A strong, direct statement on what one citizen feels is wrong with city hall as people begin to think about who the next city Councillors should be.

opinionred 100x100By Stephen White

August 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Community Engagement Charter is not the Ten Commandments, and the last time I checked James Ridge was not Moses. Uttering a collection of sanctimonious pronouncements and expecting that suddenly things will change for the better or be done differently is not only naive but is foolhardy and absurd in the extreme.

Real engagement is not about a slick website with colourful pictures, or pretty PowerPoint presentations, or holding public meetings feigning interest while citizens rail on about the latest development proposal desecrating neighbourhoods. It is about real communication based on a respect for and an appreciation of the benefits that come from joint problem-solving, articulation of divergent viewpoints, and the search for viable solutions. Most importantly, it is a dialogue and sharing amongst equals.

The city holds budget review meetings that draw 50 people sometimes - seldom more. Putting questions about the budget on line and letting a panel of 5,000 people respond would give city hall a much bigger picture. They may not like the response they get - then what do they do?

Citizens at a budget meeting, reviewing a budget that has already been decided on. White wants that to change to a process that involves public input before the budget is cast in stone.

What we have in Burlington is a power imbalance that works for the benefit of a few against the interests of many. We have a Mayor who has really proven powerless to lead over the past four years, and who keeps trying to appease everyone with platitudes but really ends up pleasing no one. We have a Council who, despite multiple appeals and admonitions to the contrary over the past two years. has pushed their bloody-minded OP and Mobility Hubs agenda over the objections and against the wishes of residents.

All of this has played out against a backdrop of the business community, supported by the Chamber of Commerce and developers, who keep telling us, figuratively at least, to just shut up and drink the Kool-Aid, and whose grandiose promises extolling the virtues of development are over hyped while the negative externalities (e.g. traffic congestion, too few parking spaces, lack of green spaces, etc.) are dramatically under-reported. And watching it all from the sidelines are municipal public servants whose contribution to this circus performance is to continually prattle on about how we all need to “Grow Bold” and “intensify” while producing copious amounts of communications drivel intended to mollify an increasingly militant and wearisome public, all done in the name of “engagement”.

We can change our Mayor, and we change our Council, but those actions, in and of themselves, will not yield change post October 22nd. What we really need to change is the process and the players who manage it.

Beachway meeting April7-15 full house

Citizens gather for a public meeting on what should be done with private homes in the Beachway. Their views were not included in the final decision. The Region will buy every house when it comes on the market.

Consultation and dialogue needs to occur from the outset, not as an afterthought. We need dedicated resources at City Hall, not aligned with developers, who will aid citizens and support neighbourhoods when mounting objections to development proposals. We need City Hall support to create and sustain neighbourhood and ratepayers’ associations as a non-elected counter-veiling force to challenge developers and as a conduit to meaningful citizen engagement.

We need advisory panels whose members are reflective of the community, and not populated with special interest advocates. We need to build in the concept of engagement and communication into every business process that is conducted municipally, and not just some pious Engagement Charter that gets framed and hung on a wall somewhere and is essentially meaningless.

CHAT group photo

Members of ChAT – the Charter Action Team responsible for ensuring that the Engagement Charter is actually complied with.

Those who manage the process need to be evaluated and held accountable on how well they actually do it.

And finally, we need to open up a serious discussion around the continued employment of several municipal public servants whose past derisive comments and behaviour don’t exactly connote with the concept of “engagement”.

Related news story.

The Engagement Charter.

The Shape Burlington Report

Stephen White is a Burlington resident who lives on the east side of the city.  He comments from time to time on how well the city is run.

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It is going to be a nasty campaign - how far are some people prepared to go to serve as Mayor of the city.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I was having a cool one in the Slye Fox late yesterday afternoon when a Gazette reader asked me if I had seen the trashy “polling” telephone calls that were being made to people in Burlington about candidates running in ward 2.

I hadn’t.   I’m not a huge fan of Facebook – does more harm than good is my view.

I did have a look at Meed Ward’s Facebook page and yup- the trashy crap has already started.

Meed Ward H&S

Marianne Meed Ward

Meed Ward reported that “A resident has just informed me of an extremely disturbing and defamatory phone “opinion poll” that they received which contained appalling and false statements about me concerning domestic violence, unemployment and school closures, and possible more.

“I’m certain the other candidates would join me in stating this is unacceptable and must stop. If you receive such a phone call, please ask who is behind it, take the phone number and we will get to the bottom of this and stop it. This election is about what is best for Burlington, based on policies, platform and track record.

Make your decisions for all candidates in this election on that basis. Lies, personal attacks and defamation have no place and do nothing to help make our city better.”

We don’t have to succumb to gutter politics.

The Gazette is currently investigating a comment that was sent to us about Meed Ward. There isn’t a word of truth in the comment. We are in the process of determining just who the sender is and when we have positive identification we will take appropriate action.

Meed Ward sent out an update on survey being done.

“A further update on the “election survey” phone calls about me being conducted in Burlington. We have received multiple independent reports of both the content of the questions and the phone number. The number is linked to Campaign Research

I have contacted them to stop this immediately. If you receive this call, take note of the number and the questions and we will get to the bottom of this to stop it. ‪Note that only candidate campaigns and registered Third Party advertisers can spend money on elections. There are no Third Party advertisers currently registered in the Burlington election.‬

The polling is being done by Campaign Research. Check out their web site. And Google the names of their senior people; one in particular stands out.

https://www.campaignresearch.ca/our-team

ballot box

This is the only thing that matter. People will vote for you if they believe in you. Vote for the person you believe in.

These phone calls are not being made a group of Girl Guides or Boy Scouts – these calls are being done by professionals who know how to access data bases to give them the phone numbers of people who live in very specific postal codes. Getting these guys to work for you is not cheap.

One of the lead players at Campaign Research has a past history of really dirty politics. His name is out there – Google it. Nasty nasty business.

Marianne is doing the right thing. When you shine a light into the dark corners the rats and the cockroaches scurry into the darkness.

Keep those bright lights burning!

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Another hot, hot HOT day. Head for the mall if you want to get in some walking exercise. The lake water will cool you off as well.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 27th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is hardly news anymore. Excessive heat warnings from the Regional government. It is the new normal and seniors, people with breathing problems and very very young children need to take notice.

As a result of extreme heat and humidity, Environment Canada has issued a Heat Warning for Halton Region starting Monday, August 27. This warning is issued when forecast temperatures are expected to reach at least 31 degrees Celsius with overnight temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius for two days, or when a humidex of 40 or higher is expected for two days.

Beaches are an option – take sun screen.

Burlington Beach aerial

The city doesn’t have quite this much beach any more – weather has eroded quite a bit of it. But it is still a place to cool down.

Especially at risk

• older adults (over the age of 65), infants and young children, people who work and exercise in the heat, people without adequate housing and those without air conditioning
• people who have breathing difficulties, heart problems, kidney problems or take heat-sensitive medications
Prevention tips
• stay cool
• avoid strenuous outdoor activities
• seek shade from the sun
• spend time in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls and community centres
• drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water
• visit friends and neighbours who may be at risk and never leave people or pets in your care unattended in a car

People exercising in a mall

Mall space could be put to very good public service use.

