Dotmocracy - do the dots tell the story? Four options left on the table - drift is towards closing Central and Pearson.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 15th, 2017



In order to begin whittling down the 30+ options before the PARC the members of the committee were asked to pair up by school affiliation and offer their input on the outstanding options, (it was now down to 14 options)

Using the 13 point PARC framework, PARC members were asked to write down supporting details to either “Criteria Met,” or “Criteria Not Met,” for a given option, along with any suggestions on the foolscap paper.
Along with the written input expected from PARC members, there was also a “dot-mocracy” exercise. After contributing (and reading others’ contributions) all the outstanding options, PARC members were asked to attach a dot to three options for which they favoured.

PARC with options on the walls

Members of the Program Accommodation Review Committee meeting February 9th.

Options that received two or fewer dots were not seen as not having much in the way of support and were dropped from further consideration.

Option 7     ………

No school closures, cap enrollment at Hayden

Criteria Met

Overall: Least disruptive to school communities, given that there are no school closures.

Accommodation of students in a permanent facility

Cost effectiveness of transportation

80% utilization across the city

Regional programming remains an option

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Does not meet a range of outstanding issues, which prompted the PAR

Low utilization persists exacerbating fiscal issues o No precedent or process for capping enrolment

Suggestion: Boundaries could be adjusted to create stable boundaries and allow for growth.

Bateman closes     ….
Criteria Met

Overall: Next to Option 7, it is least disruptive to school communities, given that there is only one school closure, and there is a neighbouring school nearby (Nelson) that could absorb some of the Bateman students.

90% utilization rate met

Unified cohorts

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students.

Uncertainty if all programs will be offered (e.g., OYAP, SHSM)

CPP, Essential, and LEAP all move to one school

Balance of enrollment not met (Hayden remains over-capacity; Pearson remains under-capacity)

Nelson requires portables

Split cohorts

Bateman daycare closes

Option 19     ……………
Pearson and Central close; Hayden program change.

Criteria Met

Overall: Disruptive given that two schools are closing, and leaving a large gap in downtown Burlington without an HDSB high school; utilization met.

Full range of programs (mandatory and optional)

Fiscally responsible (utilization rate is improved; transportation savings)

Accommodation of students in permanent schools

Criteria Not Met

Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students

Increases use of portables

Increases transportation costs

Elementary PAR will be required; splitting of cohorts 

Specialized programming is lost

Does not balance enrollment

Lose Pearson nursery

Walkability decreases

Tweaks to Aldershot and Bateman to balance enrollment;

Tweaks to facilitate stable long term boundaries (e.g., Increase boundary for FI South Burlington east (Aldershot), move some FI to Nelson and to Bateman

Avoid splitting Pineland cohort between Nelson Bateman

Option 28     ………
Pearson and Central close; Aldershot and Hayden program change

Criteria Met

Overall: Disruptive given that two schools are closing, and leaving a large gap in downtown Burlington without an HDSB high school; utilization met.

Accessibility addressed

Stable boundaries

Good range of programming

Minimal use of portables

Fiscally sound

Criteria Not Met – Overall: Compromises issues of programming and equity for all HDSB students

Option 7 Feb 9

PARC members first set out what they felt was and was not met in terms of the Framework criteria – and then their ranking of the options before them. The 14 have now been whittled down to four.

Transportation costs are high

Elementary PAR will be required; splitting of cohorts

Specialized programming is lost

Lose Pearson nursery Suggestions:

Increase Bateman enrollment by moving Nelson English boundaries

Increase Aldershot English boundary to include Maple.

Keep Pearson

Correct error in utilization for 2019 at Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS.

This gets the choices down to four options.

What hasn’t been broken out are the increased transportation costs and the cost of additional portables.

This is drifting towards a recommendation to close Central and Pearson high schools.

Meeting dates as of Feb 16

Remaining scheduled meetings.


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Here is a wake up call: $10,326,837 to bring Burlington high schools up to accessibility standards.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 15th, 2017



The Halton District School Board’s Accessibility Plan calls for:

Reasonable provision shall be made to provide accessibility to each building, each building floor space and all types of student program space within each floor space for persons with disabilities such as physical mobility disabilities, visual impairment and hearing impairment.

The total cost to get the high schools to the boards standard is $10,326,837

In a report to the board assessments on the cost of getting the high schools up to the board standard were based on the following information:

Aldershot High School is a grade 7–12 school with a gross floor area (GFA) of approximately 143,000 sq. ft. Originally constructed in the mid-1900s, it is a 2 storey school with additional level changes at various locations on the ground floor. The 2nd floor is accessed by a limited access limited use elevator (LULA) and stair lifts have been installed to address access issues to the various levels of the school. Washrooms appear to have been upgraded but are still below current accessibility standards. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $1,565,066

Burlington Central High School is a 3 storey grade 7-12 school with a GFA of approximately 158,000 sq.ft. The original building was constructed in 1922 and has been added to over the years. The last major addition added a new technical wing and gymnasiums. The auditorium has been upgraded with new seats and equipment. There are currently floor areas of the building that are only accessible by stairs, necessitating both a new elevator and stair lifts for accessibility to all floor areas. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $3,186,106

Lester B. Pearson High School was constructed in 1976. It is a 2 storey school that currently has a single storey ‘porta-pak’ addition that is not in use. The GFA including the porta-pak is approximately 113,000 sq. ft. The 2nd floor is currently accessed by a LULA elevator. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is

M.M. Robinson High School was constructed in 1963. A recent renovation has created a large entrance foyer and includes a full size elevator that provides access to all floor areas. It is a 3 storey school with a GFA of approximately 214,000 sq. ft. The school includes a large wing outfitted for special needs education and several technical shops. The special needs wing is equipped with accessible features that buildings of this age do not often include. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is

Nelson High School was constructed in 1957. The school is a two story building with a GFA of approximately 168,000 sq. ft. 2nd floor areas and a small music wing are currently accessible by LULA elevators. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $1,715,241

Robert Bateman High School was constructed in 1970 (then called Lord Elgin High School). It is a 2 storey school with a GFA of approximately 213,000 sq. ft. The second floor space is accessed by a full sized compliant elevator. The school includes teaching space for many service-related courses, in a variety of technologies and the culinary arts. The school also has a large special needs wing on the ground floor that has several accessibility features in place. The total budget to implement accessibility recommendations is $925,634

If Central and Pearson were closed that cost would be reduced by $4,724,220 for a total of $5,602,617

The information was given to the 14 members of the PARC who are preparing a report to the Director of Education who will in turn prepare a report for the trustees who will make a decision if any o the high schools should be closed and if so – which high schools would be closed.

There are 1800 plus high school classroom seats in Burlington that do not have students in them.

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Committee in place to give the Director of Education advice on possible school closings: a consensus has yet to emerge.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 14th, 2017



Scott Podrebarac called it dotmocracy – you cast your vote by putting dots on a chart.

It is a process used to get a sense as to where the thinking of a group of people is going.

Sort of like a straw poll.

When the dots (three to each person) were handed out to the 14 people on the PARC who vote – there are a number of advisors – there were 42 dots to be distributed.

The official tally won’t be released until the minutes of the February 9th meeting are published. The publishing of those minutes will be delayed a bit – they have to be signed off by the Chair who is going to be away from his desk for a personal matter for a day or so.

The Gazette has been able learn what the two critical dotmocracy results were:

Option 19 short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 15 dots.

Option 19, which was the Director of Education told the trustees was the Staff recommendation got 15 dots and

Option 7 - short

Dots shown are not the official count. The final total was 8 dots.

Option 7 which was to not close any schools got 9 dots.

The Board staff recommendation got just a little less than one third of the dot votes that were available.

The other votes were all over the map.

So – at this point in time – after three meetings the PARC has yet to settle on a choice – things are still quite fluid.

Aldershot is very concerned about what will happen to them if Central is closed and Bateman is getting scarred silly that they might get closed.

Central and MM question at PARC Feb 9

Central and M.M. Robinson PARC members write there comments on whether or not they felt a particular option met or did not meet the Framework outline.

