Kaarolyn Smardz Frost, author of Steal Away Home to speak at Central library

eventspink 100x100By Staff

February 15th, 2017



For readers of The Book of Negroes, Bound for Canaan, House Girl and The Illegal comes the story of a fifteen-year-old escaped slave named Cecelia Reynolds, who slips away to freedom in Canada while her Kentucky owners holiday at Niagara Falls.

Kaarolyn Smardz Frost will be talking about her book, Steal Away Home, at Central library on Tues., February 21, 7 p.m.

Kaarolyn Smardz Frost

Kaarolyn Smardz Frost

In this compelling work of narrative non-fiction, Governor General’s Award winner Karolyn Smardz Frost brings Cecelia’s story to life. Cecelia was a teenager when she made her dangerous bid for freedom from the United States, across the Niagara River and into Canada. Escape meant that she would never see her mother or brother again. She would be cut off from the young mistress with whom she grew up, but who also owned her as a slave holder owns the body of a slave. This was a time when people could be property, when a beloved father could be separated from his wife while their children were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the son of a white master and his black housekeeper could become a slave to his own white half-sister and brother-in-law.

Cecelia found a new life in Toronto’s vibrant African American expatriate community. Her rescuer became her husband, a courageous conductor on the Underground Railroad helping other freedom-seekers reach Canada. Widowed, she braved the Fugitive Slave Law to cross back into the United States, where she again found love, and followed her William into the battlefields of the Civil War. Finally, with a wounded husband and young children in tow, she returned to the Kentucky she had known as a child. But her home had changed: hooded Night Riders roamed the countryside with torches and nooses at the ready. When William disappeared, Cecelia relied on the support and affection of her former mistress—the Southern belle who had owned her as a child.

Book - Kaarolyn Smardz Frost - Steal away homeOnly five of the letters between Cecelia and her former mistress, Fanny Thruston Ballard, have survived. They are testament to the great love and the lifelong friendship that existed between these two very different women. Reunited after years apart, the two lived within a few blocks of each other for the rest of Fanny’s life.

Steal Away Home, is the riveting true story of escaped slave Cecilia Reynolds and her lifelong friendship with her former mistress.

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Type as fast as you can talk - that's productivity. Bunch of guys in Burlington have created something they think is going to take off.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2017



You will have heard the phrase – sector disruption” – which is when someone comes up with an idea that shakes up a sector of an industry.

disruptionApple did that with their iTunes service – record stores took a huge hit. Newspapers took it between the eyes when Craig’s List and decimated the classified advertising business that kept many newspapers alive.

These advances in technology have had massive impacts on the way we get things done.

Pause now – and agree with me – you can talk 200 words a minute can’t you? You probably know others who can as well and wish they didn’t continue to do that when you are around.

Can you type 200 words a minute? Most of us can’t – at least not with much in the way of accuracy.

Lily - screen shot

The screen you work from – but all you have to do is talk and your words appear on the screen.

What if you talked 200 words a minute and your computer captured those words which you could drop into a report or send out as an email.

You can talk into your cell phone and see the words come up on the screen. That feature is in actuality the Google speech to text feature that is built into Android phones.

Nine guys who have a converted store front they call their head office in the north west part of the city where the rents are low and parking usually isn’t a problem – and there is a decent coffee shop steps away, found a way to port that same Google speech to text feature to a desk top or lap top computer.

They called it LilySpeech and are marketing the service that costs $2.49 a month and you can cancel it any time you like.


Lily graphic

Download and install it and then whenever you want to use the program you click on the icon that will get dropped into your computer when you set up. All you have to do is talk away.

You do have to be quite specific.

You say:
The specifications are quite specific and the costing has been done period new line

You have to dictate the punctuation.

Lily - Jonathan Adams

There is nothing fancy about the head office set up. Lots of empty pizza boxes in a corner plus hours and hours of pouring over code to get LilySpeech just right. Type at 200 words a minute – and it works.

Jonathan Adams, one of the nine partners, believes he and his colleagues are on to something – they have completed the all the beta testing and have ironed out the bugs. “We keep adding additional features – small things that just make it better” he said.

How does it operate?

Once you’ve downloaded and registered a small icon will appear – on your computer – you click on that and LilySpeech shows up on your computer screen.

Then you start talking and LilySpeech generates the text in real time. When you have finished you click to transfer what you dictated to wherever you want it to appear; it could be a WORD file or an email.

LilySpeech is really a productivity tool – that has features that will save you a lot of time – especially for those tasks that are repetitive. You can set up a list of words that might be difficult for the speech to text software to pick up; scientific phrases that you use often. You’d say special word 5 and whatever that special word is will appear on the screen.

You can give the special word any definition – choose whatever works for you.

Productivity toolThis is a productivity tool for anyone who uses the same material over and over; marketing people will just love this feature. You create the message and save it – and when you are using LilySpeech you just go to the “Canned Answers” section click on the one you want, it drops into your document and you continue with your dictation.
Like anything new, it takes a little fiddling to get just what you want – but it comes easily.

LilySpeech is something well worth looking into – and at a price of $2.49 a month you can’t go wrong. A newspaper or a cup of coffee costs more than this service.

Log into www.LilySpeech.com and give it a go – there is a one month free trial.

You will be on your way to saving hours of time each day.

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Are the provincial political parties moving to an election footing? Sounds like it.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 7th, 2017



The provincial government isn’t going to take too much guff from Patrick Brown, leader of the Progressive Conservative opposition party.

Brown, MPP for Simcoe North and leader of the opposition was speaking to the Ontario Road Builders Association where, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transpiration he “made a number of false statements about the province.

“Facts Still Matter in Ontario”, said the Ministry spokesperson, “especially when it comes to the historic amount of transportation infrastructure being built right now across the province.”

Brown said: “We want to make sure that historic infrastructure $130 billion is actually spent on infrastructure not spent simply on, on promises, on press releases”

Fact: Cost of the new GO station in Richmond Hill: $22 million, cost of the press release announcing it was open: $0, cost of catching Patrick Brown making up facts: priceless

Brown said: “We have become the capital of red tape in North America”

Fact: The CFIB nominated has nominated the Ontario government for its golden scissors award for cutting red tape 3 years in a row. This year the government received two nominations.

