Regional staff along with police contribute $114,643.36 to United Way

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 28, 2017



Regional government staff dug into their pockets and came up with $114,643.36 that went into the coffers of the United Way.


Each year Halton Regional staff and the Halton Regional Police Service organize a joint campaign to raise funds for the United Way.

United Way - Change starts hereStaff gets active and involved in a range of activities including ball hockey, volleyball, dodgeball, mini putt tournaments, trivia challenges, BBQs and an assortment of other activities with proceeds dedicated to the annual United Way campaign.

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Henry is back - City awards Nelson Pool contract to the company that began the construction of The Pier. That is good news but don't expect to hear that from most of the council members.

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

March 27th, 2017



A resident sent us a note a few days ago asking why the contractor first hired to build THE Pier and then walked off the job was hired to build the new swimming pool at Nelson

“I was surprised to learn that this project was awarded to Schilthuis Construction Inc.”

Henry Schilthuis quit the Pier construction site because he realized that the plans he was given by the city were such that a successful pier could not be built.

It took a Judge who mediated a decision on who was wrong where and who was accountable. The blame rested with the company that provided the drawings the contractor had to work from.

Nelson pool rendering

A rendering of the Nelson swimming pool – will it e open in time for the warm weather.

Schilthuis was the contractor – not the designer of the pier. When it became evident that the plans had serious problems Schilthuis brought those problems to the attention of the city and offered a solution that would fix the problems.

The city decided it didn’t like the cost of the fix and sued – Schilthuis counter sued and then everyone was hiring lawyers. In the end the insurance companies ended up paying for the mistakes.

Cam Jackson, the Mayor at the time didn’t help matters with some of his comments.

Pier crane down

When a crane toppled on the Pier the flaws in the steel that was used became evident – that is when everyone went looking for a lawyer and the contractor gave the keys to the site back to the city.

Schilthuis had a rough couple of years while the case was before the Courts. During that time every one of his sub-contractors stood by him – which is more than can be said for the Jackson voters.

Then incoming Mayor Rick Goldring found that he had a messy file on his desk.  Neither he nor his council came out of it all with much in the way of glory.  Schilthuis offered the city a solution that was less than what the city had to pay a second contractor – but at that time no one was touching Henry Schilthuis.

The city made one of its smarter moves when they gave Schilthuis the contract. The city will get value for the money it pays and the public will have a fine pool – that will be built on time.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison told his constituents in his newsletter that:
“Prior to the contractor being awarded this project, staff prequalified contractors who had extensive experience with collegiate pools and splash pads. Submissions were received and evaluated and qualified contractors were approved to bid the tender of the construction work. Schilthuis General Contractors was the lowest and most compliant bid and offered the best value.

“Schilthuis General Contractors have been in business for over 65 years and have worked with the City of Burlington on other previous projects over the years such as Aldershot Arena Renovations and Aldershot Pool Renovations.

When evaluating a General Contractor staff also evaluates their Construction Team assigned to the project includes a project manager who has worked with Schilthuis in the past.

The city is in good hands on this one

None of the key players in the building of The Pier the first time around are with the city now.

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Argonauts to be part of a bullying prevention event - cheerleaders will be on the stage.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

March 27, 2017




It still happens.

And it can do tremendous lifelong damage.

There are instances of suicide as a result of bullying.

Huddle UP posterIt is a different world out there today that has parents looking for any opportunity to educate their children and develop more civil forms of behaviour in the school yards and public playgrounds.

Parents from Lester B. Pearson high school have partnered with Sir Earnest MacMillan elementary school for a program that has the delivery of an address at each school then an evening program at Pearson featuring players from the Toronto Argonauts and some of their cheer leaders.

It is described as a very strong presentation that is aimed at both parents and their children.

Takes place April 10th.

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Retirement Housing-Options for Seniors: Event to take place in April


eventspink 100x100By Staff

March 27th, 2017



If you are in the apartment rental market – you know how tight it is in Burlington.

If you’re exploring housing options for yourself or an aging family member you learn, sometimes much to your surprise, just what you are up against.

There are many options in Burlington – many of them very expensive.

On Monday, April 10, from 2-8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn there is an event dedicated to helping seniors determine the next place they’ll call home.


There is surprising little housing that really accommodates the needs of seniors – Burlington’s need to intensify and build up doesn’t allow for this type of housing.

Aging in place has been a favourite phrase for the Mayor. Figuring out how to downsize to a smaller home or move to a retirement residence can be complex – the event being is being hosted by Amal Helbah-Dawson (Financial Planner, Investment and Retirement Planning, RBC Royal Bank) and Marion Goard (Sales Representative, Senior Real Estate Specialist and Master Accredited Senior Agent at Keller Williams Edge Realty Brokerage).

Housing - rocker on a porch

A dream of a picture – is it a reality for any of the seniors? High rise – even if just six story see,s to be what is going to be available.

They have brought in more than 20 local representatives on hand ready to chat about: Burlington retirement residences, innovative housing options such as Home Share and garden suites, how to make a move easier, various services that support aging in place plus information on how to generate income from your investment savings and protecting your wealth.

Goard points out that “As we age there will come a time when the question arises – should I stay in my home or is it time for a change? Just the thought of a change can be overwhelming for some so the subject is often avoided until a crisis arises. My hope is that by offering information in this format it will be easier for seniors to explore their options and meet others who can help.”

Donations to Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga will be accepted at the event. The Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre is located at 3063 S Service Road in Burlington.

There is a web site ( with more information – you can also register by calling (289) 208-1000.

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Burlington's MPP getting hammered by people who don't think she is stepping up and helping them on the matter of school closings.

highschoolsBy Staff

March 27, 2017



People write the member of city council, or their Member of the provincial legislature (MPP) or the member of Parliament (MP) when they have a beef.

Sometimes they write a “thank you very much” letter.

Burlington’s MPP Eleanor McMahon hasn’t seen too many of the thank you notes recently.

If it isn’t hydro rates they are complaining about then it is the mess at the school board where they are trying to determine which schools to close while parents are asking that none of the schools close.

The following is the correspondence between Cheryl De Lugt, a member of the PAR Committee representing Lester B. Pearson high school.

From: cheryl []
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2017 8:15 PM
To:; McMahon, Eleanor MPP CO
Subject: URGENT REQUEST for Eleanor to vote on Tuesday March 7 to stop the PARC process across this province it is not right to be closing schools which are the heart of the communties

Good Day Eleanor McMahon:

My name is Cheryl De Lugt a very concerned parent in Burlington. As you are well aware the Halton District School Board is under a PARC process of all secondary high schools in Burlington triggered by the Liberal Government that you belong to.

Girl with T-shirt LBPH

Pearson student let people know where she stands.

This process has become incredibly stressful to the citizens of Burlington, parents but more importantly the students that will ultimately affected by any decisions.

I am very concerned about this whole process with a child who has a learning disability and who would be affected the most if her school closes which is Pearson High School as she is in grade 10 and would have to move to a new school in her last year most important year of high school grade 12. As a parent with a child with a disability I fear her transition to high school from the elementary school system fearing she would be lost in the crack, but it was far from that at Pearson. In a smaller school environment she has flourished because every teacher knows every student and they took her under their wings. Wow she would not have had that in a larger mega school environment that this Liberal government is in favour of.

I understand that there is an urgent debate and vote that will be occurring this Tuesday March 7 asking for a moratorium to this flawed process called the PARC. I know first hand being a parent selected to represent Lester B Pearson High School on the PARC Committee, this has been a true eye opening of the recking spending and the lack of accountability and transparency of our school board that we as parent entrust with our children.

I am hoping that you will listen to your Burlington constituents and vote to stop this process and stop closing schools across this Province as they are the heart of the community. I know that the voting rating for the Liberal Party is at it’s all time low and this is time to listen to the people who can or will vote for you.

