TRANSIT: Without a commitment to Transit, and the will to fund it properly, little wonder transit in Burlington is where it is today.

opinionandcommentBy James Smith

March 10th, 2018



It’s very refreshing to see both a City Manager and a Transit Director with a commitment to Transit after decades of administrative incompetence and political dogmatic undermining of the file. While competent management is welcome it will take citizens committed to having new civic leadership with some vision and spine this fall to really improve transit.

Perhaps if folks decided it was time for most of the tired old fogeys on city council to retire; real change might come to transit in Burlington. Hope springs eternal for competent civic leadership, but history is a cruel master.

Bfast Transit group logo

Burlington’s Friend and Supporters of Transit has been a consistent and positive voice for better transit. They did more to make the issue public than the Transit service did.

The challenge for all cities right now on the transit file is confronting the big lie of “doing more with less” that has become gospel. Municipal councils will claim to keep their taxes to the rate of inflation. Sounds good, nobody wants to pay more taxes, but the largest single budget envelope under municipal control, police budgets, continue to expand. The obvious result is every other item faces a cut to service as other wages, fuel and capital costs continue to rise.

Without a commitment to Transit, and the will to fund it properly, little wonder transit in Burlington is where it is today. Burlington has dishonestly claimed for years that it has “kept taxes low”, while seeming true on the surface this is the result of Burlington getting a free ride from the Region’s budget take of massive, one time, development charges from the rest of Halton. These development charges continue to pay for services in Burlington keeping tax increases artificially low.

Cities such as Burlington could potentially be entering into a very dark period, not just for transit but for all city services. There is a very real chance the Conservatives may come to power at Queen’s Park. There’s no coincidence that a lost decade of transit in Ontario was the direct result of the hit transit took during the Harris/Eves administration. Provincially it has taken more than a decade to fix many files that were cut or ignored during that time, this is especially true in the case of transit. Part of the likely Conservative agenda is the big lie that “tax cuts will spark the economy”.

So read this as Conservatives cutting funding for many programmes, will transit escape the knife? Look at their leadership hopefuls and their track record.

Spicer + Ridge

City manager James Ridge with former Director of Transit Mike Spicer at an event organized by citizen transit advocates. Spicer resigned as Director not that long after this picture was taken.

In the past few years, Ontario has had a government that’s at least has claimed to have been committed to transit and has gotten the province back in the game. Given Burlington Transit has just managed to kept the lights on under this regime it begs the question: How bad will it get for transit with a Provincial administration that doesn’t have this commitment to Transit? How bad will it get for transit if we have a provincial government that denies the validity of climate change science?

How bad will it get for transit with provincial leadership hopefuls who think of transit as the enemy of drivers? Given the city of Burlington’s track record on transit, and the potential of a conservative provincial government, I suspect that the light seen from the new city manager and new transit management at the city of Burlington is that of an oncoming freight train; no passengers allowed.

jamessmith(James is an award winning Contract Designer, Past member of BFAST, Co-author of the 2014 Western GTA Move Taskforce Report, and Former President of Friends of Freeman Station. James Smith and his wife were 27 year residents of Burlington and now make their home in Guelph.) Smith ran in the 2014 municipal election against Paul Sharman

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Province gives municipalities funding to cope with legal, educational and public safety problems that will result from the sale of cannabis

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 10th, 2018



On March 7, 2018 shortly before 11:00 pm, Halton Police officers responded to the area of Maple Avenue and Plains Road East in Burlington, in response to a citizen-initiated traffic complaint. As a result of an investigation, Joseph Vaccaro (37), of Oakville was charged with driving while ability impaired and driving over 80 mgs.

On March 8, 2018 shortly after 8:00 am, Halton Police officers responded to a collision in the area of King Road and Plains Road East in Burlington. As a result of an investigation, Christopher McBride (30), of Burlington was charged with driving while ability impaired.

HRPS crestThe Regional police issue regular reports on people who are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) as part of their program to keep the roads in the Region safe.

That task is going to get a lot more difficult when the federal cannabis legalization allows for the sale of cannabis in retail outlets across the province.

At this point in time the police just have to deal with alcohol related offences. When the federal government decides to permit the sale of cannabis related products it will be a much more complex.

Ontario is stepping up support for municipalities and law enforcement to help ensure communities and roads are safe in advance of the federal government’s legalization of cannabis.

The province will provide $40 million of its revenue from the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over two years to help all municipalities with implementation costs related to the legalization of cannabis.  The amount of money each municipality gets will be determined by population size with no one municipality getting less than $10,000

In addition, Ontario is taking further steps to ensure a safe and sensible transition for communities and people by:

Cannabis logo

Coming to a neighbourhood somewhere in Burlington.

• Increasing the capacity of local law enforcement, including the Ontario Provincial Police, by funding sobriety field test training for police officers to help detect impaired drivers

• Creating a specialized legal team to support drug-impaired driving prosecutions

• Increasing capacity at the province’s Centre of Forensic Sciences to support toxicological testing and expert testimony

• Developing a program to divert youth involved in minor cannabis-related offences away from the criminal justice system

• Creating a Cannabis Intelligence Coordination Centre to shut down illegal storefronts and help fight the unsafe and illegal supply of cannabis products

• Providing public health units with support and resources to help address local needs related to cannabis legalization

• Raising awareness of the new provincial rules that will take effect when cannabis is legalized federally.

Might be time for families to have one of those around the kitchen table talks on what the legislation is going to mean to high school students who get to drive the family car.


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The annual closure of King Road starts Monday - March 12th to give the Jefferson Salamander some time to breed..

