Not a lot of trust between city hall staff and the taxpayers who cover the payroll.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2017



We got a message from Kwab Ako-Adjei, the Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications for the city – he reports directly to the city manager, James Ridge.

The message:

I want to bring your attention to an article published last week which indicated that a group of residents were “banned” from using a city hall room. The article went on to say that “banning seems to have become a bit of a practice at city hall…”

“I have spoken with city staff and no one is aware of a situation where residents were “banned.” Can you please provide further information on what took place, who was “banned,” and where they were “banned” from?”

city hall with flag poles

Someone at city hall said yes – then someone else said No. Kwab Ako-Adjei, the Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications wants to know who they are.

We got in touch with our source and asked for clarification and got a pretty blunt response. “No comment Pepper, I am not going to say a word. We don’t want anyone to get into trouble. And do not use my name.”

It took some effort to keep the person on the line to probe a little more. It “appears” that permission was given at one level but as the request moved up the food chain the Ok got turned into a no.

The word “banned” came the source – it was sent to us in writing.

Our source would not even mention which department at city hall they had talked with.

The source did say that the early conversations with city hall “were done in good faith”.

Many of the people involved with the Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) are fed up with city hall. They have had it with Council members that do not listen and they want staff to reflect what the citizens desire of their city.

We were asked recently – “Where do these people live?

Director of Transportation – Hamilton
City Clerk – Hamilton
Director of Finance – Milton
City Solicitor – outside of Burlington.
Director of Parks and Recreation – Oakville.
We are not sure any of the Director’s actually live in Burlington.
The city manager does live in Burlington – Aldershot actually.

City hall bureaucrats will tell you that they are professionals and that it is their skills and experience that matter.

Civic government is to a large degree city building. Hard to understand and respect the people you are serving if you are not amongst them.

Hard to have their kids playing with your kids, their kids in the same school yard as your kids giving them an identity with the city. Do any of the city manager’s Leadership Team belong to any of the service clubs?

The citizens of the city don’t ‘know’ the senior levels of government and in Burlington they don’t seem to trust them either.

Related news story:


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This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. Woodruff would like it to become a long serious debate during the 2018 election.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

November 29th, 2017



Burlington released it’s “official plan” recently; a 500 plus paged tome with a plan to pass it as quickly as possible. They may as well have called it “Hi-rises and traffic jams.” Believers in this plan have two precepts. 1) That they have found “good” and efficient ways for people to live. 2) It’s the government’s job to enforce it on the unwilling. The result will be a cost free infinite growth utopia. Here is the net effect of Burlington’s official plan:

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

First it’s designed to make it difficult for future councils or citizens to limit the construction of high buildings almost anywhere. High-rises are encouraged in the “down town” in the “up town” (Appleby and Highway 5) around the Aldershot GO, Appleby GO, Burlington GO, Walkers GO (if province builds) and any “intensification zone” which is basically along any major road.

If you want to build higher then specified – don’t worry plenty of underlying “denser is better” principles are sprinkled through to allow you to win a OMB or tribunal at the provincial level. Placing new heights into the official plan this way effectively overwhelms the original zoning on thousands of properties by writ.

Snow on street - lady - walker

Walking is going to be one of the options in the forthcoming Master Transportation Plan.

Second it’s designed to create city wide grid lock. You can stay tuned for the “master transit plan”, but I can pretty much tell you what it says, “don’t drive anywhere.” Because if you do stupefying city wide gridlock will take place. The city’s solution will then mainly be to hector the population into busing, walking, biking or abandoning travel. Secondarily will be a push to remove parking around stores and GO stations (yes GO stations) with heroic investments into park benches, speed bumps, stop signs and traffic signaling. The theory being the faster the road system is unworkable the faster people will “come to their senses” and be hostages for city provided alternatives.

Third it bakes in the idea of “infinite sustainable growth”. Burlington is set on a vision to first looking like Vancouver, then Manhattan, then eventually like that episode of Star Trek where people were trying to escape population density via fatal disease. No limits or systems on when over building has occurred in an area. The formula for infinite cost free population growth has been found; people will just have to ration.

Even if this all seems great to you the manner in which this is going on should trouble us all deeply. You would think a city which represents it’s citizens should would want a long serious debate on all these plans.

Instead they are trying to rush this massive change through lest it become a long serious debate during the 2018 election. I remember this answer in 2014 when I ran; “The official plan is done” becomes the response when you question the judgement of those involved. That’s the purpose of the rush; to limit the scrutiny of the less involved citizen that might tune in for the 2018 election.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street weeks days before Christmas 2013. Not a lot of vibrancy here – not much height either. This city does not yet know what it wants.

This is not an attempt to make Copenhagen or any other livable European city. Those places have mainly strict 6 floor limits and specific building specifications. The problem from a city planning overlord perspective is that those places can’t “grow forever.” At a certain density – that’s it. They don’t let you come back and bulldoze down the 6 floor buildings cut down all the trees put up high-rises, because that affects the livability of the city.

This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. It not about creating sustainable green transportation options or there would be some concrete proposals to do that. It’s a just magic voodoo to allow infinite sustainable “cost free” growth to be the operational policy of the government. And we will be left with the problems when the snake oil salesmen have moved on to the next town.

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who comments frequently on city wide issues.  He ran for the office of Regional Chair in 2014 and suggests aqt times that he will run for Mayor of Burlington in 2018

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Paradigm development proceeding at full speed a - 20 minute walk from the downtown core where nothing is happening.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2017



The condo set along Lakeshore Road may not want high rise on their turf – but there is no NIMBY response along Fairview where the residential properties are more limited.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

Looking from the west: tower 1 is nearing completion with tower 2 not far behind. They are changing the skyline of the city.

The Molinaro Group is in the process of erecting their Paradigm five structure development with the first ready for occupation in 2018.

The development, which will have the population of a small village, bigger than Burlington was in the early 1900’s, is changing the skyline.

Paradigm from the east Nov - 17

Looking from the east – Tower 1, nearing completion is tucked away on the left – Tower 2, well underway, is in the center, tower three is on the right and is now early stages. The development is on Fairview right next to the GO station.

The east and west views of the development show where the development is today.

Interesting to note that the highest tower in the Paradigm tower is still lower than the Bridgewater condominium will be.

And while Fairview is wider than Brant Street it carries a lot more traffic – the GO station is right next to the Paradigm.

Some development projects slide through the public’s perception with not as much as a speed bump; if it is in the downtown core they have hurdles to get over.

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Hive heading for a new home - with plans for a bigger and more in-depth service offering.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2107



It was one of the good things that was done by the private sector.

It was needed, served a purpose but has had a really tough time growing and putting down the roots it needed.
The Hive started out in the downtown core – a parking lot away from city hall.

Hive on Elizabeth

The original Hive location on Elizabeth Street.