Brown said: “Projects need to start within mandate… It’s an insincere commitment promising something for 2019 or 2031”

Fact: Meaningful projects take longer than 4 years to build. If Patrick Brown won’t build anything that takes longer than 4 years that means he wouldn’t build any new subways or LRT’s.

Brown said: “The biggest announcement was for Hydro One, government said we’d get money for infrastructure. Of the first $4 billion sold, 0 went into infrastructure, money has been diverted to general revenue”

Fact: All of this money went into the Trillium Trust to be spent on projects like like GO Regional Express Rail, Mississauga and Hamilton LRT’s and the recently announced natural gas expansion.

Brown said: “I believe we’ve seen lip service to infrastructure over the last 10 years but we’re not seeing shovels in the ground”

MOT Waterloo LRT

Waterloo LRT under construction

MOT Eglington LRT

Eglington LRT in Toronto

Fact: Here are some pictures of shovels in the ground






Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks at the hearings into the gas plant cancellations at Queen's Park in Toronto on December 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

Do you get the impression that the political parties are moving to an election footing.  Premier Wynne just might call a snap election if she can find an issue to run with.

Stay tuned

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A two vehicle collision on the QEW plus the highway for more than four hours.

Newsflash 100By Staff

February 6th, 2017



Live – from the QEW.

Visuals taken from the cameras along the QEW.

At 6:00 pm this evening this is what it looked like.

QEW at Guelph lineQEW at WalkersA two-vehicle accident on the QEW earlier this afternoon shut down all the westbound lanes – traffic was funneled to the Guelph Line exit.

QEW at ApplebyA collision between a cube van and a Toyota passenger resulted in the female driver of Toyota, being trapped. The OPP said it took some time for the woman to be extricated.

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Paper is given life at two Art Gallery of Burlington shows - opens on the 10th

artsorange 100x100By Staff

February 6th, 2017



Paper is given life through the works presented in the two Art Gallery of Burlington shows: A Safe Haven: Raphael Vella and Visual Poetry: Contemporary Woodcuts.

As a time honoured medium for artists, paper allows for the expression of thoughts, observations, reflections and statements. Artists Raphael Vella (Malta), Tom Hammick (United Kingdom), Donna Ibing (Burlington, ON) and Naoko Matsubara (Oakville, ON) use this medium to explore a variety of subject matter from contemporary politics to everyday life.

A Safe Haven: Raphael Vella combines his two series of drawings, For the Welfare of All Children alongside ten works from No Place Like HOMeS. For Vella, the role of the artist is not to create an object, but to engage people by sparking discussions and questions. In For the Welfare of All Children, Vella questions society’s supervision of children and the imposed social structures to protect them. For the series No Place Like HOMeS, Vella combines iconic buildings with the ravages of the Syrian War, bringing to the fore the power of war over peace and destruction over construction, while questioning the act of reclaiming such sites.

Visual Poetry: Contemporary Woodcuts looks at the work of Tom Hammick (United Kingdom), Donna Ibing (Burlington, ON) and Naoko Matsubara (Oakville, ON). Each artist works in a different style, though all execute their work on a grand scale producing multiple layers of meaning, creating unique and thought provoking work.

Vella Raphael Malta

Raphael Vella

Raphael Vella is an artist, educator and curator based in Malta. He obtained a PhD in Fine Arts at the University of the Arts London in 2006, and is currently Senior Lecturer at the University of Malta. He has exhibited his works in important international exhibitions and venues, including the Venice Biennale, Domaine Pommery (Reims, France), Modern Art Oxford in the UK and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland. For many years, he has also been active as a curator, having directed the Valletta International Visual Art festival (VIVA) in 2014 and 2015, and is currently co-curating the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 2017. He has also directed the project ‘Divergent Thinkers’ for emerging artists in Malta since 2011.

Tom Hammick

Tom Hammick

Tom Hammick is a British artist based in East Sussex and London. He is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Painting and Printmaking at the University of Brighton, and a Visiting Lecturer of Fine Art at University of Ulster, and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD University). He has work in many major public and corporate collections including the British Museum (Collection of Prints and Drawings), Victoria and Albert Museum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France (Collection of Prints and Drawings), Deutsche Bank, Yale Centre for British Art, and The Library of Congress, Washington, DC.


Donna Ibing

Donna Ibing of Burlington is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, and is considered one of Ontario’s leading artists in painting and printmaking. Her work has been shown in major cities across Canada including Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Ibing’s work can be found in collections across Ontario including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Kitchener/Waterloo Gallery and the Toronto Public Library and Archives.

Naoko M

Naoko Matsubara

Naoko Matsubara graduated from the Kyoto Academy of Fine Arts, and was a Fullbright scholar at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh where she received her MFA. Subsequently she studied at the Royal College of Art in London. In 1981 she became a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and in 2009 she received an honourary doctorate of Fine Art from Chatham University in Pittsburgh. She continues to create single-sheet woodcuts, paintings and murals from her Oakville studio. Matsubara’s work can be found in private and public collections around the world including the British Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Cincinnati Art Museum; The White House; the National Museums of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto; Staatliche Museum zu Berlin, Germany; Royal Ontario Museum; and Yale University Art Gallery.

The exhibition runs from February 10 to April 2, 2017 Art Gallery of Burlington in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery.

There is a public reception Thursday February 9, 5pm-7pm

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Quality of the internet service for Burlington needs an upgrade - patchy at best.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 6th, 2017



Next to the weather and the amount of traffic on the QEW the upload and down load speds of your internet connection could well be the most WORDS

The map set out below is something you can access and see just what the upload and down load speeds are for where you live.

Internet service map

Dark blue has the best speeds. On balance the quality of service looks kind of patchy – not exactly a selling point for the city.

Odd that a part of the city the map labels as Freeman has the highest speeds – surprising is the speed available in the rural part of the city.

The city and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) are working in partnership to test Internet performance test for the city.

You can test your Internet connection by visiting


The test takes just a few seconds.   So far 1833 tests have been run.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) manages the .CA top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. CIRA also develops technologies and services that help support its goal of building a better online Canada. The CIRA team operates one of the fastest-growing ccTLDs, a high-performance global DNS network, and one of the world’s most advanced back-end registry solutions.