News 100 greenBy Staff

March 9th, 2018



The annual closure of King Road to allow for the safe passage of the endangered Jefferson salamanders during their breeding migration will begin on Monday, March 12 for three weeks.

King Road will be closed from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road.

The City of Burlington has closed the same section of road since 2012, for an approximate three-week period, to allow for the safe passage of the endangered Jefferson salamanders during their breeding migration.

The Jefferson slamander, native to the northern part of the city appears to have become a mascot for the Region.

The Jefferson salamander, native to the northern part of the city appears to have become a mascot for the Region.

The Jefferson salamander is found in Southern Ontario in select areas of deciduous forest, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment.

These salamanders spend the majority of their lives underground. As the weather warms up and the spring rains begin, the salamanders emerge and migrate to breed in temporary ponds formed by run-off, laying their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. Adults leave the ponds after breeding. By late summer, the larvae lose their gills, become air-breathing and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forests.

Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds during wet rainy nights. They show a strong affinity for the pond in which they hatched and can be very determined to reach it, sometimes requiring them to cross busy roads.

Since the first full road closure in 2012, there has been no road mortality of Jefferson salamanders observed by Conservation Halton staff during the road closure.

Jefferson salamanders have a grey or brown-coloured back, with lighter under-parts. Blue flecks may be present on the sides and limbs. These salamanders are 12 to 20 cm long. The long tail makes up half this length. Unlike most small animals, Jefferson salamanders can live a very long time, up to 30 years of age.

While the city accommodates the Conservation Authority to close the road for a three week period – the Jefferson salamander has been very good for the people who opposed to expansion of the Nelson Quarry on Collings Road.

It took $2 million out of the legal department's budget to pay for the tear long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be poermitted. It was rural Burlington residents who were the force behind that battle - they were not to be trifled with.

It took $2 million out of the legal department’s budget to pay for the year long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be permitted. The expansion was to be in the smaller outlined area. The larger area is the quarry that is reaching the end of its productive days.

City crest - old hand drawnThe existence of the salamander and its possible extinction was a large part of the argument for not allowing the application for an expansion.

Much of North America has a groundhog day – Burlington owes the Jefferson Salamander some significant recognition – a future Mayor could declare a Salamander day and perhaps revise the city crest to include the critter.

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Is anyone listening to anyone else?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 9, 2018



“Why don’t you write about what the developers have to say on the growth that is taking place in this city” said a usually reliable source within the corporations that do the building and take the financial risks.

We responded with: The developers tend to be media shy, they don’t think they are going to get a break and their skill set usually doesn’t include much in the way of media savvy.

They build, they know what the rules of the development game are; they understand, in a way that few citizens do, just what the requirements are from the province, the region and the city planning department.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro b

The height for a future tower went from 22 to 17 then to 15 and then back to 17 at a Committee meeting. It will get settled at the April 4th council meeting when the Planning department hopes to get the Official Plan they have written approved.

There is a property in the downtown core that had a 22 storey height designation, then in a single meeting it went down to 17 because a member of council had said he would clip the height in that part of the city because he had gone along with more height than many expected in another part of the city.

At the same meeting another member of council wanted to clip an additional two storeys off the building.

Developers wonder why they get treated this way.

Our source said the development community can’t have a balanced conversation with groups that don’t want to accept the fact that the city has been told its population must grow.

The developers don’t make the rules. Yes, they do look for ways around the rules – isn’t that what everyone does? When you are filing your tax return – don’t you take advantage of every deduction possible? If you got caught driving too fast and find yourself in a court room – do you not look for a lawyer who can ‘get you off’?

The difficulty the development community has is they haven’t managed to create an image of what they do?

Are they just out there to make a killing financially? Some are.

Are they there to create great communities? Is that there role in society? What do we expect of developers and is our expectation realistic?

Nick Carnacelli

Nick Carnacelli of Carriage Gate

Listen to Nick Carnacelli of Carriage Gate and ask him how he felt when he walked across the street to city hall with a cheque for more than $3 million and at that point he had nothing on the way pf permissions to build anything.

To Grow Bold all the players have to collaborate. That means the politicians have to play their part which isn’t to represent the interests of the developers but to represent the interests of their constituents – the people that elected them.

Those politicians have to hold the Planning department accountable and be prepared to send them back to their desks and re-think the recommendations they are sending the politicians.

Citizens have to inform themselves – understand what is happening and to hold the men and women they elect accountable.

The Planners have to up their game. The Mayor has said every opportunity he gets that the city has run out of space for the traditional single family dwelling with a back yard big enough for a swimming pool. We’ve know this for some time.

Has the city Planning department been grown to the point where it can handle and cope with the need to now deal with high rise developments?  The rate at which development applications are being submitted is swamping the department.

Has the city done any polling to find out just what the people of the city think and feel about growth and where it should take place. If they ever do, or have done, any polling let us hope that they bring in outside third party pollsters and not rely on their in-house questionnaires that don’t reach all that much in the way of population.

The city is at a very critical point in its growth.

The development community has to be more open – it needs to get its story out and defend what they are doing.

There is the chance to get it right – but only if all the players are at the table and only if the level of transparency is higher than it has been so far.

Troubling times ahead, cloudy skies with a silver lining in there somewhere.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Gazette publisher.

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Karina Gould, Burlington Member of Parliament introduces her son - it was a Ministerial Statement

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 9th, 2018



Ministerial Statements are usually about matter of State.

Burlington’s Member of Parliament has broken new ground just about everywhere she has walked – so announcing the birth of her son shouldn’t be any different.