The Board has added another day of PARC meetings and is preparing for the first public meeting.

Given the way the December 8th meeting went and some of the hallway conversations that have taken place between parents and Director of Education Miller – it could get noisy.

Many parents look at the data and the facts that are out there and suggest “we are in this mess because Hayden was built” – and that may be so – but the school was built and it did have a significant impact on the class room capacity. There is nothing that can be done – the building isn’t going to be torn down.

The opportunity does exist for some creative boundary re-alignments – and several parent groups who seem to have more of a grip on the numbers than the Board’s Planning staff have come up with some interesting ideas that are now in front of the PARC people.

What we appear to be seeing at the PARC meetings is each set of parents from the seven schools are beginning to do what they have to do to keep their school open.

Nelson is seen as safe because of its iconic status in the city; M.M. Robinson is going to get more students.
Somewhere in all this there has to be some leadership – from either the board staff or the PARC people.

PARC the Aldershot delegates

Aldershot high school PARC representatives Steve Cussons and Eric Szyiko are both adept at speaking up and making their point. They can see a yard full of portables coming their way if Central is closed.

There are some very intelligent people within the PARC – will a natural leader emerge and come up with a recommendation that the trustees can vote for?

Don’t expect to see any leadership from the trustees. That crowd is made up of 8 people who are still learning their jobs and a couple of dinosaurs who let this situation develop. There are exceptions: Donna Danielli, who sits on the PARC as an advisor,  is in a position to give the PARC a perspective they need.

At this point the Central people are putting out a very strong case – and they are being very active.

Sharn Picken confering with a parentr at a PARC

Sharon Picken, brash and bold but she knows what goes on in the schools. She is one of the two Bateman PARC members.

The Bateman people realize that their school is at risk and they are now beginning to organize themselves.

The Pearson people are asking that they be given back the students they once had – those that were sent to Hayden where it is said that students are doing their gym classes in the hallways.

At some point a serious analysis has to be done on how boundaries can be re-aligned so that students are distributed more evenly throughout the buildings that exist.

To add to the mix of issues is the cost of the portables that are apparently going to be needed at Aldershot and the cost of transporting hundreds of students by bus.

Four trustees

The trustees sit on the sidelines taking it all in – their time will come in May.

Somewhere in all this data there is an answer. The Board staff are saying that they have put forward an option – close two of the seven schools.

The parents aren’t buying it – the trustees are sitting quietly on the sidelines figuring out what they will do when crunch time arrives for them.



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Last surviving daughter of Joseph Brant died 150 years ago yesterday. She was tall - handsome.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 14th, 2017



We weren’t even a country yet when she died. Her father had made a huge impact on how this countries indigenous community would evolve.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

In this portrait Joseph Brant is seen wearing the gorget given to him by King George III. That gorget is the most important piece in the collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.

Her Father, Captain Joseph Brant whose land holdings shaped the Burlington we live in today.

150 years ago today Catherine John, the last surviving child of the renowned war chief and diplomat Joseph Brant died.

They were Mohawks. He was known as Theyendanegea, the leader who negotiated the huge land grant along the banks of the Grand River for his people.

The Globe and Mail was close to poetic in its obituary, as it described Catherine John as “tall, handsome – even in old age – and of a queenly bearing.”

Given to Joseph Brant by King George III with the inscription: "A Gift from a friend to Captain Brant`.

A gorget, a piece of armour worn at the throat given to Joseph Brant by King George III with the inscription: “A Gift from a friend to Captain Brant”.


He was feted by Kings, had his portrait painted by some of the leading British artists.  He donated the land on which St. Luke’s Anglican church was built.

The city will not have issued a media release; the Mayor will not say a word publicly and the Brant Museum, closed since last July will have not said a word.

No wonder Brant was buried in Brantford.

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Beachway resident asking the Region to pay $2.3 million for a lot with two well maintained houses.

Newsflash 100By Staff

February 14th, 2017



Housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver were rising so quickly and dangerously – especially in Vancouver, that the Bank of Canada, the federal government, the province of British Columbia, the city of Vancouver the and the Vancouver Real Estate Board all jumped in and did their best to stabilize the situation in BC where things were worst.

Is that same kind of a real estate bubble about to hit Burlington?

The Beachway is a community that is destined to disappear if the current Region and municipal bylaws stay in place and a massive upscale park gets built in the next 20 years.

An attractive.ell maintained home in the Beachway - the owner struggles to ensure that it will be xxx

An attractive, well maintained home in the Beachway Two houses on the lot.

The Region is now taking phone calls from any of the 25+ homeowners in what is left of that community who want to talk about selling.

One property owner with a lot that has two houses close enough to the lake to be able to smell the water has let the Region know that they are prepared to accept $2.3 million.

Skinner on Lakshore

$2.3 million eh! Two houses on a lot that fronts onto Lakeshore Road.

They want to be able to live in the house for the next three years and have the right to remove some of the building materials when the house has its day with the backhoe.

Most of the houses the Region has bought to date ate now empty lots.

Full view with Scobie

Citizens looking at the plans for a Park that will take up all of what used to be a the Beachway community.

We will do our best to keep you posted on this one.

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Police and mall security nab three youths after brief foot chase. All accused of robbery

Crime 100By Staff

February 13th, 2017



On Friday February 10th 2017 just before 7:30 PM, three male suspects followed another group of three males from the Apple Store to the Sears Store at Mapleview Mall in Burlington.

Once inside Sears, the three suspects accosted the three male victims and demanded they turn over their property. One of the suspects put his hand in front of his waistband causing the victims to believe the suspect was armed. Two of the victims turned over gold chains before the suspects fled into the mall.

At busy holiday shopping periods buses get trapped in Maple View Mall - killing schedules. City is in talks with the Mall management.

Maple View Mall has one of the most effective security teams in the city. Very little gets past them.

Police were called and with the assistance of Mall Security, the suspects were located and arrested after a brief foot chase. The two gold chains were recovered and returned to the victims.

The security team at Mapleview Mall has a very tight grip on what happens on that property – few manage to get away once they have been spotted.

Three male youths (aged 13, 14 & 15) from Hamilton who cannot be named because of their age were each charged with two counts of robbery. Two of the youths were released on a Promise to Appear while the third was held for a bail.

Anyone with information that would assist investigators are encouraged to contact Det. Phil Vandenbeukel – Three District Criminal Investigations Bureau, at 905-825-4747 Ext. 2343. Tips 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).

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Community takes on a different look when there are 300+ people in the room enjoying time with each other.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

February 13, 2017



Everyone needs a place to go; a place where you can congregate with people you like and be accepted for who and what you are.

Some head for the Legion to meet up with friends, others have made the Seniors’ Centre their social headquarters.

A lot of business people belong to a social club; Burlington has four Rotary Clubs.

There are all kinds of places where people gather for the social interaction we all need.

Wellington job board

Friday night community – when Wellington Square United Church hosts 350+ for dinner and socializing. The couple of dozen volunteers make it happen.

Wellington Square United Church has a really large group of people who gather on Friday evenings to enjoy a meal and get caught up with their friends.

We talked to Lisa Lunski who runs a program at Wellington Square – we made a mistake.

If you want to talk to Lisa meet with her any time other than Friday evening. She can somehow carry on a conversation with a person and at the same time greet people she knows by name as they pass by.

It’s an amazing skill that she uses effortlessly – As I interviewed Lisa I wondered if I was getting the full story and if I really had her full attention.

When I reviewed my notes – I had most of what I needed. During the 20 minutes or so that we talked she managed to greet 30 to 35 people.

Lunski, runs a household with five children, several of them adopted. She is the Friday Night Community coordinator at Wellington Square United Church.

Pic # 5 student volunteers

Addison Wood, Sierra Campbell (both in Grade 9 and attend Wellington Square), Angelica Alves (Grade 11 at Assumption)

Lunski explains that “Every Friday we join together and reconnect with friends. Some folks are there every Friday and when we don’t see them they are missed. Friends hold each other accountable and even take it upon themselves to find out why another was absent. It is always a joy when folks come in our doors who we have not seen in a long time.

