2018 Levee to be held at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Sunday.

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

January 4th, 2018



The third New Year levee will take place on Sunday January 7th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm., at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

The event is being sponsored by Member of Parliament Karina Gould and MPP Eleanor McMahon.

Levee Gould welcoming a new CanadianA levee is an old tradition in Ontario. In many communities the levee is held at city hall and sponsored by the Mayor and members of council.

There was a time when it was a pretty formal event – not so with the event Gould and McMahon sponsor.

Burlington’s Mayor hasn’t been part of the event the first two years – no mention of his taking part in the 2018 event.

Perhaps the sponsorship will be broadened in 2019.

It is a fun event and the speeches are kept to a minimum. It’s a time for the political set to gather and do what the politicians and the political junkies do

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'I can do something about that' didn't make it to the PARC meetings; a failure in leadership.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2018



In the not too distant future Burlingtonians will learn what the provincially appointed Administration Review facilitator Margaret Wilson has to say about the Program Accommodation Review process that was used to close two of Burlington’s seven high schools.

How did this city get to this messy place?

The Gazette believes a large part of the reason was Marianne Meed Ward’s failure to lead.

How did a natural leader fail to lead when it really mattered?

SaveOurWaterfront- Meed ward

Meed Ward is a very astute politician – she chooses and issue and sticks with it asking people not just to vote for her but to trust her telling people: “I can do something about that”.

I have watched Marianne Meed Ward develop as a politician since 2010. I sat in on a few of her early 2010 election campaign meetings. I was given an opportunity to be part of the team that was going to run her election.


Marianne Meed Ward delegating as a citizen – before she had been elected to city Council.

I have watched Meed Ward appear before council as a citizen delegate; she was tireless, deliberate, focused and consistent.

When she was elected I watched her begin the process of bringing city council around to a better way of operating. Her colleagues did not make it easy.

During the period of time after a car accident that resulted in a concussion that Meed Ward was not fully aware of, I watched her struggle through a city council meeting and then drove her home – it wasn’t that she couldn’t walk – she knew she shouldn’t.

That same evening all the members of city council were being entertained for a holiday event at the home of a Council member whose application for a property severance had been denied by the Committee of adjustment. The decision was appealed to the OMB at considerable cost to the city.

Meed Ward said she had not been invited to the event.

Visual - city council full

Councillor Meed Ward has always wanted what council does to be on the record. She makes her colleagues stand up and be counted – and they don’t like it one bit.

I vividly recall watching Meed Ward put her colleagues through five recorded votes at a city Council meeting. The Councillor closest to her philosophically, John Taylor, sat there rolling his eyeballs. Meed Ward wasn’t budging one inch; she wanted those Councillors to be on the record.

I watched Meed Ward mature as a politician. She has been described by some as divisive – and to some degree she was – but not to the majority of the people in her ward. They believed she could walk on water.

Meed Ward held frequent ward meetings. I recall one during which she blurted out that she “loved her job” and she did.

During her first few months in office she got a call from a constituent about some garbage on the street – Meed Ward drove out with her van and picked up the garbage.

During her first six months as a city Councillor the City Clerk had to point out to her that she had used up her postage budget. She used up much of her coffee and donuts budget well before the end of the fiscal year. Her job was to send out information and meet with people, which she did.

Often, whenever ward 1 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward appears at events with the Mayor she sounds more "mayoral" than the man who wears the chain of office.

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward has had her eye on the job of Mayor from the day she filed her first set of nominations papers. The public should get a chance to decide if she is what the city needs next October.

She told her colleagues that that they should be paying for their parking – and that city staff should pay for their parking as well. Council didn’t agree with her – that didn’t faze Meed Ward – she said she was going to remit to the city the value of the free parking she was getting.

During the first election in 2010 Meed Ward had made it clear that she wanted at some point to be the Mayor.
She decided in 2014 that her children needed her at home and so she ran again in ward 2 and was handily re-elected.

With the 2018 municipal election in October expect to see Meed Ward running against the current Mayor.

The Gazette doesn’t agree with everything Meed Ward does but she is much, much closer to what a politician people in Burlington want to see representing them.

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 city Councillor and Central high school parent Marianne Meed Ward at a school board PARC meeting.

Which gets me to the point of all this: Where were those leadership skills when it came to Meed Ward’s service as a member of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC)?

That group of fourteen people was desperate for some leadership. Meed Ward could have given the group a strong sense of what needed to be done.

What went wrong?

PARC with options on the walls

PARC members deliberating with options on the walls

The members of the PARC certainly knew who she was. There was some concern expressed over a member of city council taking part in a Board of Education matter.

The Gazette didn’t have a problem with Mead Ward taking on the assignment. The Central high school parents asked her to represent them and given that she had a child attending the school she qualified.

We believed that Meed Ward knew the difference between the two roles she was playing. She was doing what the Mayor should have done. Mayor Goldring took the weasel position of sending his city manager to the PARC – James Ridge displayed a significant lack of knowledge when he said the school board should not sell any school property. Once a property is declared surplus the Boards of Education are required to sell property.

It was pretty clear by the second formal PARC meeting that they were stumbling. While the Board of Education Superintendent who was tasked with running the PARC had a lot of rules that he imposed those 14 people were bound by any of them. They had no input in the creation of the rules and began to realize that they were being manipulated.

To this day I don’t understand why someone: Steve Cussens , Steve Armstrong, Lisa Bull or Cheryl De Lugt – anyone, didn’t invite everyone over for a BBQ and have a frank and open discussion. The opportunity was there – they didn’t take it.

Central and MM question at PARC Feb 9

PARC members ranking the various school closing options that were put in front of them.

Without the leadership that was needed the best the 14 PARC representatives could do was protect the school they were representing.

The chance to take the high road was missed. They ended up hurling invectives at each other. The Bateman people panicked when they saw their school as marked for closure and claimed the Central parents had thrown them under the bus.

Whatever opportunity there was for a consensus was lost; the people power Meed Ward talks about wasn’t seen at any of the PARC meetings.

There is a phrase that Meed Ward uses when she talks about why she got into public service: “What inspired me to seek public office in the first place – “I can do something about that!” And she certainly does something as a city Councillor.

She just didn’t follow that direction as a PARC member.

There was from the very beginning an option that would have solved the immediate problem; options was #7 – do nothing, don’t close any of the high schools. The option wasn’t worded all that well and had a bit of a battle to remain on the list.

Some PARC members thought such an option voided the whole purpose of the PAR process while others felt very strongly that the public had the right to voice an opinion on whether or not they wanted any of their high schools closed.

Mead Ward chose not to take that option and run with it using her formidable skills to rally the other 13 people to that position.

The PARC could have, indeed the Gazette believes they should have, arrived at a consensus – option # 7 was there for them.

MMW typing

PARC member Marianne Meed Ward directing school board trustee Leah Reynolds on how to vote during some of the procedural issues.

The best Meed Ward was able to do in terms of leadership came after the PARC had been disbanded was to send a text message to a trustee with directions on how to vote, while the trustees were deliberating before the final vote to close two high schools.

MMW message to Reynolds

A parent took a photo of Meed Ward’s iPad screen during a school board meeting that clearly showed she was instructing Reynolds. In one line, Meed Ward wrote; “DON’T VOTE IN FAVOR” and in another, “Do not uphold the Chair’s ruling.”

It was not Meed Ward’s finest hour. Many people expected better.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.


Related content:
If there was ever a time when real leadership was needed the above this was it; the PARC infighting was getting dirty.

Meed Ward had to decide how she wanted to position herself once the Director of Education released the final report.

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Gazette reader takes issue with an interview given by the new Deputy city manager.

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

January 4th, 2018



It was an interesting news story – the former Director of Planning doing a sit down interview with Colleen Podesta, a real estate agent. What could have looked like a fluff type interview by someone with a vested interest in the decisions the Director of Planning makes turned out to be something quite a bit different. Mary Lou Tanner, who is now the Deputy city manager explained that “granny flats” were possible in Burlington.

Tanner with Colleen Podesta

Colleen DePodesta, a Re/Max Escarpment real estate agent with Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner during an interview in the Atrium at city hall

The full interview can be seen at: Click here.