Today, Minister Karina Gould, Member of Parliament for Burlington, issued the following statement:

KarinaFamily + Oliver

Oliver, Karina and Alberto. The husband looks more tired than anyone else. Congratulations to all of them.

My husband, Alberto, and I were thrilled to finally meet our son, Oliver, earlier this week. We are grateful to be able to say that everyone is happy and healthy.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the Burlington & Area Midwives – particularly the amazing Lucia, Sarah, Diane and Paige – and the nursing staff at Jo Brant Hospital for their care and support during my pregnancy and delivery.

I will be spending time with my family now, but I look forward to returning to work when I am ready to resume my duties as Canada’s Minister of Democratic Institutions. The Democratic Institutions portfolio will be in the good hands of Minister Scott Brison, assisted by Parliamentary Secretary Andy Fillmore, while I am on leave. Burlington constituents should continue to contact my MP office for any assistance or services they require.

As we join so many other Canadian parents who juggle the responsibilities of career and family, Alberto and I want to thank everyone for their kind words and support.

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If you can't change the culture and you can’t change the behaviour then the only real option is to change the players. City manager and the Mayor are the lead players.

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

March 8, 2018



Admittedly I’m not a big fan of the City Manager’s style, but James Ridge isn’t the only problem or the biggest one.

Continuity and consistency is the hallmark of a good organization. If the City of Burlington were a publicly corporation, and that corporation had gone through four CEO’s in six years, someone on the Board of Directors would be asking the inevitable question: why?


City manager Jeff Fielding: About to put his stamp on the way the city has to be run.

Jeff Fielding got an offer he couldn’t refuse – Calgary; the city with one of the smartest Mayor’s in the country.

Roman Martiukformer Burlington City Manager, was often described as someone who thought he was the smartest man in the room - quite often he was and many people couldn't deal with that.

Roman Martiuk a former Burlington City Manager was given a one way ticket out of town.

Patrick Moyle

Pat Moyle came to town to do a job, got it done and went south – it was getting cold.

Turnover is usually indicative of a much broader problem. That, in itself, presupposes an investigation, and truthfully, that is best conducted by a neutral third party who, ideally, would probe for reasons, issues, concerns as well as solutions.

Based on what I have seen a big part of the problem at City Hall comes down to a lack of alignment, a lack of genuine engagement, and a dysfunctional corporate culture. You have a Mayor and a City Manager who, frankly, have a vision that does not strongly resonate with many citizens. Public trust is seriously lacking.

You have a Council with a very broad array of personalities and personal agendas, many of whom have been on Council way too long, are seriously disconnected from mainstream opinion, and often appear to be mouthpieces for special interest groups.

You have a Planning Department spearheading a major initiative that, to put it kindly, has gone seriously awry.

Grow bold - front doorFinally, you have an electorate that is growing increasingly militant and is uncomfortable with not just the vision ( OP, intensification, Mobility Hubs) but with a perceived lack of receptivity and understanding from both elected and appointed officials.

This is not a good dynamic, and it does not bode favourably for those at City Hall. If you can’t change the culture and you can’t change the behaviour then the only real option is to change the players. Since the Mayor and the City Manager set the tone for the organization that’s usually the place to start.

Stephen White is a Human Resources specialist with experience in the finance sector – banking and the civil service – provincial. He is a resident of Burlington.



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Innovation high school program to be introduced in Aldershot for the September 2019 school year.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2018



It’s a go!

Superintendent of Education Terri Blackwell and her team got the vote she needed to begin the really hard work to create a new program with a decidedly different and very innovative approach to the way we teach high school students.

Blackwell + Tuffen as a team

Superintendent of Education Terri Blackwell with Superintendent Gord Truffen during their presentation to school board trustees

When the Halton District School Board (HDSB) was going through the very painful Program Accommodation Review (PAR) exercise that resulted in the closing of two of the city’s seven high schools they also agreed to look at some different pedagogical approaches.

The original driving force was to do something to increase enrollment at the Aldershot high school – it was low enough to think about possibly closing the school.

The idea for something different at Aldershot came from the community with PAR Committee member Steve Cussons leading the drive.

Steve Cussons Aldershot

Steve Cussons

The community came up with a number of themes that could be used for a new program. The parents chose Innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – ISTEM

The Board voted to implement a program incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education at Aldershot High School that will begin in September 2019, with the students who are entering Grade 9 at their March 7, meeting.

The decision involves the spending of $1.7 million to upgrade some of the classrooms and cover the cost of teacher training.

In a media release the Board described I-STEM as a program that will equip students with global competencies, also known as transferable skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, collaboration and citizenship. Community and post-secondary partnerships will be essential elements of the program to enhance learning opportunities for students.

The program will be available to anyone in the Region – the only barrier is capacity – the number of classroom seats available.

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High rise towers, community benefits and city managers – are all these in play?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 8th, 2018



421 Brant

Approved – community benefits have yet to be worked out.

What is Carriage Gate going to have to give the good people of the city of Burlington for the additional height they were given by city council several months ago when they approved – on a 5-2 to approve a 23 storey building on the NE corner of James and Brant.

The practice is for the city to negotiate benefits for the community based a formula that calculates the additional value of the land the building is on – based on the additional height and density.

The form that value takes could be whatever the city negotiates.

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward – taking care of business.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward advises that “Staff are required to consult with the ward Councillor in advance, which they did. I suggested they negotiate affordable/assisted housing (owned and operated by Halton Region), additional parking and a contribution to a downtown waterfront parkland acquisition fund.”
Meed Ward added: “We won’t know till the report comes to us what has been agreed to by all parties.

