Terry Fox T-shirts available later this month

News 100 yellowBy Staff

July 8th, 2021



On Tuesday the 13th, a group of people will gather at the Terry Fox Mile Marker, then off to Crème de la Crème for an ice cream as a reward for completing a run that started in June.

terry Fox 2021 T shirts

The T shirts for 2021 have an Indigenous theme. They will have over 200 T shirts in all sizes later this month. Again this year $20 for adult and $15 for kids. Sizes 6X, 10 in kids and S, M, L, XL and XXL for adults – unisex.

Their objective was to walk, run, hike or bike to accumulate a total of more than the 3582 km Terry had run when he went through the city.

The 12 or so team members had a financial target of $5000. At this point they have raised over $4200.

Burlington has always been Terry’s town.

The annual run, which usually takes place in September, may have to be virtual again this year. The rules the province puts in place are not as clear as they need to be for the Terry Fox group to do the planning that has to be done.

Last year the run was virtual – and they set a new total in donations.

For those who might want to push the team over the top of their $5000 target go HERE

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Regional Public Health office provides an update - the Covid19 virus and its variants are still with us and still dangerous

News 100 redBy Staff

July 8th, 2021



As of Thursday, July 8, 2021, 638,849 doses have been administered in Halton, which includes 394,519 first doses and 244,330 second doses.

This represents 79 per cent of Halton’s population aged 12 and up who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 46 per cent who have received both doses.

The vaccination status dashboard is updated Monday to Friday between 12 and 2 p.m.

The Regional Dashboard with data updated every day can be found HERE


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Rivers: Who is Going to Pay for Global Warming ?


“Exxon worked alongside Chevron, Shell, BP and smaller oil firms to shift attention away from the growing climate crisis. They funded the industrys trade body, API, as it drew up a multimillion-dollar plan to ensure that climate change becomes a non- issuethrough disinformation. The plan said victory will be achievedwhen recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom’”.

 (Chris McGreal – The Guardian 30 Jun 2021)


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 8th, 2021



Over 700 people in B.C. alone have died so far this summer from the heat dome that sits over much of that province.  How could any rational person now dispute the link to global warming?  The rising temperature resulted in over 200 forest fires in what was to have been Canada’s biggest renewable carbon reserve.  Instead, the nation’s forests have now become another source of carbon emissions.

Lytton BC fore- street level

Street level view of a burned out Lytton, BC

It is estimated that over a billion marine animals have perished in the fires and heat, and we have no idea about the land animals we’ve lost as well.  And it’s not just Canada.  New Zealand has just recorded it’s hottest winter ever.  Siberia is on track for a repeat of last year’s hottest year ever.  And even Antarctica has recorded 18 degrees last February, the temperature I keep my house thermostat in the winter.

If there are still climate deniers, or those who doubt that human activity is responsible for the rapid change in the planet’s weather patterns, they should truly be ashamed of themselves.  It’s been over a century since scientists first suggested that all the CO2 being emitted would eventually warm up the planet.

In the 1970’s computerization enabled climate modelling which predicted pretty much what we are seeing today.  In fact climate scientists now worry that, if anything, they have been too conservative, have underestimated the speed of global warming.

Then there are the other scientists, the ones employed by the fossil fuel industries who knew what was coming as far back as the 1950’s.   But neither their boys in the upstairs board rooms nor the political leaders we’d elected to protect us seemed to get the memo.   The message was blunt.  If we don’t change we’re all likely headed for a doomsday scenario like we’ve never known.

But profits were good and the oil fossil fuel lobby was powerful politically, so their solution was to muddy the waters, create enough uncertainty so that nobody could be sure.  The answer was to deny global warming and, when climate change became inevitable, deny that humans were responsible.

denial is not policy glob warming

Government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions.

It is one thing to unknowingly endanger humanity, but quite another to do so deliberately, falsifying data, outright lying and deceiving the public, as the oil executives did during the nineties and 2000’s.  They and the GW Bush government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions, and perverted the serious discussion of climate change.

Bush almost immediately after being elected in 2000 pulled the USA out of the binding Kyoto emissions agreement.  And he and the energy lobby then proceeded to do their best to sabotage the international climate change deliberations.

Canada did sign onto Kyoto, and we might have met our first committed emission reduction, thanks to Ontario closing its coal power plants.  But Stephen Harper, who had been unsupportive of Ontario’s Liberal government’s climate initiative, had done little else to reduce Canada’s growing carbon footprint.  And no sooner had he won his parliamentary majority than he pulled Canada out of the agreement.

When considering the unethical approach of the fossil fuel sector to their business, it is not difficult to look at another industry which profited from misery caused by its poison.   Big tobacco had long been lying about the debilitating health effects of the product it had been pushing, and had deliberately misled the consuming public on its health effects.  Several court actions in the USA eventually persuaded the industry to pay up just under $250 billion for the endless suffering it had caused to so many.

Reagan - cigarette ad

Ronald Reagan, a future president of the United States promoting the use of tobacco. Almost everyone smoked — until we learned how dangerous it was.

There was legal action also in Canada, and hundreds of billions of dollars were delivered in assigned settlements, $300 billion for Ontario alone.  However, big tobacco cried bankruptcy and premiers Legault and Ford, last year, conducted secret negotiations with the companies.  And it now appears that, in a bizarre turn of events, big tobacco might be let off the hook providing they make an effort to get their customers to stop using their products.

There have been a rising number of legal actions in the USA against the oil companies and Big Tobacco is the model they are using since it fits the pattern so well.   But nobody should expect any kind of accountability among the political leaders, who like Stephen Harper wasted ten years, or Pierre Trudeau who helped get the oil sands project started back in the seventies.