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Family day deal: Wear red and white - $1.50 entry fee; picture of a flag in your window - you get in Free.

eventspink 100x100By Staff

February 6th, 2017



If skating isn’t your thing – then you might want to try swimming – you get to do both on Family Day – when the Red and White Fun Swim and Public Skate takes place: Monday February 20, 2017

The city has decided to “market” the event and play up the sesquicentennial year we are now in. Show your Canadian pride; wear red and white and pay an admission of just $1.50/person.

Goldring 2 January 2017

Mayor Rick Goldring with his red and white attire. Will hundreds show up at Appleby to skate and swimming pools with red and white ?

Bonus…wear red and white AND show a photo of a Canadian flag posted in your window at home and your admission is FREE!

Don’t have a flag? Download one under “Resources” at burlington.ca/canada150.

They might want to offer an additional bonus for all those who can spell sesquicentennial and also tell you what it means.

They clearly want you to have a Canadian flag in your window. With this kind of hype in February one can only imagine the size of the blow out on Canada Day in July.

Fun Swim:
Angela Coughlan noon to 2 .pm.
Aldershot pool 10 a.m. to noon

Public Skate
Appleby pad 1 noon to 2 p.m.
Appleby pad 2 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Alton residents have a classic Canadian back yard ice rink - they take care of what the city installed.

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2016



It was late in the day, slightly overcast and cold. Nevertheless there were two boys and their Dad on the ice; the boys practicing their shot on the empty net.

Alton skating - two boys + dad

The only thing missing from this picture is a goalie in the net. The rink was put up in the Alton community.

The rink was set up by residents in the community; there has been tremendous local business support but not enough “labour” support. The few people who take care of the rink spend a lot of nights out there.

It’s a decent 50 x 64 size rink that has suffered some damage to the liner. Folks have been waiting for it to get repaired.

There are no lights the community decided lights would mean kid on the ice late into the evening that might result in a lot of noise.

Alton community rink

That one went where it was supposed to go. A goalie would have made it a lot harder.

The Alton rink is a pure community effort – the city created a local rink program that called for residents to look after a rink that the city would set up.

The following communities qualified for a rink because there was water access.

There are now 14 community rinks throughout the city – which is higher than last year.

It’s a program that works – and with decent weather the water actually gets to freeze.  There was a point at which some people thought they were going to end up with splash pads.

Ken White and Mike Collins are spending a lot of their time on that rink -and they aren’t skating.

They rented a pump and draw in water from the creek.

“The task has been frustrating since the children have caused some inadvertent holes in the liner allowing water to leak out before it gets fully filled.”

Among the communities that qualified for a community rink are:

• Brant Hills Park (2 rinks possible)
• LaSalle Park
• Sherwood Park
• Bridgeview Park
• Nelson Park
• Tansley Woods Park
• Central Park
• Orchard Park
• Ireland Park
• Sheldon Park

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Trustee Reynolds waiting to hear all the evidence before making up her mind - but she does make it clear that the best interests of the students comes first.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 3rd, 2017



Asked what were the driving forces that got her into serving the public at the school board level Leah Reynolds provided the Gazette with a rather lengthy list of what shapes her involvement in the education of our children.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

Trustee Reynolds, centre with Collard on her left and Gray on her right.

“I understand the public wants to know how I will vote on this issue. I will wait for the PAR committee to complete their work, for the Director’s Final Report and to hear from the public throughout this process and more formally in April, before committing to any option as I believe the best option has yet to emerge.”

The driving force behind entering public office is my passion for education as evidenced by my long-serving school volunteerism through reading club, breakfast club, chairing school councils, participating in community discussion of elementary school closing and helping lead numerous school capital fundraising enhancements and initiatives. These experiences equipped me with the skills to navigate the school board and I realized that I could be helpful to parents and community.

I also understood that there were population challenges and should a Program Accommodation Review (PAR) be held, I wanted to be a part of the conversation because schools are the heart of the community.

Reynolds pointed out that “this is a full time job, serving parents and families days, evenings and often weekends, one that trustees gladly take on in service to students and their education.”

Trustees attend far more meetings than city Councillors do.


If Central high school is closed – for whatever reason – can Leah Reynolds get re-elected?

Reynolds said her “top priority and philosophy is focused squarely on what is in the best interests of students.” She did make clear that “schools are the heart of the community”.

Her decision matrix, said Reynolds will consider more than the three factors the Gazette set out. Her considerations include the 13 factors identified by the PAR policy which are:

I. Range of mandatory program
2. Range of optional program
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 enrolment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and under utilization 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 plan

MMW + Leah Reynolds

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and school board trustee Leah Reynolds the night Meed Ward launched her re-election campaign. Are these two joined at the hip on the school closing issue.

There may be additional factors that bubble up as a result of the PAR committee’s discussions. But the lens through which all these factors will be viewed is what is best for students at our schools.

Every person added Reynolds “has an opportunity right now to make their voice heard to help shape the options that emerge for trustee consideration in the spring.

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Burlington Hydro now has an Outage Management System, complete with a real-time outage map

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 5th, 2017



Those who remember the December 2013 Ice Storm, will have a lot of sympathy for those people in New Brunswick who have been without power for 11 days.

Hydro - Gerry S and Energy minister

Glenn Thibeault listen to Gerry Smallegange as he explains where a new hydro cable had to be put in place in north Burlington during th 2013 ice storm

Burlington Hydro learned a lot from that 2013 experience and determined that they would be handling this differently when the next storm hits – and they are convinced that there will be another storm – sometime.

A new Outage Management System, complete with a real-time outage map for customers, to upgraded phone systems, website enhancements and a new mobile application were brought forward with the intention of improving Burlington Hydro’s power outage communications..

Hydro operations centre

The upgrades to the Operations room at Burlington Hydro make more information available in real time – which gets passed along to the customer base.

Launched in 2014, Burlington Hydro’s Management System (OMS) includes a web-based Outage Map that provides current information about power interruptions so that customers can access information on power outages in real time. In addition to a comprehensive map of the outage area, the web-based tool allows customers to access the cause of the outage if known, and the estimated time that power will be restored.

The OMS allows customer service and call centre representatives to link customer outage reports directly to the utility’s Control Centre. As each incident is updated, service representatives are able to provide the customer with updates and relevant information about the power outage.

These improvements complement the recently announced upgrades to the company’s customer call-in capabilities. The ability to handle a greater number of customer calls at one time – 24/7 – is another way that Burlington Hydro has improved its customer service competencies in 2014.