Stephen White didn’t see the interview that way.

He sent the Gazette some very pointed comments which were significant enough to be upgraded to an Opinion piece.

Here is what White had to say:

First question: since when were “granny flats” under consideration as an affordable housing option in Burlington?

Second question: since when do municipal public servants express public policy that, at least as far as I know, hasn’t been officially endorsed or sanctioned by Council?

Third question: why are local real estate agents interviewing municipal public servants for a promotional video that will be hosted on Ms. DePodestga’s website to advertise and promote the services of her business?

Fourth question: if a municipal public servant is supposed to maintain an arm’s length relationship with developers, real estate agents, etc., while ensuring a high degree of impartiality and objectivity in the process, why is she appearing in a featured interview? If she were being interviewed at a convention or broader public forum by a news agency that is one thing, but appearing in an exclusive interview for one business creates the impression of endorsement.

Fifth question: As per the City of Burlington’s policy on Media Relations, dated Wednesday December 24, 2014, Corp. Comm. -3-05, it states:

The Public Affairs department, which publishes City Talk, is run by Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs. She directs a staff of 2.5 people plus a summer intern.

Donna Kell, Manager Public Affairs.

“The City of Burlington will designate corporate media spokespersons based on their accountability and responsibility. Corporate media relations spokespersons will function as the primary contacts with the media”.

Why wasn’t the Communications Manager the spokesperson on this issue.

Aside from the messaging the optics of this really stinks!


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How the 421 Brant project got to where it is - now where does it go?

background 100By Staff

January 3rd, 2018



How did the 421 Brant development get to where it is today?

The developer took a proposal to city hall, the planners talked about it and suggestions were made.

Then the Tall Building Guidelines were introduced and the developer found a way to revise a plan and convince the Planning department that it was worth recommending.  )See the Muir note on Ridge negotiating)

The letter from the developer to the Planning department set out below shows how the two sides managed to come together.

The visuals used in this article were not provided by the developer – they come from the Burlington Gazette photo data bank and are used to lighten the narrative which can be pretty boring at times.

January 12, 2017,

City of Burlington
Planning and Building Department City Hall
426 Brant Street
P.O. Box 5013
Burlington, Ontario L7R 3Z6

Delivered By Hand

Attention: Mary Lou Tanner, MCIP, RPP
Director of Planning & Building

Dear Ms. Tanner:

Subject: Official Plan & Zoning Amendment Application Redevelopment of 421 – 431 Brant Street & 2007 – 2011 James Street (“421 Brant”)
Northwest Quadrant of Brant Street & James Street City of Burlington
421 Brant St Inc.

421 Brant St Inc., the acting owner of the above noted properties (the “subject land”), is pleased to submit this application to amend the Official Plan for the City of Burlington and Zoning By-law 2020, as amended, to facilitate redevelopment and revitalization within the core of the Downtown area.

421 Brant

A development project had a lot going for it in the early stages – then the public took notice and said they didn’t want it.

Purpose of the Applications:

To permit the redevelopment of the subject land to allow high density mixed-use redevelopment within the Downtown core of the City of Burlington, official plan and zoning amendments are required.

Description of the Subject Land:

The subject land is located within the northeast quadrant of the intersection of Brant Street and James Street, immediately across the street from Burlington’s City Hall. Comprised of a total site area of approximately 0.20 hectares, the subject land fronts onto Brant Street, James Street and John Street. Several commercial buildings and operations currently exist or have existed on the subject land since the 1950’s. The subject land is

significantly under-developed for a site that is ultimately one of the most prominent and significant redevelopment sites in the Downtown area of the City of Burlington.

Project History:

421 Brant St Inc. has been assembling these lands for several years and has considered many possible redevelopment scenarios over this time. More recently, Brant St Inc. has been working with its consultant team to formalize its redevelopment proposal and bring it forward for approval. The project team includes:

Fothergill Planning and Development Inc.;
Turner Fleischer Architects Inc.;
Ferris+Associates Inc.;
S. Llewellyn and Associates;
Novus Environmental Inc.;
Paradigm Transportation Solutions Inc.;
Terraprobe Inc.; and,
AT. McLaren Limited.

Prior to submitting the requisite development applications to the City of Burlington, 421 Brant St Inc. presented a proposal to the City as part of the standard pre-submission consultation process. This proposal is generally summarized as follows:

Original Proposal:

The original proposal was designed in the absence of contemporary development standards for Burlington’s Downtown and specifically to consider expectations of the market.

Carriage Gate team

The 421 Brant project got a more than favorable response at the first public meeting. Two private sector planners and a Carriage Gate executive.

The original proposal included:

• Approximately 23,226 sq. m. of total gross floor area within a 25 storey building – representing a floor area ratio of 11.71;
• A tower floor plate size of approximately 870 sq. metres;
• Approximately 195 residential units and parking at a rate of approximately 1.1 spaces per unit and 0.1 spaces for non-residential uses respectively;
• A three storey podium with retail at grade, office space on the second floor and residential units on the third floor;
• Podium setbacks from the edge of street pavement as follows: Brant Street – approximately 4 metres; James Street – approximately 3.9 metres; and, John Street – approximately 4.5 metres;
• Promoted a strong streetscape as a result of the positive relations created by the massing of the podium and the width of the setbacks/streetscape provided;
• Tower setback from northerly property line – Minimum 12.5 metres;
• The condominium entrance and lobby area was proposed at the south corner of the site; and,
• Loading, service bays and underground parking ramps accessing John Street.

As this concept was being finalized by Turner Fleischer, the City of Burlington released new draft city-wide guidelines for tall buildings in the City of Burlington in August 2016. Tall Buildings Guidelines were approved by City Council on September 13, 2016 as interim (the “guidelines”). These guidelines include critera that are new to the City of Burlington and had not been previously implemented in most high rise developments in the City.

Through our pre-submission consultation meeting with City staff, we were advised of the City’s intent to implement the “guidelines”. In light of this dramatic change in philosophy and approach towards tall buildings and to respond to other comments received from City staff (as noted in the minutes from the pre-submission consultation meeting), 421 Brant St Inc. went back to the drawing board with its project team to investigate ways in which the new guidelines could be addressed while at the same time addressing market expectations and the economic feasibility of the project.

Further to significant additional analysis by the project team and 421 Brant St Inc., the redevelopment proposal has been significantly revised. The revisions that have been made demonstrate the will and desire of 421 Brant St Inc. to cooperate with City staff and Council to bring this project to market as quickly as possible. The revised proposal is summarized as follows:

Revised Proposal (“421 Brant”):

Nick Carnicelli

Nick Carnicelli

Dramatic modifications have been made to the project to promote compliance with development standards included in the guidelines and to respond to comments received from City staff:

• The FAR has been reduced from 11.71 to 11.24;
• To accommodate wider streetscapes around the project, as requested by City staff, the podium setbacks from the edge of street pavement have been increased as follows: Brant Street – from approximately 4 metres to approximately 6 metres; James Street – from approximately 3.9 metres to approximately 6.08 metres; and, from approximately 4.5 metres to approximately 5.87 metres on John Street.
• While the increased podium setback accommodate a significantly wider streetscape/pedestrian realm and may be visually attractive, this has resulted in the elimination of a significant amount (over 300 sq. m.) of valuable retail and office floor space;
• A three storey podium;
• Tower floor plate – reduced from 870 sq. metres to 799 sq. metres;
• Residential units sizes and dimensions have been significantly modified;
• In response to the Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines, the height of the development has been revised from 25 to 26 floors;
• In response to the modifications noted above, the total residential unit count has been reduced from 195 to 183;
• To improve and reinforce the relationship of the proposed re-development to the street and the civic open space adjacent to City Hall, a substantial cut-out has been made to the southwest corner of the building at the Brant Street and James Street intersection;

• To reinforce the significance of James Street, the entrance to and lobby of the residential component of the development has been relocated such that the main entrance is located “mid-block”; and,
• In response to City comments in respect of the visual prominence of the loading and service entrance on John Street, overhead doors have been included to screen these operational functions.