With these significant differences in weather people are going to need to find different places to get some exercise.  Some malls in North America have taken to running exercise programs.  There are two malls in Burlington who could put some of their space to a really good public service use.

If you or someone in your care experiences rapid breathing, headache, confusion, weakness or fainting, please seek medical attention right away.

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Mike Wallace live this evening on Facebook.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 27th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mike Wallace will be doing his third Facebook Live program this evening between 7:00 and 8:00 pm.

You can tune into the program and participate – you ask a question, Mike sees it on a screen – reads the question and does his best to answer it.

The second program was the one we saw – Mike was a little choppy – he didn’t seem to have that good a grip on the facts behind the question. There was no one off camera feeding him the facts and figures on the developments or issue he was being asked.

There is usually a smile on Mike Wallace's face. He enjoys life and has a good time. This summer it is his intention to run in a marathon in every province.

This is the Mike Wallace tat is missing from his Let’s Talk Facebook Live program – the sense of humour seems to be missing.

Mike is a good speaker – but he didn’t come across all that well on the Facebook Live. Normally you hear Mike before you see him in a room – there is that laugh, a good, strong healthy laugh from a guy who is having fun and is at ease.

The sessions last an hour and they are archived. He answered a question about the Georgian Court Estates in Aldershot (right on the border between what we see as Burlington and what most people see as Aldershot) where the intensification is going to be very significant. 275 units to something approaching 1000+.

Georgian Court Estates

The Aldershot Georgian Court community is going to undergo a massive change – Wallace see it as something the city needs. The developer sees that need as an opportunity for more intensive development. More people in less space.

These are low cost rental units – we describe them as “affordable”. Wallace believes there is a very serious need for housing people can afford. This doesn’t mean subsidized public housing – this is private developments that are reasonably priced; they won’t have a polished granite counter top and all the whistles and bells that go into those million dollar condos that are being built in the downtown core.

Parking-lot-Locust-street-300x221

Wallace has an idea for a second parking garage on the east side of the city.

Wallace talked about parking and the need for a fact based approach to just what the parking needs are going to be going forward. He emphasized that the study that is underway now needs to be completed as soon as possible so that decisions can be made.

Wallace, in what could have been a very funny line said he did not believe ‘we are all going to be walking or cycling and added: “I am a realist”.

He said that the buildings that have been approved would be very very difficult to stop – if at all.

In events like this there are what are called ‘softball’ questions. The Randall Reef question was one of those. You get someone to phone in and ask a question that makes the person look good when they answer. It is doubtful that two in every thousand people in the city even know what and where Randal Reef is (It’s in Hamilton) Wallace deserve major credit for ensuring the federal funds got to that project – it was polluting the water in our end of Lake Ontario.

Randall reef

Tonnes of toxic sludge rest on the bottom of Hamilton harbour. It is all going to be encased in concrete with parts of the are turned into park space.

Randall Reef is the second largest location of pollution in the country – second only to the tar pool ponds in Nova Scotia. It is the result of decades of carcinogenics that flowed from the coke ovens that were once used to generate electricity for Hamilton. The work is one of those vital but not very glamorous expenses that governments have to undertake.

Mikes approach to communicating with people is certainly different – how effective it is going to be will be known on October 22nd – they day people vote.

In his second session he mentioned the need for more parking space and said that he has an idea for some parking space on the east side of Brant Street – he wouldn’t say where but he did say it was on private property and there would be private interests involved.

From Lets Talk

The laugh and the Wallace sense of humour were missing.

Mike is on the screen all by himself with two monitors that feed him information. Adding a staff member to appear on screen aiding with the questions would add to the quality of the show – and if Mile could let that sense of humour show – it could be a better production. Shifting the camera a bit would help as well. Mike seems to be looking down much of the time.

Wallace is doing something different and the Let’s Talk session are all archived on his web site. Certainly worth looking at – he wants to be Mayor and he just might get there.

Click along to the web site – interesting.

 

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Police asking for help to locate a missing 15 year old girl.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

She is 15 and her family doesn’t know where she is.

The Halton Regional Police Service are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a 15 year old female missing from the Burlington area. She was last seen on the 1st of August, 2018.

Gitti Wayezi HRPS

Gitti Wayezi – 15 years old and missing.

The missing female is Gitti Wayezi who is a resident of the City of Burlington. Gitti is described as female, tanned skin, 5’3, approximately 120lbs, slim build, black straight hair, brown eyes but wears blue contact lenses. She has a nose ring in both her right and left nostril as well as a piercing on her lower left lip area.

Gitti Wayezi has been known to travel throughout the Greater Toronto Area and could possibly be in the Toronto area at this time. The Halton Regional Police Service is asking the assistance of the public in locating this teen in order to check on and ensure her well-being.

Anyone with information about this missing person is asked to contact the Halton Regional Police Service Communications Bureau at 905-825-4747 or the On Duty 30 Division Staff Sergeant at 905-825-4747 ext. 2310. The Criminal Investigation Bureau contact is Detective Constable Blair Bolton at 905-825-4747 ext. 2323.

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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Kitchener is up against Barrie in the IBL baseball finals.

sportsgold 100x100By Staff

August 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The 100th Intercounty Baseball League final will begin Aug. 28 when the Barrie Baycats host the
Kitchener Panthers at Coates Stadium.

Barrie Baycats batter

Barrie Baycats batter.

Barrie finished first in the regular season and has swept its way through the first two rounds of playoffs, going 7-0 against Burlington and Hamilton. The Baycats are gunning for a fifth straight

Dominico Cup title and would be the first team to win five consecutive championships since the Brantford Red Sox won six straight from 2008-13.

Kitchener Panthers

A Kitchener Panther batter.

Kitchener has been a finalist in two of the last four seasons, including 2017 when it lost to Barrie in four games. The Panthers finished second in the 2018 regular season and are also undefeated in the playoffs, sweeping Brantford and Toronto.

Best-of-seven Dominico Cup final

Game 1: Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Barrie, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: Thursday, Aug. 30 at Kitchener, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, Sept. 1 at Barrie, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, Sept. 2 at Kitchener, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 4 at Barrie, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 6 at Kitchener, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 7: Saturday, Sept. 8 at Barrie, 7 p.m.
* If necessary

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Kearns calls the stuff coming out of the Transportation department is 'phony baloney'.

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Lisa Kearns met with her community last night – she wanted to update them on where things were with developments in the ward and talk to them about her stand on most of the problems as she sees them.
It was clear that Lisa Kearns is for development – but the right kind of development.

Kerns at public meting Aug 23

Lisa Kearns talking to participants at her public meeting and handing out her T-shirts.

She has taken the position that the Carriage Gate development on the north east corner of James and Brant is a done deal. Her concern now is how does the community handle that construction – how long will there be serious disruption to how people use the downtown core which she defines as from the Lakeshore Road north to Caroline.