It offered a service that everyone at city hall said was needed – the kind of thing a progressive city would have.

The Hive was a shared office space location focused on the emerging start-up entrepreneurial market that the city has wanted to attract for some time. Shaun Pennell held a bang-up launch party – it certainly looked good.

But in order for a new idea like this to take root it needed support from the commercial and public sectors.

It was being used – just not often enough.

Hive Nov 29-17

The signs tell the story – new location will certainly be different.

After a couple of years Pennell decided to pull up the stakes he had put down and moved north to Guelph Line and Harvester.

Same service, same market and he again attracted enough in the way of a clientele to more than hold his own.

Hockey table game

The obligatory hockey table game for the hyper active entrepreneurial set to burn off some of the energy.

But Pennell had a bigger dream – he wanted to be able to offer a “full” service; a place that had a coffee shop as part of the operation; maybe a day care and a barber shop. A small gym floor with some basketball hoops and certainly a table hockey game.

To be have administrative, marketing and accounting services available at the same location was part of the dream and the long term plan.

The Guelph Line location was pretty good but the landlord had bigger plans for the property. The construction work that was taking place didn’t help much either.

Finding space in Burlington was a bit of a challenge but – well the sign tells the story. The Hive was moving again – into a bigger and better location.

Tech place logo

Logo for Tech Place – an arms length Economic Development Corporation unit.

Meanwhile the city put its eggs in a different basket – working through the Economic Development Corporation they created Tech Place which was basically the same concept as the Hive – a place where start-ups could locate at a cost that was more than manageable.

Tech Place had one significant advantage and that was a connection to AngelOne, a funding source from those in Burlington with deep pockets.

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Eva Amos can't wait for New Street to be returned to what she felt it should have been all along.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 28, 2017



Eva Amos is pleased and happy knowing that she did her bit to prevent the New Street diet from becoming a fact that would have changed the way traffic moved along one of the more important roadways in the city.

“My biggest complaint” said Amos “was with the stats. The comment I kept hearing over and over again was there was an increase of 33% in cyclists from 60 pre diet to 80 post.

New street - being rebuilt“Do 80 cyclists warrant changing the road configuration for 15,000 to 20,000 drivers?” This is now. What will the vehicular traffic be when all the intensification is complete. Had there been 10 cyclist’s pre diet and then 20 post would we say the cyclists have doubled?

“Also there was little mention of the cyclists on the sidewalk. How many were actually on the road or crossing from the Centennial path?”

“I guess the numbers made a difference – our numbers. The 3282 signatures on the online petition with accompanying comments. The 675 signatures on a hard copy of a petition.

Articles in the papers, letters to the editors and the calls to Council members made a difference. And the hour long television feature on The Issue helped.

“Maybe numbers in the end did win out.”, said Amos

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Meed Ward lays out her concerns about the rush to push through the Downtown Core Mobility Hub and the kind of changes that can be expected.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 29, 2017



The battle lines are being drawn for a fight that will get settled in October 2018 when the next municipal election takes place.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

In that race at this point in time are Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, Rick Goldring, the current Mayor and Mike Wallace, a former city Councillor and Member of Parliament for Burlington.

The only candidate that has actually declared is the Mayor who seemed to have found a way around the rules. Nomination can’t be filed until May 1, 2018

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

Between now and then it will be a battle royal with Meed Ward screaming from the roof tops that the end of the Burlington she believes most people want is in sight

Councillor Meed Ward, in a recent Newsletter said: “If this plan goes through as is, it will fundamentally change downtown, replacing the low-rise character and historic buildings with modern tall buildings.

“The magnitude of changes represents over intensification and high rise congestion with no clear reason – since we can meet our growth targets under existing plan limits.

“We’re giving away height and getting nothing, like negotiating affordable housing, family units, public parking or heritage protection in exchange for more floors.”

There are many who don’t have a problem with additional height. Meed Ward’s support seems to be concentrated in the downtown core – the people in that part of the city don’t want their part of the city to change. Traffic congestion is a big concern and losing much of the retail and commercial space is a concern.

The 421 Brant Carriage Gate development will go to the OMB if the resolve that was displayed at a meeting of citizens who have been cheeky enough to use the COB that city hall types like to use and added an E to it to come up with the acronym ECOB – Engaged Citizen of Burlington.

They should be incorporated by the end of the week and have their OMB appeal papers filed with city hall shortly after.

During a two hour meeting in the Party Room of Buntin’s Wharf on Saturday they elected a set of Officers and raised $5000 on the spot.

There are some impressive people behind this effort.

Meed Ward sets out where the changes will take place in the downtown core and her take on the impact all this will have.

She focuses on the “added congestion, loss of small town feel, and loss of key retailers in some of our older buildings, like Kelly’s Bake Shoppe” Kelly Childs is in the process of becoming the ‘poster girl’ for downtown Burlington. We could do worse.

Where Meed Ward is absolutely right is the timeline the city is working to: “This process is proceeding far too quickly. She “will ask for an extension of time before approval”.

The Official Plan review started six years ago, half way through, a newly appointed Director of Planning changed what was an update to a total rewrite.

The downtown policies were made public at the end of September; the revised version was made public two weeks ago. The Area Specific Policies were made public in June.

Mammel - surprise

Suzanne Mammel, Executive Officer of the Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association is less then impressed with the way the Planning department seems to be rushing the new Official Plan.

“Three weeks is not enough time to review and digest these documents, much less invite public comment” said Meed Ward. “ We cannot rush. The Official Plan is the most important document in the city, setting the stage for development for decades.”

Meed Ward plans to ask for several amendments, including revisions to height permissions and deferring approval till June “when we can consider all policies at the same time, and allow more time for public review and comment”.

The Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) are threatening to take the Official Plan to the OMB –just as soon as it is passed. They tool feel the process is being rushed and have complained about the way the Planning Department has responded to their issues.

The new plan, with the downtown policies, staff reports and “track changes” version is over 2000 pages of reading to be ready for a committee meeting next week.

That is about as irresponsible and as unaccountable as a bureaucrat can be. It smacks of insolence on the part of the men and the women in the Planning department who let things like this happen. Surely there is a planner in the department who would ask if the public has been given enough time to read the documents.

The proposed downtown precinct plan will be discussed at committee November. 30 at 1:00 pm and in the evening at 6:30 pm. It appears there is going to be plenty of time to debate a document that few will have been able to re3ad in its entirety.

The plan is expected to be approved in January, with more detailed Area Specific Plans coming in June 2018.
Meed Ward provided a lot of graphics that help people see and understand where the growth is going to take place in each of the 13 precincts(up from 8) that have been created.

There are boundaries within boundaries and then precincts – each of which has its own zoning criteria.