Committee could turn down what is in the report and direct that additional negotiations take place..
The report on what comes out of the negotiations could be learned at the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 3.

The earliest the Sec 37 report could come to committee is the next Planning & Development Committee which is on April 4 when the Planners hope the report can be adopted and go to city council later in the month.
It could be later than that depending on how negotiations go.

It is complex – the Planning department wants to get this settled while some citizens are saying “not so fast” and asking that the Official Plan be put on hold until after the October 22nd municipal election. A significant number of people want to make the adopting of a new Official Plan an election issue.

In the municipal world city manager’s come and go. Burlington hires city managers under five year contracts. The Burlington experience has seen city managers warming their seats for about three years before they are either asked to leave or find a better opportunity elsewhere.

Roman Martiuk was asked to leave the job in 2014; it does happen.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge at his first city council meeting.

With three people expected to seek the Office of Mayor; Mike Wallace and current Mayor Rick Goldring have already declared and Marianne Meed Ward is expected to file her nomination papers on May 1st., a reasonable question is – do any of them want James Ridge to continue to run city administration?

The Gazette has it on very good authority that the Mike Wallace people are not that keen on Ridge. Would Meed Ward want to keep him on if she were elected Mayor?

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ECoB holding an Information Rally Saturday afternoon 1-4 pm in Civic Square

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 8th, 2018.



Those engaging people at ECoB are holding an information rally on Saturday, March 10th, to remind people of several meetings they feel are critical.

City Meeting March 19, 6:30pm – City Hall
Council Meeting on the Official Plan. They are hoping people will pack the Council chamber, delegate, and support neighbours who are opposed to the draft plan.

April 3rd at both 1pm and 6:30pm there will be a Committee of the Whole that will be the last time the public can address Council before a final vote is taken on the Official Plan.

April 4th; 6:30 pm City Council meeting at which the final version of the Official Plan is to be “approved” and sent along to the Regional government.

ECoB lawn signs will be available at the Saturday rally.

ECoB apparently has some “public” art that will be on display showing a model of what they think the downtown core could look like.

In their media release ECoB said

“City Council plans to vote a proposed draft Official Plan into law on April 4 2018, to govern our City Growth to 2041.  They don’t have answers to these vital questions:

Question: Can’t we just say “no” to growth in Burlington?

We all know a healthy city grows, ECoB is not saying NO to growth, we are saying YES to balanced growth. We understand the need for development to accommodate increased population. We want the right type of development, by ensuring the supporting plans for the mobility hub and precinct definitions are in place first.

Question: What are we gaining in a rush for intensification and what tools are available to keep it under control?

We are told by the Mayor that “A new Official Plan means we can move away from the site by site negotiations and instead, bring clear expectations to our planning. This is what residents have been telling us, delaying the Official Plan approval would only create more instances where unexpected outcomes can occur; similar to the reaction which led to 421 Brant Street (Council approved 23-storey building across from City Hall).” Mayors Blog February 8, 2018

This was not an unexpected outcome; the Mayor did not make a case urging any Councillors to support his reduced recommendation of 17 storeys – the draft Official Plan height. An approval for 23 storeys was passed giving residents less retail, less office space and for many a broken trust. The opposite corner and many sites downtown now have applications that start at heights which are 3-4x the current permissions. The Mayor believes it is important to complete the critical work of approving the draft Official Plan, we believe it is important to get it right.

Can we trust Staff and current Council to get the supporting plans right? We are told in the same blog that the supporting plans cannot come in step until the Official Plan is adopted – we are being asked to wait and trust that the concerns expressed will be in the Downtown Area Specific Plan which is a more detailed plan that will include matters such as transportation, transit, cycling, parking and servicing.

Question:  What is the Population Growth required in the Downtown Burlington core to meet intensification targets? 

The City of Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2040 indicates: “The city will include growth targets and their related opportunities in its Official Plan. This will be complete by the end of 2018”.  There are no established minimum population growth targets for the Uptown or Downtown areas. More importantly, once development starts there is no maximum intensification target either; the sky is literally the limit for development. How will the dozens of applications for height and density far in excess of current permissions be handled if we don’t have any limits? It is not only tall buildings, but excessive density in every neighbourhood. What happens in the Urban Growth Area’s affects us all. We will simply not get affordability with this excessive density.

Question: Is Burlington using up all of its green space?

The City of Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2040 indicates: “A City that Grows demonstrates density (intensification) done well. There are green design options, less sprawl, more affordable housing choices and improved public health in a vital, diverse and safe city.”

We agree with the importance of green space in all of our communities. Planned Green Space is more essential in the designated Urban Growth Centre, where people live in tall buildings. Green space should NOT be traded with developers to gain increased height. Greenspace is not a parking lot or cement view corridor.

ECoB is working with developers and has asked City Staff to collaborate with the Province to not freeze the land from any development and to explore re-designation of some of these lands to balance residential/employment use. This could help create communities within our community and take some of the pressure off over intensification in the downtown.”

ECoB new Burlington

The ECoB flyer promoting the Saturday Information Rally.

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Burlington real estate: a stable, relatively balanced, leaning towards a sellers’ market.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 7th, 2018



The Burlington real estate market was very much like Oakville – comparing February 2017 to February 2018 is not a helpful comparison but comparing January 2018 to February 2018 sheds a lot of light on the state of the market in Burlington.

In a word – a stable, relatively balanced, leaning towards a sellers’ market. Inventory at the end of February was fairly normal at 237 freehold properties for sale and just over 330 including condos. Less than 40 listed properties have been on the market for over 60 days.