And there is his son Justin who promised back in his first election to end public subsidies for the fossil industry and has yet failed to do so, and in fact is building a couple of new pipelines to serve the oil and gas industry.  Subsidies are the other side of a carbon tax – they effectively lower the price of fuel production and thus serve to promote its greater use.   Canada has been named as the G7 nation which most subsidizes its oil and gas sector.

O'Toole smug 4

Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax

Mr. Trudeau has been outspoken on confronting global warming and that has helped him in the polls, particularly when the opposition party denies the reality of climate change.   That might just be the loud voice of Alberta and Saskatchewan struggling with the last gasps of their dying oil industry sector.   And it was a message we all got more from Mr. Harper and Mr. Scheer than the more moderate Mr. O’Toole.  At least Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax after the court legality ruling, finally acquiescing, albeit with an unworkable tax model.

There are still many otherwise intelligent people who will tell you that they now believe that climate change is happening, but doubt that humans are mostly responsible.  If nothing else a big fat court ruling may help the misguided find themselves.  And realizing the mess we are creating and leaving it to future generations to start acting responsibly to  reduce their carbon foot print.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Humans Caused –    Ford Knew –      Heat Dome –      New Zealand –

Trudeau –     Climate Scientists –   Antarctica –     Billion Marine Animals – 

US Tobacco –     Canadian Tobacco –     Oil Company Deceit –    “Air Pollution Deaths”

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Council instructs Clerk to prepare a plan for returning the public to council meetings

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 8th, 2021



You won’t be able to actually attend a council meeting in September but expect to hear of a report that sets out how council meetings will evolve out of their current virtual format into what has been described as a hybrid set up.

Getting the motion Councillor Stole had onto the table proved awkward for everyone – for once the motion got passed the procedural bylaw that sets out how “walk on” motions are handled everyone was for the idea.

Burlington Bayhawks Under 14 girls soccer team, pose for the camera after being recognized by city council for an outstanding season

There was a time when the Council Chamber would be packed with people who were being recognized. When will that day return?

We learned that just a few days before the ECG (Emergency Control Group) had been discussing this very matter and opining that it was perhaps a good idea to discuss this.

The Clerk too had been giving this deep thought and advised council earlier in the week that the City Manager had asked that he prepare a report.

We did learn today there are some significant technical challenges in getting people hooked up into one seamless session with some in the chamber and some elsewhere.

The Clerk asked rhetorically who would be able to attend the meetings and the matter of vaccination was brought up.

If you’ve not been completely inoculated entry into any public space should be prohibited.

For some reason the ‘anti-vaxers’ feel that they have the right to threaten the health of everyone else just because they either don’t understand the science or have chosen to see it as junk science.

You can’t go to school if you haven’t been vaccinated for measles. If there are those who are not or don’t want to be vaccinated – let them attend virtually.

Nisan July5

Councillor Nisan congratulated Councillor Stolte for bringing the matter of public attendance to the Standing Committee.

There might be some benefit to keeping a virtual component of the public meetings.

Everyone congratulated Councillor Stolte for bringing the matter up – no one apologized to her for making it so hard for her to get the motion on the table.  She stood her ground – something the Councillor from ward 1 might learn to do.

Councillor Nisan publicly congratulated Stole for her efforts.

Related news story:

Ward 3 Councillor gives ward 4 Councillor a tough time

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Burlington now requires building permit applications to be submitted electronically

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 7th, 2021



The City of Burlington  has announced that applications for building permits can now only be sent to the City electronically.

This new online feature will enhance customer service for anyone requiring a building permit and reduce the City’s carbon footprint.

city hall with flag poles

No more trundling down to city hall – building applications have to be submitted electronically.

Applications which were processed before July 5, 2021 will continue to be processed in a hard copy format unless otherwise directed by Building and Bylaw Department staff. If you are unable to submit the application electronically, please contact the Building and Bylaw Department team at 905-335-7731, ext. 7470 or buildingpermits@burlington.ca.

To submit a building permit application online, go to burlington.ca/building.

The online system will make it easier and less time consuming for applicants as they will not need to courier, mail or drop off paper copies of the application.

For City staff, it will mean less printing and paper, improved review process and staff can access applications remotely.

Nick Anastasopoulos, City of Burlington Chief Building Official, commented that, “Throughout the pandemic, staff have been working very hard to get this new electronic system up and running. We’ve heard from residents and the industry that this was a high priority. Reducing our carbon footprint has been a key initiative of the Building and Bylaw Department and the introduction of electronic review will drive this initiative forward. We’re excited to have it in place so as to phase out paper submissions related to building permit applications.”

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Small business coach putting on a free seminar virtually - focused on getting business back on its feet

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 7th, 2021



Hugo Breton wanted to set up a business in Canada, more specifically within the Region of Halton.

He had most of his plans in place and was ready to make the move from Latin America where he was the Head of Player Services and Operations for Riot Games.

Hugo Breton

Hugo Breton – business coach

Breton booked his travel to Ontario for March 2019, right when COVID-19 hit and travel restrictions were implemented. “My plan was to visit the Halton region, find office space, housing and begin networking, but everything was suddenly put on pause,” said Breton.

“Like everyone else, we’ve pivoted and had to be patient,” said Breton. “On June 8, we left Mexico City and finally arrived in Canada. We’ve completed our quarantine and now I’ve started my business coaching practice.”

Hugo has been hosting online business coaching events helping entrepreneurs in Halton navigate the pandemic using proven tools and systems.

With Step 2 of the Reopening Ontario plan coming into effect on June 30, Hugo feels now is the time to pivot, plan and prepare for a business boom.

“Because of the coronavirus, we have businesses in this region that are struggling to stay open or relaunch,” said Breton. “Business coaching was on the rise before the pandemic. Now, our business expertise and guidance has become more important than ever.”

6 Steps to level-up your Business – Event kick-off details
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST
To register: https://halton.actioncoach.com/6steps/

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Report from Clerk doesn't recommend a Campaign Contribution Rebate Program

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 7th, 2021



Running for office with little in the way of a community profile is very hard – but it can be done.