Lisa with deaf man

Lisa Lunski with a Friday Night Community guest.

“We continue to have new friends come to volunteer each week. We appreciate the patience folks show when taking people under their wing and walking alongside them with kindness and grace.”

People from the Meeting House in Burlington come to prepare, serve and clean up after the meal. A group shows up each week from Eaglesfield Korean Church, with open hearts for serving and clean the dirtiest of dirty dishes each and every week.

Pic # 4 three woman from the Korean church

Jeong-soon, Sofia, Heesoon, from Eaglesfield Korean Community Church.

Everyone at some point faces a crisis. In December of 2013 the city experienced an ice storm that took power out of hundreds of homes – north Burlington was hardest hit. Farmers needed electricity to pump water for their cattle. Chicken farmers needed generators to keep the electricity going in their buildings.

Hundreds gathered in the fire hall in Kilbride to share information and get the help they needed.

The following year the east of Burlington got hit by what we look back on and call an instant flood. Once again hundreds of homes we damaged; on was moves a bit off its foundation. The creeks in the east end of the city were not able to handle the rush of water; people needed help.

The citizens and corporations of Burlington raised just shy of $1million in less than 100 days.

Some people need help on an occasion where they are overwhelmed- others need help on a more ongoing basis.

The character of a community is seen when the help is there.

Giving back - loaded bins

Dozens of bins hold the food collected by Nelson high school students for distribution by different community agencies throughout the year.

Each year hockey players from across the city take part in the Gift of Giving Back event that has the players collecting food that gets delivered to the participating high school each year.  Last year the drive was centered on M.M. Robinson,

Gift of Giving back logo - 10th

This November will mark the 12th year the program has been run.

It is that food that gets sent to Food Banks where it is distributed to places like Wellington Square where several hundred are fed each Friday night.

The food is good – but it is about far more than filling a stomach.

An “eco” system has developed that has those students from Nelson high school gathering the food –it goes to Burlington Food Bank and Food For Life where it is then distributed to the three churches in Burlington that are feeding large groups of people in a community setting.

Each of the church’s works closely with the places that are holding large stocks of food as well as with the local restaurants that make food available. Pane Fresca send over a large supply of bread each week.

Lunski has the menu worked out by Thursday of each week and uses the meager financial resources she has to fill in with items that have to be purchased. They know where the food bargains are to be found

Lunski was born in Kingston, moved to Montreal until age 10, then moved to Mississauga where she attended Erindale High School

She went to University of Western Ontario for undergrad, York University for Teacher’s college, and then a Master’s degree in education at York that she completed as a part time student while raising young children.

Lisa in kitchen - prepping

Making it all come together on time for evening dinner requires checking in with the dozens of volunteers who make the event happen.

The career arc for Lunski was to become a principal – that changed when she adopted her last 2 children two girls adopted internationally.

Her first home was in Oakville; 12 years ago she moved to Burlington and joined Wellington Square United Church

As a young child Lunski always had a desire and passion for helping others and doing outreach in her community which included mission trips in Kenya prior to having children and two Mexico mission trips with her boys through her church . Was a part of the outreach committee at Wellington Square, and coordinated our team each month in serving breakfast at Kerr St. Mission in Oakville. Also served occasionally at Wesley Centre in Hamilton.

When asked why she went to Oakville and Hamilton to serve, but wasn’t doing anything in her our own city to help meet needs Lunski began to look within and was given an opportunity to serve whens she was asked to help with a community event that had grown faster than many expected.

Early mens group

It started out as a small event – 25 people attended the very first dinner – and it grew to involve a wider community.

In summer of 2009, a small group of men at Wellington Square were looking to do an outreach initiative in Burlington and tapped into St. Christopher’s where a dinner was being served on Tuesday, but did not offer the meal during the summer. The men filled this spot in the summer by offering a monthly and then bi-monthly, meal alternating between a BBQ and spaghetti dinner to folks in our community.

Thom and Don - making the main meal

Thom and Bob – couple of guys who have known each other since they were 14 – get up at about 2:00 am to do the work their private cleaning business brings in. They learned about th Wellington Square Community Friday from the managers of The Poacher where they spend some of their time. They have been cooking a meal on Friday at Wellington Square for more than five years

As the dinner expanded they were looking for someone to help in a number of capacities, and in 2010 Lunski began to coordinate the Friday Night Community Dinner, which changed its name to Friday Night Community, because “we recognized that it is so much more than a dinner, but a community of hope and caring for so many.” Over the last 8 years the dinner grew from an intimate group of 25 to an overflowing 250 friends every Friday.

“When my children were younger I did the role in a volunteer capacity, and two years ago joined the staff of the church and now coordinate the Friday Night Community in a paid capacity.

For many – Friday evening is an opportunity to get out and be with people. Several of the retirement homes in the city bus groups of people who just want to get out and keep in touch with friends

Group home area

Community on Friday nights at Wellington Square includes people bussed in from area retirement homes who get a chance to get out and be with their friends. Last Friday – they made it a Valentine celebration.

Like the crowd at the Legion who remember their war stories or the seniors that talk about how they are managing their finances and working out transportation plans for a day trip they are planning; it is people coming together to share.

The Rotary types meet to talk about what they will be doing in the months ahead. One of the Rotary Clubs runs the Ribfest event in the city.

Pic 3 - lady holding food

Becki Deware (Burlington Meeting House) with birthday plates. If the volunteers know of a birthday – a special plate of food is made up for them.

Rural people will tell you about the quality of life in the country where everyone knows everyone and when there is a problem or something to celebrate they all gather as a community.

That describes Wellington Square on Friday evenings.

It is hard work for Lisa – she has to pull together the food and the fixings for more than 200 people and make sure it all comes together at the right time – and while the volunteers are working in the kitchens she is chatting with people that she likes to see every week.

Pic 2 - ladies at a food table

Front right: Adele Baker (Shoreacres Bible Chapel), Ginny Swain (Port Nelson United), Nancy Walker (Wellington Square), Jackie Manley (Wellington Square)

There is a huge welcome when someone who has not been around for a while walks through the doors.
There is however a bigger picture and some serious questions to be asked. How long can the churches serve as the social hub and a dinner table for several hundred people week after week?

Is this a sustainable model? Is it the most effective way for community to function? Are the costs manageable? Will the volunteers always be there and when do the people who lead these operations get time to pause and think about what they are doing and to refresh themselves?

Are we doing what we are doing the most effective way?

Men having a coffee break

Volunteers taking a coffee break as they spend the day preparing for the Friday evening community event.

No one questions for a second the service that is given – the needs that are being met and the sense of community so many people can tap into is vital to Burlington.  The question is – are the churches the only people at the table?  Where is the city?  Where is the Region?

Is there a better way?



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Central high graduate with a son at the school questions some of the data being put forward and asks why some data is missing.

opinionandcommentBy Michael J. Hribljan

February 13, 2017



In my opinion the Halton District School Board (HDSB) projects the appearance of being either incompetent or manipulating the Program Accommodation Review  process, let me explain.

First of all, data in the School Information Profiles (SIP) is changing on an ongoing basis. The original SIP was posted on the HBSB web site with a revision date of November 9th, the table below shows the variance in 5 year renewal costs relative to the most recent SIP of January 24th.

Michael H letter to Ed


What is driving the change in these renewal costs, was this in error/incompetence, or is this being manipulated to determine an outcome?

It’s interesting that Bateman costs have come down after option 23 (Close Bateman) was presented at the PARC.

Also, Central’s costs have gone up by almost 400%!

Most recently, the Program Accomodation Review Committee has been told these numbers are not correct and they will be getting new ones, are we to believe the third time the charm?


Just what is it going to cost to keep Central high school up to the required standards – and is the board fiddling with the numbers?