“We partnered with our mapping vendor to develop the customer Outage Management System which we call LiveOps. The new system aggregates data and produces a comprehensive central information repository of current system outages. Cutting-edge technology integrates smart metering and Geographic Information System (GIS) map platforms, and enhances Burlington Hydro’s Control Room Operators’ ability to manage, quickly deploy crews, and track power outages.

Gerry Smallegange Hydro

Gerry Smallegange, President and CEO, Burlington Hydro

Gerry Smallegange, President and CEO, Burlington Hydro Inc., remembers how tough things were in December of 2013 – he wasn’t going to go through that experience again. He wants it to be “as convenient as possible for customers to stay informed during power interruptions and extreme weather events.”

Christmas of 2013 for Smallegange was spent in the field trying to get a grip on the scope and scale of the damage.

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Burlington library recognized as a leader by the Ontario Public Library Service.

News 100 redBy Staff

February 3rd, 2107



Last night, Eleanor McMahon, MPP for Burlington and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, presented the Burlington Public Library with the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence at the Ontario Public Library Service Awards in Toronto, Ontario.

The Ontario Public Library Service Awards identify and promote creative public library service ideas. There are two types of awards: The Minister’s Award for Innovation and the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence, which recognizes a commitment to excellence in the delivery of public library services.

Library - Mowat award winners

(L-R) Burlington Public Library staff members Amanda Wilk, Shelley Archibald, Minister McMahon, and BPL CEO Maureen Barry at the Ontario Public Library Service Awards.

Angus Mowat was a Canadian librarian who initiated and contributed to the continuing improvement of the library systems in Saskatoon and Ontario, from the 1920s through to the 1960s.

He was the Inspector of Public Libraries for the province of Ontario and remained head of the provincial library office – a part of the Ministry of Education – until his retirement in 1960.

Throughout his career he encouraged better quality collections for adults and children, professional staffing and library training, the necessity for improved finances, more efficient management by trustees and librarians, and upgraded or new buildings. He believed strongly that the ‘personal touch’ was essential for library service and that local effort, supplemented by provincial assistance, was the key ingredient in advancing local library development.

One wonders if he ever said hush in his life.

The Burlington Public Library received the Angus Mowat Award in recognition of the library’s community led youth service model, which provides empowering leadership and growth opportunities for teens.

“Libraries, librarians and the staff who run them”, said Minister McMahon, “are at the heart of our communities. I’m proud of the work that these incredible institutions do for everyone across the province, and I’m particularly proud that the Burlington Public Library’s achievements were recognized last night at the Ontario Public Library Service Awards.”

Burlington’s MPP brought one home to a library system that deserved this award

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Solving older crimes: Here is how Crime Stoppers does it.

Crime 100By Staff

February 3rd. 2017



Crime Stoppers is said to be the second best tool the police have for catching criminals – the first is the user of finger prints.

Crime Stoppers is always looking for help.

It takes time to solve a crime – which is not always something the police have.

Crime stoppers brings old crimes to the public’s attention – more often than most people realize, someone reads the document and remembers something – they call Crime Stoppers and the crime get solved.

Each month the Halton unit of Crime Stoppers reminds the public of a crime that has yet to be solved. Here is the most recent crime they are bringing to the attention of the people of Burlington:

On June 24th 2016 at approximately 1:06 PM, an unknown male suspected forced entry through the front door of a residence on Woodview Road in Burlington. The suspect rummaged through several rooms of the home before being confronted by a resident of the home who had been in the basement at the time of the entry.

Upon seeing the resident, the suspect fled out a read sliding patio door and made good his escape with several stolen items which include a black “Gucci” duffle bag with clothing a watch and a ring.

The suspect was described as: male, black, 19-20 years of age, slim build, approximately 6’0, short black nappy hair, wearing a two toned powder blue track suit and a powder blue baseball cap

Anyone with information on this or any other crime can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting “TIP201” with your message to CRIMES (274637), or by submitting a tip online at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca

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Rivers on violence: Quebec’s Premier and Canada’s Prime Minister, have not bowed to this false populism of divide and conquer politics.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 3, 2017



An act of hatred and violence. It was 1989 when another mad man slaughtered 14 female students at a University of Montreal engineering school before turning the gun on himself. In this case he was driven by his fear of ‘feminism’. So long as we have guns, guys on the edge and an issue that evokes fear and hatred we can never take our security for granted.

Given all the racist hatred emanating from so many people these days, It was only a matter of time for something like this latest tragedy to happen – the massacre of innocent worshipers in a Mosque in Quebec City.

Quebec mosque


And the responsibility for the event lies partly at the feet of the new leader in America’s White House, a position we used to refer to as the leader of the free world.

In his phone call to Trudeau, Trump offered his condolences, characterizing the massacre as the kind of actions his recent executive orders were intended to prevent. Except they weren’t. Make no mistake Trump incited this act of terrorism. His language and actions served to radicalize this young misguided Quebecer, much as ISIS has radicalized the very ones that Trump was hoping to keep out by his ban.

Rivers graphic for Feb 3And the Muslim ban. This was as poorly considered as so many of his other actions since becoming president. None of the people living in those seven banned countries are known to have committed acts of terror in America over the last quarter century. And yet almost three thousand Americans have been killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon – Muslim countries where Trump has business interests and which are therefore exempt form his ban.

But it’s not just Trump.  He’s not the only crazy mixed-up reactionary, leading his followers out of what we once considered the new world order into a new frontier of chaos.  Russian president Vladimir Putin is the ring leader, the lead conductor of this mad band of, dare I say faux -Nazis,  striving to take the world back in time.  His goal is the re-assembly of the Soviet Union and there is no international law or agreements that can block him in his quest.

France’s Marine Le Pen is one of our Quebec shooter’s internet heroes, along with Donald Trump. She is also a contender for presidency in this year’s elections in that confused nation. Her goal is to break up the European Union, with a Frexit, then to stop immigration and kick out Muslim immigrants. Her political party has been funded in part by Russia’s Putin, of course.

The people of Holland go to the polls this year and their far right-wing politician, Geert Wilders, another ultra-nationalist Eurosceptic, is intent on tearing apart the EU and playing nice with Mr. Putin. And then there is Brexit, an historical accident that was driven by British ultra-nationalists including a lying cabal led by former British EU representative Nigel Farage, the man Mr. Trump asked to be made British ambassador to the USA.