Running for office with little in the way of money is very very hard – but it can be done.

At the federal level there is a tax break for those who donate to an election campaign. A portion of a donation can be deducted from your income tax return.

City Clerk will oversee the municipal election and sign the document that makes the winners official.

Former City Clerk Angela Morgan signs the document that makes the election results official.

There is, at this point, nothing similar at the municipal level, however the Municipal Act permits a municipality to put one in place.  The Clerk sent Council a report that was discussed at considerable length earlier this week.

Campaign Contribution Rebate Program
The Act provides, but does not mandate, municipalities to pass a by-law to provide rebates to individuals who contributed to a Council candidate’s election campaign.

Rebates are funded through the general revenues of a municipality, in other words rebates would be a tax supported expense.

Municipal campaign contributions are not eligible for income tax rebates, as contributions to Provincial or Federal candidates.

The principle purpose of the program is to encourage participation in municipal elections by reducing the financial burden placed on candidates and campaign donors. A rebate program requires candidates to issue receipts to donors who would then apply for a rebate from the City.

Clerk Arjoon

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon – understands the procedural process exceptionally well.

Rebates would only be processed after the election, and after a candidate files their financial statements in compliance with the Act. Participation in the contribution rebate program by candidates is voluntary. A contribution rebate program enables a municipality to reimburse contributions made by individuals to a campaign of a candidate seeking election for Mayor or Councillor. A number of municipalities have implemented a contribution rebate program including the Cities of Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, Whitby, Ajax and Oakville.

The criteria for eligibility and rebate formulas varies between municipalities. Likewise, the rebate payout amounts will vary greatly.

A municipal survey was conducted specifically to determine the collective scope and financial impact of contribution rebate programs across Ontario for the 2018 Municipal Election. The results of the survey (there were less than 300 people responding) will be set out in a separate news report.

Several factors should be considered prior to establishing a campaign contribution rebate program including:

Eligibility criteria for candidates to participate in the program
Whether it only applies to Mayor and Councillor candidates
Eligibility criteria for contributors
Whether the program should be limited to only residents of Burlington or open to all residents of Ontario
Minimum contribution amounts
A minimum contribution amount is required to be eligible for the program
Formula for rebate
Whether the formula should be consistent for all contributions or vary depending on the amount of the contribution Maximum rebate amounts


Marianne Meed Ward filing her nomination papers for the 2014  municipal election while husband Pete photographs the occasion.

A maximum rebate amount should be set
Administrative policies and procedures
Whether a candidate should be required to file an audited financial statement in order to be eligible for the program
Whether candidates must register in the program at the time of filing their nomination
Candidates requirement to keep meticulous records of all contributions received
The deadline to file all records and receipts with the City Clerk’s Office
Internal staffing resources required to support the program throughout the election period (before, during and after the election)

Administering a contribution rebate program will require staff resources for program administration, including analyzing financial statements, determining the eligibility of an application for rebate, and processing payment

Clerk Arjoon aghast

City Clerk Kevin Arjoon – surprised at a comment made.

Financial impact on Election program and budget
Residents were asked to rate their understanding of how a campaign contribution rebate program works, with 9% responding they had an excellent understanding of the program, and 27% responding they had a good understanding of the program. The majority of the residents therefore indicated they did not have a good understanding of such a program.

Of the 287 contributors for the question, 276 responded whether or not they support for establishing a program.
61% reported they are not supportive of the program, and 39% reported they are supportive.

Reasons for not supporting the program cited include:
A contribution is a contribution and should not be regarded as a way to get a rebate;
It’s taxpayer subsidized;
It sounds very complicated and unnecessary;
Responsibility should be up to the candidate to rally support. The municipalities have greater need for the funds;
There are other ways for people to support candidates.
Needs more transparency, major contributors (and the individuals most likely to benefit from this rebate) are corporate entities/developers/construction firms;
I don’t like that it’s funded through the general revenues of the municipality;
Added cost to administer;
The city should not be involved in the election campaign at all;
We don’t have enough money as it is;
There are higher budget priorities;
Contributes in favour of candidates supported by wealthy voters;
Tax dollars could be going to someone for whom tax payers did not vote.

Reasons for supporting the program cited include:
It removes the financial barrier which definitely negatively affects individuals participating in the election process and increases participation;
A good idea to promote contributions;
Support but consider minimum and maximum values.
Many people think they already get a tax rebate for municipal, because they do for federal/provincial. This would allow consistency with other levels of government and help fundraising, especially for residents who can’t fully fund their own campaigns.

At this time staff is not recommending a campaign contribution rebate program as it’s administratively burdensome and has not definitively demonstrated that it has a greater impact on voter turnout or the number of candidates. Based on the jurisdictional scan, using Oakville as a direct comparator, the program could have a budget impact of approximately $100,000 (just issuing rebates to Burlington residents) which equates to about 20% of the current election budget.

If approved, the cost to administer this program and the rebate amounts would be applied to the tax base and result in a 2022 budget impact. In addition, it is recognized that school board elections are the avenue where many may enter as first-time political candidates. Creating a by-law will benefit Council and Mayoral candidates, which may create inequities with the school board candidates. Should Council wish to explore the possibility of establishing a contribution rebate program for the City of Burlington, it may direct staff to report back with options related to the above considerations.

The Mayor loved the idea – other members of council were a little more hesitant.

More on this when we publish the results of the 20 question survey that less than 300 people responded to – that is not a number on which policy should be based.

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Suspect steals alcohol from two LCBO stores.

Crime 100By Staff

July 7th, 2021



On Tuesday, 22 June 2021 1601hrs., an unknown male suspect attended the LCBO store located at 501 Appleby Line in the City of Burlington and stole two bottles of alcohol valued at $93.55.

lcbo theft June 22

Suspect robs alcohol from two LCBO stores.