I appreciate your time but more importantly hope you will vote to stop this PARC process in the legislation on Tuesday March 7, 2017. I do appreciate a response back to this urgent message



From: Eleanor McMahon, MPP (Constituency Office) <>
Sent: March 23, 2017 11:56 AM
To: ‘cheryl’
Subject: RE: URGENT REQUEST for Eleanor to vote on Tuesday March 7 to stop the PARC process across this province it is not right to be closing schools which are the heart of the communties

Dear Cheryl:

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding your concerns related to the pupil accommodation review underway in Burlington. It is important for me to hear from constituents about issues that are important to them. You have clearly outlined your concerns regarding the process and also about Pearson. I was also copied on an email from Jillian to the Trustees and Director – I am assuming she is your daughter – and I very much appreciated hearing from her with the student perspective.

McMahon office - worker facing

The only thing that hasn’t happened is picket lines outside the MPP’s office.

In my role as MPP for Burlington, I have spoken with other parents, students, teachers and residents concerned about the impact of the PAR process. School closures and consolidations are some of the hardest decisions faced by our school boards given the critical role that schools play in the lives of Burlington families and our community more broadly.

Our schools have an impact that extends far beyond the classroom, which is why all residents deserve the chance to provide feedback so their input is reflected in the decision-making process. In my discussions, I have heard from constituents who feel that they have not had adequate time or opportunities to provide meaningful input. I have listened to these concerns and shared it in discussions with constituents, community leaders, trustees and the school board, outlining my expectation that Burlington residents have the chance to participate in consultations.

Decisions with respect to schools and school closures are made at the local level by local decision-makers: school boards (staff) and trustees (elected officials). There was a time, not that long ago, when schools were closed without due consultation. Our government changed this and has empowered local decision-makers to review school accommodation needs, entrusting our school board staff and trustees to ensure that student well-being is the number one priority.

School boards are now asked to ensure these decisions reflect consultations and input from impacted members of the community. The Ministry of Education’s pupil accommodation review guideline provides a framework for this, mandating that meaningful consultation take place.

Local input is essential for local decision-makers as they act on behalf of their community. I expect the Halton District School Board to listen and respond to requests from Burlington residents for more extensive consultation and ensure that their concerns are understood and dutifully addressed. This will ensure that Burlington residents have confidence in the process and therefore, the outcomes.

Encouraging community input is a fundamental principle in important decision-making processes like this and as the MPP for Burlington, I will continue to advocate on behalf of my constituents to participate and have their voices heard in these important discussions. Providing our students with the best educational opportunities remains a priority for me, and I expect that a meaningful consultation process will support a robust, high quality education system in Burlington and across the province.

Thanks again for reaching out to me.

Eleanor McMahon – MPP, Burlington

De Lugt wasn’t buying the response she got and shot back at McMahon:
Thank you for your email response but as a concerned parent in Burlington I am not naive in this flawed process that the Liberal Government has created for Local School Boards across this Province to follow. I am not satisfied with your “its not my issue” answer and that this is a decision of the School Board and local elected officials.

Protest outside board office

Central and Pearson high school parents were outside in the cold weather demonstrating consistently.

As a concerned parent that has witnessed first hand this flawed PARC process in Burlington watching communities pitting against communities to save their own school has been a true eye opener to the irresponsible reckless spending and the lack of accountability and transparency of our School Board and Provincial Government that we as parent entrust with our children with.

I work as a nurse in a hospital. We have adopted “A TIME OUT or Patient Briefing” prior to any major procedure such as an operation. The whole team from the surgeon, anesthesia and nurses in the operating room take a momentary pause prior to any operation making sure they ask these questions ( is this the right person, the right surgery, is it the right procedure) this allows the whole team to be on the same page making sure they are delivering the best care to the patient and to carry out the right procedure.

I encourage the Halton District School and the Provincial Government who’s popularity rating is at an all time low at 12% to take “A TIME OUT” which is a momentary pause in closing any schools in Burlington and across this Province. Please be patient and take a time out for approximately 3-5 years wait and watch approach and you will see your student numbers go up. With seniors downsizing and moving out of their homes young families are moving in the students will come.
Burlington is growing and there is projected growth north of the QEW that will be taking place in the next 5-10 years so we will need our schools

Closing schools are not the right thing to do. Schools are the centre of our communities and if the School Board closes one or two schools in Burlington it will severely impact the way this city looks and operates for many many years to come.

Each school has its own stories and its own unique programs and clubs that are important to their communities

I encourage the Provincial  Government, Halton District School Board and the elected School Trustees to think very hard about any decision to close any schools in Burlington with the growth that will occur in Burlington and the lack of green space left to develop there will be a new look to this city with high density development which in turn will yield great number of students.

Sincerely, Cheryl De Lugt

Expect to see a lot more mail like this.  The parents in Burlington have been putting up some very stiff resistance to the closing of high schools.

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Draft of a NEW Official Plan has been released - will it be approved by the current city council?

OPdraft ABy Staff

March 27th, 2017



At just about every city council meeting when there is a recommendation that council accept a request to change something in the Official Plan residents ask:

“Why bother having an Official Plan is almost anyone can come along and ask for a change and get it?

That has been the way things got done at city hall in the past. Most recently there have been two projects, both from the same developer that city council didn’t buy into.

The city has been working its way through the creation of a new city plan. It has been a long labour and it is nowhere near birth yet.  A review of the plan started back in 2012 and seemed to stumble again and again when there were staff changes in the Planning department, sudden departures, the resignation of the Director of Planning and the imposition of a 25 year Strategic Plan.

Then the city decided to scrap the review of the existing Plan and write a brand new plan.

All that got us to where we are today.

The document is now on the table in DRAFT form ready for public consultation – all 530 pages of it.

The forward of the document says:

“The City of Burlington is at a turning point in its evolution and is transitioning from a suburban to an urban community. The City’s growth is shifting from building new greenfield communities to accommodating more residents and jobs within existing areas through re-development. This intensification is being directed to targeted areas in the City. This is to ensure that denser land uses are carefully co-ordinated with infrastructure, either by encouraging development in areas that make efficient use of existing or planned infrastructure, or to effectively co-ordinate any infrastructure enhancements to accommodate future growth. Also, this targeted approach ensures that existing residential neighbourhoods of the City are protected from major change.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting. Peter Gordon isn't the only one who doesn't agree with the city planner.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting in 2012 Has anything changed since then?

“The focus on accommodating growth through intensification within the existing Urban Area aligns with the City’s interest in protecting and strengthening the rural community and in retaining the special character of North Aldershot as a distinct, identifiable area. It supports the protection of agricultural lands and agricultural operations and the protection of natural heritage and water resources in line with the City’s Strategic Plan and Provincial plans and Policies.

“Provincial plans and policies have directed that Burlington must grow and must grow within the existing Urban Area. The City has developed a new Official Plan in recognition of the challenges and opportunities ahead as it continues to evolve into a complete city. A complete community provides for all of the daily needs of its residents, providing convenient access to an appropriate mix of jobs, shopping and personal services, housing, recreation and open space.

“The Official Plan is a policy document that sets out the City’s directions for growth and development, and continues the commitment to building a complete City. It was developed through planning analysis and research but also through significant collaboration and dialogue with the community as well as internal and external stakeholders. The Official Plan fuses the local community interests with Regional and Provincial policy direction and articulates the City of Burlington vision to 2031 and beyond. It includes policy to manage physical change in relation to land use and development, transportation, infrastructure, the natural environment, heritage, parks, and social, economic and environmental sustainability.


Citizens let the Planning department know how they felt at a public event in 2012. Has anything changed?