And Canada is not exempt from this global movement of leaders into hate and chaos. Conservative leadership contender, Kelly Leitch, who along with other leadership contender, Chris Alexander, set up the barbaric practices snitch-line prior to last year’s election. And Leitch has made the politics of division a touchstone of her campaign, demanding proof of adherence to sone kind of undefined ‘Canadian values’ – first from immigrants – and eventually from the rest of us.

The Parti Quebecois had once claimed the moral high-ground, the social conscience of Quebecers, until it too pushed the intolerance button demanding Muslim women show their faces and everyone strip themselves of those icons they’d wear for the sake of their gods and saints. This massacre lies on their doorstep too.

But at least the real leaders of Canada, Quebec’s Premier and Canada’s Prime Minister, have not bowed to this false populism of divide and conquer politics. “We will grieve with you, we will defend you, we will love you and we will stand with you,”

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:

The Other Massacre

Quebec Massacre 

Meryl Streep


More Quebec

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Citizen gives her take on using consultants - Ouch she says, look out residents.

opinionandcommentBy Gwen Lock

February 3rd, 2017



Yep- you couldn’t make this stuff up could you? Apparently the City of Burlington cannot function without the aid of consultants – refer to the 2017 budget request by City Manager James Ridge for a $550,000.00 ” just in case piggy bank” – approved – Cha-ching! (View on page 27 pf 2017 Proposed Operating Budget if anyone is interested)

So if it is inevitable that we are to have consultants lecturing Burlingtonians on how to live and what kind of city they are going to get for their tax dollars, as in so many other past situations, I would personally feel comfortable if it wasn’t all so “cosy”.

James Ridge - looking right

City manager James Ridge is a Toderian fan.

As previously reported (Inside Halton Feb 10th 2016) “It was city manager James Ridge who called in his former Vancouver colleague to advise Burlington on intensification and review of its official plan.” Cha-Ching!

OK – so James Ridge in his position as City Manager for COB calls in his ex-colleague Brent Toderian who was fired from his position (without cause) as Director of Planning, City of Vancouver in 2012 after almost 6 years.

Toderian Brent - blue shirt

Brent Toderian who was fired from his position as Director of Planning, City of Vancouver. Consults for Burlington.

I think it’s only natural to want check this guy out – after all consultants charge LARGE! A quick internet search brought up the following article published in the Vancouver Sun 31 January 2016 by Jeff Lee (the link to the article in below for anyone who would like to read it)


This particular article provided a bit of background as seen from a local (Vancouver) point of view. It would appear that the impetus for the firing may have been the fractious relationship that existed between then City Manager Penny Ballam and Brent Toderian – well let’s be honest – there’s no “may have” about it is there ? Consider the following after Hallam herself was ousted from her position as City Manager in 2015.

15 September 2015 – CBC News Vancouver (direct quote)

“When news of Ballem’s departure broke, former Vancouver city planner Brent Toderian, who was let go at the recommendation of Ballem in 2012, issued a tweet simply saying “What goes around, comes around.”

What goes around, comes around. #Vancouver #VanPoli

— @BrentToderian

Speaking to the CBC later, Toderian, who is now a city planning consultant for cities around the world (Cha-ching!), reflected that Ballem’s departure represented an opportunity to change the culture at city hall.

“It really is almost the entire city-making function that is about to be refreshed. That is both challenging and an incredible opportunity. “The morale at city hall has not been the best in recent years, so I think this is a chance to get back to Vancouver city hall being an international model.”

Mmmmm -classy guy – trash your old boss – reveals quite a lot. Type A personality????

So how did we end up in this situation? Like Mayor Goldring I seem to have lost the plot. REVIEW TIME !!!!!

23 March 2015 -James Ridge takes up his position as City Manager (as per COB web site)

11 February 2016 Consultant Brent Toderian arrives at the invitation of ex-collegaue James Ridge to advise Burlington on intensification and review of its official plan -Cha-Ching!

Mary Lou Tanner

Planning Director Mary Lou Tanner had worked with Brent Toderian before he was invited to Burlington.

21 September 2016 (as reported Inside Halton) Mary Lou Tanner, Burlington’s chief planner and director of building announces that at a cost of $20,000, Consultants BrookMcIllroy -Cha-Ching! have produced the 28 page Tall Buildings Guidelines – she described it as “a living document” that will evolve as staff has more experience implanting it. What does that even mean?

14 November 2016 Consultant Brent Toderian, invited back again to lecture, apparently by the Mayor, but this time with Consultant Jarret Walker (Jarrett Walker and Associates) -Cha-Ching!

8 December The Financial Overview of the 2017 Proposed Operating Budget is presented to The Community and Corporate Services Committee. James Ridge makes a pitch for $550,000.00 in 2017 budget -Cha-Ching!

23 January 2017 (After review and approval by The Community and Corporate Services Committee 16th and 19th January 2017) Council approves the 2017 Operating Budget. Signed, sealed and delivered! Cha-Ching!

25th January 2017 it’s reported that Developer Carriage Gate Homes has dropped the BIG planning application on the planning department’s collective overflowing desk-if approved massive Cha-ching!

Marianne Meed Ward reports it in her news letter as if it was a shock and a big surprise and arranges a public meeting. Sadly though, as correctly reported in this publication, it appears to conform to the Tall Buildings Guidelines – can you say OMB -Cha-Ching!

So after a long journey in response to your very pertinent question posed in the title of your article – “do we need consultants?” As we have seen so many times in the past COB seems totally unable to function without them I suppose the answer must be yes.

Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor invited Brent Toderian to speak at one of his Inspire lectures

Is Brent Toderian, for example, the right choice for Burlington? I personally find it difficult to imagine a less suitable fit. He appears to have no time for consensus building; according to him you spend your energy convincing the convincible – so does that mean you ignore the yet to be convinced? Absolutely! He never ever wants to hear the words “stable neighbourhood” because in his world they do not exist; his advice is to take those words right out of the conversation.

Unsurprisingly taxpayers are viewed as nothing more than cash cows who then become an annoyance when they dare to try to get in way of “planning” As per the Brent Toderian’s of this world,rip that band-aid off quickly.

Ouch! – lookout residents!

Gwen Lock is a Burlington resident with strong views on how the city uses consultants.  She believes choosing Brent Toderian to advise was a mistake.

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Was the decision not to try harder to bring about electoral reform a political mistake by the Liberals.?