The same suspect committed another theft (Halton Occurrence #2021-195001) at this same store where he stole another two bottles of alcohol valued at $148.70. Total theft in two occurrences is $242.25.

Suspect: Male, White, in 20’s, approximately 5’10 and 200lbs., wearing a dark blue coloured “Dallas Cowboys” #9, Romo Jersey, dark pants, black running shoes and a blue coloured Dallas Cowboys cap. The suspect had a black coloured backpack. The suspect was wearing a medical mask PPE.

If you have any information on this case, please contact the HRPS or Crime Stoppers.

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Attracting talent to work at city hall is a problem - keeping those who already work for the city is an even bigger problem.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2021



Laura Boyd, Executive Director of Human Resources, gave a presentation to staff on the problems the city is facing attracting the staff needed and keeping the staff they have.

hire problemsShe did not give them a pretty picture.

It was one of those Receive and File reports that was pushed down the line until September when some hard decisions have to be made on the staffing requirements the city is facing and a budget that could balloon to much more than the 5.47% projection.

The presentation was done in two parts – the discussion and debate and then into a CLOSED session where some of the hard and probably very expensive decisions will be outlined.  We never know what is said in CLOSED.

There are 48 positions that have to be filled; there are a number of very senior positions that are expected to take retirement in the not too distant future. At the close of the meeting it was announced that 31 year city veteran Vito Tolone will be retiring on August 27th.

past empl comments Glass doorAlmost every department needs additional staff and the brand, the way the City of Burlington is being described, perceived and seen by the public – on social media particularly, is taking a bit of a beating.

Boyd was telling council what the Human Resources Management Risks are and how she proposes they be managed.  She explained that the city does not have control of its brand and that from a staffing perspective they were headed for a perfect storm.

The ability to attract great people is going to require “new ideas and approaches”.

Another problem is the ability to retain great employees. Part of the solution is to “engage employees actively; develop them professionally and treat them fairly”.

The presentation was heavy on graphs that put a lot of facts before Council.

vacancies as of mid June 2021

Vacancies by department at mid June 2021


forecast requiremente to 2024

Where the retirements are going to take place.

HR org current

The Human Resources compliment now – several contract positions.

future HR ocer three years

The HR department three years from now.

Retention metric - turnover

Red line: Average Voluntary Turnover since 2010 = 5.4% Blue is the total turnover, orange is voluntary turnover.

retention + bar chart

Retention: Voluntary Turnover- Quits plus Retirements by Salary Grade. What is the data telling us? Voluntary turnover is trending beyond historical average.  Grades 10 and 11 have a higher rate of quits– losing future leaders.  Quits are double retirements in nonunion workforce.  Quits and retirements balanced in unionized workforce.  First four columns are union, others are pay grades.

The demand for people with very specific skills is being faced by every municipality in the province. The salaries that are being asked for would create a situation, explained Boyd, where you would have a staff member earning more than their supervisor. She added that talented people are accepting better offers elsewhere – when they leave we are losing our future leaders.

Boyd said she needed to get a handle on the compensation issue and beef up the HR staffing and improve the IT tools they have. “We are using five different applications and they don’t all work together.
However, it isn’t just having the tools that are needed – there is a cultural shift taking place; a work life balance is now important to the people being hired. The city is realizing that the “focus should be on people” and that all employers have reached a turning point.

The pandemic had an impact on several levels. People found they were able to have more time with their families and at the same time realized that working collaboratively isn’t all that effective when it is done virtually.

Councillor Sharman was surprised to learn that the HR department no longer performs formal annual performance reviews. Boyd said that they found the review process didn’t add much value to HR administration. Sharman clearly didn’t agree with that argument.

The work being done by many of the departments is much more complex. The Planning department is desperate for staff – they need people who have experience with high rise developments. Burlington doesn’t have much experience with that type of concentrated development – and there are several of them that will see the light of day in the next couple of years.

LPAT hearings have become an issue – staff with significant experience are needed to take part in a hearing to make the city’s case.

The strongest thing Burlington has going for it is that it is a nice place to live. The flip side is that it is an expensive place to live.

One of the surprising things heard was that people like working in Burlington because they get to interact with members of city council, which apparently isn’t the practice in most municipalities.

Laura Boyd 2a

Laura Boyd – Executive Director Human Resources

All the data Boyd presented will be part of the hard look that will be taken in September when detailed reviews of everything the departments deliver in terms of services to the public gets drilled into. Staffing to deliver those services will be a large part of those sessions.

Mayor Meed Ward asked Boyd how many people on the payroll were contract workers – Boyd said she felt a little squeamish – she didn’t have those numbers.

Right now at times it feels like we are playing “wack a mole” going from crisis to crisis to crises with the hiring process. Hiring people virtually hasn’t made the jobs any easier.

Related news stories.

Boyd lays it all out on the table: there is trouble in paradise

Find a way to recruit the right people and then give them reasons to come to work with all their energy and creativity.



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Now you know -

News 100 yellowBy Staff

July 6th, 2021



It is said that it is the little things that count.

And when you gotta – you gotta – but where.
Council spent a considerable amount of time crafting the decision as to what would be opened up to the public and how it would be paid for.
Those washrooms have to be cleaned much more often if there is heavy traffic.

washrooms downtown.

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Emerging artist completes a watercolour collection - wants to try doing something similar with acrylics

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

July 6th, 2021



In the art world you look for that promising undiscovered artist and buy their work because you like it and wait for the value of the piece you bought to appreciate.

Making some money is nice but the satisfaction of discovering the artist on your own and making a purchase, maybe a couple, and waiting – and of course enjoying the art for the beauty and talent that spoke to you is what art collecting is really all about.