Growth centre boundaries:
The downtown is divided into 13 “precincts” (up from 8 in the current plan) each with their own height and zoning permissions. Where heights previously ranged up to 14 storeys (excluding specific sites granted more height through an application), they now include as-of-right heights up to 25 storeys. More details on the precincts are below.

Boundary map - index

Map with different boundaries – see Index



Brant Main Street precinct
Brant St from Pine to southern edge of No Frills Plaza: (Brant Main St Precinct orange area on map) up from 8 storeys to 11, and 17/23 at Brant/James (thatched orange area on map)  Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 11. The South-East corner of Brant & James is a special policy area (thatched orange) allowed to go to 17 storeys. The North-East corner across the street has already been approved for 23 storeys.

Emerald and St Lukes precinct

St Luke Precinct on the west of Brant and Emerald precinct on the right – both are solid residential communities – that don’t want development moving into their part of town.

The downtown urban growth centre boundaries have changed to include parts of the stable low density neighbourhoods in the Emerald and St. Luke’s precincts. This is very serious as it will put pressure on these neighbourhoods to meet the growth centre’s target of 200 people or jobs per hectare. This change was apparently done by the province and region in 2006 and has not been reflected in our current OP, nor even come to light until now.


Upper Brant – the part of the Downtown core where a lot of people think the height should be located.

• There are a number of heritage buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct where heights are projected to go from 4-8 storeys to 17

Upper Brant Precinct (royal blue area), from 6 storeys existing, up to 25 storeys
Brant St at Graham’s Lane/Prospect/Ghent/Olga/Blairholm (Upper Brant Precinct) from 6 storeys to 25 (blue area)
• Existing permissions are 6 storeys, will now be up to 25

Downtown core precinct

Downtown core precinct – some are of the belief that every property is in the hands of a developer.

John St, Lakeshore, Martha, Maria block: (Downtown Core Precinct) from 4-8 storeys up to 17 (light blue)

Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 17. The block at Maria/Caroline/John/ Elizabeth has existing permission for a 17 storey condo (currently under construction), 6-8 storey parking garage and 6-8 storey medical centre.

There are a number of historic buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct, along James, Elizabeth Pearl, but heritage protection policies and site specific reviews won’t come till the Area Specific Plans are complete in June 2018. We’re giving height away without getting these protections in place, putting pressure on these sites to be developed to the max. It will be difficult to “downzone” development permissions after the fact where we want to protect heritage down the road.

Cannery precinct

Cannery precinct – so named because at one point there was a tomato canning factory at the foot on the east side of Brant.

Cannery Precinct, up to 22 storeys (salmon colour). Waterfront Hotel site marked with asterix.

This precinct includes two parcels: the existing Bridgewater Development at Lakeshore/Elizabeth/Pearl, currently under construction with a 22 storey condo, 8 storey hotel and 7 storey condo; and the foot of Brant/Lakeshore on the North East Side bounded by Brant, John, Pine and Lakeshore.

Understanding the scope and the scale of what the Planning department is proposing is close to mind boggling.

If what is being proposed had the enthusiastic support of at least half of the population this would be a great plan – it would indeed be Growing Bold.

But most people don’t even know what the city is planning.  Those in the downtown core have begun to understand what is going on.  Those north of Prospect are in the dark – getting little if any information from their city Councillors.

Whenever a developer asks for a change to the Official Plan people get upset and ask  – ‘What is the point of having an Official Plan if all a developer has to do is assemble some land and trot over to the Planning department and propose a change to the Official Plan and the zoning’.

Now the public has a 1500 page + document that they are expected to read and absorb in a very tight time frame.

Someone has to show the leadership needed to explain what is happening and why – without that leadership the public will clue in at some point and vote in a council that listens.

Problem with this is that there isn’t exactly a line-up of people who have indicated that they want to be a city Councillor.

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How many of the Burlington lawyers who did the purchase closing paper work on the West Haven development miss the warning clause?

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 28th, 2017



The people who live along West Haven in Tyendaga will troop over to the Crossroads Centre for a third public meeting put on by Meridian Brick this Thursday.

As part of Meridian’s “good neighbour” policy they will update the community on the status of the many studies they have had done – the residents will ask questions and their environmental adviser will ask tough questions of the Meridian staff who will be out in force.

The Mayor may or may not show up. Same goes for the ward Councillor Rick Craven – they just want this issue to go away.

The issue for the residents is the shale mining the brick maker wants to do in the third piece of land – referred to as the eastern cell or Cell 3.

Site plan attached to the settlement

Everyone knew how close the eatern quarry was going to be to the high end homes that were going to be built. Current owners claim the warning clause that was supposed to be registered on title doesn’t appear.

They fear serious depression in the value of their homes and refer to an appraisers report that  finds property value losses between 8% to 40% in proximity to pits and quarries.

The brick manufacturer has gone through several corporate mergers. Brick has been manufactured in Aldershot sine the early 1900’s.  The current manufacturing plant was built in 2000.

Meridian yard gates

Meridian makes it very clear they are licensed to do what they do – the West Haven residents want to see limitations put on that license.

The issue for Meridian is keeping the plant operational.  To do that they will have to de-forest an area with a reported 9000 trees.  Meridian points out that they do  have a license (first issued in 1972) to mine for Queenston shale – that is used to make very good brick.

The residents point out that the community that exists today didn’t exist in 1972. It wasn’t until the end of 1998 that a development Plan was approved in principle by the Region.

The battle lines have been drawn.

The development was first put forward by Jannock Limited, a Mississauga based developer.

They sold their interest to Brant Haven Homes who built the high end residences.

Brant Haven has an excellent reputation for building fine high end homes.

In a 24 page Region of Halton document there are two references to a quarry operation that was yards away from where the homes were to be build

“The owner and the Region acknowledge and agree that this agreement shall be registered on title to the lands. To that effect, the owner hereby consents to the registration of this agreement on the title to the lands.”

The West Haven residents claim that the agreement is not registered on the title they have.

On the very last page of the agreement there is a second paragraph labelled as a Warning clause with the following:

“The following warning clause shall be registered on title and included in all development agreements and Offers of Sale and Purchase or Lease of all lots:

“The purchaser/ tenants acknowledge the presence of a future extractive industrial land use to the west and that extraction may take place during the day time only.”

Those were the words on the Application to Register Notice of Agreement Pursuant to Section 71 of the Land Titles Act that was signed by Jannock and the Region.

When the development was sold to Brant Haven were they aware of the Warning Clause? They should have been – they are not likely to get involved in the dispute – unless the Region begins to look into the matter.

This isn’t the kind of thing the Region does on its own; someone will have to delegate at the Region and ask some questions and then a member of Regional Council would have to ask some questions.  Every member of Burlington city council is a member of the Regional Councillor; half of their income comes from the Region


The residents close to the east quarry fear that the day the trees are cut down the value of their property could drop by as much as 40%

When Brant Haven began to sell the houses – did they advise the purchasers that there was a warning clause? Not the kind of thing some real estate agents mention.