Impact of Proposed Modifications:

a) Satisfies the intent of the Official Plan and builds upon the evolving planning policy framework for the Downtown and the mobility hub;
b) General compliance with Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines;
c) Superior streetscape and relationship of the building to the public realm – promoting animation and vitality on the streets;
d) Building height and floor area ratio are suitable and appropriate for this landmark location located at a gateway to City Hall;
e) Improved relationship between the project to civic open space at both the north and south ends of City Hall;
f) No adverse wind, noise, sun light penetration or shadow impacts;
g) Enhanced access to residential condominium from the middle of the block along James Street – promotes and enhances the prominence of James Street;
h) Improved entrance to the office space from Brant Street;
i) Effective screening of loading and service facilities and functions on John Street;
j) New retail space at the corner of James and John Streets provides new and improved options for retailers and enhances the economic vitality of the area as one moves east from Brant Street;
k) Frames and compliments the view of City Hall from most directions;
I) To assist the City in its efforts to minimize the use of private motor vehicles and promote TOM standards and the use of public transit, reduced parking rates are to be implemented;
m) The underground parking garage that satisfies all City design standards;
n) Improved outdoor amenity space promoting interaction with Brant Street at multiple levels;
o) Promotes the revitalization of the Downtown Core;
p) The proposed redevelopment is compatible with neighbouring uses and activities;
q) The building architecture has been refined;
r) Mixed-use building setting a new standard for the Downtown while expanding the City’s tax base; and,
s) To improve and reinforce the relationship of the proposed re-development to the street and the civic open space adjacent to City Hall, a substantial cut-out has been made to the southwest.

Existing Planning Permissions and Amendments Required: Official Plan for the Regional Municipality of Halton:
The Official Plan for the Regional Municipality of Halton designates the subject property as being located within an “Urban Area” within the “Urban Growth Area”. This permits a range of urban uses which are to be designated in accordance with local official plans and zoning by-law. The proposal, as described, satisfies objectives for Urban Growth Centres in the Region and helps to achieve policies in the Plan promoting redevelopment and intensification of Urban Areas, and is in conformity with the Regional Official Plan. No amendments are required.

The Official Plan for the City of Burlington:

Concept 2 - looking north from Lakeshore

A visual of one of the concepts shown at a city sponsored public meeting.

Official plan policies promote and encourage the form of redevelopment that is being proposed, which achieves stated policies with respect to infill and housing intensification. At the same time, the policies are clear that consideration must be given to the issue of compatibility with existing neighbourhoods and surrounding development. The extent to which the proposal can achieve these objectives is considered in more detail in the Planning Justification Report prepared by Fothergill Planning and Development Inc. and the Urban Design Brief prepared by Bousfields.

While the proposal meets the general intent of the direction of the Official Plan, there are specific policy provisions that are required to be amended in respect of building height and permitted floor area ratio.

It must also be noted that the City of Burlington has commenced the process of undertaking a comprehensive review its Official Plan. This exercise recognizes that Downtown Burlington is one of the key areas within the City which can, and should, accommodate significant redevelopment and intensification initiatives. It is our understanding that the redevelopment proposed is consistent with the policy directions currently being considered by the City of Burlington. Therefore, the proposed amendments to the Official Plan appear to be representative of the policy framework being developed and as such do not challenge the overlying goals and objectives being promoted.

Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines:

The City of Burlington has also confirmed its new direction to promote “tall buildings” through its adoption and implementation of “Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines”. While it is recognized that these are guidelines, City Council has demonstrated its support for new development and redevelopment that satisfies these guidelines and further that these guidelines are in conformity with and are intended to reinforce and implement official plan policies for the Downtown in particular.

Zoning By-law 2020, as amended:

Zoning By-law 2020, as amended, zones the subject land DC (Downtown Core) and DC- 434 (Downtown Core – Modified). This zoning permits a mix and range of uses including an apartment building, retirement home, offices, restaurants and retail units. Special Exception Number 434 allows for a maximum height of 17 storeys and 21 metres as opposed to the standard requirement of 4 storeys and 15 metres in a DC zone and a floor area ratio of 4.5:1 as opposed to the 4:0:1 permitted in a DC zone. A zoning amendment is required to implement the Interim Tall Buildings Guidelines and the proposed redevelopment.


Aerial of 421 site

Aerial of 421 site

421 Brant St Inc. has made significant revisions to its redevelopment proposal to accommodate comments received from the City of Burlington and we are of the opinion that the proposed redevelopment represents good planning and satisfies the intent of all Provincial, Regional and City policies and guidelines while effectively promoting the evolving planning regime pursued by the City of Burlington for its Downtown Core.

Included with this Submission:

• Application fees;
• Application form;
• Architectural site plan drawings, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Shadow Analysis, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• 3d model, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Waste Management Plan, prepared by Turner Fleischer;
• Planning Justification Report, prepared by Fothergill Planning and Development Inc.;
• Urban Design Brief, prepared by Bousfields;
• Transportation Impact Study, Parking Study and TOM Options Report, prepared by Paradigm Transportation Solutions Inc.;
• Conceptual Landscape drawings, prepared by Ferris+Associates;
• Pedestrian Wind Assessment, prepared by Novus Environmental Inc.;
• Environmental Noise Assessment , prepared by Novus Environmental Inc.;
• Functional Servicing Report, prepared by S. Llewellyn and Associates;
• Phase 1 Environmental Report, prepared by Terraprobe Inc.;
• Environmental Screening Checklist, completed by 421 Brant ST Inc.;
• Geotechnical Engineering Report, prepared by Terraprobe Inc.; and,
• Boundary and topographic survey, prepared by A.T. McLaren.

We look forward to working with the City of Burlington on this project.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.

Yours truly,
421 Brant St Inc.

Comparing the changes that were made between the original proposal and the final submission shows the degree to which the developer was prepared to accommodate the requests from the planners.

What no one saw coming at the time was the public reaction to a 5-2 city council vote approving the project.

Related Gazette content:

Muir and Ridge talk about negotiated developments.

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Ward 2 Councillor is taking 9 motions to a standing committee and will ask her colleagues to make OP an election issue.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 4th, 2018



Councillor Meed Ward goes after free city hall parking. Wants the tax rules to be applied.

Councillor Meed Ward taking nine motions to city council meeting.

In her most recent Ward 2 Newsletter city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said: “Some residents have suggested deferring approval of the Official Plan till after the October municipal election, and putting the proposed plan to the test of the electorate. I am also open to that suggestion.

In an email to an Aldershot resident Meed Ward said: Thanks – I will be bringing a motion January 23 to defer approval of the OP till after the election.

The feedback we have been getting is that this will be a 6-1 vote – whichever way the vote goes it is going to be a momentous Standing Committee meeting. Seating is limited – get there early – and remember – no clapping, hissing or booing.

Meed Ward has announced that she will have nine different motions to put before her colleagues. Motions have to be seconded – who signed on with Meed Ward – Taylor or the Mayor?

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Brant Main Street Precinct was created to recognize the unique and fine grain “Main Street” character of Brant and to achieve a pedestrian- scaled environment Pine Street and Caroline Street.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2018


Part two of a multi-part editorial feature on the precincts and mobility hub being planned for the downtown core

brant maint street precinct

The Brant Main Street Precinct responds to the overwhelming public feedback about the importance of retaining the character of Brant Street. The area identified as Brant Main Street Precinct in the draft new Precinct Plan is identified as part of a larger Downtown Core Precinct in the City’s current Official Plan.

Draft Intention Statement:
The Brant Main Street Precinct will continue to serve as the city’s primary retail destination within the Downtown Mobility Hub and city-wide. Developments will maintain the existing traditional main-street character along Brant Street between Caroline and Pine Streets. Mid-rise developments will incorporate a low-rise podium with additional building height terraced away from Brant Street and towards John and Locust Streets in order to maintain the main-street pedestrian experience and character of Brant Street.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street south of Caroline will be within the Brant Main Street Precinct.