“The Official Plan sets out a clear vision and establishes strategic priorities for sustainable growth, complete communities, environment and sustainability, economic activity, infrastructure, design excellence, land uses and public participation. This Plan sets out development-ready provisions and guides development within certain parameters allowing for private sector flexibility while ensuring the public interest is maintained. The Official Plan also includes criteria for when and how changes to the Plan are to be considered. At times, refinements to policies of the Plan may be appropriate. The Plan will be used to guide the decision making and approval processes of the City, ensuring that all new development contributes to Burlington’s long-term vision.”


Look carefully at where the red dots are and where the green dots are. This was what people thought and felt in 2012.

The content and details of the DRAFT Official Plan cannot be covered in a single article. The Gazette will endeavour to break that task into smaller pieces and explain as much as we can and then follow the process that has all the interested parties commenting on the document.

The Planning department set out a number of principles that will guide all land use decision making to achieve sustainable development a complete community in accordance with the City’s four key strategic directions.


The city planners felt it was time to take a stronger, bolder stance and came up with a name for the process: We were to Grow Bold.  The public was given a couple of name choices and they settled on growing bold.

In the DRAFT OP there is a paragraph that is indeed bold.

No by-law may be passed, and no public work undertaken by the City, which does not conform with this Plan. The capital works program and the capital budget are intended to provide the infrastructure required to implement the land use vision, objectives and policies of this Plan.

There will be some gulps from the development community over that one and the remark that “I will believe it when I see it” from literally hundreds of citizens who have experienced situations where that just did not happen in Burlington.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington's commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of commercial zoning and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed - all the way to the Ontario Muncipal Board - where they all too frequently win.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington’s commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of Employment Lands designation and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed – all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board – where they all too frequently win.

Part of the Planning process is setting out the zoning of specific pieces of property and determining what land is going to remain as Employment Lands.

We will return to the DRAFT OF THE Official Plan Again – shortly.

The document gets presented to city council officially April 6th.  while the planners may have a schedule in mind for getting the Official Plan approved by city council – the seven that are in office may nit be there by the time the document gets passed.  It then has to go to the Region and chances are that someone will appeal it to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Going to be a long ride.

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Upgrades being made to the Property Information service - system will be offline March 31 to April 4th

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 27, 2017



The City’s Information Technology Services will be doing scheduled maintenance and upgrades to the Property Information Request (PIR) form from Friday, March 31 at 4:30pm until Monday, April 3, 2017. During that time, Property Information Requests will be unavailable.

Improvements to the PIR include:

• One time registration for a user account
• Log into user account using email address and personal password
• Ability to apply for new property information requests online (shopping cart feature for multiple requests)
• Conduct a property search using address (number and street name), roll number and property PIN Make payment online: Visa, Mastercard and American Express accepted
• Upload PDF attachments online (if required for services requested: zoning verification letter, survey compliance, agreement compliance)
• Receive instant confirmation of the successful application through website and receive emailed receipt of transaction
• Check the status of active PIR’s
• Pay outstanding fees online.


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High school parents unhappy with what they see MPP McMahon doing on their behalf - not nearly enough is the word on social media.

highschoolsBy Staff

March 26, 2017



There was a time when a multi-national corporation or a Cabinet Minister could put out a statement and it got published with little in the way of comment or analysis.

The advent of on-line and social media changed that – considerably.

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, who is also a member of the Liberal Cabinet and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport put out a statement last week that drew significant response from a lot of people who are opposed to the closing of Central high school – they are opposed to closing any high schools but have made it clear that if a high school has to be closed – Central is not the one to shut down.

In her Blog McMahon said:

In my role as MPP for Burlington, I have spoken with parents, students, teachers and residents concerned about the impact of the pupil accommodation review currently underway in our community. School closures and consolidations are some of the hardest decisions faced by our school boards given the critical role that schools play in the lives of Burlington families and our community more broadly.

AGB presentation McMahon

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon” Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Our schools have an impact that extends far beyond the classroom, which is why all residents deserve the chance to provide feedback so their input is reflected in the decision-making process. In my discussions, I have heard from constituents who feel that they have not had adequate time or opportunities to provide meaningful input. I have listened to these concerns and shared it in discussions with constituents, community leaders, trustees and the school board, outlining my expectation that Burlington residents have the chance to participate in consultations.

Decisions with respect to schools and school closures are made at the local level by local decision-makers: school boards (staff) and trustees (elected officials). There was a time, not that long ago, when schools were closed without due consultation. Our government changed this and has empowered local decision-makers to review school accommodation needs, entrusting our school board staff and trustees to ensure that student well-being is the number one priority.

Schoolboards are now asked to ensure these decisions reflect consultations and input from impacted members of the community. The Ministry of Education’s pupil accommodation review guideline provides a framework for this, mandating that meaningful consultation take place.

Local input is essential for local decision-makers as they act on behalf of their community. I expect the Halton District School Board to listen and respond to requests from Burlington residents for more extensive consultation and ensure that their concerns are understood and dutifully addressed. This will ensure that Burlington residents have confidence in the process and therefore, the outcomes.

Encouraging community input is a fundamental principle in important decision-making processes like this and as the MPP for Burlington, I will continue to advocate on behalf of my constituents to participate and have their voices heard in these important discussions. Providing our students with the best educational opportunities remains a priority for me, and I expect that a meaningful consultation process will support a robust, high quality education system in Burlington and across the province.

When she was made a Cabinet Minister McMahon beefed up her staff in Burlington and brought on a former staff member from the Mayor’s team. Daphne Jacques sat in on a recent PARC meeting to get a sense of how that process was going.

The Gazette has heard some hair raising comments from Central parents on hoe their conversations with the Minister have gone.  Gets pretty emotional on both sides.

McMahon was getting a lot of negative feedback. Some samples:

Not Nelson Response 7

Not Nelson Response 5

Not Nelson Response 4

Not Nelson Response 2


There is some significant constituency work to be done to quell the emotions are are running loose around the school closing issue. At what time does the MPP put herself in front of her public? Not until after the Halton School Board trustees have made a decision – at that time McMahon will know how big a mess she has on her hands.

At just about that time Jane McKenna, the candidate for the Progressive conservative party in Burlington can expect to be heard from.

The date for a decision by the School Board is June 17th – the next provincial election will be a year away. The School Board had said it wanted to implement any school closing decision in September of 2017. That might have to slide forward a year which will make it very awkward for McMahon.

Some very hard thinking will be taking place in the months ahead – on the part of the MPP and on the part of the parents who might be in a very vengeful mood.

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PARC particpants head into the final stretch - have they been able to have a real impact on the decision that gets made or did the process get in the way?

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

March 26th, 2017



The dynamic of any group of people takes a little time to reveal itself.

When the people around a table each bring both their own agenda and their own interpretation of what they think the issue in front of them is – that dynamic can get very interesting.

When the Halton District School Board trustees determined that, on the recommendation of the Director of Education, they should hold a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) two people were chosen from each of the seven high schools to provide feedback on the various options.

PARC engagementThose Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) members were expected to work with the parent groups and take the parent views back to the PARC.

The process had several layers of interaction that didn’t always go that well.

The Board staff wanted to control the meeting as much as they could. The facilitator brought in by the Board was expected to gather data and provide some analysis. That process did not go very well – the parents who took part in the several public meetings were not going to go quietly into the night and have a bunch of bureaucrats close their local high school.

Parents now had social media they could use to get their message out. The Gazette played a significant role in creating a platform parents could use to get their views out to a wider audience.
In any collection of people natural leaders emerge and the individual style of the participants comes to the surface.

The work load proved to be a little more than some of the original participants could handle and some of the participants had work commitments that conflicted with the PARC schedule requiring some changes in the PARC makeup.

The Central high school parents chose ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward to represent them. She was joined by Ian Farewell

Many felt that Meed Ward faced a conflict of interest – many more felt she not only had a right to be on the PARC but should be on the PARC because she was known as a pretty direct speaker and not the least bit shy about pushing the edge of the envelope.

