region.”

Lisa to Rory 2018

The Lisa Kearns donation to Rory Nisan

A reasonable explanation.

But let’s look at the time line.

Nisan announced his candidacy May 1st, Kearns announced her candidacy on May 15th.  When was the Kearns donation made to Nisan, could she make a donation to a campaign that did not yet have a candidate?

Kearns + Josie

Lisa Kearns, in green, attending the founding meeting of ECoB.

Lisa Kearns first showed up on the public radar in December of 2017 as a participant at the founding meeting of ECoB.

She sounded good – said all the right things and then got heavily involved in what ECoB was setting out to do.

During one of our early interviews with her we asked Kearns if she was considering public office – we got the kind of answer that people considering their options usually give. She didn’t say yes but she didn’t say no.

Lisa at ECoB before she announces

Lisa Kearns

One of the ECoB tasks she took on what to instruct potential candidates on what their responsibilities were once they filed their nomination papers. She spoke at length on how careful the campaign finance manager had to be when issuing receipt and accounting for the funds they received and how those funds were used.

If Kearns’ story holds water – it may be that she gave Nisan the money because she believed in the guy – we note however that she didn’t donate to anyone else in any other ward.

The question is – when did Kearns make the perfectly legal $1200 donation? Kearns didn’t provide that information.

Rory Nisan

Rory Nisan

The Gazette worked closely with Nisan as he was preparing to run for office.  At the time he wasn’t sure if he would run in Ward 6 where he happened to live in a condominium with his girl friend.  Nisan was heavily involved in the battle to keep Lester B. Pearson high school open.

The Gazette believed Nisan could take the seat from incumbent Blair Lancaster.  However Rory Nisan was raised in ward 3 and he wanted to run in that ward.  He had to find a place to live in that ward and get all his documents changed to reflect the move – then spend as much time as he could with his girl friend whom he shared ownership of the ward 6 condominium.

We asked Rory Nisan for some comment on the $1200 donation he made to the Kearns campaign.

Rory to Lisa contribution

Nisan’s donation to Lisa Kearns

The first response the Gazette we got back from Nisan was “ I’ll get back to you very soon.”

Nisan Lowville Feb 7 BEST

Rory Nisan at a constituency event listening to a staff member explain the budget.

And he did saying :  “Lisa was an early backer of mine. She promised to help me financially and committed to giving her time when I was building support for a potential candidacy. She came through with a donation and by knocking on doors for my campaign.

“I was really grateful for Lisa’s support and I also encouraged her to run. I was happy to donate to her campaign, especially once I realized that developers were lining up behind one of her main competitors. Unlike at least one of my fellow candidates I did not receive any money from developers.

“I donated the maximum amount because I believed in her platform and because of what had become a highly competitive race, seen as more competitive than my own.

“My campaign was audited and all donations received and made were in conformity with election finance rules. As a Burlington resident I am grateful to have the same opportunity as other residents to support a candidate who I believe in.

The donations were perfectly legal – but the optics are terrible.

Add to that the issues that cropped up with the Nisan campaign and some of his fund raising efforts.  None of it creates a strong sense of probity in the candidates.

It could have been quite a bit different if Nisan and Kearns has issued a joint statement once the audit was complete, explaining what they did for each other and then making themselves available for media questions.

Very recently Nisan told the Gazette that he had been told “not to talk to you” when we were preparing to ask him some questions.

It all makes one look askance.

To be fair to both Rory Nisan and Lisa Kearns – when asked for comment they didn’t duck or hide – they were forthcoming and deliberate.  Lisa did ask that we write about the good work she has done – and we will do that when we review her performance as a member of Council.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette

Related news stories:

Nisan publishes an opinion piece in the Gazette.

Nisan stumbles on a fund raising goof.

Kearns explains to potential candidates what they have to watch out for when they run an election campaign.

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Council was fully briefed ten days before city hall reported that half a million had been taken from city accounts by an as yet unknown third party.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 4th, 2019



It looked like a minor matter on the Audit Committee agenda – but it was probably that whopper of an issue – the more than half a million dollars that got sucked out of a city bank account.

Angelo B

Councillor Bentivegna moved a motion to put city council into a closed session.

The Audit Committee went into a CLOSED session. Moved by: Councillor Bentivegna that the Audit committee “Move into closed session in accordance with the following provisions under the Municipal Act, sections 239 (a) the security of the property of the municipality or local board, with respect to finance department report F-24-19 regarding the risk of fraud”.

This took place on June 5th,  – the city reported that the money disappeared on June 14th

The city deserves some credit for eventually going public.  There hasn’t been a word since.  Report F 24-19 would have had plenty of detail that got discussed behind closed doors.

There is really no reason for this level of Closed Session use.

Related news story:

City gets clipped for a half a million.



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City manager is having his office re-done - and we aren't talking drapes and carpeting.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2019



If the City Manager has a well-run office – things get done. That office sets the tone for the rest of the bureaucracy.

In the approval of the 2019 Operating Budget, a staff direction was passed to review the organizational structure of the City Manager’s office with a report due back May 31, 2019.

Tim Commisso 3 stern

Tim Commisso – Does this look like a man that suffers fools easily?

Commisso was the Interim city manager when the budget was being put together. Staff in the City Manager’s Office were working on the review with a focus on identifying key business processes.

CMO staff have held two think hard sessions. A total of eight separate services and processes have been identified as key focus areas for the City Manager’s Office. Commisso explained the “services” are actually internal corporate business processes the CMO is responsible for: Internal Audit, corporate risk management, service reviews (new).

More detailed work by the CMO team is needed to confirm resourcing. As well, there is a need to engage with the Burlington Leadership Team on this work. The City Manager’s Office team have advised that a report will get to Council in September.

Our understanding was that the BLT – Burlington Leadership Team, was something the city manager created and runs.
BLT is senior staff management team that meets weekly, previously it was called Management Committee. Membership is not rotating but the chair does rotate each week. Includes CM, DCM and all Directors.

In a conversation with the Gazette Tim Commisso explained that he was “looking at how the City Manager’s office functions from an overall corporate strategic management and organizational effectiveness perspective.

Reading between the lines and being aware of what this Council wants – expect the Directors to be told to get more value for the money being spent.  Can anyone tighten things up at city hall?

Tim Commisso

Tim Commisso – his 20 years as a city hall Staffer could serve him well not that he has the keys to the Office of the City Manager.

The September report will include implementing ongoing city service reviews as well as continuous improvement and performance measurement. Commisso will update Council verbally on status as part of the work plan report and adds that “FYI I’m not looking to add any $ to 2019 approved budgeted resources – which included a net reduction of $235k.”

The key metric is who Commisso chooses to work with him – there are some very good people in the hall – does Commisso have the ability to identify talent and recruit them?

And does he have it with him to gently move some of those that have not served the city all that well along to something more suited to their skill set?

This guy is going to be fun to work with.

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