We saw 103 freehold sales in February which was up from 86 in January. Days on market have decreased significantly where we saw an average 41 days in January and 29 days in February.

The most interesting statistic for February was the sale price versus the original listing price versus which was at 97.87%. The sale price versus the final listing price was 99.12% which suggests that a large percentage of properties started out at one price, reduced and then sold for very close to the reduced price.

Something for sellers that have been on the market for a while to bear in mind.

Rocca for February

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''I will tell you an interesting story'' wrote a reader.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2018



Got another note from another Gazette reader.

“I will tell you an interesting story” he said. “I was on my way into a conference yesterday in the Big Smoke. Went in by GO Train with a colleague who also lives in Burlington. We got into a discussion about the municipal election. This person isn’t particularly political, but what surprised me was how incredibly knowledgeable she was on the election, how well-versed she was about downtown redevelopment, and how passionate she felt about what was happening to the downtown.

City Clock angle looking north on Brant

The Burlington that people like – at least that is what the Gazette is hearing.

“As we travelled between Mimico and the CNE Station we were both aghast at the proliferation of high rises condos. All had the same look, feel and style as what is proposed for downtown Burlington. What stood out for both of us was when we saw a mid-sized building and how unique these seemed. They also seemed to fit into the character of the neighbourhood much better.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro rendering a

A development idea for the south end of Brant at Lakeshore. Those two towers on the left would be opposite city hall.

“Coming home I picked up my car at a GO station and drove past Speers and Kerr Street area on Oakville. I grew up about a mile away from this location. The new condos across from the mall south of the railway tracks look overwhelming. I was astounded by how they dwarfed everything around them. Then I looked at the lower level of the complex. Two proposed businesses are both hairdressing salons…in the same complex no less. Bizarre. Didn’t see a grocery store, or a mom and pop store, anywhere.”

Our reader didn’t seem too happy with what was being developed. Change is never easy to accept.

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The end is in sight for Solid Gold - owner wants to go legit and turn it into apartments for families.

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 7th, 2018


Solid Gold imageWhere will the boys go if the Solid Gold adult entertainment establishment gets torn down?

The owners of the Burlington strip club have filed a development application to construct two new rental apartment buildings.

The developer, 71 Burlington Plains Inc., wants to demolish Solid Gold which spans 53 and 71 Plains Rd. E. and 1025 Cooke Blvd., and replace it with two mixed-use buildings at 10 and 12 storeys with a combined 1,208 square metres of retail and service commercial space at grade level and 450 residential units.

Solid Gold replacement

Rendering of what a developer wants to build on the site of the Solid Gold adult entertainment club.

The proposal will have 581 parking spaces (91 at surface, 461 underground and 29 lay-by) Accesses will be from Cooke Boulevard and Clearview Avenue.

Ward 1 Councillor Rock Craven has wanted to get the club out of Aldershot – the price he might have to pay is accepting one ten and one twelve storey structure.

Craven is reported to have said that “While some may be pleased with the redevelopment plan, the heights of the buildings are causing some concern”.

Solid Gold apartments

Arial rendering of the site for an apartment development project in western Aldershot

Building heights on Plains Road are generally restricted to six storeys, but city planners see this as a part of Aldershot that could handle some intensification – the Aldershot GO station will be within walking distance.

A neighbourhood public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20 at the East Plains United Church, 375 Plains Rd. E. 7:00 pm.

People in Aldershot are not shy about telling the planners and the Council member what they think and feel about development. The set back from the street might become a major factor – and where is the playground going to be?

City staff is also looking for public feedback on the application before a recommendation is made to the planning and development committee of council. Written comments can be mailed or emailed to senior planner of development review Lola Emberson at

The submission deadline is April 6.

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Temporary Lane Closure - Prospect Street at Regency Court, March 8, 2018

notices100x100By Staff

March 7th, 2018


CranesThe eastbound lanes on Prospect Street at Regency Court will be closed on Thursday, March 8, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to allow for crane activity.

Two-way traffic will be accommodated in the westbound lanes on Prospect Street.

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Spring break - lots of great outdoor opportunities.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

March 7th, 2018



bird singingSpring is about to bloom!

An opportunity to jump into puddles, the sugar bush, hiking, and more during March Break from March 12 to March 16. Mountsberg and Crawford Lake are brimming with activity during Maple season. If you want to go for a quiet hike, you can check out Hilton Falls, Rattlesnake Point, Mount Nemo and Robert Edmondson. You can also take your final runs of the season at Glen Eden.

Maple Town is on at Mountsberg Conservation Area
Mountsberg is open daily during March Break from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hike out to the Sugar Bush with the kids to Maple Town. Learn how sap is tapped from the maple trees, and boiled into syrup. Sample ooey gooey maple syrup on thick pancakes at the Pancake House, or try homemade maple candy in the Sugar Shack.

Wagon rides on the Sugar Bush trail occur all day (there is an additional fee for the wagon rides). Once you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth, stop by the barn to see what new baby animals have arrived, and run off some energy in the play barn.

Owl close upWant to experience a real nose-to-beak experience? Visit the Mountsberg Raptor Centre, and walk along the Wildlife Walkway for a visit with our resident raptors, like Pip the American Kestrel, or Chomper the Great Horned Owl. During March Break, Raptor Shows will be on at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.

On March 14, you can meet the Conservation Halton Forestry Crew with cross cut saw and tree cookie branding demonstrations.