Lana H&S

Lana Kamaric

I have been watching a young artist for a number of years.  I first met her at the No Vacancy event that took place in the Village Square a number of years ago;  she was standing in the doorway to a space where her work was displayed.  When she saw me she darted out and said: “You’re Pepper Parr and I have a bone to pick with you.”

I’ve forgotten what it was she was unhappy about – but I admired the chutzpah and kept in touch.  From time to time she would send me samples of her work.

She is into what I call science fiction comic books – she calls it something else.   She celebrates The Fourth and likes to dress up as if were Halloween.


Kamaric at event - wild

Lana Kamaric on the right at the 2019 Fan Expo.  She is part of the Steam Punk Bat Gang

Kamaric recently sent us a collection of watercolor works – there were nine pieces in the collection.  Several of them impressed me and I wondered if they would be shown anywhere.  Then I wondered – is there a space in Burlington where the work done by emerging arts can be displayed.  Things are in a mild state of chaos at the AGB – maybe when things settle down the idea can be chatted up.

Kamaric explains what she has been up to: “I accidentally painted a watercolour series.


“Focus” on paper 12 inches x 12 inches. All the watercolours are the same size

“This was a concept I was thinking about a year ago and couldn’t quite figure out. I’m fascinated by the subconscious mind and how it shapes our conscious decisions and wanted to explore that. I now realize the problem was the fact that I was actively thinking about it with my conscious mind. It wasn’t until I stopped thinking and started painting that the idea took shape.

“I was three paintings into the series before I realized what I was doing. What began as an experiment in watercolour portrait techniques quickly became a dive into the human psyche.

questions misplaced

“Questions misplaced”

“Watercolours are rebellious and don’t always do what they’re told, but that’s also what makes them fun.

“You can swim upstream and struggle to reach your destination or you can surrender to the current and see where it takes you. This series reminded me to trust the process because it always ends up somewhere interesting.

“I’m currently revisiting the portraits with acrylics to see how the medium will shift the outcome.”

You can reach Lana at lanakamaric@gmail.com.  If you like her style and are interested in her doing a commissioned portrait – she will take your call.

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Is the hoped for economic recovery getting real traction? Numbers look good

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 5, 2021



How well is the Re-Opening going?

Is retail and hospitality recovering?

There were long lines getting into the Mapleview Mall on the weekend. That was some of the good news – but the 17 new infections at the Schlegal Long Term Care residence on Upper Middle Road tells us that there is still strong reason to be very cautious.

When we learn that just 52% of the staff were vaccinated – we ask – how did that happen? Why was that permitted? Have we not learned anything about this virus?

A report on spending levels suggests that the re-open is going to be real.

Week spending - first

Spending in Burlington looks to be better than the other regions


Reports suggest that there is a lot of money out there not being spent and at the same time we learn that the Food Banks struggle a bit to feed people who aren’t back at their jobs yet.

Is there a pent up demand to spend when malls are open?

Canadians accumulated $180 billion (~ $5800 per capita) in extra savings over 2020.

40% of these savings were accumulated by high-income households.


Is there a better economic story ahead of us?  A report from the Bank of Canada suggest there is.

10% saved by low-income households.

At peak, spending is predicted to increase at an annual pace of $500 per Canadian over Q4 2021, injecting roughly $4 billion into the economy that quarter

Most of these savings are expected to be spent on high-contact services, including transportation, accommodation, and food services.

Forecasted consumption

Source:COVID-19, savings and household spending -Bank of Canada(March2021)

This would increase the demand for labour and create approximately 30,000 jobs each year until 2023

Ontario Economic Forecast –June 2021

Real GDP in Ontario will grow 5.4% in 2021 and 5.0% in 2022

Growth forecast has been downgraded for two reasons:

Province-wide lockdowns triggered by 3rd wave led to 2.5% decline in employment rates, impacting near-term performance

Global supply chain disruptions in the auto sector will heavily impact this year’s growth

Solid rebound still expected due to re-opening (contingent on vaccination rates), immigration, and strong US recovery

Provincial government spending likely to continue to offer near-term support –expected to reduce spending beginning 2022

Housing market expected to start cooling due to acute affordability issues in and around the GTA, tightening mortgage stress test rules, and high lumber prices

Home sales fell by 25% from March to May

Tourism task forceTourism Economic Recovery Task Force Report
Tourism has been crippled with predictions suggesting that sector will not return until 2023 at best

Ontario’s 2020-2021 Budget includes:

$150 million for Travel Incentives

$100 million for the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program

$100 million in one-time payments through Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant

Tourism is expected to be one of the last industries to recover from the pandemic – potentially past 2024

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City manager sets out the job he has to do - will he be there to finish it?

News 100 yellowBy Staff

July 5th, 2021



The City Manager sets the tone for what happens on the administrative side of city hall.

Once there is a clear direction from City Council the city manager knows what his marching orders are and he gets moving.

Every city manager has his own style – they have all been male in Burlington – and that could change in the not too distant future.

In a report to Council today Tim Commisso set how he interprets what he has been ordered to do.

Commisso’s report is lengthy. He ties a large part of his work plan to what has been set out in the city Vision to Focus (V2F) which takes those parts of the 25 year Strategic Plan and determines which parts of that plan are going to be implemented this term of office.

In his comments Commisso refers to a number of tables that the Communications people were not prepared to make available at this point in time.

Commisso puts it this way:

The objectives outlined in this document encompass specific priorities that the City Manager intends to actively pursue and accomplish over the next two years. The objectives encompass both proposed new and existing V2F items (Table 1) with an enhanced focus for 2021/22 being largely on “Our People”, given the importance of this area on the future prosperity and success of the city.

Commiso July 5 a

City Manager Tim Commisso

A summary of the key Council outcomes achieved to date and planned for 2021/22 YE is summarized in Table 2 (Organized chronologically by Standing Committee of Council).