Kearns told the meeting that the Burlington Downtown Business Association and the Burlington Economic Development Corporation are working together on a study to come up with ideas to keep the downtown core vibrant.

Bentley - rendering

The Bentley, nearing completion on John Street is the first of a three phase development. Above ground parking and a medical building on the north at Caroline are to follow. Kearns thinks this is a great development.

Kearns pointed to the three phase Carriage Gate development on John Street that she thinks is great. It combines a location for new community services (in this case medical) has space for commercial tenants and will have significant above ground parking. She said she understands that 27% of the units in the Bentley are to be affordable housing. That does not appear to be the understanding of the developer.

One of the small pieces of good news is that there may be a solution to what was going to be serious traffic congestion on John Street at the downtown mobility hub with at least six transit routes going into and leaving the transit station and cars from the Revenue Properties and Carriage development emptying onto the same street.

Bus roites - 1st design

All those dotted lines are but routes that swing through the downtown mobility hub. Moving the transfer station north to ancempty lot at the corner of Caroline and John is said to be in the works.

Kearns told her audience that it appeared the property at the corner of John and Caroline that is now an empty lot will be made the transfer point for people who want to change buses. That transferring is now done at the location of the transit terminal on John Street just north of Pine.

Sounds like a sensible decision – nothing from city hall on this yet.

Kearns at podium

Lisa Kearns: Talks like a ward Councillor

Kearns looks and talks like the ward Councillor. She is in constant touch with the bureaucrats and used phrases like “I will take care of you” – “I’ve already been doing that.”

Kearns believes the downtown core – from Lakeshore to Caroline – is going to lose much of its character.

She appears to be basing her campaign on a sustainability lens – everything that gets done should be done through a sustainability lens – does what we want to do add to the sustainability of the community. Her message was that we need to re-think the way we do things.

Members of the audience were able to pick up Lisa Kearns lawn signs – and advised that they cannot be put up until September 7th.

Transportation and the study that seems to be taking forever to make it to the public drew this comment from Kearns: “Phony baloney – they don’t know what they are doing.”

That’s as blunt and direct as a candidate can be.

Expect more of that from Kearns who is going to be an interesting debater during the all candidate debates taking place for each ward.

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We will keep you informed. We will implement what you decide. It's all in a promise the city made to you.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is it deliberate?

Or is it from an organization that is now so dysfunctional that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

We published an opinion piece by ward 2 city council candidate Roland Tanner who wrote about a meting that was very poorly promoted, pointing out that even the ward Councillor and candidate for Mayor didn’t know about it.

We did a follow up piece on how a public meeting on such a critical matter could be so poorly promoted. We kept coming across the Get Involved part of the city web site.

CHAT group photo

Those who know or should know how to communicate effectively: Back row, left  Kwab Ako-Adjei, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Strategic Communications,. Bottom row, centre Donna Kell, Manager of Public Affairs and to her left city manager James Ridge. They would have signed off on the ChAT report.

While we were reading up on Getting Involved we came across ChAT – an interesting group that, in their group photograph, has several city staff in the group – including Kwab Ako-Adjei, Senior Manager of Government Relations and city manager James Ridge.

In April 2013, Burlington City Council approved the first Burlington Community Engagement Charter. The Charter was created by citizens with support from staff. It is an agreement between and among Burlington City Council and the community concerning citizen engagement with City government and establishes the commitments, responsibilities and fundamental concepts of this relationship.

Ako-Adjei and Ridge surely know something about communicating.

ChAT had their most recent annual report on the web site.

Some excerpts from that document

1. Ensure notification is as widespread as possible:

a. Use communication tools that include City of Burlington website, local print media, online digital communication, direct delivery and social media.
b. Reach out to groups/individuals that may be affected by proposed developments, policies, initiatives, studies and municipal projects.
c. Create and develop partnerships that will help reach out to citizens.
d. Ensure that communication plans include early and widespread notifications.
e. Where appropriate, provide progress and/or completion notices.

2. Ensure notification is given early enough so that the citizens may be fully engaged:

a. Set up and maintain a way for citizens and groups to subscribe or sign up for early notification through email, social media or other means.
b. Advise the public of proposed developments, policies, meetings and major projects as soon as possible. For major projects and public meetings, at least two weeks notice to the public is expected. Exceptions will be made in emergency situations where less than two weeks notice will apply.

3. Support staff in providing early and widespread notification so that it becomes part of the corporate culture:

a. Provide staff training in effective public engagement practices through workshops and e-learning opportunities.

4. Collaborate with citizens and partners in empowering citizens through different means of communicating:

a. Use existing resources in the community to help to provide information as soon as possible.
b. Develop and use networks for information sharing of contacts.

5. Clearly communicate meeting dates and deadlines:

a. Schedule public meetings to take place early and with opportunities for public input into decision- making.
b. Create a central point on the City’s website where all dates are available.
c. Ensure dates are reflected on City project pages on the website.
d. Include dates in all relevant communication materials.

CHAT promise to the public graphic

Is this happening?

It is so immoral for a city to publish statements like this and then fail miserably to deliver on the promise.

The people who work at city hall want to be seen as professionals – and they should be. But there is nothing professional about how that public meeting Wednesday night came into being.

Burlington once had a city manager who made mistakes – and he had the decency to apologize publicly for the mistakes he made.

And he wasn’t crass enough to define his mistakes as a “learning opportunity”.

Related opinion and news stories:

Roland Tanner opinion piece

Public meeting that failed.

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Rivers on how we are going to have to deal with climate change.

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 23rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“Fire situation ‘speaks to the changing environment we live in and the ravages of climate change,’…From flood to fire to flood and then again to fire … and we have had two states of emergency — that’s unprecedented,” (B.C. Premier Horgan)

The US president has a couple of theories about the massive fires ravaging California. An early brain wave focused on all that water, in the rivers and streams, which the authorities allow to empty into the oceans. If only it could be used to put out the fires?

But Trump, ever the stable genius he is, has now come up with another theory. And this one helps with the defence of his trade strategy, which boils down to placing tariffs on everything that moves across the US border. In this case it’s imported Canadian softwood lumber which is the target.

You see cheap imports of Canadian lumber have deterred American home builders from using up those logs left lying on the forest floor. Why go to the pain, bother and expense of gathering those tinder-box termite-eaten and diseased log remnants nestled among the mighty redwoods, when it’s oh so cheap to buy pre-cut Canadian timber, readily trucked to your building site.

Sloppy forestry management, and not climate change, is the real culprit behind the fires, according to the Donald. Apparently tidiness in forest management is next to godliness in his good book. Who would have thought? And we in the great white north must be just as sloppy, cheap lumber of not.

fire 1

Small communities are at serious risk – with 500 + fires in one province.

You see, Canada is also struggling with massive forest fires, almost everywhere. But the ones to worry about are in B.C. where over 500 wildfires were blazing simultaneously, only a few days ago. The smoke from those fires was so thick that weather offices started mapping it with radar, and airports in the interior had to be shut down. Air quality alerts are everywhere in the province, including on Vancouver Island.