The Brant Main Street Precinct includes key policy directions intended to retain a pedestrian-scaled character along Brant Street through the establishment of a maximum building height of 3 storeys immediately adjacent to Brant Street and 11 storeys along John and Locust Streets, subject to a 45-degree angular plane analysis and the terracing of building heights as well as podium requirements along Locust and John Streets.

Additional directions are included to establish a maximum floor plate size, a requirement for retail and service commercial along Brant Street, a minimum of two uses within buildings and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and mitigation measures.

The policies for the Brant Main Street also introduce the concept of a flexible street (a street that is designed to transition between vehicular and pedestrian-focused activities and events) on Brant Street from Pine Street to Caroline Street.

The proposed Brant Main Street Precinct includes a Special Policy Area with the objective of creating a civic node at the intersection of Brant Street and James Street, which includes the view terminus of City Hall. The Special Policy Area is located on the east side of Brant Street between the Elgin Promenade to the south and the mid-block connection across from Ontario Street to the north.

James looking at city hall

The entrance to the 421 Brant Street development will actually be on James Street, shown here. The property on the left – the former Elizabeth Interiors site – has been assembled – there is one holdout. The developer with this property had hoped to have a shovel in the ground within 24 months.

Draft Intention Statement for Special Policy Area:
Developments located on the east side of Brant Street and immediately adjacent to the intersection of Brant and James Streets will recognize and enhance the civic and public gathering functions existing at this intersection including City Hall, Civic Square and the Burlington War Memorial (Cenotaph).

Developments will be expected to contribute to the extension of Civic Square to the east side of Brant Street and ensure that view corridors from James Street to City Hall, Civic Square and the Burlington War Memorial are established.

Provision of such public amenities will result in a modified built form and increased building height permissions relative to those otherwise permitted in the Brant Main Street Precinct.

Cellis - vibrant not

Currently the site has offices on the second floor – the restaurant has been closed for some time. The developer has approval to build a 23 storey condominium – the entrance will be on the James Street side

The key policy directions for the Brant Main Street Special Policy Area include the establishment of an enhanced civic node and permission for a modified built form and increased building heights of approximately 17 storeys in order to achieve a significant building setback, sight lines to key civic features and the creation of new public space at the corner of James and Brant Streets to serve as a public extension of Civic Square.

There is an active development application that falls within the Brant Main Street Special Policy Area.

Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

The block on the east side of Brant south of James street has been assembled.

The block to the south of James Street and on the east side of Brant has also been assembled – there is reportedly one hold out who expects to be in his premises five years from now.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has prepared a number of motions she will be putting before city council on January 23rd. Her motion related to Brant Main street will include:

Meed Ward H&S profileMotion 2: Restrict height to 3 storeys along Brant Street with permission to go to 8 storeys along John Street frontage only, and only with the provision of community benefits.

Currently Brant St allows four storeys, and up to 8 storeys with provision of community benefits. The proposed new Brant Main Street Precinct would allow 3 storeys along Brant, with terracing back at a 45 degree angle to 11 storeys facing John St., as of right (i.e. no need to provide community benefits for the extra height). The precinct runs from Pine to the No Frills plaza, and includes the city parking lot on the North East side of Caroline & John, and the retail plaza at the North East corner of Brant and Caroline (which includes Joe Dog’s, the bank and the automotive shop among others).

There is a proposed “Special Planning Area” at the North and South East corners of Brant and James across from City Hall which would allow 17 storeys. This is discussed below.


Restrict the height of the special planning area on the south side of James Street at Brant Street to 3 storeys.

There is a proposed “Special Planning Area” at the North and South East corners of Brant and James across from City Hall which would allow 17 storeys (thatched orange on the map). The current zoning on this property is 4 to 8 storeys, same as the rest of Brant.

A 23-storey building was recently approved 5-2 at the North East corner. Myself and the mayor did not support; the mayor supported 17 storeys. I supported retaining the existing permission of 12 storeys, half of what was approved. The 12 storeys only applies to the land at the corner, and was the result of an earlier Ontario Municipal Board decision. The balance of the assembled properties had a 4 to 8 storey permission.

With the approval of the 23 storey building on the opposite corner there will be pressure for this block to be similar – creating two potential towers facing City Hall and displacing the existing businesses and historic building where Kelly’s Bake Shoppe currently operates. Instead, the zoning in this section should match the balance of the Brant Main Street precinct of 3 storeys, and up to 11 (modified to 8) facing John St.

Part 1 of this series:

The evolution of mobility hubs and precincts.



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Mobility hubs and precincts - the evolution of a city as the planners see it. Some of the public want a seat at that table.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 3, 2018


Precincts and Mobility Hubs is a series of editorial features on what the planners have in mind as they develop ideas and concept for a bigger Burlington.

A report was presented to a city Standing Committee last September and approved by council on October 10th, 2017.

News anal REDIt was one of those foundational reports upon which much is built – it sets out how the planners see the core of the city developing; the core is like the root of a tree – everything comes from those roots.

The 27 page document set out the Downtown Mobility Hub draft new Precinct Plan and key land use policy directions. The draft is a key input into the creation of the Area Specific Plan for Downtown Burlington.

Burlington aerial

What will this picture look like in ten to fifteen years?

By undertaking secondary plans or Area Specific Plans (ASPs) for Burlington’s Mobility Hubs, the City continues to implement the objectives of the Strategic Plan and Official Plan to direct intensification, achieve transit-supportive densities and develop pedestrian and transit-oriented mixed use areas in the downtown Urban Growth Centre and at the City’s key major transit station areas – the GO Stations. The Downtown Mobility Hub draft new Precinct Plan supports the 2015-2040 Strategic Plan objectives.

In 2014, the City, along with consultants from Brook McIlroy, completed the Mobility Hubs Opportunities and Constraints Study, which provided a high-level analysis of each of the City’s Mobility Hubs and informed the development of the study areas for future Area Specific Planning work to be done in each of the Mobility Hubs.

In July 2016, Burlington City Council approved staff report which outlined a work plan, allocation of staff resources and required funding to simultaneously develop four ASPs, one for each of Burlington’s Mobility Hubs. The project was approved with unanimous City Council support and expeditious timelines that will culminate in the delivery of all four ASPs to City Council no later than June 2018.

In April 2017, the Mobility Hubs Team initiated the study publicly with a launch party followed by the beginning of a comprehensive public consultation program around the future vision for each of the Mobility Hubs.

In addition to achieving City Council’s objectives for intensification and growth, the Mobility Hub ASPs will also support the objectives of Metrolinx’s The Big Move, including the development of Regional Express Rail (RER) service, through the creation of complete communities with transit-supportive densities, as identified through the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and in the Region of Halton’s Official Plan (2017).

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

It’s now just a place to refill your Presto pass and keep warm on the colder days. Think of it as an Anchor Mobility Hub – that’s what the planners are now calling the site.

Schedule 1 of The Big Move recognizes two Mobility Hubs in Burlington: the Downtown Mobility Hub is identified as an Anchor Mobility Hub and the Burlington GO Mobility Hub is identified as a Gateway Hub. In the City’s draft New Official Plan, all three GO Stations and the downtown are identified as Mobility Hubs and as areas of strategic importance to accommodate the City’s future growth. Through this growth strategy, the City is also protecting the stable residential neighbourhoods.

The Downtown Mobility Hub draft New Precinct Plan and key land use policy directions will be considered by Council with the draft New Official Plan later this fall. The Downtown Mobility Hub Study remains on target, with the delivery of the ASP for the Downtown Mobility Hub planned for June 2018. Following the approval of the ASPs in June 2018, work on the implementation of the ASPs will commence.

Time line

Time line the Planning department expects to work within. All this takes place with an interim Planner while the former planner, now the Deputy City Manager stays focused on the completion of the draft Official Plan,

The Gazette will report on 12 precinct plans – setting out a map of each and the Draft Intention Statement the planners have for each.

421 Brant

Looming over everything is the 421 Brant development that was approved by city council on a 5-2. A citizens group wants to appeal the decision.

Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan
Parks and Promenade Precinct Plan
Brant Main Street Precinct
Bates Precinct
Public Service Precinct
St Lukes/Emerald Precinct
Cannery Precinct
Upper Brant Precinct
Downtown Core Precinct
Old Lakeshore Precinct
Mid Rise Residential Precinct
Tall Residential Precinct
Downtown Residential Mobility Area Specific Plan

The Mobility Hubs project is funded through the Operating Budget from 2017-2019.
Something missing here

The draft New Precinct Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub achieves key important city- building objectives including: the establishment of a public realm precinct that includes new and enhanced public parks and promenades; the conservation of existing historic streetscapes; the provision of sites for future community and public services; the concentration of tall buildings in proximity to higher order public transit (Burlington GO); the establishment of height peaks and built form transitions; and the provision of development permissions that will attract future population and job growth to the downtown.

The Gazette intends to have as much information as possible in the hands of the public before the critical January 23rd meeting that has Urban growth center, heights, and key re-development sites on the agenda.

There was an interesting interview with the Deputy city manager on affordable housing – worth watching

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New Deputy city manager does a sit down interview with a real estate agent - some interesting comments were made.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 3rd, 2018



The video runs for just over four minutes – you come away with a sense as to part of the direction Mary Lou Tanner had as the former Director Planning for the city and what she expects she will be doing as the newly minted Deputy City Manager.

The interview was done by Colleen DePodestga of Remax Escarpment Real Estate.

During the interview we learned that “Granny flats” are going to be (are?) legal in Burlington. When asked how millennials can get to live in Burlington Tanner said … well it is all in the video – worth listening to.

It is all here.


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Who has served this city BEST in 2017? Awards being given in eight categories.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 2nd, 2018



The city does it every year.

Citizens are asked to think of who was the very best at growing the city in a number of categories.

Burlington-Best-Header-847x254This year the Burlington’s Best Committee is challenging residents and organizations to “show us Burlington’s Best citizens.” Nominations for the Burlington’s Best Awards, formerly known as the civic recognition awards, are now open for eight award categories. Nominations will be accepted until February 28, 2018.

Burlington’s Best Awards is an awards program that honours Burlington’s most outstanding citizens. The winners in all categories are revealed at a celebration held in May of each year.


The 2016 winners pose with their awards. From left to right: Jim Clemens (Heritage), Sylvia Baliko, Tetra Society (Accessibility), Dave Page (Senior), Mayor Rick Goldring, Marion Goard (Community Service), Dorothy Borovich (Citizen of the Year), Mehr Mahmood (Junior), Kale Black (Environmental) Absent: Margaret Lindsay Holton (Arts Person)

The Committee mandate is to recognize citizens of Burlington who have brought favourable publicity and honour to the City of Burlington, to increase awareness of the committee so all citizens of Burlington have the chance to be recognized for their achievements.

There are eight award categories:

Citizen of the year
A person whose volunteer activity has made a significant and sustained contribution to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the Burlington community in 2017.

Junior Citizen of the year
A youth, 14-18 years of age, who has made a significant contribution to the Burlington community in 2017.

Senior Person of the year
A person, 55 years or older, who has advocated on behalf of seniors and/or made a significant contribution to the Burlington community in 2017.

Environmental Award
An individual or group that improved and/or protects Burlington’s environment in 2017.

Arts Person of the Year
An individual who has contributed to the arts in Burlington as an artist, patron or advocate including, but not limited to, visual arts, media arts, musical arts, performing arts and literary arts in 2017.

Community Service Award
An individual or group whose volunteer activity has contributed to the betterment of the Burlington community in 2017.

Heritage Award
An individual who has demonstrated a commitment to the preservation of Burlington’s heritage, and has volunteered their time in an effort to support the preservation of Burlington’s heritage in 2017.

The nomination form can be accessed HERE.


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In an Open letter to city Council Aldershot resident wants a slow down on the Official Plan - a radical irreversible experiment.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

January 2nd, 2018



Staff have recently announced a new schedule for passing the revamped “Official Plan.” The staff proposed timing is completely unacceptable. This new Official Plan represents a radical change to the city. It contemplates eventually increasing the population by hundreds of thousands of people, allowing hi-rises on thousands of properties with no notification to adjacent owners, removing traditional commercial sites everywhere, making completely unknown modifications to transit and imposing completely unknown costs for it all.

Placing the vote on a decades long plan in April, just one month before the 2018 election season starts in May, seems to deliberately avoid democratic input. Even if the timing is quite innocent, the appearance of impropriety alone demands that the vote be moved off to the next elected council. Staff should spend the next months finalizing a completed Official Plan, completed Mobility Hub plan, and completed Transit Master Plan, with costs. Then we can all have an election on the merits of all of these plans, and costs, and move forward with a mandate and the understanding of the population.

The new plan contains no mechanism to preserve the quality of life for residents; each day seems to have less tree cover, less greenery, fewer local services, more people, more pollution and more time wasted traveling around a congested city. These negative effects are imagined to be offset by a plan for a massive switch to non-vehicular transportation that will be discovered in the future, but has not been presented or costed today. It treats existing citizen’s investment in their property, travel patterns and the lives they have built in Burlington as an inconvenience to be swept away. That theoretical efficiencies in energy consumption or land use might occur on a planning spreadsheet is not sufficient justification to draft 185,000 taxpayers into a radical irreversible experiment.

Additionally, the possible closing of citizen delegations before upcoming official plan votes looks equally bad.

ScheduleCThe effects of the rules and definitions in the new Official Plan requires detailed study, and the public needs much more time to provide proper feedback to council. As one quick example – at first the coloured map (Schedule C) shows pink for “Neighbourhood Centre”, and would seem to protect those traditional commercial sites. This is until you realize that the “Neighbourhood Centre” designation requires re-development to “To ensure the in-filling of surface parking lots (”

NebirohoodDesignations Some of the rules attempt to distort the free market further and remove surface parking in exchange for allowing 12 story buildings on the site. It’s completely unclear what replaces all these traditional commercial sites, or how the commodities of living are to be acquired.

MixedUsageCommericalCenterIt seems as if the current population is to just blindly begin these changes then endure whatever local fallout occurs.

Though Councillors have a provincial direction to review and update the plan with staff, they certainly have no requirement to pass the plan in the current term. Population targets are set out at 2031, which leaves a decade or more before any tisk-tisking might even come from the Province. The current time line is simply not imposed by the Province. However, using this as a pretext again makes it seems like the real purpose of the timing is to remove the discomfort of Councillors and staff having to defend something they suspect voters are unlikely to support.

There is far too much focus on intensification for population numbers alone, and too little on positive intensification to enrich our communities. A focus is needed on quality of life, not the quantity of people. If the plan is worth voting for now, then it should be easy to get re-elected promoting it.


Are they prepared to stake their council seats on the Official Plan that is being proposed?

If members of Council don’t think they can get re-elected supporting it, then they should not vote for it now. It’s that simple. Changes this radical require a mandate, and this Council can help more than ever by making sure it exists for the next Council.

Please help everyone now by defending the people’s impression of our democracy which has placed Council in a position of trust.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional Chair in the 2014 municipal election.  He delegates frequently at city council.

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Some Halton Region drivers are going to continue their Impaired Driving beyond the holiday season.

Crime 100By Staff

January 2, 2018



It looks like some Halton Region drivers are going to continue their Impaired Driving beyond the holiday season.

Offences Summary within Halton Region

On Friday, December 29, 2017, just after 8:30pm, a traffic stop was initiated near Grapehill Avenue and Strathcona Drive in Burlington. As a result of an investigation, Charalampos Kaltsidis (56) of Burlington was charged with fail or refuse to provide sample and driving while ability impaired.

Halton police - good angleOn Saturday, December 30, 2017, just after 4:30pm, Halton Police officers investigated a collision on Tremaine Road in Milton. As a result of this investigation, police charged Scott Lovelace (51) of Moffat with driving while ability impaired and driving over 80 mgs.

On Saturday, December 30, 2017, just after 8:00pm, Halton Police officers investigated a collision near Brenda Crescent and Queensway Drive in Burlington. As a result of this investigation, police charged Frances Bowles (52) of Burlington with fail or refuse to provide sample and driving while ability impaired.