The SIP also contained the 10 yr historical maintenance costs, Central’s maintenance cost over the last 10 years is one of the lowest. I see this two ways, the school itself is cost effective to maintain given it is the oldest school in Burlington. Or, the HDSB has spent as little as possible at Central (and further planned to as per the Nov 4 SIP) given it had tried to close Central in the past and wanted to ensure its closure in this go around.

Are the future renewal costs realistic? If you add up the renewal costs for the last 10 years for all 7 schools from the SIP, this totals $22M, is the board saying it now is going to quadruple that cost as we need to spend $43M over the next 5 years? Has the maintenance of our schools been inadequate over the last 10 years or, are the new numbers being inflated to drive a predetermined conclusion?

Optionn 19 Feb 9

Option 19 – the Director of Education’s choice is not all that popular with the PARC people on the early count of hat should be kept in and what should be set aside as the 14 people work towards what they want to pass on in the way of their views to the Director.

As you observed at the meeting on February 9th, the first presentation by the board was on the operating cost savings associated with closing Central and Pearson. How can the PARC members be asked to remain unbiased and open minded when the board presents this information only for Option 19 and claims it is too much work to do the calculations for the other options?

Has the Board heard of spreadsheets? I could have done the financial analysis for all options in a few hours.

Now for the accuracy of that information, it was obvious to me right away that the board had forgotten to include the cost of the portables for Aldershot which would have significantly reduced the calculated savings.

When asked this question by the PARC, the board representatives danced around the answer eventually saying they would move portables from other schools. The reality is they forgot to include this, Aldershot under Option 19 needs 10 to 12 portables. The portables at Pearson are fixed in place, not to mention 30 to 40 years old, which the board was alluding to, that could be moved to Aldershot. So is the plan to take Central kids out of their building and stick them in 30 year old portables? The reality is the board will need to lease portables at $60,000 – $70,000/year (this cost was sputtered by the HDSB member presenting this information) for 10 portables, or say $700,000 a year!

The board issued an information package to the PARC that contained a summary of course conflicts for all Halton Secondary Schools, with Central shown to be the highest. No support or background, just one page.

The HDSB hired a consultant, IPSCO, to conduct a student survey primarily targeted at programming. At the end of my letter I note the Director’s take away message of “listen to the students”, keep this in mind.

The draft data was briefly presented at the PARC Meeting #1 with no real conclusions, why? Well, if you read each of the questions, the survey was constructed to identify programming issues, and I think the board was hoping to use this information to promote its theory that larger schools are better; and there are significant issues with our smaller schools. If you look at this data closely, and considering it’s the voice of the students, here’s what I’ve observed from this data:

• Central had the highest response rate, suggesting great interest in this process and students whom are engaged.

• The response rate was very similar across all grades, counter to what the Director told the PARC later in the meeting.

• Central scored well below the mean (which is a positive) in response to:

o I moved schools to take a course or program not offered at my home school.

o I moved schools to enroll in a specialty program (e.g. SHSM, OTAP)

• Interestingly, a large school like Hayden showed little difference to the other schools when questioned about class sizes greater than 35 or less than 20 on a percentage basis.

• However looking a little deeper, 1011 students from Hayden responded to the survey representing almost a 1/3 of the respondents, and therefore 200 students from Hayden responded that they had 20 or fewer students in a class, and this has happened 3 or more times to them. According to the board big schools should solve problems like this, no?

• 61 students from Hayden reported that they were unable to make course changes because sections are full, happening 3 or more times. By comparison 18 students had this same situation at Central. On a percentage basis it seems similar, but clearly more students are impacted at larger schools.

• 27 students at Central reported they were unable to make course changes because of course conflicts compared to 40 students at Hayden, 3 or more times. Not to mention that Central was well within the mean on a percentage basis for all Burlington schools.

• 14 students at Central responded that they had class in an alternative class room (e.g. science in a class without a lab or math class in an auto shop) 3 or more times. By comparison, 152 students at Hayden reported this situation occurring 3 or more times, a 10 fold increase! Is this what can be expected if we overcrowd Aldershot?

• 41 Central students responded that Central did not have the variety of courses to satisfy my pathway requirements compared to 71 students at Hayden. Both were similar on a percentage basis and below the overall mean. Is Central satisfying student course needs as good or better than a large school?

• 72% of Central students responded and agreed to the statement that their teachers know something about them (interests, strengths, how I learn best) compared to 56% at Hayden. Hayden was well below the Burlington mean, and the lowest overall. Big school is better?

I could go on, there is much more to be learned from this data, but I think my point is clear.

So, the HDSB hired an outside consultant, spent tax payers money, conducted a survey and put the report aside because it did not generate the results it wanted? But, presented the PARC with unsupported data regarding course conflicts.

I would note that a very relevant student survey focusing on busing, walk-ability, portable class rooms and impact on student life should be conducted. I’m not sure the HDSB wants to hear the voice of the student to these questions.

Let’s talk about the outside consultant hired by the HDSB for this study who was supposed to facilitate the PARC meetings. As a result of feedback from the PARC members and generally poor facilitation skills, the HDSB superintendent is now facilitating the meetings with the outside consultant (being paid by the taxpayers) relegated to a side line position. How was this person/firm hired, what was the RFP (Request for Proposals) process and were references checked by the HDSB prior to retaining his services? Why are we still paying for this?

Next the HDSB issued the Facility Audit Report to upgrade the schools for accessibility to the PARC members.

The HDSB has known about this requirement in our schools for years, and it now decides to retain an architectural firm to prepare estimates. The report has not been reviewed nor checked by the HDSB, and only an executive summary is presented to the PARC. Central is shown to be the most expensive to upgrade at $3M with the other schools around $1.5M. So the obvious conclusions by the PARC members are, “wow, Central is going to be expensive to upgrade”. Did the board hire the right consultant this time?

PRAC putting up their notes

PARC members putting their views as to whether or not criteria for closing a school were met or not met.

The HDSB could qualify the this information by saying (but it does not):

• These are only estimates and there are is an accuracy range of each of these, and we need to do a thorough review, so take this with a “grain of salt”.

• Keep in mind that Central is “ESTIMATED” to be $1.5M higher than the other schools, this is a small difference, think of it as only 3 years of bussing costs of Central kids if we close Central.

• Some of this work was completed at other schools in the past so the costs are lower now, we need to be fair to all schools.

So, to recap:

• the HDSB presents to the PARC new higher renewal costs for Central;

• shows over inflated annual savings associated with closing Central and Pearson;

• presents unsupported data on course conflicts;

• ignores relevant voice of the student data on programming;

• presents an Audit Report for accessibility showing Central higher than all other schools with no qualification nor without a thorough review.

PARC with options on the walls

Options 23 b and c were put up on the meeting room wall but the original option 23 wasn’t – staff said they “forgot” to put it up.

Now the HDSB expects the PARC members to act in a fair and unbiased way as it evaluates options that determine the school life of 1600 Burlington students, and coincidentally forgets to put one of the options up on the wall for evaluation, Option 23 Close Bateman.

A number of the PARC members request that more time is needed, perhaps a 5th or 6th PARC meeting given the new and changing data. The HDSB is very reluctant to do this and provides a “let’s see” answer.

Why the rush to determine the lives of students and families in Burlington for the next 20 or 30 years!? The HDSB is under significant pressure for a new high school in Milton and needs additional provincial funding. The housing market is booming, interest rates are low and developers are making handsome profits.

Hayden was built for $34M in 2013 as a result of poor planning by the HDSB, and was not needed based on student enrollment. Interestingly, the distance from Hayden to the South-West side of Milton is 12 km or a 12 minute drive according to Google Maps. By comparison it is 6.1 km between Central and Aldershot and 11 min drive time. So it’s the same travel time by car (likely much longer bus ride due to traffic congestion in Burlington ) to transport Central kids to Aldershot, compared to transporting Milton kids to Hayden. Why is this option not being looked at!?

The board can then use the $35M – $45M saved to upgrade older Burlington high schools that have had the minimum level of maintenance done on them over the last 20 years.