B.C. Premier Horgan thinks this is the new normal, thanks to climate change. Perhaps all that smoke in the atmosphere might help block some solar radiation and moderate the greenhouse effect for at least the next year. But that nuclear winter scenario would only be temporary. In the end it will be years, maybe decades, before those fire devastated areas sprout trees and start absorbing and storing CO2… and become forest fires areas again.

It is a pity that Premier Horgan and the federal government are not also picking a convenient scapegoat to blame for Canada’s climate related events. In fact they have a prime culprit ever so close. America has been the single largest contributor to global warming in history, though China has recently assumed that title role.

But at least China has a plan. And China has already met its 2030 Paris carbon reduction target and its emissions are falling at almost seven percent a year, despite its ongoing economic development. By comparison the US has increased its emissions by 2% over the last quarter century. Not much wonder the US has decided to take itself out of the Paris climate change agreement, the only sizeable nation on earth refusing to participate in this global effort.

But it’s going to get worse stateside. Trump is cancelling Obama’s electrical sector coal rules, which would have led to the ultimate phase-out of coal power plants. The US leader is banking on the myth that something called clean coal, an oxymoron if ever there was one, will help scale back the traditional pollution associated with coal. But of course it won’t. Coal is pretty pure carbon. And its continued use will only jack up the 30% of US carbon emissions which come from producing electricity.

Another 30% or so of carbon emissions come from the transportation sector. And here the US federal government is planning to roll back California-inspired and Obama-initiated fuel economy and emission standards. Cancelling Obama’s auto rules, for example will mean that instead of 70% of light trucks being built as a hybrid or EV, there will be virtually none (1 %) by 2026. The rule change would lead to an increase in oil consumption of half a million barrels a day, every day.

This is just another challenge for Canadian authorities negotiating auto rules under NAFTA, given the integrated state of the North American industry. Improved auto efficiency would have been in the equation when we confirmed our own Paris emission reduction targets.

gas - electric pumps

Figuring out how to move from one form of fuel to another is a huge challenge – how are we doing so far?

Canada has always embraced new US environmental standards for autos, though this is the first time the rules are retrograde. Perhaps it is time to revert to the old Can/US auto-trade pact which worked well for us before the Mulroney trade deal with the US. That would enable auto manufacturers to build cars here for a cleaner Canadian market as opposed to accepting relatively dirty American vehicles.

Nobody seriously believes that the US will continue forever on this mad march against science, the environment and humanity. But it is clear that the current dinosaur making America great again is a climate change denier bent on irreparably damaging the planet just to profit his fossil fuel business interests and friends.

Too often climate change has become a political football, a partisan wedge issue which swings one way or the other every time a government changes its stripes. Today the liberals are for it and the conservatives almost everywhere dismiss it, disdain it or don’t give a damn. Such is the case with the new PC government in Ontario, which has taken over the pink palace and thrown out all the old furniture, as if it were worn out and moth-eaten.

Cap and trade graphic

Cap and trade is complex – but it was working. The new Ontario wants to shut it down – without offering anything to replace it. We will pay heavily as a society for this mistake.

In the volatile world of gas pump pricing Ontario’s cap and trade ended up costing less than five cents a litre – less than two dollars more per fill-up for most drivers. Yet it provided new money to maintain our schools, help people insulate their homes and to buy electric vehicles to help reduce auto emissions. And most importantly, cap and trade had been a process for the ongoing mitigation of carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Blame the Liberals for failing to properly educate the public on the benefits of the program they had developed. And they clearly did fail on that account. But blame the conservatives for scrapping the program without a second thought or taking the time to understand how it worked. And pity the poor parent who has to tell their child what to expect about the future.

fire 2

The fires are disastrous enough – the smoke is going to result in major health problems.

Protecting the environment is good for the economy and bad for polluters. There is more employment and potential national income from solar and wind energy than there is from coal and natural gas generation. Cleaner air means healthier people and fewer sick work days. Mitigating climate change earlier would have moderated our climate and avoided the costs we are experiencing dealing with floods and forest fires today. It’s a no-brainer.

Donald Trump has some other notions about controlling fires. For example he suggested more lives would have been saved during 9/11 had the twin towers been insulated with more asbestos. Apparently the Donald also wants to make asbestos great again. Canada, just this year, banned asbestos, including its mining, which had made us a leading exporter in years gone by.

However Trump can still buy asbestos from Russia. In fact for reasons only he and his pal Vlad might know, a picture of his smiling face adorns packages of the toxic product from the land of that toxic dictator. Still, it’ll take more than asbestos to insulate him from the heat he will be getting as the Mueller investigation uncovers more of his evil doings.

Donald Trump is s curious blend of health conscious and living on the edge. He doesn’t smoke or drink, but binges on burgers, chows down on fried chicken and quaffs gallons of diet coke every day – and has a passion for asbestos.. And he likes to bask in the White House tanning bed every morning, soaking up those death rays, before heading to the oval office to save the free world from himself.

It’s no wonder he is nonplussed about climate change.

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Thirty Years Too Late –    It’s Getting Hotter –    Blame it on Canada

Trump Asbestos –    Vehicle Emissions and Economy –    China’s Carbon Goals

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The public meeting that failed - they forgot to engage the public.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Can they get anything right?

There was to be a public meeting to get public feedback on midrise buildings.  The city’s Planning department wanted public feed back.

A Gazette reader advised us that he attended and is pretty sure he counted five people who attended who weren’t candidates for public office. There were two candidates from ward 5 and Mead Ward running for the Mayor’s job.

“I saw a notice on Twitter” said our reader, “I think 2 or 3 days ago max. I spoke to MMW tonight and she said she only found out late in the day too, and not from the City.

“There was a notice on the ‘Get Involved Burlington’ notices I get, I got an update re the survey and open houses dated on 20th – two days ago.”

Gete involved logo

The only way to get the Get Involved Notices is if you have registered previously with the city.

There is some information on the city’s web site:

As the city grows, Burlington will continue to receive applications for all sizes of developments, including mid-rise buildings.

What are mid-rise buildings?
Mid-rise buildings are bigger in scale than houses but smaller than towers and have a good relationship to the street. This means that while the walls of a mid-rise are tall enough to provide lots of usable space inside the building, they are low enough to let the sun in and open the view to the sky from the street. A well-designed and placed mid-rise building should also support a comfortable pedestrian environment and make the street come alive by lining the sidewalk with doors and windows that house things like stores, restaurants, services and community uses.

The height of mid-rise buildings varies. In Burlington, mid-rise buildings range between five and 11 storeys. Mid-rise buildings may contain a single use, like an office or residential apartment, but usually contain a mix of uses, which may include things like retail, office, community services, and residential all in the same building.

Our reader added: “It’s a bad time of year to hold this sort of meeting anyway. With great respect to the staff who gave up an evening to attend, and who were universally polite, friendly, professional and helpful, this is a fine example of everything that’s wrong with citizen engagement in this city.

“It’s simply not engagement. The presentation amounted to about 8 Bristol board panels with some limited info about possible guidelines and a few sheets of paper and a pen for suggestions.