It is up to the lawyer who closes the purchase of the property to research the title and ensure that there are no liens or conditions involved.

None of the people involved in the dispute say that they were made aware of the warning clause and it appears that the warning was never entered onto the title.

Who is responsible for the oversight? Was it deliberate?

Where were the lawyers who did the closing for the buyers?

This all happened more than 18 years ago and no one remembers – or doesn’t want to remember.

It wouldn’t be difficult to look at the title document and get the name of the lawyer who did the closing paper work and collected a fee. Their name would be on the file.

Could be embarrassing for a number of Burlington based lawyers.

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Did you think you might have a distant Greek relative? Do you want to take a chance?

Crime 100By Staff

November 27th, 2017



What do you do when you get one of these?

Maybe, just maybe I did have a distant relative who was Greek – Dad did get around.

Do I take the chance – what’s the upside?

What’s the downside?

Look at the link we have provided on a school teacher here in Ontario who came close to getting wiped out and faces years of fixing her credit status.

I work as the head of audit within our bank’s account management team. It has come to our attention while in the process to a new digital banking system that a late family member of yours still has an active account within our bank, containing a significant amount of funds. We are bound by law to transfer the funds to any surviving family member as the beneficiary of the deceased account. Please respond at your earliest convenience so I can send you the details to get this process in motion.

The email address it came from looks like a Greek bank – Marinos S. Yannopoulos <  Take a pass on this one.

How a teacher has had to fight to get back her financial identity.

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Free P for December - does it make a difference to the Brant street merchants?

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2017



For all of December you will be able to park your car at a city parking meter in the downtown core FREE.

City hall seems to feel that is the benefit.

The real benefit is we won’t have to squint into that little screen to read the instructions when the sun makes it all but impossible to reads the instructions.

It is a Free P – in downtown Burlington for the fifth year

The parking is free in city lots and on-street parking spaces.

Parking meter wrapped

Parking meter wrapped for the month of December – parking is free for the month.

Parking MMW + Brian Dean with head of meter

Brian Dean with Councillor Marianne Meed Ward the day the new parking meters were installed.

Free P allows vehicles to park in on-street parking spaces for free for up to three hours. For vehicles parked in municipal parking lots or the parking garage at 414 Locust St., there is no maximum time limit. Overnight parking in municipal lots is also allowed.

Motorists with downtown parking permits are reminded to continue to park in their assigned parking lot throughout the month of December in order to maximize the number of parking spaces available for visitors.
The City of Burlington provides 1,500 municipal parking spaces in downtown Burlington and offers free parking year-round in the downtown Monday to Friday after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

Brian Dean, Executive Director of the Burlington Downtown Business Association and Chair of the Downtown Parking Committee explains that the “goal is to keep downtown’s unique shopping and dining experiences top of mind for residents and visitors this holiday season. We want to encourage patrons to explore even more of the services downtown by removing a parking fee from the equation this December.”

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Support for the newly created citizen's group is small but it is very early in the process - let's see what they get in the way of traction.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2017



What might turn out to be one of those pivotal events took place on Saturday when 25 people meeting in the Part Room of Buntin’s Wharf decided to put their money where their mouth is and raised $5000 in minutes to take an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board asking that the 23 story tower that was approved by city council not be permitted to proceed as a tower that high.

The group took on the acronym ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington and decided to incorporate and create a city wide citizen’s organization to keep city council both transparent and accountable.

Burlington aerial

Do the citizen’s of a city like Burlington have it within them to create a city wide movement that will holds the men and women they elect to council accountable?

Within hours of the news story published in the Gazette two comments were posted. The first wanted to know where to send money.

Congratulations to this group for attempting to restore both democracy and planning/development sanity to Burlington. Once your group is legally incorporated, please let everyone know where we can send financial support. I applaud you for doing what our elected councillors (MMW excepted) refuse to do–represent the people of this city.

The second wanted to join.
How can one join (and/or contribute to) this group?

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of headsIt will take some time to determine whether or not the group can achieve what it has set out to do. They are working within a very short time-frame.

Assuming they do manage to get all the paper work done – incorporate, get their bylaws in place, open the bank account, draft the first version of the OMB appeal and file it at city hall – the development of the tower comes to a screeching halt and will be in one of those OMB limbos waiting for a hearing to take place.

Something to watch.

Original news story:

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Rivers: There is a cultural revolution taking place in our society; education and conciliation may be a better pathway to peace than confrontation and litigation.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 27th, 2017



2017 – The year harassment dominated our news! In an epidemic of outings, victims of harassment seemed to be popping out from the woodwork determined to slay their dragons – some of the very people we once respected. The truth is many of us, at one time or another, have been victims or perpetrators of this socially destructive wrong. There is that bully at school, the overzealous landlord or tenant, a supervisor at work or a subordinate or maybe even even a disgruntled life partner.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines harassment as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” Harassment is often related to the exercise of power where an unequal relationship exists, such as an employer threatening employees with job loss or demotion for something unrelated to their job descriptions. And of course harassment is often associated with racism, sexism and ageism. It’s the ugly side of human social interaction.

Former Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein (R), after an Ontario judge found him not guilty on four sexual assault charges and one count of choking in Toronto, March 24, 2016. Jenna Marie Wakani/Reuters

Former Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein (R), after an Ontario judge found him not guilty on four sexual assault charges and one count of choking in Toronto, March 24, 2016. Jenna Marie Wakani/Reuters

Assault may be involved though not necessarily. We recall CBC personality, Jian Ghomeshi, who stunned his national radio audience when allegations of sexual harassment and assault filled the papers back a few years ago. It was hard to believe that such a mild mannered on-air persona, a Dr. Jekyll by day, could also be such a Mr. Hyde by night. His punishment was losing his job and watching his promising career vaporize as the complaints of sexual misconduct piled up around him.

And assault is at the heart of the allegations against Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump and Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore. They have crossed a line which they either didn’t see or didn’t care was there. So they have met their comeuppance, except for Trump who despite something like 16 sexual accusations against him won the last federal election. He just denies everything and everybody as fake news and liars, with even more confidence than former president Bill Clinton.

Trump and access

President Donald Trump in a video that captured his views on how a celebrity could relate to women. It should have cost him the election but America ignored it.

Trump’s unwavering political support for religiously pious Alabama child predator Roy Moore is unconscionable. The irony of sexual predator Trump promoting another sexual predictor, Moore, while attacking former comedian Al Franken for his sexual harassment has obviously escaped him. One can only hope the voting public will place ethics and their own morality ahead of partisanship – but this is Alabama and this is an America in flux.