Meed Ward was always pretty clear about what she stood for and always kept her election mantra right in front of her: “The people come first.”

Meed WArd at PARC

Marianne Meed Ward as a PARC participant

The Meed Ward we saw at the PARC however, was not the same Meed Ward we see at city council. There is that memorable occasion when she forced her city council colleagues to stand up on four different occasions during a council meeting for a recorded vote – even through the outcome of the vote was a foregone conclusion.

Time and again she would return to an issue and ask questions. She asked more questions than any other two Councillors combined. She added furrows to the brow of the Mayor and may have changed the colour of some of the hair on his head as well.

We didn’t see that Meed Ward at the PARC meeting. She participated, rather well for the most part, but she was a much more subdued Meed Ward at a table some thought she should not be at.

She did at the last meeting let the Board know that she was not happy with the process she had to live with and wanted to be certain that the Board would interview all the participants and get their feedback on the way the process had worked out. She wanted both a group interview and if possible one on one face to face interviews.

PARC Jan 27 - school reps

Cheryl deLugh standing centre, represented parents from Pearson high school.

Pearson high school PARC member Cheryl de Lugt tuned out to be one of the stronger participants and came up with some of the best lines heard during the five meetings.

There wasn’t a single person who felt the PARC process was satisfactory. Director of Education Stuart Miller admitted that it had its shortcoming and those people at Queen’s Park that the Central parents spoke to when they met with the politicians and the bureaucrats admitted that the process could be improved.

The PARC rules and procedures were new and they did need some tightening up. The fear the Central parents have is that a poorly thought out process might result in their school being closed.

Few feel that Central should be closed – other than Board staff who focus on the cost of keeping Central open.

Hard working people PARC

PARC members found themselves having to put the interests of their school ahead of the bigger picture – the interests of th city and its educational system.

The PARC process put parents representing the different schools at odds with each other as they defended their school.

No one in the room was fighting for the city and the impact closing a high school in the downtown core would have.

Donna Danielli, the trustee advisor on the PARC said that the decision the trustees make is going to be one of the most important this Board makes.

She got that right – and it looks as if the process is going to prevent the best decision from being made.

Unless of course the 11 trustees choose to be brave and look at the bigger picture.

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PARC gets one more kick at the can - additional meeting to listen to

highschoolsBy Pepper Parr

March 26th, 2017



You would think that after three months of being tightly focused on the issue of closing two high schools in Burlington the 14 members of the PARC would be quite happy to call it a day and get back to living normal lives.

Hasn’t worked out quite that way.

During the past two meetings this PAR committee has found its footing and has become a group with two distinct parts; one that wants to go a little further and be more a part of the process that is going to make the decision rather than be just a group that was reacting and responding to questions put to it by the Chair  Scott Podrebarac.

There are others that don’t want to do much more – they feel their school is safe and that the job is done.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Ian Farewell, on the left, a Central parent and Steve Cussons and Aldershot parent were the two PARC members who never varied from wanting to keep all the schools open. Farewell was adamant that Central not be closed.

Those who wanted to do more were able to prevail and there will be a sixth and final meeting Monday evening.

Steve Cussons, an Aldershot parent, wanted the PARC to be able to step beyond the 13 point framework they were given to work within and talk about some innovative ideas that could perhaps keep all the schools open.  Cussons wasn’t able to define what he meant by “innovative” but it was clear he didn’t want to give up.

They were given a template to use as they made decisions on the various options that were put in front of them.

That template asked them to consider, but not be limited to the following:

1. Range of mandatory programs;

2. Range of optional programs;

3. Viability of Program – number of students required to offer and maintain program in an educationally sound and fiscally responsible way;

4. Physical and environmental state of existing schools;

5. Proximity to other schools (non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes);

6. Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms;

7. Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources, and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and underutilization of buildings;

8. Expansion and placement of new ministry or board programs;

9. Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent boundary changes;

10. Cost effectiveness of transportation;

11. Fiscal responsibilities;

12. Existing and potential community uses and facility partnerships;

13. Goals and focus of the current multi-year

Starting with more than 40 options the PARC members whittled that down to the following five:

Option 23d ‐ Robert Bateman HS, Lester B Pearson HS closes, Dr. Frank J Hayden SS program change
No change to Aldershot HS boundary
Burlington Central HS catchment expands to include Tecumseh PS catchment
IB program added to Burlington Central HS from Robert Bateman
Nelson HS boundary expands east. SC‐SPED & Essential programming redirected to Nelson HS from Robert Bateman
MM Robinson HS ENG catchment expands to include Lester B Pearson HS
Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS. No change to the English catchment.


When the process of getting information out to parents few of them showed up at the Bateman high school meeting.

Option 4b – Robert Bateman HS closes
No change to Aldershot HS
Burlington Central HS expands to include the entire Tecumseh PS
Nelson HS expands east to include Robert Bateman HS. Nelson HS receives the SC‐SPED and Essential programming from Robert Bateman
MM Robinson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment
Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Florence Meares PS catchment. IB program and Gifted Secondary Placement added to Lester B. Pearson HS from Robert Bateman HS and Nelson HS
Frank J Hayden SS English catchment area is reduced.

Option 7b – Dr. Frank J Hayden SS Boundary change
No schools closed.
Lester B Pearson HS catchment expands to include Kilbride PS catchment area, John William Boich PS catchment area south of Upper Middle Road, and Alexander’s PS catchment
Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

Option 28d – Burlington Central HS and Lester B Pearson HS closes, Program change for Dr Frank J Hayden SS
Aldershot HS catchment area expands easterly to railway tracks, ESL program added to Aldershot from Burlington Central
Nelson HS catchment area expands west to the railway
Robert Bateman HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Frontenac PS catchment
MM Robinson HS catchment area expands to include Lester B Pearson HS catchment area.
FI is removed from Dr. Frank J Hayden SS and redirected to MM Robinson HS
CH Norton PS area that is currently directed to Lester B Pearson HS, to be redirected to Dr Frank J Hayden

Will Nelson high school students be on the streets next week?

Option 3b – Nelson HS closes: Dr Frank J Hayden SS and Burlington Central HS have a program change
Aldershot FI expands to include Burlington Central HS FI catchment
Burlington Central HS English catchment area expands to Walkers Line
Robert Bateman HS expands west to Walkers
FI program added to Robert Bateman HS
Lester B Pearson HS catchment area expands to include John William Boich PS catchment area and Kilbride PS catchment area. The Secondary Gifted placement added to Lester B Pearson HS from Nelson
Frank J Hayden SS FI program redirected to M.M. Robinson HS.
Frank J Hayden HS catchment reduced.

Earlier in the proceedings it looked as if the Board recommendation of closing two high schools – Central and Pearson was a go. The option to not close any schools had some traction during the first round of cuts but the Board staff original recommendation was at the top of the list.

The focus when the first cut was done shifted to hard lobbying by the Bateman and Nelson parents to ensure that they were not closed.

Nelson appears to be safe, but Bateman is still very much at risk.

When this process started Director of Education Stuart Miller said many times that the option that board staff put forward and the trustees agreed to might not be what the PARC committee would agree on and it might not be what the trustees decided on.

Staff had many choices – they felt that closing Central and Pearson was the best of the more than 40 options that were considered.

The sense at this point is that Pearson needs to be kept open to handle the overflow that is going to be seen in the northern part of the city. Pearson was a purpose built school – it is the smallest of the seven high schools and has more property than any other high school in the city. Hayden is already at close to 150% of it rated capacity.

Option 7 – a decision not to close any of the high schools had a bit of a battle to remain on the list. Some PARC members thought such an option voided the whole purpose of the PAR process while others felt very strongly that the public had the right to voice an opinion on whether or not they wanted any of their high schools closed.

Cussons and a number of other PARC members want to keep all the schools open – and they think there are some innovative approaches that can result in just that.