“To be honest, there’s literally nothing a resident can provide after seeing a couple of Bristol boards that is going to amount to feedback the city can use. It’s designed to fail. All you’re left with is five citizens who gave up valuable time to try to help build a better city who probably now feel like they were at best wasting their time and at worst had their intelligence insulted.”

Any wonder that the natives are restless.

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Planners looking for public input - too little too late says ward 2 candidate.

opinionviolet 100x100By Roland Tanner

August 22nd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is holding two drop-in open houses for residents to learn more about the mid-rise building guidelines currently being developed.

A mid rise building is defined as any building between five and eleven stories high. The guidelines will be presented to Council on November (after the election, but before the new Council takes office).

1. Take the online survey

2. Attend the open houses

Wednesday, August 22nd from 6pm to 8pm at the Art Gallery of Burlington

Thursday, August 30th from 1:30pm to 3:30pm at the Art Gallery of Burlington

The city advises that “your input will be used to help create the guidelines that will be presented to Burlington City Council in November 2018”.

Mid rise example Tanner

An example of a mid-rise structure

How this affects you

The city guidelines that are adopted will have a large effect on all future development that fall within the ‘mid-rise’ heights. For instance, the tall building guidelines agreed in 2017 set out certain required features for any tall buildings which are planned. These include things like road setbacks, public accessible areas and architectural features. In theory, the guidelines should ensure that new buildings which fall within their remit are designed appropriately and fit well within and transition to the neighbourhoods where they are planned.

Public engagement – too little, too late

As is so often the case, it appears that public engagement on these design guidelines are happening late, at a time of year when many people are away, and with relatively little notice. Residents are being asked to provide informed feedback on design criteria which will have already been planned and considered for many months by city staff and/or consultants.

I feel it is unlikely that bringing in citizens at a stage when so much work has already been done is likely to enable any significant discussion of the guidelines which will result in meaningful adjustment of the guidelines. The decision will be made by council before most residents have even become aware that the guidelines are under discussion. To my knowledge, there has been very little publicity of the public meetings until this week.

What could have happened:

Public meetings at the start of the staff process of drafting design guidelines.
Based on public meeting initial feedback, creation of a short-term citizen-staff committee to research and explore design guideline possibilities.

Citizen committee empowered to reach out and engage further with residents by a range of methods and ensure voices of entire community are heard from all demographic areas, communicate, liaise and interview staff.

Citizen recommendations included as integral part of staff draft guidelines which are then presented to further meetings, via questionnaires, advertised in local media.

Final adjustments made to draft guidelines.
Council considers guidelines which have been developed by staff and residents in a collaborative process.

What’s worse that no engagement? Engagement done badly

I believe that the current City engagement methods actually do more harm than good. By holding ineffective ‘engagement’ sessions where citizens can do little more than provide extremely minimal feedback, late in the process, citizens end up feeling more rather than less resentful of the decision-making process. Not only are they being ignored, but they’ve given up an evening of their lives to be ignored less efficiently. Bad engagement, in many ways, is worse than no engagement at all.

If we are going to ask citizens for their opinions, it’s essential that it happens in a way that those opinions are heard, respected, and built into the development of plans and guidelines from the very outset.

Nevertheless, I encourage all Ward 2 residents to attend the open houses and complete the online survey if you have the time available.

Roland TannerRoland Tanner is a candidate for the ward 2 city council seat.  He was a member of the Shape Burlington report that was adopted by city council unanimously – then never acted upon.

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17 year old male and an 18 year old female arrested for trafficking offences involving a child under the age of 18.

Crime 100By Staff

August 22nd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton Regional Police Service – Human Trafficking Unit have arrested a male and a female for human trafficking offences involving a child under the age of 18.

On August 21st 2018, members of the Halton Regional Police Human Trafficking Unit initiated a proactive investigation.

As a result of this investigation, police located a child at a hotel in the City of Burlington and have arrested a 17 year old male and an 18 year old female for prostitution related charges.

The 17 year old male from Ajax has been charged with receiving material benefit from sexual services provided by a person under 18 years of age and obstruct peace officer.

The 18 year old female from Ajax has been charged with adult householder permitting prohibited sexual activity and receiving material benefit from sexual services provided by a person under 18 years of age.

Tips can 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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How much can a city council candidate spend to get one of those seven seats?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 22, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If what we are hearing is true candidates are out there knocking on doors asking for votes.

You get to decide who you want to represent you two months from today. Do your homework and make what you believe to be the best person for your interest and the wider interests of the city.

Many people are still disappointingly unaware that they are voting city council candidates into two jobs: as city Councillors and as Regional Councillors. Half of their income comes from the Regional government.

We were interviewing a city council candidate who had no idea what Regional Council does but said that (gender neutral here) would learn very quickly. I didn’t leave that interview with a lot of confidence an on how (gender neutral) would perform.

Another candidate made an interesting observation. Gender neutral said “people are feeling threatened with some of the changes that are taking place and they don’t understand why this is all in front of them now.”

City hall drank that Money Sense magazine Kool Aid and believed that Burlington was the best mid-sized city in the country and that they were doing their jobs.

Well – that turned out to be less than true. Those that were trusted weren’t doing their jobs and they are now being called to account.

Several months before the 2014 election Mayor Rick Goldring is reported to have said he was very comfortable with the council he had and would be content if they were returned – and they were all returned. That is not likely to happen in 2018. There are far too many really good candidates who bring a lot to the table.

Getting to city council is not cheap: The Clerk’s office provided us with the following spending limits for each ward.

Head of council: $7,500 + $0.85 per elector
All other offices: $5,000 + $0.85 per elector

                                   Number of Electors          Maximum ExpensesCity Hall BEST aerial
Mayor                   126,791                              $115,272.35
Councillor Ward 1   19552                                 $21,619.20
Councillor Ward 2   17547                                 $19,914.95
Councillor Ward 3   17712                                 $20,055.20
Councillor Ward 4   26638                                $27,642.30
Councillor Ward 5   22763                                $24,348.55
Councillor Ward 6   22579                                $24, 192.15

These are interesting numbers. A candidate in ward 1 can spend $21,619.20 to get elected to a job that will pay them slightly more than $100,000 a year for four years. From a personal standpoint – is that a good investment?

The Gazette knows of one candidate who has committed $9000 of his own money to his election.

How many people pay that much to get a job?

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Widespread rainfall and the potential for imbedded Thunderstorms later in the day expected Tuesday.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Flood conditions - yellow

 

Conservation Halton advises that a large low pressure system over the Great Plains will be moving into our area by tomorrow morning, bringing with it widespread rainfall and the potential for imbedded Thunderstorms later in the day. Numerical weather models suggest rainfall amounts between 20-40mm, with higher accumulations if Thunderstorms develop and persist.

Water levels in watershed creeks will rise significantly during the weekend. Caution around the edges of creeks - especially with children.

Water levels in watershed creeks will rise significantly during the week. Caution around the edges of creeks – especially with children.

Widespread flooding is not anticipated, however fast flowing water and flooding of low lying areas and natural floodplains may be expected.