Sweet Water Season at Crawford Lake
Crawford Lake is open daily during March Break from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the spring, treat your taste buds to Sweet Water Season, the sweetest festival at Crawford Lake in the Iroquoian village. Explore the Turtle Clan and Deer Clan Longhouses. Learn how the Iroquoian peoples prepared ‘sweet water’, before sampling gooey maple syrup in a demonstration. After a tasty snack, feel the return of the birds and nature, and explore the Hide and Seek trail. Along the way, you’ll see complex wood carvings of Species at Risk like the Monarch Butterfly, the Hooded Warbler, and the mascot of spring: the Jefferson Salamander. You can also visit the exhibit First Harvest: Celebrating Sweet Water.

Sweet Water demonstrations will be at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. Syrup Tasting flights will be at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Come and taste Taffy on Snow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other March Break activities
The ski and snowboard season is winding down at Glen Eden, however they still have a special event this upcoming weekend with food and live entertainment. Check out Glen Eden’s Food Truck Weekend March 10 and 11 and sample some great food from local vendors.

Rattlesnake Point view from

The view from Rattlesnake Point

Rattlesnake Point has a medley of activities during the spring. Book a campsite for the weekend, and bring the family for a back-to-nature experience on the Niagara Escarpment or hike on one of the three trails for a restorative nature walk.

Hilton Falls is an outdoor athlete’s heaven. Rushing rivers and budding greenery are a photographer’s delight. There are three mountain bike-only trails that are a mix of novice level, and technically challenging rock-gardens. Hikers, horseback riders, and families: there are still tranquil trails and water features like the Hilton Falls, or the reservoir to experience quiet nature.


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Improved transit service will require a political commitment for increased funding.

opinionandcommentBy Doug Brown

March 7th, 2018



The transit survey is not a bad idea – but is a very minor item when so much more is needed.

I believe that the City Manager and new Transit Director are committed to improving transit. However, this will require a political commitment for increased long-term transit funding. Will this be possible given that our council that has consistently cut transit and the City now spends less than one half of the GTA per capita average on transit?


Doug Brown, a relentless advocate for better transit funding is never happier than when he sees a bus – two buses produces a smile.

The analysis that James Ridge, Sue Connor and Colm Lynn presented to Council on September 7, 2017 made a very compelling case for immediate money to bring the transit system up to labour standards and provide better safety and reliability. For the first time in recent years, this council listened and approved the emergency funding.

During his September 7 presentation to council, the City Manager made clear that the emergency funding would still leave Burlington with “a crappy system” i.e. with low service levels and long wait times – but at least it would run on time and within provincial labour standards.

So what is really needed now is a comprehensive transportation study that will look at all aspects of transportation, roads, cars, transit, walking, cycling, parking, and development. This study should develop alternative options and evaluate the alternatives against economic, social and environmental criteria. Unfortunately, this is not happening as plans for transit, roads, parking, and cycling continue to be developed separately.

The City must begin to look at the cost of transit with regard to all the benefits that a robust transit system would provide – i.e. large savings in road and parking expenditures; improved air quality; improved road safety; improved social accessibility and equity; and savings in private automobile costs.

The economic benefits of transit have been documented in a number of Canadian studies. A national study of the economic benefits of transit concluded that municipalities could make no better investment than in transit with “a rate of return of at least 12% if not more.” A recent study in Hamilton showed significant economic benefits from transit investments, while in Waterloo Region, their transportation plan determined that a transit-oriented scenario would provide more economic, social, and environmental benefits than the car-oriented scenario.

The financial case for better transit has been clearly demonstrated. The question is not whether we can afford better transit, but whether we can afford not to invest more in transit.

Will “Canada’s Best Mid-Sized City” continue to have a “crappy” transit system or will we build a good transit system to provide accessibility for all our citizens, and make the City truly a liveable, walkable, community.

Doug Brown has been a transit advocate for decades and is a founding member of Bfast: Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit

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Poetry Slam at the Windjammer - by the Lake: March 15th

eventsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2018



There was a time when almost everyone in this city – except for the die-hard alternate entertainment types – even knew what a Poetry Slam was.

We first heard Tomy Bewick at the No Vacancy event at the Waterfront Hotel four years ago.


Tomy Bewick – performing.

He was different.

By the way – whatever happened to the No Vacancy event?  Their first run was an astounding success – then everything went downhill from there.

The Poetry Slam used to take place at the Black Bull before it met its maker – the new Black Bull doesn’t have the parking nor the space the old location had.

Now they are in the eastern end of the city at the Windjammer By The Lake.

The Black Bull had a decent menu and the service was just fine. The social media on the Windjammer is mixed. The Gazette will try it out – one has to hear Tomy at least once a year.

The March Slam is next week – March 15th; featuring artist Gavin Russell. Cash prizes.

Last month to qualify for Finals in April, and last month of $5 cover.

March 15 at 7:30 PM
Windjammer By The Lake in Burlington, Ontario

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Gazette readers point to at least one error in the draft Official Plan - that's what happens when you rush.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 7TH, 2018


This news story has been revised due to an error in an earlier version. That error has been corrected. 

A Gazette reader sent the following comment:

Official-Plan-Binder_Image“I’ve been advised and have confirmed that clause 8.3.3.(1)b) is actually a hold over from the 2006 Official Plan. It is inconsistent with the provisions noted by Mr. Skinner and provides a backdoor to intensification in areas in which intensification is expressly discouraged. As such, I believe that it should be eliminated and that it highlights the dangers of a rush to approval.”

Here is what Section says.

“Notwithstanding Subsection 8.3.3(1) a) of this Plan, other forms of attached, ground-oriented dwellings may be permitted on lands designated Residential – Low Density, provided that these forms meet the density as specified in Subsection 8.3.3(1) c) of this Plan, and provided that the development form is compatible with the surrounding area and respectful of the physical character of the neighbourhood, including the provision of a functional common amenity area at grade.”