On Saturday, December 30, 2017, just before 11:30pm, a traffic stop was initiated near Atkinson Drive and Upper Middle Road in Burlington. As a result of an investigation, Jean Melanson (43) of Burlington was charged with driving over 80mgs.

On Sunday, December 31, 2017, just after 12:30pm, a traffic stop was initiated on Lakeshore Road near Locust Street in Burlington. As a result of an investigation, Brian Costello (73) of Burlington was charged with driving over 80mgs.

On Sunday, December 31, 2017, just after 9:00pm, Halton Police officers investigated a collision near Jenn Avenue and Harbottle Road in Burlington. As a result of this investigation, police charged Adam Stewart (34) of Milton with driving while ability impaired.

On Monday, January 1, 2018, just before 3:20am, Halton Police officers were conducting a R.I.D.E. initiative at Bronte Street South and Louis St. Laurent in Milton when a driver evaded the check. Police initiated a traffic stop a short distance away. As a result of this investigation, Peter Antony (49) of Thornhill was charged with driving over 80mgs.

On Monday, January 1, 2018, just before 4:00am, Halton Police officers investigated a collision near Regional Road 25 and Number 5 Sideroad in Halton Hills. Police charged Muhammed Siddiqui (24) of Scarborough with driving while ability impaired and driving over 80mgs.

On Monday, January 1, 2018, just before 8:00pm, Halton Police officers investigated a collision near North Service Road and Third Line in Oakville. Police charged Milan Necak (64) of Oakville with driving while ability impaired and driving over 80mgs.

Members of the public are reminded that driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is a crime in progress and to call 9-1-1 immediately to report a suspected impaired driver.


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Finance department tells council a tax hike of 4.19% will be needed to keep the doors open in 2018

Budget 2018 ICONBy Staff

January 2, 2018



The announcement from city hall was pretty straight forward – the review of city’s proposed 2018 operating budget will take place January 18.

Then the kicker – Proposed city tax increase of 4.19%

How much longer can Burlington smack the tax payers with property tax increases of more than 4%.
It just isn’t sustainable.

The 2018 operating budget delivers a base budget to maintain city service levels.

Operating budget - what you getOther impacts to the 2018 operating budget include:

• $1.9 million or an additional tax increase of 1.25 per cent dedicated to the renewal of city infrastructure as outlined in the Asset Management Plan.

• $1 million or an additional tax increase of 0.65 per cent for legislative changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts (Bill 148) including increases to minimum wage.

• $1.3 million or an additional tax increase of 0.84 per cent for changes in transit to provide operational sustainability.

• $1.2 million or an additional tax increase of 0.78 per cent for impacts from the 2014 arbitrated Fire settlement.

• $320,000 or an additional tax increase of 0.21 per cent to enhance maintenance standards on city sports fields.

Capital budget 2018The total city tax increase in the proposed 2018 operating budget is 4.19 per cent. When combined with Halton Region’s proposed tax increase and no change for education, the overall tax increase is projected at 2.49 per cent or $21.03 per $100,000 of Current Value Assessment.

There is an ongoing fallacy that gets trotted out each year by Joan Ford, Director of Finance: “Despite a number of significant budget pressures like the increase to Ontario’s minimum wage effective Jan. 1, 2018, and funding needed to address operational challenges in transit, Burlington’s proposed operating budget continues to ensure our assets are renewed and maintained in a fiscally responsible manner. Since 2011, overall tax increases in Burlington have averaged 1.9 per cent. In a comparison of property taxes in municipalities in the Great Toronto Hamilton Area, Burlington’s property taxes are the third lowest for a residential single-family detached home.”

Every word of that is true – however neither Burlington’s finance department nor its city council can do a blessed thing about the demands the school board or the Region make on the pocket books of the tax payers: Burlington is asking for an increase of 4.19% – they have been asking for more than, or very, very close to 4% for the past four years.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman was tough enough in 2010 to keep the tax increase to 0.

There was a time, back in 2010, when the tax increase was zero! Councillor Sharman was the driving force behind that effort. Council did it once – they should be able to do it again. It’s called belt tightening.

Members of the public who would like to speak at the Committee of the Whole budget meeting as a delegation can register by calling 905-335-7600, ext. 7481 or visiting burlington.ca/delegation. The deadline to register as a delegation for the Jan. 18 meeting is noon on Jan. 17, 2018.

Council approval of the proposed 2018 operating budget is scheduled for Monday, January 22, at 6:30 p.m.

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Rory Nisan: 2018 - it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch.

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

January 2nd, 2018



“May you live in interesting times” — an English expression commonly attributed as a Chinese curse, and an appropriate characterization of the situation in Burlington at the beginning of 2018.

LBP cardWithout a doubt, 2017 was a year of some turmoil in our community. Two of our schools are on the chopping block and the campaign of the Halton District School Board to close schools come hell or high water has without a doubt been a source of civil conflict in our community.

And more recently, Burlingtonians have contended with drastic proposed changes to the city’s official plan, causing outrage among many (and satisfaction for others) as Burlington feels the effects of development agendas.

For those who are engaged on these issues, we enter 2018 with some trepidation. Will the approval of 421 Brant street stand? Will more proposals for sky scrapers at the bottom of Brant street come forward?

Will the 5-2 vote on the Brant street building be mirrored by a 5-2 vote in favour of the new Official Plan?

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Margaret Wilson listening to a delegation during the Accommodation Review of the HDSB decision to close two high schools.

Similarly, what will Margaret Wilson’s Accommodation Review of the HDSB Trustees’ decision to close Pearson and Bateman high schools contain?

As easy as it would be to be fearful for the future, I see many reasons to be optimistic. We are busy people: families, commuters and active retirees, among others. We could be forgiven for not always having our fingers on the pulse of local politics. After all, Burlington is one of the best cities in which to live in Canada.

I am truly impressed at how many stood up for what we believe in this year. I have been most active with the Save Pearson team and many of us were not engaged between elections prior to this issue coming forward.

That has all changed.

Now, moms and dads, alumni and grandparents are working together towards common aims. There are bonds forming, political and social, that will carry us into 2018.

We are seeing Burlingtonians coming together across cultural lines as well. Burlington is changing fast — it has never been as diverse. We could either become more inclusive, or more exclusive — neutrality is tantamount to giving permission for xenophobia to creep into our society. After the Mosque attack on 29 January 2017 in Quebec, we organized a vigil for the victims at city hall. The hundreds of people who attended and signed the condolence book were proof that Burlingtonians want and will take action towards a more inclusive city.

After that, we wanted a more happy occasion to celebrate inclusion and diversity, and so with the support of a dozen faith groups we pulled together the first-ever One Burlington Festival. We celebrated our different cultures and faiths with food, music, dancing and games on 22 August. I am excited to help make it an annual event with another One Burlington Festival in August 2018.

Finally, membership on the City of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee has afforded me the chance to meet several younger Burlington residents. I was never anywhere near as engaged as they are in their high schools years. It has been gratifying to mentor some of the younger members of UN Subcommittee in particular. They are truly impressive and now, at 35 years old, I am finally understanding why it is often said that youth are the future. I aspire to be as focused and determined to be an agent of change as these students.

2018The next 12 months promise plenty of excitement. First, in June we will have a provincial election, which will bring fevered campaigning through the spring. Then, Burlington will hold its municipal election on 22 October along with the rest of Ontario. This one looks like it’s going to be interesting, with multiple competitive candidates for the Mayorship, and a strong probability that city council will not be fully re-elected as it was in 2014.

What I will look for in 2018 is how Burlingtonians will build on the actions taken this year to fight for the city we want, with the schools we want, the downtown we want, and the roads and transportation we want, all coming together to build a city fit for purpose in 2020. I am hoping that a 2020 vision emerges through citizens’ engagement and that the upcoming elections unify Burlington rather than divide us, and put us on a path towards the kind of city we deserve.

Of course, it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch. It is critical to take action to be a part of the change that one wants to see, and that is what I will do.

Will you?

rory closeupRory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization.


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A look at how the June provincial election might play out in Burlington.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 1st, 2018



In our business we get media releases from city hall, from the Region, from the provincial government and from the federal government. Plus dozens of commercial organizations who want a mention. Nice to know that they think we matter.