Conservation Halton is asking all residents and children to keep a safe distance from all watercourses and structures such as bridges, culverts and dams. Elevated water levels, fast flowing water, and slippery conditions along stream banks continue to make these locations extremely dangerous. Please alert children in your care of these imminent dangers.

Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will issue an update to this Watershed Condition Statement –Water Safety message as conditions warrant.

This Watershed Condition Statement will be in effect through Wednesday August 22, 2018.

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Trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Burlington, Oakville and Milton

notices100x100By Staff

August 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Three batches of trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus: two in Burlington and one in Oakville. A batch of mosquitoes trapped last week in Milton has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

This is the first batch of WNV positive mosquitoes for Milton this year. A total of four WNV positive mosquito batches in Halton to date.

The

The

“Halton is committed to being safe and healthy and reducing West Nile virus in our communities through both education and preventative programs like larviciding,” said Dr. Daniela Kempkens, Halton Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health. “Until the hard frosts of fall set in, people should continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites and remove mosquito breeding sites.”

Urban areas are more likely to have mosquitoes that carry WNV. The types of mosquitoes that transmit WNV to humans most commonly breed in urban areas in places that hold water such as bird baths, plant pots, old toys, and tires.

The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

• Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
• Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.
• Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects, where possible. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
• Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET or Icaridin.
• Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.

A map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied this year is available at halton.ca.

To report standing water at public facilities or for more information about West Nile virus, please visit halton.ca, call 311or email wnv@halton.ca.

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Drummond on the new provincial government - How are they doing so far?

opinionred 100x100By Andrew Drummond

August 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last Tuesday, the Doug Ford government’s first legislative session came to a close. It was clear from the outset of the session that Ford wanted to accomplish much and was willing to endure widespread public opposition to do it. However, it was also abundantly clear throughout the session that the government was being run top down from the Premier’s office and Ford’s ministers were frequently unprepared to discuss government policy until they had been briefed, even when it was regarding decisions within their own department.

Tory Education Minister Lisa Thomson

Education Minister Lisa Thomson: Old sex ed program to be used.

One of the areas that has been the source of the most confusion has been the Ministry of Education and Minister Lisa Thompson. One of the government’s first acts was to announce that they would be removing the current curriculum for Health and Phys Ed (colloquially known as Sex Ed) and replace it with the 1998 version from Mike Harris’ government. This decision was immediately met with near universal condemnation, as the 20-year-old curriculum does not cover topics such as cyberbullying, consent, sexting, or same-sex relationships.

The government’s reaction showed how unprepared they were for this decision. They have flip flopped four or five times, and eventually Minister Thompson ran from reporters rather than be forced to give further non-answers to what the government’s plans are. To this point, the government still has not communicated to school boards what the expectations are, and the Elementary Teacher’s Federation as well as many school boards have announced that they will continue teaching the existing curriculum.

The debate on what the curriculum should include notwithstanding, it is the chaos and lack of direction from the government that is most troubling. Minister Thompson seems to not have any idea why she is changing the curriculum, what she is changing it to, or how to implement such a change. Students in Halton are now going to be at risk of losing valuable lessons that have been recommended by police, health professionals, and social workers because the government is dysfunctional enough on this file to ensure no one knows what to do.

Another important area of education is school repair. During the election campaign, it was identified by the group Fix Our Schools that Ontario had $15.9 billion in overdue school repairs. Many Conservative MPPs signed a pledge to address this. The pledge specifically commits the MPP to “Support the provision of adequate, stable funding needed to ensure that by 2022 all Ontario schools meet this “State of Good Repair Standard”.” Burlington MPP Jane McKenna and Minister Thompson signed the pledge (it is worth noting that Effie Triantafilopoulos did not). One of the government’s early actions was to announce the cancellation of the Cap and Trade program, one part of which included $100 million in school repair funding annually. In response to the public uproar on this, Minister Thompson announced 3 days later the program would be reviewed before being cancelled, but has not commented further in the month since.

Following through on this pledge is critical for Halton, which on its own has hundreds of millions in needed repairs. But it is important from a different perspective as well. Citizens are cynical about politics. Many believe that politicians will say anything to get elected and then only act in their own best interest once in power. We need to all fight that assumption. But it starts with the ones who were elected on June 7th. They need to follow through on their word. If Jane McKenna signed a pledge, she needs to act on it. Even if she is not strong enough within the government benches to accomplish change, she needs to stand up and say she is trying. Or stand up and say anything. Silence makes you complicit in the deceit.

Tory buck a beer

Buck a Beer program gets announced – few craft brewers sign on.

Another of the flagship promises of the government was to lower the regulations on the minimum price of beer from $1.25 a bottle to $1. This was a very popular promise from Ford on the hustings, but another that was short-sighted in practice. The first point that the Conservatives failed to consider was that although the current mandated minimum price is $1.25 a bottle, no beer in Ontario was actually selling at that price. The lowest price for 24 bottles of beer is currently $35.50 at the Beer Store (or $1.48/bottle). If no beer company could afford to sell at $1.25 why would they at $1?

To avoid the PR problem that it would cause, Ford lined up a single brewery in Prince Edward County to commit to selling beer for $1 (despite their current cheapest beer selling for $2.95). He also offered the “Buck-a-Beer Challenge” to breweries where they would be given priority marketing spaces at the LCBO free of charge in exchange for lowering their beer price. To date, I am not aware of any other brewery taking him up on it. Buck-a-Beer by itself is a relatively minor issue, but it again showed a government not ready for governing and making poor decisions without forethought.

When Finance Minister Vic Fideli said on radio that the government needed to get Buck-a-Beer in place for the Labour Day long weekend so they could then focus on other priorities, it reinforced the image of a government that is out of touch with the things that people actually need. This was followed up with local opposition from nearly every craft brewery in Ontario. Burlington’s own Nickel Brook Brewery put out the following statement:

“Nickel Brook will not take part in the proposed “buck a beer” plan. We’ve always been about quality & don’t aim to change that now, or ever. We have no intention in joining a race to the bottom. We stand with our fellow craft brewers in opposing this gimmick by Ford.”

Tory Staffers applauding

Tory staffers paid to clap during media events to drown out questions from reporters.

All of these decisions have been hasty and ill conceived. There has also been a variety of “Trump-style” attempts to control or discredit the media. Throughout August, the Ford government sent paid government staffers to Ministerial press conferences to loudly applaud and drown out reporter’s questions. They have also used government money to construct “Ontario News Now” in order to produce their own news-type content. Possibly the worst example of this was Minister Lisa McLeod claiming that the Toronto Star was reporting “Fake News” when they pressed her on the Conservative pledge to see through the Basic Income Pilot. Minister McLeod has since apologized, but all of these actions show a dangerous disregard for the public and media as necessary in democratic government. It also will ring hollow any claims the Conservatives make regarding a lack of government funds. If staffers can be paid to stand around and clap, surely there is enough money to fund the programs we need? Actors were hired to be at a location to applaud when the Premier was giving a speech.