Miller engaging a prent at Central - ugly

Director of Education Stuart Miller with a parent at a Central high school meeting.

Director Miller likes to explain that when we started this process the HDSB had a small amount of information and through the PAR the board is gathering much more information through this process. That is all fair and good, helps to justify the countless corrections to information, but quite frankly is an extremely flawed approach. Opinions and solutions crystalize in people’s minds at an early stage in the process which are then hard to change with new incremental information. Also, the way in which new information is presented comes in to play with respect to the formation of opinions and solutions. The HDSB should have conducted a year or two of information gathering and vetting before any decision was proposed.

The “icing on the cake” occurred at the end of the meeting when Director Miller invites a student council member to speak to the PARC meeting, which we later learned was a Bateman student. Why not a Pearson or Central student from one of the schools he recommended for closure!?

Student at Feb 9 PARC

Bateman student Oubaida Ikharbine asking the PARC members to “listen” to the students” The committee members asked why a students was being presented to them now when they had been asked not to communicate with students. The rules seemed to be getting changed on the fly.

The take away message from the Director in his closing remarks to the PARC is “think about the students, listen to the students”, if I were on the PARC I would quite frankly be insulted. As a parent and former grad, I’ve talk to my son and his friends, and all I can think about the friendships that are going to be broken up by taking the 600 high school kids at Central and sending some to Aldershot and some to Nelson, the extra hour per day they will spend on or waiting for a bus, not to mention the 450 kids at Pearson, the 275 grade 7 and 8 kids at Central, the 250 7/8’s at Aldershot that are being ignored in this process, and the 300 kids at Aldershot that will have to attend school in portables for next 20+ years!

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but it’s clear to me how the “dots are being connected”.

Hiribljan and sonMichael Hribljan has lived in Burlington for 54 years; he graduated from  Central High School in 1981 after which he went on to earn a Bachelor and Master’s degree in chemical engineering, leading to “a fantastic position, making a difference”, with a  major global technology company.  His son Peter currently attends Central where he is one of 40 students on the Central Robotics Team – 2386.


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Family Day events - city hall closed - Conservation Authority wide open.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

February 13th, 2017



Lots of competition for what people decide to do on Family Day – Monday the 20th.

A number of the city’s administrative services will be closed

Parks and Recreation Programs and Facilities: Activities and customer service hours at city pools, arenas and community centres will vary over the holiday weekend.

Handi van

Holiday service on Family Day for the Handi-van service

Burlington Transit and Handi-Van: On Monday, Feb. 20, Burlington Transit will operate a holiday service and the downtown Transit Terminal, Handi-van Dispatch and the administration office will be closed. Regular service resumes Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Roads and Parks Maintenance: The administrative office will be closed on Monday, Feb. 20. Only winter control and emergency services will be provided.

Halton Court Services: Provincial Offences Courts in Milton and Burlington will be closed Monday, Feb. 20.

Free parking is available in the downtown core, on the street, municipal lots and the parking garage on weekends and holidays.

The Conservation Authority wants to get you out of the city and into the hinterland north of Dundas.
To embrace the magic of winter, you have to step outside! Beat those winter blahs, and get out to Crawford Lake and Mountsberg Conservation Areas on Family Day Weekend for a couple of fun, family friendly events.


Snowshoeing – how to do it right. A Family Day offering at Crawford Lake.

Crawford Lake wants you to enjoy a flurry of outdoor activities during its Snowflakes and Snowsnakes festival, while Mountsberg invites you to enjoy winter in the country at Tales by a Winter’s Fire.

Crawford Lake’s Snowflakes and Snowsnakes event includes, winter themed crafts and games, a marshmallow roast, and an introduction to snowshoeing (weather permitting). During the snowshoe demonstrations, visitors will learn more about the history of this popular sport, proper snowshoeing techniques and the health benefits of snowshoeing. The winter games sessions will include a round of snowsnake (conditions permitting), a traditional Iroquoian sport that challenges you to see how far you can send a wooden “snake” down a snowy path.

Children will love experimenting with snow and ice during the craft sessions and the Iroquoian Village will also be open for exploration daily. Finally, when it is time to get warm, visitors can settle in around a crackling fire to roast their own marshmallow.

Mountsberg’s Tales by a Winter’s Fire features an opportunity to enjoy winter in the country. You can roast hot dogs and marshmallows and share stories around the warmth and crackle of an outdoor bonfire.

All of this and more can be done at the ‘Tales by a Winter’s Fire’ program. Come and enjoy winter puppet shows, wagon rides, live animal encounters and Raptor Presentations. Please note there is an additional fee for rides and the hotdogs. We invite you to join us at Mountsberg for a memorable winter experience for the whole family.

Entrance to Tales by a Winter’s Fire and Snowflakes and Snowsnakes is covered under the regular park admission fees of: Adults $7.50, Children $5.25, Seniors $6.50, while children 4 years of age and under are free. The daily park admission is good for entrance that day into any of Conservation Halton’s parks.

Certainly lots to do.

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Are red herrings being put in front of the PAR committee that is preparing a report on high school closings for the Director of Education?

opinionandcommentBy Peter Menet

February 13th, 2017


Last Thursday the Program Accommodation Review  committee was not presented with a 150 page report on AODA prepared by Snyder Architects. They were given a brief outline of approximately six pages. The full report is to appear on the Board’s website. Let’s wait and see where the devil lies.

The asbestos issue was handled very poorly by Board staff. It is my understanding that since the mid 2000’s all Boards in Ontario have tested for and documented the location of asbestos in their schools. My understanding is that this is a requirement of OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). It is also my understanding, having previously been employed at unionized facilities where I was tasked with removing asbestos material, that there will be detailed reports of any occurrence where asbestos has been disturbed and reports of the remedial actions taken.

So the location of asbestos in all the schools appears to be known and well documented.

Asbestos is not an AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) issue, it is an OHSA issue. Now we get into the meat of the issue which is friable and non-friable asbestos, but we have to wait to see what the full AODA report says.

It is unfortunate that the Board has presented asbestos as an AODA issue. It is not, it is an OHSA issue.

Public gallery Feb 9

Parents from high schools that are at risk of being closed listen intently to what the PAR committee members are saying and what staff is telling them.

A considerable amount of work has been done in the province to protect the public from asbestos exposure. Again, we must wait to see the full AODA report to see if the Board’s staff did a disservice to the public by raising fears and a disservice to the PARC committee process.

We have to wait for the full AODA report to be posted on the website to confirm if the architects had been given access to the asbestos documents prepared in the 2000’s and to see how these documents were used to estimate asbestos removal costs.

Asbestos is a hot button and was very poorly handled by Board staff.

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Rivers braves the cold Canadian winter air to protest - all in vain.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 13th, 2017


If I were Donald Trump I’d have to say that it was the largest crowd ever. There were more people assembled at Nathan Phillips Square than at former US president Obama’s inauguration. And all those white spaces between the people… well that was just snow.

Seriously, there were only a few thousand brave souls who turned out on a bone-chilling February mid-day at Toronto’s city hall this past Saturday. They had assembled to protest Trudeau breaking his promise about how we elect our MPs. And it was a pretty good crowd for such an event given such short notice. Besides, there were as many as twenty of these protests being held across the nation.

Rivers protesting

Gazette columnist Ray Rivers publicly protesting the decision Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made to abandon his election promise to never again hold an election where the First Past the Post was the winner.

The organizers seemed pleased with the turnout. After all, electoral reform is not top-of-mind for most Canadians. No doubt that was what the Liberals found out recently after polling convinced them that they could safely kill the electoral reform promise. And the whole matter is complicated, filled with unfamiliar terms like first-past-the-post, single transferable vote and mixed-member proportional representation. You won’t find that kind of language every day in the sports section.

The faces in the crowd were mostly young – a generation of first-time voters, once convinced not long ago that Mr. Trudeau was just one of them – that new kind of politician, offering a better political deal for Canadians. Better representation might make politics more relevant to this generation and even the one before, the Gen-Xers, who had largely shunned politics and left voting to their parents.