Scott P - close up

PARC chair Scott Podrebarac.

Chair Scott Podrebarac is bending over backwards to give the PARC people every opportunity possible to talk through every idea they have. He has gone so far as to revise the schedule that moves everything back by almost a month with a final decision to be made on June 17th.  That decision was supposed to be made on May 19th.

The critical dates going forward are:

Friday April 21, 2017 – Director’s Final Report released online at

Wednesday April 26, 2017 (6 pm) – Director’s Final Report will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the Committee of the Whole meeting.

Monday May 8, 2017 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night.

Thursday May 11 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night. These evenings will be live-streamed on the Board website. Location: J.W. Singleton Centre (2050 Guelph Line).

Wednesday May 17, 2017 (7 pm) – Board meeting. Final Report to Board of Trustees for “information”.

Wednesday June 7, 2017 (7 pm) – Board meeting. Final Report to Board of Trustees for “decision”.

Is the PARC going to be able to come up with some ideas that will make it possible to keep all the schools open?  Will all the PARC members show up for this final PARC meeting?

The process the city is in created the PARC as the link that would take all the options the Board came up with and communicate them to the parents.  The PARC has no authority – all it does it pass along its ideas.

Trustees - fill board +

The Halton District School Board trustees

The trustees are the people who will make the final decision.  They don’t have to accept the recommendation the Director of Education makes.  They do have to reflect the will of the people.

And, it is not just the four Burlington trustees who make that final decision; all 11 trustees have a vote.  The dynamics of how that vote turns out is going to make the 2018 elections very interesting.

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City releases a draft of its new Official Plan on a Friday afternoon close to 7:00 pm. Why on a Friday when everyone is gone for the weekend?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 25th, 2017



In the news business we get used to seeing documents released by a government late Friday afternoon. The hope for the government releasing the document is that there will be no one around to pay any attention to it and by Monday people will have moved on to something else.

Which is what surprised us when we saw a media release come in at 6:52 Friday evening announcing that a DRAFT of the New Official Plan will be released for community consultation.

Planning staff prepared a report titled: “Release of Draft New Official Plan for Community Consultation” that will go to Committee of the Whole on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 1:00 p.m.

The intention is to have the plan adopted by City Council in the fall of 2017.

The staff report includes a series of recommendations related to the Official Plan Project, the Transportation Master Plan and the Integrated Mobility Plan.

It is going to take some time to wade through the 530 page Official Plan and the nine appendices.



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Car dealership alleged to have abused the motor vehicle registration process - two charged. Four victims so far.

Crime 100By Staff

March 24th, 2017



The Halton Regional Police Service Fraud Bureau, in partnership with investigators from Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) have concluded an investigation into Identity Fraud.

In October 2016, a victim reported having a motor vehicle registered to him in which he had no knowledge. The victim became aware of the unauthorized registration as a result of receiving 407 ETR bills.

In this Sept. 18, 2010 photo, "Sale" is spelled out in the open hoods of used cars at a Toyota dealership in Glendale, Calif. Retail sales posted a third monthly increase in September as solid gains at auto, furniture and hardware stores helped to offset weakness at clothing and department stores. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ORG XMIT: CARS302

Every car sold has to be registered to someone – that proved to be a problem to one victim – there are others.

A subsequent investigation by the HRPS and OMVIC discovered an independent auto dealer in Milton responsible for the false registrations. Further an additional four people from the GTA were identified as victims of the same scam. The location of these falsely registered vehicles is unknown at this time, however HRPS believes one of the vehicles has been involved in a break and enter offence in Southern Ontario.

Car registrations

A car dealership was abusing the process of registering cars. Police want to talk to anyone who finds that a car they never owned has been registered in their name.

The HRPS, with assistance of OMVIC, executed search warrants at the Milton dealership and residence of the dealership principles.

As a result, two Mississauga men have been arrested and charged as follows:

Jan KOWALCZYK (59yrs), charged with 6 counts of Identity Fraud, 6 counts of Uttering Forged Documents
Justin KOWALCZYK (25yrs), charged with 5 counts of Identity Fraud and 5 counts of Uttering Forged Documents

Police and OMVIC have seen a growing trend in the false registration of vehicles for fraudulent gain. Police are seeking information from the public in this regard.

Crime stoppers logo thumbnailTips can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers “See something, Hear something, Say something” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), through the web at, or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

This is a serious one. The implications from this kind of fraud that has a vehicle registered to someone that knew nothing about the registration touches on insurance and liability issues. When the bandits get inside government organizations – there is a very serious problem.

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Precipitation (big word for rain) levels result in an upgrade to watershed conditions - keep the kids away from the creeks.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

March 24th, 2017



It is that time of year. The weather is a little bit warmer and boys in rubber boots get curious and adventuresome and at times get a little too close to the creeks where the water is now flowing a lot faster.

Watershed notice March 24-17Conservation Halton advises that the Weather Office is forecasting a low pressure system moving into our watershed today (March 24th) which is forecast to produce rain showers up to approximately 20 to 25 mm. Rain is expected to continue over the weekend with total amounts between 10 to 15 mm expected on both Saturday and Sunday. The system is expected to move out of our watershed by Monday.

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

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

Flooding is not anticipated, however the forecasted precipitation in conjunction with saturated ground conditions will result in higher than normal water levels and flows in local streams.

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

This Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety will be in effect through Monday March 27, 2017. Conservation Halton will continue to monitor stream and weather conditions and will provide updates as required.

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Karina Gould and the federal budget story - she now runs two offices. One in Burlington and a second office in Ottawa.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 24th, 2017



The federal government released its budget for the year on Tuesday. The job of the government is to now sell that budget – convince us that what they have decided to do is the right thing for all of us.

Would that it were so.

As a member of the Cabinet Karina Gould is expected to get out there and tell the story.

Here is her version of that story.

Yesterday, Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, shared Budget 2017, delivering on the Government’s ambitious agenda to support Canadians at every stage of their lives, transform our neighbourhoods and communities and give every Canadian a real and fair chance at success.

With its strong focus on innovation, skills, partnerships and fairness, Budget 2017 takes the next steps in securing a more prosperous future for all Canadians.

The investments in infrastructure we make today will deliver clean, sustained economic growth; building stronger, more inclusive communities and create more jobs for Canadians.

I encourage you to visit to review the budget in its entirety; I am also pleased to share some highlights that will have a particular resonance for our community and its people.

Budget 2017 proposes $300 million for a Smart Cities Challenge Fund, which will support a competition among cities across Canada, to develop smart cities plans, bringing together local governments, citizens, businesses, and civil society.

Where will Burlington be in that challenge?

In addition, to support our government’s plan for a clean, sustainable economy, over the next 11 years, $21.9 billion will be invested in green infrastructure, including initiatives that will support the implementation of the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.

Gould - electoral reformThere appears to be an assumption that the Liberal Party will still form the government in 11 years.

Budget 2017 works to build stronger communities by improving access to early learning, child care and affordable housing. It will invest $11.2 billion over 11 years for an inclusive National Housing Strategy, to help ensure Canadians have affordable housing that meets their needs.

McMahon + Gould

The Red dress – brought out for those celebratory occasions – winning the election.

To give kids and their parents a real and fair chance at success, the Government will invest $7 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018-19, to support and create more high quality, affordable, child care spaces across the country. To provide better support to young families, Budget 2017 will also commit $886.4 million over five years to make employment insurance, caregiving, parental and maternity benefits more flexible for Canadians to meet their different needs.

Young Canadians will be the ones who drive the future growth of Canada’s economy, yet too many struggle to find practical work experience that leads to good, well-paying jobs. Last year, the Government announced new investments in the Youth Employment Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs program, which help to create short-term job opportunities for students between the ages of 15 and 30.