The Basic Income pledge again shows a troubling lack of influence and honesty from our local MPP. Jane McKenna stated clearly during the election campaign that she and her government would see the Basic Income Pilot through to completion. However, her government announced within a month of taking office that it was cancelling the program. Again, there are many, many reasons to want to see this program through to completion. The data collected would be invaluable to anti-poverty strategies for a generation. But, Minister McLeod cancelled the program for ideological reasons. “It really is a disincentive to get people back on track,” she said of the cancellation.

McKenna

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna in campaign mode.

Which means that the government is making an ideological decision that our MPP disagrees with (unless she was being disingenuous during the campaign, which would be worse) and she is unwilling or lacking the strength to say anything about it. Twice in the first month of this government, Ford has taken actions that directly contradict Jane McKenna’s public promises. Twice, Ms. McKenna has said nothing to defend herself or residents of Burlington.

The Ford government was elected to bring a certain kind of change to Ontario. And Jane McKenna was elected to fulfill her promises to the people of Burlington. Two months since their election and their actions do not live up to this obligation. So far, all Burlington has seen is a government that will accept crumbling schools when students return in September. Burlington has seen a government that is hurting the most vulnerable in our society because they have ideological problems with helping them. Burlington has seen a government rush to get cheap beer out in time for a holiday and say they will focus on other issues later. Burlington did not deserve this kind of change.

Andrew Drummond HeadshotAndrew Drummond was the NDP candidate for Burlington in the last provincial election.

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Director of Education will have his hands full this school year: negotiating a salary increase won't be one of them - province has put a wage freeze in place.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Directors of Education from school boards across the province met in Toronto last week to look into their crystal balls and try to determine just what might be in their future.

Spending cuts loomed large in the conversations which was followed closely by the realization that they would not be getting any salary increases this year.

The Directors experienced a seven year wage freeze that was lifted last year and then dropped back into place less than a month ago. They will learn to live on $200,000+

The concern over just how teachers are going to work with a sex education curriculum that is both dated and out of tune with the times is a concern.

Consent

Facts don’t seem to impact the province’s decision to use an older curriculum.

The Board’s still don’t have clear directions from the province and many teachers are concerned that the directions they get will clash with what they see as their responsibility to prepare students for the society they are going into.

Consent is a different word today than it was when the curriculum that is to be used was first written. That the difference even exists is a shame on all of us.

Miller prep at Central

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller the Director of Education for the Halton District School Board said that school boards have been down this path before when the Harris government cut spending on both schools and hospitals. With more pressure coming from the seniors sector than the parents – we can expect more to be cut from education when the cuts come – and they will come.

Miller will be meeting with all his school principals in the week ahead giving them a sense of what lies ahead.

The Mathematics curriculum is under review – the fear is that the Premier will insist that an older approach to teaching math will be brought back. The current government is not seen as all that friendly with advances in education.

Also in the line-up of problems is the number of collective bargaining issues that come up in February and March of next year. The government might see this as an easy place to reduce spending – so what if there are strikes – they tend not to last very long and the savings would be significant.

MMR Clair Proteau

MMR principal Clair Proteau checking out the design changes being made to her school.

At a more purely local school level – there are concerns about the number of students who are moving with the French Immersion program when it is taken out of Hayden High School and transferred to MM Robinson. Some of the feeder school are very much on side – 100% of the students will move with the program; at another school the number is close to zero prepared to make the move.

The situation was described as a “messaging” problem.

The really good news is that the transfer of Pearson high school students looks as if it will run very smoothly. A lot of work and effort had been put into making the transfer as seamless as possible for the students who will have to change their hoodies.

HDSB sign with flagIn Burlington Director Miller has a pressing problem coming his way with the accommodation that houses the Administrative Staff. The building on Guelph Line is not AODA compliant and has to meet the standard by 2025.

Upgrading old buildings is often more expensive than starting from scratch. The Board has land immediately to the south of the existing building that will meet the need – but the current crop of trustees weren’t all that keen on keeping the Administrative building in Burlington. Four of the eleven trustees are Burlington residents; four are from Oakville; two from Milton and one from Halton Hills.

The Milton people do have a bit of a drive, especially in the winter when Board meetings end well after 10 pm. Also the number of trustees from Milton is expected to climb due to their population growth.

The education beat is going to be active.

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Public school board trustee candidates just as important as those who want to be members of city council

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The election that will decide who the Mayor of Burlington will be for the 2018 – 2021 term of office is attracting a lot of attention. The high profile offices usually get a lot of attention when an incumbent just might be getting the boot.

Burlingtonians have two very different choices if they decide that current Mayor Rick Goldring has done his bit. Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has her hat in the ring and former city Councillor and Member of Parliament Mike Wallace are candidates for Mayor. Aldershot resident Greg Woodruff has also announced his candidacy.

While those top spots are important – the critical level of municipal government for households with children is our school board which is Regional in nature.

The Board that is seeking re-election is the Board that voted to close two of the city’s seven high schools when it was not crystal clear that those schools had to be closed.

t-shirts-central-strongThe school closings are what the Board administration wanted. The Director of Education changed his position once he had compelling data from Central high school parents. It isn’t clear why the Board staff did not spot what Central parents discovered.

Because of the doubt the Board trustees did have the option of voting to not close any of the high schools at the time and to wait for a few years to see just what high school enrollment was going to be.

The very significant intensification Burlington is going through makes it clear that we are going to see more people living in Burlington. Some of those people will be families and some of those families will have children and some of those children will be high school students.

In the process of closing Robert Bateman and the Lester B. Pearson High schools the trustees did two things that have done almost irreparable harm to the community. Bateman had a Community Pathways Program that provided an essential educational program for students that deserve as much opportunity as any other student.

Moving the program to Nelson is filled with problems.

Few, other than the parents who had children in the program, knew about the vital role CPP played in the lives of disadvantaged students.

Bateman - crowd scene with BullOn the several student events that the Gazette covered at the school we didn’t hear a word about CPP; but as the PAR process rolled out it became clear that the program was essential for a group of families.

PAR HDSB Parents at BatemanWhen the decision to close Bateman was announced those parents erupted as well they should have. Had they made their case earlier in the process a different outcome might have been possible.

The Central high school parents did their homework and pointed out how expensive (never mind how disruptive to student life) it was going to be to bus their students. The Board looked at the numbers Central provided and agreed and took Central off the close list.

They then put Bateman on the list; their response was to claim the Central parents had “thrown them under the bus”.

The closing of Bateman has been pushed back two years.

Collard Amy

Ward 5 Halton District School Board trustee Any Collard

With nominations closed – parents now know who has come forward to serve at the Board of Education level. There are a couple of bright spots. The acclamation of Amy Collard in ward 5 assures the public that there will be at least one strong voice coming from Burlington.

Diane Miller Admin review delegation

Parent Diane Miller delegating to Administrative Review Facilitator Margaret Wilson.

The entry of Diane Miller for the ward 3 seat is good news. Ms Miller made a very strong delegation to Margaret Wilson, the Facilitator appointed by the province to carry out an Administrative Review of the process used by the Halton District school Board to arrive at it’s decision to close two of the city’s seven high schools: Lester B.Pearson and Robert Bateman. Ms Wilson found for the Board of Education saying there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the process that was used.