Our reader adds:  “As such, it contradicts at least four (4) other clauses of the proposed new OP, as identified by Jeremy Skinner in his comments to Marianne Meed Ward’s response, that specifically discourage intensification/development in low density residential neighbourhoods.  In other words, clause 8.3.3.(1)b) seems to provide a qualified backdoor to intensification in areas that are not intended to be intensified.  I believe that this is a product of careless drafting (less haste, more speed) where a holdover clause from the 2006 Official Plan has unintended impacts and is inconsistent with the overall intent of the new plan.  If clause 8.3.3.(1)b), as drafted, is an intentional inclusion then I believe that the new plan is not internally consistent and is providing an “open door” to development across all areas of the City.”

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward adds:   The clause states in part “other forms of attached ground-oriented dwellings may be permitted” provided the overall density is less than 25 units per net hectare. This allows townhouses and apartment walkups in single family neighbourhoods. During questions at committee about it, staff advised this was a change to the existing OP. Upon further review, however, this clause is in the existing OP. However, with the increased pressure for intensification coupled with land assembly, we will see more of these types of applications (eg. The Blue Water/Avondale application which staff, the community and council rejected and is the subject of an OMB hearing in May). The clause also isn’t in keeping with the spirit of the new OP which directs growth away from established neighbourhoods. I believe we need to take this out of the proposed Plan, or every neighbourhood in the city could fundamentally change due to the pressures of growth.

Meed Ward has said she is going to ask that the section be struck from the draft Official Plan.  Hopefully she will ask how the section got past the vetting that usually gets done in the Planning department.

Our reader is quite right – let us take the time to make sure we get it right.

The Gazette doubts that never before in the history of this city have so many citizens actually read the Official Plan.

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What the downtown core might look like in five years.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 7th, 2018



A number of citizens who delegated on the draft Official Plan wanted to know what their city was going to look like if the Plan was approved.

They asked if the city could prepare a digital three dimensional rendering of the city showing each development.

Great idea – but that isn’t something the city can do.

The city has a digital representation of the city – the problem is that it is far from complete.

They bought what they have a couple of years ago. In order to create a digital image you have to have data – some of that data does not belong to the city.

The rights to the data of a piece of property belong to the person who owns the property.

When the property owner approaches the city with a development application they have to include a digital profile.

The city can then plug that digital profile into what the city already has.

City manager James Ridge is quite right – he doesn’t have what the public wants.  We are told by people that use this kind of software that there are work arounds that can be put in place but Ridge does not want to do that – he doesn’t have the budget and his staff is stretched to the limit.

He did say at committee that he would try and do something but nothing was going to happen in 2018 and if it was in 2019 it would be late in the year.

But there are plucky citizens in this city. Watch how some of them make the point that there is a way to give people an idea of what their city might look like in five, ten or fifteen years into the future.

Citizens can get a sense of what we have now; click on the double headed arrow on the lower right and get a 360 degree view of city hall and the buildings across the street from city hall.

Now imagine what that same space will look like when you add what has been approved and what is in the mind of a planner and you can come up with a bit of an idea as to what lower Brant Street will look like.

421 James street rendering

Now add in what is planned for the south side of James Street. Rendering with Bake ShopAnd then add in the rendering of what is being thought about for the bottom of Brant Street. Brant lakeshore - Molinaro rendering a

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School board trustees get an opportunity to make a far reaching decision on the kind of education that will be delivered.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2018



There is something good that will come out of the Program Administrative Review (PAR) that resulted in the closing of two of the city’s seven high schools – the Aldershot high school will get a complete makeover that could turn it into a place that has all the buzz and excitement that Hayden high school has today. That is not to suggest that the other high schools don’t have anything going for them.

During the PAR debates the Board administration put out the idea of re-making Aldershot into a school that would attract people from other schools as well as other jurisdictions – a covetous eye was cast toward Hamilton. The original impetus was to increase the enrollment.

The program that is being put forward will increase the enrollment and significantly improve the profile of the school.

Steve Cussons Aldershot

Steve Cussens, Aldershot resident and PAR committee member.

Steve Cussens, one of the PAR members has been cultivating this idea since its inception. He was one of the PAR members pushing the idea of more in the way of educational innovation. His efforts have borne fruit.

There wasn’t a clear idea – other than to describe what might be done as a magnet school, a themed school, an alternative school, and/or an incubator school, when the plans were first talked up.


Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of PAR implementation

Stuart Miller, Director of Education assigned Terri Blackwell to the task. She took a very proactive approach and cast the net for participants on the discussion widely.

She went to the community – and they responded very positively.  Her report to the trustees last week was one of those meetings where every question asked was answered and then some. It is an exciting opportunity that is now in the hands of the trustees.

If the trustees buy into what they heard Aldershot will see students enrolling in the grade 9 class of what will be an ISTEM in the fall of 2019.

Some of the ideas that came from the public.  All of the themes suggested are set out in a link below.

Social justiceEnvironment - EcoEntreprreunership-businessArts



The Board was shown a short video on the way education has not changed – it set out just what the ISTEM initiative is setting out to achieve.  It certainly tells what advancing innovative practices is all about?

The objective is to create learning opportunities and support the development of transferable skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship; Self- Directed Learning; Collaboration, Communication, and Citizenship.

That is a tall order – but it is what education is all about.  Can the Board of Education administration pull this one off?

concept symbol

Graphic that sets out all the parts that come together to result in a new student program offering.