Budget 2017 provides an additional $395.5 million over three years, for the Youth Employment Strategy, for additional employment and skills development opportunities for young Canadians. Combined with Budget 2016 measures, these investments will help more than 33,000 vulnerable youth develop the skills they need to find work or go back to school; create 15,000 new green jobs and provide over 1,600 new employment opportunities for youth in the heritage sector.

Budget 2017 will also invest $221 million over five years to renew and expand funding for Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and educational institutions, to help it meet its goal of providing 10,000 work-integrated learning placements for Canadian post-secondary students and graduates each year. As well as $2.7 billion over six years to boost skills training and employment support for those unemployed and underemployed under the Labour Market Transfer Agreements.

Budget 2017 helps connect companies on a global scale, takes an innovative and collaborative approach to solving modern challenges, and helps businesses get what they need to grow. Starting in 2017-18, Budget 2017 will invest $950 million over five years, to support “super-clusters”, dense areas of business activity that energize economies and act as engines of growth. These “super-clusters” have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth, through a competitive basis. The competition will launch this year and focus on super-clusters that enhance Canada’s global competitiveness by focusing on highly innovative industries such as advanced manufacturing, clean technology and health/bio-sciences, as well as infrastructure and transportation.

Will Burlington ever have super-cluster status or will we be a part of what Hamilton is clearly becoming –  a fast growing city that has all the pieces in place to become an economic and technical hub of some significance.

To help coordinate and simplify innovation programs available to businesses, Budget 2017 proposes to establish Innovation Canada, a new platform led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Innovation Canada will lead the creation of Canada’s economic growth strategies.

Canada’s 150th Anniversary reminds us that we have a lot to be thankful for. Economically, our talented, skilled, diverse and innovative workforce gives us tremendous potential for growth. Our values, stories and culture shine for the world to see. That is why we will continue to invest in our people, our communities and our economy, to build a better future for generations to come.

That’s a boat load of promises – what doesn’t get even a mention is the waiting game the Canadian government has to play until it gets a clear idea as to what the government of the United States is going to do and where their intention to re-negotiate the NAFTA agreement that underpins the automotive trade between Canada and the United States is going to take us.

Karina Gould has real work experience in international trade matters and she will be listened to carefully when she speaks at the Cabinet table. The people of Burlington would love to hear what she thinks – and perhaps be included in that thinking.  As Minister of Democratic Institutions on would think she would take this route almost automatically.

Perhaps she will grow into that role.

Gould now runs two sets of offices: the one in Burlington is the place you and I go to when we have a problem with Revenue Canada or the Passport people. That office, located in the Burlington Mall takes care of those all-important voters.

Karina_Gould_ on the telephone

Bigger office and bigger desk in Ottawa.

Gould also has an office in Ottawa – which is a lot different than the Burlington operation. It is part of a government that deals with any number of different issues in a single day. Some of the work is part of a plan or an initiative that has been put in place – at other times Gould is reacting to issues that have come up and need an almost instant response.

As a Cabinet Minister she is part of a team that is tightly integrated

Being a part of a government is a two part job – first to ensure that you can stay in power and second to run the country and provide the services that are needed and to study and research and attempt to determine what the future is going to require.

That means having a bureaucracy that does all the grunt work and advises the Minister.

The pace in the Ottawa office can be very hectic. Getting the 15 minutes we got for the interview we published yesterday included four phone calls to let us know that Gould couldn’t call at the scheduled time – we would have to wait. She was needed in the House of Commons – there were several votes that were going to be taken.

When a Minister of the Cabinet is “on” they are on for every minute of the day. And some of those days are very long.

The team in the Burlington office are as proud as punch of their Member of Parliament. Some of the staff positions have gone through an upgrade with more professionalism clearly evident.

Gould with child at LINK

Every constituent counts.

The woman who handles communications and community outreach is a Muslim with a very well-honed sense as to what is happening in the city and the work that needs to be done. She holds a degree in philosophy as well as a certificate from Mohawk College in communications.

Newly married she gently rubs her tummy during our conversation – her first child is due in August. This child, a boy, will become the office baby with all the attendant oohs and awes.

There were two staffers at the meeting – the second one looked at me and said: Pepper – don’t you dare ask?

Just wondering.


Part 1 of the interview with Cabinet Minister and Burlington Member of Parliament Karina Gould.

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New dates for report delivery, delegation date and final school closing reports to the trustees who will make a decision on June 7

highschoolsBy Staff

March 24th, 2017



It isn’t over yet friends.

The 14 members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) decided last night that they wanted on more kick at the can – and while the Chair, HDSB superintendent Scott Podrebarac  wasn’t excited about the idea – it became evident that there were enough people who wanted to meet again to talk about innovation and how the Board of Education might look at different options when it comes to closing schools.

PARC Jan 27 full group

The PAR members deliberating with the public watching and listening.

As well, it had become clear that the original time table could not be met. So everything got bumped back by about as much as a month.

Monday, April 17, 2017 is the first date to submit online Delegation Request Form for the May 8 Delegation Night.

April 20, 2017 – First date to submit online Delegation Request Form for the May 11 Delegation Night.

April 21: Director’s Final Report will now be posted on April 21

April 26th: Committee of the Whole will meet on April 26 at 6:00 pm to discuss the Director’s Final Report that will have been distributed to the Board of Trustees.  The Committee of the Whole meeting will take place at the J.W. Singleton Centre (2050 Guelph Line, Burlington). This meeting will be live-streamed on the Board website. If additional audience capacity is required, it will be available at M.M. Robinson High School (2425 Upper Middle Road, Studio Theatre).

Engaged parents

It was standing room only at the information meeting in March.

May 8 delegation night

May 11 delegation night

Delegation Nights will be May 8th and May 11th.  There will be 25 delegations heard each evening.  A delegation lasts five minutes. Traditionally delegations are recognized on a first come first served basis.  Cheryl deLugt, a PARC member representing Pearson high school, asked if that policy would apply to the PAR matter and was told that there would be a different arrangement for this matter.

Monday May 8, 2017 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night. These evenings will be live-streamed on the Board website. The meeting will take place at the J.W. Singleton Centre.  Seating priority in the Boardroom will be given to delegates. If additional audience capacity is required, it will be available at M.M. Robinson High School (2425 Upper Middle Road, Studio Theatre).

May 11 (6 pm) – Public Delegation Night. These evenings will be live-streamed on the Board website.

Location: J.W. Singleton Centre (2050 Guelph Line). Seating priority in the Boardroom will be given to delegates. If additional audience capacity is required, it will be available at M.M. Robinson High School (2425 Upper Middle Road, Studio Theatre).

PARC public - Dec 8 - 16

An early December meeting had some empty seats.

May 17:  Director’s Final Report Report goes Board of Trustees for “information”. Location: J.W. Singleton Centre (2050 Guelph Line). If additional audience capacity is required, it will be available at M.M. Robinson High School (2425 Upper Middle Road, Studio Theatre).

June 7: Final Vote by the trustees will be made on June 7.   Final Report to Board of Trustees for “decision”. Location: J.W. Singleton Centre (2050 Guelph Line). If additional audience capacity is required, it will be available at M.M. Robinson High School (2425 Upper Middle Road, Studio Theatre).


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Jane Michael explains why we have Catholic schools and why they will never locate themselves into the public school buildings.

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

March 24th, 2017



During the Program Accommodation Review (PAR) deliberations taking place at the Public School Board, and in the comments made by people in the Gazette, mention is often made of how the 1800 empty seat problem could be solved if the Catholics just moved into the public schools.

Words like that reflect a serious misunderstanding of the country’s culture and constitutional history. The existence of the Catholic schools is far more than culture and constitutionality. We asked former Halton Catholic District School Board chair Jane Michael to explain the reason we have Catholic schools.  Here is what she had to say:

When my kids were growing up, I made it clear that to get anywhere in life, you had to set clear goals, have a very strong work ethic and you had to be honest. A very high value was placed on education. Coming from parents of immigrants, on both sides of my family, that value was instilled very early in life. In short, there were high expectations to work hard, learn and succeed.