For the City Manager, the process of strategic management starts with the development and integration of personal objectives. While the objectives need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timebound), they must also be easily understood and regularly communicated to Council and staff as to their performance status.

Clearly articulated objectives anchored by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) represent the foundation for achieving organizational strategic performance. Stated simply, an objective is meaningless without a related measure of progress towards achieving the objective.

As indicated, for 2021/22 my new objectives are focused primarily on “our people” and “our workplace”. The most important or the Wildly Important Goal (WIG) is as follows along with the rationale. Note: the reference to WIG is based on terminology used in the strategy execution methodology outlined in the 4 Disciplines of Execution (Covey, McChesney and Huling –Published 2012).

Objective #1: Improving Workplace Culture including the level of Staff Engagement and Overall Positive Attitudes.

The above goal and KPI(s) are intended to contribute directly to realizing the key outcome of building a distinct and enabling workplace culture, a corporate culture which relies on and leverages very strong existing departmental workplace cultures. To excel strategically, our internal city-wide culture must foster, and support engaged employees to continuously add value by embracing change, driving innovation, and improving city business processes. Today’s leading organizations understand that they need to be more than just satisfied employees, they need to be fully engaged employees. Therefore, led directly by the City Manager and Executive Director of Human Resources, an employee engagement strategy is recommended that:

• regularly and efficiently surveys employees to accurately measure overall engagement levels and attitudes.
• provides informal and formal engagement and learning experiences.
• creates opportunities for employees to feel valued and recognized for their work.
• communicates results, regardless of the outcome, regularly and transparently.

Commisso H&S June 7th

Commisso spent years at city hall before moving to Thunder Bay, retiring and returning to Burlington to be drafted by the newly elected Mayor who then convinced Council to take the interim out of the title.

By utilizing “touch base” engagement surveys, asking the right questions, measuring the right factors with benchmarked results, the city will execute on a strategy to measurably improve employee engagement and in turn, our overall strategic management performance.

The following are three key considerations for implementation of the CM 2021/22 Objectives

1. Review & refine the Objectives and related Strategic Actions
The CM objectives and related strategic actions will be reviewed over the next few months and will be fully integrated with the “refresh” of V2F planned for Q3 2021. Refining the objectives and executing on the strategic actions will be an iterative process recognizing that budget resource needs and organizational capacity may likely be constrained over the next two years. The key for the City Manager will be to work closely with Council and the leadership team and remain focused on achieving measurable progress with each of the objectives.

2. Communicate the Objectives
Effective communication of the objectives is fundamental to both accountability and transparency which is in turn critical to achieving the intended strategic outcomes.
A focus will be given to the following best practices related to communication:

• Focus on the need for change and urgency in the communication. Answer the key question – Why does the organization need to change now?

• Follow-through on communicating the status of the objectives as well the completion of strategic actions with all staff – Be accountable for results.

• Avoid communication that is flat and two-dimensional. Make use of all communications channels, including staff meetings, corporate KPI dash boards, direct email messages and social media.

Tim hand onn chin May 5

As city manager Tim Commisso sits in on the meetings to listen and when they need help he comments. The previous city manager had a much more intrusive style. Commisso is a listener.

3. Integrate Key Objectives into an updated Corporate Performance Evaluation Process
The City Manager must set the example by directly aligning and integrating personal performance objectives with the completion of the City’s key strategic actions in V2F.

As noted in Table 1, a specific objective has been included in the City Manager’s 2021/22 Objectives related to development of a new performance management framework, using a format which is easy to administer and linked directly to individual strategic workplan objectives. Working closely with the leadership team, a realistic target would be to have this framework in place over the next 18-24 months and aligned with the updated non-union job evaluation system. BLT org chart June 2021

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Process of setting the 2022 budget begins: early version has increase set at 5.57%

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2021



It is that time of year again – setting the budget for 2022 and, from a Council member perspective, keeping an eye on what the budget will do to their re-election prospects.

Expect every member of Council to seek re-election with a maybe not for ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns (who has told one of her supporters that she will not run again) and possibly ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna who may find that the work load is not something he wants to take on for four more years.  However, he has said publicly that he is planning on running again.

In a Staff report that will be discussed at a city Standing Committee meeting Monday July 5th timelines for the 2022 budget are set out.

Council Workshops –Service Presentations 

The budget projections for each of the 38 services the city provides will be reviewed on September 22, 23, 28 & 30, 2021

Budget Overview November 3, 2021

Budget Virtual Town hall November, 2021(TBC)

2022Budget Review & Approval  – November 30 &December 2, 2021

Council –2022 Budget  Approval December 14, 2021

Council Workshop sessions have been scheduled over 4 days to allow the 38 City Services to present overviews of their business plans to Council. Each of the City Services have been grouped into the 8 sessions by themes somewhat aligned to the Strategic Plan.

historical tax increases

With a projection for a tax increase of more than 5% the historical record looks a little dismal.

These workshop presentations will include:

A summary of current financial investment by service

An overview of current service delivery including known financial gaps and service needs

An overview of the asset investment required for service delivery

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

An overview of service goals and objectives

A portion of the presentation on the first day (Session 1) will be set aside to provide an overview of the incremental budget investments including staffing that have been made during this term of Council (2019-2021).

In addition, a portion of the presentation during the last day (Session 8) will include an update on the overall Designing and Evolving Our Organization (DEOO) process.

Reckoning and future direction:

Some of the spending done in the past few years is now going to have to be reckoned with.

This budget is going to be a turning point for the city.  The impact of the Interim Control bylaw that stopped approval of projects for a year (it has extended now to whenever the LPAT hearings resolve the appeals made), the creation of an approved but not yet in force Official Plan and the significant number of high rise tower development applications that are challenging the Planning departments ability to do its work on a timely basis.

assesmenet growth

The growth of properties that go on the tax base is too low – all the development that has people worried about what their city is going to look like does pay some of the bills. Right now those hi-rise towers are holes in the ground.