If what the trustees were told in February has merit this is a project that is being done the way a project should be done. Blackwell is doing a great job working with a team that is as broad based and inclusive.

They are already thinking through how they want to market this opportunity.

They have thought through how students from across the Region can use public transit to get to Aldershot.

Blackwell + Tuffen as a team

Superintendents Terri Blackwell and Gord Truffen during the presentation of the ISTEM proposal.

Gord Truffen, Superintendent of Education explained that the ISTEM program is a high school offering and will not impact the grade 7 and 8’s that are at Aldershot.

Aldershot parents are said to be halfway to reaching the $125,000 needed to upgrade the auditorium. They might want to reach a little further and allow for some state of the art communications for the space. If they are going to prepare students for the world they will work in – including the high end visual communication should be part of the experience.

Trustee Leah Reynolds mentioned that the Aldershot high school rent out their facilities more than any other school in Burlington –

They are looking at a budget of about $1.4 million to “repurpose” some of the rooms. The labs which are in good shape may need some upgrading.

If the questions from the trustees are any indication expect Oakville and Milton to want an ISTEM program offering in their community.

Current educational research acknowledges the need to recognize societal changes and how education addresses this landscape. The emergence of new technologies is disrupting how businesses operate and interact with their customers, how people work and the careers they pursue, and even how citizens relate to their governments. More and more, personal and national success depends on effective science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The Halton Board has recognized this and taken a low enrollment problem and turned it into a growth opportunity.

design workshop

The process used to create new student course offerings.

process graphic

The driving forces that bring new ideas and programs to the public.

The ISTEM concept was refined through a consultation process which includes generating ideas, drawing on pedagogy (research and practice of teaching and learning) and looking at themes. Many of the generated ideas are reflected in the ISTEM Program Framework which draws attention to the process elements of the program.

Students will be engaged in a variety of learning processes – Project-Based Learning, Design Thinking, Entrepreneurship and Partnerships. The outer ring of the framework reflects HDSB’s current working definition of innovation as “the capacity to enhance concepts, ideas, or products to contribute new-to-the-world solutions to complex economic, social, and environmental problems”. The contentedness of the framework includes explicit connections to critical thinking and creativity in that “critical thinking and creative thinking work together to create innovation in the Design Thinking process. These thinking processes all work together to bring forth creative innovation and problem solving.”

The ISTEM program will open to all interested Grade 9 students in September, 2019. Subsequent years will see the program extend to Grades 10, 11 and 12.

The ISTEM program provides the Halton District School Board with an opportunity to explore and implement a thematic approach to a secondary school. It further allows for an evaluation of ISTEM’s efficacy and its possible expansion to other regions of the Board. Teaching and learning is an ever- evolving process. This endeavour in part reflects the nature of this evolution.

Related news story:

Themes submitted by the Aldershot community for a new course offering.

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The Hive finds a home that will let Shaun Pennell do what he has always wanted to do - create a different kind of place for people to work .

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 6th, 2018



You remember the Hive don’t you?

They took a neat idea, really gussied it up, held a boffo official opening event and then struggled to say alive.

The kind words from the city about how nice it was to see new high tech ideas arrive on the city but there was nothing in the way of support.


The Hive on Elizabeth was something different – the downtown location proved to be a bit of a challenge.

They struggled – and finally decided that there was no advantage in the downtown location; the rent didn’t help and parking made it less than viable. The two Smart cars parked in front of the office that was on Elizabeth Street were a nice touch.

Shaun Pennell packed it in downtown and set up shop again on Guelph Line at Harvester Road. What was the Burlington Hive became the Halton Hive.

Then the location became a construction site when the Region started laying pipes and the owner of the property was said to want to refresh the rental agreement.

Then an opportunity came Shaun’s way.

A group of property investors were preparing to purchase a well-known Burlington location and they wanted to work with someone on a new approach to office space. There was a meeting of minds and Pennell found himself heading up an operation that would ideally become a community that made space available on an as needed basis and added a number of amenities that would create a lifestyle that suited the younger set who tended to lead the high tech sector.

If Pennell’s action is equal to his words the new location will become a destination – a place where events can take place and where workers can use and pay for what the they need on an ongoing basis. Hua adds that a group will be able to scale up for a short period of time and then revert to the couple of offices they started with.

It is a concept that is being introduced in every major city in North America and throughout Europe.

The Bank of Montreal recently signed a lease for the old Sears space in the Eaton Centre in the heart of downtown Toronto. They are calling it an urban campus that will be geared to the needs of those smart as a tack techies who are creating the economy of the future that arrived yesterday.

Bank of Nova Scotia opened a “digital factory” that included a bowling alley and a speakeasy to attract talent.

No bowling alley at the Crossroads facility that is being sold – the deal is due to close on March 7th – but there is a lot of open space that is going to be converted to a totally different office concept

Hive looking over the main floor

Hive clients working from a desk they can just plug into and have everything they need – great wireless access and open air space

Hive - Feb 2018 looking over highway

Two work stations in the upper gallery area.

A number of the tenants at the Halton Hive followed Pennell to the new location. Kune Hua who is handling rentals explains that the Sound of Music will have space, Burlington Green will have space.

The new organization has yet to determine what the new corporate name is going to be – the focus right now is getting the space ready for tenants and creating a much different working environment.

The investors are currently renting the space from the Crossroads organization. The purchase of the property will see the Crossroads organization become a tenant.

Crossroads is going through a major organizational change that has resulted in a significant downsizing. The recent death of Crossroad founder David Mainse meant changes in the corporate structure and the use of the corporate assets.

The Crossroads Centre is at the North Service Road just west of Kerns Road. Loads of parking.

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