There is a cultural revolution taking place in our society. But the challenge, as with any revolution, is how to rein-in the overzealous and avoid over-reaction. Wilfred Laurier University (WLU) has hit the news over the matter of gender based personal pronouns and how they affect identity. The binary system of gender identification seems to be inadequate for some who cross over from one discrete gender to another.

One should always respect the wishes of how people want to be called, but it is difficult to understand why the terms ‘she’ and ‘her’ would be offensive to a person who has transgendered from a male body type to that of a female, for example. There is now a demand for the use of the gender-neutral terms like ‘they’ and ‘them’, or one of the new batch of pronouns, ‘ze, sie, hir, co, and ey’ and ‘Mx’ for Mr., Miss, Ms or Mrs.

Wilfrid Laurier free speech

Students at Laurie r University supporting the rights of a Teaching Assistant.

Of course the conflict at WLU is also about freedom of speech and the responsibility of educators to challenge their students to fully explore a subject’s matter. And that subject warns that the deliberate mis-use of an appropriate pronoun applied to someone could be seen as harassment. But looming in the distance is the concern that using the wrong pronoun might also be construed as discrimination under Canada’s recent law C-16. And that might lead to criminal penalties.

Country/pop singer Taylor Swift had been groped while doing a photo shoot with a radio personality back in 2013. After she complained to the station’s managers the creep lost his job and since he was out of work decided to sue her for damages. She’s the biggest star in music today, sings almost as well as me, and could afford the best lawyers money could buy, which I can’t. So Swift counter-sued and won as the judge threw his claim out the window.

Not everyone wants to end up in court on matters this personal, staring down aggressive legal beagles and exposing your innermost self to some fickle judge who might just deliver a bizarre judgement. Sexual harassment is a serious offence, was even before Canada’s government formalized its illegality, but so is libel and slander. And that puts more of the spot light on accusers to get it right – to be objective and fair.

Is the offense just a bad attempt at a joke or is someone genuinely out to hurt? As each new generation replaces the previous one, what was acceptable human behaviour continues to evolve. So jokes depicting racial or sexual topics and situations, once tolerated back in the day, are simply no longer acceptable. Still, the child is father of the man – people are captive to old habits and beliefs, even if those customs are no longer in fashion.

Tolerance cannot be a one way street. Some folks don’t understand that the world has moved on – they need help and education to wake up to reality. And education and conciliation may be a better pathway to peace than confrontation and litigation. That is true in cases of harassment, as in all things, despite the more recent trend to outing the culprits.

Crying wolfAnd sometimes actions and words can be ambiguous. A victim needs to be sure that harassment is what it seems before crying out, in case that cry turns out to be ‘wolf’ and the situation between them becomes intolerable. To that end the Ontario’s Human Rights Commission cautions that harassment needs to be seen in the context of a process – when it comes to words a single vexatious comment is insufficient. Because in the end nobody wants to be victimized twice.

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:

Trump Sex Assault –    More Trump

Weinstein –   OHRC –    Gender Free

Congress Pays – Rampant Congress–    Charley Rose –    Jian Ghomeshi

Why do People Bully –    More Harass –    Even More Harass

Peterson –    Bill C-16 –    Gender Pronouns

Gender Queer –   Taylor Swift –    No Harassment in Russia

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Citizens group plans to appeal the city council decision to approve a 23 story tower to the OMB. Council voted 5-2 for the development.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 26th, 2017



Will the meeting in the Party Room at Buntin’s Wharf Saturday afternoon be seen as the event that changed the way Burlington citizens relate to their elected officials?

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of heads

Jim Young chairs the founding meeting of ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington. Just 25 people – but they are determined to make a difference,

Just over 25 people met in a building that changed the way the downtown core looked 15 years ago. Buntin’s Wharf, a 14 storey condominium was completed in 2004 – it is part of a collection of condominiums that changed Lakeshore. The people in those buildings – there are five of them don’t want to see much more in the way of high rise development in the downtown core – they would like to see it take place a little further up Brant Street.

It was a chilly afternoon with the Festive Season lights up in Spencer Smith Park.  Many of the people who attended were there to find out if this group was real.  “I’m here and will be reporting back to my friends who care about what happens downtown”.   The people who attended take great exception to the city saying that they truly engage the citizens – they see what the city does as “something of a disgrace”.   “When we delegate they just sit there and listen – and seldom ask questions of us.  It’s insulting was the way one person described what she had gone through.

421 Brant

The wrong height and in the wrong place was the view of a group – ECOB – that plans to appeal the 5-2 city council approval of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

It didn’t take long for the direction this group wanted to go in – they had named themselves Engaged Citizen of Burlington – took on the acronym ECOB – elected a set of officers – there will be seven of them.

Resolved to be incorporated by the end of the week, open a bank account and deposit the $5000 they raised on the spot in less than ten minutes.

They put in place a social media pro who headed up the very successful drive Central high school parent drive to keep their school of the to be closed list.

They set up three sub committees – one to take the 421 Brant Street development to the OMB – they expect to file papers at city hall for that initiative very soon – they are fully aware of the ticking clock.

The ECOB people have a bigger agenda – they want to create a city wide residents association that wants to change the way city hall makes development decisions and be a force that holds city council accountable to the people that elected.

This group has had it with this council. “They don’t listen” was the refrain heard again and again.

This is not a group of wild eyed NIMBY types.

There was some very smart talent in the room. When discussion on the incorporation was going on – one of the participants was on the phone to a local lawyer – “he’s in” she said and with that the process of incorporation had begun.

They had financial commitments before they had a treasurer in place. One participant said he came to the meeting with a cheque in his pocket – he just wanted to know who to make it out to.

One of the team briefed them on the “Bay Street lawyer” who was in the process of doing a “conflict review” to ensure that they could represent the group before signing on.

What is it going to take financially – they seemed comfortable with raising $100,000. One of the sharper minds in the room told the group that money wasn’t the issue – that will come – setting out what it is we want is where the attention has to be paid.

Another participant asked: What is it we want the OMB to do – no point in taking our argument to them until we are focused on the objective.

“We can’t just ask the OMB to stop the development” said one participant.

The developer has a 12 story approval on one piece of the properties assembled – “we aren’t going to see anything less than that.

Mediation got talked about – arbitration got talked about. They all realized they had a tough row to hoe – but they were in for the long haul.

The ward Councillor who was not in the room – they didn’t want here there.  They don’t want their organization to be seen as a front for a member of council.

There were some very savvy people in the room – they asked that they not be individually identified at this point.

The discussion between the 25 people was a model that city council could emulate.

Jim Young

Jim Young – the man who did one of the best delegations this city has ever heard.

Jim Young, an Aldershot resident chaired the meeting, filling in for Susan Goyer who appears to be the one who got the ball rolling a number of weeks ago. She was in Florida.

Assuming these people get their OMB appeal filed within the deadline – development decisions downtown are going to be different.