We chose to send our children to Catholic school.

I have seen it written on many a wall –

Christ is the reason for this school. He is the unseen but ever present teacher in its classrooms. He is the model of its facility and the inspiration of its students.

St Anne Catholic elementary school

St Anne Catholic elementary school in the Alton Village

In the Catholic schools, in addition to the teaching of the Ontario Curriculum, a routine of praying is included, a respect for God and for the Church as well as for oneself. The students embody multiculturalism. The educators are united in teaching from a moral compass.

There has been a growing discussion around a one school system. Still, all three political parties are on record as supporting the Catholic school system as an integral part of publicly funded education in Ontario. In particular, the discussion revolves around a one board system. This ignores the fact that Ontario has four overlapping school boards.

Catholic education is part of Ontario, rooted in history. In 1867, the British North America Act guaranteed the educational rights held by minorities at Confederation. I firmly believe that the solemn promise made at the time of Confederation should be kept. It is hard to ignore the wishes of 650,000 children. Ontario is offering publicly funded French schools, Art schools, gifted schools, plus AP/IB schools.

Catholics have paid for their own system and despite changes in funding, still do so today. Catholics are more than one-third of the province’s population, and if I add up Catholic school board supporters, I may say that we are self-funded, as opposed to publicly-funded. Catholic schools have maintained their place in Ontario’s public education system for almost 170 years. It is the Constitutional mandate of Catholic schools to provide Catholic education to Catholic students.

The Catholic school boards have the preferential right to hire Catholic teachers, committed to the goals of the Catholic school system This right is extended to publicly funded social welfare agencies. Catholic high schools admit non-Catholic students, providing open access. Catholic education has grown to include a supporting strong infrastructure of Catholic organizations. Ontario’s French language school system is also divided into public and Catholic. The French Catholic system is supported by French Catholic parents and ratepayers. Ontario Catholic school boards consistently meet or exceed provincial expectations.

My kids’ Catholic elementary and secondary schools were and are, deeply invested communities. Our community, one of warmth and faith, prepares the mind and the soul for the future. Teaching combined academic lessons with those on morals, and good behaviour, and is consistent with religious instruction throughout the whole year. For my family, that was the best of both worlds. Everyone goes through difficult times in life, and going to Catholic school and having faith is very important in order to survive these times.

Catholic education focuses on the entire child; their mental, physical and spiritual selves, as well as core values we have attempted to instill at home. Education is, and always be, a priority in my home, and the school reinforced the need to study and be decent human beings.

Having God in the school makes these kids grow into pretty great people. And, it’s not about being indoctrinated into any one religion. Catholic schools teach the kids to respect others and their religions as well. Catholic Boards mandate that students in Grade 11 study World Religion. When our kids came home from school, they told us of their experiences with the Church and school. I think it helps with behaviour once they know what God expects of them. They want to please God as well as others and they want their parents to be happy and proud of them. Understanding other groups and others’ beliefs is an important part of Catholic education’s teachings; respecting and affirming the diversity of today’s world.

Immersion in Catholic school culture, where religious themes are woven throughout classes and extracurricular activities each day made God a consistent presence and force in the lives of my kids and their classmates. I will always choose Catholic schools. Education is an intensely personal family choice. Historically, the education of our children was always conducted by family. That remains today. Kids spend the majority of their day in school. I will always look for what is in my family’s best interest.

Speaking to a high school graduation class, a graduate came up to me afterwards and said:  “I didn’t really get it – why going to a Catholic school mattered so much. Now that I am about to leave, I know that God will always be with me, that He’ll always keep me safe, and He’ll help me whatever life has in mind for me. I’m not afraid anymore”.

It doesn’t get better than that.

jane-michaelJane Michael is a former Chair of the Halton Catholic District School Board.

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Rivers sees a different future for Hamilton - he is mum on Burlington.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 24th, 2017



In a couple of weeks the City of Hamilton will be hosting its Big Picture event, an opportunity for the arts and cultural industries to come together and tell city government how to make arts and culture the city’s engine of growth. It’s all part of the economic evolution taking place in Hamilton, a city known as a poor cousin to it’s noisy neighbour, Toronto.

Smoke stacks steel plant

Decades of pollution that fouled the air and polluted the water and created some immense wealth for a few – certainly not the steel plant pensioners will pictures like this be in Hamilton museums only?

Many commercial institutions have long deserted Hamilton, following the sweet smell of money and drifting to that other big smoke. Even the ‘steel-town’ moniker no longer fits since Stelco was raped and dismembered by a US competitor. Hamilton has struggled with its identity for decades, suffering economic malaise and some of the highest property taxes in the province until just recently.

And even twenty years after a forced amalgamation of surrounding area communities, intended to fix the city, it still struggles with its identity. It is not uncommon for suburban politicians to occasionally play the parochially divisive card of what’s-in-it-for-me, threatening progressive initiatives such as transit systems not in their wards. And there is still the odd die-hard anti-amalgamation separatist in the sticks, where I live.

Steel plant - Hamilton

When the steel plants eventually go – will this become an interesting residential development?

Still, the city’s leaders have come to a genuine consensus that Hamilton’s road-map to future prosperity follows the route of developing its emerging arts and culture sector into a thriving industry. After all they’ve seen the numbers. The Conference Board of Canada estimates that municipal investment into the arts returns anywhere from $7 to $12 on the dollar. That beats trying to keep the old steel plant alive.

The Chamber of Commerce agrees with Council, but switching to the right-side of the brain for a community too often focused on steel, coal and electricity is not without its challenges. And there is a lot of competition out there, including a growing list of other communities also looking to break into the arts business big league, and attracting all of that talent for themselves. Recall that good old Hog Town has more than 120 professional companies performing on more than 40 stages, and is third in annual ticket sales globally, just behind New York and London.

Hamilton philharmonic

The Philharmonic doesn’t get all that much in the way of funding from Hamilton’s city council

Another issue is money. The Hamilton Spectator recently reported that Hamilton remains far behind most other cities in arts funding per capita. It points out that the Art Gallery, the Philharmonic Orchestra and Theatre Aquarius get less municipal funding than other similar organizations across the country. And with Hamilton expected to outperform the national economy this would be a good time to correct that financial imbalance.

But money is not the only impediment to attracting artists and their audiences/customers. City bylaws, zoning and building codes, transportation routes and parking all have a role to play and no doubt will be on the table as part of the discussion of the Big Picture. Then there is the matter of where artists work and sleep – workshops and housing. That used to be an easy problem to solve given Hamilton’s traditionally low housing prices and rental rates.


There is certainly a base market for the arts in Hamilton.

But while we were sleeping Hamilton-Burlington has ballooned into one of the fastest growing housing markets in the country, rivalling and even exceeding Toronto and Vancouver, by rate of change, if not actual value of transactions. Sky-high home prices, low rental vacancy rates, and gridlock are the proverbial chickens coming home-to-roost in TO. So would-be home buyers are heading over to nearby Burlington and Hamilton, driving up prices and driving down accessibility.

AGB presentation McMahon

Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport has brought home some bacon for Burlington.

Burlington’s MPP, Eleanor McMahon, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, recently announced a new provincial strategy for cultural industries. She points out that the culture sector adds more than $25 billion to Ontario’s economy, supporting approximately 280,000 jobs, and including almost 60,000 folks directly employed in the arts across the province. This is only a strategy, though one expects it will eventually come with some hard currency for that bigger picture the province is promising to paint.