The number coming in daily from the province tells you that something is up – and of course the expected election in less than six months means the media releases get cranked out for just about anything.

News anal BLUEThere were two media releases today, that are not news but, point out to two changes the province has put in place that make sense in their own right and are examples of good government policy – they were the increase in the minimum wage to $14 an hour and a better deal for the minimum wage workers in terms of the time they can take off for sick days and personal matters.

The hospitality sector has been crying poor over paying the people who take our orders and serve us our food a decent wage. Their hope was that our gratuities would make the job worthwhile.

ohipplusThe other is described as OHIP plus which gives people under 25 all kinds of pharmaceuticals free of charge.

There was a new story of a university student who had to come up with $500 a month to cover the cost of her medications. There is one vote the Liberals can count on.

Both new programs appeal to and were aimed at a demographic that has not been known for its engagement in things political.

Will these two offerings make a difference to the Liberal party’s fortunes? They are said to be behind the Progressive Conservative opposition in the popularity polls.

McMahon - First public as Minister

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon

With the festive season behind us – expect to see a lot more election advertising and much more from the candidates. In Burlington the sitting MPP Eleanor McMahon, who is also a member of Cabinet and sits on the Treasury Board as well, will be on your doorstep. She is an accomplished campaigner – expect her to hold her seat.

While she should hold her seat she may return to Queen’s Park as a back bencher.


Jane McKenna, Progressive Conservative candidate for Burlington in the June provincial election.

The Progressive Conservatives brought Jane McKenna back after her loss to McMahon in YEAR. McKenna’s campaign is being run by former Member of Parliament Mike Wallace who has his hat in the ring for the job of Mayor.

They might have been better off running Wallace as the candidate for the provincial seat.

Vince smiling - head cocked

Vince Fiorito – Green candidate in the 2014 provincial election – is expected to run as a candidate again.

The New Democrats have yet to name a candidate. Vince Fioroto is reported to have agreed to run as the Green candidate. This time around he might actually campaign in Burlington – last time he spent much of his time in Guelph where the Greens thought they actually had a chance of winning that seat.

Burlington is represented by three people in the provincial legislature – the constituencies are: Burlington, Milton (covers the northern part of Burlington and Oakville North Burlington.  Editorial on those constituencies will follow.


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In the matter of trust - this city council isn't doing all that well.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2018



It always come down to a matter of trust.

Do you trust the person you are working with?

Do you trust the mechanic to fix your car?

Do you trust the grocer to sell you food that has not passed its best before date?

Trust doesn’t seem to go as far these days does it?

Learning that the largest supermarket operator in the country has been involved in the fixing of bread prices for more than ten years was a bit of a jolt. Many were stunned when they learned that Volkswagen was playing with the emission test results.

Hundreds of Ontario investors are out a lot of money because of foul play on the part of shady financial operators. These people wonder why the Ontario Securities Commission isn’t doing more to right the wrongs.

council with term dates

Thousands of Burlingtonians are close to furious with what they believe their elected officials seem prepared to let take place in terms of growth in the downtown core which they feel will destroy the city they love and live in.

Those same people question who the bureaucrats are working for and why recommendations they don’t believe reflect what the citizens want are sent to city council.

In 2010 the citizens of the city decided they didn’t like the way the then Mayor, Cam Jackson was doing his job and they turfed him. They elected a council that was quite a bit different led by a new Mayor they trusted.

Hold over Councillors Taylor, Dennison and Craven were re-elected. The sense was that Councillors Meed Ward, Lancaster and Sharman and a new Mayor was enough to change the way things were being done.

The electorate was satisfied enough to re-elect all seven members of city council which then let the bureaucrats foist a tag line on them that said:

Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.

The problem with the tag line is that it isn’t true – the “best city” part comes from a magazine that runs a poll each year and they declared the city was the “best”. The citizens of the city didn’t come to that conclusion – a publisher somewhere made that statement and the bureaucrats fell in love with it.

Far too many of the citizens are disagreeing with that statement – the trust that needs to be there is no longer in place.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of a city budget.

Make no mistake however that tens of thousands of the people that live in Burlington love their city – the way it is. They are not opposed to change but they want to be involved in the decisions that are made and when they speak they want to be heard.

When a group of well-meaning people take the time to gather names on a petition they don’t want to be belittled and denigrated by a member of council who suggest the names gathered are suspect.

Dennis Monte at Council

Monte Dennis delegating at city council.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren delegating at city council.

People who don’t have much experience speaking to others don’t want to feel inadequate when they have finished their delegation and are not asked a single question.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating at city council

Jim Young A

Jim Young delegating at city council

Burlington is fortunate to have some very accomplished people who address council; this writer cannot remember a single situation where an idea put forward by a citizen has been taken up by council. With the exception of Councillor Meed Ward, none of the others offer to get back to the speaker and follow up. They may do so – but they aren’t seen to do so.

It is a trust issue which this council does not appear to hear or even understand.

Staff at Council meeting Nov 30 - 2017

The quality of the image is terrible – the city has chosen not to invest in cameras that will produce a decent image. These are the messengers.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

By way of example – the images from Board of Education meetings are clear – and their vote recording system actually works.

Much of what city council is given in the way of staff reports infuriates intelligent, informed people who expect better. City managers serve at the will of council and they take their direction from Council. The bureaucrats are just the messengers – look to the people the bureaucrats serve for the kind of direction you want – and then press on to ensure that your message is heard.

And good luck – very few new faces wanting to become city council members have come forward.  We are aware of two – need more than that. Four of the incumbents might not even be challenged.

Blame yourselves for what you have.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by Pepper Parr, the publisher of the Gazette.

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Rivers: Coming Ontario provincial election is said to be Brown's to lose.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 1st, 2018



patrick-brown smiling

Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is said to be leading in the polls – will that lead hold?

It’s Patrick’s Brown’s election to lose according to the pollsters surveying Ontario’s political landscape in advance of the 2018 vote. Of course the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day but his PC party has been topping the Liberals for the last two years. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are mired in second place, tied with the other centre-left party, the NDP, led by veteran Andrea Horwath.


Premier Wynne runs a job training course for MAyor and NAME, gYPTECH

Premier Wynne has been to Burlington on numerous occasions. Anyone who will flip racks fo ribs has got to care about what happens in this city. Will this city be part of the province that returns her to office later this year?

Wynne is generally seen as unpopular though it is hard to understand what she has done which might have offended the public. Horwath, on the other hand is more popular though still perceived as an unknown. Even after leading her party since 2009, and with a couple of elections more under her belt than her opponents, she and her party have failed to connect with the voters.

Patrick Brown is a breath of fresh air for a political party that has a history of too often catering to its socially divisive extreme right wing. He flew on that wing himself not so long ago, but obviously has found the other one and put together a balanced platform that, with a couple of exceptions, pretty much looks like what the other two leaders have been promising. The biggest question is whether he really means it.

Paint it any colour you like Ontario is moving smartly on a solid track and that means its Premier, Wynne, has been doing the right things – or at least most thing right. The budget has been balanced, electricity rates have been scaled back, unemployment levels are way down and the economy is booming. Wynne can also take credit for the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan as well as inflation-proofing and increasing Ontario’s minimum wage laws – measures intended to help address the needs of those who are victim to our ever growing income gap.

There is also good news for those eligible for free tuition and Pharma- care. But the electricity file has been a sore point for the Liberals, though in truth it has been that way for governments going back to at least Bob Rae. And thanks to Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty there has been a huge transition in the province’s energy business including a greater role for the private sector and a revolution in how electricity is generated.

Coal fired generation

Coal-fired electricity is a thing of the past. Few remember just how significant the changes to the provinces electricity supply system have been.

To be sure, none of the parties will be bringing back coal-fired electricity nor resurrecting Ontario Hydro. There is, in fact, little disagreement on the fundamentals. It’s only on the edges that the parties are staking out territory. Brown has promised to somehow re-negotiate the iron-clad energy supply contracts downwards and put a stop to expansion of the electricity system. It’s true that today’s hydro bills include payments for electrons which gets delivered whether they are needed or not.