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Grade 9 students from a high school the Board of Education has voted to shut down took to the streets of their neighbourhood handing out Thank You cards.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 25th, 2017



An entire Grade 9 class spent the day handing out kindness cards in Burlington, spreading smiles throughout their school and neighbourhood.

You had to see it to believe it and to pick up on the delighted comments that come across on the video.

Look carefully at the students in the high school handing out the cards to their fellow students.

And look carefully at the school – it is scheduled to be closed in June of 2018.

The Halton District School Board voted to shut down two high schools – Pearson is one of them.

The parents have asked for and were given the opportunity for an Administrative Review to take place. That review is ongoing and a report will be made to the Minister of Education on whether or not the process used by the board was in accordance with Board policies.

Margaret Wilson, the independent Reviewer brought in to look at all the documents and to listen to the parents cannot order that the School Board change its decision – but she can say if the process met all the provincial requirements.

If the process was flawed the Ministry could order that the School Board revisit the Program Accommodation Review (PAC) and maybe hold that PAC a second time.

The video of the students is a delight; click on the link.



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Tony Brecknock: - it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 26, 2017



Tony Brecknock, a parent with children who graduated from Pearson high school, the school he once attended  came out of the gate swinging at the Administrative Review meeting held to hear the views of parents on a school board vote that closed the high school.  He didn’t choose to thank the chair for allowing him to speak – he went straight to his main point.

“The HDSB policy clearly states that “There must be no fewer than ten (10) business days between the public delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees” , this simply did not happen on June 7, 2017.

HDSB Parents at PARC 1 Jan 26-17

Tony Brecknock, male figure in the centre, attended the PARC meetings and delegated the evening the vote to close the schools was taken

“I was notified of my delegation on June 6th, the day before I was expected to present and it was received and presented on the same day of the vote, June 7th, which means there was a failure of the board’s own policy, namely to provide the Trustees with the sufficient time needed to fully process any and all information before voting.

“This lack of due process, negatively and directly impacted the final decision to close two schools in Burlington.

“My delegation was to be a strictly timed, one shot presentation – I had submitted over 13 pages full of data – so I made sure to include the documents as attachments in my submission, of which a receipt was confirmed by the Board – at noon on the day of the vote.

“There is simply no way that all of my information was clearly ingested.

Amos and Graves

It became painfully clear that Chair Amos, on the left and the vice chair, Kim Graves did not know how to manage the confusing flow of motions that were before the meeting.

“On the night of the vote it was also apparent there was a lack of understanding of how to proceed.

“It seemed that the possibility of not being done, prior to a summer break, pressured decisions to be made ad hoc – not because of clear judicial thinking, but because of the clock ticking,

“During the meeting, the Trustees constantly bounced back and forth amongst specialists in the room, trying desperately to decipher the rules of engagement that they should have studied in advance.

“From that chaos, random recess’ started to happen – one of which was conducted, strategically prior to the final vote.

“The meeting should have been stopped right there, with everyone regrouping.

Voting by hand

The vote was taken to close two of the city’s seven high schools so late in the evening (after midnight) that the electronic vote software had shut down. The trustees voted by a show of hands.

“This decision was made during the very late evening hours, after listening to an overabundance of information – it was a vote made under mental, emotional and physical duress, that in the end was pushed through.

“The prudent course of action would have been to wait 10 business days, as policy dictates, to allow for a period of reflection before a final vote.

“It needs to be mandated at a higher level, that the Boards are fulfilling their due diligence. They need to ensure they are delivering the best educational experience to ALL students.

“A Provincial moratorium on school closures, was put into effect, just two weeks after the vote for a reason – the realization of a flawed process.

“Had the Board adhered to their own policy, this vote would have been deferred to a time of better and calm understanding.

“This committee and by extension the Board, needs to take this review and adhere to the many key components within their own guidelines.

“They need to listen to those that continue to express dissatisfaction with the result, and re-vote to pause the closures – until they have fixed the process.”

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November Meeting of the Halton Regional Police Services Board to Take Place at Burlington City Hall

News 100 redBy Staff

November 25th, 2017



The next scheduled meeting of the Halton Regional Police Services Board will take place on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. in Resource Room 305/307 at Burlington City Hall.

Councillor Craven could make ammends and spearhead a drive to get the Freeman Station located in Spencer Smith Park where it belongs. That would mean getting along with Councillor Meed Ward. Can Craven get beyond his problems with Meed Ward and see the greater good for the city?

Ward 1 Councillor Craven is Burlington’s representative on the Police Services Board.

Copies of the agenda and reports are available from the Board office and on our website at

The Police Services Board oversees the role of the Regional Police – they approve the police budget and are the group that interviews and makes a recommendation to Regional Council on who should be hired to serve as Police Chief.

Community members are encouraged to attend meetings, make a presentation to the Board, or invite a member of the Board to an event.

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Diane Miller asks provincially appointed Reviewer to revisit the decision to close two of Burlington's seven high schools. Claims it was a flawed process that resulted in a flawed decision.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 25th, 2017



It was dramatic!

Diane Miller, a parent with children in both Lester B. Pearson (LBP) high school and the Robert Bateman high school stood before Margaret Miller, the provincially appointed Reviewer to conduct a review of the process the Halton District School Board used to decide to close two of the seven high schools in Burlington.

“I was going to use my three minutes to stand in complete silence” she said.

“Why you might ask given the importance of our time with you and this Accommodation Review?

Admin rev 1st meet public

Diane Miller, a Lester B. Pearson high school parent, reading her delegation to provincially appointed Reviewer Margaret Wilson.

“Because I wanted my silence to represent how much weight, importance, and consideration that I felt my correspondence to the HDSB, Trustees, Local MPP, Ministry of Education & Premier meant. No matter what came out of my mouth or via email, I felt it wasn’t heard or listened to.

“No matter how much research, how many logical facts, how many ideas either myself or our LBP group or Bateman group presented, they were discarded. The five minute delegation, which I spent hours on, was discounted and forgotten by the time the next person came up to speak. I might as well have said nothing at all. That is how I felt.

“Today I am hoping you will hear me and that this terrible flawed decision, based on a flawed process, will result in a call for this decision to be revisited.

“Communication by definition is an of exchange of ideas. It is a means of connection between people.

“During the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) review process there was no direct communication between the PARC representatives and the school trustees. The information was filtered or directed to/from the HDSB. While the trustees could attend PARC meetings or public meetings there was no discussion or Q & A with them.

“The public is unaware if there was ever a time when the trustees met to discuss the ideas presented other than at the public HDSB meetings. Trustees seemed to be discouraged from engagement.

“How is this meaningful?

“As delegates we were given five minutes to rush through our presentations. If the trustees had questions then one had the ability to expand on their topic. If not, that was all. No feedback. Nothing.