And one has to recall that Hamilton has deep roots and credibility in the cultural arts sector. Karen Kane, James Balfour, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Lawrence Hill, Steve Paikin, Daniel Lanois, Neil Peart, Rita Chiarelli, Stan Rogers call or called Hamilton their home. Even Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, the Hawk, claims he got his start at a local bar in the city. And he’d be a great opener of the event.

rivers-on-guitarRay 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:

Big Picture –   Economic History –   High Hamilton Taxes –     Vacancy Rates

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Board of education wants your input on the next budget - they make it quick and easy.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 23, 2017



Spending as much as five minutes on what is normally the snooze of the season is not high on the things to do this week list for most people.

But the situation has changed and some people might actually want to spend some time on letting the Board of Education know what they think of the amount of money gets spent on education.

Parents and community members says the Board media release are encouraged to provide input on the 2017-2018 budget priorities. Input may be submitted online until Monday, April 17, 2017

They go on to say: The Halton District School Board values input from parents/guardians, members of the public, staff and students concerning the development of the 2017-2018 budget.

Individuals are encouraged to provide their input concerning the budget priorities for the upcoming school year online through the Halton District School Board website at Follow the link from the homepage or directly here. Input must be received by Monday, April 17, 2017.

Here is the direct link to the budget input page – get ready for a shock.  What you see below is it – one place to write some comments – click finish and you are done.  Part of the name in the url is “checkbox”   They seem to feel that they have asked for input – and having done that they can check off that box.

School board budget

This is the input page – nothing more. They do suggest in the media release that people might want to bone up on what the current policies are but they don’t provide easy to use direct links. The Board of Education web site is nothing to marvel at.

Before providing input, individuals are encouraged to review the Board’s Multi-Year Plan, Special Education Plan and Operational Plan. A key objective of the annual budget process is to align the Halton District School Board’s financial resources with these important documents. Information and updates regarding budget development are presented to Trustees at Committee of the Whole meetings.

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Burlington's MP - Karina Gould: She has been on a very steep learning curve during the past two years - and done rather well.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 23, 2017



The Gazette was able to get a short period of time with the Minister of Democratic Institutions, who happens to be Burlington’s Member of Parliament.

A call that was initially planned for a specific time kept being pushed back – her people were great at keeping us in the loop and letting us know that the Minister was going to be needed in the House of Commons for a vote.

When Karina came on the line she was her usual friendly and for the most part open person.

We wanted to know what has changed in her life in the past two years? She went from being the candidate who did a superb on the ground grass roots campaign that came close to shocking Mike Wallace – the Member she defeated.

Gould - Claite -Kyle - Fed Liberals

Karina Gould with members of her campaign team.

Gould did what everyone who wants to get elected has to do – get out on the street and put your face in front of people and let them get to know the real you. She did that and she won – handsomely!

When she got to Ottawa and the Prime Minister’s office began to look at the talent he had to work with and realized that Gould had some unique experience as a result of her work with the OAS – the Organization of the America States, which is organization that represents interests of the 35 independent states of the Americas.

She was now more than just a pretty face.

They made her the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Few, very few political novices get given jobs like this when they have next to no House of Commons experience. Gould got put on a fast track and had to learn – quickly. And she did,

Then – not much more than a year later she was asked to become part of Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen every day. A women who has yet to celebrate her 30th birthday is now a Member of Cabinet.

We wanted to know how she was handling these very big and sudden changes.

Bandits - Gould opening pitch

A team player!

The interview was Ok – but the first part didn’t resonate with us.

We got the ‘I am proud, privileged and honoured to be able to serve the people of Burlington’.

They all say that – but what does it mean? I didn’t know so I kept asking questions – and kept getting the Pablum formula answers.

So I shifted the questions and asked how she was finding the job. Gould talked about the people who stepped up and guided her through the process of learning to become a Member of the House of commons. She said she was fortunate to have people like Cabinet Ministers McCallum and Bennett take her under their wing – and she was indeed fortunate to have these two people guide and direct her. They saw the promise and were prepared to put in the time Gould needed.

I still didn’t think I had gotten to what it is that makes Gould the person she is – the Pablum answers were not what I was looking for.

Gould then began to talk about values – and it was at this point that the real person could be seen. Karina Gould is a part of a family that knows what the Holocaust was all about. She doesn’t wear it on her sleeve – it is just a part of who she is

Gould meting with Afghany people

While serving as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development Gould met with people from other governments. Here she meets with a representative from Afghanistan.

She was at a Conference with the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie in Istanbul and she began to see how highly regarded Canada was. “I was learning first hand from people this country of ours had helped and beginning to understand who we were.”

“I saw our values being appreciated and valued by others” said Gould “and it was humbling because we tend to take them for granted.”

This happened to Gould again at a conference in Africa – seeing Canada through the eyes of people who envy what we have and aren’t yet able to do the same things for themselves because of the governments they are rules by.

Gould being sworn in

Karina Gould being worn in as a Cabinet Minister – the youngest woman ever to be appointed to Cabinet.

Gould then gets appointed to Cabinet – and again gets put on yet another steep learning curve. Within weeks of her appointment she is in front of a media scrum having to defend a decision made by the government she is now very much a part of.

Gould - first scrum

Gould at her first media scrum.

She handled it very well – and without the support she deserved from the Prime Minister. Gould would never say a word about the support she didn’t get from the Prime Minister. She went in front of the cameras and did what needed to be done took one for the team as it were – and was seen by the very senior members of Cabinet as someone to be watched closely – she could be relied upon.

When media is interviewing a Cabinet Minister there is always a handler on the line. The person that helps her get away and on to the next event.  John cut in and said “Pepper just another couple of minutes please”.

I asked about what it means to her to be a Cabinet Minister. “I can feel the weight on my shoulders” she said. I’ll bet she could – a few days before the interview Gould would have sat in on a Cabinet meeting where the approach to selling the budget that was going to be announced in a few days was decided.

Gould In the House while Obama speaks

Gould in the House of Commons while then President of the United States Barack Obama is addressing the House.

If this Prime Minister is anything like his Father he would have listened very carefully to each member of his Cabinet and then said what he wanted to say.

Gould had said earlier in the interview that the experiences she was having were “once in a lifetime”. What a life time it has been so far.

Hopefully this young woman will continue to  mature and we will hear what she thinks and feels. She is genuine – now let’s see how she works for the people she represents, which is not just the 175,000 Burlingtonians.

Tomorrow we will write about her comments on the budget that was released yesterday – and tell you a little bit more about the chatter in her Burlington office where she is well served.


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Job fair - April 5th at Convention centre.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 23rd, 2017



Growing an economy is not easy.

Almost every second word that comes out of the mouths of the elected set is about creating jobs. The jobs are created by the owners of those small to medium sized business operations that take the risks and create wealth – which the politicians can then tax. Yes, that is being a little cynical.

Region holds Job Fair at Burlington Convention Centre

Region holds Job Fair at Burlington Convention Centre

But jobs – good jobs is the issue. The Regional government does a good job of creating an event where the employers and job seekers can meet in the same place and look each other over.

The Region, in their announcement of the job fair to take place on Wednesday, April 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Burlington Convention Centre point out that there will be more than 70 local employers looking for talent.

Bring your resumes is the word they put out to the job seekers,

In the past the Region has provided services to more than 8,000 job seekers and over 200 employers each year with more than 250 direct placement matches.

Employers from the technology, manufacturing, government, retail and hospitality sectors take part.

The Region works with Employment Ontario and Employment Halton offering resources, one-on-one job search support, pointing employers to training incentives as well as operating an online job board at They direct people to apprenticeship opportunities and programs such as Second Career, which provides assistance to participants as they retrain for a new career.

Employment Halton has two locations and hours of operation that are geared ti people looking for work.

Oakville Location: 2441 Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville, ON L6L 5V5, Canada Unit 16
Hours of Operation:

  • Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month they offer extended office hours until 7 p.m.

Milton Employment Resource Centre (470 Bronte Street South)
Hours of Operation:

  • Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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