But the world is changing so fast that within a few years most automakers will finally be producing electric vehicles (EV) in quantities to rival and even exceed the gas guzzlers. And that will mean a rapid increase in electricity demand as gasoline stations start to disappear, becoming as rare as Blockbuster video stores and hen’s teeth. And then charging your EV at home overnight will cost you a lot more if Brown eliminates smart meters as he is also promising to do.

Smart electricity meter

The Smart Meters are apparently not smart enough for Patrick Brown,

Climate change is being caused primarily by the greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by fossil fuels. Ontario became the first jurisdiction to get rid of its coal-fired energy plants, one of which had been the largest point source of GHGs in Canada. Recently the federal government has mandated carbon pricing, a carbon tax, across the country to shift demand away from fossil fuels.

Ontario and Quebec have decided to meet that mandate through a ‘cap and trade program’ where GHGs would be capped and major players, e.g. oil companies, would have to buy quotas. Some of the costs of those quotas would be passed along to consumers when they fill their tanks, but the total cost of ‘cap and trade’ is generally less for an economy than a carbon tax.

That fine point is lost on Brown who would get rid of cap and trade and apply a flat carbon tax as Alberta and B.C. do. And like B.C. he would make it revenue-neutral, targeting income tax reductions for the middle class, thereby also making it mildly redistributive as well. Yet claims of over 20% in tax cuts will need to be weighed against the much higher prices for home heating and cooking fuels, public transportation and of course what you pay at the pump.

By definition revenue-neutral is like moving money from one pocket to another. But at least a carbon tax is an easier concept to understand and more directly consistent with the federal mandate. Of course to be effective the tax will have to be significant and ever increasing – and it will be. But as carbon use and carbon tax revenue decline, will the tax cuts that it funds also diminish?

Andrea Horwath

Andrea Horwath leader of the New Democratic party – will Burlington have an NDP candidate for 2018? Who?

Horwath has complained about smart meters as well, and has mused about buying back Hydro One shares but has yet to release her full party platform. And if history is any judge the NDP policies will be a twist, a nuance, on the ones the Liberals already have borrowed form the NDP – or stolen as the NDP regularly accuse.

All of this seems to indicate a kind of humdrum, big yawn of an election muddle. It may all depend on how badly people want to change, how bored or unimpressed they are with the Liberals and their leader after a decade and a half, despite the good times. It would be naive to ignore the age and gender of leaders as factors voters consider, though style and campaign performance will probably be the final determinants. And of course the party stalwarts will be voting the party line.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  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:

Forum Poll –   Wynne –    Horwath

Ontario’s Cap and Trade –   Cap and Trade vs Carbon Tax –   Smart Meters

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The extent of the height and density changes set out in the draft Official Plan has stunned many.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 31, 2017



If this is what Councillor Med Ward has to say on New Year’s Eve, on can only imagine what she is going to have to say at city council when they meet on January 23rd and city staff seek approval to fundamentally alter Burlington’s downtown by adding height and density throughout the downtown.

The video set out below, came from the Meed Ward newsletter released earlier today, is pretty stark; the heights that are proposed will mean hugely different downtown.

Downtown precincts

Precincts that will be created when the Official Plan, currently in draft form, is approved by city Council. The time line for that approval has been moved from the end of January 2018 to the end of April. Many want the plan to be made an election issue.

She makes one vital point and follows that up with the kind of detail the city has not put out.

Her vital point is that the city hasn’t done nearly enough to inform the public that:

Height will go from 4-8 storeys in the Downtown Core Precinct to up to 17. This area covers most of the east side of Brant from James to Pine over to Pearl.

North of Blairholm to Graham’s Lane & Prospect in the new Upper Brant Precinct, height will increase from 4–8 storeys to 25 storeys.

The urban growth centre boundaries have changed to include parts of stable neighbourhoods, including the Lion’s Club park and neighbourhood to the north between Pearl and Martha. This area will see possible density increases to 200 people or jobs per hectare.

Meed Ward provides an excellent video on where the growth will take place – it moves quire quickly – you might want to keep your finger on the pause key.

Downtown core precinct

The Downtown core precinct is of particular concern to many.

Planning staff also recommends permitting semi-detached homes in the St Luke’s and Emerald Precincts, and all low-density downtown neighbourhoods. Protection to limit semis to the same lot coverage as single family homes, at 25%, and the same Floor Area Ratio, to avoid monster semis covering most of the lot will be considered later.

All these changes are to ensure that Burlington reaches the intensification levels set by the province. Meed Ward argues that “The downtown is already on track to meet its growth targets with the current plan.

She adds that “This is a bad deal for Burlington – by giving away height and density – the city gets nothing new – just tall buildings and more congestion.

As she too moves into election mode Meed Ward urges people to: “Tell council to vote no on January 23rd. Canada’s best mid-sized city deserves a better plan.”

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What will the New Year bring us? What will we do with the year we have been given?

New year graphic


A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.

People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the Methodist practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible.

Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits

Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life

Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments

Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business

Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents

Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games

Take a trip

Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization

Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence

Make new friends

Spend quality time with family members

Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids

Pray more, be more spiritual

Be more involved in sports or different activities

Spend less time on social media

Success rate

The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

What will Canadians get done in 2018?

What will Ontarians get done in the year?

What will Burlingtonians choose to do?

What will you decide to do?

Something to think about.




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Engaged citizens set out their resolutions for 2018.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 31st, 2017



Many people actually write out New Year resolutions for themselves – setting out the things they want to achieve during the year they are going into.

ECoB home pageHistory suggests that the resolutions don’t get met.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington has set out their resolutions for 2018.

They are a little scattered:

• We will champion real engagement that is not merely holding public meetings; it means to actually listen to what residents are saying and follow through.

• To question why Council, led by Staff, failed to know that the province never mandated that the downtown be a mobility hub? We will challenge the effect of the Downtown Anchor Hub relative to its unproven value.

• We will protect the character of Brant Street and ask Council to not ratify their decision to allow the development of 421 Brant to move forward. We will expose why Council voted for this development, did having to defend this at the OMB by the developers play into their decision to approve?

• We will challenge why the Official Plan, the most important municipal document, is never really official and that that it seems to be used as a starting point in negotiations.

• To enforce the City’s Strategic Plan for an Engaging City by vetting new candidates for each ward for the upcoming municipal election where an incumbent has voted on the official plan as drafted.

• We will champion “A Made in Burlington Solution” – what works in Vancouver or Portland does not necessarily work in Burlington.

Laudable but a little confusing. “Exposing why Council voted” suggests there was something not quite on the level about that 5-2 vote city council meeting to approve the 421 Brant Street project.

ECOB logo

New and worth keeping an eye on.

The “vetting” of candidates is interesting; how does an organization do that? Who sets the criteria. Does a candidate who has been “vetted” mean the candidate has been endorsed?

ECoB is new, a little thin on the ground at this point but these things take time and they were getting started during the biggest festive season of the year. Let’s see where they are by the end of March.

Their web site is worth keeping an eye on.

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Purple is reported to be THE colour for 2018!

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 31st, 2017



It is said that “80% of human experience is filtered through the eyes”. The choice of a colour used is then critical.

But who makes that choice?

The Pantone Color Institute helps companies make the most informed decisions about color for their brands or products. Whether it is color trend forecasting, brand color development, custom color solutions, or product palette selection, the Pantone Color Institute guides their clients through the development of a color strategy.

They also make a pronouncement on what the colour for a year is going to be – and the trend makers tend to follow.


The Color of the Year 2018 is a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

Expect to see a lot of it – we were having lunch at the Tin Cup on Friday and sitting at a long table with at least 30 boys celebrating a hockey event was a Mother with purple hair.

Ultra violetPantone maintains that their 2018 purple alludes to the mysteries of the cosmos and the unknown. Not sure the Mother had an “unknown” look about her – more one of being frazzled trying to cope with the boys who all needed to talk at the same time – loudly.

Laurie Pressman, vice-president of the Pantone Colour Institute, said: “The Pantone colour of the year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.”

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