Her public report said: “Based on my review and consultations, I conclude that, while there were violations of the Board PAR Policy, they were such that they had no material effect on either the deliberations of the PARC or on the final decisions of the Board.”

One wonders what the Board administration would have to do to draw a different response from the Facilitator.

Jason BartlettJason Bartlett, who is running for the Ward 1 and 2 seat is an active participant of the Special Education parents group and can be expected to advocate for the parents with children that have special needs. Those children need all the advocacy they can get

One can only wish that those parents had been more active during that period of time when the decision to close Bateman was made.
One hopes that the debate for the school board trustees can hear sound arguments and strong positions from the trustees and do away with that “we were thrown under the bus” claim by Bateman parents.
There is the potential to elect trustees that can do the job they are elected to do.

This is the time for voters to look over the candidates and ensure that the direction the school board takes is sound and meets the needs of the children that will be heading back to school in a couple of weeks.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher

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First Rider program for those taking the school bus to class - on Saturday at Corpus Christ High School 9:00 am.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

That first ride to school on a school bus can be a big adventure or an experience that has a child close to terrified of being on their own.

The organization that manages the school bus service that services both the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board has organized a First Rider Program to be held on Saturday, August 25, 2018

The First Rider Program” (previously referred to as School Bus Orientation Day) will begin at 9:00 a.m.

School buses

Safely getting on and off of the bus and proper behaviour on a school bus are part of the First Rider program.

Parents of all first time riders are encouraged to bring their children to the free sessions, which will feature a classroom presentation on school bus safety, including Off We Go! a special video on school bus safety and a demonstration on a school bus.

School bus company safety officers and bus drivers will talk to the children and their parents about safely getting on and off of the bus, proper behaviour on a school bus, crossing the street to get to a waiting bus and overall school bus safety.

In addition, a handout will be provided to all young riders with tips on school bus safety. Both HSTS and the school bus operators hope this program will help students and their parents feel more comfortable riding a school bus before the first day of school.

The hour long sessions begin at 9 a.m. on August 25, 2018 at the following five locations throughout Halton.

To register students parents must contact the host bus company at the phone number listed below:

For Burlington the presentation takes place at Corpus Chris Catholic Secondary School 905-333-4047 (Attridge Transportation)

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Rivers: Driving Dangerously - Tanks, Teslas and Tweets.

 

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups… Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” (Hillary Clinton)

Word is out that Elon Musk has an offer he can’t refuse from the Saudis, to help him take back Tesla from all those critical public share holders. The question is why. Is it possible that Allah had bestowed an enormous endowment of battery quality lithium in the Arabian desert, as well as all that petroleum.

Rivers Musk

Elon Musk

One suspects Saudi King Salman must be up to something fishy. Otherwise why would a nation whose economy virtually runs on oil be buying into an electric car company? Perhaps the kingdom, sees Tesla as a threat to the gas guzzlers and is planning to buy it up only to shut it down – sort of like what US Steel did to Stelco. But why spend good cash buying a money losing car company. Odds are good it’ll go bankrupt all on its own.

If they can be taken at their word, this foray in buying an auto company may be just the start. They’ll still have ready cash available in their two-plus trillion heritage fund – enough to buy other perennial money losing auto companies like Chrysler. Or perhaps there is a deeper method behind this seeming madness.

Rivers Tesla cockpit

Cockpit of a Tesla electic car

How much simpler life would be for the misogynous state if the new Saudi Teslas could be engineered somehow so that only males could operate them. After all Elon Musk is a genius. Tesla pioneered autonomous drive as well as battery power. How difficult could it be to differentiate between males and females, and everything in between? Wouldn’t that bring a whole new slant to the term intelligent drive?

What then would be the point of those female protesters demanding equal rights to drive when they are not gender-capable of doing so anyway? Women in Saudi Arabia have finally and grudgingly been given the right to drive, provided they are accompanied by a male and/or have submitted an acceptable flight plan to a male relative or guardian. Hardly what we’d call freedom, but then that is Arabia.

Rivers Raif

Protesters demanding the release of Raif Bedawi; his wife is now a Canadian citizen

Human rights are subservient to male rights in this backward sexist monarchy and all rights are subservient to the wishes of the royal family. Back almost a decade ago Saudi authorities apprehended an independent humanitarian blogger, Raif Bedawi, for having the gumption to write on the internet about something we call freedom of speech.

For that heinous act he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes to be administered at the rate of 50 a week.

The Harper government and its foreign minister Baird roundly criticized the Saudis back then, trying to influence them through diplomacy and even twitter. But since then Bedawi’s wife has managed to flee to Canada and become a citizen. So when Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, out of desperation and as duty to a Canadian citizen, tweeted to the Saudi government that they should immediately release Mrs. Bedawi’s husband and the other imprisoned peaceful protesters, all hell broke loose and the rest is modern history.

The Saudi will accept nothing less than an apology for calling them out for exactly what they are. But Trudeau is not going to apologize for speaking out on women’s human rights, even if the Conservative opposition members, who have apparently forgotten what they did as government, are now making sounds like they think he should. After all he is the feminist PM of Canada.

And Canada is not going to play tit-for-tat trade. Our $15 billion contract to export armoured cars is wrong on several counts but $15 billion is a lot of money and jobs, and besides if we cancelled, General Dynamics would just transfer production from their Ontario plant to someplace else. Morality has never been an insurmountable issue when it comes to selling weapons for the Americans, Brits or French either.

Rivers Freeland + prince

The Crown Prince wants Canada to apologize for the tweet Chrystia Freeland sent.

It is embarrassing that over the thirty years since Trudeau the elder promised a national energy policy, we’re still importing oil from Arabia.

Perhaps once the jurisdictional matter with B.C. is resolved we will move forward on the Energy-East pipeline. Or we could start making more electric cars – like Tesla is doing.

And then there are some 800 Saudi medical students who’ve been told by their homeland to pack up and go home. Sure we’ll lose the money they bring with them, but that is about the best news ever for young Canadian medical graduates still waiting for a resident position.

Most concerting in this unfortunate tussle though was the image released by a group of Saudi whacko nationalists portraying an Air Canada plane heading for collision with our CN tower. There was a retraction and apology, but nobody thinks threatening another nation with the kind of terror we saw on 9/11 is at all funny. And, of course, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationalists, as indeed was bin Laden

Rivers LAV-700-icon

We manufacture them in London, Ontario ship them to Saudi Arabia

So this little tempest over a tweet will become a game of ‘who blinks first’. Or like a game of road chicken, American Graffiti style, except the Saudi’s are racing at us with their new Tesla and Canada is driving one of those General Dynamics tanks. And our foreign minister, a woman, is doing the driving.

Background links:

Saudi Arabia –    Tesla Sale –    Saudi Driving Ban

Women Protesters–    Freeland Tweet –    Saudi Medics –    Saudi 9-11 pic

 

Rivers hand to face

Ray 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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

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