News 100 blueBy Jay Fallis

February 2, 2017



Amidst the commotion outside the House of Commons doors, I couldn’t help but hear one MP say to another

“What’s going on here?” I think many Canadians are asking that very question as they hear the news that the Liberal Government is going to abandon its plans to reform our electoral system.

In a mandate letter to newly minted Minister of Democratic Institutions and Burlington MP Karina Gould, Prime Minister Trudeau was clear that this once touted election promise was not to be pursued.
“Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate” it read.

As opposition MPs lined up in droves to criticize the move, I began to realize what all this would likely mean. Electoral reform, the dull policy area turned Cinderella story, was fast losing its footing.

Real Lavergne Fair vote

President of FairVote Canada Dr. Real Lavergne.

To get a better sense for the situation and the road ahead for electoral reform, I decided to talk to electoral reform advocate and President of FairVote Canada Dr. Real Lavergne.

I opened with the only question I could think of: “Is it over?”

Without hesitation I got the response I had been expecting: “It’s looking over.”

As we talked, it was clear that Dr. Lavergne was disappointed by the Government’s actions.

“I think the NDP bent over backwards and so did Elizabeth May to [bring about] electoral reform… [We all were] looking for a solution that would give us a better system for Canada and this government was simply unable, unwilling, to deliver on its promise. “

Dr. Lavergne’s frustration was no doubt rooted in the all for naught work that had been dedicated to this cause.

For years FairVote Canada and many other actors have been advocating for the country to adopt a proportionally representative electoral system. Trudeau’s election victory had marked the potential turning point, as electoral reform had been outlined by the Liberals as a promise.

Since the electoral reform committee’s first meeting over the summer, politicians, advocates, academics, and ordinary Canadians spent an extensive amount of time and energy to bring about reform. However, despite their best efforts, it seems the government refused to listen.

“[FairVote Canada] wrote a letter to Minister Gould about 10 days ago…. What we were saying was: “look, if you want to reduce the disruption for sitting MPs, there are ways to do that while still bringing in Proportional Representation, here they are… We also said you could have ranked ballot… within the context of a proportional system. If it is within the context of a proportional system and what you are doing is giving voters the opportunity to express themselves in more detail, that’s great! That’s democratic.””

It was clear from what Dr. Lavergne’s was saying that the conditions existed for multiple parties to find consensus. However, despite these efforts, the government was simply not prepared to compromise.
While this announcement certainly marks a setback for electoral reform, Lavergne was confident that the extensive work of the various actors had been worthwhile.

Trudeau electoral reform promise

“I don’t know how many people voted for them strategically in 2015 but I can’t imagine any of those people doing so again… I think it will cost them.” Real Lavergne.

“I think awareness for this issue in Canada is at an all-time high….As time goes on, people have been becoming more and more aware of the need for electoral reform. “

He also suggested that the fight to implement electoral reform was far from over.

“Every time there is an election now, people are outraged…. [They] are starting to understand this doesn’t make any sense, this is not democratic. As more and more people understand that, we’re going to have more situations where there is a possibility [for electoral reform] and people will keep fighting for it…This is unstoppable.”

On conclusion, Dr. Lavergne suggested that this could come back to bite the Liberals.

“I think they are going to pay quite a severe price for this. I don’t know how many people voted for them strategically in 2015 but I can’t imagine any of those people doing so again… I think it will cost them.”

As this chapter in our political history comes to a close, electoral reform seems to be lying dead on the operating table. However, maybe the fruition of reforming Canada’s electoral system to be more proportional is an inevitability that just hasn’t been realized yet. Perhaps, as Dr. Lavergne put it:

“The Liberals lost the opportunity to be on the right side of history.”

Jay Fallis Bio PicJay Fallis writes on politics for several newspapers in Canada.

He covers political events from Ottawa.

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Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate explains Burlington MP Karina Gould.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 2nd, 2017



Well – that didn’t take long. Her second day in the House of Commons as a member of the Liberal candidate and Burlington’s Karina Gould stands up and tells us that her mandate letter says she can forget about changing the way we elect our federal governments.

Gould and PM Trudeau

Cabinet Minister Karina Gould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Did she know what he was going to ask her to do when he invited her into his Cabinet?

When the Prime Minister invited Ms Gould into the Cabinet he apparently explained that he was giving up on the election promise to make the 2014 election the last that would be determined by a first past the post vote.

Ms Gould would have known about this the day she accepted the appointment.

Was there a discussion with the PM about this change in an election promise?

The story the public was given is that we don’t actually have an appetite for a change in the way we elect our Members of Parliament. “The broad consensus needed for this kind of reform does not exist” Gould told her first news scrum.

Earlier in the day Gould said in the House of Commons:

Mr. Speaker, our electoral system is the foundation of our democracy. We respect the views of Canadians, and consulted extensively with them on this important issue. We listened to Canadians, and Canadians are proud of our democracy.

We have always been clear. Major reforms to the electoral system should not be made if they lack the broad support of Canadians. As my mandate letter states, a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate.

One wonders what all those adoring Liberals in Burlington think about the statements Gould made. To her credit she pulled it off – she was sent out to do the dirty work and that’s what she did.

Karina_Gould_ rotunda with Jamieson CofStaff

The Rotunda in the House of Commons – did Cabinet minister Gould know that in a few short days after this tour she would take part in her first news scrum and tell the public that electoral reform was no longer part of her mandate?

It just wasn’t what the Burlington Liberals thought their girl was going to do for them. They expected great things from what was the youngest women ever to be invited into Cabinet.

It was just yesterday that the Gazette wrote rather glowingly about this newest member of the Cabinet.

“Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate” explained Gould.

When you are made a cabinet minister you get a letter telling you what is expected of you. We saw that expectation play itself out yesterday.

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Do you know how many customers leave because they don't feel appreciated? 68%

marketingmoneymojoBBy James Burchill

February 2, 2017



The #1 reason your customers walk out the door, never to return is simply this: they feel unappreciated.

Business is personal

A stunning 68% of the people who once walked into your place of business stop doing business with you because they feel you don’t care! That’s almost 3 out of 4 clients who take business personally.

The data proves it:

9% leave because of price issues
14% leave because of quality issues
5% leave because they change their purchasing habits
4% of your customers leave because they simply move away
68% stop doing business with you simply because they feel unappreciated!