But there was this proverbial elephant in the midst of the protest. If it was this easy to cancel one promise, what about all the other promises the PM made? Can we have faith that he’ll deliver on any of those other promises now? What about legalizing pot, for example? Or will that be the next domino to fall, because someone in the PM’s office has decided there is no consensus on that issue either?

Dalton McGuinty balanced some budgets - but budgets weren't his downfall - the gas plant fiasco did him in.

Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty did try to reform Ontario’s electoral system.

But wait, weren’t these the same political staffers who once convinced Dalton McGuinty to reform Ontario’s electoral system a few years ago? Yes, they engineered a process so fair and discrete that when it came time for the referendum, most voters had little idea what they were actually voting for – a process designed to fail. Was that benign neglect? Or were they disingenuous or incompetent?

There were voices in the crowd on Saturday yelling out liar, liar, pants-on-fire. But it seems unlikely this is a case of unbridled mendacity. I mean what rational politician would set out to raise expectations in an election, planning to break his word following the victory party? And why, especially when he knows full well the ultimate consequence – the shedding of all those voters who had delivered him his majority government?

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray 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:

Electoral Reform –   More Electoral Reform –   Even More

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Snow removal report - roads cleared.

notices100x100By Staff

February 13th, 2017



On February 12, 2017, 11:00 p.m. the city released the following snow clearing information.

Primary roads have been plowed.

Plowing of Secondary and Residential roads are underway.

Sidewalk plowing and Bus stop clearing are underway.

Road conditions continue to be monitored.

Please make sure that your vehicles are off the road to allow our plows to clear your area properly.

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The process of begining to whittle down school closing options begins at PARC meetings

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 10th, 2017



What began as polite meetings that went from 7 pm to 9 pm have become meetings that go beyond 10 pm and have some pretty stiff comments about how the process being used is working out. There are parents from schools that are at risk who aren’t very happy.

With close to 30 different options before the PARC Scott Podrebarac, the PARC chair knew that there was some whittling down to be done – and the Thursday evening meeting was the beginning of that process.

PARC with options on the walls

Fourteen options are put up on the walls of the meeting room – PARC members begin to reveal what they like and what they don’t like.

There were 14 different option put up on the walls of the meeting room Thursday evening.

Each PARC member was given three round red stickers that they could place on whichever option they wished.

The PARC members were being asked to decide if the option met or did not meet the “criteria”

PARC framework

Every question asked by embers of the PARC and the decisions they make has to fit into the Framework.

With 14 PARC members having three dots each – there were 42 of the things to be distributed.

Some of the options got nothing. Option # 19 – the one that would close two of the three high schools in the city got the most – however its total was less than the total of the dots given to the other options.

Dot distribution for option 28

PARC members were asked to first write down which criteria were met and which were not met and then to indicate which option they supported.

Option 7 – to close none of the schools – did well – and option brought forward by the parents at Central high school also did well –  but not as well as the option to close Central and Pearson

There are a lot of questions to be asked:

Where does Pearson high school stand in all this and how do the people at Aldershot feel about a bunch of portables being put on their property if Central is closed?

And is Bateman really at risk?

The board has said repeatedly that the decision is not a money decision – it is what is best for the students.

However the cost of getting the high schools up to AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) standards is high. The matter of lead based paint in some of the older schools – and the probability that some of the older schools may have asbestos in them is an AODA issue that is going to add to the cost of getting schools to that standard.

At some point the trustees, who do have a fiduciary responsibility, are going to balk at the suggestion that school board taxes be increased to cover the AODA expenses.

There is a massive 150 + page report on the AODA condition of the schools that was presented to the PARC committees.

Add to the mix – the views of the students which Director of Education Miller though important enough to have him meet with a group of high school students and then bring one of them to the PARC meeting where he asked that the students be listened to.

While the members of the PARC were getting into some serious deliberations the principals from every high school gathered at a table at the far end of the room on standby to answer question – there were none for then at PARC meeting # 3 but there were several significant questions asked at PARC meting number 2 held on February 2nd. .

Principals table

Principals or vice principals from each high school sat as advisors.

With two people from each high school sitting on the PARC we are beginning to see their interests coming to the surface.

The pair from Aldershot are probably the two best speakers. Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is at the table representing Central high school (she has a son at Central and was chosen by the parent council) worked well with Ian Farwell the oher parent representative. Meed Ward continued her practice of asking a lot of questions.

The pair from Bateman are certainly active in pressing their case. Little is heard from the Pearson high school pair. Even less from the Nelson and M.M. Robinson pair – their schools appear to be safe from any closure plans.

Public gallery Feb 9

Parents from high schools were able to listen to the conversation but were not allowed to participate in the deliberations. Several came close to accosting the Director of Education after the meeting. He may want to leave earlier at future meetings.

It is a busy process – one that requires more time than originally planned. The board added an additional meting for February 16th – the day after the Central high school parents hold a meeting at the Lion’s club to update their community.

To make the whole process even more interesting – the first phase of census data showed that Milton had a population growth of 30% between 2011 and 2016 – and that is certainly going to call for new schools.

The trustees have their hands full. All four Burlington trustees have been on hand for the meetings – so far none of the other trustees have attended PARC meetings. One of the Burlington trustees explained that there was some concern over the impact their attendance might have on the process – given that all the trustees can do is sit and listen – it was difficult to understand why there is any concern. Burlington has four of the 11 votes that are going to be cast. Six are needed to determine what the decisions are going to decide. Where are the Burlington trustees going to get those two additional votes?

And are the Burlington trustees going to vote as a block.

If one of the choices put before the trustees is to close Bateman – will trustee Collard vote for that choice?
In a follow up article we will drill down into some of the data that got put on the table.

PARC full time line

This is the time table that has been followed. May 17th is decision date.

The time line is getting tighter. The PARC report will go to the trustees on March 29th and then a final vote by the trustees on May 17th.

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Have you Googled yourself recently?

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

February 10th, 2017



Studies reveal half us have sought information about ourselves on a major search engine in the last year. More interestingly is the number of us who have gone looking for information about other people (approximately 1 in 3) and the trend continues.

— Turnabout is Fair Play

Businesses and recruiters now regular “look you up online” to see if you are the kind of person they want to work with. That’s correct, it’s not just people vetting businesses anymore, the proverbial worm has turned and now those businesses are looking back at us.

If you aren’t already actively managing your Internet digital footprint you really should because many North American companies now have online personal presentation polices. A shocking number of businesses are now policing how you present yourself on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even your personal blog.

— Share With Care

Choose the pictures you share with care, be mindful of the videos, audio and blog posts you share with the world because it can have consequences. Remember, what you blog about today can last a lifetime – literally. So what you say on your blog about your favourite religion, political party du jour, or some other seemingly innocuous subject could quite literally cost you your job!

— Damage Control is Too Late

And if there’s nothing bad out there about you right now, and you think you can ignore this – think again. You need to begin proactively publishing your own “approved” content because when someone steps forward after an issue they have less credibility – it’s reactionary not pre-emptive. The same happens online – if you are nowhere to be found until someone says something you dislike, you lose credibility.

— Getting an Accidental Brand

There are many ways to become infamous on the Internet, too many to list here, however be careful of mischievous teenagers wielding video cell phones. In 2007 a video of a drunk David Hasselhoff, sprawled on the floor eating a burger, became hot news when his daughter allegedly published it to YouTube for all the world to see. Type David Hasselhoff into Google and that infamous video is still in the top 10 list (10 years later!)

— Ignorance Is Not Bliss

As the saying goes, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!” Whenever a new frontier opens there are winners and losers, online reputation and personal branding is no exception. For example, if someone spent about 30 minutes being mischievous they could cause you some serious damage to your reputation. The current market rate for reputation repair on the Internet is about $10,000.

Blogging and writing about yourself is free.

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that helps local business connect and network.  He also writes about digital marketing, entrepreneurship and technology and when he’s not consulting, he teaches people to start their own ‘side hustle.’