“The trustees indicated they read through 700 emails (so someone – HDSB? perhaps) was keeping track of that number. Good to know as only two or three trustees ever responded to my correspondence and then only one or two provided more than the automated, I have received your message response.

PARC public - Dec 8 - 16

During the first public meeting in December 2016 parents were asked to answer questions put up on a screen using hand held clickers. The school board was gathering data – the parents thought they were at a meeting where they could ask questions.

“During the first public meeting in December, which most participants seemed to think was a Q & A meeting, the discussion, led by the consultant, appeared to be one way. The audience was given clickers, very slanted questions were put up on a screen and the audience was instructed to click on one of the answers.

“Any questions were met with either silence or that the information was being collected. It was highly frustrating. The process got off to a very bad start.

“It was difficult to get information about the PAR / PARC process to the general public who were not online.

“The information on the HDSB took a bit of searching for some to get updates. It wasn’t until the second PARC meeting in January (2017) that the LBP PARC representatives contact information went up on the LBP website. Principals were under the impression that meeting space and other resources were to be made available. In fact, when I called to ask if a student council meeting, where our trustee would be attending, would allow for Q & A, the principal said she did not know and for me to contact the trustee.

“Community members, at their own cost, and during their own time distributed literature, held meetings, and tried to get information to the students that someone was fighting for their school and for them. It was difficult. The HDSB had all the contact information; the resources to disseminate their information. It was a tilted playing field.

“Is this what the board determines is “communication”?

“Community members were not the only ones who were led to believe that their input would be of value. Students also had that impression.

“In December, before the 1st PARC meeting, a student survey was sent out. The PARC members had no input into the questionnaire. The results of this survey were shared with parents, with the PARC members.

“However, while it is an appendix in Mr. Miller’s report, the contents do not appear to have shaped the decisions made. For example, LBP students marked the fact that teachers knew them; they were there to help them by a large percentage. They were known.

“That is important and impacts learning. It impacts social interactions and mental wellness. LBP is a smaller school. Yet at a HDSB meeting, when asked if he had considered a smaller school within the HDSB parameters moving forward (and I paraphrase here) Mr. Miller said, “no he had not considered a smaller school”. Students were told there would be interaction, yet none seemed to appear during the execution of the PARC phase.

Students doing survey

Survey stations were set up at one of the public meetings.

“Question – Why do a survey if you are going to ignore the data? Especially by the group that you say you are most interested in – the students.

“Teachers who have first hand knowledge into the learning behaviours of their students and interact with them the most had no seat at the PARC table. A survey to capture teacher input was done but with seeming reluctance by the HDSB. The information was given to the trustees but not to PARC members. The rationale was that much would have to be redacted as there would be personal identifying factors. Yet, even redacted, it was not made available to the public. One wonders if the responses did not fit the HDSB narrative.

“The PARC members met seven times yet it was just at the end they felt a positive discussion on innovative ideas was happening. The public, some of whom felt this was a done deal, was left wondering with a variety of both rumours and facts, as to what was going on.

“In a city that is growing why were two schools being targeted for closure? Given that LBP was on 12 of the proposals for closure is it any wonder that the population felt targeted. One still wonders if this process was done in good faith. Why do I ask that?

“a) Our school population, along with Bateman was left to starve of students with the reduction in the number of feeder schools

b) During the PARC a boundary review of a new build happened without LBP (the closer school) even being considered

c) Rumours abound that LBP is to be the home of the HDSB Administrative buildings – I have yet to hear an out and out denial of this rumour. If true, one wants to know when this decision was made. If made prior to the PAR/PARC review or during the review then this process was not entered into in good faith.

e) Bateman is a one of a kind school – yet was put on last minute as a closure and is slated to cost $12 M to replicate at Nelson (everyone knows this figure will balloon)

PARC Jan 27 full group

The PARC consisted of two representatives from the seven high schools; a trustee representative and a city of Burlington representative. The debated issues on one side of a room while the public sat on the other side. There wasn’t any

“PARC was going to be an island. Only selected participants were going to be allowed onto the island. Communications were to be minimal if non-existent at best. The HDSB wanted to meet the “minimum” requirements to say they went through the process.

Diane Miller Admin review delegation“On June 7th, delegations were heard, prepared speeches were read, a vote was held. Two schools were to close. Tell me did those delegations mean anything at all? Especially given the prepared statements that were read that night of why trustees were voting in favour of closure. Did the 10 day between delegations and a vote violation mean anything to the HDSB or the trustees?

“Communication is actively listening, speaking, considering, answering and responding. It is two way. This did not happen.

“The end result. The closing of two schools in a growing community. Schools that are overpopulated; schools that will be thrown into overcapacity with the two school closures.

“A flawed process resulted in flawed decisions.

“Revisit this decision.”

Margaret Wilson listened carefully – took copious notes and at the end of the evening, after listening to everyone who wanted to speak she said the the audience: “I have heard what you had to say.”

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Performing Arts Centre partners with Arts and Culture Council to decorate the lobby with Christmas trees.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 24th, 2017



The Burlington Performing Arts Centre’s lobby will be lit up with a colourful and festive display of trees that should spark some yuletide enthusiasm in anyone that visits The Centre. The festival is a joint community fundraising initiative by The Burlington Performing Arts Centre and the Arts & Culture Council of Burlington (ACCOB).

The Festival of Trees takes place from November 29 to December 19.

Festival Of Trees 2017

Canadian Tire has donated Christmas trees that have lights already on them. One of the trees will be in the Santa Claus parade.

Each Christmas Tree is sponsored and decorated by a local business or an organization within the community. Patrons and visitors to The Centre will have the opportunity to take one of these stunning trees home by purchasing raffle tickets for the Festival of Trees draw.

All trees will be raffled and winners announced onstage Tuesday, December 19 prior to An Evening with Cathy Jones and Mary Walsh. Proceeds benefit a new BPAC/ACCOB Community Studio Theatre initiative that will provide greater access to The Centre for local community organizations.

Stop by The Burlington Performing Arts Centre to take a stroll through the Festival of Trees and light up your holidays!

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Parents get to air their concerns with the way their schools were closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 24th, 2017



The process of being heard for parents who have students at Lester B. Pearson high school and the Robert Bateman high school began last night at the Gary Allen high school on New Street.

Margaret Wilson, the provincially appointed Facilitator who was tasked with meeting with all the parties involved and preparing a report for the Ministry of Education on whether or not the Board Program Accommodation Review (PAR) policies were followed, set up a series of public meetings at which parents could delegate. The large room certainly wasn’t filled but the comments made were what parents needed to say – and last night they were heard.

The process put in place allowed for three delegations from each school. The speakers had a set amount of time to speak – but Wilson found she was able and prepared to extend those time slot to let people finish their delegation.