Gates quote BurchillYou don’t lose the majority of your customers due to high prices, or poor quality. You lose 68% of your customers simply because you don’t pay enough attention to them!

What Can You Do About It?

The absolute easiest and most ‘hands-off’ way for you to pay attention to them and boost your bottom line each and every month – a simple tactic that only a handful of smart business people use – is this:

Step 1: Contact your customers on a monthly basis.

Step 2: And there’s no better way to stay connected to your customers and clients than a monthly newsletter!

Not exactly rocket science – but it’s true. The simple reason this works so well is because your customers or clients have already spent money with you (they trust you.) And they’ll spend more money with you if you let them, and if you give them a reason to do so. You can’t simply sit back and hope that people will remember your business next time they need your product or service.

Waiting on the phone BurchillI’m sure you’ve heard the same thing over and over again from every marketing expert. I bet you’ve even considered publishing a newsletter (you may even already do so), but if you’re like most business owners, you just can’t find the time to ever get one published, or get one published regularly … and it’s most likely the writing that ‘gets in the way.’

No doubt about it, coming up with interesting articles and content is hard work, and unless you have lots of extra time on your hands, it’s easy to keep putting off publishing a newsletter until “tomorrow”.

But of course, we all know “tomorrow” never comes

Yes, that’s the big problem: Who has time to write a monthly newsletter — how do you make a newsletter fun, enjoyable and useful for people to read without making it a full-time job?

A number os smart people who know how important it is to communicate with thier customer outsource the creating of a newsletter to a professional writer.

You get your time back – priceless!

You stop worrying your newsletter won’t be published on time

You can focus on running your business

Waited 30 minutes BurchillYou will reduce (or stop) customer loss

And by default … MAKE MORE SALES/MONEY

It’s win-win all around.

Of course it helps to know a trusted source that can help you with this project. It’s not something you can just throw together. You need to consider the format, the content balance, the tone, the style, and the images.


burchill-jamesJames Burchill has been the associate publisher for two of Canada’s leading aftermarket auto magazines, written  over a million words for clients.  He has published three business books reached best-seller status online.  He currently operates the Social Fusion Network that brings business people together in a friendly social setting.  He also produces two trade shows for the local small business market.


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Minister of energy comes to town - checks out the Hydro operations centre and likes the look of the electric cars being used in a pilot project.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 2nd, 2017



The Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, came to town to look over the operations at Burlington Hydro. He closeted himself with the hydro board of director for a chat and then came out to tour the property and see what Burlington is going about the way energy is used and distributed.

Hydro Minister on tour A

Energy Minister Glen Thibeault touring the Burlington Hydro facility with Colin Saunders, Director, Safety, Health and Facilities..

Thibeault, was at one point MP for the federal New Democratic Party. He was coaxed by the Liberals into running for them. He quit his job and his party to carry the Liberal banner in Sudbury for February, 2015 by-election.

There was a bit of a scandal that involved the Premiers deputy Chief of Staff Patricia Sorbara who was expected to run the 2018 campaign and is now facing criminal charges for offering Thibeault a bribe. That case has yet to go to trial

Thibeault was a Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change from 2015 to 2016. On June 13, 2016, Thibeault replaced Bob Chiarelli as Minister of Energy in a Liberal cabinet shuffle.

Thibeault is now touring the province to get a close up look at how energy is distributed in the province.

Hydro operations centre

Burlington Hydro operations centre

He got to see the co-location set up hydro has, a unit that looks a little like a box car that uses natural gas to heat and air condition the hydro office on Brant Street.

Time was spent showing off the two BMW electric powered cars Burlington Hydro leased to loan to people so they can gather data on how people would use this type of vehicle.

The cars were loaned to members of city council for a week each – they got a sense as to what it is like to drive electric.

Hydro large large screen

Large large interactive screen that can show live pictures of parts of the distribution system – this image is of the full distribution network.

Provincial MP and cabinet minister Eleanor McMahon got in behind the wheel – they didn’t’ let her put it in gear – might she get to use one of the things for a period of time? Smart move – she won’t run out of gas with an all-electric.

The Minister of Energy was shown the electric charging stations that Burlington Hydro bought as part of their pilot project to learn more about what the demands on the hydro distribution are going to be when electric vehicles become the prime mode of transportation for many people.

Hydro - Gerry S and Energy minister

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault with Hydro president Gerry Smallegange looking at the map that shows the part of the distribution system that hydro had to replace during the 2013 ice storm. Replacement cable had to be hauled by hand up a steep slope with snow up to the knees of the line men.

Media also got a close up look at the Operations Centre – the room where all the parts come together – where everything is monitored and controlled.

In one corner of the room is a large screen (all the screens were large) with the Weather Chanel – weather determines to a very large degree the demands that are made on hydro.

In another part of the Operations Centre there was a screen the size of a large living room wall that sets out the distribution network. It is a partially interactive screen that can shift to Google earth and get a close look at some of the hydro towers.

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Do consultants have the answers we need to decide what kind of a city we want?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 1st, 2017



Bfast – Burlington for Accessible affordable Transit, published a piece on what a consultant said to city council.

They,  Bfast,  seem to be suggesting that consultants don’t always get it right,


Brent Toderian

On February 11th, noted Urbanist and Twitter phenom Brent Toderian was invited to come to Burlington to speak with City Council and Staff, as well as to present to the public as part of Mayor Goldring’s “Inspire Burlington” series.

Here are some things we picked up on from Brent’s presentation to Council:

Brent Toderian’s first point was that we need to change our thinking from being a suburb to being urban. We need to look at three dimensional streets rather than one dimensional roads. He noted that a suburb with more density will result in gridlock and congestion. In order to make this transition, and to position us for success our government needs to treat the Official Plan review as a rethink, not a tweak. Part of this is being willing to fail before we succeed.

Mobility: Brent stressed the need to prioritize transit, walking, and cycling over cars. We now have a very car-centred system meaning that we have to go well beyond the so-called balanced approach to moving budget dollars from cars to transit, walking and cycling. The car as the primary means of getting around has had a 40-50 year head start, so just seeking balance now won’t get us there. He also stressed that in urban places, balance isn’t good enough.

Transit: Brent noted that western Canada’s largest condo developer has said that the key factor in real estate development has changed from “location, location, location” to “transit, transit, transit”. Brent called improving transit “our strongest opportunity” as a city.