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Burlington environmentalist likes the Member of Parliament we had before she was made a Cabinet Minister.

opinionandcommentBy Vince Fiorito

February 9th, 2017



Let me get this straight. You admire Karina’s increased ability to avoid answering questions and spinning her answers? I think that’s why most people have low opinions of politicians. Shouldn’t a leader’s actions reflect their words?

Watching Karina Gould evolve since the election, feels like a political version of “Breaking Bad”. I like the old Karina better when she made statements like these:

Gould in the House of Commons

Karina Gould, then just a Member of the House of Commons.

Karina Gould June 2016
“Electoral reform is the next step in this evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results.”

Karina Gould Sept 2016
“The first-past-the-post system that we have is pretty good at producing majority governments but it’s often considered to be a false majority because our government and the previous Conservative government didn’t really go above 39%, 42% of the vote yet would have much more than 50% of the seats in the house.”

Now, she says Canadians don’t have consensus on electoral refrom. What asked what would be a consensus, she couldn’t answer that either,

For the record, consensus is when everyone agrees. IN a large group, consensus is a super majority (2/3) or better. Consensus is where people working together to solve a problem end up. Its not where they start. Not achieving consensus means the job isn’t over.

I can’t know what Karina was thinking when she accepted this bag of excrement from Justin Trudeau. I hoped when I heard the bad news that she’d stand up to Trudeau and show everyone who voted for her in good faith, that their trust was well placed.

Speaking of Trudeau. Why didn’t he break the bad news himself, considering his words:

Trudeau Justin with signs behind

Justin Trudeau during the election campaign in which he announced this would be the last election where the first past the post was the winner.

Justin Trudeau, December 2016
“I make promises because I believe in them. I’ve heard loudly and clearly that Canadians want a better system of governance, a better system of choosing our governments, and I’m working very hard so that 2015 is indeed the last election under first-past-the-post. Canadians elect governments to do hard things and don’t expect us to throw up our hands when things are a little difficult. ‘Oh, it’s more difficult than we thought it could be’ and therefore we’re just just going to give up. No, I’m sorry, that’s not the way I was raised. That’s not the way I’m going to move forward on a broad range of issues, regardless of how difficult they may seem at a given point.”

Gould - first scrum

Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould at her first news scrum.

Yet when it came time to break the bad news, where was Trudeau? He sent Karina out by herself. He didn’t even have the guts to stand behind Karina in symbolic support. That’s cowardly imo.

I also thought the timing of release was a little rushed, like they were trying to hide the news about breaking their promise to reform our unfair electoral system behind a bigger news story around the same time that got far more national coverage.

While you might admire these qualities in politicians, I don’t. IMO, Politics doesn’t get much sadder, self-serving or cynical than this. The Trudeau Liberals never had any intention of reforming our election system or taking action on environmental issues. They were just empty words they used to steal support from the Green Party of Canada.

I feel sad for Trudeau’s and Gould’s gift of political cynicism he gave to all the young Canadians who believed them. I doubt many of them will vote in the next election. Why would they?

Background links:

Rivers on breaking election promises

The evolution of a politician

Vince FitorioVince Fiorito was the Green Party candidate for Burlington 2015.  He has   not stopped trying to reform Canada’s electoral system or taking action on the environment. Fiorito was the recipient of a watershed stewardship award from Conservation Halton. getting new - yellow



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The promise that was broken: Politicians break promises at their own peril.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 9th, 2017



The fundamental elements of a successful democracy are an informed public, a free press and an electoral system which best reflects the will of the vast majority of the voters.

At the time the disparate Canadian provinces undertook confederation, voters had but two federal political entities to choose from: the Liberal Party founded in 1861 and the Conservative Party established in 1854.

Sir John Macdonald9

With just two political parties First Past the Post made sense.

So it was natural for Canada’s election system to be premised as a choice between only two parties. The candidate with the highest vote count would win their election poll in a system called first-past-the-post (FPP). Since the national popular vote typically coincides with the number of seats in a two party system, the public was well represented.

150 years later a lot has changed. Additional political parties representing a more diverse population with more complicated issues and demands have emerged. Recently 100% of Canadians have been governed by political parties which claim a majority of parliamentary seats, regardless that their popular support amounts to less than 40% of the voters.

At the 2012 federal Liberal convention in Ottawa, former leader Stephan Dion chaired an electoral reform policy session, also attended by Justin Trudeau. Although many present, including Dion expressed a preference for proportional representation, there was a consensus to promote a ranked/preferential ballot as a transitional or first step.

Minister of Democratic Institutions and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting on electoral reform at the Mount Community Centre on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Monsef is on a seven-week, cross-country tour gathering input on democratic reform. Jessica Nyznik/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Former Minister of Democratic Institutions and Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd during a town hall meeting on electoral reform. Jessica Nyznik -Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

Three years later, as Mr. Trudeau was struggling his way up from third place in the election campaign, he added another vote-getting promise – that this would be Canada’s last federal election under FPP. However once the election was over and the brass ring was firmly in his hand, the urgency seemed to have vanished. He appointed a relatively inexperienced MP as his minister of democratic institutions. She was slow off the mark, proceeded to organize an unfortunate on-line survey, and mis-managed her special parliamentary committee.

The committee finessed the government by recommending a proportional representation approach but only if subject to a referendum. But there is simply not enough time left in the electoral term for that to reasonably happen. So the PM shuffled his junior ministers and announced that he was breaking his promise because there didn’t appear to be a consensus for change.

Except there is consensus. Mr. Trudeau’s own party wants it – they had in fact passed a policy resolution calling for this kind of change. The third parties (NDP, Greens, BQ) are almost unanimous in their desire to adopt proportional representation. And that just leaves the Tories who like the status quo, knowing that FPP is the only way they could ever win majority government again.

But the Conservatives poll less than 40% of Canadians at best. So the government doesn’t need a referendum to change our political system, it already has the numbers. Besides, changing from FPP was an election promise, and Trudeau won the election.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the stage following a discussion on women's leadership, Thursday, November 24, 2016 in Monrovia, Liberia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaving a stage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Politicians break promises at their own peril. I’d bet that electoral reform is one that will come back to haunt Mr. Trudeau. It is unknown how many NDP, Bloc and Green supporters walked their votes to the Liberals largely because of the promise of electoral reform. Judging by the reaction among the media and those commenting on social media, if they did, they won’t make that journey again. Mr. Trudeau has just lost a huge chunk of personal credibility and trust. That will cost him in support come election time.

There are also Liberals who now feel betrayed and alienated by a leader in whom they had put so much faith and trust. Once lost it is almost impossible to regain the hearts of his once loyal supporters. He can expect to see party unity suffer and membership start to decline. Volunteer workers will become less available, and contributions will start to dry up. Come voting day it will be that much harder to get out the vote and fewer volunteers will be there to help get it out.

Mr. Trudeau has been overexposed in his first year in office, and most of that has been positive, at least up until now. Both main opposition parties will have new leaders for the 2019 race and as they energize their party faithful expect to see them stick Trudeau with this issue until the votes are finally counted.

Finally, what will become of all those reluctant millennials who thought they were voting for a different kind of politics and politician? Perhaps some of them will show up at the National Day of Action for Electoral Reform at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, this Saturday 2-4 PM. See you there?

Ray Rivers

Ray 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:

Trudeau Lying? –   More Lying? –   Liberal Policy Resolution

Breaking His Promise –   National Day of Action on Electoral Reform

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Burlington population grows 4.28% since 2011.

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2017



My how we have grown.  The population of the country exceeds 35 million.

Burlington grew at a % rate that is higher than what your bank is paying in the way of interest – but a little lower than the municipal tax hike.

Is the population increase enough intensification for city hall?

Census Burlington 2016

This is what we look like in the eyes of Census Canada. What impact will it have on the intensification plans?


If the Nautique can get the Ontario Municipal Board to approve their project at the corner of Lakeshore and Martha the next census number will be even higher.