Ward - George getting his Cogeco minutes of fame

George Ward being interviewed by Cogeco TV

George Ward, one of the Pearson high school delegations, was direct – at times almost pugnacious in his comments.

Ward argued that delegations at the Halton District School Board (HDSB) were in some cases refused, that the Board would send email notifications late in the evening on the night before the delegation day, requesting a 250 word description of the delegation. Ward charged that this was done to “deflect” delegations.

“There is no Board policy requirement for a 250 word outline to be presented prior to delegation” said Ward who added that “in spite of providing the last minute 250 word outline I was still refused to delegate on two occasions May 17th and June 7th.”

There were, said Ward 65 delegations presented over four evenings – 95% of the delegations indicated that it was totally inappropriate to close two Burlington high schools.

Ward pointed out that Board policy states: The Director’s Final Report will include a community consultation section that would include:

• Feedback from the public delegation will be compiled and included
• The Director will present the Final Report, including the compiled feedback from the public delegations

He added that the Director’s Final Report on community feedback is only 5 lines on page 20 and includes only delegation dates with an incorrect number of delegations reported.

Ward took exception to the statement in the HDSB response to the Pearson Administrative Review request that said: “One local Burlington Councillor provided feedback on the closure of Robert Bateman …”. In fact there were four submissions from city Councillors expressing concern with the closing of Burlington high schools.

Ward maintained that the records are incorrect and do not comply with the Board’s policies.

Kelly Amos

It was a tough meeting and the Chair, Kelly Amos didn’t always have have it under control.

Ward pointed out that at the June 7th meeting, at which the trustees voted to accept the recommendation from Stuart Miller, HDSB Director of Education, the Board Chair, Kelly Amos, failed to competently manage the sequence of voting motions and amendments. Despite having both the Board’s legal counsel and a Parliamentarian in the room Amos was still unable to competently conduct the sequence in orderly fashion and as a result lost control of the meeting.”

Ward said that at that point in the meeting, the Director of Education, said to Amos: “Perhaps I may be of assistance” then proceeded to filibuster on the recommendations in his Final Report, then called upon Board Superintendents who continued to delegate.

“After this extended acquiescing of control and inappropriate delegations of over an hour, a recess was called where the Director, Superintendents and Trustees save one, went into a segregated closed door meeting. Upon their return a vote was held which resulted in the Trustees voting to close two Burlington High Schools” said Ward.

“Thus we have incompetent meeting control with an inappropriate hour long school board last minute delegation that is non-compliant to the Board’s “No fewer than ten (10) business day Policy between delegations and the final decision of the Board of Trustees.”

Ward didn’t detail the “No fewer than ten business days” concern that many had. The PAR policy required to HDSB to hear delegations and then allow a period of ten days to elapse before a vote was taken.

The HDSB was hearing delegations as late as 11:00 pm, taking breaks during which trustees, some Superintendents and the Director of Education met for close to an hour and then returning to vote on the recommendation.

The ten day period during which trustees could think about all the delegations, review what they had heard during a process that started six month earlier and reflect was lost.

The vote took place after midnight of a meeting that started at 7:00 pm.

Many felt the fix was in – that the trustees had no intention of doing their jobs – but had decided they were going to go with the recommendation that came from the Director of Education.

For the first time parents from schools that were scheduled to be closed had an opportunity to say what they felt in a public meeting.

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High school parents meet with an appointed facilitator to set out their concerns with the way the PAR process that resulted in the closure of two city high schools was handled.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 23rd, 2017



The first of the public delegations made to the Administrative Review facilitator Margaret Wilson takes place this evening.

Margaret Wilson PAR Admin Review

Margaret Wilson

Ms Wilson met with the members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) last night; not all of the 14 members showed up. Trustee Donna Danielli who was part of the PARC attended. James Ridge, Burlington city manager didn’t make it.

It was a private meeting – difficult to get much in the way of comment however there were people who attended who felt it was “cathartic” and that Wilson really listened and is reported to have said she watched a lot of Board meeting videos.

There was, apparently, good open dialogue between the PARC people and Ms Wilson. Tom Ward, a Ministry of Education official who is responsible for how the Halton and Peel Regions meet their obligations, sat in on the meeting and explained the procedure that will be followed.

Ms Wilson expects to have her report completed before Christmas.

Her report is given to the Minister of Education.

Her report is not public unless the Ministry decides to make it public.

The Ministry will then decide if the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) that the Board held was done according to the Ministry Guidelines.

PARC anxious parent

Observing, listening or praying?

If it wasn’t – then the Ministry can direct the Board to hold a second PAR.

There was a rather significant point made during the private meeting having to do with the timing of the PAR meetings.

The Board has its delegation procedure; the Ministry had its own delegation procedures which trump those of the Board.

PARC with options on the walls

Fourteen citizens, pulled together to serve as the communications channel between the Board of Education and the community, while a Program Accommodation Review recommendation was being debated by the trustees.

There were, Apparently, a couple of significant Ministry policy violations – one relating to the number of days between the last of the delegations and when the trustees met to vote on the recommendation that had come from the Director of Education.

Was that violation significant enough to make a difference – many parents think so.

What most parents think is that the Ministry Guidelines were so flawed that a sound public review of the recommendations given to the trustees was not possible.

Four trustees

Four of the 11 Board of Education trustees sitting in on one of the PARC meetings.

What didn’t help was that the majority of the trustees were way in over their heads; they didn’t have the experience or the understanding to properly do the job they had taken on. I wasn’t an easy job.

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Is there genuine citizen engagement in Burlington? City hall says - definitely - thousands of citizens don't share that view.


News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

November 23rd, 2017



What is wrong with this picture?

City hall tells a group of citizens they cannot use space at city hall for a community meeting organized by a group that is opposed to a decision city council made to approve a 23 storey tower in the downtown core.

A week earlier the city announced a workshop on Cultivating the Power & Possibility of Citizen Leadership: Creating Caring and Resilient Communities.

The fee for this workshop is $175.

There are currently two well organized groups challenging city hall on significant matters;

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17The Tyendaga Environmental Coalition wants the city to step in and support their fight to prevent a shale mining operation from beginning to mine a quarry that is yards from their homes.

PLAN BThe Plan B group wants a better deal for the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel.

Less than six months ago city council attempted to limit the amount of time residents could have to delegate at city council meetings. The residents won that battle.

There are a lot of people who want to see genuine community involvement and not just lip service from those elected to run the city.

Quite recently the city had staff congratulating themselves for an award they were given for the quality of the city’s community engagement.

It is difficult not to be cynical when all the evidence is looked at.

It wouldn’t take much to pull together a group of at least 500 people who would stand at say that their city does not listen to them.

The video the city posted on how engaged they think they are is like something out of a book written by George Orwell.

The only person who has said formally that they will be running for public office in the October 2018 municipal election is the Mayor – he wants a third term.

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