Strategic Plan WorkbookStrategic Plan and Budget: Brent noted that the City’s Strategic Plan was good – but the budget was not. He stated “the truth of a city’s aspirations is not in its plan, but in its budget”.

Making the transition -“pull the bandaid off quick” Brent was very critical of the slow approach re bike lanes. He said this approach maximized the controversy. Instead, he recommended rapid completion of a viable network that would work immediately. He also said that separation was needed on arterials – but not on other streets. Although he cited cycling in this approach, it would also apply to transit.

Prioritize the incentive for taking transit: Brent said that drivers need to see a benefit to take transit for example, bus only lanes that allow buses to move faster than cars.

Parking: Brent emphatically said “get out of Park’n Ride” (will Metrolinx listen?). He suggested that the City constrain the supply of parking.

Tall buildiong design - material useIntensification: Brent discussed how building density right is a challenge because it can result in “the sweet spot of failure”; intensification on too low a scale will create traffic congestion but not enough density to support efficient transit. We need to have an honest conversation about the real cost and consequences to growing the right and wrong ways, with respect to climate change and public health. The starting point of “I don’t want the city to change…” is common, but ‘stable neighbourhoods’ are a lie. All cities are changing in ways beyond the control of local government, so take the word ‘stable’ out of your vocabulary. Cities should reject the idea that there is an optimal number for growth (how big should we get) and worry about quality instead of quantity.

Doing the wrong thing better: Painted bike lanes were one example of this; need to make sure we don’t mistake for doing the right thing.

Public Engagement: Your goal should be to convince the convinceable; as leaders you need to change the conversation. Just because we don’t have consensus doesn’t mean we can’t have an intelligent conversation.

Burlington Transit: It was upsetting to hear that Brent Toderian did not get to meet with anyone from Burlington Transit.

As I read through the piece I found myself asking – is this how we decide what kind of a city we want and how we build it? Do we have to bring in consultants who have never lived here, never walked the streets, never attended an event?

Toderian told city council that they need to get rid of rural names – hang on – Walkers Line, Guelph Line and Appleby Line are part of the history and a part of the feel for the city. They remind of us our rural roots.

They no next to nothing about how rich our agricultural background is.

These consultants want to come into town for short periods of time, get very well paid for their time, spout all the most recent flavour of the month in urban design and move on to the next consulting assignment.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

City manager James Ridge – an old friend of Toderian who he had worked with during his time in Vancouver. Toderian got turfed by a th Vancouver city council.

Both city manager James Ridge and Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner, both relatively new to Burlington, knew of Toderian and his work – they thought the guy was great before he had spoken as much as a paragraph. It was almost like he was a member of the club coming back into the circle.

It’s the citizens that decide what kind of a community they want. Consultants have a place and their opinions are important but the people who grew up in the city and want to see it evolve and be something they at least recognize when they are taking their grandchildren to events.

There is nothing wrong with progress and growth – it just has to take place at a pace that works for the people who live here.  Why else do we have a community?

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Our mmber of parliament gets a photo treatment in Maclean's magazine - and explains how well the Prime Minister did on his road trip

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 1st, 2017



Now that she is the Minister of Democratic Institutions expect to hear a lot more from our Member of Parliament Karina Gould.

She recently got a photo essay in Maclean’s magazine. And she will be heard more often in the House of Commons where she will have to answer any questions on what she is doing as Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Gould office window

Karina Gould – looking out her office window over the Parliament buildings.

Before Gould took over that Ministry there was a survey “MyDemocracy.ca” done. The survey was designed by Vox Pop Labs who developed the questions, in consultation with the Government of Canada and an advisory panel of prominent scholars in areas such as research design, survey methodology, and electoral politics.

The panel members included the following academics: André Blais, professeur titulaire, Université de Montréal; Elisabeth Gidengil, Hiram Mills professor, McGill University; Richard Johnston, professor, University of British Columbia; Peter Loewen, associate professor, University of Toronto; Scott Matthews, associate professor, Memorial University; Jonathan Rose, associate professor, Queen’s University; Laura Stephenson, associate professor, Western University; and Melanee Thomas, assistant professor, University of Calgary.

Gould explained that the Government of Canada wanted to engage as many Canadians as possible in a conversation about electoral reform. Postcards were sent to every Canadian household inviting them to participate in MyDemocracy.ca.

The breakdown of expected costs for the postcards includes $1,673,921.08 for postage and a total of $295,128 for the printing and preparation of the cards, which were done by the same firm. There were no other individual costs.

Karina_Gould_ on the telephone

Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould at her desk in Ottawa – bigger desk now that she is a Cabinet Minister

The contract with Vox Pop Labs for the development of the application along with analysis and reporting of results is expected to cost $369,058.00, including HST.

The process for developing, reviewing, and providing feedback on questions was an iterative, consultative, and collaborative process. Final approval for the questions included in MyDemocracy.ca was given in November 2016.

So there you have it.  The government asked a lot of questions – the public answered xxx

When you are a Minister you also have to toe the party line.

In a response to what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did when he toured the country Gould said “he travelled across the country to 10 town halls, seven provinces, and 12,000 Canadians where he was open and accountable.

Karina_Gould_ rotunda with Jamieson CofStaff

Strolling through the House of Commons with her Chief of Staff Jamieson Burlington MP and Cabinet Minister has a much busier day.

He let people ask whatever questions they chose and he answered Canadians. That is something that we are incredibly proud of on this side of the House: engaging with Canadians, listening to Canadians, and being open and transparent.

Part of the reason the Prime Minister had to get out into the boonies was to let Canadians hear him explain the cash for access he was running – that matter still hasn’t been resolved to the satisfaction of many.

Gould will get into running her department and at some point we will hear what she wants to bring forward – she first has to develop a policy, then get it through Cabinet and then be part of the process of selling it to the rest of the country.

Karina_Gould_ coffee shop

Karina Gould: Stopping to pick up lunch. Part of a photo feature in Maclean’s magazine on the youngest female member of Cabinet the country has ever had.

Many wonder if there is enough time to get all this done before the next federal election.

If Gould can create the impression that she is working on it and dribble out information so that the public doesn’t give up on her the way they did with her predecessor – she will be fine but at some point Gould is going to have to come up with a policy that bears some resemblance to the election promise Trudeau made and that the public really bough into.

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