The success Mayor Meed Ward has had in getting the Urban Growth Boundaries moved well north of the downtown core and getting the province to realize that a bus terminal was not a Major Transit Service Area are wins for which she is not getting the credit she deserves.

The focus on getting high rise housing around the GO stations was aptly described by the Mayor as the creation of the new small cities.  Five years from now there will be a number of new city councillors to accommodate the new wards that will have to be created to accommodate the population growth.

While the fight isn’t over yet the desire on the part of the developers to put up tall buildings in the downtown core, especially in that football shaped piece of property between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road, is no longer the slam dunk it looked like when the 2014 city council held its last meeting.

Coping with all these changes brings with it challenges that have to be dealt with – they all show up in a budget that also has to cope with the costs of a pandemic.

Fortunately the province has created funding sources that leave Burlington in pretty good financial shape in terms as to what the pandemic has cost the city.

The cost to the hospitality sector has been brutal and a number of operations in that sector will not survive.  Retail has also taken a hit.

Forecast 2022

It all adds up.

The financial fundamentals for Burlington are pretty good; the leadership on the administrative side has been what was needed to get us through the pandemic.  Going forward city manager Tim Commisso may not want to continue to handle the day to day grind.  He has found his future leadership within the organization and appears to have done a good job of nurturing and developing the administrative talent.

There are a number of senior level retirements coming up – legal and human resources come to mind.  The legal department has had difficulty finding talent with an understanding of the way the municipal sector works – it is a world unto itself.

Treasurer Joan Ford should be given medals for the job she has done.  Along with a superb level of service Ford has grown the talent within the department to ensure that the financial side continues delivering.

Managing the changes the pandemic has brought about has critically impacted on the way citizens who pay attention to what gets done at city hall are able to participate.

multi year simulation

A simulation based on the available data shows hefty tax rates for the last year in the current term of council and for the first three years of the next term of office. Can they be elected on this platform?

Having to go virtual has almost put an end to the kind of delegations citizens would provide.  Not being able to be in the room, actually see all the members of council and react to their body language, facial expressions severally limits genuine participation.

We all pay for the lack of thoughtful response from concerned citizens.

Council at work July 5

This is your city council in a virtual session. There were no delegations at this meeting. The view does not include all the participants.

The Public Board of Education manages to have some of the trustees take part in the meeting by being in the room.  Burlington’s city council is close to being at the point where limited public participation could begin – there has been no signal from the members of council that this might be in the offing.

Life is easier when you don’t have to respond to criticism from someone right in front of you – looking you in the eye,

Kind of convenient for them.

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A Municipal election without elections signs - council is talking about the idea. Mayor thinks it's great

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 5th, 2021



Is the city considering fees for election signs during the next municipal election?

There was a time when the city considered fees for election signs now some council members want to get rid of the things. Karmel Sakran lost in his provincial bid

An election without lawn signs?

And a campaign donation rebate program?

And the right to put bumper stickers on your car?

All part of a rather robust conversation at council this morning.

The report from the Office of the Clerk got nicely roasted by several council members – the document from the Clerk appeared to create more questions with few answers.

One of the problems within the Clerk’s Office is that all the top staff are new to the city and not fully aware of some of the really really stupid decisions made by a previous Clerk.

More on this when they return from lunch and a Closed session with outside legal counsel.

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Is Joe Dogs at risk? Probably

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2021



Well – there goes that neighbourhood!

Joe Dogs is at risk,  the best that can be hoped for if the 26 story development is approved on the site literally next door, there will be an opportunity to quaff a cool one while watching the construction take place yards away.

The Renimmob Properties Limited, a corporation new to the Burlington development scene, has either purchased or obtained options on the property.  Approval of the development will be the beginning of a whole new look to the area.

The deep thinkers in the Planning Department have scoped out what they think that part of the city should look like.

site aerial

What we all know at the No Frills Plaza is expected to undergo a major change in terms of what is on the site and the uses to which it is put.

John Street, which is actually a lane north of Caroline, would be extended through the plaza property and reach Victoria Street.

Front and rear renderingsRambo Creek runs through the back end (east side of the plaza property) – the plans call for the creation of a walking trail with park benches and the shifting of the No Frills supermarket closer to Brant Street with large scale (17 storey) housing and underground parking.

If and when it is completed it will be a neighbourhood unto itself with a storied pub part of it.  All Joe Dogs has to do is issue patrons hard hats and hope everyone survives.

A couple of blocks to the north is the the Molinaro proposed development that will take up three corners of the Brant – Ghent intersection.

Both the Molinaro and the Renimmob developments are well north of what is seen as the downtown core. What they will do is create a much more vibrant community along Brant and meet the growth targets the province requires.

Even further north there are the properties that surround the GO station with the right to put up structures of almost any height – those proposed properties comply with the existing Official Plan and zoning in the area.

The graphic below shows what is in the works and what exists in that mid part of Brant street.

surrounding development
There is more to this story – tune in for part two on Monday.

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Some parts of the city got more 'weather' than others

News 100 greenBy Staff

June 3rd, 2021



We knew it was wet yesterday – just didn’t know how wet it was for some people.

The Regional Police released the following photo.

Overland flooding

Are we looking at another flood season?



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How do we want to be defined - our time to be both humane and noble is here now

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2021



What do people mean when they say “that is a defining characteristic”?

What defines Burlington?  Is it the geography – the lake and the Escarpment?

At this time in our history what is it that defines Canada?

I want to suggest that the way Canadians respond to the news of yet another place where the bodies of children have been buried  and what we as a people are going to do about it is what will define this country for decades.

unmarked graves

There are several hundred grave sites like this in Canada

In this country people expect the leadership to make the big decisions.  We have given the power we have to the leaders hoping that they will do the right thing for us.