The new population numbers released by Census Canada today show that there has been a very decent jump – and that doesn’t include the six development projects that are under construction and the half dozen that are a twinkle in the eye of local developers – it doesn’t even include the 26 storey structure that the ADI Development groups wants to build at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

The numbers reflect growth of 4.28 % more in the way of population between 2011 and 2016.

What does it mean?

What does it say to the planners at both the Regional and municipal levels?

That is going to take some time for the politicians and the planners to get there heads around the numbers.


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Policing is a profitable business - the money side gets determined in a court house

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 08, 2017



Policing is profitable. I know – I’ve paid more than my share of tickets.

The Court for provincial offences –as opposed to criminal code offences or financial claims is located in Burlington.

It is and is known as the Halton Court Services and it makes a bundle of money that is split between the four municipalities in the Region – Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

Court house - site plan

Site plan for the new court house to be built in the Alton Village.

The offences taken to this court are from Halton Regional Police Service, OPP, Ministry of Transportation, Conservation Halton – any offence that is set out in provincial legislation.

It is a busy place – so busy that a new court house is being built in the Alton Village – shovels were expected to be in the ground by now.

Court house - shie BEST

Plans for the new court house were on display for those interested in the design – build – lease back the city wanted. Emshih Developments people check out the plans.

The new court house will be a Design-Build and Leaseback agreement with a 30 year lease to be negotiated.

A total of 55,437 charges (75.9% of target) were filed with HCS by end of third quarter and it is expected that charges will reach 95.9% of target (70,000) by year-end. This is due to a slight decline in number of charges filed by local police (HRPS, OPP and MTO) and no filing of red light camera charges during the impending mail strike.

The place is busy enough to require an additional permanent part-time Prosecutor.

On the income side this is a nice piece of business:

The following are the financial results for HCS at end of third quarter:

• Gross revenues of $6,909,402 (81.0% of budget)
• Overall expenditures of $3,283,653 (72.9% of budget)
• Year-to-date net revenue of $3,625,749 (90.0% of budget)

Burlington Court House

The court house on Plains Road will close when the new building is constructed in the Alton Village.

Given the continuing growth in population, a moderate increase of 1,000 charges (71,000) is projected for 2017. Gross revenue for HCS in 2017 is budgeted at $8.82 million as compared to $8.53 million during 2016.

Included in the report was mention of “red light” cameras – they produce offence notices that pull in an excess of $300 for those who chose to run that red light at two in the morning.

All this goes to city council on February 13, 2017


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Making water available to anyone who wants it - anywhere in the city. Interested?

News 100 redBy Staff

February 8th, 2017



Healthy Kids Community Challenge Burlington is encouraging local businesses to become free water bottle refill locations in the community. Organizations can register at

The Blue W is a unique community-based program dedicated to promoting municipal tap water as a healthy, easily accessible alternative to purchasing bottled drinks. We provide mapped details on where to find clean, free, public and commercial sources to fill your reusable bottle without compelling you to make additional purchases – just look for the Blue W decal in participating shop and restaurant windows.

Tap water

The idea is for you to be able to walk into any location that has a Blue W in their window and get your water bottle refilled.


Residents can locate free water bottle refill locations in the city by looking for the blueW decal on the doors and windows of businesses or by visiting

Blue WBurlington is one of 45 communities selected to take part in the Province of Ontario’s Healthy Kids Community Challenge program, created to support healthy and active lifestyles in children zero to 12 years old.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles is included in the A Healthy and Greener City direction from the City of Burlington’s 25-year Strategic Plan.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care launches a new theme related to physical activity or healthy eating about every nine months and Healthy Kids Community Challenge Burlington works together with local organizations to develop programs, policies and initiatives that promote and enable healthy behaviours.


When horses mattered there were water troughs along main streets. Anyone remember where these things might have been in Burlington?

The current Healthy Kids Community Challenge theme, Water Does Wonders, is all about encouraging children and families to drink water as a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.

Chris Glenn, director Parks and Recreation hopes local businesses and organizations will register with blueW and welcome people into their stores and offices so that people can get tap water anywhere in the community for free when they need a refill.”

Interesting: Log into and see if this is something you would take on.


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The evolution of a politician: Gould handles an interview well - stick handles her way through awkward questions.


SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2017



There is a CBC radio program I seldom miss – “The House” every Saturday morning at 9:00 am
Certified political junkies never miss it.

Last Saturday, Chris Hall interviewed Burlington’s MP and Cabinet Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.

Karina Gould with cat

She was just a local girl, went to M.M. Robinson, then to McGill University where she decided the wanted to be a Member of Parliament.

I have covered Karina since the day she announced her candidacy. I watched her actually pry away the Burlington riding from Mike Wallace which she did by creating a team of people that were out on the streets almost every weekend.

They would meet at Emmas Back Porch and then head out in teams and do the door knocking. Gould won by being the better campaigner.

On a door step her energy and just plain likability came through.

She once explained what tended to happen when she got to the end of a street she was door knocking on. “People would tell me”, explained Gould “that they intended to vote Liberal but weren’t going to put up a lawn sign.”

On one street Gould said she wanted to shout out: ‘You’re all Liberals” and they were – or enough of them to make her a member of the House of Commons.

Gould - Claite -Kyle - Fed Liberals

Gould with her campaign team during the election that took her to Ottawa – they ran a superb campaign.

She performed well. She loved the moment when then American President Barak Obama recognized her when he paid a visit to Canada.

Gould has that genuine youthful energy – she is just a likeable person who also has the ability to back away from the political rhetoric and ask how a person is doing when she knows they are struggling.

Watching her do the “opening pitch” at what was then the Burlington Bandits was something to observe. It didn’t look as if baseball was a sport she excelled in – but she did get the ball over the plate.

Bandits - Gould opening pitch

The local baseball team didn’t need a pitcher – they did change their name the following season.

When word got out that Prime Minister Trudeau was going to shuffle his Cabinet everyone was pretty sure that Maryam Monsef was on her way out. But few predicted that Gould was on her way in.

She was given Democratic Institutions – and within days of getting back to the House of Commons she announced that the First Past the Post promise made during the election was dead in the water.

When Gould was interviewed on CBC’s The House, it was evident she had grown into the role of a Cabinet Minister quite quickly and was pretty good at dodging some of the questions. She gave the pretty pat statement that her job as Minister was to “protect, improve and make the election process more accessible” and she stuck to it.

Hall wanted to know when she learned that the Prime Minister was not going to make good on his election promise.

Gould explained: “We’ve listened to the public; there is no consensus so we are not going forward with this initiative.”

“When you took this job as minister of democratic institutions” asked Hall, “ did you know at that time that it was looking like the proposal to change the election system would fall ?”

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace, former Conservative MP, paying homage to Karina Gould on election night.

Gould responded: “When the Prime Minister asked me to join cabinet and when he asked me to take on this portfolio what he said to me was that he wanted me to make sure that I protect improve and make more accessible our Democratic institutions.”

Hall came back with: “The question was did you know at that time that you would be pulling away from the promise to have a different election system?”

Gould, sticking to her guns said: “My mandate letter was made public on Wednesday so I’m happy and looking forward to delivering on it.”

That 29 year old, with less than a month’s experience as a Cabinet Minister behind her performed admirably as a politician.

Nathan Cullen, NDP member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in British Columbia, met with Gould the day before she as made a Cabinet minister and asked for some advice on what the Parliamentary committee could and should do next in its attempt to change the way we elect our governments.

Cullen did not know that she was about to be made a Cabinet Minister and Gould was not in a position to tell him.

What we are seeing is a young woman who has all the traits needed to become a strong politician. A good one; only time will tell.

Gould and PM Trudeau

Some thought this junior minister was being made a sacrificial lamb when made Minister of Democratic Institutions – she got past the barrage or criticism rather well. The Prime Minister will be keeping a closer eye on her.

While Burlington is very proud of her – the citizens needs to keep in mind the quote from Junius that appears at the top of the Globe & Mail editorial page.

“The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise or submit to arbitrary measures.”

The complete mandate letter an be found at:

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