The tragedy brought about by the creation of the Residential Schools is now in front of us with all the ugliness that neglect heaps on us when we treat one group of people as worth less than the rest of us.

Some 150,000 children were trucked off to Residential Schools with no consent from the parents.  People just came and took them.

Those children who did eventually return to their communities years later, were deeply scarred emotionally, some physically abused, and left unable to cope with daily living.

We are learning now that many thousands did not return but were placed in shallow graves that were unmarked.

The Aboriginal community knew about those graves but no one wanted to listen to a “bunch of Indians”.

Now we all know and decisions have to be made about what we are going to do about it.

The Aboriginal community is pressing the Pope to come to Canada and apologize for the harm that was done and to make restitution as well or at least to live up to the financial contribution all of the religious organizations who operated the Residential Schools agreed to provide.

The federal government has agreed to provide the millions that will be needed to search the grounds of every Residential School to learn if and how many children are laying in shallow graves.

shoes on steps

This just isn’t enough.

How long will the public place pairs of shoes on steps of buildings as a show of support?

Is this just a fad that will pass soon?

The weekly release of yet another grave site will keep this on the public radar for the Aboriginal community who knows they have an issue that has legs.


Gord Downie did what few of us could so – screamed that the Aboriginal people mattered.

How many remember what Gord Downie had to say to the Prime Minister who was in the audience for that heart rending performance when he asked Justin Trudeau to keep the promise?  That’s been the problem, we Canadians have never kept the promise – we instead jerked them around again and again.

Are we finally at the point where that basic, human fundamental right for water that can be swallowed might be theirs the way it is ours?  Or are we stuck at the placing of shoes in public places to show our support.

There is an opportunity to show the world what we have done.  We have this opportunity to determine how we are defined.

My question to each person reading this is – how do you want to be defined?


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Tough questions being asked about an incomplete development on John Street: Carriage Gate in the spotlight again

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2021



Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns reports that her “office regularly receives ongoing concerns and questions about the progress on this property.”

She is referring to the property bounded by John, Caroline, Elizabeth and Maria that currently has a 24-story condominium. The original development plan was to include an above ground parking garage and a medical office at the north end along Caroline.

Medica One or the Carriage Gate project - pick the name you like best - will go up at the top of John Street and consist of a medical offices building, an above ground garage and an apartment/condo complex. It will bring significant change to the intersection and drive redevelopment of the plaza to the immediate north, A transit hub a couple of blocks to the south then makes a lot of sense.

The tower on the left has been constructed and is occupied. Some of the underground work for the garage is completed. The medical building is reported to be part of an application for additional height.

“I agree with residents that this matter has gone on much too long” reported Kearns in her most recent Newsletter.

“Since the onset of my term as Ward 2 Councillor, I continue to advocate on behalf of the community to have this project move forward. In response to many inquiries, see the following chart recently received from the City’s Legal Department. As soon as my office is in receipt of information of progress on this site, we will be sure to share with residents.”

This development was problematic from the day it got to the city Planning department. The council at the time had concerns about the development being completed and put in a clause that would ding the developer for $300,000 if the developer failed to deliver on schedule.

Carriage Gate - three buidingsMuch of this was well before Kearns began to care a hoot about what happened in the ward.

In the data the Councillor refers to there is a chart with questions and answers reported to have come from the legal department.
Never seen responses like this from the Office of the Solicitor for the Corporation of Burlington.

carriage gate data

In a September 2017 news story the Gazette reported:

“… John Street construction site is to include a public garage and a medical centre – they will follow the construction of the condominium. Medica One or the Carriage Gate project – pick the name you like best – will go up at the top of John Street and consist of a medical offices building, an above ground garage and an apartment/condo complex. It will bring significant change to the intersection and drive redevelopment of the plaza to the immediate north, A transit hub a couple of blocks to the south then makes a lot of sense.

The city expected all three projects to rise at the same time – and were worried enough about the construction actually taking place that they had the developer commit to coughing up $300,000 if the project doesn’t proceed by March of 2020.

City hall does appear to fully appreciate the market forces the developer has to contend with.  The utility poles will disappear – all the cable will be underground. Getting that decision in place was no simple matter.

Berkeley - Maria entrance

A portion of Mario was closed during construction of the Berkley. Not many developers get that kind of leeway.


Carriage Gate, the developer, has had their share of grief with both the city and Burlington Hydro over the existence of utility poles on John Street. A hydro line had to be pulled in from Lakeshore Road to the site – an expensive job. There was much discussion over whether or not all the hydro wires would be underground.

The developer was prepared to pay for the cost of burying the cable in front of their project but wasn’t prepared to pay for the cost of burying the cable for every foot of the distance from Lakeshore Road.

And they didn’t like the price for doing the work that Burlington Hydro had put on the table.

It’s getting resolved – with the developer trying hard to keep the lawyers out of the room.

When completed John Street will take on a much different look. Other developers have already begun to acquire and assemble property on the street.

As construction continues the planners are looking for ways to improve the look of the rest of the street and bring more activity to the area.

Not much has changed.

Related news stories:

Is eight going to become 18?


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Jazz on the BPAC Patio in August - plans are in the works.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2021



There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel we are in.

And it has the sweet sound of a saxophone and the voice of a brilliant jazz vocalist.

Barbara Lica JAzz BPAC AI got curious yesterday and wondered if things were improving enough for some of the traditional summer entertainment fare to return – so I sent a note to the folks at the Performing Arts Centre, where Tammy Fox runs the show, asking if the Jazz on the Patio might return in August.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Plans are underway for Jazz on the Patio at the Performing Arts Centre

Here it is – straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Yes, it’s looking positive for outdoor concerts on The plaza for August. Planning is underway. Can’t wait!!”

And neither can we.

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